Archive for May, 2012

National Hamburger Day – NATIONAL FOOD DAYS

NATIONAL FOOD DAYS

May 28th

National Hamburger Day

How many times have you heard that phrase ‘The All-American Hamburger”?  And what is the Hamburger named after?  Its name would imply that it is made from Ham, but that is not the case.  Our Hamburger derived it name from the city of Hamburg, Germany from which many immigrants to this country were from.  The immigrants made patties of seasoned minced beef which eventually came to be known as Hamburg Steak.

According to the Library of Congress, the Hamburger as we know it today, was originally made in New Haven Connecticut in 1895 and has grown into what is probably America’s most popular food.  Today, Hamburgers are made not only from beef, but from Turkey, Chicken, Mushrooms and even Tofu.  The Burger ranges all the way from mini-Burgers known as sliders to Monster Burgers that one could barely be able to bite into.

There are naked Burgers, Cheese Burgers, Mushroom Burgers, Double Burgers, Hawaiian Burgers, Turkey Burgers, Vegie Burgers, Tofu Burgers.  We could probably do a whole word search, just with the names of all the Burgers joints there are around the country.  Lately, Burgers have enjoyed an upswing on the Gourmet Scale.  New Burger places have opened up which price there Burgers at $10 or more.  These upscale burgers offer a better grade of meat and a great variety of garnishes and sauces.

 

BUILD A CHEESEBURGER

BUN BOTTOM

THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING

MEAT PATTY

CHEESE

GRILLED ONIONS

CHILI SAUCE

SLICED TOMATO

PICKLE

LETTUCE

BUN TOP DRESSED WITH MAYONNAISE

 See the complete recipe at cheeseburgers/

 For a Chili Burger recipe see:  chili-burgers/

 For a great Portobello Mushroom Recipe see:  portobello-mushroom-burgers/

My favorite all-time Burger during my High School Days and later was Bob’s Big Boy.  I still like to have one for old times’ sake and will go out of my way to get one at least once a year.

Below is a list of some of the Hamburger Restaurants in Southern California.  The ones with the asterisk are either out of business or there are very few left.

 

Bob’s Big Boy – original location is Toluca Lake –

Burger King – all over

Carl’s Jr.

 

CAR'LS JR.

 

Fat Boy – Studio City

 

Five Guys** – Thousand Oaks

 

FIVE GUYS

 

 

Habit – Santa Barbara based – now in many locations in Ventura County

 

 

Habit

 

Hamburger Hamlet – original  on Sunset Blvd.  Westwood Village was my favorite location.  Van Nuys Blvd. in Sherman Oaks and Sunset Blvd. still open.

 

In and Out – All over

 

In N Out

 

Jack in the Box – All over

 

JACK IN THE BOX

 

McDonald’s – goes back to the  fifties when it was known as Peak’s, a licensee of McDonald’s.

 

McDonald's

 

The Counter** – Westlake Village and other locations

Umami Burger** – Westlake Village and other locations

Wendy’s – all over

 

** – Relatively new – Umami is also located in Beverly Hills

 

If you can add to this list, please do so in the comment box.

Also, please Vote for your Favorite Hamburger place!

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/27 at 9:13 PM

Categories: Dinner Ideas, Lunch Ideas, National Food Days   Tags: , , , ,

BLACKBERRY BUCKLE – MY CULINARY DIARY

May 25, 2012

When I was at the market today, I noticed that Blackberries and Blueberries were on sale at 4 for $5.00.  Since the price was so good and I love Berries, I decided to purchase some.  I thought I picked up 2 boxes of each, but when I got home, what do you know but all the boxes were Blackberries.  My intention had been to make a Blueberry Cheesecake for National Blueberry Day.  Not wanting to go back to the market, my plans were suddenly changed.  What to do with all those Blackberries?

Since traditional breakfast food can get boring, I often like to make a fruited baked dish and what can be more delicious than a Blackberry Buckle for Breakfast?  Even though the Buckle was probably improvised by our early settlers, this particular recipe comes from Oregon state where Blackberries grow in abundance, wild or domesticated.  Buckles are similar to cobblers, but unlike a cobbler, the batter is put into the pan first and the fruit is added on top of the batter.  When the dish bakes, the batter rises up around the fruit and seals it in.

Cobblers usually are made with the fruit on the bottom with the dough (which is more like a biscuit dough) being scooped on top of the fruit.  The difference in the consistency of the cake mixture of the Buckle is what makes the difference in the assembly process.  Since biscuit dough for cobblers is considerably thicker than the batter (which is more cake like) for the Buckle, the Cobbler is made with the fruit on the bottom, since it is unlikely that it would rise up around the fruit if the fruit was on top.  Since the Batter for the Buckle is thinner, it tends to rise up around and over the fruit.

