Monday, September 1, 2014

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish all sourced from the Pacific Ocean. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread.

Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa meaning "to chop" or "chopped," which describes the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day's catch. Ciuppin is also the name of a classic soup from the region, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew ("zuppe di pesce (it)") similar to ciuppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto (it) from Abruzzo, Quatàra di Porto Cesareo (it), and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix (ca) from Catalan-speaking regions of coastal Spain and bouillabaisse from Provence.

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew
Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew Recipe From Wikibooks Cookbook

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
6 ounces onion, chopped
8 ounces of celery, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
6 ounces tomato paste

2 pounds diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups of water
1 bay leaf
2 pounds crabs, any type, cut into pieces
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound scallops
1 1/2 pounds tilapia cut into two-inch chunks (or substitute any fish with a white, firm flesh)
2 loaves of San Francisco sourdough bread or any other bread with a chewy crust

This recipe calls for live mussels. Here are some safety guidelines for buying, eating and cooking live bivalves (mussels and clams): Never buy a mussel/clam that's open or cracked. Never eat a mussel/clam that won't open after cooking. Cook mussels/clams within 24 hours of purchasing. Always brush mussels/clams clean before cooking. Remove beards from mussels as well.

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and three quarters of a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and sauté for two minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, water, crabs, celery and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Add the mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the mussels begin to open. This should take about five minutes. Add the scallops and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and scallops are just cooked through and all the mussels are completely open, gently stirring occasionally. This should take about another 10 minutes. Check the soup for closed mussels and throw them out. Remove the bay leaf. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
It's customary to serve cioppino with San Francisco sourdough bread. However, any bread with a thick, chewy crust will do.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Wikibooks Cookbook || Image Credit: Flickr/CreativeCommons

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rabbit Stew aka Hasenpfeffer

Hasenpfeffer is a traditional German stew made from marinated rabbit or hare, cut into stewing-meat sized pieces and braised with onions and a marinade made from wine and vinegar.

Hase is German for 'hare' and Pfeffer is German for '(black) pepper,' although here it refers generically to the spices and seasonings in the dish overall, as with the German ginger cookies called pfeffernüsse. Seasonings typically include fresh cracked black pepper or whole peppercorns, and the following: salt, onions, garlic, lemon, sage, thyme, rosemary, allspice, juniper berries, cloves, and/or bay leaf.

In Bavaria and Austria, the cuisines of which have been influenced by neighboring Hungarian and Czech culinary traditions, sweet and/or hot paprika can also be an ingredient. In the North American pioneer era, German immigrants frequently cooked squirrels in the same manner.

Hasenpfeffer aka Rabbit Stew From ND State University Food and Nutrition Creative Commons
Hasenpfeffer aka Rabbit Stew

1 large or 2 small rabbits,
cut in serving pieces
1 cup vinegar
1 cup beer
1 large onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices
1 tsp. salt
6 peppercorns, crushed

3 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3 gingersnaps
1/2 cup sour cream

Combine vinegar, beer, sliced onion, spices, salt and pepper in a large glass, earthenware or enamel container. Add rabbit, cover and refrigerate for 1 or 2 days, turning several times. Remove from marinade and reserve 2 cups of marinade for gravy. Pat rabbit dry. Dredge in flour.

Dice bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp. Remove from fat and set aside. Add rabbit pieces and brown well on all sides, adding a little butter, if necessary. Sprinkle with sugar, cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 1 hour, adding a few tablespoons of the marinade to form steam, if necessary. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the drippings, add 2 cups of the marinade and crumbled gingersnaps. Adjust seasoning. Cook and stir until smooth and thickened. Add sour cream and blend. Add rabbit and bacon bits and heat only to serving temperature.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 166 calories, 3 grams (g) fat and 17 g carbohydrate.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || North Dakota State University Food and Nutrition Creative Commons Image Credit: Hasenpfeffer photo by pommru Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blame Canada For This Tasty Treat: Nanaimo Bars

The Nanaimo bar is a dessert item of Canadian origin popular across North America.

It is a bar dessert which requires no baking and is named after the west coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavoured butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares. Many varieties exist, consisting of different types of crumb, different flavours of icing (e.g., mint, peanut butter, coconut, mocha, butterscotch, etc.), and different types of chocolate.

The exact origin of the bar is unknown, though it is attributed to Nanaimo, British Columbia. Though the recipe was reported as appearing in the annual Ladysmith and Cowichan Women's Institute Cookbook, no such cookbook has been found and there is no record of this organization. The earliest confirmed printed copy of the recipe using the name "Nanaimo Bars" appears in the Edith Adams' prize cookbook (14th edition) from 1953. A copy of the book is on view at the Nanaimo museum.

