FAQ

A (1)

What is Anise?

Star of Anise with Seed

Star of Anise with Seed

Considered to be an annual, anise is classified as a member of the Apiaceae family. Often reaching heights of 2 to 4 feet, it features white flowers, feather-like leaves and ribbed seeds. Depending on how ripe they are, the seeds may take on a gray or green hue. Like some other herbs, all parts of the plant are fully utilized by chefs and homeopathic practitioners alike. Each part has a taste that resembles black licorice. As such, it is often added to candies, gums, baked goods, alcoholic beverages and meats. Meats that are often flavored with anise include pepperoni, sausage, flank steak and pork belly.

B (5)

What is Bailoni Apricot Liqueur?

Fresh Apricots

Fresh Apricots

Bailoni Apricot comes from an independent and private distillery in Austria known as Bailoni that produces a fruit liqueur from pressed apricots, among other apricot-infused products (like Gold-apricot jam, Gold-apricot syrup, apricot in apricot-liqueur, apricot sparkling wine, Marilloni chocolate-dragees).

It’s a versatile and beautifully-colored drink that works in cocktails and mixers (because of its low alcohol content: 30 percent), and while many consider it to be a schnapps by nature, it shares many characteristics with a brandy.

Surprisingly, Bailoni has been manufactured since the early 1980s, but has only just seen a rise in popularity in the last few years. This is perhaps due to the rise of sales in the craft beer industry, where infused beers (like fruit beer) have garnered a huge following.

Now the best part. Bailoni can be used in a wide variety of alcoholic drinks, anything from sours to rickeys to breakfast eggnogs to anything in between. It’s best for those who love fresh drinks, or drinks that are fruity by nature.

Apricot & Brandy Liquor Drink

Apricot & Brandy Liquor Drink

Here’s a few to try:

After Dinner Cocktail

  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz Bailoni
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 lime

Shake all ingredients (except lime wedge) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Add the wedge of lime. Serve in cocktail glass.

Apricot Brandy Rickey

  • 2 oz Bailoni
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 4 oz club soda

Pour Bailoni and lime juice into glass filled with ice cubes. Add club soda, stir. Serve in highball glass.

Breakfast Eggnog

  • 3/4 oz Bailoni
  • 1/4 oz triple sec
  • 2 oz milk
  • 1/4 oz cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • nutmeg

Shake well over ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass, sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve in cocktail glass.

For more information on all things food and drink-related, contact us. Thank you.

What is Beef Consommé?

bowl-of-beef-consomme

Despite sharing common ingredients, beef consommé is not the same thing as brown stock. Consommé is a bit more complex. It is traditionally made with lean beef, bouquet garni, egg white, brown stock, onion and a carrot. During the 2 hour cooking process, the beef consommé develops a layer of froth. The layer of froth is left intact until the very end. At that time, it is strained off of the beef consommé with the aid of a cheese cloth. The end result is a clear, flavorful liquid that will gel up if it gets refrigerated. Many chefs serve it as a soup or add it to other dishes.

What is Braising?

Braising Lamb Shanks

Braising Lamb Shanks

Braising is when you cook meat over time in a covered pan or pot. Liquid aids the cooking, adding flavor and softening the meat. That juicy, break apart with your fingers beef you had at grandma’s house was achieved through braising (or slow cooking, as she might have called it). This method of cooking was originally used to break down tough, inexpensive cuts of meat, but now, with the popularity of dishes like Coq Au Vin, braising is experiencing a resurgence. It’s also very popular with people who don’t have the time to prepare a large meal during the week. Braising let’s you cook everything at the same time in one pot – no muss, no fuss! Braised dishes also make excellent leftovers.

Are you ready to look like you spent a lot of time in the kitchen when all you really did was unwrap the meat, follow a couple of quick steps, and set the timer? Get the spray bottle ready, – you’ll need this to spritz yourself with pretend sweat – wipe some sauce on your apron, and let’s get started. Start by searing the meat to give it a nice brown color and to lock in the flavor. Then add seasonings and your desired liquid (water, wine, stock, etc.). You can add vegetables to the mix as well, giving you the meal-in-a-pot option. Cook it over low heat for a time determined by the size of the meat, and prepare to enjoy a dish that virtually melts in your mouth.

What is a Burr Grinder?

