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Thursday, 26 February 2009
If you love Italian food, you probably enjoy pasta, pizza, and other similar dishes. However, there are others that look forward to the end of the meal, and a plate of tiramisu. This dish is the Italian's way of doing dessert, and translates to "pull me up." There is some debate as to how the tiramisu got its name. Some think it might be from the caffeine in the coffee giving just enough pick me up to give you energy throughout the evening. Others think that it might be the sweet delight that comes from the smooth and rich dessert. But most don't bother to continue the debate after the dessert is served.
There are numerous ways that you can serve tiramisu. If you are going for looks, using individual glass bowls or glasses to construct the tiramisu can create a dessert that is as tempting to the eye as it is to the palate. For the recipe that follows, however, a shallow baking dish will also work. While it may not be as pleasing to the eye, it allows you to make enough for 6 diners.
What You Will Need
The two main ingredients of tiramisu are lady fingers and mascarpone cream cheese, but there are a few other ingredients that you will need as well. Nearly all should be available at your local grocery store or fresh food market. You will need:
• A large package of lady fingers
How To Prepare The Ingredients
Before you assemble your tiramisu, you will need to prepare the ingredients. Start by mixing the coffee and the alcohol and setting aside. Separate the yolks from the whites of the egg. Take the yolks and beat with the sugar until it has reached a creamy consistency. Beat the white separately until they are semi-stiff, and then add them to the yolks and sugar. Then gently fold in the mascarpone and mix well.
Assembling The Tiramisu
Once you have all the ingredients prepared, it is time to assemble the tiramisu. Place the lady fingers along the bottom of the dish or dishes you have selected. Use a pastry brush to coat them with the coffee and alcohol. Then use a large spoon to cover the biscuits with a layer of the mascarpone mix. Repeat the previous steps to create a second layer. When you are finished, use a wire sieve to dust the top with cocoa powder to form a dark crust.
Refrigerate for at least four hours, removing a half hour before serving so that it can return to room temperature. You now have a tempting Italian dessert to share with your family and friends. Tiramisu is the perfect end to any Italian dinner.
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Why Choose a Bite Size Cheesecake as a Gift? Creamy and decadent, who could resist a bite size cheesecake? No one I know!
As The Hostess of a dinner party
Valentine's Day Gift
Your teenage son or daughter will be ever so grateful if you introduce him or her to bite size mini cakes. These delicious desserts are the perfect size while your teenager is listening to his or her iPod.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Lemon meringue pie is a favorite dessert for many people, especially as the weather gets warmer because the lemon flavor is so refreshing. Lemon meringue pie can be intimidating if you've never tried to make a meringue, though, because meringue looks harder than it is. One way to cut down on the work is by making a fast lemon meringue pie with an easy pie crust and filling that lets you devote the most time to making perfect peaks.
A commercial pie crust will work for lemon meringue pie but it's even more delicious if you make your own. An easy and quick pie crust can be made by crushing half a box of graham crackers and mixing them with one stick of butter that you've allowed to soften at room temperature. Mix the two together, cover the bottom of the pie pan and bake for ten minutes at 350 degrees. This is a delicious pie crust that tastes great in lemon meringue pie or any of your favorite pie recipes.
Next make the pie filling by combining a lemon pudding mix like lemon dessert mix with 3/4 cup sugar, 3 cups water, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and three well-beaten egg yolks (separate the egg whites and save them because you'll need them for the meringue). Cook according to package directions and pour into your baked piecrust. You can also add some grated lemon zest to your lemon meringue pie to give it even more of that fresh flavor.
To make the meringue, beat three egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar using an electric mixer. Add five teaspoons of sugar gradually and keep beating until stiff peaks form in the bowl. Spoon the meringue on top of the rest of the lemon meringue pie, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees in a preheated oven. Let the pie cool before serving (it should be ready in an hour or two). Add more egg whites and cream of tartar if you want a higher layer of meringue on your pie. You can also dress up the lemon meringue pie by adding Cool Whip and candied lemon slices on top when the pie has cooled off.
