Delicious Desserts

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A “Dessert” is a meal course that usually comes after dinner. Most often Dessert foods are of sweet food but can also be of a strongly flavored food, such as cheese, like cheese cake. The world dessert comes from the Old French word “desservir”, which means ‘to clear the table’. Often times in the English language dessert is confused with the word desert(note only one “s”), which is a baren peice of land normally with sand as soil.

It wasn’t until after the 19th century where the rise of the middle class, and the mechanization of the sugar industry, brought the privilege of sweets into the general public and unreserved it exclusively for the aristocracy, or as rare holiday treat. This was because sugar became cheaper and more readily available to the general public. As sugar was widely spread, so was the development and popularity of desserts.

In today’s culture dessert recipes have become a popular item for discussion, as they are a winning way to win people over at the end of any meal. This is partly because if you serve a mediocre meal, with an excellent dessert, people will remember you for the dessert and forget about the meal.

Most cultures, have a seperate final distinction between the main course, and the sweet course. This is not true however in some cultures such as Chinese, who will mix in sweet and savoury dishes throughout the entire meal. Dessert is, often times seen as a separate meal or snack, rather than a course, and can be eaten some time after the meal by many individuals. Because of it’s wide spread popularity there are even some restaurants that specialize in desserts.

Some of the most common desserts are:
– Biscuits or cookies
– Ice creams
– Meringues
– Fruit
– Cakes
– Crumbles
– Custards
– Gelatin desserts
– Puddings
– Pastries
– Pies or tarts

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Culinary Traditions Of France

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French cuisine is the amazingly high standard to which all other native cuisines must live up to. The country of France is home of some of the finest cuisine in the world, and it is created by some of the finest master chefs in the world. The French people take excessive pride in cooking and knowing how to prepare a good meal. Cooking is an essential part of their culture, and it adds to one’s usefulness if they are capable of preparing a good meal.

Each of the four regions of France has a characteristic of its food all its own. French food in general requires the use of lots of different types of sauces and gravies, but recipes for cuisine that originated in the northwestern region of France tend to require the use a lot of apple ingredients, milk and cream, and they tend to be heavily buttered making for an extremely rich (and sometimes rather heavy) meal. Southeastern French cuisine is reminiscent of German food, heavy in lard and meat products such as pork sausage and sauerkraut.

On the other hand, southern French cuisine tends to be a lot more widely accepted; this is generally the type of French food that is served in traditional French restaurants. In the southeastern area of France, the cooking is a lot lighter in fat and substance. Cooks from the southeast of France tend to lean more toward the side of a light olive oil more than any other type of oil, and they rely heavily on herbs and tomatoes, as well as tomato-based products, in their culinary creations.

Cuisine Nouvelle is a more contemporary form of French cuisine that developed in the late 1970s, the offspring of traditional French cuisine. This is the most common type of French food, served in French restaurants. Cuisine Nouvelle can generally be characterized by shorter cooking times, smaller food portions, and more festive, decorative plate presentations. Many French restaurant cuisines can be classified as Cuisine Nouvelle, but the more traditional French restaurant cuisine would be classified as Cuisine du Terroir, a more general form of French cooking than Cuisine Nouvelle. Cuisine du Terroir is an attempt to return to the more indigenous forms of French cooking, especially with reference to regional differences between the north and south, or different areas such as the Loire Valley, Catalonia, and Rousillon. These are all areas famous for their specific specialty of French cuisine. As time has progressed, the difference between a white wine from the Loire Valley and a wine from another area has slowly diminished, and the Cuisine du Terroir approach to French cooking focuses on establishing special characteristics between regions such as this.

As part of their culture, the French incorporate wine into nearly every meal, whether it is simply as a refreshment or part of the recipe for the meal itself. Even today, it is a part of traditional French culture to have at least one glass of wine on a daily basis.

A Gourmet Chocolate Gift Basket Is The Perfect Gift

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There are many online specialty stores that offer nothing but the best in chocolate gift baskets. They offer a great assortment to choose from, and you can even individualize your basket by picking just your favorites.