Buckle is fun to make and is an especially fun thing to make with your children.  To a child, it would be like magic when the batter bakes and covers the fruit.  Buckles, like Cobblers, can be made with most any kind of fruit, so it is good to use fruit that is in season.  Fruit that is ‘in season’ tastes better in that it is probably picked closer to being ripe (if it is local) than fruit that is out of season.  Out of season fruit, usually comes from another country in another hemisphere and because it has to be shipped, there is no way that it can be picked ripe.  Also, if you purchase fruit that is ‘in season’, the price will be better also, as is the case with the Berries that I purchased.

Buckles and Cobblers are dishes that are best eaten warm right out of the oven, but if you want it for Breakfast and don’t want to have to get up and make it and make everyone wait until it gets done, it can be made the night before.  You can reheat it in the oven for about 10 minutes or you can microwave it for about one minute.  There are not many things that I like to microwave, especially baked goods, but this is one dish that will not be affected detrimentally by the microwaves.

To make the Blackberry Buckle, first sort through the berries and pick out any that may be bad.  Rinse them with cool water and gently blot dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels.  Theoretically, you are not supposed to wash berries since they are like little sponges and can absorb too much water.  This is the case with mushrooms also.  You are just supposed to wipe them off with a damp paper towel.  While this works fine for strawberries and mushrooms, it is almost impossible for berries like Blackberries or Raspberries or even Blueberries.  Therefore, I just put them in a colander and rinse them with cool water and then gently dry them with a clean dish towel or paper towels.  You do not want to leave any excess water on them because this in turn will affect your baked product.

Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9 x9 baking dish with a vegetable spray/flour combination such as Baker’s Joy® or Bake Kleene® or butter it and then lightly sprinkle with flour.  Be sure to shake out the excess flour.

 

Spray the Dish

 

Make the Batter and pour it into the baking dish.  Place the Berries on top of the Batter.

 

Blackberies om top of Batter

 

Make up the streusel topping and sprinkle over the Berries.

 

Streusel Topping Added

 

If you make your Batter and Streusel topping in your food processor, make the Streusel Topping first and then transfer it to a small dish.  Next make your Batter.  This will eliminate having to wash the processor bowl more than once.  If you look at the pictures below, you will see that the topping does not look like it was sprinkled on.  It looks sort of clumpy.  That is because I made the batter and did not want to wash and dry the bowl (or use a second bowl).  So, it is much better if you make your topping first.  It actually works either way, but if you do it as I did, you cannot sprinkle on the topping.  You have to spoon it on in very small increments.

Bake for 35-50 minutes (the finished product should be a dark golden brown), remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.  This dish is great served with heavy cream, whipped cream or ice cream.  It will provide 6 ample servings.  Again, you can make it with most any type of fruit that is in season, except Bananas or Melons.

For the complete recipe please see the recipe section of this blog.  blackberry-buckle/  Try it and see how much your family will enjoy the Buckle!

 

By the way, I still have two boxes of Blackberries left.  We could just use them for eating out of hand, but this probably won’t happen, so I will most like turn them into turnovers.  I love puff pastry, but don’t especially like to make it.  Since we have some prolific fruit trees in our yard, I frequently make turnovers and freeze them to bake and eat as needed.  Making puff pastry can be fun, but time consuming it doesn’t always turn out as it should.  Therefore, I keep a large box of puff pastry (that I purchase at Smart & Final – or another restaurant supply that you may have in your city) and pull out the sheets as I need them.  Once I cut the dough and place the fruit inside and seal the edges, I freeze the turnovers in a single layer on a cookie or baking sheet.  Once they freeze, I then put them in plastic bags that are labeled with what they are along with the date and then put them back into the freezer.  This way, you can just bake them as needed.  Since turnovers, especially when made with puff pastry, taste best just out of the oven, just bake what you are going to be eating or serving that day.

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/25 at 11:31 PM

Categories: Baking, Breakfast Ideas, Dessert Ideas, Fruit, Main, Pastry   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

MY CULINARY DIARY – BAKE – A – THON

MY CULINARY DIARY

April 29TH, 2012

Having been sort of neglectful on the Diary Front, here is a blog I forgot to post.