However, following research into the origins of Nanaimo Bars, Lenore Newman writes that the same recipe was published in the Vancouver Sun earlier that same year under the name "London Fog Bar". The recipe later also appears in a publication entitled His/Her Favourite Recipes, Compiled by the Women's Association of the Brechin United Church (1957), with the recipe submitted by Joy Wilgress, a Baltimore, Maryland, native (p.52). (Brechin United Church is in Nanaimo.) This recipe also is reprinted in Kim Blank's book, Sex, Life Itself, and the Original Nanaimo Bar Recipe (Umberto Press, 1999, pp.127-29).

In 1954 the recipe "Mabel's Squares" (p.84) was published in "The Country Woman's Favorite" by the Upper Gloucester Women's Institute (New Brunswick). The recipe was submitted by Mrs. Harold Payne, the daughter of Mabel (Knowles) Scott (1883-1957). The ingredients list, quantities, and fabrication closely match the recipe found on the City of Nanaimo web site.

The first printing of recipes featuring Nanaimo Bar ingredients is found in the 1952 Women's Auxiliary to the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook, which features three nearly identical recipes that differ only slightly from the modern Nanaimo Bar. They are referred to as the "Chocolate Square" or the "Chocolate Slice".

Other unconfirmed references date the bars back to the 1930s, when it was said to be known locally as "chocolate fridge cake". Some New Yorkers claim the recipe originated in New York and refer to them as "New York Slices". However, Tim Hortons coffee shops, a Canadian chain, sell them in New York as "Nanaimo Bars". One modern reference even refers to the bars' existing in nineteenth century Nanaimo.

The popularity of the bar in Nanaimo led local residents to mobilise to have it voted "Canada's Favourite Confection" in a National Post reader survey. In 1985, Mayor Graeme Roberts initiated a contest to find the ultimate Nanaimo bar recipe, and the recipe submitted by Joyce Hardcastle, a resident of Nanaimo, was unanimously selected by a panel of judges.

If you're visiting British Columbia, the official tourism site of Nanaimo Canada provides a map and a list of 34 places where you can find several variations of the confection including a deep fried Nanaimo bar and a Nanaimo bar tea latte.

Joyce Hardcastle's Nanaimo Bar Recipe From Foodista Creative Commons
Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Bottom Layer: Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan. Second Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer. Third Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Nanaimo Canada || Foodista Creative Commons || Image Credit: Nanaimo Bar

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Poutine ~ Canada's Delish 'Hot Mess' Dish

Poutine (/puːˈtiːn/; French: [putin], Quebec French:[put͡sɪn]

[Press the button to hear pronunciation of the word Poutine by a Quebec CA native ] 
is a common Canadian dish, originating in Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. This fast food dish can now be found across Canada, and is also found in some places in the northern United States and the United Kingdom.

It is sold in small diners (commonly known as cantines or casse-croûtes in Quebec) and pubs, as well as by roadside fry wagons (commonly known as cabanes à patates, literally "potato shacks"). and hockey arenas. National and international chains like New York Fries, McDonald's, A&W, KFC, Burger King, and Harvey's also sell mass-market poutine in Canada (although not always country-wide). In the basic recipe for poutine, French fries are covered with fresh cheese curds, and topped with brown gravy.

In a Quebec poutine: French fries: Usually of medium thickness, and fried (sometimes doubly) so that the inside stays soft, while the outside is crispy. Cheese curds: Fresh cheese curds are used to give the desired texture. The curd size may vary but is usually slightly smaller than bite-sized. Brown gravy:

Traditionally a light and thin chicken, veal, or turkey gravy, mildly spiced with a hint of pepper, or a sauce brune which is a combination of beef and chicken stock, a variant originating in Quebec. The gravy should be thin enough to easily filter down into the mass of fries and cheese curds.

These sauces typically also contain vinegar or a sour flavoring to balance the richness of the cheese and fries. Traditional poutine sauces (mélange à sauce poutine) are sold in Quebec, Ontario, and Maritime grocery stores in jars or cans and in powdered mix packets. Heavy beef or pork-based brown gravies are rarely used. To maintain the texture of the fries, the cheese curd and gravy are added immediately prior to serving the dish. The hot gravy is usually poured over the cold cheese curds, so that the cheese is warmed without completely melting. It is important to control the temperature, timing and the order in which the ingredients are added, so as to obtain the right food textures which is an essential part of the experience of eating poutine.

Variations ~

There are many variations of poutine. Recently, some outlets have begun to offer vegetarian gravy as an option to cater to vegetarians. Some restaurants offer poutine with such toppings as chicken, bacon, or Montreal-style smoked meat. Some such restaurants even boast a dozen or more variations of poutine.

