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Archive for May 21, 2014

FOOD HISTORY: Whipped Cream

Today is National Strawberries and Cream Day, a dish that no doubt dates to a prehistoric day at the dawn of dairying, when fresh cream was poured over the wild strawberries of summer.

Milk-producing animals have been domesticated for thousands of years, long before the ancient Egyptians believed that cows and bulls were earthly manifestations of their gods. They bred cows for milk and the cheese it yielded, as well as for meat and as field animals, to work the fields and power grain mills and irrigation works.

The strawberry was mentioned in ancient Roman literature, in reference to medicinal use (it was used to treat depression!). It took until the 1300s for the French to realized its potential; in the 1300s, they replanted wild berries that grew in forests, in their gardens. Charles V, France’s king from 1364 to 1380, had 1,200 strawberry plants under cultivation in his royal garden.

By the 16th century, strawberries and cream took advantage of the newly popular whipped cream, often sweetened for desserts. It was called milk snow in English, neve di latte in Italian and neige de lait in French.

The French term crème fouettée, whipped cream, appeared in print in 1629, and the English “whipped cream” in 1673. The term “snow cream” continued in use through the 17th century.

   

Eton mess strawberry dessert

Strawberries and whipped cream. Photo © Studio Barcelona | Fotolia.

 

In early recipes through the end of the 19th century, naturally separated cream was whipped, typically with willow or rush branches. The resulting foam on the surface was skimmed off and drained, a process taking an hour or more, and was repeated until enough cream had been skimmed. (We’d never complain about hand-whipping with an electric mixer!)

 

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A thought for National Strawberries and
Cream Day. Photo courtesy SXC.

 

By the end of the 19th century, the industrial revolution had produced centrifuge-separated, high-fat cream. Now, cooks could buy the cream and whip it directly, without tedious hours of skimming it from the milk.

Pastry chefs went to work containing a myriad of whipped cream desserts, shaped in molds, flavored with chocolate, coffee, fruits and liqueurs. Flavors folded into the cream or poured over it were called crème en mousse, cream in a foam. Other terms included crème fouettée, whipped cream; crème mousseuse, foamy cream; mousse*, foam; and crème Chantilly, Chantilly cream†.

 
*Modern mousses are a continuation of this tradition. Source for this article: Wikipedia.

 
Some people use the terms crème Chantilly and whipped cream interchangeably. But there is a difference:

  • Crème Chantilly is sweetened whipped cream.
  • Whipped cream is not sweetened (and in fact, is a better choice than Chantilly to accompany very rich desserts, where extra sugar in the cream is overkill).
  •  
    We’ll follow American tradition and use the one term, “whipped cream,” unless differentiation is required.

     
    MORE WHIPPED CREAM

  • How to make classic whipped cream.
  • Flavored whipped cream recipes: Bourbon Whipped Cream, Five Spice Whipped Cream, Lavender Whipped Cream, Salted Caramel Whipped Cream, Spice Whipped Cream
  • Savory whipped cream recipes: with lemon peel for fish and seafood; bourbon for grilled meats; grated Parmesan cheese for soup, meats, fish; horseradish for beef, smoked salmon, vegetables; herbs or spices for other recipes
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    †The name Chantilly (pronounced shon-tee-YEE) was probably chosen because the Château de Chantilly in northern France had become known for its refined cuisine. There is no evidence that it was invented there, although its creation is often credited, incorrectly, to François Vatel, maître d’hôtel at the Château in the mid-17th century. The terms “crème Chantilly,” “crème de Chantilly,” “crème à la Chantilly” and “crème fouettée à la Chantilly” only become common in the 19th century.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 7 Uses For Broth Or Stock

    Digging in the back of the pantry, we found several cartons of beef, chicken and vegetable broth and stock stock nearing expiration. We grabbed a pencil and created this list of how to use them:

    Braise & Glaze. Braise meats, glaze vegetables. Any savory recipe that calls for the addition of water can probably be improved by substituting stock.

    Cook Grains. Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the cooking water and your grains will taste so much better. Use two parts stock to one part barley, couscous, rice, quinoa or other favorite grain.

    Drink A Cup. Beef and chicken broth are protein-packed alternatives to a hot cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy a cup plain or with cracked pepper, minced herbs and/or a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Spice it up with a splash of hot sauce or minced chiles.

    Make Pasta En Brodo. An Italian classic, soup pasta or tortellini cooked in broth and served in the cooking broth with generous amounts of pasta. You can substitute barley, quinoa or other nutritious grain for the pasta. (Add spaghetti to chicken broth and you’ve got chicken noodle soup.)

     

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    A versatile pantry sample. Photo courtesy Swanson.

     

    imagine-vegetable-broth-carton-230

    For recipes or a cup of pick-me-up. Photo
    courtesy Imagine Foods.

     

    Make Polenta. While we typically save time by purchasing premade rolls of polenta, the homemade version is so much better—and even better when made with stock instead of water. (In cooking school, which followed French techniques, we were instructed to make it with cream. Nope!)

    Make Risotto. We love an excuse to whip up a risotto. You need arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano rice (these starchier varieties create risotto’s creaminess—see the different types of rice). While plain risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano or other Italian grating cheese is delicious, wild mushroom risotto or seafood risotto is submlime. Seasonal vegetables are another fine addition. Here’s a recipe for asparagus and shrimp risotto.

    Make Soup. Add pasta and veggies for homemade chicken noodle soup; use as a base for anything from minestrone to hot and sour soup.

     
    STOCK & BROTH: THE DIFFERENCE

    The difference between a stock and a broth is the seasoning. Stock is not seasoned; it is an unfinished product that is an ingredient in another dish. For example, stock is used to make gravy (beef stock is use used for au jus), marinades, risotto, sauces and other soups.

    So, if you’re using stock, you’ll need to add salt to your desired level. Broth already contains salt.

    Broth is a thin soup is made from a clear stock foundation. The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably. However, a bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantive with the addition of a grain (corn, barley, rice) and vegetables.

    Here are the related types of soups, including consommé and velouté.

     

      

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