Monday, 23 February 2009
Wine clubs are quickly becoming one of the most popular enrollment and gift activities associated with the food and beverage industry. A wine club is not a "set in stone" arrangement and they are available in an enormous number of styles and options. There are clubs dedicated to California wines and there are those that focus entirely on Champagnes or Sparkling wines. The choices are almost limitless, but it is a good idea to investigate some of the wine club reviews before making a choice.
Even though most wine clubs use a panel of experts to make their monthly or seasonal selections there may still be some issues with the club's choices, so it's important to do your own research or read reviews. Wine club reviews analyze the following areas:
Quality of Wine
This is, of course, a major factor in the success of any wine club. If the members receive unpopular or "clearance" items they will probably not enjoy their membership as much as those who receive specially selected vintages. Unfortunately there are some clubs that do utilize discounted bottles and vintages as a portion of each month's shipment. This is usually quickly and easily identified by the critic who will comment on every single selection.
Additionally, any critic is going to have some good knowledge and background about the type of wines the club has promised and will be able to let potential members know if the vintages selected match the criteria of the club, or its standards. For example, if a club promises the best California "boutique" wines, a knowledgeable expert will be able to point out any discrepancies in the selections.
All of these factors can affect the overall quality of the wines delivered to the members. Generally, the wine club reviews will itemize the traditional characteristics of wine on a bottle by bottle or vineyard by vineyard basis. Most reviews rely on the classic "gold star" system to identify how well the club performed.
One reason that many people decide to enroll in a wine club is for the newsletters and printed information that accompanies their monthly or seasonal shipments. Generally they will discuss the grapes, region and particular vineyard where the wine was produced. This is not all "fluff", but is intended to educate the member about the wine industry and its practices.
All of this is important because it can really help to train their palette and enable them to recognize things like bouquet, flavors and aromas. For instance, you might purchase a bottle of wine that was aged in oak. It could have a very distinctive flavor, but as a novice you would not be able to say, "oh, it is the oaky overtones that I am detecting". A good wine club will provide such training, and a good wine club review will praise the club for delivering these materials.
Additionally, a wine club review should scrutinize the club's educational materials for food pairing information. Wine is not always intended to be sipped without the benefit of food and many people are unaware of the best food and wine pairings. A wine club review should indicate if this information is included along with every shipment.
Any wine club review should let the consumer or potential customer know if the wines and educational materials come at a reasonable value. For example, if a club makes a habit of delivering substandard vintages, the wine club review should be able to identify this fact and alert a consumer to the lesser value of such a membership.
Additionally, it requires the comprehensive knowledge of an expert to know if a certain type of wine club is actually providing a valuable service to clients. For instance, a club dedicated to enhancing the value of a cellar will offer premium cellaring vintages at a good cost. A wine club review will point out if this is true or if it fails to meet such clear cut terms.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
There are so many things that can be done with a simple vanilla cake that the only limit is your imagination. Sure, you can make a standard sheet or layer cake ... but as delicious as those are, they're pretty ho-hum. Sometimes you want something simple and straightforward; but most of the time, the extra effort to turn your basic cake into something more creative is worth every delicious calorie!
Trifle is an elegant dessert that involves simply spreading a sheet cake with jam, cutting it into cubes, then placing alternating layers of cake and custard (or pudding) into a glass bowl for a beautiful visual effect. Petits fours are another perfect "grown-up" use for your cake. Again, cut it into cubes; but this time dip the cubes into a thin frosting and decorate the top of each square with sprinkles or nonpareilles or drizzles of an alternating color of icing. These are perfect options for a young girl's tea party or for a baby shower, and will make a memorable treat for someone very special.
But if you want something to please a general crowd, turn your vanilla cake into one of the great treats of all time: an ice cream cake. Take a basic sheet cake and slice it into two layers. Take some softened ice cream and spread it over the bottom layer, then place the top back on it, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze it until the ice cream sets again. Frost it, decorate it, slice it and serve it ... your simple dessert will have become a masterpiece!
