Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Recipe: Rye Bread
Yield: 2 loaves
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serving size: 2 slices
- 2[1/4] cups water, 105ºF to 110ºF water
2 cups rye flour
2[1/4] tsp. dried instant yeast (1 packet)
4 to 5 cups bread flour
2 tsp. ground caraway seed (optional)
2 TB. whole caraway seeds (optional)
1 TB. salt
1 tsp. vegetable oil
- In a small bowl, add 1 cup water to rye flour. Let soak for 20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, add yeast to remaining water, and stir until dissolved.
- In a large bowl, combine 4 cups bread flour, rye flour, ground caraway seed (if using), 1 tablespoon whole caraway seed (if using), and salt, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add water and yeast mixture and rye flour and water mixture to the bowl, and mix. Add additional bread flour, 2 tablespoons at a time as necessary, until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
- Sprinkle flour on work surface, place dough on surface, and knead dough for 10 minutes until dough is satiny.
- Add vegetable oil to the empty bowl, and swirl the bowl to coat the inside. Don't worry if there's a little oil left in the bottom of the bowl. Return dough to the bowl, and turn dough to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let dough double in volume.
- When dough has doubled in volume, turn out onto a floured work surface and fold to deflate. Divide dough into 2 parts. Shape each portion of dough into a loaf, and place in 2 greased 8[1/2]-inch loaf pans. Lightly oil two pieces of plastic wrap, each large enough to cover one pan, and loosely cover each pan, oil side in. Allow top of bread to reach top of pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the plastic from the pans, and brush each loaf with water. Sprinkle tops with remaining 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (if using). Bake 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom, when removed from the pan, sounds hollow when tapped.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Strange News from the Food Front (7/30/07)
- How Big Is the Hamburger? H.J. Heinz is helping with a school fundraiser in Collinsville, Ill., home to the world's largest ketchup bottle, by creating an 8-foot tall ketchup packet that will hold an estimated 1,500 hundred gallons of red goop that they company hopes will go into the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest ketchup packet. Someone's going to have messy fingers from opening it. (Press Release)
- RotCam The Winn Meat Company, promoting its dry-aged beef line, set up a web cam trained on steak that sits in controlled temperature and humidity for 21 days. At least when you watch grass grow it eventually does something. (Company Web Site
- I Thought You Were Grabbing the Butter A romantically-linked pair of bank robbers grabbed a bag of dinner rolls instead of a bag of bank notes and one accidentally shot the other. At the Cuckoo Restaurant. (Independent Online)
- What Did You Call Me? A Taiwanese waitress is suing a co-worker for nicknaming her "Looking for Death." He was wrong - it should have been "Looking for Lump Sum." (Ananova)
- Killer Jumbo Squid Make that hungry jumbo squid. In a poor takeoff on grade B movies, giant squid are entering the waters of California and eating commercial fish like anchovies. No news about requests for dough, cheese, tomato sauce, and pepperoni. (AP)
- Don't Drink the Yellow Water An Indonesian maid in Hong Kong got six days in jail for giving her boss a cup of water with urine in it. It was all a mistake, she said. Yup, those cups look so much like toilets. (Reuters)
- Be Glad He Wasn't Cutting Onions Four teens trying to rob a restaurant went running out when the 70-year-old cook started swearing up a storm and waving her spatula at them. (NBC10.com)
Friday, July 27, 2007
Mapping New York Cheap Eats
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Product Review: Trader Joe's Blackberries in Light Syrup
We recently purchased a jar of Trader Joe's Blackberries in Light Syrup - 15 ounces for $1.29, which is certainly cheaper than getting even a half pint of fresh. My test bed was a couple of scoops of French vanilla ice cream, berries put on top. It's a good thing I had the sweet base, because even being in light syrup, these berries had a sour kick to them. Now, berries, like most fruit, are unpredictable. I've bought pints where some were sweet and others sour. But, so far, each of the berries had that combination of sweet (presumably from the syrup) and sour (from the berry).