From the 24th through the 27th we were in Imperial Beach down near the Tijuana Border to do some Birding.  We saw 73 different species of birds and added two new ones to our ‘Life List’.  The new birds we saw were the Red Faced Comorant and the Beldings Sparrow.    We went through La Jolla on our way home and saw tons of Breeding Brown Pelicans and more Cormorants in their rookeries.  In addition we saw many seals; adults and pups.

The food we ate during this trip was forgettable but the food we are now eating at home is not, so let’s get down to brass tacks and actually talk about my Culinary Activities.

Since Wednesday, May 2nd is ‘National Truffle Day’ I decided to make the centers for some Truffles which I will serve to my Mah Jong Group on Wednesday. (The Blog just below this one)  Of course, Ev also needed his ‘Chocolate Fix’, so I did that as well.  It was time for Brownies and Ev decided he wanted some with Chocolate Chips in them, so I took it one step further and made White Chocolate Brownies with Semi- Sweet Chocolate Chips.  As so often happens, the Chocolate Chips were heavier than the batter and sank to the bottom of the pan, but this was okay, because when they baked, it was like having a layer of pure chocolate at the bottom.  These were especially good when they were warm and the chocolate was still gooey, but they still taste almost as good two days later.

 

White Chocolate/Chocolate Chip Brownie Batter (Adding the Choc Chips)

 

Sunday Morning was another Bake – A – Thon Day for me.  I had three things going practically all at once.  The first thing I had planned to do was to make some bread –this time Challah was on the agenda.  I made the Dough using my Kitchen Aid and then covered it with a damp cloth and put it outside in the sun to rise.  The warmth from the sun helped it to rise much more quickly than it would have done if I had left it in the house.  Since I did want to get out and go shopping in the early afternoon, this was very helpful.

While the Challah was rising, I then decided to coat the Truffle Centers that I had made the day before.  As I mentioned in the Truffle Blog, the White Chocolate Ganache was too soft to scoop and roll so I added some unsweetened Cocoa to the White Chocolate Ganache.  This turned out to be an excellent choice.  I still had the creaminess of the white chocolate and the richness of the cocoa.  Please see the Truffle Blog for more on this activity.

Next, since the next day was National Raisin Day I decided to make some Refrigerator Raisin Cookies which are not only good for snacking but also are a quick and easy breakfast with a glass of juice or milk.

Mixed Cookie Dough

 

Before I was finished with the Cookie Dough, the Bread Dough had risen, so I had to bring it in, punch it down, let it rest and then shape it into loaves.  The last time I made Challah, I braided it and made one large loaf.  This time I divided the Dough into two portions, and twisted each portion.  I then placed the Dough on a parchment covered baking sheet, covered it and let it rise for 30 minutes or until 50% doubled in bulk.  The next step was to brush it with an Egg Wash and then I sprinkled it with Sesame Seeds.  Poppy Seeds are also good for those who prefer them or for variety, use Sesame on one and Poppy on the other.

Thirty minutes later, the Bread had risen sufficiently to bake it, so I heated the oven to 375 degrees, making sure the baking rack was at the lowest level, close to the heat source.  This insures that the bottom of the bread bakes as well as the top and sides.  Just before placing the loaves in the oven, I misted them lightly with water.  (This helps to insure that you have a good crust)  Thirty minutes later the bread was completely baked.  I took the pan of bread out of the oven and set it on the stove to cool slightly.  When the loaves were cool enough to touch, but still warm, I put them on a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Baked Challah

While the Bread was rising I finished the Cookie Dough, transferred it to a bowl and placed it in the refrigerator to set up.  At this point I cleaned up the kitchen, got dressed and went out and did my shopping.

When I returned from shopping, I divided the Cookie Dough in half;  shaped one half into a roll 2 inches in circumference and about 12 inches long and then wrapped it in plastic wrap.

Rolled & Wrapped Dough

 

Normally, you would just refrigerate this and then slice off the cookies and bake them as needed.  I decided just to scoop half the dough and then freeze the roll for use at a later date.

Unbaked Raisin Cookies

 

The scooped cookies baked in about 14 minutes.  I love raisins and caramel and the use of brown sugar in this cookie gives it a distinct caramel taste.

 

 

Having finished with the baking and candy making, I put away the groceries and then took a rest.  At 4:30 I proceeded to start preparations for dinner.  Tonight was going to be Meatloaf.  This is another item, that I find it just as easy to make more than one, so I made a double recipe, shaped the loaves, wrapped one and froze it and then placed the other in my baking pan.  I scrubbed some Potatoes to put in the oven along with the meatloaf.