A Traditional Burr Grinder with Coffee Beans

A Traditional Burr Grinder with Coffee Beans

When it comes to breaking down coffee beans, one of most coveted pieces of equipment is a burr grinder. They stand out from the other grinders on the market primarily because of their ability to produce such a fine consistency. The remarkable texture of the end product is due to the burr grinder’s working parts.

Depending on the model, the burr grinder’s working parts will include either steel wheels or discs. The steel wheels and discs both tend to have an abrasive surface, which aids in the bean’s uniform breakdown. However, the two methods do have slight variances in terms of speed and volume capabilities.

Depending on the model, the wheels are quite adjustable and run at moderate speeds. The adjustability is a key feature because it makes it easy to grind up a wide variety of beans and seeds. It also reduces the chances of a clog when trying to grind a lot of beans at once. The discs, on the other hand, tend to rotate faster but generate modest heat. As such, they tend to be better suited for grinding small amounts of beans at a time.

What is Beef Wellington?

A Plate of Beef Wellington

A Plate of Beef Wellington

Beef wellington is a classic dish that has been a part of the culinary world for decades. It is carefully made with center-cut beef tenderloin, seasonings, puff pastry, duck or goose foie gras, and duxelles. Basically, the beef tenderloin is fashioned into a cylindrical shape. Next, it is seasoned and quickly seared on all sides. The purpose of the sear it to seal in the juices and give the meat some color.

Once the beef tenderloin is seared properly, it gets coated with the foie gras and duxelles. For those that are unaware, duxelle is a paste. It is traditionally made with butter, finely minced mushrooms, savory herbs and fresh shallots.

Afterward, the meat is wrapped in puff pastry and baked in the oven until it reaches the desired temperature. For many people, that ideal temperature is medium rare. From there, the beef wellington is removed from the oven and allowed to rest. During the resting period, the meat will continue to cook somewhat. So it is likely to end up medium instead of medium rare. When the resting period has elapsed, it is quickly sliced and served.

C (6)

What is Chalupa?

Although both are made with fried masa dough, chalupas are not tostadas. The difference between the two dishes primarily rests in the cooking methods used and the dough’s shape. In addition, different toppings are served with each one. The chalupa’s form faintly resembles that of a canoe or a cup. To achieve the shape, the masa dough is pinched and baked first. Afterward, the dough is fried and topped with an assortment of savory ingredients. Traditional toppings tend to consist of shredded pork, ground beef, shredded chicken, cheeses and chili sauce. The chili sauce may be red or green. The tostada’s shape, on the other hand, is flat. As such, they are usually just fried and topped with cheese. However, some people may opt to add guacamole to the dish too.

A chalupa is a thin, crunchy tostada (Spanish for tortilla), that is used in classic Mexican cuisine. They are made by taking a small amount of dough, which is then pressed into a mold and fried in oil. They are then topped with a variety of toppings like mashed potatoes, salsa, chicken, pork, and so on. The traditional Mexican chalupa differs greatly from the Americanized version of the dish. In Mexico, they more resemble a boat (chalupa actually translates into boat), whereas in America, they are more like a taco.

What is Crème Fraiche?

Bowl of Creme Fraiche

Bowl of Creme Fraiche

Complex, creamy, tart and nutty are four words that may be used to aptly describe crème fraiche. Traditionally made from heavy cream and cultured buttermilk, the cream’s tartness is known to vary based on the ratio used. In general, blends that contain a high amount of cultured buttermilk tend to have more pucker power than the others. Those that have a high cream content, on the other hand, tend to taste richer and hold up well in hot dishes. Speaking of which, crème fraiche’s culinary applications vary considerably. Many people like to use it as a thickener for sauces and soups. Others prefer to use it as a dessert, bread or hot potato topping.

What is Chervil?

Bundle of Chervil

Bundle of Chervil

Categorized as a long-standing member of the Apiaceae family, chervil is considered to be an annual herb with European roots. When fully mature, its thin but sturdy stalk stands about 2 feet tall. The plant also sports curly, feather-like leaves and umbels adorned with petite, white flowers. People often liken its fleeting flavor to that of a cross between anise, parsley and basil.

Over the centuries, every above ground inch of the chervil plant has been incorporated into both the culinary and medicinal arts. Certain recipes, primarily soups, also call for the use of chervil’s roots. As far as the above ground parts go, they are utilized in a variety of ways. Among the more common are the creation of flavored vinegars, flavored oils, soft cheese based dips and compound butters.

