How To Flavor With Vanilla

basket of vanilla beans - How To Flavor With Vanilla

Melipona bee pollinating a vanilla orchard

Image Credit: Athena Rayne Anderson 2008

Vanilla is a flavoring that is extracted from orchids, primarily from the flat-leaved vanilla Mexican species.

The first endeavors to propagate or grow the vanilla orchid outside of Mexico had shown to be in vain as this particular orchid has a synergetic alliance with its natural pollinator, the Melipona bee.

At least 40 species of this bee are known, and thrive in Mexico, as well as Argentina.

Other areas were the vanilla orchid is now successfully produced, such as in Tahiti and Madagascar among other places, is entirely dependent on artificial pollination.

The magazine – “Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution” states that the vanilla orchid is one of very few crops whose production depends entirely on artificial pollination.

How To Pollinate The Vanilla Orchid

This video provides details how to successfully pollinate the vanilla orchid that produces vanilla beans! This presentation was appropriated by the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.

Using Vanilla In Baking

When it comes to baking, vanilla is a very important ingredient, and there are 3 ways to use it…

  1. Vanilla Bean
  2. Vanilla Extract
  3. Vanilla Paste

Let’s examine the differences between these three and how to best use them in your baking.

Vanilla Beans

 Whole Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Whole Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans themselves provide wonderful flavor to any recipe that calls for it. The bean can cost between $7 to $13  for a small jar of two or three beans. They are a little time consuming to work with, but you will find the flavor they produce to be well worth the time.

You want to find vanilla beans that are plump and smooth with a slight shine and that are highly fragrant. Avoid overly dried beans. Using the vanilla in dessert recipes that call for it, gives the finished baked good an intense vanilla flavor that you might never want to go back to using another form of vanilla.

Be warned though, the bean can leave specks of brown throughout the baked good. To some this is great, but if you are baking a white cake, then employing the vanilla bean for such recipes may not work. That brings us to another form: vanilla extract.

Vanilla Extract

 

Vanilla extract is the common form used in baking.

To acquire the extract, the bean is mashed, and it is infused with a mixture of alcohol, a clear drinking alcohol is used, like Vodka.

Vanilla extract readily available, not only as pure, but also artificially made. The extract is simple to measure out and use in your baking.

Vanilla Paste

Pure Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste

Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla paste, though spendy (between $12 to $16 for a 4 ounce jar), is the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing between vanilla beans and vanilla extract.

Vanilla paste is the flesh of the pod scooped-out, and make available at market in small jars. So you are getting all of the flavor of the bean without all of the hassle. It will still provide those flecks of color in your baking like the actual bean does.

For vanilla paste, consult the jar to see how much to use in your recipes. It usually shows the conversions between vanilla extract and the paste.

When in doubt, gradually add to your baking, tasting after each addition to help you determine the right amount of vanilla flavor.

Which One To Use

Most recipes do call for vanilla extract but if you do decide to substitute the bean or paste for the extract, you can. One bean actually equals about three teaspoons of vanilla extract.

The next time you bake, try using vanilla beans or paste instead of the more common vanilla extract. Of course, what you decide to use depends on your personal preference.

Link Here For A Selection Of Dessert Recipes From Splendid Recipes and More

What Others Are Reading:

Nashville’s Style – Hot Chicken

Nashville's Style  Hot Chicken

Nashville hot chicken is a local specialty in Nashville,Tennessee (USA). If you ever plan to visit Nashville, you can find prepared Hot Chicken while out and about at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack among other restaurants.

Hot Chicken is prepared using the breast, thigh, or wing of the bird, and are marinated in a water-based blend of seasonings, and flour. After the chicken pieces have been breaded and fried, a spicy hot sauce using cayenne pepper is drizzled over the chicken pieces. The hot chicken is served over slices of white bread with pickle chips.

Already mentioned, there are several restaurants in Nashville that serve up hot chicken. There is even a city-wide festival and competition commemorating the dish. Check it out here: Nashville Hot Chicken Coalition.

Here’s a easy Hot Chicken recipe, so you can give it a try.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into tenders

1 tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper

2 tablespoon kosher salt

Hot Chicken

Image Credit: Joe Buglewicz/The Bitter Southerner

Brine Mixture:

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha

Buttermilk Breading Mixture:

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk or whole milk

2 Tbsp. hot sauce

Seasoned Flour:

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon spanish paprika

½ teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon dried sage

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

½ teaspoon onion flakes

Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce:

3 tablesppon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ cup vegetable oil for frying, such as refined coconut oil or avocado oil for high heat cooking

Directions

Sprinkle the tenders with salt and pepper.

