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Archive for Food Facts – Food History

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Gummy Worms Day

Cherry Cola Cupcake, with cherry and cola
gummy candies by Goody Good Stuff. Photo
© all rights reserved, courtesy Hey Little
Cupcake!
, a cupcake specialty shop in
Manchester, England.

 

Today is National Gummy Worms Day. But not everybody can enjoy a juicy gummy worm.

That’s because many gummy candies are made with gelatin, an animal product that’s neither kosher nor vegetarian/vegan.

The traditional gummy candy is made with sugar, glucose syrup (more sugar), starch, flavoring, food color, citric acid and gelatin.
 
GUMMY CANDY HISTORY

The first gummy candies, Gummi Bears, were produced in 1922 by Haribo, a Bonn, Germany, confectioner. Founder Hans Riegel invented the Dancing Bear, a fruit gum made in the shape of a bear. In 1967 the Dancing Bears became Gummi Bears, and spawned an entire zoo of gummi animals.

Worms are not zoo creatures, however, and Haribo did not invent the Gummi Worm. Gummi Worms were introduced by another German gummi candy manufacturer, Trolli (named for forest trolls), in 1981. The U.S. Americanized “gummi” to “gummy.”

 

The boom in gummy popularity spawned versions that are organic, kosher and halal. For the latter two, manufacturers have substituted pectin or starch for gelatin.

Goody Good Stuff is an all-natural gummy candy line that is made with a plant-derived gum. It eliminates the need for animal-based gelatin, while maintaining a smooth and clear consistency. There are no artificial colors or flavors and no possible allergens, such as gluten.

There are no worms, either. At this time, there are sweet and sour gummy candies in fruit, bear and cola bottle shapes. All of the products are vegetarian (some are vegan), kosher and halal. Here’s the company website.

THINGS TO DO WITH GUMMY CANDIES

Beyond snacking, bring out the gummies for parties:

  • Incorporate them into centerpiece decorations
  • Fill glass candy bowls
  • Garnish the rim of desert plates
  • Top cupcakes or cookies
  • Use as ice cream toppers
  • Make gummy fruit kabobs
  • Dip in chocolate for “gourmet” gummies
  • Decorate the rim of cocktails
  • Add to popcorn
  • Make gummy trail mix: gummies, M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, nuts, pretzels and raisins or dried cherries
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    Gummy Worm Cake

    Back to gummy worms: Make this easy dessert or snack recipe for “dirt cake” using Oreos, gummy worms, vanilla pudding and cream cheese. It’s appealing to adults as well as kids—really!
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Bottle Of Moscato Wine

    May 9th is National Moscato Day.

    Nearly two thousand years ago, the Roman author Pliny the Elder (23 C.E. – 79 C.E.) wrote in his Natural History: “The Muscat grape has been grown for a long time in Beaumes [in France] and its wine is remarkable.”

    Call it Muscat in French or Moscato in Italian: Today is the first National Moscato Day, celebrating the “remarkable” wine. The holiday was declared by Gallo Family Vineyards, producers of excellent and very affordable Moscato.

    By establishing National Moscato Day, the Gallo family hopes that you will raise a glass and get to know this delicious wine.

    The wine is already on a roll: Moscato sales in the U.S. continue to grow faster than any other wine varietal, increasing by 74% in 2011 alone. You can pick up a bottle of Gallo Moscato for about $5.00. How can you resist?

    ________________________
    *The Gallo Moscato is so inexpensive because the grapes are grown in Australia, where land is plentiful and cheap.

    WHAT IS MOSCATO WINE?

    Moscato (mow-SKAH-toe) or Muscat (MOO-skaht) is a white wine grape. The wines, slightly sweet and low in alcohol, are often served with dessert. However, their ability to pair with other foods—and Americans’ penchant for sweet beverages like soft drinks and White Zinfandel—is bringing Moscato to the forefront in the U.S.

     

    The next time you want a glass of white wine, reach for the Moscato. Photo courtesy Gallo Family Vineyards.

     
    Moscato History

    According to Uncork.biz, the Muscat grape is the world’s oldest cultivated grape variety. It may have originated in the sultanate of Muscat and Oman† on the southeast Arabian Peninsula.

    The Muscat grape found its way to Rome and was brought by the Roman Legions to Gaul (encompassing present-day France). Over the centuries, it was planted in regions as disperse as the Crimea (Russia) and South Africa. Early Spanish and Italian immigrants brought it to America. In 1844, it arrived in Australia—the source of the grapes for the Gallo Family Muscato.

    The Moscato grape is widely grown in Italy, where it is vinified into still and sparkling wines. Asti Spumante and its semi-sparkling cousin, Moscato d’Asti, are made in the Piedmont region, the northwest corner of Italy.