 

Ingredients for Meatloaf

 

 

Free formed Meatloaf before baking

 

 

Meatloaf; leftovers for sandwiches

 

For our vegetable we had Broccoli sautéed with Olive Oil and Basil.

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/21 at 5:01 PM

Categories: Baking, Breakfast Ideas, Dinner Ideas, Main   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

PICK STRAWBERRIES DAY

PICK STRAWBERRIES DAY

May 20th

 

Strawberry season in Southern California is year round, but the peak of the season with the best tasting strawberries available is mid to late Spring.  That being said, it is probably not coincidental that the Strawberry Festival in Oxnard is taking place this weekend.  Oxnard is the chief growing area in Southern California (at least in close proximity to the Los Angeles Basin) and their annual Strawberry Festival is happening, starting at 8:30 Saturday (May 19th) morning.  The festival closes at 6 PM and will re-open on Sunday.  There will be lots of booths featuring food made with Strawberries.  There will of course, be other booths with crafts and different types of food.

If you want to go out and pick your strawberries there are many places available.  Just travel north on the 101 and keep your eye out for produce stands once you get past Camarillo.  If you prefer your strawberries already picked, you can pick and choose from several varieties that the various growers will have available.  My favorite is the ‘Seascape’ which to me tastes the closest to the wild strawberries that I had in France a number of years ago.  The wild variety that I had were much smaller than any that we get here, but boy were they tasty!

There are varieties of strawberries that are almost white in the middle and then there are those varieties that are red throughout.  In my opinion, the sweetest berries are those that are completely red, inside and out.  Some of the varieties that are available now are the Gaviota, Seascape, Camarosa, Ventana and Albion.

Strawberries are great just to eat out of hand, but they are also wonderful in desserts and as a breakfast food with dry or cooked cereal.  Strawberries are used to make ice cream, milk shakes, pies, turnovers, jams and jellies, pancake syrup and everyone’s favorite, strawberry shortcake. A favorite at Valentine’s Day is to use the extra large strawberries with the stem still on to dip in melted chocolate.

For Breakfast try Strawberry Belgian Waffles. strawberry-belgian-waffles/

A great item for your Cheese Tray would be Strawberry Brie.  Just bring the Brie to room temperature and cover with the Strawberry Sauce (Belgian Strawberry Waffle Recipe)

 

Brie with Strawberry Sauce

 

The recipe Strawberry Chantilly Cream strawberry-chantilly-crepe-filling/ may be used as a dessert or as a filling for crepes which would be good either for dessert or breakfast.

For the Crepe Shell Recipe see deserts/sweet-crepe-shells/

A good item for a ‘Do-It-Yourself Dessert Bar would be Chocolate Covered Strawberries. chocolate-covered-strawberries/

For a really scrumptious dessert try my Strawberry Marshmallow Cream Pie.  But be prepared to take some time making this one! strawberry-marshmallow-cream-pie/

 

Strawberry Marshmallow Cream Pie

 

Go pick some strawberries today and try some of the recipes in this blog.  Happy Strawberry Picking and/or Eating!

For more about strawberries please see my ezine article at  http://ezinearticles.com/?Strawberries,-Springtime-Delight&id=6017170

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/18 at 11:14 AM

Categories: Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Dessert Ideas, Fruit, Lunch Ideas, National Food Days   Tags: , , , ,

CHERRY COBBLER DAY

CHERRY COBBLER DAY

May 17th

 

May 17th is Cherry Cobbler Day here in the United States.  May is a great month for this tasty dish in that in Southern California the Cherries are just coming into season and what better than fresh cherries for this wonderful dessert?

Cobblers go back to the early English settlers that came to this country.  Since they did not have the proper ovens to make their pies, cobblers were made in pots hung over a fire.  The fillings could have been sweet fruit or savory items such as fowl.  The part that makes it a cobbler is the Dough topping that was spooned on top of the filling.  When the ingredients, including the dough were in the pot, it was covered and hung over the fire.  The heat created steam in the filling and this in turn cause the dough to puff up and bake.

The name Cobbler may have been derived from ‘cobbled streets’ that were so often found in early towns or perhaps from the fact that a Cobbler was someone who patched shoes – the dough spooned on top of the filling could have resembled the patches that were put on shoes in those early days.  Whatever the reason behind the name, the Cobbler is a delicious dish that again can be either savory or sweet.  Since today is Cherry Cobbler Day, we will concentrate on the sweet aspects of Cobbler.

