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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for The Nibble

RECIPE: Honey Caramel Corn

Most caramel corn is not drizzled with caramel sauce, as the name may suggest, but made by caramelizing sugar into a syrup that coats the popcorn and dries to a lovely crunch.

Caramel and corn based on sugar or molasses dates back at least to the 1890s; an early version of Cracker Jack, made with molasses, was sold at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Kettle corn, seasoned with salt and un-caramelized sugar, dates to Colonial times.

This recipe is courtesy Bee Raw Honey. For Halloween, toss in some candy corn and your choice of candied nuts.

RECIPE: HONEY CARAMEL CORN

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup clover honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • Fleur de sel or other fine sea salt
  • Optional mix in: nuts, candy corn, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces
  •  

    caramel-corn-zulka-recipe-230

    Homemade caramel corn. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 250°F. Melt the butter in large saucepan; stir in sugar, honey and salt. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Place a candy thermometer into the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium; boil without stirring about three minutes, to 265°F.

    2. REMOVE the honey mixture from heat and stir in the baking soda. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. While stirring, slowly pour the honey mixture over the popcorn.

    3. TURN the popcorn onto greased baking pan. Bake at 250°F for 45 minutes; stir every 15 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and break the popcorn into bite-sized pieces.
     
    ABOUT CARAMEL CORN

    Caramel corn is an American invention: popcorn coated with a sugar- or molasses-based candy shell. A white sugar-based candy coating provides a lighter (if more cloying) flavor than traditional caramelized brown sugar or molasses.

    Typically, a sugar solution is heated until it becomes a thick and brown caramelized candy syrup. Before the syrup cools, it can be mixed with an endless number of flavorings, from chocolate and coconut to blueberry and watermelon. The hot syrup is then mixed with popped popcorn, and allowed to cool.

    Nuts are a popular addition. While peanuts are the most popular (think Cracker Jack), almonds, cashews and pecans offer a more sophisticated flavor.
     

    The history of candy corn and a recipe for candy corn fudge.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Vadouvan

    vadouvan-spice-blend-ingredientfinder-230

    This simple blend, from IngredientFinder.com,
    contains only four ingredients: cumin, garlic,
    fenugreek and onion.

     

    We must admit, this was a new one for us. We received a recipe for deviled eggs for our consideration. One of the ingredients: vadouvan.

    Vadou-what? We had to look it up.

    Vadouvan, also called French curry, is a French interpretation of an Indian masala that mixes cardamom, coriander, cumin, curry, curry leaves, fenugreek, garlic, marash chiles, mustard seeds and roasted onion, among other ingredients. Its flavor is more familiar to Western palates than many Indian spice mixtures.

    A key difference is in dried onions or shallots. The spice is thought to have originated due to French colonial influence in the Puducherry region of India. [Source: Wikipedia]

    Use it in place of curry powder on fish, lamb, chicken, pork, sauces, stews, soups and vegetables. It’s a delicious pairing with dairy, potatoes, starchy grains and anything grilled.

    Give a tin or jar as a holiday gift to your favorite cooks. There’s an attractive tin for $8.32 on Amazon, with free shipping on orders over $35. (Tins are preferable to jars, since light is one of the factors that reduces the potency of the spice, along with proximity to heat and moisture.)

     

    MASALA VS. GARAM MASALA: THE DIFFERENCE

    Masala or massala is a South Asian term for a spice mix or a seasoning of any sort. It is used extensively in the cuisines of Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    The word is of Arabic origin (maslahah), originally meaning “a thing which is good and right.”

    • Masala refers to any fragrant spice blend. It can be wet (a paste) or dry (a blend of dried—and usually dry-roasted—often toasted and ground spices). The pastes frequently include fresh ingredients like chiles, cilantro, garlic, ginger, mint, onion and tomato, along with dried spices and oil. Dishes made with such pastes sometimes have “masala” in their names, such as Chicken Tikka Masala and Vindaloo Masala.
    • Garam masala refers to dry spice blends. There are many variations, from region to region and cook to cook (examples: Tandoori masala, chatt masala and even panch phoron, the Bengali five-spice blend). Popular ingredients include bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nigella and nutmeg/mace and pepper.
     

    masala-cauliflower-paperchef-230

    Masala cauliflower. Photo courtesy The Paper Chef.