Whisk buttermilk with hot sauce in a large bowl, then place the tenders in the bowl.

Cover and chill for two or more hours (or overnight).

Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce for buttermilk breading mixture in a large bowl.

Whisk all of the ingredients for the seasoned flour together in another large bowl.

Fit a deep pan with a lid, or a Dutch oven with a thermometer, and pour enough vegetable oil to measure 2 inches inside the pan.

Heat the oil over medium-high until the thermometer registers 325°F.

Remove the bowl of marinating tenders from the fridge, then take the tenders out of the bowl and pat them dry.

Working with 1 tender at a time, dredge in flour mixture, shake off excess, then dip in buttermilk mixture. Allow any excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge the tender again in flour mixture and place on a baking pan.

Place 3 to 4 tenders in the hot oil, one at a time.

Fry tenders, turning occasionally, until coating is golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. If you want, you can check the tender doneness by inserting a meat or instant thermometer into the tender; it should register 165°F.

Continue to fry your tenders in batches of 3 or 4, allowing the oil to return to 325°F between batches.

Place finished tenders on a tray lined with paper towels.

On the side, whisk cayenne, brown sugar, garlic salt, and paprika in a medium bowl; then whisk in ½ cup frying oil.

Arrange the finished tenders on a serving platter and drizzle with the spicy oil.

Serve with dill pickle chips and white bread.

____________________________________

Article Credits:

Recipe adapted from: Wonder How To – Food Hacks 

Header Image Credit: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

_____________________________________

What Others Are Reading:

Enhance Your Chicken Breasts With These Simple Maneuvers

Raw chicken breast with peppers and salad leaves on the wood backgroundChicken breasts, particularly boneless, skinless breasts, are the healthiest cut of chicken, but they can also be dry and flavorless if not prepared right. You might say that cooking chicken breasts is easy, and we agree. But getting them moist and tender all the time can be a problem.

No matter which cooking method you use, that is grilling, baking, or pan cooking them, there are two important steps you should always take.

Never Wash Or Rinse Your Meat With Water

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGeeAuthor Harold McGee in his book – “On Food and Cookingexplains that excess moisture on meat‘s surface thwarts the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical process that occurs when carbohydrate molecules react with amino acids, yielding that gives that brown color to the meat along with rich, complex flavors.

McGee says the Maillard reaction begins at approximately 230 degrees Fahrenheit, were as water turns to vapor at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and washing the meat with water before cooking it simply won’t get hot enough to allow the Maillard reaction to occur.

That means a washed piece of meat won’t start browning until all the water is cooked off, and by that time your chicken breast may already be well done.

Marinating Your Meat

slits cut into chicken breastsMaking small crosswise slits on chicken breast no only helps the marinade penetrate the meat, which disperses the marinaded flavor throughout the meat and not just on the surface, but also helps the chicken cook evenly.

Also most marinades call for vinegar, which is a great meat tenderizer as well as cooking meat evenly and juicy.

Pound Chicken Breasts To An Even Thickness Before Cooking Them

This is a very important process to perform as each piece of chicken breast can be a different thickness or size. If you don’t pound them out, some breasts will cook faster than others, leaving the thinner breasts dried out, while the thicker ones can be under cooked.

Pounding also tenderizes the meat, making the meat more tender.

Tools For Tenderizing

meat tenderizer

Image credit: William-Sonoma

When it comes to pounding your chicken breasts for an evenly cooked meat as well as tender and juicy, you can use a meat mallet.

But if you don;t have one you can also use a rolling pin, the back of a skillet or even the bottom of a mason jar.

Wrap the breasts in plastic wrap or wax paper, and pound until all the pieces are even in thickness, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness is ideal, but the important part is making sure the width is as uniform as possible.

Here are some of our favorite chicken breast recipes from our kitchen to yours.

Greek Grilled Chicken

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll Ups

Spanish Chicken Salad

What Others Are Reading:

Condiments – Sauces – and Dips – Oh My!

Condiments - Sauces - and Dips - Oh My!

Supermarket-Condiments-Aisle

Image Credit: Fooducate

Depending on what you are going to eat, no meal is complete without condiments, sauces and dips.

You could become easily over whelmed as you stroll your shopping cart down the condiments, sauces, and dips aisles of your favorite grocery store, as there are so many choices.

Even on Pinterest, Instagram, and other social networks you can find amazing, delectable and tasty-looking condiments, sauces and dips that you can create on your own to enhance your meals.

In the United States alone, the production of marketed condiments was valued at 5.6 billion dollars (USA) in 2010 and was estimated to grow to 7 billion dollars (USA) by 2015. 