Chocolate gift baskets are designed for all occasions and holidays; Valentines Day, birthdays, weddings, and Mother’s Day are by far the most popular, but they are offered in designs perfect for any type of gathering.

May chocolate gift baskets can be combined with other items as well, such as with flowers, wine, fruit, nuts, cheeses, appetizers, or whole gourmet meals, and are perfect for a romantic getaway or picnic too.

These gift baskets are available in a variety of sizes and prices, and can be gift wrapped for special occasions with a personal card attached and shipped directly to the recipient. With the internet you can shop, make your purchase, and have it shipped all in a relatively short period of time.

It will be packaged to keep your chocolate gift basket fresh and cool, and is usually delivered by UPS or Fed Ex to guarantee that your purchase arrives in the state in which it left the store.

If you are a lover of chocolate, you have simply not lived until you have tasted true, high quality, gourmet chocolates. Chocolate gift baskets are a great gift and are a nice substitute or tasty addition to traditional floral bouquets, or other gift arrangements.

People who are true connoisseurs of fine chocolate will appreciate your gift, and you will probably get to enjoy a sample as well if you deliver the chocolate gift basket personally! Chocolate gift baskets are available in a variety of collections, and include a wonderful assortment of the best gourmet confections around.

If you choose to purchase a chocolate gift basket at a local retailer, you can sample their specialties, and literally select items based on your personal tastes. Retailers also offer special promotions around the holidays or for special occasions, and can ship the chocolate gift basket for you as well. Whatever you decide, it will be truly decadent and loved by everyone. Who doesn’t like chocolate? Not me!

You haven’t lived until you have had a handmade chocolate truffle filled with a decadent filling surrounded by a tasty outer chocolate shell. And who says that you have to just buy these little pieces of oral pleasure just for others, you deserve to indulge yourself too!

How to cook a turkey

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The most important thing to keep in mind is that a turkey takes a long while to cook through to the bone…and keeps on cooking once you remove it from the oven. Make sure to bake, braise or roast the bird at a high enough temperature to keep it safe to eat and don’t overcook it. Don’t leave your turkey in the oven to keep it warm while you get the rest of the dinner ready to serve. Take it out as soon as it’s done, let it cool outside the oven for about 20 minutes and then carve away. You’ll see the difference immediately when a turkey is prepared properly: the dark meat soft enough to break apart with a fork – the white meat moist and tasty. The secret is all in knowing how to buy and cook a delicious turkey! We’re here to help you learn how to cook a turkey.

How big a turkey should you buy? You’ll need at least 1 to 1˝ pounds of turkey per person if you’re buying the whole bird, fresh or frozen. Of course, it’s always best to go bigger. (After all, there are at least 50 ways to serve your turkey leftovers, including a winter store of turkey soup.) How long to cook? Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) then place the bird in the oven to roast.

A thought to consider Great chefs suggest trying out your skills with a smaller bird before attempting to produce a holiday masterpiece. Like any other skill, perfecting a turkey recipe takes practice. Very few cooks can claim that their first turkey was perfect…but with every attempt you get more comfortable with what you’re doing and the results keep getting better.

Simple steps how to cook a turkey:

Allow about 15 minutes of cooking time per pound – about 45 minutes per kilo unstuffed. It will take a bit longer, about 20 minutes per pound or an hour per kilo, if the bird is cooked with stuffing.

1. Preheat oven to 325. Remove the wrapper to see how much the turkey weighs and determine approximate cooking time. Remove the giblet bag and the neck from the turkey cavity. Wash the turkey inside and out and pat skin dry with paper towels.

2. Place turkey breast side up on a rack in a shallow (about 2 inches deep) roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer in thigh. Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of pan, if desired.

3. Cover turkey loosely with a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Roast the turkey until temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180°F. Cooking time will vary. For example, a 20 pound turkey will take 4 1/4 to 5 hours to cook, check the temperature on the thermometer after 4 1/4 hours.

4. Meanwhile, mix the stuffing or dressing. Place in a casserole and pop it into the oven during the last hour or so of roasting time.

5. Remove the foil tent after 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking time to brown the skin. Brush with vegetable oil to enhance browning, if desired.

