This blog will be moving to a Wordpress format soon.
It's currently in progress of being set up and moved over.
My site will also have a new title, The Culinary Curio, as well as a new layout and its own domain! :)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
First, I have to say that I'm one of those people who goes totally dumbmus over hummus.
It's something I can eat everyday with just about anything - vegetables, breads, meats, soups, salads, even by itself!
So whenever I get a chance to have some really good hummus, as you have to choose wisely as they aren't all made the same, I am always in for a savory treat.
Since I've been on a detox eating plan for the past week, I've been trying out all sorts of recipes and adding them into my culinary book of shadows. One of those random ideas popped into mind while I was munching on some lightly salted and warm edamame for a protein snack. I decided to not only make my own hummus at home for the first time, but to take my love for edamame and make...wait for it...
Edamame hummus! *cue in falling balloons and exploding confetti*
Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas (or garbanzo) beans. But you can make hummus from some other legumes. Even lentils and red beans! Get as creative as you want with legume substitutions. They each will make for a distinctive-tasting, differently-colored hummus.
|Living Tree Community Foods Tahini|
For example, you can make a tahini-based hummus, a roasted garlic-based hummus, a cilantro/parsley-based hummus, a spicy hummus (roasted peppers or lots of cayenne), a yogurt-based hummus or a hummus that uses butter rather than olive oil. I've had many varieties of hummus and like them all, but I tend to prefer hummus with a good roasted garlic and tahini taste. I also love the flavor of olive oil (premium extra virgin olive oil). Additionally, you can substitute toasted sesame oil for tahini.
Edamame, which is a dish or snack of young soybeans encapsulated in pods (similar to pea pods) are a wonderful replacement for chickpeas in hummus. They are naturally rich and buttery in flavor, a great source of protein, and extremely healthy. You'll often see them served in Japanese restaurants, as an appetizer or entrée, with miso soup before a main course.
I pretty much winged this recipe based on what a traditional tahini has and according to my personal tastes.
|Organic, shelled edamame|
I made a note of all of the ingredients going into my edamame hummus aside from the obvious (the edamame soybeans):
- Tahini (between 1/8 - 1/4 cup; it's up to you, taste as you go)
- Water (loosely 1/4 cup)
- Lemon juice (1 lemon's worth)
- Olive oil (3-4 tablespoons)
- Cumin seeds (1 teaspoon)
- Green onions (1/4 cup; I really like onions)
- Cayenne pepper (a dash to sprinkle on top when the hummus is done)
- Black sesame seeds (sprinkled liberally on top when the hummus is done)
- Parsley (Italian) (1.5 tablespoons; you can also use cilantro)
- Garam masala (half teaspoon)
- Fennel seeds (1 teaspoon; I highly enjoy the flavor of these)
- Sea salt (to taste)
- Garlic (2-4 cloves; or to your taste)
|Several of the ingredients I used in my hummus|
Start off by pouring in 3 to 3.5 cups of water in a medium pot. Bring the water to a boil.
|Drained edamame soybeans|
Take them off the stove and drain the water out.
|Ready to process|
Pulse and blend until the mixture is very smooth. You can choose to have a more rustic edamame (textural) if you want, but I prefer it relatively smooth.
|Smooth edamame hummus|
Take some vegetables of your choice (I chose organic baby carrots, celery, and red bell pepper) and cut and slice them up as necessary so that you can dip these into the hummus for a complete snack. I left the baby carrots as is, I deseeded and cut the red bell peppers into strips, and I cut and neatly sectioned the celery into small sticks.
I unplugged my food processor and poured and scraped out my hummus into a bowl and swirled it around to my liking. Then I drizzled in some more extra virgin olive oil into the crevices of the dip and sprinkled in my cayenne pepper, black sesame seeds, and a small pinch more of sea salt.
You can even add sprouted seeds (which I just discovered and am now immensely enjoying). Sprouted sesame seeds are absolutely yummy and go well on top of hummus, among many other things...
This dish made for a hearty lunch, and my adventure in making hummus at home was a successful and enjoyable one. I've since prepared this several more times and have experimented with other herbs and spices. I'd love to try red or black lentils next time!
What is your favorite kind of hummus? And what do you like in your hummus?
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
|Pico de gallo, old world pilaf, and veggie stir-fry|
I also knew I had to share what I prepared and ate for dinner with you guys.
So, what did I have for dinner? Well, let's take a look below:
1. Pico de Gallo - Organic lime juice from one lime, diced jalapeno pepper, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, clove of garlic, white onions, sea salt, and cayenne pepper.
Did you know?: You can also use other ingredients such as mango, bell peppers, celery and so on. The basics of a pico de gallo are the peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and onions. You can put your own spin on pico de gallo according to your tastes and your level of desire to explore with flavor. White onions can be replaced with red onions for a sweet taste, too. I adore onions, so as you can see I added both white and green onions.2. Old World Pilaf - a mix of red rice, brown rice, black rice., red lentils, yellow lentils, black eyed peas and green lentils all cooked with red peppers, garlic, celery, and white onions. No salt needed.
