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