For instance, more upscale poutine with three-pepper sauce, merguez sausage, foie gras or even caviar and truffle can be found. Some variations eliminate the cheese, but most Québécois would call such a dish a frite sauce ("french fries with sauce") rather than poutine.
Shawinigan and some other regions have patate-sauce-choux where shredded raw cabbage replaces cheese. Fast food combination meals in Canada often have the option of getting french fries "poutinized" by adding cheese curds (or shredded cheese in the Prairies and Western Canada) and gravy.

 Sweet potato has been used to be a healthy alternative to french fries. The idea of adding dietary fiber and vitamins in this classic dish is widely appraised by the public. Crinkle-cut fries may be used as well. Outside Canada, poutine is found in northern border regions of the United States such as New England, the Pacific Northwest and the Upper Midwest.

These regions offer further variations of the basic dish. Cheeses other than fresh curds are commonly used (most commonly mozzarella cheese), along with beef, brown or turkey gravy. In the county culture especially, a mixed fry can also come with cooked ground beef on top and is referred to as a hamburger mix, though this is less popular than a regular mix.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Photo Credit: Photo by PerryPlanet at wikimediacommons || Sound Credits: Pronunciation of the word Poutine || MP3 player created by sookietex at MP3player

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spam, The Canned Pre-Cooked Meat, Not Unsolicited e-mail

Spam, The Canned Pre-Cooked Meat, Not Unsolicited e-mail

Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam's gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.

In the United States in the aftermath of World War II, a troupe of former servicewomen was assembled by Hormel Foods to promote Spam from coast to coast. The group was known as the Hormel Girls and associated the food with being patriotic. In 1948, two years after its formation, the troupe had grown to 60 women with 16 forming an orchestra. The show went on to become a radio program where the main selling point was Spam. The Hormel Girls were disbanded in 1953. Spam is still quite popular in the United States, but is sometimes associated with economic hardship because of its relatively low cost.

On average, each person on Guam consumes 16 tins of Spam each year and consumption is similar in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Hawaii, and Saipan, the CNMI's principal island. These areas have the only McDonald's restaurants that feature Spam on the menu.

Spam was introduced into the aforementioned areas, in addition to other islands in the Pacific such as Okinawa and the Philippine Islands, during the U.S. military occupation after World War II.

Since fresh meat was difficult to get to the soldiers on the front, World War II saw the largest use of Spam when it was served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Some soldiers referred to Spam as "ham that didn't pass its physical" and "meatloaf without basic training".)  Soldiers commonly referred to Spam as "Special Army Meat" due to its introduction during the war. Surpluses of Spam from the soldiers' supplies made their way into native diets. Consequently, Spam is a unique part of the history and effects of U.S. influence in the Pacific.

The residents of the state of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the United States. Hawaiian Burger King restaurants began serving Spam in 2007 to compete with the local McDonald's chains. In Hawaii, Spam is so popular it is sometimes referred to as "The Hawaiian Steak". One popular Spam dish in Hawaii is Spam musubi, where cooked Spam is combined with rice and nori seaweed and classified as onigiri.

The perception of Spam in Hawaii is very different from that on the mainland. Despite the large number of mainlanders who consume Spam, and the various recipes that have been made from it, Spam, along with most canned food, is often stigmatized on the mainland as "poor people's food". In Hawaii, similar canned meat products such as Treet are considered cheaper versions of canned meat than Spam. This is a result of Spam having the initial market share and its name sounding more convincing to consumers.

In these locales, varieties of Spam unavailable in other markets are sold. These include Honey Spam, Spam with Bacon, and Hot and Spicy Spam.

In the CNMI, lawyers from Hormel have threatened legal action against the local press for running articles alleging ill-effects of high Spam consumption on the health of the local population.

Spam that is sold in North America, South America, and Australia is produced in Austin, Minnesota (also known as "Spam Town USA") and in Fremont, Nebraska. Austin, Minnesota has a restaurant with a menu devoted exclusively to Spam, called "Johnny's SPAMarama Menu".

In 1963, Spam was introduced to various private and public schools in South Florida as cheap food and even for art sculptures. Due to the success of the introduction, Hormel Foods also introduced school "color-themed" spam. The first being a blue and green variety which is still traditionally used in some private schools of South Florida.

In 2007, the seven billionth can of Spam was sold.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Image Credit: TJSLabs

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Roast Leg of Lamb

During my childhood the traditional main course for Easter was either ham or lamb. As this site has already dished up the ham we will now do the lamb.

Leg of lamb is a whole leg. Saddle of lamb is the two loins with the hip. Leg and saddle are usually roasted, though the leg is sometimes boiled. Lamb shank is a cut of meat from the upper part of the leg.