Did you know?: Cooking lentils or beans with salt toughens them. If salt is added, it is best to add it after the beans or lentils are cooked.3. Indian-spiced Vegetable Stir-fry - a bit of unsweetened, organic coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil, garam masala, sea salt, fennel seeds, eggplant, zucchini, 2 cloves of garlic, green onions, red bell peppers, baby bella mushrooms and celery
Inside info: I love smashing up garlic with the back of a wide knife or spatula to get to the cloves. So fun! Also, although a really high-quality garlic powder blend can make food delicious and is great to have in your spice collection, you simply can't compare it to the grand and lively taste of fresh, minced garlic cloves.Everything in these three components was organic except for the jalapeno pepper. I couldn't find any organic jalapenos. Their season is in warmer periods (spring and summer), so I am not sure why it was rather difficult to track down some organic varieties, but I am more than fine with what I bought.
|Pico de gallo|
|Grain and Legume Combination|
The rices, beans, and lentils were placed in a medium pot and covered well with water, enough to where I knew the mix would not dry out but also not be mushy from way too much water left over after absorption. I left the mix without powdered spices or salt. As I mentioned above, salt toughens legumes when it is boiled with them. In order to add more flavor, I chopped up red bell pepper, white onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, and some celery, and placed it in the water with the rice, beans, and lentils.
|Cooked old world pilaf|
Keep in mind that brown, black, and red rices will have a chewier texture and more visceral mouth feel than plain white rice has, which is one of the qualities I enjoy about eating them.
As the vegetables cooked for a bit, I poured in some organic, unsweetened coconut milk. Not a lot, just enough to lightly coat the vegetables and stir it further in.
I love anything coconut. Coconut milk is also good for use in smoothies, vegetable soups, and fresh juice blends. It's a proper substitute for using dairy-based cream or dairy milk in certain recipes.
I cooked the vegetables until they were tender and still retained some of some of their crunch and texture. In fact, everything in the skillet could have been eaten raw, but I couldn't resist preparing a succulent stir-fry.
This meal, overall, was so fulfilling. I enjoyed every bit of it and went back for more of everything with food left over for tomorrow's lunch! With these sorts of recipes, you can eat a good amount and not be concerned about consuming too many calories (if that's what you're worried about). This meal was packed with tons of nutrients and had very little fat.
This also shows that if you wanted to become vegetarian or even vegan, you can do it and know that delectable meals and foods are quite easy to prepare. There's a lot of misinformation out there about vegetarian, and especially vegan eating. A lot of people assume there's not much to eat and choose from and that the food tastes unpleasant. That's simply not true. Vegetarian and vegan eating requires that you become far more intimate and educated about your health and food. You need to research properly, understand more about nutrients, and it's an excellent push to explore all sorts of ingredients, dishes, and ways to prepare foods that you probably never tried. As a fellow food explorer, that's never a bad thing.
I can't say that I'd ever see myself becoming exclusively vegan, although the idea intrigues me, because I enjoy eating poultry, dairy, and seafood once in awhile, but I love incorporating vegan eating into my diet.
Many vegan foods are also perfect for my detox eating regimen. The body digests and metabolizes these foods without a lot of strain and effort. That's got to feel better at the end of the day. I can already feel a difference and I am on day 3 of my detox journey. :)
If you've got any tips, advice or comments about vegetarian/vegan, raw food eating, or detox "dieting" in general, please feel free to share your thoughts! I'd love to hear!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Why did I decide to put myself on a detox eating plan?
Well, I've been enjoying so many decadent and rich foods, lately, and I'd like to flush my body out by eating holistically. I'd simply like to become healthier inside and out.. I've been doing some research for the last several weeks to make sure that I know what I'm doing and what I'd like to do, specifically.
Although "diet" would be an appropriate word to use here, I hate using it because society has bastardized and corrupted the word. When most people think of the word "diet," they immediately start to think about weight-loss obsession, competitive social vanity, keeping up with the Joneses, constantly weighing on scales, starving oneself, madly counting calories, and the like - basically a series and complex of unhealthy and counter-intuitive behavior.
That's not what I want to do embark upon or nurture, at all. I simply need to restart my system and get back into a healthy way of eating with regular activity, so I can establish balance. Desserts and my usual fare of savory treats and delights certainly will not be permanently abandoned, but for the time being I am putting those indulges on hold.
Inside Info: I have a backlog of dessert recipes (as well as savory) I'll be posting, however. So look for those.
There are all sorts of detox eating plans out there (Master Cleanse, raw food, Clean Diet, Diuretic Diet, Eat Stop Eat, Quantum Wellness and the list goes on), but I wanted to construct my own. I also didn't want to do anything gimmicky. I wanted it to be something I could follow organically through knowledge-seeking and a drive to simply take care of myself.
My detox eating plan looks pretty vegan, for the most part.
My rules are as follows:
A.I will also plan each day's eating in advance, not anally, but loosely. With this way of eating, I have to plan so that getting in 3-4 meals a day is easier and convenient.