When at the peak of flavor, the freshest herbs can also be tossed into salads, omelets and vegetable dishes. Speaking of fresh, it should also be noted that chervil’s delicate flavor does not hold up to the drying process. So it is best to eat it soon after it has been harvested.

What is Carob?

Carob Beans, Carob Powder, and Carobs

Carob Beans, Carob Powder, and Carobs

Classified as a flowering evergreen, carob trees are often grown in warm climates. Known to reach heights of 50 feet, the trees feature pods and little red flowers. Once fully mature, the pods are harvested and deseeded. Some of the pods are pressed and made into oil. Others are dried. At the end of the drying process, they are typically roasted. After roasting, they may be ground into flour or sold in whole form. The seeds are typically fed to domestic animals.

The flour looks and tastes similar to cocoa, only sweeter. In addition, it is low-calorie and low-carb. It is also devoid of cholesterol and saturated fat. So many people prefer to use it as a substitute for cocoa powder or chocolate. Like cocoa powder and chocolate, it can be used in a multitude of culinary applications. For example, carob may be used to make brownies, cookies, fudge, cake and candies. It may also be used to whip up various beverages, sandwich spreads and dips. They are not the only ways to utilize carob either. It can be used as a cereal, yogurt, fruit or ice cream topping as well.

What is Crème anglaise?

Crème Angliase

Crème Angliase

Crème anglaise is a wonderful, multiuse, pouring custard that has been used by cooks for centuries. It is traditionally made with egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, salt and heavy cream. However, it can also be altered with the addition of spices and herbs. Examples include lavender and cinnamon.

Basically, the ingredients get whisked together, heated and strained over an ice bath. Although it sounds simple, extraordinary care must be used during the heating and whisking process. Otherwise, the egg yolks may start to poach. In addition, missteps could also result in a lumpy or broken sauce. If the crème anglaise does come out perfectly, it may be utilized immediately or refrigerated until later use. It should also be noted that it is best to use the pouring custard within 3 to 4 days.

Speaking of which, as we mentioned previously, crème anglaise has many uses. For instance, it may be served in a decorative cup and topped with fresh fruit. It may also be drizzled over soufflés, fruit compote, lady fingers and a variety of other desserts.

What is Chai Tea?

Chai Masala Tea

Chai Masala Tea

In order to properly define chai tea, it’s first important to define the word chai. Chai, is a literal translation of the word “tea” in many Eurasian languages, and is used throughout India and Southeast Asia. The drink that many people refer to as chai tea, is actually Masala Chai, and can prepared black, with milk, without sugar, and so on.

In the Western world, chai tea refers to a specific style of tea that has gained popularity in coffee shops across the U.S. It is more often referred to as chai tea latte and is typically concocted with rich black tea, heavy milk, a combination of various spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper), and some sort of sweetener.

Additionally, given the popularity of chai tea globally, many companies (including popular coffee houses) have started to produce chai tea concentrates for the sake of convenience. These pre-spiced and sweetened syrups usually require dilution with milk, water, or both.

D (1)

What is Dehydrated Cane Juice?

Dehydrated cane juice is made from, you guessed it, sugar cane. Considered to be a perennial grass, sugar cane is a native of temperate and tropical regions. Among them are the Caribbean, Florida and Southeast Asia. The grass sports a thick, fibrous stalk that tends to grow more than 15 feet tall. When harvested, it is used to make a multitude of edible and non-edible products.

Many people prefer the dehydrated cane juice over other types of sugars because of the minimal processing techniques involved. The juice making process starts by workers pressing or grinding the stalk with a machine. Once it is pressed, the stalk releases sucrose. It is a form of natural sugar.

The sucrose juice is then either boiled and dehydrated or simply dehydrated. Afterward, it is placed inside of a centrifuge and spun continuously. The purpose of spinning the mixture is to separate the sucrose crystals from the plant’s molasses contents. The end result is a rich, large grain, natural sugar that has a medium brown color. The sugar is then used in assorted food and beverage related applications.

E (1)

What is Entrecôte?

Cut of Beef Entrecote

Cut of Beef Entrecote

The word entrecôte translates from old French (9th to 10th centuries) as “between the ribs,” and was once considered the rarest cut of meat available given its difficult placement in the animal. Now, it is most often used to describe a premium cut of beef and, in most English-speaking cultures, the words rib, rib-eye, and Scotch filet, have replaced the word entrecôte completely.

