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Heirloom tomato salsa

Salsa is the Italian and Spanish term for sauce, and in English-speaking countries usually refers to the sauces typical of Mexican cuisine known as salsa picante, particularly those used as dips.

Salsa is often a tomato based sauce or dip which is heterogeneous and includes additional components such as (but not limited to) onions, peppers, beans, corn, and various spices. They are typically piquant, ranging from mild to extremely hot.

Most jarred, canned, and bottled salsa and picante sauces sold in the United States in grocery stores are forms of salsa cruda or pico de gallo, and typically have a semi-liquid texture. To increase their shelf lives, these salsas have been cooked to a temperature of 175 °F (79 °C). Some have added vinegar, and some use pickled peppers instead of fresh ones. Tomatoes are strongly acidic by nature, which, along with the heat processing, is enough to stabilize the product for grocery distribution.

Picante sauce of the American type is often thinner in consistency than what is labelled as “salsa”. Picante is a Spanish adjective meaning “piquant”, which derives from picar (“to sting”), referring to the feeling caused by salsas on one’s tongue.

Many grocery stores in the United States and Canada also sell “fresh” refrigerated salsa, usually in plastic containers. Fresh salsa is usually more expensive and has a shorter shelf life than canned or jarred salsa. It may or may not contain vinegar.

Taco sauce is a condiment sold in American grocery stores and fast food Tex-Mex outlets. Taco sauce is similar to its Mexican counterpart in that it is smoothly blended, having the consistency of thin ketchup. It is made from tomato paste instead of whole tomatoes and lacks the seeds and chunks of vegetables found in picante sauce.

While some salsa fans do not consider jarred products to be real salsa cruda, their widespread availability and long shelf life have been credited with much of salsa’s enormous popularity in states outside of the southwest, especially in areas where salsa is not a traditional part of the cuisine. In 1992, the dollar total of salsa sales in the United States exceeded those of tomato ketchup.

From Wikipedia.

Almond lemon cookies

In the United States and Canada a cookie is a small, flat, sweet baked treat, usually containing flour, eggs, sugar, and either butter, cooking oil or another oil or fat, and often including ingredients such as raisins, oats, chocolate chips or nuts. Cookies may be mass-produced, made in small bakeries or home-made. Cookie variants include using two thin cookies with a creme filling (e.g., Oreos) and dipping the cookie in chocolate or another sweet coating. Cookies are often served with beverages such as milk, coffee or tea.

In most other English-speaking countries cookies are called biscuits.

Chip Cookies – In most English-speaking countries outside North America, including the United Kingdom, the most common word for this type of treat is biscuit and the term cookie is often used to describe only certain types of biscuits. However, in many regions both terms are used.In Scotland the term cookie is sometimes used to describe a plain bun.

According to the Scottish National Dictionary, its Scottish name derives from the diminutive form (+ suffix -ie) of the word cook, giving the Middle Scots cookie, cooky or cu(c)kie. It also gives an alternative etymology, from the Dutch word koekje, the diminutive of koek, a cake. There was much trade and cultural contact across the North Sea between the Low Countries and Scotland during the Middle Ages, which can also be seen in the history of curling and, perhaps, golf.

A dish full of cookies – Cookies are most commonly baked until crisp or just long enough that they remain soft, but some kinds of cookies are not baked at all. Cookies are made in a wide variety of styles, using an array of ingredients including sugars, spices, chocolate, butter, peanut butter, nuts, or dried fruits. The softness of the cookie may depend on how long it is baked.

A general theory of cookies may be formulated this way. Despite its descent from cakes and other sweetened breads, the cookie in almost all its forms has abandoned water as a medium for cohesion. Water in cakes serves to make the base (in the case of cakes called “batter”) as thin as possible, which allows the bubbles – responsible for a cake’s fluffiness – to better form. In the cookie, the agent of cohesion has become some form of oil. Oils, whether they be in the form of butter, egg yolks, vegetable oils, or lard, are much more viscous than water and evaporate freely at a much higher temperature than water. Thus a cake made with butter or eggs instead of water is far denser after removal from the oven.

Oils in baked cakes do not behave as soda tends to in the finished result. Rather than evaporating and thickening the mixture, they remain, saturating the bubbles of escaped gases from what little water there might have been in the eggs, if added, and the carbon dioxide released by heating the baking powder. This saturation produces the most texturally attractive feature of the cookie, and indeed all fried foods: crispness saturated with a moisture (namely oil) that does not sink into it.

From Wikipedia.

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On Methods of Cooking – Water boiling slowly has the same temperature as when boiling rapidly, and will do just the same amount of work; there is, therefore, no object in wasting fuel to keep water boiling violently.