- No dairy (eggs, butter, milk, cream, and the like)
- No meat
- No caffeine and alcohol (although red wine-based vinaigrette salad dressings are allowed)
- No refined sugars, no added sugars or refined foods
- No wheat/gluten
- No preservatives (if I can help it)
- Lots of organic fruits and vegetables prepared in a number of creative and tasty ways (pressed juices, salads, hearty soups, stir-frys, steamed dishes, raw, and so on)
- Organic legumes cooked in different ways (beans of various kinds, lentils, peas, etc.)
- Whole grain rices (black, brown, etc.)
- Nut and drupe milks (coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.)
- Lots of water (as usual) and naturally decaffeinated herbal teas
- Frequent meals and snacking (3-4 a day)
- Healthy and safe supplements ("Green" blends and cleansing, antioxidants nutrients)
- Organic nuts and seeds (unsalted, but can be toasted beforehand or through my own effort)
This first week I'll spend concentrating on establishing this rhythm and the second week is when I bring back regular physical activity. I don't plan to do really hardcore or excessively strenuous exercise at this stage, but I do plan to get adequate sessions of physical activity in (at least 30-40 minutes). Again, I am trying to be as organic as I can. But I aim to get in 3-4 days of good physical activity a week (or more if I simply and organically feel up to it).
I have also banished scale-weighing and measurement-taking. I find these activities make me neurotic, and in this society, we've come to define ourselves by numbers far too much (age, weight, income, etc.). We've abandoned intuition and instinct. This is why the scale can decide what kind of day we'll be having as soon as we step onto it. That should never be the case. It's just a number (save for situations where people with serious or debilitating illnesses, that cause weight loss, need to have their weight monitored).
What we should pay attention to is how we feel and how we look with the aid of our own eyes and natural assessment.
I spent about two and a half hours at Whole Foods Market, today. Maybe more time than that as I kind of lost track but realized it was night once I stepped outside with my grocery bags. LOL Yes, that was a long while to stay in there, not only did I need to look around and carefully select, but I've always loved their stores and it's a pleasure to look around and figure out what I'll place in my shopping cart. It was even more intriguing to shop with this eating plan in mind. I made sure that nearly all of my items were organic and I had to become even more acquainted with label-reading than I usually am. Whole Foods' produce inventory is at least 65% organic and I think nearly everything else is at least locally grown and cultivated. I find that impressive.
I also find it strange and illogical...
Produce (and other items) should be organic by default. It shouldn't be this special category that we seek out. In fact, I'll even say that organic production should be mandatory law.
Anyway, as a result of shopping heavily organic, I spent quite the penny in there.
I also picked up some great supplements. I purchased:
ChlorOxygen Chlorophyll Concentrate
Vibrant Health: Green Vibrance
No placebo here, that's for sure. I felt a surge of energy not long after I took these supplements with plain water and/or with coconut water. It was that kind of energy surge that you get once a workout starts or the energetic sensation you might feel right after vigorous exercise. You sweat a bit more, feel slightly more hyper and refreshed, your pores feel more open, and you have a desire to move. I felt that about 15-20 minutes after taking both of these. So, although this is the first day, I do recommend trying these out and seeing for yourself. I made some pretty good choices, here.
I will share some recipes with you guys as I journey through this detox path. It is temporary, but I'm off to a very productive and exciting start and felt like my food blog was a great place to share my experiences since it's still all about the exploration of food!
Friday, February 25, 2011
|A Medley of Nuts & Seeds - Photo by MeetaK|
No...still no exploring into an insect diet. Can't quite get myself to that realm of eating. But I hear that if one is able to push aside their culturally-conditioned aversion to eating bugs, that the fare can be quite tasty...and crunchy. LOL
At this this point, I just want to be healthy and holistic, so I'm not too keen on exclusivity in dietary habits anymore. I just like exploring good foods and whole and fresh ingredients. Nature provides us with so many delights that I don't understand how anyone can radically exclude most things, let alone be bored in their diets, unless there are allergies, health issues, and enzyme deficiencies to take into consideration..
If I like to eat lots of rice and consider it beyond thrilling to check out all sorts of rice varieties in local markets, why should I cut out eating rice because it's either a high complex carb or it requires boiling and cooking? Restrictions for the sake of restrictions aren't my thing and now I know that through much trial and error. This doesn't mean I can't respect religious and/or socio-political purposes behind certain dietary observations.
Inside Info: I use the word diet here as a way to simply refer to a -way- of eating. I am not using "diet" to specifically mean a way to control weight and body fat (example: "I am going on a diet"). A particular diet and set of habits can provide weight loss for someone, being the sole purpose and intent, but again I am just using diet to mean eating regimen and habits.I used to be vegetarian for several years and then I became what is called a "pescetarian," someone who eats vegetarian but includes fish in their diet.
I just couldn't give up seafood! Especially sushi. I love the stuff. And it's good for you.
I no longer classify myself as a vegetarian, although I tend to naturally enjoy and eat far more grains, fruits, and vegetables over meats. But several times I have ventured into low-carb dieting in the past, which encouraged me to consume far more meat in my diet.
|Photo by West of Persia|
I am definitely interested in learning more about raw food dieting. Because I don't like to be so exclusive when I eat, I don't see myself being a dedicated raw-foodist. But I'd like to enrich my diet with raw food eating habits and delicious raw food recipes, especailly for times where I'd love to naturally detox and rejuvenate my body and mind. I mean who can't use more fresh, raw, and whole foods in their diet? We all can.