Condiments are the second largest bought specialty food with the first being cheese.

What Is A Condiment

A condiment includes a spice, herb, salt, pepper, and sauce. The word “condiment” was coined from the Latin word condimentum, which means spice, seasoning, or sauce. The Latin word condere, also means, to preserve, pickle, or season.

The preparation of a particular condiment is added to food to render a distinct flavor, and/or to intensify a culinary dishes flavor. The term originally described food items like pickles, tarter sauce, mustard, ketchup, or Tabasco sauce, but has shifted meaning over time.

Link here to check out a List Of Condiments referred to on Wikipedia.

What Are Sauces and Dips

ranch dip with vegtables, tomatoes and crusted bread

Ranch Dressing or Buttermilk Dressing Dip With Vegetables, Tomatoes and Crusted Bread

Sauces are a liquid plus some sort of thickening agent along with other flavoring ingredients served with food, usually savory dishes, to add moistness and flavor.

About Food says there are 5 Mother Sauces, and they include…

  • Béchamel Sauce
  • Velouté Sauce
  • Espagnole Sauce
  • Hollandaise Sauce
  • Classic Tomate Sauce

About Food explains that the term “mother sauce” in culinary arts, refers to any one of the five basic sauces just mentioned, which are the starting points for making various secondary sauces. They say that they are called “mother sauces,” as each sauce is like the head of its own unique family of sauces.

types of Mexican SalsasSalsa is the Italian and Spanish word for sauce, and in English speaking countries salsa usually refers to the sauces typical of Mexico’s cuisine, referred to as salsa picante, particularly those used as dips.

Salsas are most often prepared with a tomato-based sauce or dip which is heterogeneous or diverse in character, as it can include the addition of onions, chilies, beans, cilantro, corn, and assorted spices that are customarily piquant, ranging from mild to very hot.

Salsas can be runny or thick. Both types of salsas are also used as dipping sauces, such as platters that are prepared with corn chips, beans, sour cream, and salsa.

guacamole dip and corn chips

Guacamole With Corn Chips

Dips are a thick food item, for dipping other finger foods into.

Dips are usually dairy based, like a buttermilk based dip, or a sour cream or cream cheese based dip, as well as tomato based.

You can even mix a salsa with sour cream to form a dip.

Dips can be thick or a liquid, and they can include a spinach dip, fruit dip, like guacamole, or a pizza dip, such as a tomato sauce based dip, or a garlic sauce.

Creative Condiments – Sauces – and Dips

Add coconut to your curry sauce. This gives it a more south-east Asian flavor. Just sauté some onions, ginger, curry powder, and sugar. Add some coconut milk and allow to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Add fresh, frozen, or peach preserves  and spices to a favorite barbecue sauce. Mix in some peach preserves, a little sriracha, and your favorite barbecue sauce, and turn some yum into a wow in an instant.

You can create a great slider sauce or marinade for grilling meats by using Dijon mustard, key lime juice, Himalayan salt and pepper.

Here are some great Condiments – Sauces – and Dips prepared here at Splendid Recipes and More…

What Others Are Reading:

How To Cook Dried Beans

Mixed Legumes on paper and burlap - How To Cook Dried BeansSoaking dried beans or legumes in water first, helps with dissolving the raffinose sugars that can cause discomfort in the digestive system. Rinsing the beans after soaking and draining any water after cooking will further help to reduce the sugars as well.

soaking deied beans - How To Cook Dried Beans

Image credit: EHow

Here are some steps you can take to reducing the raffinose sugars, a complex carbohydrate found in most in most dried beans.

This type of sugar is also found in cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus, among other vegetables, and including whole grains.

The California Dry Bean Advisory Board recommend this method for gas-free beans.

  • Place 1 pound of beans in 10 cups of boiling water for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove from heat, cover and set aside overnight

 

Soaking the beans overnight helps to remove or dissolve between 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible raffinose sugars.

If you want, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water to help remove the raffinose sugars as well.

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Delicious Living recommends soaking 1 cup of beans in 3 cups of water for 6 hours before cooking them.

After soaking the beans, drain them of the water, then rinse thoroughly. Now your beans are ready to be cooked.

When cooking the beans, you can add any herbs and spices, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or juice, which can considerably slow the cooking time. Add these ingredients when the beans are done cooking.

When cooking your beans you can use either water, or a stalk made from vegetables, beef or chicken.

Cooking times will vary depending on the type of beans you will be using. Most cooks will tell you that dried lentils or split peas do not require soaking, but they do require sorting and rinsing.