The best Cherry Cobbler will be made from Tart Cherries, but these seem to be hard to find these days.  Tart (pie cherries) can be found as a canned product but unless you actually go to where the Cherries are grown, it may be hard to find them fresh.  When I was a child and when my children were small, we used to go ‘Cherry Picking’ first in Cherry Valley in Beaumont, California which is east of Los Angeles and then in Leona Valley which is North of Los Angeles.  Unfortunately, gone are the days when Cherries were reasonably priced.  Today you can pay as much as $10 per pound for Cherries, but more commonly when in season between $4 & $6 per pound.

For Cobbler, the Cherries need to be pitted.  There are several ways in which this can be done.  The easiest is to have a Cherry Pitter that will pit multiple cherries at one time.  Then there is the single Cherry Pitter that does one at a time.  If you don’t have either of these, then the alternative is to take a tapestry needle and dig out the pits, one at a time from one cherry at a time.  My preference is the multiple pitter.  If you don’t want to bother pitting the cherries at all, you can purchase frozen cherries or canned ones.  Either kind will be good for your cobbler.  For a simple recipe for Cherry Cobbler please see the recipe section of this blog. deserts/cherry-cobbler/

 

Multiple Cherry Pitter

 

In the Cherry Pitter at the left, the Cherries are fed into the basin at the top.  The drop down one at a time into the single opening and then by pushing down the plunger the Pit is removed and goes nto the bucket.  The Cherry comes out the spout in front.  When using this pitter, it is best to have a container for the Cherries to fall into.

This particular pitter was made in West Germany.  I have not seen any US manufactured ones, but that does not mean there are not any.

This pitter is best, because you can rapidly push dow the plunger to extract the pits – much faster than the single pitter.

 

 

 

Single Cherry Pitter

In the Pitter at right, the individual Cherry goes

in the round, lower section and then you squeeze
the top down so that the prong will push out
the pit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The amount of sweetener that is used with the Cherries will depend on the type of Cherry used.  The very sweet Cherries such as Bing or Mt. Rainer will require very little sugar.  The tart Cherries such as Queen Anne will require as much as a cup of sugar.  Whichever Cherry you use, a small amount of Lemon Juice and Almond Extract will enhance the flavor of the Cherries and hence your Cobbler.

Cobblers are good for dessert or as we like it, for breakfast.  Serve it either with fresh heavy cream, whipped cream or ice cream.  Cobblers are best served warm, so if you can’t serve it right out of the oven, you can reheat it slightly before serving.  This is one of the times, that microwave heating will not be detrimental as it is with most baked goods.

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/15 at 4:32 PM

Categories: Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Dessert Ideas, Fruit, Main, National Food Days   Tags: , , , , ,

NATIONAL BUTTERMILK BISCUIT DAY

NATIONAL BUTTERMILK BISCUIT DAY

April 14th

 

Bite into an ethereal piece of heaven – a delightful flaky tasty Buttermilk Biscuit, which if made properly will be a delicious accompaniment to most any meal or even be the basis of a meal itself.  The Southern United States is probably the most famous place for Buttermilk Biscuits, but that does not mean you can’t find good ones any place else.  Actually, one of our famous fast food fried chicken companies has an excellent biscuit.  (Whether or not it is made with buttermilk or plain milk, I don’t know, but it is really a very good biscuit)

Of course, you can find them right in your own kitchen by making your own.  All it takes is some flour, baking powder, baking soda, butter, salt, a dash of sugar and of course buttermilk.  The secret to making good biscuits is to not over-knead the dough nor to roll it out too flat.  You can also make the buttermilk biscuit into a drop biscuit and then you have no fear of over-kneading because you do not knead.  To make a drop biscuit, just add a tablespoon or so extra of buttermilk and then drop the dough onto a greased pan and bake as you would for the kneaded variety.

 

Drop Biscuits before baking

 

When baking biscuits, place them in the baking closely togethr.  If there is too much room between the biscuits, they will spread out and turn out flat.  When they are placed close together (with about 1/4″ space between each one) they will rise up and be fluffy and puffy, not flat.

Enough about making them, but what are they ways in which you can use them, other than just eating them plain, buttered, with honey or jam or jelly?

Biscuits can be used for the toppings of deep dish pies, either savory or sweet.  You can add cheese to the dough and have cheese biscuits.  In the South, Biscuits and Country Gravy are a popular breakfast food.  You can make mini- egg & cheese sandwiches from biscuits and biscuits are also the traditional ‘cake’ for the Strawberry Short Cake.  Biscuits are great with stews, chili or fried chicken.  In short, they can be served in numerous ways and can be eaten with any number of condiments.  So, on Monday, April 14th or any other day, make some biscuits and serve them to your family.  Use your imagination and see how many different ways you can come up with to vary the use of Buttermilk Biscuits.

