Saturday, May 28, 2005

Hot Links

Biscuit of the Week pick - Dad's Cookies.
As you might expect the methods by which we select biscuits for Biscuit of the Week are complex and not simply a matter of just opening up what ever appears to be at the front or back of the NCOTAASD review cupboard. Well obviously sometimes that does happen, but just occasionally a biscuit will create a powerful calling, a bit like in the first Superman movie when Clark Kent goes to the barn to get his crystal which has started glowing bright green and is making the livestock all tense and uneasy. So ignoring Wifey's assertions that I should do the weird Japanese biscuits secured by our book's editor Tom, I have been drawn in by the tractor beam of a pack of Canadian biscuits, despite their usually off-putting title of cookies.

Love and Cooking has a Middle Eastern Chopped Salad that literally made my mouth water. I've got to go change my grocery list now.

Weekend Joke

A young man was visiting his brother and sister-in-law for Christmas dinner. As he arrived at their house he found his young nephew, Mikey, helping them bake some cupcakes.

After they were done, his sister-in-law allowed Mikey to put the icing on. When the boy had finished, he brought them to the table.

"The cupcakes look delicious, Mike." his uncle said. He took a bite and said, "Mikey these are so good."

As he finished cupcake and took another, he again complimented his little nephew. "The cupcakes look beautiful, Mikey," his uncle said. "How did you get the icing so neat?"

His nephew replied, "It was easy. I just licked them."

The uncle turned pale. He pointed to the plate of cupcakes. "You licked all of these?"

Mikey replied, "Well no. After a while my tongue got tired, and I got the dog to help."

Thought for Food

After dinner sit a while, and after supper walk a mile.
English Saying

Nutrition Basics - Vitamins II

Vitamin A

Unlike the water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fat tissue andcannot be easily flushed from the body once ingested. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. They are found in a variety of food sources and often will occur together in plant foods and fish oils. In the proper amunts, these fat-soluble vitamins are basic to health, but greatly exceeding the Daily Values for these vitamins causes the body to store them in virtually limitless amounts, making it easy for toxic levels to accumulate. Once toxic levels are reached, a variety of dangerous conditions may develop, some of which can be fatal.

The form of vitamin A found in animal foods is known as retinol. Vitamin A itself is not found in plant foods, but a pigment known as beta-carotene, which the body uses to produce vitamin A, is contained in orange, deep yellow, and dark green leafy vegetables. Beta-carotine cannot normally be converted to vitamin A quickly enough to reach a toxic level. Excess beta-carotene may, however, cause a person to appear yellowish, because it is stored in fat layers just beneath the skin.
The Professional Chef, 7th Edition
by The Culinary Institute of America

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hot Chocolate Souffl├ęs

Only two weeks after we had these for Rose's birthday, here is the recipe at long last. These are from The Children's Quick and Easy Cookbook by Angela Wilkes. It's a DK book so you know that means plenty of big pictures. These were a snap.

Step 1:

4 ounces fine dark chocolate.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break the chocolate into a bowl. Melt it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. (I melted it in the microwave.) Remove chocolate from heat.

Step 2:
Butter for greasing ramekins (I used custard cups)
Scant 1/2 cup of superfine sugar (this can be found near the coffee and tea under the name quick dissolving sugar)
Grease four ramekins lightly and sprinkle with a little of the sugar.

Step 3:
5 eggs
Separate the eggs into two bowls. Stir the rest of the superfine sugar (from Step 2) and four egg yolks into the melted chocolate. (I just now noticed that you were supposed to use four instead of five egg yolks ... turned out just fine with five.)

Step 4:
Whisk all five egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Then fold them gently into the chocolate.

Step 5:
Fill the ramekins until nearly full. Bake for 15 minutes until they rise and puff up. (I put the ramekins on a baking sheet so they wouldn't tip over.) Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar if you like (I didn't).

Serve immediately.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Out and About

Kalanna has more good things to make over at Mere Recipes. I really like the looks of that Hummingbird Cake. Maybe for the next book club ... hmmmm.