Keep in mind that cooking lentils in too much liquid, or over cooking them, will make them mushy. They should only be cooked for 20 minutes or until tender.

How to Use Cooked Beans

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Dried beans when cooked are very versatile, and although they have different flavors and textures, they can often be used interchangeably in recipes.

Cooked beans can be used to make soups, added as a topping to vegetable salads, add to cooked rice, couscous or pasta salads for texture.

Here are some of our featured recipes using cooked beans.

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas – Featuring a side dish of quinoa with black beans, onion, corn, and chili pepper

Spicy Chorizo and Bean Soup

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

South Of The Border Chicken Tortilla Soup

Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

What Others Are Reading:

How To Spice Things Up When Cooking

Large collection of metal bowls full of herbs and spices -How To Spice Things Up When CookingHerbs and spices are used to enhance the flavor of food, either it be for cooking spaghetti carbonara or baking an apple pie.

An herb or spice can be a seed, fruit, root, bark, berry, bud or leafy part of the plant. They are principally used for flavoring food among other uses. They can be used fresh or dried.

Herbs And Spices Through The Ages

It is said that by the Middle Ages, the most common spices and herbs being traded and used were black pepper, cinnamon (including the alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

Herbs and spices are useful for many things, among others are medicinal uses, cosmetic or perfume production uses, and of course they are used add flavor to a meal.

By 1000 B.C. medical systems based upon herbs were found in China, Korea, and India. Also the Egyptians used herbs and spices for their embalming practices and their demand for exotic herbs and spices helped stimulate world trade.

Extracting A Spices Flavor

The flavor of an herb or spice is derived by exposing the volatile oil compounds of the seed or leafy part, that oxidize or evaporate when it comes in contact with air.

As an example, fresh ginger is usually more flavorful than its dried form, but fresh spices are more expensive and have a much shorter shelf life.

Flavor of herbs and spices can be maximized by storing them whole and grinding when needed, as grinding greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation.

If you decide to use dried spices, be sure to use them within 6 to 8 months of purchase. Ground spices are better stored away from light, as it also increases the oxidation of the volatile oils.

metal bowls filled with spices

How To Use Herbs And Spices

When using herbs and spices you’ll want to pick flavors that complement each other, such as the spice mix known as “pumpkin pie spice.” The ratios of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg add great flavor to the pie, and each spice doesn’t over power the other.

The key or rule of thumb to spicing things up is that less is more. Avoid adding too much all at once. Instead, add a little at a time and add more to taste.

A good example of over spicing and unable to fix it, is when you use oregano or cloves. Their volital oils are great for flavoring culinary and pastry dishes, but they are strong in flavor, and only require a small amount.

When using spices to flavor your meat or vegetables, use only 3 different types at a time. You can even use herbs and spice to replace salt. Choose your spice or spices, add a little lemon juice and unsalted butter.

Which spices pair well together for the best culinary dishes you can make? Let’s examine some of the most commonly used spices and which spices pair well with them.

Top Nine Varieties Of Cheese’s Enjoyed By Food Lovers

collage of various types of cheeseWho doesn’t enjoy cheese, either as snack, on a sandwich, or topped over leafy greens? There is many ways to include cheese in your culinary delights.

There are many different kinds of cheeses, and they each have their own flavor and best uses. Among the many cheeses throughout the world, the following are the top nine varieties enjoyed by food lovers.

Feta Cheese

Feta is a white cheese made in Greece from sheep’s milk, or from a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. The cheese is bathed in a brine, that is a 24% salt concentration. Salt is said to be important in cheese making as it keeps the fermented cheese from molding fast. Salt also helps to draw out the whey.

Read more here from the Curd Nerd on Using Brine In Cheese Making.

This is a common cheese in Greek dishes. Crumble it over salads, use it on sandwiches like Gyros, and broil it with olive oil. You can sprinkle it over the top of Greek pizza or pasta. It’s tangy and moist and can be crumbly or creamy. Try pairing it with fruit as well.

Mozzarella

college of Making homemade cheeseMozzarella  is a southern Italian cheese, and is traditionally made with milk from the from Italian water buffalo.

There are two basic ways to make mozzarella, there is the direct acidification of the milk to form the curds or the culture, also known as rennet method.

In both methods, raw milk is pasteurized and then coagulated to form curds.

This is most commonly used in Italian dishes, mozzarella being the number one go-to cheese for pizza. You can also eat it sprinkled with olive oil or have it with tomatoes and basil. This soft cheese has a mild, yet creamy taste with a great texture.

We tried our hand at making homemade Mozzarella (crumble style) with organic pasteurized non-homogenized milk and fresh lemon juice.

