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Archive for March 5, 2016

RECIPE: Green Candy Apples

Green Chocolate Apple

For St. Patrick’s Day, make chocolate-covered apples with green-tinted white chocolate. Photo courtesy Aiya Matcha.

 

We received a recipe from Aiya Matcha, for Matcha White Chocolate Candy Apples. The matcha tea powder colors the chocolate green. Voilà: a snack for St. Patrick’s Day.

We whipped up a batch. Matcha imparts a sophisticated flavor to the chocolate, but not all tasters were fans of green tea. For them, we went to Plan B, using green food color instead of matcha. Depending on how many drops of food color you use, you can get a much deeper green hue.

Whichever you prefer,
 
RECIPE: GREEN CHOCOLATE APPLES

Ingredients For 6 Apples

  • 6 small granny smith apples
  • 6-8 ounces white chocolate chips (we use Guittard)
  • 1 teaspoon matcha tea or green food color
  • Choice of garnishes: chopped nuts, coconut, mini chips, sprinkles, or the St. Patrick’s garnishes below
  • Ice pop sticks or substitute (check out these bright green sticks)
  •  
    St. Patrick’s Day Theme Garnishes

  • Green Sanding Sugar
  • Green Sprinkles
  • Shamrock sprinkles
  • St. Patrick’s Nonpareils
  •  
    Christmas Variations

  • CHRISTMAS APPLES #1: Make half with green apples and green colored chocolate, half with red apples and red-colored chocolate.
  • CHRISTMAS APPLES #2: Add red candy garnishes to the green chocolate in the recipe above.
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    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems and wash the apples. Pierce the sticks into the stem end.

    2. PLACE 6-8 ounces (about ½ bag) of white chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave for 30 more seconds. If the chocolate chips are not yet melted, microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring in-between.

    3. SIFT the matcha over the melted chocolate, or add green food color drop by drop to the desired hue. Stir with a spoon until blended.

    4. DIP and coat the apples with white chocolate mixture (it may be helpful to use a spatula to smooth the chocolate mixture over the apple). Roll or dip the bottom third of the apple in the garnish. Place onto parchment or wax paper to dry.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gochujang Sauce, The Next Sriracha

    Over the past five years, sriracha, a Thai hot sauce which most of us had never heard of previously, has emerged as the hot sauce of choice. It’s more flavorful than many of the big-brand American hot pepper sauces that had long been the norm.

    But climbing up the ladder is a new (to most Americans) hot sauce alternative: gochujang (go-CHOO-jang). This Korean fermented hot sauce is a mixture of red chili powder, glutinous rice powder, fermented soy beans, salt, other seasonings like garlic and onion, and a bit of sugar syrup or malt. It is then aged.

    As a result, it is even more complex in flavor than sriracha. Some chefs call it “an umami bomb,” combining spicy, salty, sweet and earthy notes.

    Gochujang is a staple Korean condiment also known in English as Korean hot pepper paste. Sweet heat with the consistency of hoisin sauce, it’s used in a wide range of Korean dishes, from bibimbap to dukbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) to tteokbokki to something more familiar: fried chicken. And of course, it can be used in American recipes instead of barbecue sauce, ketchup and other condiments.

    It deepen the flavors (and color!) of everything from broth to noodle dishes and vegetables. Incorporate it into a recipe, or serve it as a table condiment so people can add their own.

    A group of 18 recipes from Bon Appetit includes recipes for, among others:

  • Bibimbap
  • Chicken Wings
  • Congee
  • Grilled Sesame Shrimp
  • Hangar Steak
  • Kimchi
  • Pork Ribs and Pork Shoulder
  • Stews, including Sundubu with Clams and Tofu
  • Veggies: Brussels Sprouts and Tofu Stir-Fry, Roasted Winter Squash, Sautéed Cabbage
  •  
    When mixed with Korean red miso (doenjang), it creates ssamjang, a condiment for lettuce wraps (ssam) and raw or blanched vegetables.

     

    Gochujang Sauce

    Gochuchang Sauce

    Korean Fried Chicken

    Top: Gochuchang sauce, also called paste because of its consistency. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it online or make your own. Center: A bowl of gochuchang, served as a condiment. Photo courtesy Trifood.com. Bottom: Spicy fried chicken. Here’s the recipe from SBS.com.au.

     
    Add some gochujang to mayonnaise as a spread or a dip for crudités or fries. Serve it plain with eggs. Put it on a burger or hot dog. You can blend in fruit for an even more complex sauce.

    Add it to dressings, marinades and sauces to add some spicy flavor. You can make a Korean-style arrabiata sauce for pasta, or pair it with other noodle dishes and rice.

    Although it contains no tomatoes, some Americans think of gochujank as spicy Korean ketchup.