Forequarter meat of sheep, as of other mammals, includes more connective tissue than some other cuts, and, if not from a young lamb, is best cooked slowly using either a moist method, such as braising or stewing, or by slow roasting or American barbecuing. It is, in some countries, sold already chopped or diced.

The fell is the thin, paper-like covering on the outer fat. It should not be removed from roasts and legs because it helps these cuts retain their shape and juiciness during cooking. The fell has usually been removed at the market from smaller cuts, such as chops.

Lamb, hogget, and mutton (UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia) are terms for the meat of domestic sheep (species Ovis aries) at different ages. A sheep in its first year is called a lamb; and its meat is also called lamb.

The meat of a juvenile sheep older than one year is hogget; outside North America this was also a term for the living animal, but this meaning is now largely obsolete. The meat of an adult sheep is mutton, a term only used for the meat, not the living animals.

Lamb is the most expensive of the three types, and in recent decades sheep-meat is increasingly only retailed as "lamb", sometimes stretching the accepted distinctions given above. The stronger tasting mutton is now hard to find in many areas, despite the efforts of the Mutton Renaissance Campaign in the UK. In Australia, the leg of lamb roast is considered the national dish. Commonly served on a Sunday or any other special occasion.

The term prime lamb is often used to refer to lambs raised for meat. Other languages, for example French and Italian, make similar, or even more detailed, distinctions between sheep meat by age and sometimes by gender, though they generally lack the particular habit of English in having different terms for the living animal and its meat.

From Wikibooks Cookbook
Roast Lamb

Leg of lamb (bone on or off), approximately 3.3 lbs
[feeds 4 people]
6 x whole fresh garlic cloves, peeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 Tablespoons butter or 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Vegetables [wikiHOW suggests: 6 potatos, 4 large carrots, 1 1/2 cups peas] Of course
whichever vegetables are preferred by yourself/your guests may be substituted

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Put butter or oil in baking dish. Place the dish in the oven to heat up. Prepare the leg of lamb. Using a sharp knife, plunge into the meat, making three incisions in top side (approx. 1.1 inches deep) and three similar incisions on bottom side. Into each incision, insert one peeled clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Rub a thick layer of salt [Recipes Damage In The Kitchen editor's note: coarse salt is suggested] all over the surface of the piece of lamb.

This assists with cooking a 'crunchy' skin. Wearing oven mitts, remove the baking dish from oven and place the prepared lamb into the middle of it. Put the dish back in oven and set the timer for 30 minutes (25 minutes for a fan forced oven). The cooking time for lamb is generally 30 minutes per 1.10 pounds. Peel and chop the vegetables. Note that the vegetables will take 1 hour to roast. After 30 minutes, remove the lamb in the baking dish from the oven. Spoon the oil in the base of the dish all over the lamb leg. Place the prepared vegetables around the lamb leg and return the dish to the oven.

Set the timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, again remove the baking dish from the oven. Spoon the dish oil over both the lamb leg and all of the vegetables. Again, return to the oven. Set the timer another for 30 minutes. Prepare the other necessities for serving the lamb. The following sub-steps will use up the last 15 minutes of roast cooking time: Fifteen minutes after this latest return of the lamb to the oven, put the peas in a saucepan of water on the stove. Heat to boil. Remove the lamb and vegetables dish from oven. Remember to turn off the oven. Place the lamb on a plate. Cover with foil for 5-7 minutes to 'rest'. This means that it will drain off excess fluids. Use this time to drain and serve peas, serve out vegetables. Serve. When the lamb has 'rested', slice the lamb and serve with the roasted vegetables.

Text Credits: Wikipedia WikiHow wikibooks cookbook
Image Credit: wikimediacommons

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

National Grilled Cheese Day is April 12th

Cooked bread and cheese is an ancient food, according to food historians, popular across the world in many cultures; evidence indicates that in the U.S., the modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became easily available.[citation needed] The cheese dream became popular during the Great Depression.

It was originally made as an open sandwich, but the top slice of bread became common by the 1960s. U.S. government cookbooks describe Navy cooks broiling "American cheese filling sandwiches" during World War II. Many versions of the grilled cheese sandwich can now be found on restaurant menus across the United States.

Uncooked cheese sandwiches simply require assembly of the cheese slices on the bread, along with any additions and condiments.

A grilled cheese sandwich is assembled and then heated until the bread crisps and the cheese melts, sometimes combined with an additional ingredient such as peppers, tomatoes or onions. Several different methods of heating the sandwich are used, depending on the region and personal preference. Common methods include being cooked on a griddle, grilled, fried in a pan or made in a panini grill or sandwich toaster (this method is more common in the United Kingdom where the sandwiches are normally called "toasted sandwiches" or "toasties").