Similarly, in France, the word entrecôte can also be used when referring to a cut of meat known as the sirloin and is referred to as a contre-filet, because it is from the opposite side from the filet or the tenderloin. In the U.S. this term is usually replaced by the more popular version of the word: porterhouse; sirloin or strip are also acceptable term varietals.

Entrecôte can be cooked in many different ways (including pan-seared, broiled, and grilled), but in restaurants it is often prepared in the classic technique know as the bordeaux-style, which yields the dish called Entrecôte Bordelaise.

F (4)

What is Flank Steak?

sliced-flank-steak

Flank steak is traditionally cut from the underside, muscular, rear portion of a cow. Considered to be a bit tougher than other cuts of beef, it must be handled properly in order to be fully enjoyed. For those that are short on time, the best method to circumvent the flank steak’s inherent toughness is to run it through a high quality meat grinder or food processor. The resulting mixture can then be added to dishes like fajitas, dirty rice, tacos and stir-fries.

Diagram of Various Cuts of Meat

When ample time is available, the flank steak may also be tenderized to perfection with the aid of vinegar-based marinades. That’s because the marinades have a tendency to breakdown the flank steak’s more fibrous contents. Once the cut is marinated, it could easily be grilled. If grilling isn’t a viable option, slow-cooking flank steak in a crockpot or braising it in beef broth can also help turn it into something really special.

What is Fennel?

Bowl of Fennel

Bowl of Fennel

Classified as a perennial member of the Apiaceae family, fennel is cultivated in many countries. In its fresh form, it features white pith filled stalks that are adorned with golden yellow flowers and leaves. All parts of the herb are used in one form or another. The pith filled stems are often added to grilled meats and vegetables. The seeds are typically used in the making of pickles, sausages, sauerkraut, teas and breads. The leaves and flowers have other uses. Many people like to use them as a seasoning or as a garnish. It is also not uncommon for the herb to be incorporated into an essential oil.

Fresh Organic Fennel

Fresh Organic Fennel

What is Fenugreek?

Bowl of Fenugreek

Bowl of Fenugreek

Considered to be a member of the Fabaceae family, fenugreek is a multipurpose plant that is sold fresh or dried. It is commonly grown in many semi-arid regions, including the Mediterranean. The plant’s seeds are used as a spice. Its leaves, on the other hand, are used as an herb. Both the leaves and the seeds have a touch of bitterness to them. So they are often incorporated into curry dishes, salads and tea blends. They are also used to season vegetables, chicken and pork. In addition, people have been known to use the plant in textile manufacturing and the creation of herbal supplements.

What is Frisee?

Frisée aka Curly Endive

Frisée aka Curly Endive

Considered to be a part of the chicory genus, frisee is a vitamin A rich form of curly, cultivated endive. As such, it tends to have a slightly bitter flavor and an interesting mouth feel. The frilly green leaves also make it ideal for situations when quite a bit of visual interest is desired (i.e. platter garnish).

It is often used in salad mixtures and French cuisine to add depth to a dish’s flavor profile. However, cooks have also paired it charcuterie platters, smoky sweet dressings, citrus fruits, soft and semi-soft cheeses. That’s because frisee’s bitterness and curly texture has a way of complimenting rich, creamy and sweet foods.

Ideally, frisee should be used quickly after harvest. It is also important that any unused portions be stored in the refrigerator away from other foods. A crisper bin that maintains a continuous temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit tends to be a suitable storage location. If not stored properly, its leaves’ robust, green coloring and inherent bitterness will start to fade. If the leaves do start to fade, a quick ice bath may revive it somewhat.

 

G (1)

What is Grana Padano?

Large Slice of Grana Padano Cheese

Large Slice of Grana Padano Cheese

When it comes to hard, fine-grained, Italian cheeses from the Po Valley, one of the most coveted is Grana Padano. Although at first glance some may mistake it for Parmigiano-Reggiano, it is a far different delight. Unlike the later, it is made with partial skim milk and cooked twice. So the Grana Padano’s inherent nuttiness is more subdued and salty. It is also sold at various stages of the aging process. As such, the texture and flavor tends to vary based on its age. The three main age-related categories are 20+ months, 16 to 20 months and 9 to 15 months.

H (1)

What is Halal?

