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Unrefined, low-glycemic carbohydrates

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on July 7, 2010

Low-glycemic foods

Not all carbohydrate foods behave the same way in our bodies. Each has a different effect on our blood glucose levels.

What are the benefits of the Glycemic index? How can we incorporate more low-glycemic foods in our diet?

http://www.culinarydelightsblog.com/?p=136

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Feel-good foods for 2009 – Almonds

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on January 24, 2009

Throughout this year I will be posting articles inspired by a list published in the January 2009 issue of Sunset Magazine called “Feel-good foods of 2009.”  It speaks about good eats to incorporate into our diet for a healthier new year. First on the list – Almonds. Here is a brief background, along with nutritional benefits. The bulk of the information will be provided by Practically Edible – “The web’s biggest food encyclopaedia.”

http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/list/Almonds?opendocument&keyword=Almonds#almonds

Almond blossom. Taken in Swifts Creek, Victoria in September 2008

Almond blossom. Taken in Swifts Creek, Victoria in September 2008

Almonds are members of the peach family. The tree blossoms in the spring before it grows leaves.

There are two kinds of Almonds, sweet and bitter. An Almond, technically, isn’t a nut — it’s the pit of a fruit related to peaches, plums and apricots. The Almond fruit is small, green and has soft, velvety fuzz on it; the fruit isn’t any good for eating, as it is tough and fibrous.

Sweet Almonds are usually blanched before use as the outer brown skin can in some people irritate their digestive tube. Some ground Almond packages sold may contain ground peach kernels to lessen the cost to the producer. Sweet Almonds are used both in meals and in desserts. If a recipe calls for Almonds, chances are it means Sweet Almonds.

Bitter Almonds are extremely poisonous when raw and untreated; it is illegal to sell them in their natural state in North America, though their sale remains legal in the European Union. Only the oil and extract is sold. Their oil is mixed with hydrous ferrous sulfate, which reacts with the prussic acid in the Bitter Almonds and causes it to form calcium ferrocyanide crystals, which can be filtered out of the oil, making it safe.

Blanched Almonds have the brown skins removed from the nuts. The Almonds are scalded in boiling water, plunged into cold water, then put through rollers that rub the skin off. The nuts are then dried and packaged. Blanched Almonds cost more than unblanched because of the extra processing required, but not much more, and it’s almost always worth paying the extra to save yourself the fiddling at home.

If you are buying unshelled Almonds, ones that rattle a lot inside the shell have shrunk from aging, so you don’t want those.

Even if you have access to Almond trees, it’s not recommended to pick your own unless you truly know that they are sweet Almond trees and not ones that produce the bitter, poisonous Almonds. California now provides 60% of the world’s Almond production. In China, apricot kernels are often used instead of Almonds.

Cooking Tips
If your whole Almonds came with the skin on, or if you had to shell them, to remove the skin pour boiling water over them and let them soak for two minutes. Then drain, and rub the skin off. These are called Blanched Almonds.

To toast Almonds, spread them out on a baking sheet and then place on middle rack of oven preheated to 350F. You can toast slivers, halved or whole Almonds. If toasting sliced or slivered Almonds, watch them very closely as they can burn quite quickly. Toast about 5 minutes, then take out, toss, and return to oven until they are just turning a golden brown, about 15 minutes total, tops. Play close attention to them after about 12 minutes, as they can go from golden to burnt in a flash. Remove from oven, turn out onto a plate and let cool.

Almonds are often eaten on its own, raw or toasted. Along with other nuts, they are often sprinkled over desserts for an added crunch. Sweet almonds are used in marzipan, nougart, French macaroons, Financiers, baklava and other wonderful sweets.

Substitutes
Other nuts or seeds.

Nutrition
Almonds contain as much calcium as milk.

Bitter Almonds, when mixed with water, let off cyanide gas. For this reason, it is illegal to sell them as is in many parts of the world; you are restricted to selling only a treated extract from them.

Sweet almonds contain almost no carbohydrates, so they can be made into flour for cakes and cookies for low-carb diets. Almonds are also rich in Vitamin E and monounsaturated fat. Recent research shows that including almonds in the diet elevates the blood levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) and lowered levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL).

Equivalents
1 pound unshelled Almonds = 1 to 1 1/4 cups shelled = 5 to 6 oz shelled = 150 -170g shelled
1 pound shelled Almonds = 450g shelled Almonds = 3 cups whole or halved = 3 1/3 cups chopped = 4 cups slivered or sliced

Storage
Packaged Almonds can be stored at room temperature for up to two years; even longer if refrigerated right from the start. Once opened, refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 months. If your Almonds turn yellowish, taste one: they may be getting quite old and rancid, in which case offer them to your neighbourhood birds or squirrels. Toasted Almonds can be frozen for up to 6 months.