They do look nice and ship in a glass jar, so they don't get crushed or otherwise mangled on their way to your fridge. But I'd be careful in how and where I used them. This can be a way to add a decorative touch to a dessert, as you'd probably have enough sweet taste already where the contrast might work. Given the yin/yang taste, you might be able to use them in something savory - for example, as a condiment to game meat. Just don't spoon them out and not expect a slight urge to pucker.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Cranberry Recipe Contest
Recipes must be original, use a minimum of 1/2 cup of any Ocean Spray product (beverages 1 1/2 ounces), and fall into one of the following categories: Beverages, Snacks and Appetizers, Salads, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Desserts and Baked Goods. Recipes will be judged on creativity, use of product, taste, overall appearance and ease of preparation. Entries must be postmarked by August 23, 2007 and received by August 31, 2007.Four semi-finalists head to New York in November for a final judging. Each finalist gets a trip for two to New York and a year's supply of products from Ocean Spray. There's more, and official entry guidelines (are these things ever non-official?)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
New Low-Sugar Watermelon Varieties
The sugary taste we associate with watermelon is apparently a recent development. Companies have bred the fruit (OK, technically a berry) to be ever sweet. Heirloom varieties actually have about 25 percent less sugar than contemporary types. They had some difficulty getting a real red color, as that often goes hand in hand with sugar, but apparently they've conquered that barrier. And they also have a variety part way between the usual types and this more astringent version.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Strange News from the Food Front (7/23/07)
- A-pealing Deposit Oregan financial institution Umpqua Bank is offering kids a kit and start-up capital to run lemonade stands. And with a certificate of deposit, I'm sure you'll get the monopolistic version. (NYT, et. al.)
- No Slaggard There - Any More A Swedish chef made a meal of the Spanish slug. Must have elicited ewws and ahs. (Independent Online)
- Crime Pays in Fast Food Bags of uneaten fast food (and a heaping pile of cash) helped clue police that they had pulled over counterfeiters, who were paying for snacks with fake $100 bills. A suggested punishment? Eating everything they bought. (AP)
- Fake Cardboard-Filled Buns The story I ran last week (along with the rest of creation) about the cardboard-filled pork buns in Beijing was apparently a hoax. Or is that what they want you to believe? The pork is out there. (Reuters)
- Fox Tries to Bite Man A wild fox chased people into and around a Maryland steak house. (AP)
- Zoo Story An eastern German mayor has filed charges against zoo workers for shooting some of the animals and selling them as meat. Think the ad for zebra steaks gave them away? (Reuters)
- Next Time, Drink and Drive The town of Newmarket, Canada, fined a man for overnight parking when he was trying to avoid driving after a few glasses of wine. That's teach him - next time he can weave home like everyone else. (Toronto Sun)
Friday, July 20, 2007
Cookbook Review: Cucina Del Sole
But the lack of pictures makes more room for the writing, which is engaging, and I'm delighted to find someone whose penchant for rambling sentences exceeds even mine. The recipes are marvelous and often surprising. For example, I had done a lot of research into pizza last year as I finished the Complete Idiot's Guide to Pizza and Panini, but I had never seen an approach that called for a biga - a starter slurry of flour, water, and yeast that is variously called a poolish, levain, or sponge, depending on where in the world you are. (And certainly I hadn't seen the tip of adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to adjust the pH of the dough and make it easier to work.) There's a recipe for making semolina-based pasta, rather than the ubiquitous northern Italian approach of eggs and regular flour. There are terrific seafood recipes (no surprise in southern Italy) and meat dishes with variations that are usual in English texts, like Sicilian Braised Rabbit in a Sweet-and-Sour Sauce. The delights continue through vegetables (Marsala Carrots - what a natural pairing) and desserts (Olive Oil Cake with Walnuts). List price is $29.95, and it will be worth every penny - and a lot cheaper than flying to Italy to collect the recipes and know-how yourself.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Recipe: Sautéed Strawberries with Cracked Black Pepper and Orange Liqueur Marmalade
- 1/2 cup orange liqueur
1 Tbs. plus 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 Tbs. salted butter
1.5 lb strawberries, cleaned and cut into quarters
1/2 vanilla bean, split
cracked black pepper
1/2 bunch fresh mint, stemmed and roughly chopped
6 Tbs. crème fraiche
- To make the marmalade, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine orange liqueur and 1 Tbs. brown sugar. Reduce to 1/8 cup. Set aside.