Another fun treat that's very easy to make is to, once again, cut the cake into cubes. Take each cube and dip the bottom half into melted chocolate, then dip the chocolate into toasted coconut or ground hazelnuts or sprinkles ... the variations are endless. Let the chocolate set, then place 1 or 2 cubes onto long skewers; these are particularly festive for parties and holidays, as you can tie them with curling ribbon in colors appropriate to the event.
So, while people are inclined to take this plain cake for granted because of its simplicity, it's this simplicity that is precisely the beauty! A basic vanilla cake is delicious on its own, but is easily dressed up to make many different desserts to fall in love with.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
While no one is quite certain where cupcakes came from, it is known that they made an appearance in the United States sometime in the 19th Century. Called Fairy Cakes in the United Kingdom, cupcakes revolutionized how cake was made and mothers across the land lauded the blessing.
Prior to the introduction of the cupcake to the kitchens of America, cakes were made by weighing the ingredients. Cupcakes were made by measuring the ingredients for the first time. It has been suggested that this is perhaps where the term "cup cake" originated, since everything was measured in cups. Other origins of the name have also been offered, such as the fact they are baked in a cup but at one time, cupcakes were also called "number cakes". This name originated from the recipe, whereby it required "...once cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, four eggs..." At one time, recipes called for cupcakes to be "...baked into little tins."
Until the turn of the 20th century, cupcake pans were virtually unheard of forcing bakers to use more formidable cups for baking, unless they wanted to bake their small cakes into loaf form. Using hearth ovens, which needed longer cooking times for larger cakes, caused bakers to seek other ways to bake their cake and still have time to eat it. With the advent of the cupcake, not only were bakers able to achieve shorter cooking times, they were also able to change the way they prepared them once the baking part was finished. No longer did bakers need to create larger, heavier cakes. With the production of the cupcake, people could slake their desire for something small and sweet.
Though cupcakes only recently developed an upsurge in popularity, causing a number of bakeries to specialize in just cupcakes, it was in 1919 when Hostess developed the precursor to the Hostess Chocolate Cupcake. The rich, creamy filling and chocolate icing was popular with consumers and a love affair was begun. Conveniently baked into a single serving, cupcakes provided a quick snack and permitted people to nibble on them whenever they wished. In addition, they were sinfully delicious to but their small size allowed them to feel good about not over eating.
Cupcakes are now common in grocery store, pre-made and pre-iced. The baking aisle is filled with a large variety of cupcake papers, beginning with paper thin and progressing to a firm, rounded edge made of cardboard. So popular is the cupcake small artisan bakeries, creating nothing but cupcakes, have begun to spring up across the country. Selling for an average of $30 to $35 a dozen, they are dear, but if you want cupcakes that are head-turning, sometimes paying someone to decorate them in a unique or unusual way is the best way to go. A more recent trend, gaining in popularity, is cupcake towers in lieu of a more traditional wedding cake.
Eating a cupcake can make you feel young again and with the variety of flavors and frostings that have progressed over the decades, there isn't an appetite or yen that can't be solved with a tasty cupcake.
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Enjoying a good wine these days can be a daunting challenge. There are some terrific wine inventories popping up in our local grocery stores across the country. The more these wine inventories amass at some of the super shopping centers, the larger number of amateur wine consuirs there will be with questions of which wine to serve with particular meals.
Hopefully I can offer some helpful tips to improve your overall wine experience. There really is nothing much more enjoyable in the culinary arts as the pairing of a sumptuous wine with an elegant dinner.
Cabernet Sauvignon some consider to be the king of reds. A big-structured, dark-fruited wine, the best of which become even more elegant with age. The swirl and taste brings out the flavors of plums, blackberries, and black currant; sometimes violets or rose petals, and often mint, mocha, and eucalyptus or cedar; strong tannins underneath.
Such a wonderful flavored wine is best served with a well marbled beef. The sheer enjoyment of mixing the robust flavors of this wine as you just sample your beef will enhance your tasting experience. It is a wonderful mix of flavors completing the enjoyment of your main course. This choice of wines is also served well with hearty fowl such as duck. The two flavors compliment each other very well. Your enjoyment of this wine will also be intensified by serving it with meats that are basted with spice rubs and sauces with lots of black pepper and mushrooms. A strong soy sauce marinade is another excellent choice. Long-braised stews, pot roast and grilled red meat are all wonderful choices to pair with a Cabernet Sauvignon.