History
The Almond tree is a native of western Asia and North Africa. Almonds were grown in ancient Egypt, and in Israel: they are mentioned in the Old Testament. The Greeks and Romans both grew Almonds and made oil from them. A Greek myth has the gods changing a disconsolate woman (Phyllis) into an Almond tree (probably the bitter kind). The Romans introduced the Almond tree into England during their settlement there.

Almonds
Mixed blanched almonds
– © Denzil Green

The Romans and Greeks believed that Bitter Almonds helped prevent you from becoming drunk, and this belief carried through the middle ages. This theory (noted by the writer Plutarch) may have led to the now out-of-fashion practice of serving salted Almonds with dinner.

Almonds have been found at Pompeii and under the Knossos palace in Crete.

During the Middle Ages, Almonds were an important trade commodity — Almond Milk was used in a great deal of cooking. It wasn’t until about 1562 that people in England began deliberately growing Almond trees, largely as garden plants for their blossoms. Yet Almonds were widely known. At the time of Shakespeare, “An Almond for a parrot” meant the height of temptation, perhaps bad temptation, as they must have noted that Bitter Almonds were not good for birdies.

Almond trees were brought to Spain and Portugal by the Moors; Spanish monks brought Almond trees to California.

Literature & Lore
Almond < Almande (Old English) < amande (French) < amandela (Latin) < amygdalus (Greek)

And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded Almonds. Numbers 17:8

Would I could meet that rogue Diomed! I would croak like a raven; I would bode, I would bode. Patroclus will give me any thing for the intelligence of this whore: the parrot will not do more for an Almond than he for a commodious drab. Thersites. Troilus and Cressida, V, 2. Shakespeare.

Also called: Prunus dulcis (Scientific Name) Amande (French) Mandel (German) Mandorla (Italian) Almendra (Spanish) Amêndoa (Portuguese) Badam (Indian)

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Food-related Business Ideas

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on August 19, 2008

I have a bit of a dilema, and I could use some help.
I love food  Grin  I’ve gone to school for the Culinary Arts and have worked in the field for a few years. I currently own a gourmet gift business. I love my business, however, recently I’ve been feeling a bit unfulfilled.
I Love Baking! I Love Cooking! I love seeing the joy and satisfaction on people’s faces as they enjoy what I’ve created. That’s when I feel fully expressed and self-actualized. Unfortunately it’s hard to establish a food-related business in the State of Florida (lots of hoops and red tape and money 😦 ).
Does anyone have any ideas regarding food businesses I could look into? I don’t have a lot of resources to invest in starting something big like a restaurant, but, I welcome all suggestions.

Thanks so much. Look forward to hearing from you.

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The History of Butter

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on April 23, 2008

The word butter comes from the Greek word “bou-tyron”, which seems to mean “cowcheese.” It is also thought to be borrowed from the language of the Scythians, a northern tribe of horsemen. According to ancient histories, the Scythians considered butter so important that they employed blind slaves to produce it because they wouldn’t be distracted while churning the cream needed to make it.

Some historians believe that by the time the Scythians were traveling across the plains of Central Asia hundreds of years before Christ, butter had already been in existence for millennia. Abraham, went visited by the three angels and told he would have a son named Isaac, served them butter and cakes and meat [Genesis 18 v 1-8]. It was used to flavor the breads of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. It was also used to treat wounds and burns by the Romans. The first documented mention of butter making occurred around 1,500 – 2,000 BC in the sacred writings of Asiatic India dwellers. Back then, butter was not only used as food, but also as an illumination oil, for medicinal purposes, and as a coating for the skin to protect tribe members from the bitter winter cold.

In India, clarified butter is called ghee. According to Hindu mythology, and mythologies the world over, butter symbolizes semen; and churning represents both the sexual act and the formation of a child in the womb. To make ghee, butter is melted and simmered long enough to extract all the water, leaving the anhydrous butter fat. During the process, it takes on a buttery taste. By removing the albuminous (simple heat-coagulable water-soluble proteins which occur in milk and other animal substances) curd and water that favor the growth of organisms that promote spoilage, ghee does not become rancid as easily or readily as butter. It can also be stored unrefrigerated for several months.