All you do is bring 2 to 3 cups of organic pasteurized milk to a soft boil, then add the juice of half a lemon. Stir and wait for the curds.

Once the process has stopped making curds, using a slotted spoon, remove the curds to cheese cloth placed over a bowl, so the whey can drain off.

We added lemon-garlic seasoning and Himalayan salt for flavor. Store cheese in a glass topped with a tight lid. Cheese is crumbly and can be used to top your favorite salads.

Listen to a NPR 2014 interview with Claudia Lucero, the author of, “One-Hour Cheese: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Chèvre, Paneer–Even Burrata. Fresh and Simple Cheeses You Can Make in an Hour or Less!”

Click the link (opens in new window) and listen to the 3 minute interview: How To Make A Faux Cheddar In One Hour.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/363349698/363842868

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is a semi-hard, cheese make from cow’s milk. It has a mild flavor and is gooey-when-melted. It is an excellent match for a deli or meat sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich, melted over casseroles and chili, and any Latin American dish that calls for cheese, like quesadillas, tacos, and enchiladas.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on a table topThis cheese is a hard, granular cheese. In Italian the word “Grana” means “granular” and refers to a texture well-suited for grating.

The hard, granular cheese can be grated and sprinkled over pasta, soups and salads. It is used in most Italian dishes, as it adds flavor, even to Italian soups.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is aged up to 24 months, to give it that intense, complex flavors it boasts. Nutty, sweet, grassy, creamy, and fruity.

Do you know the difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano? Actually, they are the same. Parmesan is the English and American form of the Italian word Parmigiano-Reggiano.

There is also evidence that in the 17th to 19th centuries Parmigiano-Reggiano was called Parmesan in Italy and France (History of Parmesan Cheese).


Some Great Recipes Using Parmesan Or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: National Spaghetti Day

Gouda

This cheese melts very  well when it’s a young cheese, but if it’s aged, it is best sprinkled over salads or used in casseroles. It can have a mild taste, or deep and flavorful.

Swiss Cheese

swiss cheese on a cutting board with a walnut Swiss cheese originated in Switzerland, and cow’s milk is used just about 99% of the time. There are 450 different kinds of Swiss cheeses, and are put into five categories, which are extra-hard, hard, semi-hard, semi-soft and soft.

The Swiss cheese you may be familiar with has holes, known as eyes. But not all Swiss cheese contains holes.

According to The Nibble, three types of bacteria are used in producing the types of Swiss that contain holes. The bacteria includes, Streptococcus thermophilis, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacter shermani.

In the later stages of cheese production, the bacteria will excrete the lactic acid called P. shermaniconsumes, which releases the gas, known as carbon dioxide, and in turn forms the bubbles that make the “holes” or “eyes.” The cheese industry refers to Swiss cheese without holes or eyes as “blind.”

Cheddar Cheese

cheddar cheese on a cutting board with a small ceramic bowl of jam  This cheese is hard and off-white in its natural color, and can be acidic-tasting. The orange cheddar that most of us are accustom too, is such because a spice called annatto among others is added.

Cheddar Cheese originated in the British village of Cheddar in Somerset, though this cheese is produced beyond this region today in several countries around the world.

Cheddar is great mixed in salads and eaten with crackers. It melts well and is often used in Mexican dishes like tacos and fajitas. It can be added to casseroles as well. The sharper the cheese the better the taste for your macaroni and cheese.

Blue Cheese

blue cheese on a cutting board with green grapesBlue cheese is a general made of cow’s milk, though goat’s milk can also be used. It is called Blue cheese as it has blue or blue-green mold throughout.  The blue mold in these cheeses is due to mold spores from Penicillium.

Most blue cheeses produced today are either injected with the mold or the mold is mixed right in with the curds to insure even distribution of the mold. Early blue cheese makers used bread to start the mold process and waited for the mold to spread naturally to the cheese curds (Food Reference).

This cheese has a strong effect. There’s a reason why spicy hot wings are served with blue cheese dressing. It cuts the heat well when eaten with spicy things. You can also crumble it on top of salad. It’s best used closest to its use by date because then it will be at its peak of flavor.

Pecorino

This Italian cheese is always made from sheep’s milk. The flavor is sharp, nutty and herbaceous. When using this cheese to prepare a meal, be careful about how much extra salt you add to what you’re cooking, as Pecorino can be quite salty.

A Great Recipe Using Pecorino CheeseGluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Perhaps you use these cheeses all the time, or maybe you have never given them a try. If not, purchase them and give them a flavor taste and see which ones may fancy you.