You should really taste and test to find your style. Some Cabernet's are made to be drunk tonight, with ripe fruit and subdued tannins. Others need years to mellow. Great Cabs, some argue, are balanced the day they are released and get better with time.
Now we have our Chardonnays a rich yet complex white. With complex fruit flavors and often a rich, creamy texture it has become more than likely the most popular of white wines.
With the swirl and taste of this wine you will be captured by the green apple, pear, melon, creamy lemon, and sometimes pineapple, rounded out with butterscotch and vanilla.
This elegant white is best paired with sweet shellfish, your dinner guests will never be disappointed. This wine also goes well with any white-fleshed fish such as halibut, sturgeon, mahi mahi, tilapia and the flavorful cod. In the meat family your best choices would be chicken of turkey, pork and veal. Again the mix of the flavors and texture of the two together in your mouth is a wonderful way of truly enjoying the wine. A nice Chardonnay will also compliment a risotto and pasta dish served with white cream, buttery sauces.
California winemakers have traditionally made Chardonnay in a rich, buttery style by fermenting and aging it in oak barrels. Now, some have learned that too much oak can cover up the fruit, so some winemakers are starting to substitute stainless-steel tanks for a leaner, crisper style. Be certain to sample many varieties as they can and will vary some in flavor and dryness.
Then we have our Merlot a soft tannins, dark fruit, probably the most popular of the reds here in the states. Merlot has dark fruit flavors like Cabernet Sauvignon, but is generally a little rounder and softer. The swirl and taste of this popular wine will leave you with the enhanced flavors of blackberries, blueberries, plums, cassis, and dried cherries combined with chocolate, cedar, and tobacco and sometimes hints of black olive.
Again with this red you will want to try a few varieties as you will come across some with a more dry, delicate fruit flavor and spice. Then there are others that tend to have a bit more of a wild berry and herbs flavor, they tend to be a bit darker and heavier in texture.
Personally I enjoy a nice Merlot with a hearty red meat but others seem to feel it pairs best with lamb, a more meaty fish such as salmon or tuna. Your dishes can be complimented with black olives, fresh herbs, mushrooms, berries and dried cherries. A tender, milder cut of beef, such as a tenderloin makes for an excellent choice when serving a Merlot. I always found it most enjoyable to take a bite of the tenderloin and then a sip of Merlot and let the flavors just mesh on the palate.
When it comes to choosing a wine to serve with particular meals there are some basics that you should follow to get the most enjoyment from the wine. Be certain to sample different makers of the same type wine as you will find a difference in flavors and dryness. Most of all make your wine tastings an enjoyable experience.
If you would like some more complete information about wine in general please visit http://www.the-wine-enthusiast.com/ There you will find some free information to help compliment any dining experience. Along with all the wine information you could ever need there are some excellent top Chef tips.
Monday, 16 February 2009
Buying live Maine Lobsters online may seem like something that would take a lot of trust. But it actually can make sure that you get the freshest product available.
Think about it, where do you think your local grocery store gets their live Maine Lobster from? Probably from Maine right?
So why not go directly to the source and get it from the fishermen who catch it in the first place? It's brought in off the boats, carefully packed and shipped overnight directly to your doorstep.
Who knows how long those Lobsters at your grocery store have been in that tank? Sure, they can probably last a week, maybe ten days, but during that time the meat is shrinking inside the shell and can get tougher.
Lobster is one of the best tasting and healthiest meats that you can consume. Even if you don't want to buy live, you can buy frozen or pre-cooked so it isn't as messy and will last longer.
Doesn't it still make sense to buy the product that was processed the fastest to maintain its' freshness?
Plus you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting one of the few small owner run businesses left in this country.
Almost every on-line seller either owns their own boats or has extremely close ties with the people that are the owners. All the reputable companies offer a guarantee of satisfaction.
So, next time that you get the urge for fresh Maine Lobsters, look no further than your computer to get the freshest most succulent lobster available.