Meat Prepared Halal

Meat Prepared Halal

Halal is a word that is used to describe foods that are cultivated, harvested or otherwise prepared for consumption in accordance with Islamic law. The laws address such things as vegetables, animals and animal byproducts. However, it is a term that the general public most often associates with meats.

Halal Certification Logo

Halal Certification Logo

When it comes to meats, the Islamic laws govern the way that the animal is raised and slaughtered. For example, it requires livestock owners to raise the animals in a disease free environment. The animals must also be feed well and kept content until it is time for the slaughter. When that time comes, there is an Islamic prayer that must be read by a Muslim as the animals’ throats are cut.

Foods prepared for consumption in accordance with the law are then given a certification. The certification logo is then typically placed somewhere on the product’s packaging. As we mentioned earlier, the halal designation is given to more than just meat. Examples include non-intoxicating vegetables, fish, milk and eggs that are derived from halal animals.

K (4)

What is Karo Syrup?

Bottle of Karo Syrup

Bottle of Karo Syrup

There are times when a brand becomes synonymous with a type of product. Such is the case with Karo Syrup. It is a syrup that is made with corn. Although there are other corn syrups, the Karo brand has a firm place in the hearts and minds of many. It typically comes in four varieties. Those varieties are light, dark, lite and pancake syrup. The light and dark varieties are distinguished from the others based on their coloring. The lite variety is a low-calorie version and the other variety is self explanatory. The light, dark and lite varieties are frequently used to alter four things. Those four things are a dish’s texture, flavor, volume and moisture content. It is also used to make gourmet and novelty items like sugar glass.

What is Kobe Beef?

Cut of Kobe Beef

Cut of Kobe Beef

Kobe beef refers to cuts of meat taken from registered, Tajima-gyu cows. Tajima-gyu is considered to be a black breed. The cows are raised in the Hyogo Prefecture region in Japan. Once slaughtered, they are graded based on several factors. One of the most important is the marbling. In order to “make the grade” the cuts must have a high degree of marbling and a fine texture. It is what gives the meat its highly coveted, soft mouth feel and phenomenal flavor. There are other countries that sell what is commonly referred to as “kobe-style” or “wagyu-kobe” beef. However, the cuts may not come from the registered, Tajima-gyu cows. They may come from unregistered, shorthorn, brown or poll breeds of cattle instead. Therefore, it is best to read the packaging closely.

What is Kava?

Bowl of Kava

Bowl of Kava

Native to the South Pacific, kava is a type of fast-growing shrub that is said to be part of the black pepper family. The shrub features thick branches, slender flowers and large, heart-shaped leaves. Although it is fast-growing, it is generally not harvested until it is several years old. That’s because the most coveted part of the plant is its roots. The rest of the plant is generally considered to be unfit for human consumption.

Once harvested, the plant’s roots are used to create homeopathic remedies. The remedies are typically designed to treat anxiety, hyperactivity and insomnia. The remedies generally come in a multitude of different forms. Those forms consist of elixirs, capsules, chewable tablets, teas, powders, and pastes. However, the roots are also used by some people to create beverages like soft drinks and grogs.

It is also crucial to note that kava root can interact with other over the counter medicine and cause health problems to occur in certain individuals. Therefore, it is best to use caution. As far as the inedible parts of the shrub go, they are sometimes used in topical remedies as well. In such instances, the leaves are traditionally used to treat wounds and muscle pain.

What is Kirsch?

Kirsch Liquer

Kirsch Liquer

When it comes to classic spirits, one would be remiss to not mention Kirsch. It is a delightful, colorless, cherry flavored brandy. The brandy has a distinctive taste due to the type of cherries and the distilling method used in its creation. The fruits used in its manufacture are black morello cherries. They tend to add a hint of tartness and almond flavor to the brandy. Originally considered to be a wild cherry, it is now commonly cultivated in several countries.

The sour cherries are converted into the iconic liquor with the aid of a classic, double distillation method. The double distillation method involves the use of copper pot stills. They help to retain the black morello cherries’ special flavor throughout the entire process and give it a smooth finish.

Because of its impeccable flavor, Kirsch tends to pair well with strong flavored foods. Among them are smoked meats, robust cheeses and venison. It may also be mixed with other spirits to create custom cocktails. Examples of cocktails that may be made with Kirsh include cherry amore, cherry blossoms and cherry beans.