Try the Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe in this blog;  experiment with it and see how many different variations you can create. baked-goods/breads/buttermilk-biscuits/

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/12 at 11:24 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Breakfast Ideas, Dinner Ideas, National Food Days   Tags: , , , , , ,

MOTHER’S DAY AROUND THE WORLD

Mother’s Day was instituted as an official holiday in the United States in 1908.  Since then, it has become a very commercial holiday which is observed with the giving of flowers, gifts and taking Mom out to Brunch, Lunch or Dinner.  In addition, Mother’s Day is one of the biggest days for commercial florists with Mother’s Day vying right there with Valentine’s Day as the biggest day for selling and giving flowers.

The United States however, isn’t the only country that has a Mother’s Day.  In fact, Mother’s Day goes way back to ancient times.  Even though many other countries have long had a day to honor Mother’s many countries have emulated the way in which it is celebrated in the United States.  Below is a list of countries and the day on which they observe or celebrate Mother’s Day, starting with the earliest (in the year) and ending with the latest (in the year)

 

In the United States, the second Sunday in May is designated as Mother’s Day.  Of all the Days in the World on which Mother’s Day is observed, the second Sunday in May, by far is observed in more countries than any other.  However, there is a Mother’s Day celebrated in almost every month of the year starting in February and ending in December.

 

The other countries in which Mother’s Day occur on the second Sunday in May are:

Anguilla, Canada, Italy,  Philippines, Switzerland, Aruba, Chile, Dominica, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Australia, People’s Republic of China, Ecuador, Japan, Austria, Estonia, Iran, Latvia, Saint Kitts and     Nevis, Tanganyika, Bahamas, Estonia,  Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Liechtenstein, Tonga,  Barbados, Croatia, Fiji, Macao, Trinidad, Croatia, Cuba, Finland Malaysia, Saint Lucia, Tobago, Belgium, Curacao, Germany,  Burma, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Turkey, Belize, Uganda, Bermuda, Cyprus,         Gold Coast, Netherlands, Bonaire, Czech Republic, Greece, New Zealand, Samoa, Botswana,        Denmark, Grenada, Pakistan,  Samoa,  Uruguay, Brazil, Papua, new Guinea, Saint Maarten, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Peru,Slovakia, Zambia, Iceland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India,Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname.

 

On a side note I get two Mother’s Day each year as I have two sons and a daughter-in-law living in Thailand and they always observe Thailand’s Mother’s Day, August 12th which is also Queen Sirikit’s Birthday.

 

 

For more on Mother’s Day see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother’s_Day

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/11 at 3:58 PM

Categories: Holiday Tidbits   Tags: , , , , ,

NATIONAL SHRIMP DAY

NATIONAL SHRIMP DAY

May 10th, 2012

 

May 10th is National Shrimp Day – yeah!  Shrimp are one of my favorite foods.  I love them almost any way they are cooked.  What is a shrimp?  Shrimp are shellfish that live in salt and fresh water and range in size from that of an insect to about 12 inches long.  The larger shrimp mostly come from warmer waters and the smaller variety from colder waters.

Shrimp are also referred to as Prawns – usually in the larger size.  The name will vary from country to country.  In Britain, shrimp is usually used to refer to the smaller size and prawns to the larger size.  In the US, shrimp is the term most frequently used.  In France, Crevette is the name frequently given to shrimp.

Shrimp can be prepared in any number of given ways.  They may be boiled or broiled, grilled or steamed, curried or fried.  Shrimp are used in salads, cocktails, sandwiches, tacos, sauces and chowders.  No matter which way they are cooked, they are usually good.

Since Shrimp cook up very quickly, one has to be careful not to overcook them as they will become tough. The rule of thumb is usually about 3 minutes or in the case of boiling, when they turn pink.  Of course, size has a lot to do with it, with the smaller shrimp cooking up more quickly than the larger ones.

As a general rule, the larger the shrimp, the better they taste.  The very small shrimp, often referred to as Bay Shrimp are good in salads or tacos.  The medium to large shrimp are great for cocktails.  For frying or grilling the larger shrimp are best.  The really large shrimp or prawns are good for grilling and or in sauces.  For a quick and easy Grilled Shrimp Recipe see:  recipes/dinner/grilled-shrimp/

Shrimp can be purchased green (raw) or cooked and shelled.  Shrimp contain a vein that runs down their backs which should be removed before being consumed.  The cooked variety almost always has had the vein removed.  Some of the green ones will also have had the vein removed, but you need to check them to be sure.