Butter is made by churning cream until it reaches a semi-solid state. By U.S. law, butter must be at least 80 percent milk fat. It may be artificially colored with annato and carotene; it may also be salted. Unsalted butter contains absolutely no salt. Salt acts as a preservative and, because unsalted butter contains none, it is more perishable than salted butter and should be stored in the freezer section. To store butter, wrap airtight and refrigerate for up to 1 month (regular butter) or up to 2 weeks (unsalted). It can also be frozen for up to 6 months.

I am currently searching for relevant pictures to include with this post. Please bear with me.

References:

http://webexhibits.org/butter/

The Butter Board –

http://www.naturalandtasty.co.uk/history_butter.htm

Food For Life Global –

http://www.ffl.org/ffl_pf_real_milk.php

Epicurious.com –

http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/search?query=butter

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Chocolate Bread – I’ve got to try this!

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on January 24, 2008

I came across this article today and I got so excited! I mean it’s about chocolate and bread, two of my favorite things! 🙂

Check out the recipe

I don’t think I’m the only person who feels that bread is more than just food, it’s almost a metaphor for life. Whenever I make a loaf, I wonder if this is how God feels while creating us. It requires such love, care, patience and just the right mix of “ingredients.” As Emeril would say, it’s truly a “food of love” thing.

Let me know what you think of the article and the recipe. I definitely will be trying it as soon as I can.

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Interesting website and blog

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on January 9, 2008

I came across the website for the International Association of Culinary Professionals while searching for culinary organizations. I was pleasantly surprized to find that this organization also has a blog.

Here is the link: http://international-iacp.blogspot.com/ 

The blog is titled Global News Blog. I haven’t had the time to explore all it has to offer but I’ve already found some very good information. It is great to see a blog written from the point of view of a professional culinarian.

Hope you learn something cool  🙂

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A Pleasant Surprise – Gourmet Pepper Jelly

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on October 11, 2007

I came across a Caribbean-inspired gourmet pepper jelly a few months ago and have been looking for an excuse to open a jar.

It’s made by blending Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers, red and green bell peppers, along with sugar and spices. This creates a sweet and tangy jelly that can be used in a number of ways.

For appetizers, pepper jelly is great with cream cheese on crackers. For a fancier affair, like a dinner party, glaze mini cheesecakes with the jelly, much as you’d do with an apricot glaze.

For the entree, pepper jelly is great paired alongside meats. For example, grill cubed chicken breast, bell peppers and pineapples on skewers, basting continually with the pepper jelly. Another great recipe involves simmering chicken breast seasoned with salt, black pepper and garlic powder in melted butter in a frying pan until meat is no longer pink. Stir in the jelly and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve over steaming hot rice.

The most intriguing idea I came across for using pepper jelly was in the dessert/snack category. Make a batch of your favourite shortbread cookie recipe. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 3/8ths of an inch thick. Cut into bars and place on lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes. Bake in 375-degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until just turning color. Remove from oven and while still warm, spoon the jelly evenly over the center of the bars. Adjust the heat to your liking by adding as little or as much of the jelly as you wish. Slice each log into individual cookies. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing for an extra sweet touch. The crisp heat of the pepper jelly marries very well with the buttery richness of the shortbread cookies.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to try something new and exciting using gourmet pepper jellies. I know I will.

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The Versatility of Sponge Cake

Posted by culinarydelightsgb on September 5, 2007

Baking sponge cakes, called genoise in French, is one of the basic skills every baker or pastry chef has to master. They are made from three basic ingredients – eggs, sugar and flour – and occasionally butter. Classic genoise contains no baking powder or baking soda. The leavening is achieved through whipping air into the eggs. What results is a somewhat crumbly cake with a light and airy texture. It’s an eminently adaptable cake that can easily be turned into completely different dishes.

The following are three recipes I found that utilize one sponge cake batter to create three very different bite-sized treats. Great for dinner parties or festive get-togethers. The recipes are courtesy of Flo Braker of Palo Alto – author of “The Simple Art of Perfect Baking” and “Sweet Miniatures.” You can e-mail her at food@sfchronicle.com.

 

Basic Genoise Cake

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sifted cake flour

Instructions:

  • Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 350.

  • Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan; set aside.

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour into a small bowl; set nearby.

  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until tripled in volume, about 4 to 5 minutes.

  • Fold flour into the mixture, one-third at a time, just until incorporated.

  • Pour about 1 cup of the batter into the melted butter, and fold just until combined. Return the butter mixture into the reserved batter, and again fold to combine.

  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

  • Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes.

  • Run a knife around the edge of the cake, freeing the sides and allowing air to get under the layer Invert the cake onto a rack and cool completely. Makes one 9″ round cake.