M (3)

What is Marzipan?

Marzipan

Marzipan

Marzipan is a delightful amalgamation of three ingredients. Those three ingredients are fresh almonds, corn syrup and confectioner’s sugar. They are ground together and made into paste. It differs from traditional almond paste because of its texture and the nut to sugar ratio. The texture tends to be smoother than almond paste due to the finely ground almonds. As far as the ratio goes, it tends to vary by country. However, in many instances, the marzipan has more sugar than almonds. Because of that sweetness factor and its sculptability, it is often used to make dessert toppings and novelty candies.

What is Marsala?

Glasses of Marsala

Glasses of Marsala

Considered by many to be a precious gift from Italy, Marsala is classified as a fortified wine. Although there are eight different types, the two main ones are dry and sweet. The sweet variety is often used in the creation of Italian desserts or served as a table wine. The dry variety, on the other hand, tends to be better suited for the creation of risottos, sauces and gravies. Nonetheless, both types are best stored in a dark place that is kept at room temperature. Once opened, it is also best to use them up within four months. Otherwise, the Marsala’s flavor and color won’t be as robust.

Marsala is a Sicilian wine, produced in the city in the western part of the country by the same name. It is considered a fortified wine, which means that alcohol is added to it (usually brandy) after it is made. Marsala is produced using three different types of grapes: Grillo, Inzolia, and Catarratto, which are all white grapes. Additionally, Marsala comes in three distinct varieties of sweetness across eight classifications of color an age. This is one of the many reasons why Marsala is used in cooking, especially in making sauces. When reduced over heat, the reduction becomes a syrup that, depending on which type one uses, can be combined with shallots or onions and poured over dishes (see: chicken marsala).

What is Mangosteen?

Basket of Mangosteen Fruit

Basket of Mangosteen Fruit

When it comes to exotic, tropical fruits, one of the more coveted is the mangosteen. It is harvested from slow-growing trees that are Native to South America and Southeast Asia. The tree’s fruits have soft, white, segmented sections that are encased in an interesting rind.

The rind is interesting because it is soft at first. Then, after harvesting, it starts to harden. At that point, it has to be carefully cut open with a very sharp knife. When doing so, it is important not to accidently cut into the fruit’s soft interior. Otherwise, it may take on some of the rind’s inherent bitterness.

Once the fruit is open, the segments may be gently removed and enjoyed “as is.” In their unadulterated form they have a wonderful flavor that resembles a cross between litchis and clementines. Because of that, many people like to incorporate the mangosteens into jams, drinks, ice creams and baked desserts. However, they are not the only uses for the irresistible fruit. They can be incorporated into yogurts, soups, chutneys, salads and savory dishes too. Examples of savory dishes are pork stir-fries, chicken skewers and grilled seafood.

N (1)

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is unlike the ones used in making leavened breads and micro-brews. It is actually a cholesterol-free, inactive, vitamin rich yeast that is grown with the aid of molasses. Traditionally sold in flake or powder form, many people like to use it as a sprinkle-on flavor enhancer. It should also be noted that some people like to use it as a nutritional supplement as well. As far as the flavor of nutritional yeast goes, it resembles that of mild cheese. Dishes that tend to benefit from the addition of nutritional yeast include polenta, mashed potatoes, popcorn, garlic bread and tomato sauce.

O (1)

What is Orzo?

Bowl of Orzo Pasta

Bowl of Orzo Pasta

Orzo is classified as a type of short-cut, Italian, semolina-based pasta. Roughly the size and shape of white grain rice, it is traditionally incorporated into a variety of dishes. Some of those dishes include Italian soups, stuffed peppers, pasta salads and orzotto. Orzotto, for those that have never tasted it before, is a particular form of risotto. It is often made with chicken stock, mushrooms, garlic, olive oil and Italian cheeses.

Pile of Orzo Pasta

We should also mention that although it looks like rice, it tends to cook much quicker. For instance, boiling 1 cup of uncooked orzo is likely to take less than 10 minutes. Boiling the same amount of uncooked, white rice is apt to require 20 minutes. The boiling time is not the only difference between the two. Unlike various types of rice, orzo needs to be served quickly. Otherwise, the pasta will start to stick together and look unappetizing.

P (3)

What is Pancetta?