     
    It’s time to spice things up!

      

    Comments

    HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Day

    harvest-truffles-2014-230sq

    Harvest Truffles. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections.

     

    It’s National Chocolate Day, an excuse for anyone to run to the newsstand to pick up a Hershey Bar or some M&Ms.

    But the chocolate connoisseur deserves something better, and we’ve found it in these delicious Harvest Truffles from Recchiuti Confections of San Francisco, which we received as a gift.

    Each bite of these beautifully flavored bonbons is a bite of heaven. The medley of three new flavors inspired by autumn includes:

    • Cinnamon Malt Truffle, made with cassia cinnamon and barley malt
    • Mandarin Truffle, infused with mandarin orange oil
    • Cranberry Pomegranate Strata, with layered pomegranate and cranberry gelée atop chocolate ganache (strata means layer)

    A nine-piece gift box, three of each flavor, is $26.00. It was all we could do to save some pieces for Day 2.

    Get yours at Recchiuti.com. They are a lovely gift for any lover of fine chocolate.

     

    BONBONS VS. TRUFFLES: THE DIFFERENCE

    It’s easy to get confused when terms like bonbon, praline and truffle are used interchangeably to describe filled chocolates—and all three terms have alternative meanings as well.

    The differences, describing filled or enrobed individual chocolate pieces, are country-based:

    • Assorted Filled Chocolates, the English term.
    • Bonbons, a French word describing a variety of confections including hard candy, chocolates, chocolate-covered confections, taffy and more.
    • Pralines, a word that was originated in Belgium by Jean Neuhaus to describe his molded filled chocolates (but also refers to caramelized nuts in France).
    • Truffle, a word that originated in France to describe balls of chocolate ganache, because they resembled the mushroom cousin, truffles.

    Thus, when chocolatiers immigrated to the U.S., they might be selling pralines, truffles, bonbons or assorted chocolates, depending on their nationality. And, although the name of what they sold differed, the product might be the same.

    In the interest of clarity, it would be ideal to stick with “bonbons” or “filled chocolates” for the filled chocolates, use “pralines” for caramelized nuts and nut patties, and reserve the term “truffles” for the balls of ganache.

    But given all the imported candy, we can’t escape our chocolate Tower of Babel. If you receive a box of candy from Germany or Switzerland labeled “pralines,” for example, will it be filled chocolates or caramelized nuts? You may be surprised!

    Here’s a detailed explanation.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Choucroute Garnie

    Now that there’s as chill in the air, the people of Alsace have been cooking up their famous recipe, Choucroute Garnie—pronounced shoo-CROOT gar-NEE and translating to dressed sauerkraut.

    The “dressing” consists of sausages and other salted meats and, typically, potatoes. It’s stick-to-your-ribs goodness on a chilly day. You know it’s autumn when the dish appears on restaurant menus (call your local French restaurant to check). If you don’t have time or inclination to make your own, it’s available throughout France microwavable packages and canned form.

    Sauerkraut originated in German and Eastern Europe, the but the French annexation of Alsace and Lorraine added it to the repertoire of French chefs. It has since become popular throughout France.

    Like cassoulet and pot au feu, it’s an inexpensive, everyday dish. Any combination of hot sauerkraut, meat and potatoes works, but traditional recipes utilize:

    • Three types of sausage, such as Frankfurt sausages, Strasbourg sausages and Montbéliard sausages (use whatever sausages you like—we used boudin blanc, knockwurst and smoked sausage).
       

    choucroute-garni-tourdefrancenyc-230

    Pork chop, back bacon, potatoes plus a bonus of baby carrots on a bed of sauerkraut. Photo courtesy TourDeFranceNYC.com.

    • Fatty, inexpensive or salted cuts of pork: back bacon, ham hocks or shank, pork knuckles and shoulders, salt pork.
    • Boiled potatoes (toss them with fresh parsley).
    • Seasonings: bay leaf, black peppercorns, cloves, garlic.
    • Sauerkraut, simmered in Riesling and juniper berries (we added some caraway seed, a personal favorite with sauerkraut).
    • Optional: chopped onion, sliced apples.
    • Mustard: we served three options, Dijon, grainy and horseradish mustards.