I am also ready to start using my juicer more often. In fact, I consider a goof juicer a must-have in a kitchen. It's a wonderful kitchen toy and a worthwhile investment.
The amateur naturopath in me is also interested in exploring diets and foods because I find anything relating to the medicinal, nutritional, and functional properties of food to be captivating. I always want to research, learn about, read about, and experiment with all sorts of ingredients to open up my mind further on different and new ways of eating. I want to learn about foods and ingredients I am not only familiar with but stuff I've never tried or heard about.
I feel that eating should be fun and creative along with nutritive. We should delight in what bring to the table, shop for, and request in our favorite eateries. We should take more pleasures in preparing foods from scratch and respecting what the earth provides for us. We should be far more aware of how our foods are prepared and what goes into our bodies.
We should become more intuitive and mindful eaters. Eating with all of the senses.
Exploration leads to culinary adventure and enlightenment.
- What sorts of foods and new ways of eating have you always wanted to try?
- What kinds of foods do you like to eat the most?
- What sorts of dietary ventures have you had negative experiences with?
- Have you tried a raw food diet or are you a raw foodist? What are your experiences like? What would you like to share?
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
|Classic buttercream icing|
I dream, you dream, we all dream about buttercream!
I simply can't get enough of this stuff...on cakes, cupcakes, pettis fours, cookies, you name it, I love it!
This is the real creamy crack.
What can I say? Buttercream leads to sugar bliss! And any fan of buttercream knows they can have it in so many ways. That's THE icing on the cake!
What is buttercream, really? And what self-proclaimed sugar god or goddess decides what real buttercream is?
|My macarons w/ hazelnut butter buttercream|
Hmmm, well historically boiled icings, which were some of the first icings, were used on yeast cakes. Yeast cakes were popular before the introduction of baking powder. Boiled icings were similar to today's royal icing and they consisted mainly of sugar and egg whites boiled together with added flavorings. The icings would harden on the cakes and create a sugary, candy-like coating, but around the very early part of the 20th century, buttercream icings began to appear in cake recipes, and over time, many cultures adapted their own versions of buttercream icing for their pastries.
Today, classic buttercream is known to contain a sweet, short, and simple list of ingredients: definitely sugar, almost always butter, possibly eggs, and sometimes milk or cream.
Various versions of buttercream icing are created by using a combination of these ingredients in a multitude of ways.
Let's go down a stellar and fascinating list, shall we?
- French Buttercream (aka pâte á bombe): This icing is made by making sugar syrup from boiled sugar and water and beating it into egg yolks until the mixture is very cooled, airy and creamy. Butter and any flavor extracts or oils are added to the creamed yolk batter to make the final result.
- German Buttercream (pastry cream-based) : This icing base uses pastry cream (same filling used for choux pastry desserts such as profiteroles, eclairs, and cream puffs) or other custards. Butter is beaten into the pastry cream along with any additional flavors to create the icing. Extra sugar can be added to make the icing even sweeter.
- Russian Buttercream: This is also a custard or pastry cream-based icing fused with soft butter, however it is further thickened with cornstarch or flour.
- Roux Buttercream (aka Heirloom Icing): This is a flour-based buttercream icing. It is made by cooking milk and flour together (roux) and then cooling the roux. A creamed combination of sugar and butter are then added to the roux to make a roux buttercream.
- French Meringue Buttercream: This is a meringue-based icing. Meringues icings are icings that incorporate egg whites. This icing is traditionally made by whipping egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar together to form a creamy meringue base. Butter and flavors are then beaten in to finalize the recipe. Some recipes call for the use of whole eggs.
- Italian Meringue Buttercream: Italian meringue buttercream is made by adding hot sugar syrup to beaten egg whites. The sugar syrup's heat cooks the egg whites, and the mixture is then beaten until it cools down to 100 degrees (Fahrenheit). Butter is then added for completion.
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Swiss meringue is somewhat similar to Italian meringue, however, sugar (can be brown or white sugar) is cooked with egg whites on a double boiler (bain marie). The mixture is taken off the stove and whipped into stiff peaks. Butter and other flavors are then added to create a Swiss meringue buttercream.
- American Buttercream: American buttercream is also called classic or decorator's buttercream. It is one of the longest-lasting buttercreams, especially if shortening or margarine is used over butter. It's also the simplest to make and no cooking of the ingredients is required. It's made by mixing together butter and powdered sugar. Milk is often added to further cream the base, and buttermilk, cream, nut milks, coconut milk can be substitutes. Cornstarch is sometimes used to further stabilize the icing and in some cases, small amounts of whole eggs, egg yolks or egg whites are used to compliment the texture and taste. Some people still argue that American buttercream made with margarine, shortening or lard is not real buttercream.