The Adventures of Pie Queen gives us a little conversation about dirt and cakes, topped off with a recipe for "Sweet Little Cupcakes, Baked by the Devil
(aka Devil's Food Cupcakes)" from the Cook's Illustrated folks ... along with summing up the CI testers just the way I think of them.
Do you know the magazine Cook's Illustrated? The obsessive recipe testers at CI are the copy editors of the food world, fending off the sloppy, dump-and-taste barbarians with single-minded scientific devotion. An article about something completely ordinary, like mac and cheese or roast chicken, always starts with a line like "To find out the truly best way to roast a chicken, we spent three months roasting over 500 chickens in our test kitchen." And then they'll tell you, in insanely nit-picky detail, how they explored each tiny variable, probably in between scrubbing every strip of grout on their bathroom tile with a toothbrush and re-alphabetizing the spice rack.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Muffin Madness

I don't think that's exactly what she called it but Kalanna at Mere Recipes has a trio of good looking muffin recipes ready to try.

Thoughts for Food

Although the Egyptians first imagined it and the British brought it across the Atlantic, pie -- the sweet staple of pioneers -- is the quintessential American dessert. There isn't a state in the union that doesn't boast a signature pie, from Georgia peach to Florida Key lime to Pennsylvania shoofly. Pie transcends all lines of race, color, and class. A rhubarb pie feels as much at home in a blue-collar diner in Flint, Michigan, as it does in a lacy autumn inn in Vermont.

And while no two Americans bake their pie exactly the same way, most would agree that nothing screams USA better than a wedge of apple or sweet-potato pie served warm on a plate.
American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America's Back Roads
by Pascale Le Draoulec

Weekend Joke

Fella goes into his favorite deli where the waiter immediately brings him a bowl of matzoh ball soup. The customer signals the waiter to come back.

"Taste the soup!" he commands.

"Why?" inquires the surprised waiter.

"Taste the soup!" comes the reply.

"Max, you've been coming in here every day for ten years. There's never been anything wrong with the soup."

"Taste the soup!"

"What's wrong, too much salt--not enough salt?"

"Taste the soup!"

"What, the matzo balls aren't fluffy enough for you?"


The waiter finally agrees, "All right all right, I'll taste the soup! Where's the spoon?"

"A-HA!" chortles Max.

A Little Useless Information

During the Alaskan Klondike gold rush, (1897-1898) potatoes were practically worth their weight in gold. Potatoes were so valued for their vitamin C content that miners traded gold for potatoes.

Nutrition Basics - Vitamins I

Vitamin C

Vitamins are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are easily transported throughout the body in the bloodstream. Toxic levels of these vitamins in the body are possible but unlikely because when consumed in large amounts, the excess is released from the body along with waste water. A small amount of the water-soluble vitamins can be stored briefly in lean tissue, such as muscles and organs, but the body's supplies must be replenished daily.

The B-complex vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, B6 and B12) and vitamin C are water-soluble. B-complex vitamins are found in grains, legumes, vegetables, and meats. They are critical for the proper release of energy in the body. B-complex vitamin deficiencies may result in beriberi, anemia, or pellagra. Because B12 is found only in animal foods, strict vegetarians need to supplement their diets by taking vitamin B12 supplements or eating foods fortified with this vitamin.

Vitamin C, found in fruits and vegetables, increases the body's absorption of iron and is imperative to the growth and maintenance of body tissues because it promotes the production of collagen, the protein substance that helps hold tissue together. It also boosts the immune system and possibly reduces serum cholesterol levels. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties, which means that it protects cells from damage by oxygen and may protect against heart disease and cancer.
The Professional Chef, 7th Edition
by The Culinary Institute of America

Monday, May 16, 2005

Out and About

Taste Everything Once talks about Penzey's, which is the only place that I buy spice unless I am in a cinnamon-emergency or something similar. If you order something I recommend you add some of the natural cocoa to your list. I've never seen anything like it.

Sweetnicks weekend wrapup includes a recipe for Slow Simmered Beef Roast that I've just gotta try.

I miei cari amici ... aka my friend Garry ... gives us his recipe for his now famous Tuscan Bean and Rice Soup, which I also can't wait to try. Don't miss the generous serving of Dante that Garry dishes up with this recipe.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Nibby Bars

What exactly are nibs? Nibs are pieces of the roasted cacao beans that Scharffen Berger uses to make its unique line of chocolate.

To create the Nibby Bar, the company mixes the coarsely ground nibs into semisweet chocolate.
I like my mashed potatoes smooth without any of the skins and I like my chocolate smooth without any nasty ground up stuff in it. For those of you who like gritty stuff in your chocolate, this article might turn you on to something wonderful.