     
    Plain shredded cabbage can be added along with the sauerkraut to produce a less tangy, less acidic version. Hungarian recipes include stuffed cabbage leaves in addition to the other ingredients.

     

    choucroute-garni-quentinbacon-foodandwine-230

    Individually plated, with sliced potatoes. Photo © Quentin Bacon | Food & Wine. Here’s the recipe.

     

    For a high-end variation, Choucroute Royale is made by augmenting the basics with some more expensive ingredients:

    • Champagne instead of Riesling
    • Foie gras, goose, wild game
    • Fish
    • Duck choucroute garni, replacing the pork products with duck confit leg, duck sausage and duck breast.
    • A newer riff, seafood sausage choucroute is a meat-free option that includes seafood sausage, scallops, shrimp and flaky white fish on a bed of braised cabbage (not sauerkraut) with lobster sauce.

    While it takes a bit of time to prepare, the steps to a delicious choucroute garnie are easy:

    1. SIMMER sauerkraut with Riesling and juniper berries. Riesling has a very distinctive flavor, but if you don’t want to buy a bottle and drink the rest with dinner, use another dry white wine. We like to snip fresh parsley, sage or thyme into the cooked sauerkraut before plating.

    2. COOK your favorite cuts of pork: pork belly, pork chops, sausages, whatever. Boil the potatoes.

    3. PLACE the sauerkraut on a serving plate and top with the meat and potatoes. Uncork a bottle of Rieling. Voilà.

     

    Choucroute garnie can be served individually plated or family style, on a large platter.

    Here’s a complete recipe from Jacques Pépin for Food & WIne magazine.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Custard With Maple Pecan Crunch

    As an alternative to pumpkin pie—or perhaps in addition to it—how about some pumpkin custard? It’s eggier and richer than conventional pumpkin pie filling, and because there’s no crust, it’s gluten free.

    This lovely recipe, from Nielsen Massey, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you don’t have ramekins or custard cups, use 6-ounce tea cups.

    How is this custard different from flan and other custards? Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN CUSTARD WITH MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15-ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  •    

    pumpkin-custard-maple-pecan-crunch-nielsenmassey-230

    Pumpkin custard topped with maple pecan crunch. Photo courtesy Nielsen-Massey.

     

     

    nielsen-bourbon-230

    Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Place 8 six-ounce ramekins onto a rimmed sheet pan or a roasting pan; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the half-and-half and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat and stir, just until the mixture is warmed. Remove from the heat.

    3. COMBINE the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly until well combined. Add the pumpkin and whisk until it is incorporated. Slowly pour the heated half-and-half mixture into the pumpkin mixture; whisk continuously until combined.

    4. POUR the custard mixture into ramekins. Place in the oven; then carefully pour warm water into the sheet pan, so custards are surrounded and the water depth is about ¾-inch high (this technique is known as a bain-marie). Bake until done, about 40-45 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan, cool completely on wire rack and place in the refrigerator to chill. You can serve the custard chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • Garnish: coarse sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. COMBINE syrup, vanilla and cayenne pepper in a small bow. Whisk to combine; set aside.

    3. LIGHTLY COAT a large skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add the nuts to skillet and toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. CAREFULLY POUR the syrup mixture over the nuts. Cook and stir until the nuts are coated; then remove from heat. Place the nut mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and cool.

    5. TO SERVE: Top the cooled custards with Maple Pecan Crunch. Finish with a pinch of coarse salt.

    Store any unused Maple Pecan Crunch in an airtight container. You can use it to top anything from baked sweet potatoes to green salad to vegetables to ice cream.
     
    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VANILLA

    Did you know that vanilla beans are the fruit of a species of orchid? Of the 110 species in the orchid family, the vanilla orchard is the only one used for food.

    While the fruit is called a vanilla “bean,” it has no close relationship to the actual bean family. After the plant flowers, the fruit pod ripens gradually for 8 to 9 months, eventually turning black-brown in color and giving off a strong aroma. Both the exterior of the and the seeds inside are used to create vanilla flavoring.