    Moscato is light bodied and low in alcohol—meaning that most people can have a second glass without overdoing it. The wine’s perfumed nose and lush palate burst with the seductive flavors of peach, honey and citrus. The fresh aciditity and delicately sweetness enable it to pair well with a broad variety of foods.

    †Muscat and Oman was a country that encompassed the present day Sultanate of Oman and parts of the United Arab Emirates.

     

    Moscato with a dessert of fresh fruit and a mascarpone dip. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    13 OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE MOSCATO

  • BRUNCH. If you’re looking for a brunch wine, look no further. Moscato pairs well with breakfast pastries, eggs, pancakes and other brunch foods.
  • COCKTAIL MUNCHIES. Charcuterie, prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks and olives provide a salty counterpoint to the slightly sweet wine. Simple bruschetta is also a perfect pairing.
  • CRUDITÉS. The crispness of raw vegetables pairs well with Moscato.
  • CHICKEN & FISH. Moscato is delicious with lighter chicken and fish dishes.
  • CREAM SAUCES. Mild cream sauces pair well with Moscato.
  • DESSERT. While Moscato is far less sweet than dessert wines such as Muscat Beaumes de Venise or Sauternes, it has enough residual sugar to work with many desserts. We had it last night with cheesecake and the night before with sorbet. Be sure to try it with biscotti, creamy desserts and nut-based desserts.
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  • FRUIT. A snack or dessert of fresh fruit—or a fruit pie—is an occasion for Moscato. Peaches are a perfect match with this peachy wine.
  • HAM. Here’s another fine sweet-and-salty pairing, whether it’s a baked ham dinner, a ham sandwich or ham-based canapés.
  • PICNICS & POOLSIDE. Moscato is an ideal wine to sip poolside or relaxing at a picnic.
  • SALADS. Want a glass of wine with your lunch or dinner salad? Grab the Moscato.
  • SHELLFISH. Sweeter wines like Moscato are a favorite pairing with crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops and a raw bar.
  • SPICY FOODS. Gewürtztraminer and Riesling have long been recommended wines for spicy foods. The slight sweetness complements the heat and spice. Now, add Moscato to the list, to pair with Asian, Indian and other hot cuisines, along with spicy Western dishes such as Spaghetti Arrabbiata.
  • WINE & CHEESE. Uncork a bottle to serve with cheese. The peach and citrus flavors are a great match for soft or hard cheeses, from Brie (including baked Brie) to Pecorino Romano. Serve it with the dessert cheese plate: Brie and figs with a glass of Moscato is simple yet sophisticated.
  •  
    Do you have a favorite way to serve Moscato? Let us know.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Cordon Bleu Day

    April 4th is National Cordon Bleu Day.

    Le Cordon Bleu (French for “The Blue Ribbon”) is the world’s largest school for hospitality education, for both cooks, service and management personnel. Originating in France, it now has 35 schools on five continents.

    The inspiration for the school began in 1578, with a group of French knights called L’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit. Each member wore the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a blue ribbon.

    The knights became known for extravagant and luxurious banquets, known as “cordons bleus.” The order closed with the French Revolution.

    In the late 19th century, the name was revived by a French culinary magazine, La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu. It offered lessons by some of the best chefs in France, and eventually grew to become a cooking school.

    Le Cordon Bleu cooking school opened in Paris in 1895 and became one of the finest cooking schools in the world.

    Recipes for Chicken Cordon Bleu and Veal Cordon Bleu emerged: chicken breasts or veal slices sandwiched with ham and Gruyère cheese, dipped in an egg mixture, rolled with bread crumbs and baked or sautéed.

    Here’s a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu from Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats, who simplified the original recipe.

    “Have you tried the French classic Cordon Bleu before? [Delicious but] it’s a pain to make. Flatten the chicken, roll it up with cheese and ham inside, dredge in egg, crumb it, fry it in oil then finish it off in the oven as you make the sauce…

    “Phew! I got tired even just writing that out!

    “So here is my shortcut way to make Chicken Cordon Bleu. It comes out of the oven beautifully golden all over, super crunchy, with gooey cheese inside. Just like the real deal that is deep fried, this is SO much easier and faster to make!”

    She also replaces traditional bread crumbs with Japanese panko breadcrumbs. for a crunchier crust.

    Thanks, Nagi! You can see here step-by-step photos here.