Slices of Pancetta

Pancetta, simply put, is a slice of salt-cured nirvana. However, if one wants to get technical about the matter, it is a cut of meat that comes from a pig’s belly. The meat itself, in its raw form, tends to be quite fatty. Once it is removed, the meat is typically wrapped in natural casings, seasoned and cured. The seasonings traditionally used in its creation are black pepper and salt. Some people also opt to add fennel, red chili, garlic, coriander and nutmeg. When the pancetta has finished curing, it can be used to make multiple dishes or eaten “as is.” Examples of dishes that may be made with a well-prepared pancetta are pasta ala carbonara, ragu, sandwiches, frittata and risotto.

What is Polenta?

Delicious Slice of Polenta

Delicious Slice of Polenta

For centuries, polenta has been a staple of both South American and Italian cuisine. It is a versatile, coarse ground cornmeal that tends to have an unmistakable creaminess when prepared in certain ways. Most often, it is seasoned, boiled in water and mixed with other ingredients. However, polenta may also be boiled in white wine, milk or broth. After it’s been boiled, some people opt to eat it “as is” or form it into shapes. If it does get formed into shapes, they are often grilled, fried or baked before being served with other foods. The liquid to cornmeal ratio used during the boiling process will determine its thickness.

Polenta is a cornmeal porridge that is boiled and then can be eaten directly after prepared, or then baked, fried, or grilled, and shaped, if desired. Though originally known as a meager offering, even sometimes called a peasant food because of its humble beginnings, polenta is now used all over the world in many fine dining restaurants. It is a versatile dish that can be made using different types of maize, which then creates multiple varieties. From course blends to soft and creamy, polenta has become a staple among chefs and home cooks alike.

What is a Peppadew?

Hot Spicy Peppadews

Hot Spicy Peppadews

Despite their cherry tomato size, peppadew peppers pack a wallop when it comes to vitamin C and flavor. A native of South Africa, they tend to taste spicy and sweet all at the same time. The peppadews traditionally come in two varieties, sweet piquanté™ and goldew. The first variety has a red color. The second one sports a yellow hue. However, they taste relatively similar and are packaged in the same way. The packaging usually consists of a glass jar or Cryovac bag. Although they may be eaten in a multitude of ways, many people like to stuff the peppadews with soft cheeses and serve them as appetizers.

R (1)

What is Ras el Hanout?

Ras al Hanout Powder

Ras al Hanout Powder

Ras el Hanout is a proprietary blend of spices that is native to North Africa. The spices used in the blend tend to vary based on the manufacturer. So it is important to check out the Ras el Hanout jar’s label. Otherwise you may end up either disappointed or pleasantly surprised.

Some of the spices commonly found in the house blends are cardamom, saffron, turmeric, cloves, paprika and nutmeg. Other variations may also include spices unique to a particular region. Examples include Monk’s pepper, chufa, ash berries, orris root and cubebs. Understandably, the spices used in its creation will influence its overall aroma, color and flavor. However, most varieties tend to have complex, savory flavor profiles and a red-orange hue.

Often used in Moroccan cooking, the exotic spice blend tends to turn up in a variety of dishes. For instance, it may be used to flavor stews, preserves, game meats, pork and chicken. People are also known to add it to potatoes, rice, couscous, assorted vegetables and gravies. Examples of recipes that call for the addition of Ras el Hanout are Moroccan chicken, trout tagine and lamb shawarma.

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What is Spelt?

Spelt is not an answer on a grammar test. It is actually a form of vitamin and protein rich, hulled wheat that was once very common throughout Europe. Many people liken the grain’s flavor to that of nuts. Sold in flour and whole grain form, it may be used in a multitude of culinary applications. For instance, the whole form tends to be small in size, like white rice. It is often steamed and served as a side dish. The flour form, on the other hand, tends to be used to make assorted pasta shapes. The spelt pasta is then cooked and served with or without sauce.

Bowl of Spelt

Bowl of Spelt

Bowl Of Spelt Oats

Bowl Of Spelt Oats

What is Silken Tofu?

silken-tofu

Silken tofu, like others, is made from soybeans. However, that is where the similarities between the different varieties typically end. The silken form has, you guessed it, a smooth texture and a rich flavor. The soft texture is partially caused by the amount of water and coagulants used in its creation. It is also influenced by the use of in-mold solidification techniques. The silken tofu’s creamy flavor, on the other hand, is often attributed to the addition of soy milk. Despite looking, tasting and feeling different than regular tofu, it may be used in many of the same ways. For example, some people opt to include it in soups, desserts, salad dressings and vegetable dips.