 

Remove the Black Vein

Listed below are some of the ways in which you can use Shrimp for your meals:

Shrimp CocktailsPlace in a pot large enough to hold the shrimp plus water to cover – add a bay leaf and half a lemon.  Cover (the lid should be offset to avoid boiling over) and place over high heat.  As soon as the water comes to a boil, shut off the heat – once the Shrimp turn pink immediately pour into a colander to drain and cover with ice to stop the cooking process.  Blot dry with paper towels and serve with your favorite cocktail sauce or seafood-cocktail-sauce/

Salads – cook in the same way as for cocktails – use in your favorite salad or with other shellfish.

 

 

Ahi Poki, Shrimp & Mussels with Marinated Cucumber Salad

 

 

 

Grilleddevein the Shrimp but leave the shells on – to do this, slit the back of the shrimp with a small pair of kitchen shears or a paring knife.  When you slit them, cut them about ¾ of the way through or Butterfly them.  Wash out the vein under cold running water.  Pat the shrimp dry and place in a large shallow dish such as a pie plate.  (Either glass or ceramic – not metal as it will react with the marinade)  Blend together crushed garlic, lemon juice or white wine, minced basil, a pinch of saffron or paprika and some olive oil.  Pour over the shrimp and allow to marinate for 20 minutes but no longer than 30!  Too long a marinating time will make the shrimp become mealy.  Good tasting shrimp should have a firm texture but not mealy or tough.   Heat a stove top grill over high heat (or use your BBQ).  Cook the shrimp, turning frequently for 3-5 minutes or until the meat is no longer translucent.   I usually cook them on each side for about a minute or until the shrimp turns pink then turn them cut side down to cook the inside for another minute.  Serve immediately with Cocktail Sauce or Rémoulade or BBQ Sauce.

 

Grilled Shrimp

 

FriedShell and devein the shrimp; pat dry and then coat with a light tempura batter – fry in hot oil (350 – 360 degrees) until golden brown.  Drain on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet.  Serve with Cocktail Sauce or Wasabi Mayonnaise.

Curries – the type of Curry depends on the country it is from.  Numerous recipes can be found in cookbooks or on the internet.  Two of the countries that use curries are India and Thailand.  The ingredients and flavors of the curries will vary from country to country and even fro household to household.

You really don’t need an excuse to eat Shrimp, but National Shrimp Day is certainly a good reason to.

Be careful when you purchase your shrimp.  If you want wild caught, but sure that the package label says so, or if you purchase them loose at your market’s seafood counter, read the tag first to be sure where you shrimp are coming from.  Most all shrimp are sold in the frozen state.  If the shrimp in your market look thawed, be sure to ask how long they have been thawed for.  It is better to purchase frozen ones and just thaw them out yourself under cold running water.  This can usually be done in minutes.

Whichever way you prepare or eat your shrimp enjoy!

 

Shrimp Ceviche

Shrimp & Mussels

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/07 at 11:19 PM

Categories: Condiments, Dinner Ideas, Lunch Ideas, Main, Mexican, National Food Days, Salads   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL – A NATIONAL DAY

NATIONAL FOOD DAYS

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL

Friday, Mary 4th is National Candied Orange Peel Day.  Candied Orange & Lemon Peel is often used in baked goods, especially around the winter holidays when it is often used in fruit cake.  But there is no need to wait for Christmas or Chanukah to add the Candied Peel to everyday foods.  If you would like to make your own Candied Orange Peel you can find any number of recipes on the Internet.  If however, you do not want to take the time or effort ( it would take about 4 hours total to make the fisnished product) you can purchase Candied Orange Peel at establishments that specialize in nuts and dried fruit or on-line.

The featured photo shows an Orange, an Orange Slice, Candied Orange Peel and Chocolate Covered Orange Peel.  There has been a long tradition of combining Chocolate with Orange and there are many ways in which you can do it.  A Chocolate Fudge Cake or Chocolate Brownies with Orange Peel would make very tasty and elegant dessert.

Other ways in which Candied Orange Peel can be used are:

Cookies

Cakes

Muffins

Brownies

Fudge

Quick Bread

Cornbread

Pancakes or Waffles

Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat

Jello or Pudding

For a Muffin Recipe please see the recipe section of this blog. /muffins-with-candied-orange-peel/

Unbaked Muffins with Demarara Sugar on Top

 

Unbaked Muffins with Pearl Sugar

In the photo on the left, Demarara Sugar has been sprinkled on top.  (Demarara Sugar is sometimes sold as Sugar in the Raw, although it is not really raw sugar – just one step on the way to being granulated.)
The Photo on the right has been sprinkled with Swedish Pearl Sugar.  The idea of putting sugar on the top of the unbaked Muffins is to give a caramelized effect and taste on the top of the muffin.