    RECIPE: CHICKEN CORDON BLEU

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 small chicken breasts, around 6-7 ounces (180-210g) each
  • 4 slices gruyère or American swiss cheese*
  • 4 to 6 slices of ham, about 2.5 ounces (75g), or ham rounds†
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour
  •  
    For 1 Cup Of Dijon Cream Sauce

  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1½ tablespoons flour
  • 1¼ cups whole or 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Optional: 1 teaspoonp thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    Plus

  • Toothpicks
  •  

    Chicken Cordon Bleu

    Chicken Cordon Bleu Preparation

    Chicken Cordon Bleu Preparation

    [1] The finished dish. [2] and [3] Cutting the pocket and and stuffing the chicken (all photos courtesy Recipe Tin Eats).

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F/180°C. Spread the panko breadcrumbs on a baking tray and spray with oil. Bake for 3 minutes or until light golden. Remove and scrape into bowl straight away.

    2. CUT a pocket into each chicken breast, as per the photo below. Fold the cheese in half and place 2 pieces inside each pocket. Do the same with the ham. Close the pocket sf seal with toothpicks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Dredging method

    3. WHISK together egg and flour. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, and then into the panko. Transfer to a baking pan and spray with oil.

    4. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and just cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. While the chicken is cooking…

    5. MAKE the Dijon Cream Sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1½ minutes. Add half the milk and whisk until the flour mixture is blended in.

    6. ADD the remaining milk, mustard and cheese. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened (the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve

    7. SERVE in a pitcher with the chicken.
    ________________

    *You need to use a cheese that holds its shape well (helium is another option).

    †If you can find small ham rounds, use 3 each to cover the surfaces of the chicken breasts.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Bánh Mì Sandwich

    Bánh-mi, a Vietnamese submarine sandwich
    on a baguette. Photo © Ppy2010ha |
    Dreamstime.

     

    A Brief History Of Bánh Mì Sandwiches

    When Europeans colonized Asia, they brought Western bread to the table. In French Indochina, Vietnam, that emblem of French cuisine, the baguette, was introduced; as were sandwiches.

    Baguette-based sandwiches were called bánh mì (pronounced bon MEE), a Vietnamese word that refers to all types of bread. For sandwiches, it is made in individual portions, like hero sandwich rolls. The recipe is more airy than the conventional baguette, with a thinner crust. It actually uses a combination of rice and wheat flours, cutting back on the gluten.

    In recent years, bánh mì have made their way west, to the U.S. From hole-in-the-wall bánh mì sandwich shops to trendy lunch bistros to Whole Foods Markets, these fresh, tasty sandwiches have become the rage in neighborhoods lucky enough to have them.

    More often than not, pork is the meat of choice. But the defining characteristics of these sandwiches are their abundance of pickled vegetables and fresh herbs.

    Chef Johnny Gnall shares the basics of making bánh mì—just in time to serve them as Super Bowl fare.

     

    Bread

    Some cooks hold that the bread is the most important part of this sandwich, so go out of your way to find the right type. If you don’t live near a Vietnamese bakery or grocer, look for semolina flour rolls, which give you more room for fillings than a classic baguette. The roll should be crisp on the outside (if not, then juices from the ingredients will make it soggy) and very soft on the inside.

    Vietnamese bakeries create a roll that is more crust than center (as opposed to American breads that tend to be the opposite). So if you have a roll with an excess of soft white inside, tear some out: You want as much room for your fillings as possible!

    Pork

    Braised is the name of the game here: a slow braised pork shoulder works great, cooked to the point that you can pull it apart. The seasoning is up to you, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple: salt, pepper, maybe a few chiles. Once the pork is mouthwateringly tender, pull it apart so that you can build layers easily. Let it drain for a few minutes to remove wetness that will create a mushy sandwich.

    Pickled Vegetables

    Here’s an easy recipe to pickle vegetables. As for choice of vegetables, you can’t go wrong with carrots and cucumbers. You can julienne both or, for contrast, thinly slice the cucumber in circles. Radishes are also a great addition; and pickled onions make almost anything better.

    Fresh Cilantro

    You really won’t find a bánh mì sandwich without cilantro. Its leafy, flavorful goodness helps to round out the other flavors in the sandwich and makes it taste just right. But if you are not a cilantro fan, follow your own path by substituting other fresh herbs. Basil, mint or parsley will do the trick.

    Spread

    Every sandwich needs a spread. Chef Johnny’s favorite for bánh mì is sambal– (chile paste) or sriracha– (hot sauce) flavored aïoli (garlic mayonnaise).

    Just whisk together aïoli (store bought mayo works fine, whether or not you add garlic) and your preferred amount of the spicy paste or sauce. If spicy isn’t your thing, try honey, a little soy sauce, even some teriyaki sauce. Just mix in small amounts at a time: You want flavor, but you don’t want a teriyaki sandwich.

