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Archive for April 12, 2014

RECIPE: Scripture Cake For Easter

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Fun for foodies: Gluttony focuses on the
great feasts of history. Photo courtesy Ten
Speed Press.

 

In her new book, GLUTTONY: More IS More” (Red Rock Press), Nan Lyons, known for the wonderful novel and movie, Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, describes some of the most lavish feasts and singular dishes through culinary history.

From the ancient Greeks and Romans to the founding chefs of classic cuisine—Carême, Escoffier and Brillat-Savarin—to the breathtaking appetites of history’s prize eaters (King Henry VIII and Diamond Jim Brady, for example), Ms. Lyons plumbs the path of gluttony with wit and style.

Travel the paths of the the rich and famous who enjoy history’s greatest banquets and richest dishes. The book is illustrated with classical art works of people enjoying their food.

The icing on the cake: You and your guests can eat like these lucky gourmands. A portfolio of recipes, created by food editors and writers E. Clarke Reilly and Sylvia Carter, adapts some of the book’s luxurious dishes for contemporary cooks.

The book is available in hardcover and Kindle editions.

 

This recipe, from the recipe portfolio, is simple and Easter-appropriate: Scripture Cake, made with ingredients from the Bible.

 

SCRIPTURE CAKE

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups chopped dried figs (Nahum 3:12)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2¼ cups water (Judges 4:19)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (Revelation 18:13)
  • 1 cup softened butter (Psalms 55:21)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger (I KINGS 10:2)
  • 2 cups sugar (Jeremiah 6:20)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons honey (Exodus 3:8)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 eggs (Isaiah 10:14)
  • 1 cup milk (Genesis 18:8)
  • 3¾ cups flour (Leviticus 24:5)
  • 1¾ cups chopped almonds (Numbers 17:8)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (II Kings 2:20)
  • 1½ cups raisins (I Samuel 30:12)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (Amos 4:5)
  •  

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    The Scripture Cake from Gluttony. Photo courtesy Sylvia Carter.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 300°F. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan.

    2. SIMMER figs and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until figs are very soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

    3. CREAM together butter and sugar in an electric mixer bowl, until light and fluffy. Add honey. Then add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix until well blended.

    4. PURÉE cooled figs and water until smooth. Strain purée through triple cheese-cloth to yield about a cup of fig essence.

    5. SIFT together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices in a clean bowl. Combine fig essence with milk and alternately mix fig milk and dry ingredients with egg mixture, ending with the dry mixture. Fold in chopped almonds and raisins.

    6. POUR batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour and 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs on it.

    7. COOL for 20 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely on cake rack. Makes 16 servings.
     
    We added a side of bourbon whipped cream as a garnish.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Australian Liquorice (Licorice!)

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    Flower-like “shooters” and other specialty
    shapes. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Today is National Licorice Day. There is much debate in the U.S. over Red Vines versus Twizzlers, but if you haven’t had English or Australian liquorice, as they spell it, you haven’t had great licorice.

    The natural flavors and chewy consistency are magnificent. Alas, our American-produced, artificially-flavored licorice can’t hope to compete.

    While there are American products labeled “Australian-style,” seek out the authentic Australian product or a U.K. brand like Bassetts. One of our favorite brands is Kookaburra from Australia (OU-kosher).

    There are bags of familiar red or black licorice twists, but Kookburra and other Australian and English companies take licorice to an art. At Kookaburra:

  • Twists are also available in apple, mango and raspberry flavors.
  • Creamy Strawberry & Cream Bites are dual color and flavor cylinders.
  • Liquorice Shooters are blue, brown, green, red and yellow flower-like shapes with white centers
  • Allsorts are a combination of all of these plus other colorful cylinders
  •  
    “Rich, Chewy & Delicious,” exclaims the package. “Best Liquorice in the World.” We don’t dare disagree—the kookaburras would laugh us down.

    You can buy all of them online at KookaburraLiquorice.com.

    Of course, if you’d rather celebrate with Belgian salt liquorice, licorice cats, chalk (black liquorice with a white mint coating), coins, drops, Scotties, ropes, wheels or other shapes, just head to Amazon.com and search for “liquorice.”

    WHO INVENTED ALLSORTS

    Allsorts is our favorite type liquorice—a variety of colorful and flavorful shapes and chewing consistencies. They were first produced in Sheffield, England, by Geo. Bassett & Co Ltd (now part of Cadbury).

    As the story goes, in 1899, Charlie Thompson, a sales representative, was in Leicester showing the liquorice to a client when he dropped the tray of samples, mixing up the various styles. He picked them up but before he could properly arrange them, the client was attracted to the mix of shapes and colors, and put in an order. The company quickly began to package “allsorts,” and they became very popular.

    Each company makes its own assortment of shapes, which can include balls covered in nonpareil-type sprinkles, colorful cylinders (rolls) and multicolored, sandwiched squares. They look beautiful in a candy dish, and more than one young girl has strung them into a necklace.

     

    WHAT EXACTLY IS LICORICE

    Licorice is a confection flavored with the extract from the root of the licorice plant, combined with sugar or other sweetener and a binder (gelatin, gum arabic or starch). The big American brands use corn syrup*.

    Additional ingredients can include flavoring, beeswax for a shiny surface, molasses to provide the familiar black color, and ammonium chloride. Some brands substitute anise oil instead of with licorice root extract.

    The ingredients are dissolved in water and heated to 275°F, then poured into molds. The resulting pieces are sprayed with beeswax to make their surface shiny. Who knew?

    The original liquorice was black. Later, “red licorice” was made with strawberry flavoring. Today it is made in numerous flavors, including apple, blackcurrant, cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, grape, mango, raspberry and watermelon.
     
    *Red Vines ingredients include corn syrup, wheat flour, citric acid, artificial flavor and Red 40 artificial food color. Strawberry Twizzlers are made with corn syrup, enriched wheat flour, sugar, cornstarch, palm oil, salt, artificial flavor, mono and diglycerides, cytric acid, potassium sorbate, Red 40, mineral oil, soy lecithin and glycerine.

     

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    Some of the shapes of allsorts licorice. Photo courtesy Sporticia.com.

     

    WHAT’S A KOOKABURRA?

    The kookaburra is a bird in the kingfisher family, native to Australia and New Guinea. Its loud call is said to sound like echoing human laughter.

    Here are some photos.

      

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