Stewing is the most economical method of cooking the cheaper and tougher cuts of meats, fowl, etc. This method consists in cooking the food a long time in sufficient water to cover it—at a temperature slightly below the boiling point.

Braising. In this method of cooking, drippings or fat salt pork are melted or tried out in the kettle and a bed of mixed vegetables, fine herbs and seasoning placed therein. The article being cooked is placed on this bed of vegetables, moisture is added and the meat cooked until tender at a low temperature. The last half hour of cooking the cover is removed, so that the meat may brown richly.

In broiling and grilling, the object is first to sear the surface over as quickly as possible, to retain the rich juices, then turn constantly until the food is richly browned. Pan-broiling is cooking the article in a greased, hissing-hot, cast-iron skillet, turning often and drawing off the fat as it dries out.

Sautéing is practically the same as pan-broiling, except that the fat is allowed to remain in the skillet. The article is cooked in a small amount of fat, browning the food on one side and then turning and browning on the other side.

Frying. While this term is sometimes used in the sense of sautéing it usually consists of cooking by means of immersion in deep, hot fat. When frying meats or fish it is best to keep them in a warm room a short time before cooking, then wipe dry as possible. As soon as the food has finished frying, it should be carefully removed from the fat and drained on brown paper.

Egging and Crumbing Food – Use for this dry bread crumbs, grated and sifted, crackers rolled and sifted, or soft stale bread broken in pieces and gently rubbed through croquette basket; the eggs should be broken into a shallow plate and slightly beaten with a fork to mix the white thoroughly. Dilute the eggs in the proportion of two tablespoons cold milk or water to every egg. The crumbs should be dusted on the board; the food to be fried should be lightly crumbed all over, then dipped into egg so as to cover the article entirely, then rolled again in bread crumbs. Sometimes, as in cooking fish, flour is used for the first coating in place of the crumbs, the article being then dipped into the egg mixture, then with crumbs and then fried.
Larding  Consists of introducing small strips of fat, salt pork or bacon through uncooked meat. To lard, introduce one end of the lardoon (the small strip of fat) into a larding needle and with the pointed end take up a stitch one-half inch deep and one-half inch wide. Draw the needle through carefully so that the ends of the lardoon may project evenly over the surface of the meat. Oftentimes, however, thin slices of fat, salt pork or bacon are placed over the meat as a substitute for larding, although it does not give quite the same delicious flavor or look so attractive.
Marinating – Consists of adding a pickle, composed of vinegar and oil, to the ingredients of some combination used in salad making.
Cleaning Cooking Utensils – For washing dishes and cleaning pots and pans use a solution made by dissolving a teaspoonful or so of Gold Dust Washing Powder in a dish-pan full of water. If the cooking utensils have become charred or stained in cooking, sprinkle some Polly Prim Cleaner on a damp cloth and rub utensil thoroughly. After scouring, rinse the article well in hot water, and wipe dry. Use Polly Prim Cleaner also, for cleaning cutlery and for keeping the refrigerator clean and sweet.

Tricks to plating like a pro

Food presentation is the art of modifying, processing, arranging, or decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal.

The visual presentation of foods is often considered by chefs at many different stages of food preparation, from the manner of tying or sewing meats, to the type of cut used in chopping and slicing meats or vegetables, to the style of mold used in a poured dish. The food itself may be decorated as in elaborately iced cakes, topped with ornamental sometimes sculptural consumables, drizzled with sauces, sprinkled with seeds, powders, or other toppings, or it may be accompanied by edible or inedible garnishes.

The arrangement and overall styling of food upon bringing it to the plate is termed plating. Some common styles of plating include a ‘classic’ arrangement of the main item in the front of the plate with vegetables or starches in the back, a ‘stacked’ arrangement of the various items, or the main item leaning or ‘shingled’ upon a vegetable bed or side item. Item location on the plate is often referenced as for the face of a clock, with six o’clock the position closest to the diner.

A basic rule of thumb upon plating, and even in some cases prepping, is to make sure you have the 5 components to a dish; protein, traditionally at a 6 o’clock position, vegetable, at a 2 o’clock position, starch at an 11 o’clock position, sauce and garnish.

From Wikipedia.

Review: Thug Kitchen

The earliest cookbooks on record seem to be mainly lists of recipes for what would now be called haute cuisine, and were often written primarily to either provide a record of the author’s favorite dishes or to train professional cooks for banquets and upper-class, private homes. Many of these cookbooks, therefore, provide only limited sociological or culinary value, as they leave out significant sections of ancient cuisine such as peasant food, breads, and preparations such as vegetable dishes too simple to warrant a recipe.

The earliest collection of recipes that has survived in Europe is De re coquinaria, written in Latin. An early version was first compiled sometime in the 1st century and has often been attributed to the Roman gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, though this has been cast in doubt by modern research. An Apicius came to designate a book of recipes. The current text appears to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century; the first print edition is from 1483. It records a mix of ancient Greek and Roman cuisine, but with few details on preparation and cooking.