    Check out the history of vanilla, types of vanilla products (including vanilla paste and different terroirs of vanilla extracts and vanilla beans), how to buy vanilla, and our reviews of the best vanilla extracts and vanilla beans.

    Start here.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Harvest Pumpkin, Seasonal Tortilla Chips From Food Should Taste Good

    How delicious are the fall flavor tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good?

    Very delicious! You can enjoy them plain, with a savory or sweet dip, or as “fall nachos.”

    • Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips are as good as eating a cookie. Deftly spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg (and a touch of cane sugar), stone ground corn is mixed with pumpkin, spices, sea salt.
    • Sweet Potato tortilla chips, which are made with a touch of sugar, can be served with fruit salsa, raspberry jam or apple butter; served with ginger snap dip, or instead of cookies with vanilla ice cream.

    The all natural line is certified gluten free, certified vegan and OU kosher. The snack contains 19 grams of whole grains per serving. (The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains daily.)

     
    RECIPE #1: GINGERSNAP DIP

    This recipe, adapted from Taste Of Home, makes a “dessert dip.” For a less sweet dip, cut the sugar in half or eliminate it entirely.

       

    sweet-potato-pumpkin-kaminsky-230

    Sweet Potato and Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
    • 1 carton (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 package (16 ounces) gingersnaps

     
     
    *You can combine equal amounts of allspice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg or adapt the spices and proportions to your preferences.>
     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl until fluffy. Beat in the yogurt.

    2. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.

     

    gingersnap-dip-tasteofhome-230

    Gingersnap dip for cookies or seasonal tortilla chips. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: BISCOFF SPREAD DIP

    Biscoff Spread looks like peanut butter but smells like gingerbread and is nut-free. It is made from spice cookies, called spéculoos cookies in Belgium, where they are the national cookie—a variation of gingerbread. (The cookies are called Belgian spice cookies in the U.S.)

    The name Biscoff is a combination of “biscuits and coffee,” a nod to enjoying the cookies with your cup of java. The spread, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, was the winner of a recipe competition in Belgium that was held by the largest producer of the cookies. The winning concept: Grind the cookies into a “cookie spread” that can be enjoyed an alternative to Nutella or peanut butter.

    Biscoff Spread is available at supermarkets nationwide and onlineonline; Trader Joe’s sells a private label version called Cookie Spread. In Europe, the generic version is called spéculoos spread.

    This recipe, which was originally developed for dipping fruit and cookies, is equally delicious with pumpkin and sweet potato tortilla chips.

     
    Ingredients For 4 To 6 Servings

    • 1/4 cup Biscoff Spread
    • 1 container plain lowfat yogurt (6 ounces or 3/4 cup)†
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Plus

  • Pumpkin and/or sweet potato tortilla chips for serving
  •  
    Optional Fruit To Serve Alongside The Chips

    • 1 red apple, washed and cored, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
    • 1 small banana, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
    • 1 cup whole or halved strawberries, washed and dried
    • 1 ripe pear, washed, dried and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, or other favorite dipping fruit

     
    †Or, use lowfat vanilla yogurt and omit the vanilla extract.
     
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the Biscoff Spread and yogurt until smooth.

    2. WHISK in vanilla and cinnamon. Place in small serving bowl. Serve with chips and optional fruit.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer & Pumpkin Ale

    pumpkin-beer-w-pumpkin-craftbeer.com-230

    Even George Washington was a fan of
    pumpkin beer. He brewed his own, of course.
    Photo courtesy CraftBeer.com.

     

    Thanks to Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com for today’s tip: Pick up some pumpkin beer or ale. In fact, have a pumpkin beer tasting for Halloween (with or without costumes), and bring it instead of wine to your Thanksgiving dinner hosts.

    This seasonal brew is so well liked that in the month of October, it rivals the popularity of India Pale Ale (IPA), the top-selling craft beer style in the U.S.

    The body is richer, thanks to the addition of actual pumpkin into the vat; and brewers typically add hints of pumpkin pie spices. The flavors can vary widely depending on whether the brewer uses fresh, frozen or canned pumpkin (or a related squash).

    But pumpkin beer is no recent craft beer invention. It’s been made since the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock Colony discovered pumpkins (indigenous to the Americas) and added them to their brews.