A few times a week, The Whole Foods Market (USA – U.K) will have cheese samples to try, as well as Trader Joe’s (USA) on Saturdays during there wine sample hour.

There are so many different cheeses, that there has too be one, two or more that could be your favorites.

Starting this month thru October, if your interested in World Cheese Tour classes by cheese authority Janet Fletcher, link here for more information: Napa Valley Register.

What Others Are Reading:

National Meatball Day

raw meatballs on a cutting board with vegetables and herbs on wooden rustic background - National Meatball DayCloudy with a Chance of MeatballsWho remembers the movie – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs? We personally seen the movie, as we enjoy movies with a twist of culinary action in it (other greats: No Reservations).

A meatball is a small or large ball of ground meat, especially beef, often mixed with other ingredients of choice, like breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings

The preparing of meatballs is an individual’s expression of culinary creativity. Everyone who loves cooking has a different meatball recipe. 

There is no rule to cooking meatballs, as they are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce.

The meatball dates back all the way to between 221 BC to 207 BC in China, with their culinary – Four Joy Meatballs.

Yes, there really is true love for a meatballs. How so? Just look at the different ways of taking ground beef (or meat of choice) and preparing them into little balls.

This list is not complete, but there are many meatball recipes out there.

Do you question the hedgehog meatballs? Well, it really isn’t hedgehog, but as Anglea Day Kitchen says, “This recipe is so called, because when cooked, the rice sticks out, making them look like hedgehogs.”

Hedgehog Meatballsceramic baking dish with Hedgehog Meatballs

2 1/4 pounds ground beef (can also use chicken, turkey, lamb, or pork)

3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

1 onion, finely chopped

1 green pepper, finely chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

salt and pepper

Sauce:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 40 ounce can of chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

salt and pepper

pinch of sugar

Combine the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. Shape into balls about the size of a golf ball. Prepare sauce, and place meatballs into an ovenproof baking dish, then pour sauce over the meatballs.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

SAUCE:
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, herbs, seasoning and sugar.
Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a blender or food processor, and puree to a smooth sauce.
Pour the sauce over the meatballs.

Meatballs Are Not Only For Spaghetti

Spaghetti with meatballs is not an authentic Italian dish. As is bowls of olive oil set out for for dunking bread at Italian restaurants (USA), so is spaghetti served with a red sauce and topped with meatballs, both an American creation. The pasta recipe may have made its appearance in New York or New Jersey (USA) in the late 19th century.

Sue, owner and writer of “The View From Great Island” says, I love meatballs.  They’re like little soldiers, all lined up, just waiting to be of service…” She even like’s these little bite sized Bourbon Meatballs which are drenched in apricot chili bourbon sauce, and she says, “They’re perfect for the cocktail hour.”

Bourbon Meatballs on a small white plate with dipping sauce

Image credit: The View From Great Island

3/4 pound ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork

1/2 cup  Ritz Cracker, finely crushed into crumbs (you can opt for plain bread crumbs)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

lots of fresh cracked pepper

1 egg

2 tablespoon olive oil

Bourbon Sauce

1 jar apricot preserves

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoon hot chili sauce

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup water

Set oven to 350F

Put the above ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the meat as you put it in. Mix together, using the tips of your fingers to gently combine everything without compacting the meat. Form into small 1 inch balls.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs, working in batches. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked through, about 160 degrees.

Place cooked meatballs into the sauce, and let heat through until ready to serve. Serve on a plate with toothpicks, a drizzle of sauce, and lots of napkins. Serve a bowl of sauce on the side for extra dipping.

To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until thick.

Sue even makes Herbed Meatballs and says, “You can eat these meatballs on pasta, on a split French roll with sauce and melted mozzarella, or all by themselves in a little bowl.”

Yes, meatballs are not just for topping a plate of spaghetti any more.

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball SoupOrange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup

1 lb. ground pork

2 green onions

3 clove garlic, minced

1 piece (1-inch) peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

4-5 teaspoons of orange zest

4 cups vegetable broth

8 oz. snow peas, cut into thirds at an angle

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup cooked black beans

Arrange oven rack 6 inches from broiler heat source. Preheat broiler on high. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a medium bowl, combine pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper (both optional). Form pork mixture into bite-size meatballs (about 1 inch each).  Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, in covered 5-quart sauce pot, heat broth to simmering on high. Once the broth is simmering, add snow peas, rice, beans and cooked meatballs. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and snow peas are tender.

There’s even a – Meatball Stuffed Baked Potato – recipe found here at Homemade By Elle.

Enjoy some meatballs however you choose, this day – National Meatball Day!!