An abbreviated epitome entitled Apici Excerpta a Vinidario, a “pocket Apicius” by Vinidarius, “an illustrious man”, was made in the Carolingian era. In spite of its late date it represents the last manifestation of the cuisine of Antiquity.

The earliest cookbooks known in Arabic are those of al-Warraq (an early 10th-century compendium of recipes from the 9th and 10th centuries) and al-Baghdadi (13th century).

Chinese recipe books are known from the Tang Dynasty, but most were lost.[citation needed] One of the earliest surviving Chinese-language cookbooks is Hu Sihui’s “Yinshan Zhengyao” (Important Principles of Food and Drink), believed to be from 1330. Hu Sihui, Buyantu Khan’s dietitian and therapist, recorded a Chinese-inflected Central Asian cuisine as eaten by the Yuan court; his recipes were adapted from foods eaten all over the Mongol Empire.

After a long interval, the first recipe books to be compiled in Europe since Late Antiquity started to appear in the late thirteenth century. About a hundred are known to have survived, some fragmentary, from the age before printing. The earliest genuinely medieval recipes have been found in a Danish manuscript dating from around 1300, which in turn are copies of older texts that date back to the early 13th century or perhaps earlier.

Low and High German manuscripts are among the most numerous. Among them is Daz buch von guter spise (“The Book of Good Food”) written c. 1350 in Würzberg and Kuchenmeysterey (“Kitchen Mastery”), the first printed German cookbook from 1485. Two French collections are probably the most famous: Le Viandier (“The Provisioner”) was compiled in the late 14th century by Guillaume Tirel, master chef for two French kings; and Le Menagier de Paris (“The Householder of Paris”), a household book written by an anonymous middle class Parisian in the 1390s.

From Southern Europe there is the 14th century Valencian manuscript Llibre de Sent Soví(1324), the Catalan Llibre de totes maneres de potatges de menjar (“The book of all recipes of dishes) and several Italian collections, notably the Venetian mid-14th century Libro per Cuoco,[11] with its 135 recipes alphabetically arranged. The printed De honesta voluptate (“On honourable pleasure”), first published in 1475, is one of the first cookbooks based on Renaissance ideals, and, though it is as much a series of moral essays as a cookbook, has been described as “the anthology that closed the book on medieval Italian cooking”.

Recipes originating in England include the earliest recorded recipe for ravioli (1390s) and Forme of Cury, a late 14th-century manuscript written by chefs of Richard II of England.

Rising to the occasion

Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water, usually by baking. Throughout recorded history it has been popular around the world and is one of the oldest artificial foods, having been of importance since the dawn of agriculture.

There are many combinations and proportions of types of flour and other ingredients, and also of different traditional recipes and modes of preparation of bread. As a result, there are wide varieties of types, shapes, sizes, and textures of breads in various regions. Bread may be leavened by many different processes ranging from the use of naturally occurring microbes (for example in sourdough recipes) to high-pressure artificial aeration methods during preparation or baking. However, some products are left unleavened, either for preference, or for traditional or religious reasons. Many non-cereal ingredients may be included, ranging from fruits and nuts to various fats. Commercial bread in particular, commonly contains additives, some of them non-nutritional, to improve flavor, texture, color, shelf life, or ease of manufacturing.

Many non-cereal ingredients may be included, ranging from fruits and nuts to various fats. Commercial bread in particular, commonly contains additives, some of them non-nutritional, to improve flavor, texture, color, shelf life, or ease of manufacturing.

Depending on local custom and convenience, bread may be served in various forms at any meal of the day. It also is eaten as a snack, or used as an ingredient in other culinary preparations, such as fried items coated in crumbs to prevent sticking, or the bland main component of a bread pudding, or stuffings designed to fill cavities or retain juices that otherwise might drip away.

Partly because of its importance as a basic foodstuff, bread has a social and emotional significance beyond its importance in nutrition; it plays essential roles in religious rituals and secular culture. Its prominence in daily life is reflected in language, where it appears in proverbs, colloquial expressions (“He stole the bread from my mouth”), in prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread”) and even in the etymology of words, such as “companion” and “company” (literally those who eat/share bread with you).

From Wikipedia.

Farmer’s market season

A farmers’ market (also farmers market) is a physical retail market featuring foods sold directly by farmers to consumers. Farmers’ markets typically consist of booths, tables or stands, outdoors or indoors, where farmers sell fruits, vegetables, meats, and sometimes prepared foods and beverages. They are distinguished from public markets, which are generally housed in permanent structures, open year-round, and offer a variety of non-farmer/producer vendors, packaged foods and non-food products.[1][2]

Farmers’ markets exist worldwide and reflect their local culture and economy. Their size ranges from a few stalls to several city blocks. In some cultures, live animals, imported delicacies unavailable locally, and personal goods and crafts are sold.