When making grilled cheese on an open griddle or pan, one side is cooked first, then the sandwich is flipped and cooked on the other side. The sandwich is finished when both sides are toasted and the cheese has melted. Butter, oil, or mayonnaise may first be spread on either the bread or the cooking surface in the case of butter and oil. An alternative technique is to toast or grill each half of the sandwich separately, then combine them. Another method sometimes referred as an "inside out" grilled cheese has an extra layer of cheese put on the outside of each side and cooked, causing the cheese to caramelize into a crispy outer layer.

When using butter best results are achieved at a medium heat. This prevents the milk solids in butter from burning and allows sufficient time for heat to thoroughly penetrate the sandwich and melt the cheese without burning the bread. A crispy golden-brown crust with a melted cheese center is a commonly preferred level of preparedness. Cooking times can vary depending on pan dimensions, ability to control the intensity of the heat source, bread type, cheese variety and overall thickness of pre-cooked sandwich.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Image Credit wikicommons

Friday, March 28, 2014

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake Day is celebrated annually on March 28th

Black Forest Cake, sometimes called by the French gateau, gateaux or gâteau (meaning "cake"), is a chocolate cake with a strong cherry element, popular throughout North America. The recipe originates from Germany, where it is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

Black Forest gâteau (British English) and Black Forest cake (American English and Australian English) are the English names for the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (pronounced [ˈʃvaʁt͡svɛldɐ ˈkɪʁʃˌtɔʁtə]), literally "Black Forest cherry-torte". Black Forest cake originated in Germany.

Typically, Black Forest cake consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. In some European traditions sour cherries are used both between the layers and for decorating the top. Traditionally, Kirschwasser (a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries) is added to the cake, although other liquors are also used (such as rum, which is common in Austrian recipes).

In the United States, Black Forest cake is most often prepared without alcohol. German statutory interpretation states Kirschwasser as a mandatory ingredient, otherwise the cake is legally not allowed to be marketed as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. True Black Forest cakes are decorated with black cherries.

The cake is named not directly after the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) mountain range in southwestern Germany but rather from the specialty liquor of that region, known as Schwarzwälder Kirsch(wasser) and distilled from tart cherries. This is the ingredient, with its distinctive cherry pit flavor and alcoholic content, that gives the cake its flavor. Cherries, cream, and Kirschwasser were first combined in the form of a dessert in which cooked cherries were served with cream and Kirschwasser, while a cake combining cherries, cookies / biscuits and cream (but without Kirschwasser) probably originated in Germany.

Today, the Swiss canton of Zug is world-renowned for its Zuger Kirschtorte, a cookie / biscuit-based cake which formerly contained no Kirschwasser. A version from the canton of Basel also exists. The confectioner Josef Keller (de) (1887–1981) claimed to have invented Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its present form in 1915 at the then prominent Café Agner in Bad Godesberg, now a suburb of Bonn about 500 km north of the Black Forest. This claim, however, has never been substantiated.

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was first mentioned in writing in 1934. At the time it was particularly associated with Berlin but was also available from high-class confectioners in other German, Austrian, and Swiss cities. In 1949 it took 13th place in a list of best-known German cakes, and since that time Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte has become world-renowned.

From Wikibooks Cookbook
Black Forest Cake Recipe

For The Cake

4oz/100g Irish butter
[Margarine, vegetable oil
or regular butter may be
substituted for
Irish butter]
8oz /225g brown sugar
4oz /100g plain chocolate
7oz /200g self-raising
1/4 teaspoon
ground cinnamon
1/4 pint sour cream
3 tablespoons strong cold
black coffee
2 eggs
pinch of salt

For The Pastry Base

4oz/100g cream flour
pinch of salt
2oz /50g icing sugar
2 oz/50g Irish butter
1 egg yolk
a few drops of vanilla essence

For The Flavoring and Decoration

1 pint cream
1-lb tin black cherries
4 tablespoons black cherry jam
brandy or cherry juice
4oz/100g grated chocolate

To prepare the cake: Cream the butter and sugar together well. Melt the chocolate and beat into the creamed mixture, then mix in the eggs. Sift flour, salt and cinnamon together. Fold the dry mix lightly into the liquids, then fold in the sour cream and cold coffee. Pour the mixture into a lined and greased 9-inch round, deep tin,and bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes. Set to cool on a wire rack.

To prepare the pastry base: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and bind until the mixture stiffens. Roll the pastry onto a floured board worktable until pastry is about the same size as the base of the tin. Lay out on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Assemblage: Whip cream until it holds its shape. Put some whipped cream into pastry piping bag with a star pipe attached, and reserve this for the decoration.