    What are you waiting for? Add it to your shopping list!
     
    BUT WHAT BRAND?

    All commercial gochujang is imported, and some labels are only in Korean.

    “The best gochujang” is a matter of personal taste. You may like more sweetness, we may like less. That said, if you’re in an Asian market with multiple options, you could ask a clerk to explain the differences.

    If you pursue a close relationship with gochuchang, you may discover different styles, including chalgochujang (sweet rice gochujang) and taeyangcho (sundried, i.e. the paste is actually dried under the sun).

    However, as with ketchup, mustard, soy sauce and other condiments, you won’t find a disappointing one.

      

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    FOOD “HOLIDAY”: Caffeine Awareness Month

    Coffee Cup & Beans

    Cold Brew

    Top: People with no conflicting conditions can enjoy coffee 4 cups of brewed coffee daily. Want more? Switch to decaf (photo La Panineria). Bottom: Cold brew coffee, growing in popularity, has the most caffeine by a long shot (photo Seaworth Coffee).

     

    March is Caffeine Awareness Month. The National Consumers League (NCL) shared these facts on the world’s most consumed pick-me-up:

  • Caffeine has been consumed by humans for thousands of years. Tea was first consumed in China as early as 3000 B.C.E., and coffee consumption in Ethiopia appears to have commenced in the 9th century C.E.
  • Caffeine is found naturally in more than 60 plants. It is also produced synthetically and added to products including soft drinks and energy drinks. The actual source of caffeine—natural or synthetic—does not matter to performance or health.
  • Six beverages contain natural caffeine. Can you name them? The answers are below.
  • We are a nation of caffeine consumers. Some 85% of Americans drink at least one caffeinated beverage per day.
  • The caffeine intake of American adults ranges from 110 mg/day (for women ages 19-30) up to 260 mg/day (for men ages 51-70). National caffeine intake has remained steady over the past decade. It is much higher in the world’s top caffeine-consuming nations: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
  • Most caffeine intake in the U.S. comes from coffee, tea and soda. Caffeine is sometimes found in surprising places like orange soda, lemonade and enhanced water beverages. Read the labels!
  • Moderate coffee consumption—up to 400 mg/day of caffeine—can be part of a healthy eating pattern, according to the recently released 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. This amount has also been found to be safe by Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority.
  • Here’s what 400 mg of caffeine comprises:
  • – 16.6 servings of green tea (24 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 11.5 servings of a cola soft drink (average 35 mg caffeine/12 fl. oz.)
    – 8.5 servings of black tea (47 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 5 servings of Red Bull energy drink (80 mg caffeine/8.4 fl. oz.)
    – 4.2 servings of regular brewed coffee (95 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 2.2 servings of coffee house coffee (180 mg caffeine/8 fl. oz.)
    – 2 servings of 5-Hour Energy (200 mg caffeine/2 fl. oz.)
    – 1 serving of 10-Hour Energy shot (422 mg caffeine/2 fl. oz.)

     

  • Amounts of caffeine in cold-brew coffee can be astonishing: as much as 2,160 mg of caffeine in a 32 fl. oz. bottle, or 540mg per eight-ounce cup. It equates to about 23 cups of home brewed coffee, 62 cans of cola or 45 cups of black tea.
  • Scientific consensus is that everyone is different when it comes to the effects of caffeine. Children and teens should generally consume less caffeine due to their lower body weights.
  • Moderate caffeine consumption in healthy adults is not associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases (e.g., cancer, heart disease) or premature death, according to the Dietary Guidelines.
  • The Dietary Guidelines are silent on most population groups, but advises that pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, and those who are breastfeeding should consult their health care providers for advice concerning caffeine consumption.
  • Dogs, cats, and birds cannot metabolize caffeine, so don’t feed them chocolate or anything else with caffeine.
  •  

    LABELS DON’T TELL ALL

    The FDA currently requires food labels to disclose added caffeine as an ingredient, but the label is not required to provide the amount of added caffeine or to list natural caffeine.

    As a result, very few products voluntarily list the total amount of caffeine they contain; although some companies, like Red Bull and Monster, and some soft drinks, provide this information voluntarily.

    The NCL is an advocate for transparency. To be able to moderate their intake, says the organization, consumers need to know how much caffeine is in the foods and beverages they consume.

    The NCL believes that all products containing caffeine should declare the amount of caffeine per serving-and per container-on the label—and we agree.
     
    And The Answers Are…

     

    Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows

    Not so innocent: Cacao beans, and the cocoa powder made from them, contains caffeine. Photo courtesy La Panineria.

     
    The six foods/beverages that contain natural caffeine are: cacao/cocoa, coffee, guarana, the kola nut, tea (black, green or white Camellia sinensis but not herbal tea, which has no caffeine) and yerba maté.

      

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