History

The current concept of a farmers’ market is similar to past concepts, but different in relation to other forms – as aspects of consumer retailing, overall, continue to shift over time. Similar forms existed before the Industrial age but, were often part of broader markets, where suppliers of food and other goods gathered to retail their wares. Trading posts began a shift toward retailers who sold others’ products more than their own. General stores and grocery stores continued that specialization trend in retailing, optimizing the consumer experience, while abstracting it further from production and production’s growing complexities.

Modern industrial food production’s advantages over prior methods are largely based on modern cheap, fast transport and limited product variability. But transport costs and delays cannot be completely eliminated. So, where distance strained industrial suppliers’ reach, where consumers had strong preference for local variety, farmers’ markets remained competitive with other forms of food retail. Recently, consumer demand for foods that are fresher (spend less time in transit) and foods with more variety—has led to growth of farmers’ markets as preferred food-retailing mechanisms.

Cooking fireside

Outdoor cooking differs substantially from kitchen-based cooking, the most obvious difference being lack of an easily defined kitchen area. As a result, campers and backpackers have developed a significant body of techniques and specialized equipment for preparing food in outdoors environments. Such techniques have traditionally been associated with nomadic cultures such as the Berbers of North Africa, the Arab Beduins, the Plains Indians and pioneers of North America, and have been carried down to and refined in modern times for use during recreational outdoors pursuits.

Currently, much of the work of maintaining and developing outdoor cooking traditions in Westernized countries is done by the Scouting movement and by wilderness educators such as the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, as well as by writers and cooks closely associated with the outdoors community.

The type of food common in outdoors settings is somewhat different compared to household foods, and also differs depending on the type of cooking activity. While someone at a public campground may have easy access to a grocery store and be able to prepare plenty of recipes with fresh meat and vegetables, someone on an extended trip into the backcountry will not be able to carry large amounts of fresh food, due to the extra weight from high water content, and will have to rely heavily on food with a low water content, such dried meats and vegetables, packaged dehydrated camping foods, and starches such as ramen, polenta, and dried potato flakes. Wilderness experts in both categories sometimes make use of locally available wild foods as well, particularly wild vegetables and fruit but also occasionally fresh fish and wild game; however, it is not unusual for camping food, especially backcountry food, to be partially or totally vegetarian.

Camping food is often very high in fat and carbohydrates to provide energy for long hikes, and hikers (much like soldiers) must rely heavily on energy-packed snacks such as trail mix, chocolate, energy bars, and sports drinks. Water can also be at a premium, so important parts of a camper’s pantry include chlorine or iodine-based water disinfectants as well as drink mixes to mask the flavor of the chemical treatment.

Recipes are often designed with significant planning and home preparation in mind, with certain ingredients mixed at home and then cooked on the trail; to that end, there are a number of providers of freeze-dried food, both ingredients and full meals, to the outdoors market, and just-add-water instant meals (including hot cereals, pasta or rice in sauce, and instant soup) from the supermarket are popular as well. Alternatively, some wilderness experts advocate bulk rationing, in which each hiker is given a selection of raw ingredients and prepares a meal from scratch on the trail.

From Wikipedia.

Chopped down to size

A pork chop is a chop of pork (a meat chop) cut perpendicularly to the spine of the pig and usually containing a rib or part of a vertebra, served as an individual portion.

The center cut or pork loin chop includes a large T shaped bone, and is structurally similar to the beef T-bone steak. Rib chops come from the rib portion of the loin, and are similar to rib eye steaks. Blade or shoulder chops come from the spine, and tend to contain much connective tissue. The sirloin chop is taken from the (rear) leg end and also contains much connective tissue. The so-called “Iowa Chop” is a thick center cut; the term was coined in 1976 by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

A “Bacon Chop” is cut from the shoulder end and leaves the pork belly meat attached. Pork chops are sometimes soldmarinated to add flavour; marinades such as a chilli sauce or a barbecue sauce are common. As pork is often cooked more thoroughly than beef, thus running the risk of drying out the meat, pork chops can be brined to maintain moistness. In addition one could also wrap their pork chops in bacon to add further moistness during the cooking process.

Pork chops are suitable for roasting, grilling, or frying, but there are also stuffed pork chop recipes. They can be used boneless or bone-in. There is a belief that bone-in chops taste better because bones make the meat juicier by retaining the moisture inside.[citation needed] Pork chops are usually cut between 1/2 inch and 2 inches thick. Improved breeding techniques for hogs have made it possible to cook pork to a lower temperature, about 145 °F, helping the meat to remain juicy, while still being safe to eat.

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