- Buttercream Fondant (also called Rolled Buttercream): This icing is great for topping cookies and for creating decorations on top of cakes, as the icing can be shaped and cut with cookie cutters. It is sometimes also used to cover cakes as a tastier, albeit shinier, alternative to traditional fondant. It is made by combining a very large amount of powdered sugar with vegetable shortening, glucose or corn syrup, and any flavors, to create an "icing dough,"which can be molded and kneaded.
- Fruit-based Buttercream: This buttercreams is similar to classic or American buttercream and is sometimes best used as filling or spreads. The icing base is structured around a fruit juice, jam, puree, and the like. Fruit juice, butter, powdered sugar are creamed together to create a fruit buttercream with a strong fruit flavor. Jams, purees, and spreads give fruit buttercreams a fabulous texture. These are especially great used as filling in cake rolls.
Creamy Vanilla French Buttercream Icing1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup butter, cubed and cold (4 oz. / 1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- In a saucepan, pour in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of granulated sugar and bring to a boil for about 10-15 minutes or until sugar syrup is reduced by half and thickens.
- Turn off heat for sugar syrup and set aside.
- In a large bowl with a stand or hand mixer, beat 4 egg yolks until they are blended well. Beat on medium speed.
- Add in 1 whole egg and continue to beat the eggs.
- Take the hot sugar syrup in the saucepan and slowly pour it into the eggs as they are beaten. Beat approximately 10 minutes until the eggs and syrup mixture is cooled, creamy, and light.
- Add in 1/2 cup of cubed, cold butter and continue to beat the buttercream into smoothness.
- Include 1 tsp. of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and blend into the buttercream icing.
- Use right away for cake, macarons, or cupcake icing or fillings. Store icing in the fridge if used for later. Also great for layers in sponge cake parfaits or trifles.
|Photo of buttercream icing from Baking Bits & Bobs|
I, for one, am glad that buttercream fans have so many styles to choose from. Every person will come to have their favorite by trying different ones.
So, buttercream addicts, what's your favorite kind of buttercream?
Do you know of any other buttercreams that I haven't listened? I'd love to know!
Friday, January 14, 2011
|Allyson N. Jason ©|
The is the hot topic right now.
I have my own predictions about what dessert trends will develop this year, and although some of these predictions might turn out to be wrong, it's still very fun to play Prediction Faery.
Let's take out my large, candy-colored, crystal, jawbreaker globe and talk about the sweetness of the near future.
|Doughnuts from Doughnut Plant|
I am specifically thinking of gourmet, artisanal, and wedding doughnuts. We'll probably see doughnuts in many novel shapes such as squares. Doughnut Plant, a stylish and popular doughnut shop in New York is creating a lot of buzz with their delish and large square-shaped doughnuts.
In doughnuts, we'll also see new and innovative glazes and fillings (think of doughnuts that resemble macarons!) and doughnuts that feature original and toothsome flavor profiles.
The doughnut will be redressed and embellished. People will become more creative with these classic treats and rediscover their greatness. Wedding and event planners will have a lot of leverage here in helping to bring back the fame of doughnuts across the nation. For weddings, cake doughnuts will bring more versatility for decoration and flavors.
|Dessert Display by Amy Atlas|
Dessert table pioneers like Amy Atlas have shown how brilliant these displays can be. Dessert tables are dream vessels for many artists to showcase their professional skills and talents in the culinary and event planning society. They are a gateway for connecting numerous people from different industries with one another.
Desserts tables command the help of event planners, bakers and cake-makers, graphic designers of many stripes (including arts-and-crafters), illustrators, confectioners, food photographers, specialty food ware shop owners, even food writers, and more. So much goes into planning and setting up a dessert table for any event and the level of creativity that can go into constructing them presents endless imagineering possibilities.
|photo by Cake Monkey Bakery|
People love having something special made just for them in cute, little, custom, sugary packages.
Not everyone is always ready to buy an entire cake or a pie, so (big inhale) tartlets, macarons, cookies, cake balls, the ongoing fame of cupcakes, little muffins and teacakes, truffles, petits fours, puff pastry miniatures, chocolates, gourmet candies, parfait cups, and many more tiny delights will continue to present colossal appeal for the masses as they explore both old and new bakeshops while looking for their dessert fixes. (exhale).
|Photo from Cook Your Dream|
People everywhere are starting to appreciate more quality ingredients in the foods they consume. More artisan dessert shops and bakeries, such as Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, are opening up across the nation and they're becoming both more affordable and accessible to many large metropolitan locations, which promise bigger target audiences and opportunities for businesses to catch on and grow. The strong growing support of fresh local ingredients chiefly contributes to this growing trend.
I, for one, hope that it's a trend to stay. High quality should never be a fad.
|Photo by Cannelle et Vanille|
Artisanal, to me, means handcrafted and made with natural rather than processed ingredients. However, seasonal desserts are made when ncessary ingredients are in season.. This means the ingredients will be at their best in texture and flavor, thus giving desserts a higher quality in taste when they are served. This also means that specific desserts and flavors won't always be available year round and their prices will be cheaper and fresher when they are season.