Chaat in Dallas

Chaat is traditionally served as a snack, but it's also good for lunch or dinner on the run.
Taj Mahal Imports, a huge Indian supermarket, has been serving chaat for years, but in the past, the chaat stand was only open a few hours on certain days.

Now there's rarely a quiet moment at the busy "Chat Corner" in the back of the store, which is open daily from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Dallas has a number of other places where you can get chaat, but only Taj Mahal "tastes the way it should, is served cooked to order in front of you while you wait, and has the variety," says Mr. Singh.
A little taste of home for Indian natives and a little bit of just plain delicious for the rest of us. I have a feeling that we'll be making our way chaat-ward before long.

Celebrities and recipes

Touring with his cookbook has been "just hilarious," Mr. Conroy says. "I nevr have dealt with foodies before; I never have encountered such fanaticism before." He marvels that people would actually argue with him over his expressed dislike of certain herb.

If you're a cilantro-hater, too, Mr. Conroy advises, you might want to keep that fact to yourself.
Memoirs of the famous involving recipes and food are flooding the bookshelves. Well, duh.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Weekend Joke

What do you call a cow with no legs?
Ground beef.

What do you call a cow with two legs?
Lean beef.

Thoughts for Food

Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors.

Alice Walker

More Diner Lingo

From Jitter Buzz.
  • Adam's Ale: Water
  • Balloon Juice: Seltzer water
  • B and B: Bread and butter
  • Biddy Board: French toast
  • Black Cow: (a) chocolate milk or (b) chocolate soda with chocolate ice cream
  • Blindfolded: Basted Eggs
  • Blowout Patches: Pancakes
  • Boiled Leaves: Tea
  • Bossy in a Bowl: Beef Stew
  • C.J. White: Cream cheese and jelly on white bread

Nutrition Basics - Water


Water contains no calories, but humans need it to live. It is in our tissues, blood, bones, teeth, hair, and skin. In fact we are nearly 60 percent water.

Water is critical to the body's chemical reactions. It dissolves minerals and other compounds, transports nutrients to each cell, removes impurities from the bloodstream and the body, and forms an integral part of the cells themselves. Because water cannot be easily compressed, it can cushion joints, organs, and sensitive tissues such as the spinal cord. Water maintains pressure on the eyes' optic nerves for proper vision, stabilized blood pressure, and helps regulate bodily temperature. Excess heat, from exertion or climate, transforms water into a vapor through sweating. This energy exchange cools the body by carrying heat out and away from the body. The human body generally loses about a quart of water daily through the cleansing and cooling processes. Water must be replaced daily, by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
The Professional Chef, 7th Edition
by The Culinary Institute of America

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

TGI Friday's Chocolate Malt Frosting

Makes enough for a 3-layer 9” cake. Best on cake that is not too deep chocolate flavor so there is a good contrast with this very rich frosting.

Step 1:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
Melt chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool.

Step 2:
2 cups whipping cream
1¼ cups malt powder
Beat in electric mixer on high until stiff but not dry, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.

Step 3:
¹⁄₃ cup sugar
½ cup cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip in separate bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add melted chocolate and beat 1 more minute.

Step 4:
Add half of malt-cream mixture and beat until uniform in color, being sure to scrape the bowl so all chocolate is well mixed in. Fold in remaining malt-cream mixture by hand until frosting is uniform in color. Refrigerate if necessary before icing cake.

Maybe Randy Newman Was Just Ahead of His Time

At lectures and other events, many sponsored by drug or medical supply companies, Dr. Oliver heard about the dangers of obesity. "Wherever possible," he said, "data were interpreted to portray obesity as a major problem, no matter how weak the actual findings were."

One talk, he said, involved data correlating obesity with the risk of deaths from auto accidents, with the preliminary finding that obese men are more likely than thinner people to die when they are in a car crash.

Such a conclusion would contradict the so-called obesity paradox - the frequent observation cited by experts like Dr. Katherine Flegal, a statistician at the C.D.C., that the obese tend to fare better than thinner people if they are sick or injured.

Dr. Oliver said he was surprised that the proposed link between obesity and auto fatalities was taken so seriously. But he said he realized that "an association that is dedicated to the study of obesity presumes that obesity is a problem."
A New York Times story (free registration required) puts it all together for us. Whether justified or not, now that smokers are out of the way, fat people are the next target in our politically correct society. And what will it be after that? Short people?

Thanks to my mom for the heads up on this story.