    Why did they brew with pumpkin?

    There were plenty of them. Since good malt was not readily accessible in the early days of the colonization of America, fermentable sugars had to come from elsewhere. In those early pumpkin beers, the flesh of the pumpkin took the place of malt. (Later, with dependable supplies of malt, both were used.)

    Pumpkin beer remained a staple throughout the 18th century, but its popularity began to wane by the early 19th century as quality malts became accessible everywhere.

     

    Fast forward 200-plus years to the Bay Area in the 1980s. The father of American micro-brewing, Bill Owens, read in a brewing book that George Washington added pumpkin to his mash. Owens thought it was an idea in need of resurrection. The result, Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, is an amber-style ale based on Washington’s recipe (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week).

    Although most pumpkin ale and beer are brewed with pumpkin and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, don’t expect pumpkin pie in a bottle. With most products, there’s no obvious pumpkin taste analogous to the pronounced flavors of fruit beers.

    This season, retailers will sell some 400 pumpkin beers from craft brewers. You can put together a nice selection for a tasting party. Or, pick up a selection for your own personal enjoyment. Just a sampling of what you might find:

     

    buffalo-bill-6pack-pumpkin-230

    Bring a six-pack or two to your Halloween or Thanksgiving host(s). Photo courtesy Buffalo Bill’s Brewery.

    • Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter | Starr Hill Brewery | Crozet, Virginia
    • Flat Jack Pumpkin Ale | Flat 12 Bierwerks | Indianapolis, Indiana
    • Gourd Shorts (pumpkin ale) | Florida Beer Co. | Cape Canaveral, Florida
    • Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale | Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company | Lexington, Kentucky
    • Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale | Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. | Half Moon Bay, California
    • Oak Jacked (imperial pumpkin ale) | Uinta Brewing Co. | Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Potosi Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale | Potosi Brewing Co. | Potosi, Wisconsin
    • Pumking | Southern Tier Brewing Co. | Lakewood, New York
    • Post Road Pumpkin Ale | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, New York
    • Pumpkin Ale | Blackstone Brewing Co. | Nashville, Tennessee
    • Pumpkin Ale | Buffalo Bill’s Brewery | Hayward, California
    • Pumpkin Ale | Rivertown Brewing Co. | Lockland, Ohio
    • Pumpkinfest | Terrapin Beer Co. | Athens, Georgia
    • Punkin Ale | Dogfish Brewery | Milton, Delaware
    • Roadsmary’s Baby (rum-aged pumpkin ale) | Two Roads Brewing Co. | Stratford, Connecticut
    • Rum Punk (Rum barrel-aged pumpkin beer) | Joseph James Brewing Co., Inc | Henderson, Nevada
    • Samhain Pumpkin Porter | DESTIHL Brewery | Bloomington, Illinois
    • Samuel Adams Fat Jack (double pumpkin ale) | Samuel Adams | Boston, Massachusetts
    • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Co. | Hampton, New Hampshire
    • Wick for Brains Pumpkin Ale | Nebraska Brewing Co. | La Vista, Nevada
    • Witch’s Hair Pumpkin Ale | Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits | East County San Diego, California

     
    KNOW YOUR BEER TYPES

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Apple Cider Donuts

    apple-cider-glaze-donuts-karosyrup-230

    Fresh, warm donuts with an apple cider
    glaze. Photo courtesy Karo Syrup.

     

    On Thursday we purchased an apple cider donut at our local farmers market. It was just OK, with no detectable hint of apple cider. So we went home, got out the recipe file and made our own with a recipe from Karo Syrup.

    That’s the difference between these and the one we purchased: corn syrup and apple cider combine for a delicious glaze.

    Prep time is 35 minutes, rest time is 45 to 60 minutes. You can fry them or bake them (bake time is an additional 15 minutes).

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER DONUTS

    Ingredients For 15 Doughnuts

    • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 envelopes Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 3 egg yolks
    • Corn oil for frying

    For The Apple Cider Glaze

    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large mixer bowl.

    2. HEAT milk and butter to very warm (120°F to 130°F). Add to flour mixture with egg yolks; beat for 2 minutes at low speed. Continue adding flour until a soft dough forms.