These days, more bakeries are offering seasonal desserts and customers are more than happy to wait around for their favorites. Customers also enjoy the diversity and intrigue of seasonally-based menus. Menus in such shops are switched up often and seasonal desserts are appreciated even more when they are finally featured again.
I must mention that fruit jams, jellies, spreads, and dessert relishes are becoming popular as seasonal items that are preserved for year-round purchase from small food shops and housemade dessert sellers. Blogs such as Punk Domestics are showcasing just how starchy this trend in preserved seasonal foods is becoming. I could even give canning and preserves a category of its own as a dessert trend prediction, but I'll keep my list of predictions to lucky number 7!
|Chocolate fondue at The Melting Pot|
I feel that in 2011, more people will have a desire to explore and seek out new dining experiences. Fondue bars and parlors offer patrons the ability to be super tasteers and entertain their palettes with mix-and-match flavor options..
This year is the best time to open up a fondue dessert bar or visit one in your local area, because the distinctive and fun dining style provided in most fondue places is catching on.
Fondue joints are not only known for providing places for people to uniquely socialize, they also provide a do-it-yourself eating experience for customers.
Usually diners in fondue restaurants are expected to cook their own foods at the table, but since we are discussing dessert, diners can expect to serve themselves from an array of fresh slices of fruits, pieces of chocolates, cubes of brioche breads, and various other sweet items such as marshmallows, with an assortment of stimulating dipping sauces. Menus are usually open and they vary from one fondue place to the next.
Popular sauces are caramel, chocolate, butterscotch, marshmallow cream, hot fruit glazes, and warm puddings, custards and creams. In fondue eateries, diners can be as creative and experimental as they wish to be with many possibilities of creating custom flavor combinations. Again, this is a tasteer's fantasy.
It might be hard to find a place in your neck of the woods that specializes in just fondue, but fondue restaurants such as The Melting Pot are giving people a chance to see what the fondue dining experience is all about.
|Pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Shop|
These are bakeries completely or mostly dedicated to serving pies and tarts -- bakeries such as Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie shop, located in Brooklyn, New York.
I like to call them "pieries" [PIE-uh-ries] or [PIE - rees]. Don't you just LOVE the way that word sounds? I do!
Some pieries serve pies based on seasonal ingredients, but most up-and-coming pie shops tend to be artisanal. This means that pies are handmade, served with fresh, quality ingredients and customers can either dine in and share a pie or large tart around a table in a gathering or order for take out or special events such as weddings and parties. Event planners are hearing more about weddings that request themed tarts and pies, rather than cake or cupcakes, as the dessert focus.
Well, my fellow sugar adventurers, this spells the end of my predictions for 2011 dessert trends. I based on my predictions on intuition, paying attention to what seems popular in the food and dining industry, lately, and on what I feel would be cool to see more of in this promising new year.
So, what do YOU think?
Do you have any dessert trend predictions for the New Year?
If so, do tell!
Friday, January 7, 2011
|Glazed Buttermilk Doughnuts!|
First, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!
I hope everyone's year is getting off to a good start, as mine surely is.
It's been awhile since I've posted an update to my food blog. A lot has happened since my last entry in early December and I am feeling recharged and rejuvenated for 2011. There are lots of foods I'll be exploring, learning, and sharing, so I hope you guys are ready to continue this journey with me. :)
Although not technically a BAKING adventure, I finally got around to making doughnuts!
I love doughnuts, have always wanted to make them from scratch, and these days, it's hard to find a really good doughnut in most bakeries. Buttermilk doughnuts have always been my favorite amongst the vast assortment of doughnut types.
Doughnuts are as iconic as cupcakes, but the popularity of doughnuts has died down a bit in the last few years. Before the cupcake craze in North America, there was the doughnut craze, thanks to the influence of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and various other doughnut chains. Although Krispy Kreme was established in 1937 and doughnuts have long been enjoyed by so many, widespread and rabid consumption of doughnuts began in the late 1990s and peaked in the early 2000s.
There are a bunch of ways to prepare and make doughnuts, and many cultures have their own spin on doughnut-making techniques and doughnut flavors.
Cake doughnuts and yeast dough doughnuts are the two prominent categories of doughnut types. Cake doughnuts can be fried or baked, but traditionally doughnuts have been fried for the best of taste and texture. I personally enjoy fried doughnuts over baked, and yeast dough doughnuts over specialized cake batter doughnuts (although beignets in the U.S, which are French New Orleans doughnuts, are traditionally made from choux pastry dough like éclairs).
What Do You Know?: Canadians consume the most doughnuts and have the most doughnut shops and bakeries per capita, compared to other regions globally.Doughnuts can be made with honey, various fruits, custard, and cream fillings, buttermilk, butter, shortening (animal or vegetable), maple syrup, brown sugar, and so on. The list seems endless.
Doughnuts also come in a variety of shapes but the most common and traditional shapes are:
- rings (the most classic shape of all, round with a hole in the middle)
- twists (think of crullers; ring-shaped doughnuts made from twisted dough)
- rectangular bars (these resemble flattened éclairs and are sometimes called Long Johns)
- rounded squares (with or without holes)
- round, flattened spheres (usually made to inject with different fillings)
- knots or bits (usually doughnut holes removed from the middle of ring-shaped doughnuts)
So let's start talking about my adventure in making glazed buttermilk doughnuts.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
|The closeup shot of the Cupcake Camp LA poster!|
I finally attended my first local food event. Well not literally, but I mean in an industry-related sense -- an event totally related to food and for dessert lovers of the cupcake stripe.