What Others Are Reading:

The Difference Between Stock and Broth

collage of broths and stocks - The Difference Between Stock and Broth What is the difference between broth and stock? It seems like they would virtually be the same thing as they both are a liquid, but there are slight differences. What is the difference? Basically, the difference is in how they are both made or prepared.

Stock is made from the bones and connective tissue of meat, and including vegetables. Though they are removed after the stock is cook, and use in another meal, and the stock is used as a base for soups among other things. Usally a chicken stock is administered when an individual has a cold or flu.

While broth is the cooked liquid with meat and vegetables left in and enjoyed together.

There is a  slight differences between the two, though they could be similar or the same.

What Is Needed to Make a Stock

The following is instructions to make a stock using vegetables along with either beef shanks, or chicken, including wings, back, neck, ribs, and giblets (except the liver). Most stocks are vegetable base only, and meat bones without the meat (in the case of chicken, it would be the leg bones without meat).

vegetable and - or meat stockIdeally for a stock using bones, you want to use bones that are cleaned of all of the meat. This can be hard to achieve in your own home kitchen.

However, you could buy some meat bones (usually beef bones only are found) at your local butcher who has cleaned the bones of all the meat.

To make a stock using beef, first arrange the beef shanks in a single layer in a non greased large shallow roasting pan.

Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Transfer the shanks and ribs to a stockpot.

Pour off all the fat from the roasting pan, then add 2 cups of  water to the pan and swirl it around, scraping any browned bits of meat or juices. Now add to the stockpot along with the remaining water.

Bring the water to a boil, uncovered, over high heat, skimming off any scum.

Next add the onions, carrots, tomato, garlic cloves, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and salt. Partially cover and simmer for 3 – 4 hours, occasionally skimming off the scum.

Remove meat and vegetables, set aside. Pour the pot of liquid through a large colander or sieve, setting over a very large heatproof bowl.

Let the stock cool, pour into jars and cover with lid. Put into refrigerate overnight. The next day, discard the fat that has solidified on top. Use your stock within 3 to 4 days.

You could also ladle the cooled stock into ice cube trays, then freeze. Once frozen, place stock cubes in freezer bags or containers for future use.

Do the same above if using chicken, though you do not roast the chicken in the oven. Instead, add the chicken parts to a large stockpot. Add the water and bring to a boil, uncovered over high heat, skimming off any scum.

Next add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 3 hours. Also at this point, you can add fresh herbs if you would like, but this is optional and not at all necessary for making a good stock, as you don’t want to dilute the flavors of the carcass.

Next, do the same with the cooked stock, chicken parts and vegetables, as the same with the beef stock, just before straining.

hearty brothWhat Is Needed to Make a Broth

Here’s how to make a broth using beef or chicken.

Heat some cooking oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add vegetables like garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. Cook the vegetables until softened.

Add 8 cups of water, with bay leaves, parsley, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, or until meat is cook through.

When broth is cooked, you can go a step further for a more hearty broth by adding some cooked rice, noodles or legumes.

When to Use Your Stock Or Broth

The difference between stock and broth, is a stock is the liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients, with the removal of the solids (meat and vegetables), leaving a highly flavored liquid. You can also chose to make a broth without meat.

broth with vegetables and pasta The stock can be used as a base for many things like soup, gravies, and sauces among others.

Were as broth is a basic soup, where the solid pieces, the meat and vegetables, remain. A broth is often made more substantial by adding rice, barley, legumes, and even pasta. You can also make a broth without meat.

As you can see, there is a difference between stock and broth, though the way in how they are made are very slightly similar.

Here are some great soup recipes to try from the archives of Splendid Recipes and More

Red Kale Cannellini Beans and Chorizo Soup

Chicken Curry Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

What Others Are Reading:

The Have To Know Food Preparation Techniques

college of hands of chefs in the process of cooking Sometimes preparing food to either cook or bake can seem like a tedious job. Yes a job which takes up far too much time that you just don’t have.

But there are ways to save time with your food prep so you can spend more time doing other things you like or want to get done. Check out these creative food preparation techniques to help you save time in the kitchen.

Peeling Garlic Cloves

Image GIF Credit: America Cooks For Health

Peeling Garlic Cloves – Lay the clove on the cutting board and place the side of your knife over the garlic.

Place the knife on the garlic clove and with the palm of your hand push lightly over the glove, and the papery skin will peel fight off.

Need to peel multiple garlic cloves? Hit the head of the garlic with the palm of your hand, and then put all the cloves in a large jar.

Place the lid on tightly and shake vigorously. Remove lid, and pour garlic cloves and paper skin into a large bowl. You’ll have these cloves peeled in less than ten seconds.