6. A whole turkey is done when the temperature reaches 180°F. The thigh juices should run clear (not pink) when pierced with a fork and the leg joint should move freely.

7. Allow the turkey to set 20 to 30 minutes before carving to allow juices to saturate the meat evenly.
Note: Cooking times do vary. Why? There are many reasons – oven temperature may not be completely accurate, the turkey may be very cold or partially frozen, and/or the roasting pan may be too small which inhibits the flow of heat. The USDA highly recommends use of a meat thermometer to determine doneness of turkey. This is an important tool in learning how to cook a turkey.

Stuffed Turkey:
For uniform cooking results, the USDA recommends cooking the stuffing outside of the bird (see step 4 above) If you insist on stuffing the turkey, stuff loosely and follow the steps below.

1. See step one above

2. Mix stuffing and lightly fill cavity. Allow 1/2 to 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. It is safer to understuff than to overstuff the turkey. Stuffing expands during cooking. Refrigerate any leftover stuffing and bake in greased casserole during the last hour of turkey roasting time.

3. Place turkey breast side up on a rack in a shallow (about 2 inches deep) roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer in thigh (see Turkey Safety: Using a Thermometer). Add up to 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan, if desired.

4. Cover turkey loosely with a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Cooking time takes longer for a stuffed turkey. For example, a 20 pound stuffed turkey will take 4 1/4 to 5 1/2 hours to cook.

5. Remove the foil cover after about 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking to brown the skin. Brush with vegetable oil to enhance browning, if desired.

6. A whole turkey is done when the temperature in the thickest part of the inner thigh reaches 180°F and the stuffing is 165°F. The juices should run clear (not pink) when a long-tined fork is used to pierce the thickest part of the thigh.

7. Check the internal temperature of the stuffing. Insert the thermometer through the cavity into the thickest part of the stuffing and leave it for 5 minutes. Or use an instant red thermometer which will register the temperature after 15 seconds. The stuffing temperature will rise a few degrees after the turkey is removed from the oven. If the center of the stuffing has not reached 165°F after stand time, return the turkey to the oven and continue cooking.

Filet Trout – Filet Fish! No Bones No Skin

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Okay, so you have caught your limit. Now, how do you want them prepared for cooking? How about trying my favorite  filet! No bones, no skin, just all good flesh that can be cooked any way you like. I can taste it now! Don’t know how, you say? It isn’t hard but it does take practice. The easy to follow instructions are coming up next.

Tools

The first step is to gather all your tools. Also have a waist high table as a work surface. The tools you will need are a very sharp knife or an electric knife. The best knife to use is a filet knife. Since a filet knife is made just for this purpose, it helps to make the job easier.

You will also need a filet board, preferable one with a strong clamp to hold the trout’s head firmly. If you can’t find a board with a clamp, get a pair of gloves textured for gripping.

You will need a bucket or pan of salted water to put fresh trout filets in.

Tip: soaking the filets in slightly salted water overnight helps to remove some of the fishy taste, giving them a milder, more pleasant flavor.

The last thing you will need is a bucket to put the carcasses in after you cut off the filet.

Filet: the nitty-gritty

To begin the process of cutting off the filets, you need to secure the trout so it doesn’t slip around. If using a board with a clamp, firmly clamp the trout’s head to the board. If using gloves, grip the trout’s head firmly. Next, take your knife and cut beneath the gills to the backbone. Now turn the knife and cut down the backbone but stop before you cut through the skin at the tail. All of this cutting will be between the ribcage and the flesh. You are basically cutting off the entire side of the trout. Next, flip the filet over with the skin side down. Cut between the meat and the skin. The process is the same for the other side of the trout. After you have cut both filets off of the trout, cut off any of the ribcage that may have been cut off with the filet. This is about all you need to do as far as deboning trout when filleting them. It is okay to cut into the ribcage, but don’t cut too deep and cut the guts. Remember, these fish have not been gutted!

Now that you know how to filet trout, you also know how to filet fish in general. It is the same no matter what kind of fish it is.