Slice the cake into 3 equal-sized layers. Drain the cherries, reserve 8 for decoration and remove the stones from the remainder. Put pastry on serving plate and spread the pastry with black cherry jam. Soak the cakes with spirit. Put one layer of cake on top of coated pastry. Spread a layer of cream with half the stoned cherries. Put the second layer of cake and add another layer of cream and cherries. Add the final layer of the cake. Cover the entire cake with the remaining cream and press on the grated chocolate. Decorate the top with piped rosettes of cream and the reserved whole black cherries.

This recipe did not come with a temperature to bake at for either the pastry or cake. Cakes usually work at between 325°F and 400°F (160°C and 205°C). Pastries usually work at between 350°F and 425°F (175°C and 220°C). 45-60 mins is usually a functional baking time.

Text Credits: Wikipedia Wikibooks Cookbook

Image Credit: petitplat at deviantart

Monday, March 24, 2014

Duck Confit

Duck confit (French: confit de canard French pronunciation: ​[kɔ̃.fi d(ə) ka.naʁ]) is a French dish made with the leg of the duck. While it is made across France, it is seen as a speciality of Gascony. The confit is prepared in a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then cooking it in its own fat. To prepare a confit, the meat is rubbed with salt, garlic, and sometimes herbs such as thyme, then covered and refrigerated for up to 36 hours. Salt-curing the meat acts as a preservative.

Prior to cooking, the spices are rinsed from the meat, which is then patted dry. The meat is placed in a cooking dish deep enough to contain the meat and the rendered fat, and placed in an oven at a low temperature (76 – 135 degrees Celsius/170 – 275 Fahrenheit). The meat is slowly poached at least until cooked, or until meltingly tender, generally four to ten hours.

The meat and fat are then removed from the oven and left to cool. When cool, the meat can be transferred to a canning jar or other container and completely submerged in the fat. A sealed jar of duck confit may be kept in the refrigerator for up to six months, or several weeks if kept in a reusable plastic container. To maximise preservation if canning, the fat should top the meat by at least one inch. The cooking fat acts as both a seal and preservative and results in a very rich taste. Skipping the salt curing stage greatly reduces the shelf life of the confit.

A classic recipe is to fry or grill the legs in a bit of the fat until they are well-browned and crisp, and use more of the fat to roast some potatoes and garlic as an accompaniment. The potatoes roasted in duck fat to accompany the crisped-up confit is called pommes de terre à la sarladaise. Another accompaniment is red cabbage slow-braised with apples and red wine. Duck confit is also a traditional ingredient in many versions of cassoulet.

From Wikibooks Cookbook
Duck Confit Recipe

4 duck leg portions with thighs attached,
(about 2 pounds) excess fat
trimmed and reserved
1 tablespoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon table salt
4 cups olive oil

Lay the leg portions on a platter, skin side down. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the salt and the black pepper. Place the garlic cloves, bay leaves, and sprigs of thyme on each of 2 leg portions. Lay the remaining 2 leg portions, flesh to flesh, on top. Put the fat from the ducks in the bottom of a glass or plastic container. Top with the sandwiched leg portions. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Remove the duck from the refrigerator. Remove the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and duck fat and set aside. Rinse the duck with cool water, rubbing off some of the salt and pepper. Pat dry with paper towels. Put the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and duck fat in the bottom of an enameled cast iron pot. Sprinkle evenly with the peppercorns and table salt. Lay the duck on top, skin side down. Add the olive oil. Cover and bake for 12 to 14 hours, or until the meat pulls away from the bone. Remove the duck from the fat. Strain the fat and set aside.

To store the duck confit, place the duck leg portions in a container, cover with the cooking fat, and store in the refrigerator. Alternately, pick the meat from the bones and place it in a stoneware container. Cover the meat with a thin layer of some of the strained fat. The duck confit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. The excess oil can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and used like butter for cooking. The tinge of duck taste in the oil is wonderful.

Text Credits: Wikipedia WikiCookbook
Image Credit: WikimediaCommons

Friday, March 14, 2014

National Potato Chip Day March 14, 2014

March 14th is National Potato Chip Day

According to a traditional story, the original potato chip recipe was created in Saratoga Springs, New York. Popular versions say this happened on August 24, 1853, and versions by the late 19th century attributed the dish to George Crum, a half black, half Native American cook at Moon's Lake House, who was trying to appease an unhappy customer. He sliced the potatoes very thin, fried them until crisp and seasoned them with extra salt. The customer loved them. They soon became called "Saratoga Chips", a name that persisted into at least the mid-20th century.

A version of the story popularized in a 1973 national advertising campaign by St. Regis Paper Company, which manufactured packaging for chips, said that Crum's customer was Cornelius Vanderbilt. Crum was renowned as a chef and by 1860 owned his own lakeside restaurant, Crum's House.

