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

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Greek Marinated Chicken with Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad

Greek Marinated Chicken with Butter Lettuce Salad

We have been trying out some new flavors lately, and they are really an excitement to the palate. Greek food is a Mediterranean cuisine. Contemporary Greek cooking uses a lot olive oil, including lemon juice, vegetables, herbs, grains, bread, wine, fish, lamb, poultry, rabbit and pork. We have to say the use of rabbit in their cuisine was new for us.

It is very important to never forget olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, and yogurt. Greek desserts also are known for their use of nuts and honey. Some of the desserts are Baklava, Greek Rice Pudding, and a Quick and Easy Greek Yogurt Dessert, that consists of only 4 ingredients, strained Greek yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest and juice, biscuits Petit beurre.

Wow that all sounds so delicious, doesn’t it? All of those wonderful desserts including main dish meals found their way into Greek cooking, as Greece has a culinary tradition of some 4,000 years. Yes, 4,000 years to perfect their flavorful culinary meals and treats (dessert).

Ancient Greek cuisine rarely included meat (lamb, poultry, pork, and rabbit) in their food preparations as it was not readily available. But fish was always available, as well as today, their more common source of animal protein.

Their favorite beverages are Portokalada (orangeade) and Lemonada (lemonade). These beverages have been popular in Greece since 1971. These refreshing beverages are served everywhere, in Greek homes, cafes, taverns, and restaurants. They are made with fresh strained orange juice or lemon juice, and mixed with the choice of carbonated water or flat mineral water, and sugar is added to taste.

What do you know about the Greek history of food? Let’s know by leaving your response in the comment section below this article, thanks.

Now for our featured recipe: Greek Marinated Chicken with Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad.

First let’s prepare the marinade for the chicken, then set it aside to prepare the salad dressing. Here is what you will need.

Greek Marinated Chicken

1 cup Greek strained yogurt, plain

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ tablespoon dried oregano

1 medium lemon

½ teaspoon Himalayan salt

Freshly cracked pepper corns

¼ bunch fresh cilantro

3½ to 4 pounds chicken (mix of drumsticks and thighs)

adding lemon juice to marinade for Greek Marinated ChickenFor the marinade, mix together in a large bowl the yogurt, olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and freshly crushed pepper corns. After mixng ingredients thoroughly, add lemon zest and lemon juice, and mix in.

adding chopped cilantro to marinade for Greek Marinated ChickenChop a big handful of cilantro, or about ¼ bunch, and stir it into the marinade. You can use parsley, if cilantro doesn’t agree with your palate. We could not find any history of the use of cilantro in Greek food, though cilantro is cultivated in Southern Europe where Greece is found.

marinating chicken

Add the chicken pieces and marinade to a large glass bowl, making sure all chicken parts are covered with marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or albumin foil, and place in refrigerator for a least 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinading, let’s make the Herbed Goat Cheese and Pear Dressing for the salad. Here is what you will need.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Pear Dressing

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons pear nectar

1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sweet garlic Dijon mustard

One half of a 6-ounce ripe red Bartlett pear, cored and diced, do not peel

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, with herbs

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly crushed pepper corns

ingredients in a nutri-bullet for Herbed Goat Cheese and Pear Dressing

Herbed Goat Cheese and Pear Dressing

 

Blend together in a blender, or food processor (we used our Nutri-Bullet) the oil, pear nectar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, diced pear, cheese, salt and pepper until smooth.

Pour into your favorite dressing server, or a jar and set aside in the refrigerator.

ready to bake  Greek Marinated ChickenNext preheat your oven to 375 degrees. If it has been 30 minutes, remove chicken from glass bowl and place into a 9 X 13 glass baking dish. Bake chicken for 45 to 60 minutes or until chicken is cooked (about 165 degrees internal temperature) and golden brown on top. Set aside to cool about 5 minutes, meantime prepare the Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad.

Here is what you will need.

1 head butter leaf lettuce, cut into 4 wedges

1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced

1/2 half of a 6 ounce ripe red Bartlett pear, quartered lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced

1/3 cup pecan pieces

1/3 cup dried fruit mix, such as blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and raisins

Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese and Pear DressingPlace the Butter leaf lettuce wedges on 4 salad plates or one side of a dinner plate. Arrange the avocado slices, pear slices, pecan pieces, and dried fruit over the lettuce. Drizzle with the dressing.

close-up Greek Marinated Chicken with Butter Leaf Lettuce SaladNext add to each plate two pieces of cooked Greek Marinated Chicken and serve.

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Remembering With A BBQ On Memorial Day

Remembering With A BBQ On Memorial Day

In the northern hemisphere summer officially starts the 20th or 21st of June until the first day of the autumn equinox. But for many in the USA Memorial Day kicks off the summer for many, if not for all residence.

History notes that the first Memorial Day June 3, 1861 in Warrenton, Virginia. The first widely-publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War, was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. In that same year, 1865 the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for those who died and were enlisted in the Union Army.

decorating grave site with flowers

May 30th was the official chosen date to celebrate the fallen war veterans, and as the custom was and is to decorate the grave sites with flowers, in 2010 Barack Obama stated that May 30th was selected as an appropriate date to memorialize all who have died while in the armed forces, as it coincides with the time when flowers are in bloom.

Flaming Empty BBQ Grill Many will stay at home, fly or drive to visit loved ones and friends or maybe go to a national park this Memorial Day weekend.

It’s only appropriate to get the grill fired up, as you can’t come together for good conversation and remembering times past without a good plate of food in your hand.

Here at Splendid Recipes and More, we have a few recipe suggestions to BBQ on your grill.

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast

This recipe is baked in the oven, but can be BBQ on the grill.

Just heat your grill, closing the lid to contain the heat.

Place the bacon wrapped chicken breast in an aluminum container and place that on the heated grill.

Keep in mind the meat will cook faster on the BBQ grill than in your electric oven.

 BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable Platter

BBQ Garlic Lemon Vegetable PlatterIf your planing a trip to the park to BBQ, just cut the vegetables ahead of time at home, as well as prepare the dipping sauce.

 Mediterranean BBQ Chicken

Mediterranean BBQ Chicken and a side of Garlic Lemon Vegetables

 BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas

BBQ Beef and Sweet Pepper Fajitas

You can also make some tacos on the grill with Mexican Marinated Steak Fajitas

Marinated Steak Fajitas

 

If you don’t have a menu planned yet, we hope you enjoy these selections as part of your Memorial Day BBQ? If you have a planned menu for your BBQ, share it with us in the comment section below.

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