- Heat butter in medium saucepan over high heat. When melted, add 1/2 tsp. brown sugar and cook until lightly caramelized, about three minutes.
- Add strawberries and vanilla bean to saucepan and sauté for 15 seconds. Add 1/4 tsp. black pepper and sauté for 30 more seconds.
- Add mint and immediately split among six serving dishes. Garnish each dish with 1 Tbs. crème fraiche and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Drizzle with warm marmalade. Serve immediately.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Technique: Getting Rid of Garlic Smell
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Product Review: SACO Cultured Buttermilk Blend
- 2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 TBL. sugar
4 TBL. buttermilk blend
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 ounces butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 375º F.
- Thoroughly mix dry incredients.
- Cut in butter until you get a coarse meal-like consistency.
- Add just enough water to hold dough together.
- Knead dough on a floured surface for about 30 seconds. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch rounds.
- Place rounds on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Strange News from the Food Front (7/16/07)
- Weight Loss of the Mysterious West We in the US have seen our share of secret Asian weight loss measures. Now a Chinese company is facing oversight heat from seling a weight loss patch, supposedly used by Chelsea Clinton and imported from America, that oozes oil. Ew. (Reuters)
- Milwaukee Mess Some Wisconsin brewers, protesting a proposed law that would restrict the ability of brew pubs broadly selling their beers from serving food, spilled beer suds into the Milwaukee river. Fermenting protest, perhaps? (AP
- More Dinner? Three hours after running out on a $410 bill at an expensive Minneapolis restaurant, the two stopped for drinks and more food at another - owned by the same restauranteur, an ex-Judo instructor, who chased one down an alley and held him on the ground until the police showed up. (Independent Online)
- Relax, Charlie Japanese researchers want to reduce the stress of tuna after their caught so they taste better when they hit the plate. Here's an idea - have a steak special. (Reuters)
- With Its Own Paper Wrapper In one part of Beijing, the "pork" buns are partly filled with chemically softened chopped cardboard. I'm waiting for some American fast food establishment to hop on the trend. (AP)
- Put Down That Charcoal A Pennsylvania mayor got into trouble for banning outdoor grilling at night. Wonder if anyone charred him in effigy? (AP)
- Larceny - and Love Guests at a dinner party foiled an attempted armed robbery by offering the criminal a glass of wine. He accepted their hospitality, apologized, asked for a group hug, and left. (AP)
- Good Thing It Wasn't the Butter Knife An 47-year-old woman faces charges after stabbing her 86-year-old busband with a fork as they were fighting in a restaurant. (Detroit News)
- Soba Soak A Japanese spa is offering an experience of bathing in a fake giant bowl of noodle soup. Faux Pho? (AFP)
- Swell Swill A sub-$3 bottle of chardonnay best hundreds of others from around California to be named the state's best. Thousands of wine snobs are looking for new terms to describe the sensation of having egg on your face. (WPVI-TV)
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Organic Foods from China?
Friday, July 13, 2007
Spin from Whole Foods Starts at Top
Mackey, 53, made the postings "under an alias to avoid having his comments associated with the company and to avoid others placing too much emphasis on his remarks," Whole Foods said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.Oh, please, who is the Whole Foods PR machine trying to kid? He posted it anonymously to keep himself off the hook of criticism and of potential charges that he was trying to game the stock prices. But then, as I learned first hand, the Whole Foods PR department isn't above trying to say things like manmade synthetic versions of chemicals fed to salmon to color them aren't artificial dyes. In fact, I received an anonymous comment from someone trying to take the "It really is all natural" which makes me wonder if Mr. Mackey's comments went farther and wider than the Yahoo chat rooms.
Fortune is asking if he's too much of a loose canon to have as CEO of a pubicly-held company. As a consumer I'm wondering just how much more I'm going to be paying as a result.
Mackey is trying to put a good face on the whole FTC challenge, going on at length about it on his corporate blog, but then ended up posting the internal memo that the FTC is supposedly using as part of its case. What were reasons one and two for the move?:
Elimination of an acquisition opportunity for a conventional supermarket — our targeted company is the only existing company that has the brand and number of stores to be a meaningful springboard for another player to get into this space. Eliminating them means eliminating this threat forever, or almost forever.He then went on to try and explain the memo. Interestingly, the memo was all about what it would do for the company - and that's fair enough, because, after all, it's a business move. But then as Mackey is trying explain why its so reasonable (twisting logic in some places, like trying to say that if the FTC objected to this merger, they should have objected to all acquisitions the company had done), he forgets that customers really don't care about getting the best business environment for Whole Foods. They want better choices and better food for themselves. Here's Mackey's argument:
Elimination of a competitor — they compete with us for sites, customers and Team Members.
Since the FTC never actually compared prices between Wild Oats and Whole Foods, how can they in good conscience claim that this merger will mean higher prices for consumers? They didn't conduct adequate research prior to making this claim! In fact, the exact opposite is true. Why? Because after the merger is complete, the acquired Wild Oats stores will be brought into Whole Foods system and their overall prices will be lowered. Consumers will be receiving lower prices, not higher prices after this merger is completed.Oh, someone get me some aspirin. The biggest "natural food" chain buys the second biggest and, of course, prices won't go higher? Wait, wait - maybe I can go buy a bridge at the local Whole Foods. Let me get my piles of small unmarked bills first.
China Not the Only Source of Problem Food Shipments
- black pepper, coriander powder, and shrimp with salmonella from India
- crabmeat, lollipops, and dried chili peppers from Mexico so dirty that it wasn't edible
- mislabeled candy from Denmark (impounded 520 times last year)
- traces of illegal pesticides on produce from the Dominican Republic
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Adding Zip to Corned Beef
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Traditional Approach to Pound Cake from Southern Cakes Book
Here's the flash of the obvious - the important thing is equal proportions. So you weight the eggs first, and then you weigh out equal measures of everything else! Then you cream the sugar and butter, beat in the eggs, and mix in the flour. Bake in a floured and greased pan at 350 until a skewer put into the center comes out clean.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Two Notes of Obsession
One was about some promotion Hellman's had going with Yahoo called The Search for Real Food. He asks the question:
I don't have a problem with Hellmann's as a food product—none apart from a general stance against flavorless, chemical-laden industrial foods, anyway—but is there any food less real than the preservative-laden spread?My answer? Yes - the fat-free version.
The other entry was a new search tool that food science expert Harold McGee has been working on with Google. It's essentially an index to McGee's On Food & Cooking.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Strange News from the Food Front (7/9/07)
- Chocolate in Moderation A recent study suggests that daily dark chocolate reduces blood pressure. Unfortunately, the necessary ingestion is around 6 grams, with the restriction undoubtedly leading to depression. (AP)
- Penguins and Garlic Shanghai zoo keepers are feeding garlic to the penguins to ward off respiratory problems, sutffing a few cloves in each fish the birds eat. For some odd reason, there has also been a sharp drop in the number of people wanting to see the birds. (AP)
- Paris Hilton Goes to Dogs Someone supposedly poked through Paris Hilton's garbage, found a can from some organic dog food, and sold it on eBay for $305. Hopefully they will recycle it. (AP)
- Porn Pizza A western Canadian pizza joint has been putting a pornographic picture in the bottom of each box, under the pizza. The restaurant sold hundreds of pizzas in one week. Do delivery personnel ask if it was as good for the customer as it was for them? (AFP)
- Movie Munching There's a new documentary on speed eating. Get to the theater early - the snack stand lines will be fierce. (AP)
- Really Fresh Fish A chef in Taiwan got into trouble for serving a fish that wasn't quite dead. Boy, and ususally people complain because the fish isn't fresh enough. (AP)
Friday, July 06, 2007
Recipe: Frozen Vanilla Coffee
- 1 1/2 ounces freshly brewed espresso
- 6 ounces milk
- 3 TBS. sugar
- 1/8 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup ice
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Book Review: The Spice and Herb Bible, Second Edition
Of course there are sections on growing and using spices, and I found interesting the section on the spices and herbs that specific cuisines use. An approach I hadn't seen before is using relational weights - for example, in Indonesian cooking if you used cloves, turmeric, and coriander seed, they would likely be in a ration of 1 to 5 to 8. My first impression was that there were supposed to be proportions of spice blends, but that didn't make sense when you had, say, 15 different ingredients and you know that the cuisine in question doesn't use all of them every time. And there are recipes for specific spice blends at the end of the book. No, this chapter was to give you a feel for how the given cuisine uses and combines spices - very good to know.