There are so many food events going on annually but I haven't been able to afford some of them because many are out of state and even out of the country! The long distance of these events raises the financial investment of going where I'd be concerned about not only cost of admission, but hotel stay and airfare pricing. However, I am lucky in that Los Angeles, a food city in its own right, has so much going on food-wise.
Many of you have probably heard of Cupcake Camp, started by Ariel Waldman, Lynn, Marianne Masculino, and Cindy Li. The original and first Cupcake Camp started in San Francisco in 2009 (hard to believe it wasn't that long ago!). Since then, there are over 40 different locations that host Cupcake Camp events annually. Some of those hosting locations are even beyond North America.
Los Angeles finally had its first Cupcake Camp, produced by Bakespace.com and spearheaded by Babette Pepaj. I decided I was going to attend and I bought a VIP ticket through a club discount. I figured why not buy the best admission to get in and show my support for the sponsors and charities that helped make the event possible since it's charity-driven.
The sponsors and charities at the event were:
It was my first time going there, so I was excited about that, too. Just a few nights before, Blonde Redhead (a band I adore) was playing.
Although I know my way around LA reasonably well in various parts and I'm a native, sometimes I get tripped up with directions if I am looking out for a particular venue. As a result, my drive to the Music Box was kind of an adventure, driving all around West LA, and taking a sightseeing drive toward Hollywood. One I enjoyed and needed.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
"Never trust a skinny chef."
I've heard this phrase a thousand times and up until recently, didn't give it much thought. I think it's a cute and amusing phrase (still) that simply implies that the best cooks, chefs, and/or bakers are those who LOVE food so much that there's no way they could be skinny. They need to bring this zealous, culinary spirit into the kitchen when preparing foods so that flavors pop and perform, smells intoxicate and arouse, and the profound presentation of plates dramatically kidnap breath from many throats that can barely muster "ahhhh!"
Basically, the phrase says skinny chefs are those who restrain themselves far too much to enjoy and make good food.
Let's be honest. There's some truth to that, but it's not completely true.
I do believe that foodies are people who naturally and avidly enjoy all things food and drink, even given each of our various approaches and distinctive leanings toward particular cuisines and flavors, and our specific areas of focus in the realm of food mania. It's hard to be a strict disciplinarian with one's waistline when there's so much love going on here.
The love of food naturally spells out passion. That's obvious. Foodies don't just eat to function and to satisfy hunger. And, we often know that passion, in any form, should be unbridled and uninhibited. At least, that's what most of us think about passion when pondering over the nature of it. Passion is not passion unless it's intense, deep, and obsessive...and free.
Passion, like anything else that's exhilarating, can become warped and darkly baroque and lead to irresponsibility and addiction. There always has to be a checks and balances on most things, right? I shall say that food is certainly no area exempt from this supposition.
So, when it comes to the phrase "never trust a skinny chef," I think some foodies do realize that unchecked passion with food can lead to bad health over time. The body has its limits and we each should know our own. Every person is different.
HAES (Health at Every Size). This acronym means that what is healthy for one person weight-wise might not be so healthy for another and that intuitive eating is the best way to achieve and maintain good health. The goal should not be to become skinny, but simply healthy, and a person can be healthy with extra weight given their unique body dynamics and limitations. This is fact.
It's only been recent that North America's body ideals have related to being at the lowest end possible of BMI. And let's face it, that BMI system itself is not so accurate for some. I'm one of those people.
So some bona fide foodies can indeed be "skinny." I think some people either have very fast metabolisms (although most people are average this way) or they find ways to incorporate a good degree of physical activity and balance in their eating into their lives to where they work off any excess weight, whatever the motivations are behind their actions. They allow themselves to eat whatever they want, but in moderation and sometimes perhaps with substitutions.
I do think that women in the food industry are under even more pressure than average to remain visually appealing, conventionally, and still exude this orgasmic attitude about food. Food is everywhere in the food biz, so there's more to watch out for if one doesn't want to fall out of popularity, given what they are known for.
Over time, as I've observed some of the most conventionally attractive celebrity chefs on Food Network and The Cooking Channel, I've seen there have been periods where they were a bit pudgier or heavier. Giada De Laurentiis' weight can fluctuate at times, I've noticed. She is very petite but she's been chunkier during certain seasons of her shows. This wasn't just when she was pregnant. The woman enjoys food and if she didn't work out to maintain her weight, I can easily seeing her being naturally chubby. In my book, she'd certainly still be cute as I am not at all fat-phobic like I used to be and as the average person tends to be, but I know viewers would give her tons of criticism for "letting herself go."
Some others chefs have even been criticized for their weight gain (Nigella Lawson comes to mind), but I notice that in this industry there's still a bit more acceptance towards plus-sized bodies than in others, overall.