Alternative explanations of the provenance of potato chips date them to recipes in Shilling Cookery for the People by Alexis Soyer (1845) or Mary Randolph's The Virginia House-Wife (1824) as well as two other contemporary cookbooks. In the 20th century, potato chips spread beyond chef-cooked restaurant fare and began to be mass-produced for home consumption.

The Dayton, Ohio-based Mike-sell's Potato Chip Company, founded in 1910, identifies as the "oldest potato chip company in the United States". New England-based Tri-Sum Potato Chips, originally founded in 1908 as the Leominster Potato Chip Company, in Leominster, Massachusetts claim to be America's first potato chip manufacturer. Chips sold in markets were usually sold in tins or scooped out of storefront glass bins and delivered by horse and wagon. The early potato chip bag was wax paper with the ends ironed or stapled together. At first, potato chips were packaged in barrels or tins, which left chips at the bottom stale and crumbled.

Laura Scudder, an entrepreneur in Monterey Park, California started having her workers take home sheets of wax paper to iron into the form of bags, which were filled with chips at her factory the next day. This pioneering method reduced crumbling and kept the chips fresh and crisp longer. This innovation, along with the invention of cellophane, allowed potato chips to become a mass market product.

Scudder also began putting dates on the bags, becoming the first company to freshness date their food products. This new standard of freshness was reflected in the marketing slogan: "Laura Scudder's Potato Chips, the Noisiest Chips in the World." Today, chips are packaged in plastic bags, with nitrogen gas blown in prior to sealing to lengthen shelf life, and provide protection against crushing.

The average potato chip is .04 to.08 of an inch thick. During WWII production of potato chips halted because they were deemed an "unessential food". In Great Britain and many other parts of the world Potato Chips are referred to as "crisps". Chips, to them are French Fried potatoes.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Wikipedia || southern foodie Image Credit: Potato Chips photo by sookietex

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


A blondie (also known as a "blond[e] brownie" or "blondie bar" is a rich, sweet dessert bar. It is made from flour, brown sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, and vanilla, and may also contain walnuts or pecans. Chocolate chip blondies may contain white or dark chocolate chips. A blondie may have a taste reminiscent of butterscotch. Blondies resemble the traditional chocolate brownie, but are based on brown sugar instead of cocoa; they are sometimes referred to as blonde brownies. They are baked in a pan in the oven similar to how traditional brownies are baked, then cut into rectangular shapes for serving.

Blondies are often confused with white chocolate brownies, although they are highly different, as unlike the white chocolate brownie or the normal brownie, they contain no chocolate or chocolate flavoring, not inclusive of chocolate chips, which are often put in blondies.

Like brownies, blondies may include chocolate chips. They may also contain coconut, nuts, toffee, or any other chunky candy for added texture. Blondies aren't usually frosted; the brown sugar flavor tends to be sweet enough. Another popular variation is the Congo bar, which contains chocolate chips with either walnuts or coconut. Blondies are sometimes served in sundaes, often topped with caramel sauce

The blondie, essentially a brownie variant. A dense cake with butterscotch being the predominant flavor instead of chocolate. Characteristics to strive for include a rich, buttery flavor with good balance between sweetness and saltiness, moist texture, and a golden blonde appearance.

From Wikibooks Cookbook
Blondie Recipe

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar [firmly packed]
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup chopped walnuts and/or pecans

Preheat oven to 325°F. Dry toast the chopped pecans/walnuts until fragrant and slightly colored. This can either be done in a dry skillet on the stove top over medium high heat while stirring frequently or else by roasting the nuts in the oven on a cookie sheet while you prepare the batter. The stove top method is faster but requires more attention. It is also possible to buy dry toasted nuts instead of raw to avoid this step.
The pecans/walnuts should be crunchy and nutty, not rubbery or mealy. In a small bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, stir the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until uniform, breaking any large lumps of sugar. Beat in egg until creamy. Gently fold in flour mixture. When flour is nearly incorporated, gently fold in toasted pecans/walnuts. Do not overmix. Spread mixture into buttered 8" x 8" baking dish. Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes or until desired doneness.
Let cool and cut into bars.

Text Credits: Wikipedia Wikibooks Cookbook || Image Credit: WikimediaCommons

Sunday, February 2, 2014


A snickerdoodle is a type of cookie made with butter or oil, sugar, and flour rolled in cinnamon sugar. Eggs may also sometimes be used as an ingredient, with cream of tartar and baking soda added to leaven the dough. Snickerdoodles are characterized by a cracked surface and can be crisp or soft depending on preference.

Snickerdoodles are often referred to as "sugar cookies". However, traditional sugar cookies are often rolled in white sugar whereas snickerdoodles are rolled in a mixture of white sugar and cinnamon.