What is Saffron?

 

When it comes to exotic, pricey spices, saffron surely deserves a place at the top of the list. Its expensive, mysterious nature may be attributed to its origin and the painstaking way in which it is harvested. The special spice starts its life as the stigma of a Crocus sativus. Considered to be a native perennial in regions like Asia and Europe, the plant requires careful cultivation.

When it does reach maturity, each blossom yields only a trio of 1 inch long stigmas. The mature stigmas are then harvested by hand, dried and sealed in airtight containers. To maintain the saffron’s exquisite properties, the containers must then be stored in an odor free, dark, cool area.

Some people opt to grind the dried stigmas into a powder and combine it with other ingredients. Others prefer to warm, soak and use the whole, thread

Bowl of Saffron

Bowl of Saffron

like strands. The deep red, whole strands with orange tips tend to be the more coveted and potent of the two forms. So if a recipe calls for saffron threads, try to use them instead of the powder. Otherwise, take the amount of saffron threads listed and double it.

What is Soy Lecithin?

Soy Based Products

Soy Based Products

Soy lecithin is comprised of phospholipids that are naturally present in soybean oil. Understandably, the oil comes from soybeans. The soybeans are essentially pressed until they release their natural oils. The soy lecithin is then extracted from the oil with the aid of steam precipitation or centrifugation.

Once it is extracted from the soybean oil, it is used in a multitude of ways. For example, it is commonly used as an emulsifier in many different foods. Those foods include chocolates, salad dressings, margarines, peanut butters and mayonnaise. It can also be used as a stabilizer, surfactant, releasing agent, softener and dietary supplement. That is why you may also see it listed on products like box cake mixes, non-stick cooking sprays, multivitamins, chewing gums and homeopathic teas. We should also mention that not all soy lecithins are considered to be GMO-free. So those with dietary concerns should make it a point to check the product’s labeling.

In addition to its culinary applications, soy lecithin is used in other industries too. The list of industries involved includes, but is not limited to, cosmetics, textiles and pharmaceuticals.

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What is Tamari?

What is Tamari?

What is Tamari?

Tamari is an ingredient that is similar to soy sauce in that it is made with fermented soybeans. There are several noticeable differences though. The main one is the fermented soybean to wheat ratio. The tamari tends to have a 55/45 soybean ratio or higher. As a result, it characteristically has a silky texture and a luxurious flavor. It also tends to have a low sodium count. Soy sauce, on the other hand, usually consists of a 50/50 blend. So it tends to be a bit more watery and saltier that tamari. Nonetheless, both ingredients may be used as a seasoning or marinade ingredient.

What is Tempura?

Tempura Battered Shrimp

Tempura Battered Shrimp

Tempura is both an iconic cooking technique and a special batter. The two obviously go hand in hand. The cooking technique involves coating various ingredients with the special batter and deep-frying them. Items often coated in tempura batter include firm vegetables, chunks of meat, fruits and crème filled cookies.

The oil used in the frying process is often a blend of sesame and vegetable oil. Both tend to have a medium smoke point. So it is important that the temperature doesn’t exceed 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are several things that set tempura batter apart from the others. For starters, it is made with a blend of two different flours, ice water and egg yolks. The ice water may or may not be carbonated, depending on one’s personal preference. In addition, the batter’s texture is meant to be lumpy and full of air. They are partially what help to give the batter its distinctive, crunchy, and lightweight texture. As far as the flour blend goes, it is usually made with self-rising flour and corn.

Once the deep-fried delights have been removed from the oil, they are traditionally served with other items. Among them soba noodles, dipping sauces and rice.

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What is Vegan Chocolate?

Vegan Chocolate Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Muffins

Vegan chocolate is a wonderful treat that many people can feel good about eating. Although there are variations, it is traditionally made with soy lecithin, organic cocoa beans, Stevia and dehydrated cane juice. The wholesome ingredients are combined and formed into many of the same shapes used in the creation of non-vegan chocolate. Once the vegan chocolate is made, some people opt to eat it straight out of the packaging like any other candy. Others like to use it in the creation of desserts and kava based beverages instead. Some of the desserts that may be made with vegan chocolate are gluten-free cookies, mousse, cake and brownies.