    A RECIPE TAILORED TO PERFECTION

    Once you’ve perfected the basic bánh mì sandwich, feel free to make it a bánh you, personalizing your culinary creation to suit your needs.

    Gluten-free? Turn the bánh mì into a wrap with a corn tortilla or rice paper. Watching the cholesterol? Substitute chicken or fish for the pork and use a lowfat spread.

    You can even leave the meat out altogether and just up the amount of veggies and toppings. It may not be traditional, but it’s tasty.

    Now start building: bread, spread, pork/other protein, veggies, herbs, spread. Enjoy!

    Check out all the types of sandwiches in our delicious Sandwich Glossary.
     
    HOW ABOUT A BANH MI BURGER?

    Here’s a recipe from McCormick.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Milkshake Day

    Celebrate with a chocolate milkshake.
    Photo courtesy Cherry Marketing Institute.

     

    Today we know a “milkshake” as a cold beverage made from milk, ice cream and often, syrup, served in a tall, fluted glass with a straw (the classic milkshake glass is known as a Y glass). Some establishments top the drink with whipped cream and other garnishes.

    The Random House Dictionary describes a milkshake as an American creation, “a frothy drink made of cold milk, flavoring, and usually ice cream, shaken together or blended in a mixer.” And it states that the first printed reference dates to 1885.
     
    MILKSHAKE HISTORY: ALCOHOL, NO ICE CREAM!

    That original milkshake was not suitable for children or teetotalers. It was an alcoholic drink, a “…sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”*

    By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were out, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”*

    Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream.

     
    FINALLY, ICE CREAM IS ADDED

    The modern milkshake was born in 1922, when an employee at a Chicago Walgreens, Ivar “Pop” Coulson, was inspired to add two scoops of ice cream to malted milk. Malted milk was a drink made by blending milk, chocolate syrup and malt (malt was invented in 1887—as a nutritional supplement for infants).

    The malted milkshake shot to stardom nationwide. By the 1930s, soda fountains were known as “malt shops.” In 1937 two milkshake-worthy events occurred: A superior blender was invented by Fred Waring, and the flexible straw was invented by Joseph Friedman.

    But not all milkshakes were malted milkshakes. Many people preferred their milkshakes malt-free.

    By the late 1930s, the term “frosted” was being used to describe maltless milkshakes that blended ice cream and milk into one smooth drink, while a “float” had scoops of ice cream “floating” in milk.

    Soda fountain owners also came up with their own names. In New England, milkshakes were variously called frappes (Massachusetts), velvets, frosteds and cabinets (Rhode Island, referring to the freezer cabinet from which the ice cream was scooped). Someone in a drive-through restaurant in St. Louis invented the concrete, a milkshake so thick that it was handed out the order window upside down for a wow factor. (We’ve had a few, and would argue that the concrete is not really a milkshake, but ice cream that’s been blended with just enough milk to turn it into a malleable form. It needs to be eaten with a spoon: It’s so thick it can’t be drunk through a straw).

    No one knows what the next milkshake evolution will be, but we recommend going back to the original. Hold the egg, but add some Godiva Chocolate Liqueur to celebrate National Chocolate Milkshake Day (or a shot of whiskey, perhaps).

    Don’t like chocolate? Mark your calendar for June 21st, National Vanilla Milkshake Day.

    *Source: Stuart Berg Flexner, Listening to America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982) p. 178.

    MILKSHAKE RECIPE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 3 scoops chocolate ice cream
  • 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Optional: shot of chocolate liqueur
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

    2. POUR into a tall glass, garnish as desired and serve. Whipped cream, a maraschino cherry or other garnish is optional (and overkill).

    FOOD TRIVIA

    In the 1950s, a milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc bought became the exclusive distributor of a speedier milkshake machine, the Multimixer. He inadvertently invented modern fast food with his vision of franchising the McDonald’s hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California—just so he could sell several Multimixers to each location!

     
    FLOAT, MALTED, MILKSHAKE: THE DIFFERENCE

    A float, also known as an ice cream soda, is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with one or more scoops of ice cream “floating” in it.

    A milkshake, “shake” for short, is a blend of ice cream, milk and flavoring. The scoop of ice cream is blended into the milk; you can’t see the ice cream.

    A thick shake has multiple scoops of ice cream, which thicken the drink—“So thick,” advertised one soda fountain, “that the straw stands up straight.”

    A malt, short for malted milk, is a milkshake with added malted milk powder. The powder is made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. It was originally developed, in 1897, by a pharmacist, James Horlick. He intended it as a gruel—a nutritional supplement—for infants.

    Soon enough, parents discovered how tasty it was…and the rest is history.

      

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