All the trout are now filleted and you are ready to cook them. So, how do you like them cooked, batter fried, baked, broiled or grilled? Personally, I like grilled best. If you are going to grill them, don’t forget to invite me over. I’ll bring the corn on the cob.

Cooking With Honey – The Healthy Sweetener

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If you want to be able to cook sweets without the negative health effects of refined sugar, honey is an excellent option. Among other reasons, honey is metabolized more slowly by your body, meaning that you are less likely to get a sugar “high” after eating something made with honey.

Honey can be challenging to cook with, though, for several reasons. So many people don’t cook with it because they don’t know how. But once you know how to use honey in your favorite kitchen creations, it’s not hard at all to use.

The first challenge that honey presents is that it burns more easily that normal sugar. This problem is usually eliminated by doing your cooking or baking at a slightly lower heat.

The main hurdle to cooking with honey is that it is a liquid. Replacing sugar with honey will ruin some recipes if you don’t make an allowance for the extra liquid that the honey adds.

Most muffins, simple quick breads, yeast breads, etc you can make the substitution without any adjustment. Cakes, cookies and some other recipes you should decrease the amount of liquid in the recipe to account for the honey.

Honey is also very easy to use in pies. Since they are already somewhat liquid, you can replace the sugar with honey. If the pie filling seems too runny, just add a little extra thickener before you pour it in your pie shell.

The flavor of honey can sometimes be an issue, but not usually. If you are making a recipe that you don’t want the flavor to be noticeable, there are several things you can try. First of all, get the mildest flavored honey you can. Usually that will be a very pale clover honey. (The paler the honey, the sweeter and milder the flavor, in general.)

If necessary, you can use part honey, and part some other sweetener, such as apple juice concentrate, agave nectar, stevia, or even sugar if you have to.

Cooking With Eggs

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We use eggs in so many recipes. They are a staple in the kitchen.

An egg can be cooked alone  boiled, poached, fried, scrambled.
Or used as an ingredient in baking, batters and cakes.
Alternatively use an egg to thicken sauces or to add air to lighten dishes.

The egg is truly amazing. And without it  well our menus sure would be dull.

But do you know much about the egg?

Chances are that you have never even given it a thought. Well it is time you did.

When first laid, the egg has barely any air inside a tiny air pocket. However, because the shell is porous, it allows air to penetrate. And as time passes, air moves inside the egg and the air pocket grows.

As this air pocket enlarges, the moisture in the egg evaporates. So, as the egg gets older the yolk becomes less plump and flatter and the white separates and spreads.

And this all impacts on cooking. Depending on how you intend on using the egg determines how fresh an egg you should use.

If you fry an older egg, you will end with a flat ‘pancake’ instead of a neat rounded egg.

The more stale an egg the more fragile and difficult to separate it will be.

As opposed to the fresh egg, which has a tight and tough inner skin. This makes peeling the shell off the boiled egg very frustrating. As the egg ages with skin relaxes allowing the shell to peel much easier.

If you are lucky enough to have your own hens, then you know how old your eggs are. But what if you have to buy them?

The easiest method of tell how old an egg is, is to put the egg in a dish of water.

If it sinks and lies horizontally – very fresh.
If it sinks but tilts slightly – about 1 week old.
If it sinks but stands vertically – older, stale.
But if it floats – it’s off and be careful not to crack the shell.

Some people prefer brown eggs and some white. But nutritionally they are the same.

The yolks will also vary in color depending of the diet of the hen.

Do you find your eggs crack when boiling? Well, follow these simple steps to get perfect eggs, every time.

Use 2 week old eggs and ensure they are at room temperature. Make as pin prick in the rounded flat end of the egg  this allows any steam that might build up to escape.

Use as small a saucepan as possible, so the eggs fit in snuggly  you don’t want to much space otherwise they may bounce around and crack.

Bring to the boil but only simmer do not boil vigorously. Follow these tips and your eggs won’t crack.

So, for frying and poaching use as fresh an egg as possible. When the recipe calls for eggs to be separated, use fresh eggs as well. But if you want easy to peel eggs use the older ones. And when it comes to scrambling, fresher is best but older ones will do.