    3. KNEAD on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (4 to 6 minutes). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

    4. ROLL out the dough on a lightly floured counter into a 12-inch circle, about 1/2-inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Cut out the centers with a 1-inch cookie cutter (or poke a hole through the center with your finger).

    5. PLACE the doughnuts 2 to 3 inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Re-roll and cut the remaining dough. Cover the doughnuts and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    6. TO FRY: Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 350°F in a deep fryer or deep pan. Fry 2 to 3 doughnuts at a time, turning occasionally until well browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. TO BAKE: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the risen doughnuts for 8 to 10 minutes. FOR BOTH: Cool a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

     

    karo-light-corn-syrup-230

    Light corn syrup. Photo courtesy ACH Food Companies.

     
    7. MAKE the glaze: Boil the apple cider in a small saucepan until reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes. Place the powdered sugar in medium bowl. Whisk in the hot cider and corn syrup until smooth.

    8. GLAZE: Drizzle the donuts with the apple cider glaze or, using tongs, dunk the doughnuts into the glaze. Serve warm.
     
    Enjoy the donuts warm, with a hot cup of coffee or a cool glass of milk or apple cider.
     
    CORN SYRUP VERSUS HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

    Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are two different sweeteners. The latter is a sweeter form of corn syrup made from corn starch. It is 20% cheaper and easier to transport than sugar; hence, a more profitable sweetener for manufacturers to use. The process was developed in the 1970s and introduced widely into American processed foods in the 1980s. Here’s more about high fructose corn syrup.

    Corn syrup, called glucose syrup outside the U.S. and Canada because it is composed mainly of glucose, is made from corn starch. It was invented in 1812 by a German chemist, Gottlieb Kirchhoff, and has long been used to sweeten soft drinks, ice cream, ketchup, breads and many other mass-produced foods. Before commercial brands (Karo Light and Dark Corn Syrup products were introduced in 1902), housewives would carry their syrup jugs to the grocery store to be filled from the barrel.

    Light corn syrup is almost clear, with a delicate flavor; dark corn syrup has a more pronounced, molasses-like flavor. They can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

    Corn syrup is a good product that is often confused with the highly processed high fructose corn syrup. The best manufacturers use it in because corn syrup doesn’t crystallize and turn grainy in cold temperatures. It thus keeps a good consistency for products like fudge and caramel sauces and and candies. In mass production, baked goods made with corn syrup are moister and stay fresher longer than those made with sugar.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SWEETENERS IN OUR SUGAR & SWEETENERS GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Seed Chicken Or Fish

    Give chicken breasts or fish fillets a harvest touch with this recipe, which employs a pumpkin seed crust, adding flavor and nutrition.

    It’s a great idea, but we must admit: We have no idea where this recipe came from. We found it in a drafts folder, without the attribution that we attach to all outside content. We searched the web and couldn’t find it; so we apologize to whomever sent it to us. Thanks: We love your recipe.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SEED CHICKEN OR FISH

    Ingredients

    • 2 chicken breasts or 6-ounce fish filets
    • 2 cups of panko bread crumbs
    • 2 cups of pumpkin seeds
    • 4 whole eggs beaten
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon fine chopped oregano leaves
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest
    • 1 cup cooking oil
    • 1 tablespoon black pepper
     

    pumpkin-seed-crusted-chicken-cookforyourlifeorg-230

    Pumpkin seeds-crusted chicken breast with sauteed carrot strips. Photo courtesy EatForYourLife.org, which has a gluten-free variation of the recipe that includes Parmesan cheese.

     

    Preparation

    1. SLICE. Preheat the oven to 350°F for 10 minutes. Slice chicken breasts in half, width-wise. Pound down lightly until they are ¼ inch thick.

    2. FILL. Fill 3 separate bowls with flour, eggs and the dry ingredients: panko, pumpkin seeds, salt, black pepper, chopped oregano and orange zest.

    3. DIP: Coat the chicken breast with flour, then dip into beaten eggs, followed by a dip into the panko mix.

    4. SAUTE. In a sauté pan, heat up the oil at medium heat. Lightly sauté the coated chicken breast until it reaches a golden color—about 1 minute on each side.