The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudeln ("snail noodles"), a kind of pastry. It is also possible that the name is simply a nonsense word with no particular meaning, originating from a New England tradition of whimsical cookie names.

Depending upon preference there are two ways to make snickerdoodles. The first recipe below is the traditional method. The second recipe yields a chewier cookie which will become crisper within 24 hrs.

[Recipes Damage In The Kitchen Editor's Note: The second recipe does not utilize shortening. In most cookie recipes shortening is the ingredient that provides the crispness, butter the softness so a good rule for any cookie baking is for a chewier cookie use less or no shortening and more butter.]

From Wikibooks Cookbook
Traditional Snickerdoodle Recipe

2 3/4 cups (650ml) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups (360ml) white sugar

1 cup (240ml) soft shortening
2 eggs, beaten
For the dusting 2 tablespoons (30ml) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius), mix ingredients, and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp and light brown. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon while hot.An alternative recipe uses only 1 cup (240ml) sugar and replaces 1/2 cup (120ml) of the shortening with butter. After those ingredients are mixed, the dough is rolled into 1 tablespoon balls and then rolled in a mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. They are baked as noted above. Other recipes add honey to the dough, which helps to keep the cookies from becoming too crisp.

From Wikibooks Cookbook
Chewy Snickerdoodle Recipe

2 cup (120g) butter, softened (not melted)
1 cup (240g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 egg

1 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
For the dusting 2 tablespoons (30ml) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and vinegar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough for 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle. Preheat oven to 375°F (190c) Combine the 2 T. sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch (2.5cm) balls. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inch (5cm) apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Text Credits: Wikipedia Wikibooks Cookbook || Image Credit: Tina Marie's Adventures In The Baking Aisle

Sunday, January 19, 2014


pice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Sometimes a spice is used to hide other flavors. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants also used for flavoring or as garnish.

Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious disease, and why use of spices is especially prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling. A spice may have other uses, including medicinal, religious ritual, cosmetics or perfume production, or as a vegetable. For example, turmeric roots are consumed as a vegetable[citation needed] and garlic as an antibiotic.

Early History: The Spice trade developed throughout Southern Asia and the Middle East in around 2000 BCE with cinnamon and pepper, and in East Asia with herbs and pepper. The Egyptians used herbs for embalming and their demand for exotic herbs helped stimulate world trade. The word spice comes from the Old French word espice, which became epice, and which came from the Latin root spec, the noun referring to "appearance, sort, kind": species has the same root. By 1000 BCE, medical systems based upon herbs could be found in China, Korea, and India. Early uses were connected with magic, medicine, religion, tradition, and preservation. Archaeological excavations have uncovered clove burnt onto the floor of a kitchen, dated to 1700 BCE, at the Mesopotamian site of Terqa, in modern-day Syria.

The ancient Indian epic Ramayana mentions cloves. The Romans had cloves in the 1st century CE, as Pliny the Elder wrote about them.[citation needed] In the story of Genesis, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers to spice merchants. In the biblical poem Song of Solomon, the male speaker compares his beloved to many forms of spices. Generally, early Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, and Mesopotamian sources do not refer to known spices.[citation needed]

Historians believe that nutmeg, which originates from the Banda Islands in South Asia, was introduced to Europe in the 6th century BCE. Indonesian merchants traveled around China, India, the Middle East, and the east coast of Africa. Arab merchants facilitated the routes through the Middle East and India. This resulted in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria being the main trading center for spices. The most important discovery prior to the European spice trade were the monsoon winds (40 CE). Sailing from Eastern spice growers to Western European consumers gradually replaced the land-locked spice routes once facilitated by the Middle East Arab caravans.

Middle Ages: Spices were among the most demanded and expensive products available in Europe in the Middle Ages, the most common being black pepper, cinnamon (and the cheaper alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Given medieval medicine's main theory of humorism, spices and herbs were indispensable to balance "humors" in food, a daily basis for good health at a time of recurrent pandemics.

Spices were all imported from plantations in Asia and Africa, which made them expensive. From the 8th until the 15th century, the Republic of Venice had the monopoly on spice trade with the Middle East, and along with it the neighboring Italian city-states. The trade made the region rich. It has been estimated that around 1,000 tons of pepper and 1,000 tons of the other common spices were imported into Western Europe each year during the Late Middle Ages. The value of these goods was the equivalent of a yearly supply of grain for 1.5 million people. The most exclusive was saffron, used as much for its vivid yellow-red color as for its flavor. Spices that have now fallen into obscurity in European cuisine include grains of paradise, a relative of cardamom which most replaced pepper in late medieval north French cooking, long pepper, mace, spikenard, galangal and cubeb.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Image Credit: WikimediaCommons