What really grabbed me, though, were the entries for individual spices and herbs. Each includes the following: origin and history, processing, buying and storage, use, other names for the item, names in other languages, suggested quantities for a given type of dish, and what other spices and herbs that work well with it.
You do need to keep in mind that the book is from Australia, because some terminology might throw you. For example, there was a recipe for a savory biscuit. I was thinking the flaky type you bake, and then I suddenly remembered that in Australia and the UK, biscuit can mean a cookie or cracker. You will also find a few spices that aren't readily found in this part of the world. That said, at $24.95, this is a bargain.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Hot Dog Hot Facts
- For more than you ever wanted to know about hot dog consumption, preferences, history, and trivia, see this page from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Counsel.
- There's more on hot dogs (including information on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile) at MadeHow.com.
- The FDA has its say about the way to cook one today.
- The Off the Broiler blog did a massive hot dog tasting.
- wikiHow has instructions on calculating the value of pi by throwing frozen hot dogs.
- HowStuffWorks on how hot dogs are made.
- Some history of that hot dog landmark, Nathan's, from Amusement-Parks.com.
- In 1981, the USDA tried to classify ketchup and pickle relish as vegetables, as FoodReference.com reminds us.
- GlobalGourmet.com brings a history of ketchup.
- For those who prefer mustard, here's a history of that condiment from GlobalGourmet.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Product Review: New Belgium Springboard Beer
The company advertised Springboard in a way that usually puts me off - with the inclusion of Chinese herbs. By reflex I generally consider that a gimmick. But in this case, it's one that worked. The brewmaster added schisandra, gogi berries, and wormwood in addition to oats. The result was a full, rich fruity flavor with a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste, but one that was pleasant. I had an impulse while tasting and took a bite of some reheated spaghetti and my quick tomato sauce, and the combination was dynamite, so I suspect this would work with many acidic foods.
Now I just have to find some of the comapny's Skinny Dip summer offering.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Strange News from the Food Front (7/2/07)
- Vampire Bats - and Now Vampire Peacocks In the parking lot of a Staten Island Burger King, a man attacked a stray peacock, claiming that it was a vampire. "He was going crazy," said a worker at the establishment. Eating at a fast food joint, what else could you expect? (AP)
- The Last Blow An apparently suspicious object left outside a Salt Lake City fast food place cause the city to close down several blocks for a couple of hours before someone determined that it was an abandoned trumpet that had seen better days. They probably thought it was a peacock. (AP)
- Manners, Please A man in a Pennsylvania fast food drive-through punched the woman handing him his meal because she didn't say please and thank you. And here I thought it was because he actually tasted the food. (AP)
- Wimbledon Food Woes Former top tennis player Marat Safin was griping about food at the annual tournament because they always serve the same things, charge about $20 for a plate of pasta, and the food allowance for players doesn't cover one meal. (AFP)
- Tennis, Anyone? Scientists have developed a pill that swells to the size of a tennis ball in the stomach, making someone feel full before sitting down to a meal. Possible side effects include over-dependence on your backhand. (Daily Mirror)
- Munchies, Anyone? A top Indonesian politician thinks that it's fine to use marijuana in food, although he doesn't approve of full legalization. What, does he have the brownie concession? (Reuters)
- Sports Injury The six-time winner of the annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest on Coney Island may have to pass because of arthritis in the jaw. Maybe mom didn't know best when she said chew 20 times before swallowing. (AP)
- Stopper that Bottle San Francisco says it won't pay for employee bottled water, claiming that tap is as good. "'In San Francisco, for the price of one 1 gallon (3.8 litres) of bottled water, local residents can purchase 1,000 gallons (38,000 litres) of tap water,' according to the mayor's order." But how do you get the bottles out of the faucet? (Reuters)