 *****

I found a more professional version of a Sponge cake recipe in one of my favorite resources, “The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals”, by Bo Friberg. Feel free to compare and use whichever you prefer. Makes two 10×2 inch cakes.

12 eggs

12 oz. granulated sugar

1 tsp. salt

8 oz. cake flour

4 oz. cornstarch

5 oz. melted unsalted butter

Instructions:

  • Coat pans with cake pan spray.

  • Place eggs, sugar, and salt in mixer bowl.

  • Heat over simmering water to about 110 degrees F (43 degrees C), whipping continuously.

  • Remove from heat and whip at high speed until the mixture has cooled, is light and fluffy, and has reached its maximum volume.

  • Sift the flour and cornstarch together and fold into the batter by hand.

  • Fold in the melted butter.

  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans.

  • Bake immediately at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for approximately 15 minutes.

  • Let the sponges cool before removing them from the pans.

 *****

Pear-Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

4 ripe but firm medium-sized pears, peeled, quartered, cored and cut into small pieces

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

1/3 cup fresh cranberries

1 recipe Basic Genoise Cake batter (see above)

Instructions:

  • Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  • Melt the butter in a heavy small saucepan.

  • Stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup.

  • Pour into a 9″ square baking pan.

  • Toss pear pieces in orange juice and arrange them in the butter-sugar syrup with the cranberries.

  • Spread the cake batter evenly over the pear-cranberry mixture.

  • Bake 20-25 minutes.

  • Cool cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then invert onto a large plate. Cut into 1 1/2 ” squares. Makes about 3 dozen squares.

 Per square: 59 calories, 1 g. protein, 10 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. fat (1 g. saturated), 27 mg. cholesterol, 16 mg. sodium, 0 g. fiber.

Chocolate Madeleines

1 recipe Basic Genoise Cake batter (see above)

3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Instructions:

  • Adjust rack to the lower third of oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  • Grease and flour a Madeleine pan.

  • Fill each shell-shaped container half-way.

  • Bake about 12 minutes.

  • Gently pry the cakes out of the molds and cool on wire racks.

  • When cool, melt the butter with the chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water; do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir until smooth.

  • Using a pastry brush, coat the Madeleines with the chocolate glaze. Set aside until the chocolate sets. Makes 2 dozen Madeleines.

 Per Madeleine: 82 calories, 2 g. protein, 9 g. carbohydrate, 5 g. fat (3 g. saturated), 42 mg. cholesterol, 23 mg. sodium, 0 g. fiber.

Mini Jelly Rolls

1 recipe Basic Genoise Cake batter (see above)

1 cup red jelly, such as currant or strawberry

Instructions:

  • Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  • Line a 12 x 15 1/2 x 1/2 ” baking sheet with aluminum foil, leaving a 2″ overhang on short ends.

  • Fold the overhangs unver the ends of the pan. Grease and flour the foil; tap out the excess flour.

  • Gently pour the cake batter into the pan, spreading evenly.

  • Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched near the center and it is a light golden color, about 5 minutes.

  • Place the pan on a wire rack. Using a knife, gently release any portion of the cake sticking to the sides of the pan.

  • Cover the baking sheet with another baking sheet and invert the cake onto it.

  • Remove original baking sheet, and peel off the foil carefully to avoid tearing the cake.

  • Turn the foil over so that the sticky side faces up and reposition it back on the cake.

  • Cover with a large wire rack and invert right side up. Cool completely.

  • Spread a thin layer of jelly over the cake. Cut the cake in half to make two 12 x 7 1/2″ pieces, then cut these two cakes into half again to make four rectangles about 6 x 7 1/2″

  • Place each cake rectangle in a sheet of parchment paper about 10″ wide and 15″ long. Using your fingertips, roll the cake up, jellyroll fashion.

  • Position the cake roll across the bottom third of the parchment paper. Bring the top edge of the paper toward you and drape it over the cake, allowing at least a 2″ overhang.

  • Use the edge of a rimless baking sheet, placed at a 45 degree angle against the roll and work surface, to press against the cake while pulling the bottom portion of paper creating a resistance that results in compressing the spongy cake roll.

  • Wrap the excess parchment paper around the roll and slip some thin rubber bands over it.

  • Repeat the procedure with other rolls.

  • At serving time, remove the rubber bands and parchment paper. Slice the rolls into 1/2″-wide slices. Makes 60 servings

 Per serving: 34 calories, 1 g. protein, 6 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. fat (0 g.saturated), 15 mg. cholesterol, 10 mg. sodium, 0 g. fiber.

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