To name a few...
- Guy Fieri
- Sunny Anderson
- Anne Burrell
- Ina Garten
- Paula Deen
- Emeril Lagasse
- Nigella Lawson
- Jeffrey Steingarten
- Mario Batali
- Rachael Ray (her weight fluctuates)
- Alex Guarnaschelli
The reality and what viewers must realize is chefs and food hosts aren't on their shows showing America how to cook and how to masturbate at the same time. It's not meant to be any porn but food porn.
Also, who wants to see someone completely anorexic-looking cooking? Not me. You know that just doesn't look and seem right. I understand we want people to look somewhat attractive while they cook, even if that for some people means thinner, but seriously, these food channels aren't substitutes for the Playboy channel so I often find it incredibly ridiculous when certain food celebs are put down for any weight gain or any change in their physical appearance. It's often female hosts, too.
But, all foodies aren't commercial chefs and there are such people as fat chefs, cooks, and bakers who make magic in the kitchen and manage to hold their own very well.
I hear that bakers tend to be less lean than their savory cook counterparts. Not sure why this is or if this is really true. In some bakeries, activity can be quite hectic, especially if there are long lines and lots of little tasks to do with a multitude of pastries and desserts. I think some people might think that because baking is more exact in nature than cooking, standing for a longer time concentrating on the precision of design or a technique is far more common than in a savory kitchen. Point taken.
Recently, I've gotten back into a daily gym schedule because as I bake often, I know that being around so much decadence is tempting. I have such a high tolerance for sweets and if I don't control myself, that passion turns topsy-turvy and like any good carousel ride, it's fun for the time being and you want to come back intermittently for the thrill, but you never want to stay on forever nonstop or find yourself strapped down on a candy-colored faux horse as the carousel moves into surreal warp speed until you are violently sick and put out commission completely.
OK...that was rather disturbing...
Well, anyway, what are your thoughts on the phrase: "Never Trust a Skinny Chef"?
Do you feel it has truth or merit?
Are you a foodie or a cook in any manner and if so, how do you personally relate to this phrase?
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
|What a wonderful idea for a cake...|
There are some family issues that I must tend to among other a few other things. While I am on break, I will certainly be planning more entries and future activities for this blog such as:
- more documented baking adventures (I have lots of recipes in mind, also feel free to send me any ideas)
- some cooking adventures (savory foods which you haven't seen here yet)
- changes in layout and a possible move to Wordpress format
- new site title and logo design (have a couple of names in mind)
- creative, food-related info session and random thoughts entries
- updates and reviews (ingredients, bakeries)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
|Digital print: Completely replacing traditional publishing?|
It's hard enough to keep track of the lightning fast changes happening in digital technology every minute, especially in the realm of publishing.
In the last few years, more print magazines have either folded entirely or gone totally digital...or they continue to fund both digital and hard print format if they and their sponsors can continue to afford it and evolve with changing dynamics in their core audiences.
Gourmet Magazine comes to mind. Gourmet's print magazine was taken off the market by Conde Nast at the end of last year. Why did they fold? Rumor has it that they just could not compete well with a changing audience that reflected recent economic changes and with increasing digital print publishing demands. They simply became out of sync and a lot of their advertising support was also tied into newspaper publications, which were also going out of print.
I recently discovered that there is going to be a digital app called "Gourmet Live" for the now defunct print magazine. The application will be available for iPad and other mobile gadgets. These app will allow users to download digital content, view videos, read articles, browse menus, and look at tons of photos. So it seems that digital apps are another new tangent that magazines, both current and former, are looking into to transition from or broaden to hard print to soft.
So what do my purchasing trends reveal? Well let's just say I have such a huge collection of food and dessert magazines that it's mind-boggling. Stacks of magazines and books dominant a great deal of my closet space and book shelves. I especially love collecting special editions of select food and dessert magazines whenever they are released. I find them to be visual and text-laden treats to gawk at, study, savor, and share with others when I am out of the house and about. I also appreciate the combined technical skills, layout and editing artistry, and literary contributions that go into developing a print magazine. The process behind this creative mosaic of expressed efforts should not become a lost art. So, my purchasing power also reflects a personal desire to support.
One of the magazines I read is Desserts magazine, which is exclusively an online publication. It's a fascinating and very informative magazine with tons of eye candy featuring dessert trends and recipes from all over the world, but I wouldn't mind an actual hard print copy of each edition or certain ones that I've greatly enjoyed in particular.
Making it so that hard print versions are available for purchase is great for building a physical collection of magazines to thumb through anytime I want without having to log onto the computer.
With that said, of course there certainly are benefits to being paperless, too. No byproducts or waste, no clutter or ever-growing stacks of magazines taking up space in one's house or apartment, and magazines basically are non-destructible when they are in a virtual/digital format. You can get unlimited copies from an original soft copy source.
So, what do you think?
Do you prefer to read your culinary magazines or books on a Kindle, iPad or any other eReader?
Would you ever go out and buy any of those new apps for your mobile toy?
How do you feel about the changes that the publishing industry is going through? Should all reading eventually become paperless?