    5. BAKE. Place the chicken breasts onto a sheet pan and cook it for an additional 10-15 minutes. If you are using fish, it requires just 5-10 minutes in the oven; or you may finish it in the pan.

    6. SERVE with vegetable(s) of choice and a green salad tossed with whole pumpkin seeds. For a seasonal touch, add some pumpkin seed oil to the vinaigrette!

     

    pepitas-bag-bowl-230

    Pumpkin seeds (called pepitas in Spanish).
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    ABOUT PUMPKIN SEEDS

    Pumpkin seeds (called pepitas in Spanish) are flat seeds that lend themselves to a crust. They have a chewy texture and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor.

    Pumpkins are indigenous to the Americas. Their use in medicine and cuisine traces at least as far back as the Aztecs, 1300-1500 C.E. The name “pepita,” which translates to “seed,” comes from Mexico, where Spanish settlers called them “pepita de calabaza,” “little seed of squash.”

    Pumpkin seeds are available year-round: raw and shelled, raw and unshelled, roasted and shelled, roasted and unshelled. For recipes, choose unshelled seeds.

    PUMPKIN SEED TRIVIA

    • Pumpkins, other squash and gourds belong to the Cucurbitaceae botanical family, along with cantaloupe, cucumber and watermelon.
    • Today, China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country. Other major producers include India, Mexico, Russia, the Ukraine and the U.S.
    • In the U.S., more than 100,000 acres of U.S. farmland are planted with pumpkins, in virtually every state. Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins, followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York.
     
    HOW TO ROAST PUMPKIN SEEDS

    It’s easy and fun to roast your own pumpkin seeds, using your seasonings of choice (salt, garlic salt, chile powder, etc.) You can also buy organic raw pumpkin seeds in bulk.

    1. PREPARATION: If you’re using seeds straight from the pumpkin, first wipe them off with a paper towel to remove excess pulp. Spread them out evenly on a paper bag or paper towel and let them dry overnight.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 160°-170°F (75°C). Place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Season as desired.

    3. ROAST for 15 minutes, but for no longer than 20 minutes. (After then, the heat engenders a negative change in the healthful pumpkin seed fat structure.)
     
    MORE WAYS TO SERVE PUMPKIN SEEDS

    • Sprinkle on salads, grains and vegetables.
    • Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal.
    • Add pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe, carrot or zucchini cake.
    • Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing or bread dipper.
    • Add ground seeds to ground meat for burgers or meat loaf (including veggie burgers).

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Halloween Popcorn Balls

    They’re sweet, they’re fun and they’re whole grain! And there’s a bonus: You make them in the microwave!

    You’ve got time to whip up these Halloween popcorn balls, thanks to busy mother of three Ashleigh, of the blog Bee in Our Bonnet. Ashleigh contributed this recipe to SomewhatSimple.com.

    While the popcorn balls are shaped like pumpkins, the flavor is orange—from orange Jell-O! Jell-O flavored popcorn is a favorite treat at Ashleigh’s home.

    RECIPE: HALLOWEEN POPCORN BALLS

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 box (3 ounces) orange-flavored Jell-O
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 cups popped popcorn (approximate)
  • Tootsie Roll mini candies
  •  

    pumpkin-popcorn-balls-somewhatsimple-230sq

    Popcorn balls for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy SomewhatSimple.com.

  • Green candies: choice of Starbursts, green apple Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffys or anything that can be shaped into leaves (green Air Heads were used in the photo)
     
    Preparation

    1. MELT butter in a large microwavable bowl. Stir in Jell-O and corn syrup.

    2. MICROWAVE again until the mixture reaches a full boil (try 1 minute, then more if needed). Stir. Mix in baking soda. Stir for 2-3 minutes.

    3. MIX in popcorn. The popcorn should be covered evenly with the flavoring.

    4. MICROWAVE for 30 seconds more. You can microwave for longer if you prefer your popcorn balls crispy instead of gooey.

    5. FORM into balls. Kids can help, using plastic bags with a little non-stick spray on them as gloves.

    6. ADD Tootsie Roll minis for the stems and shape the green candy into leaves. Be sure to press the stem and leaves in while the popcorn ball is still warm and pliable.

      

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