How To Soften Frozen Butter Fast – You know putting the frozen butter in the microwave can often end up melting instead of softening. You can never get it quite right. So instead, take a cheese grater to the frozen butter and shred it. It will be softened before you know it.

Peeling Pearl Onions – These little devils can be a royal pain to peel. Well, not anymore. Chop off the tip of the onion – the end opposite the root end.

Cook in boiling water for two minutes and drain. When they’re cool enough to touch, simply squeeze each one at the root end, and they’ll slip right out. Chop off the remaining roots, and you’re done.

Shucking Ears Of CornCorn on the cob is the perfect summer side dish, but preparing it can be a shucking mess. No longer do you have to sit there and peel ears of corn and pull off every little hairy strand.

Some individuals do, but if you don’t have any concerns using a microwave, than put two ears of corn in with the husks still on and microwave for 8 minutes – that’s 4 minutes for each ear of corn place into the microwave. Remove with a pot holder, cut off the end without the stringy parts, then simply squeeze the ear of corn right out of its husk, silky pieces and all.

Removing Tough Stems – You don’t even need a knife to separate those tough stems from vegetables like kale, collard greens, and chard. With one hand, hold a leaf at the bottom by the thickest part of the stem. Use your other hand to gently pinch the leaf with your index finger and thumb, and then pull it up and off along the stem.

Removing An Avocado Pit – Slice your avocado in half, lengthwise. Take your knife and chop into the exposed pit, then twist and pull. Out comes the pit. Watch your fingers when you remove the pit from the blade of the knife. Now you can scoop out all of the yummy avocado goodness.

How To Peel A Hard Boiled Egg – Soft boil the eggs for about 12 minutes (or until eggs are hard boiled) with about two inches of water above the eggs and one teaspoon of baking soda.

How to cool boiled eggsRemove eggs from water. While still warm, give one end of the egg a tap on the counter and remove the shell pieces from the tip. Repeat with the other end of the egg.

Now cup your hands with the egg, raise your cupped hands with the egg to your mouth and blow. The egg falls right out of the shell! No peeling necessary.

Be sure to get your hard boiled eggs into cold water right away. If not you will have some issues as demonstrated here in the image to your right.

Peeling A Potato – Simply cut the peel lengthwise with a knife, all around the potato. Put in a pot of boiling water and boil until it’s soft inside. Then immediately remove from the water into ice water. Allow to soak in the ice water for 10 seconds and remove. Rub between your hands and the peel falls right off.

a womans hand squeezing a lemonHow To Get All Of The Juice Out Of Citrus Fruits – No need to purchase expensive juicing tools. Get all of the juice out with a simple pair of tongs.

Cut the fruit in half, place between tongs over a bowl or pitcher with the cut half down, and squeeze. You’ll be amazed at how much juice you have been missing from your fruit.

You can also place the palm of your hand over the citrus fruit while rolling it back and forth over the kitchen counter-top. Cut the fruit in half and see all the juice squeezed from it.

How To Peel A Kiwi – Slice both ends off the kiwi. Put a tablespoon between the flesh of the fruit and the skin and move the spoon all around the kiwi. This will ease the kiwi right out of its peel.

Fishing Out Egg Shells – We’ve all accidentally dropped a small fragment of egg shell in the mixing bowl from time to time. You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to fish this minuscule piece of shell out of the yolk, but it can be one of the most frustrating moments of cooking when it happens.

Simply wet the tip of your finger with water and lightly place your finger over the egg shell, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly that piece of shell will stick right to your finger.

cutting round vegetables Cutting Round Vegetables – Nothing can be more frustrating like chasing down that carrot, or potato to chop it up.

Next time you have to cut a round vegetable, cut a thin slice along the length of the vegetable to create a flat side, turn it cut-side down on the cutting board and slice away.

When you get to the point where it starts to roll again, flip it onto the flat side from your last cut and continue to slice.

Separate Egg Yolks From Egg Whites – This might not be a time saver, but it’s a fun way to separate an egg. Crack an egg into a bowl. Gently squeeze an empty plastic water bottle and hold it over the egg yolk. It should suck up just the egg yolk, allowing you to transfer it to another bowl.

Prevent A Pot From Boiling Over – They say a watched pot never boils, but if you don’t watch it then you have a mess on your hands. So to keep that pot from boiling over. Simply place a wooden spoon over the top of the pot. Any spoon will do really, but a wooden spoon won’t get scalding hot.

These are just a few food preparation tips we have used. There are many more. Tell us, what are some of your  Food Preparation Techniques?

What Others Are Reading: