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Archive for April 10, 2015

FOOD FUN: Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake

Hello Kitty, whose “real” name is Kitty White, is a cartoon character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio. She is a white Japanese bobtail cat with a red hair bow.

From her first appearance on a vinyl coin purse in Japan in 1974 (it arrived in the U.S. in 1976), Hello Kitty exploded into a global marketing phenomenon. Last year it had sales of $7 billion—all without any advertising. That’s a lot of hellos.

Hello Kitty is the delight not only of pre-adolescent girls—the original target market—but teens, college and adult women as well. Her endearing face can be found on everything from school supplies to fashion accessories and high-end consumer products.

We recently spotted a tiny Hello Kitty face on the temples of our friend Irma’s new eyeglasses. (She bought the glasses because she liked the style, and didn’t pay any attention to Kitty.)

 

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Say Hello Kitty, then enjoy a slice. Photo courtesy Rich Products.

 

Now, Rich Products Cop. of Buffalo, maker of supermarket ice cream cakes, has licensed Kitty’s image.

This cake is all ice cream with a Cool Whip-type frosting decor. The confetti on the sides of the cake is also mixed into the body of the cake.

The cake is certified kosher dairy by KOF-K.

Need a fun cake for a special occasion? Look for Hello Kitty in your grocer’s ice cream section. You can find Kitty at A&P, Big Y, Giant Eagle, King Kullen, King’s, Market Basket, Price Shopper, Publix, Redner’s, Shaws, Shop Rite, Target Wal-Mart, Wegman’s and other retailers.

  

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RECIPE: Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

cinnamon-crescent-tasteofhome-230-ps

Make warm and fragrant cinnamon crescents
for breakfast or brunch. Photo courtesy Taste
Of Home.

 

April 10th is National Cinnamon Crescent Day.

Crescent is the English word for croissant, the buttery, crescent-shaped laminated dough breakfast roll (there’s more about croissants below). Make your own with this recipe from Taste Of Home.

RECIPE: CINNAMON CRESCENTS (CROISSANTS)

Ingredients For 4 Dozen Small Rolls

  • 6-1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 egg yolks
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

    2. HEAT the butter, milk, shortening and water to 120°-130° in a large saucepan. Add to the dry ingredients and beat just until moistened. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough will be sticky).

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

    4. COMBINE the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

    5. PUNCH the risen dough down. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface; knead about six times.

    6. DIVIDE the dough into four portions. Roll out one portion into a 12-inch circle; spread with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar. Cut into 12 wedges.

    7. ROLL up each wedge from the wide end and place it point side down, three inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Curve the ends to form crescents. Repeat with remaining dough, butter and cinnamon-sugar. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven.

     

    cinnamon-BenFink-SuvirSaran-230

    One of the three different types of cinnamon. Photo by Ben Fink from Indian Home Cooking
    by Suvir Saran.

     

    8. BAKE at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Make the glaze: Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla; drizzle over warm rolls. Combine the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the rolls.

     
    WHAT IS A CROISSANT?

    Meaning “crescent” and pronounced kwah-SAWN in French, this rich, buttery, crescent-shaped roll is made of puff pastry that layers yeast dough with butter—a technique known as laminating.

    Traditionally a breakfast bread served with jam and butter, two classic variations include the almond croissant, filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with sliced almonds, and the “chocolate croissant,” correctly called pain au chocolat, baked with a piece of dark chocolate in the center.

    In the early 1970s, croissants became sandwich substitutes as they evolved from their two traditional fillings, chocolate and almond paste, into many savory variations, from broccoli to ham and cheese, as well as additional sweet varieties.

    There’s also the Bavarian croissant or pretzel croissant, made of a pretzel-like dough that combines bread flour and whole wheat flour with salt sprinkled on the top, like a pretzel. Some are made of puff pastry, others of a soft pretzel-type dough in a triangle wrap, like a croissant.

     
    The Real History Of Croissants

    Stories of the croissant being made in the shape of the crescent of the Turkish flag, after the defeat of the Turks in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, are a perpetuated myth. Recipes for croissants do not appear in recipe books until the early 1900s, according to the Oxford Companion To Food. The earliest French reference is in 1853.

    The croissant is descendant of the Austrian kipfel, a yeast roll usually filled with chopped walnuts, dried or candied fruit, or other filling, and shaped like a crescent. It arrived in Paris in 1938 or 1939 with August Zang, an Austrian military officer. He opened a bakery, Boulangerie Viennoise, and introduced Viennese techniques which would one day lead to the baguette and the croissant. The crescent-shaped kipfel was ultimately made with puff pastry by French bakers.

    You can read this history in Jim Chevallier’s book, August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoisserie* Came To France (Kindle edition).
     
    *Viennoiserie are buttery, flaky breakfast breads and pastries made with laminated dough, a technique of layering and folding a yeast dough to create brioche, croissants, danish, pain au chocolat and other so-called “Viennoiserie.” It is a marriage between traditional bread baking and sweet pastry baking. The technique of lamination produces many buttery layers that can be pulled apart to reveal thin leaves within. You can see the striations, or layers, of pastry when you look at the top of the Viennoiserie or when you cut into them. This technique is time-consuming and expensive (because of the amount of butter needed).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Canned Beans

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    Southwestern parfait with beans, yogurt or
    sour cream, salsa and tortilla chips. Photo
    courtesy Food Should Taste Good.

     

    In the process of spring cleaning, we discovered 10 cans of beans at the back of our pantry.

    It had been a New Year’s resolution to eat beans—nutritious, with plenty of fiber and protein, and affordable—at least twice a week. While best practices involve soaking dry beans overnight before cooking, we knew we were less likely to plan ahead.

    Hence, a variety of ready to eat, canned bean choices: black beans, cannellini beans, great northern beans, pinto beans, red beans. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are also an option, but we eat plenty of them each week in hummus.

    Here are ways we’ll be using the beans, along with a hint: Drain the beans in a colander and then rinse them well under cold water to remove as much of the sodium as possible. The un-healthful side of canned beans is the amount of sodium in the can.

    Check out our glossary of the different types of beans.
     
    Beans For Breakfast

  • Add beans to a breakfast burrito.
  • Fill an omelet with beans.
  • Make a breakfast tostada: beans mashed with ground cumin, heated in the microwave, spread on a tortilla and topped with scrambled eggs and salsa.
  • Include as a side with other eggs or breakfast foods.
  •  
    Beans For Lunch

  • Have bean soup with your salad or sandwich.
  • Top green salads with beans to add flavor, protein and texture.
  • Mix them into chicken salad, egg salad or tuna salad.
  • Use kidney or other red beans to add color and nutrition to potato salad or macaroni salad.
  • Have a two-bean or three-bean salad with a sandwich. Combine one can each of different beans with chopped onion, bell pepper and cilantro or parsley in a citrus vinaigrette.
  • Add beans to a wrap sandwich.
  • Make pizza: either add beans whole as a topping, or mash them spread on the crust before adding sauce. Extra nutrition points for a whole wheat pizza crust!
  • Add beans to a Greek or Niçoise salad.
  • Eat chili, with meat or with beans only (vegetarian chili).
  •  

    Beans For Dinner

  • Add cannellini or black beans to pasta dishes.
  • Mix beans with rice.
  • Top a baked potato with beans and Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Top green salads with beans to add protein and texture.
  • As a side: cannellini or other white beans combined with sautéed bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, onion, summer squash and/or zucchini, seasoned with garlic, oregano and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • As a main: take the side above and serve over a whole grain (bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) Add steamed vegetables and another (optional) protein: chicken, fish, tofu.
  • Buy or make bean burgers (veggie burgers). Top with hummus for an extra bean hit.
  •  
    Beans For Snacking

     

    white-beans-sausage-mackenzieltd-230

    As a side, serve beans with sausage or bacon. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

  • Bean dip with crudités, whole wheat pretzels or tortilla chips. (here’s a recipe for starters).
  • Bean and avocado dip—a bean guacamole (stir beans into the guacamole, or mash the beans with the avocado, plus cilantro).
  • Bean chips, like Beanitos.
  • Mashed with the egg yolks in deviled eggs.
  • Baked potato skins with beans.
  •  
    Have more ideas? Add them here!

      

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    [OLD] NEWS: The 10 Greatest Japanese Inventions Of The 20th Century

    ramen noodles raised on chopsticks

    Ramen: voted the greatest Japanese
    invention of the 20th century. Photo ©
    Olga Nayashkova | Fotolia.

     

    It may be old news, but we just came across an old Japanese survey that names instant ramen as “the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

    We would have passed it by, but for the the fact that Nation’s Restaurant News recently published an article about how ramen was trending among chefs in U.S. restaurants—albet the original ramen, not the instant noodles (see “The History Of Ramen,” below).

    In 2000, Fuji Research Institute, a financial research firm in Tokyo, asked 2,000 adults in the region to rate the greatest Japanese inventions of the 20th century.

    They were given three categories: manufactured goods, culture and technology.

    Japan is known for its technological innovation. So most people were surprised that ramen, instant noodles, was voted the best invention of the 20th century.

    Created in 1958, instant ramen went into commercial production in 1971. Worldwide, almost 50 billion cups are now consumed each year.

     
    THE TOP 10 JAPANESE INVENTIONS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

  • No. 1: Instant ramen
  • No. 2: Karaoke
  • No. 3: Headphone stereo sets
  • No. 4: TV video games
  • No. 5: CDs
  • No. 6: Cameras (which were not invented in Japan—see footnote*)
  • No. 7: Filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (editor’s protest: a person is not an invention)
  • No. 8: Pokemon
  • No. 9: Automobile-related technology
  • No. 10: Sushi (however, it should be noted that sushi was actually invented in the 19th century)
  •  
    While the Fuji Institute’s survey may not have been the most scientific, it does show one thing: Even in a country famous for its technology, food rules.
     

    *The first camera, called the camera obscura, dates back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks. It projected an image on to a surface but did not create a permanent image. The first photographed camera image was made around 1816 in France by Nicéphore Niépce. In 1837 his partner, Louis Daguerre, created the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype, using silver-plated copper plates. Commercially introduced in 1839, the date considered as the birth year of practical photography. It was replaced by easier processes in 1860, including paper-based negatives and much shorter exposure times. The use of photographic film was pioneered by George Eastman, who started manufacturing paper film in 1885 before switching to celluloid in 1889. His first camera, the Kodak, was first offered for sale in 1888.

     

    THE HISTORY OF RAMEN

    Ramen are Japanese wheat noodles. While they are known to Americans largely as salty, inexpensive packaged noodle soup mixes, in Japan there are as many varieties of noodle and recipes as there are prefectures, ramen dishes are fine cuisine and innovation is the name of the game, where recipes are closely-guarded secrets.

    The concept of a dish of noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—originated in China. It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either made from vegetables or seafood.

    The type of noodles and toppings used in ramen also came from China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation.

     

    top-ramen-pkg-nissinfoods-230

    Top Ramen, the brand invented by Momufuku Ando of Nissin Foods. Photo courtesy Nissin Foods.

     
    Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen. Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but was still a special occasion that required going out.
     
    Soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets in many restaurants. Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce. Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have found their way into recipes.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade pork ramen soup.

    Check out this article, which details the different type of ramen by region.
     
    THE INVENTION OF INSTANT RAMEN

    In 1958, instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water. Exported, these ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

      

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