Muffin Batter portioned into baking cups

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/03 at 10:58 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Breakfast Ideas, Dessert Ideas, Fruit, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Main, National Food Days   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

‘National Truffle Day’

NATIONAL FOOD DAYS

May 2nd – ‘National Truffle Day’

 

Since Wednesday, May 2nd is ‘National Truffle Day’ I decided to make the centers for some Truffles which I will serve to my Mah Jong Group on Wednesday.  For the Truffles, I had a small piece of Milk Chocolate and a pound piece of White Chocolate.  For the Centers of the truffles, I used a couple of Ganache Recipes that I had that were intended for cakes.

White Chocolate Ganache – this recipe was originally intended for a cake, so the resulting mixture was just a little too soft in that it was supposed to be spread on the cake.  I used half the original recipe as follows:

150 grams White Chocolate, chopped – (I actually shredded it with my shredding blade;  chopping would have been simpler)

 

Shredded White Chocolate

 

90 grams of Heavy Cream

2 tsps. Vanilla Extract

45 grams unsalted Butter, softened

The above ingredients were combined in my food processor and run until everything was well-combined. The mixture was then chilled.  Of course, it became too cold and I had to microwave it for about 30 seconds and then whipped it up with a hand whisk.

 

Melted White Chocolate - Whisked until smooth

 The ideal way would have been to:

1.    Heat the Cream with the chopped Chocolate and Butter.

2.    Pour into a shallow dish and chill thoroughly and then whip it up in the food processor along with the Vanilla Extract.

 

Because the resulting mixture was too soft to scoop and roll into balls I ended up adding about 3/8 cup of unsweetened Cocoa and mixing it in.  The result was a mixture that I could scoop, roll and dip into melted chocolate.

I placed the scooped portions of the Ganache onto a baking sheet that was covered in powdered sugar.  When I finished scooping, I placed the balls of chocolate Ganache in the freezer until the next day when I dipped them in melted chocolate.  The lighter colored truffles are the Milk Chocolate ones while the darker ones are the White Chocolate fortified with Cocoa.

 

Shaped Truffles on Baking Sheet coated with Powdered Sugar

 

I melted Wilton Melt ‘n Molds to coat the Truffles with.  Using this kind of chocolate saves a lot of time and trouble, because if you use the same chocolate that was used for the centers, you have to take the time to temper it.  Unless you are experienced with tempering, it can be a bit of a problem.  While I was dipping the Truffles, the melting chocolate seemed to be getting a little too thick so I added just a bit of heavy cream to the melted chocolate.  I figured there was enough butterfat in the cream to keep the chocolate from siezing up.  Wrong!  Don’t do it!  If you want to thin out your chocolate use a little bit of vegetable or shortening chips designed especially for this purpose.  (These can be purchased at a cake decorating store)

 

Seized Up Chocolate

There is actually plastic wrap in the bowl so that I would be able to get the chocolate out.  I had to remove the siezed up chocolate from my warmer.  Once it completely solidified, I just put the whole thing in a plastic bag and put it aside for a later use.

For variety and also for those people who want a little less candy or chocolate, I dipped some into shredded unsweetened Coconut that was finely cut.  I also rolled some of the chocolate dipped truffles in the Coconut as well.

 

 

Dipped Truffles on Rack

 

 

 

Dipped Truffles on Waxed Paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first batch that I dipped I placed on a rack;  they were difficult to get off once the chocolate hardnened, so I switched to waxed paper.  The coated truffles released easily from the waxed paper.

 

 

Truffles in Box

 

Since I wasn’t going to use the Truffles for a couple of days, I placed them in a plastic box with a doily on the bottom and refrigerated them.  To serve I will place on a pretty plate with gold doilies.

Having sampled a couple of these Truffles, I know that they are truly delicioius and if you are a chocolate lover, they are a dream.

Of course you can get your truffles without nearly as much fuss by going down to your local Godiva or Sees Candy Store and purchasing some.  But think of the fun you are missing!

 

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/05/01 at 8:30 AM

Categories: Dessert Ideas, Food as Gifts, Holiday Ideas, Main, National Food Days   Tags: , , , , , , ,