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
These wonderful little bits of red velvet heaven have a candy kiss surprise in the center. Imagine the joy of biting into one of these Surprise Red Velvet Cupcakes and getting a bite of a soft candy kiss. These easy to make cupcakes are perfect for so many occasions, especially Valentine's Day, Bridal Showers, Wedding Cupcakes, the list could go on and on. But how about just for fun or because they are good? What better reason could there be?
SURPRISE RED VELVET CUPCAKES
24 Hershey's Kisses or Hugs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin tin cups with pretty paper liners. Unwrap the candy and put one in the bottom of each lined muffin tin. Set aside.
To make the cakes:
To make the frosting:
Monday, 09 February 2009
The following recipe is sure to impress your family and/or friends. Peanut butter and chocolate combine to make this Peanut Butter Cream Fudge Torte Cake a delicious as well as impressive looking cake. You'll get rave reviews from your family and friends.
PEANUT BUTTER CREAM FUDGE TORTE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl at low speed, mix cake mix,water, oil, and eggs until moistened. Beat for 2 minutes at high speed. Pour batter into the prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of cakes comes out clean. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks.
While the cake is baking, prepare the filling. In a medium saucepan, combine the flour and milk. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until very thick. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cool in the refrigerator while cake is baking and cooling. Combine the sugar, butter, peanut butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and cream together well. When the milk mixture is chilled, add to the creamed mixture and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Cut the cooled cake layers in half horizontally using a thread or a long sharp knife to form 4 thin layers. Place one layer on the serving plate with the cut side up. Spread 1/3 of the filling mixture evenly over the layer. Repeat with the second and third layers. Top with the remaining layer putting it cut side down.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and oil. Microwave on medium for 1 to 2 minutes until chocolate morsels are melted. Stir until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup of the glaze. Spread remainder of the glaze evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Use the reserved glaze to drizzle over the peanuts and down sides of the cake. Refrigerate until serving time. This cake should be refrigerated at least 2 hours before cutting. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Friday, 06 February 2009
Even though it's considered a famous holiday, no one really takes the day off for Valentine's Day; meaning for working couples, a Valentine's dinner is definitely the meal of choice to celebrate. Again, instead of eating out, it's rather a good idea to spend the money creating a romantic ambience to your home, complete with a well-prepared dinner for two that will really spice up your relationship.
Of course, the first step in anything is always a good plan of action. First, decide on how much effort you would want to put into preparing Valentine's food. You might opt in for some simple dinner with an extravagant dessert for a climactic ending, or a full-blown dinner so that your conversation can be longer. I'll leave this for you to decide since this is going to be your romantic day, and you'll know the person you want to spend it with than I do.
To answer the needs of those who would choose to have a simple dinner, I suggest going with a dish that is easy to prepare. This is understandable since there will be just the two of you to celebrate, meaning not much eating, right? Anyway, for a quick idea, instead of serving a big roasted chicken, opt for preparing Cornish hens. These are so small that you can marinate them very well for taste before you bake.
If in some way you don't like chicken meat, it's not really that sinful to go with red meat as Valentine's food. And since this season comes only once a year, try going for the best cuts of steak or a small roast for your main dish. T-bone or New York strip steaks are perfect for this occasion. I know it's an expensive choice, but if you're looking for something classy and easy to cook, then these meats definitely fit the bill.
February 14 is definitely a very perfect day when you can cook some Valentine's food for your special someone. Visit the Food Menu Blog to read more of this article and learn more tips on how to prepare Valentine's food and other cooking ideas that you will certainly love to share with your family and friends.
Thursday, 05 February 2009
You may not know it yet but most kids really do love to cook. In fact, kids just love it when they are cooking something sweet that they can eat later and take satisfaction that they made it. With that said, here are some Valentine's Day dessert ideas you can make with your kids so as to share some fun times with them during this Valentine's Day.
Almost everyone, if not everyone in the world loves chocolate, and even scientific research shows that eating a bit of dark chocolate is good for your health. While you are reading this, it's important to take note that you must not tell this fact to your kids, or else, you'll definitely regret it for the rest of your parenting life.
Chocolate is synonymous with Valentine's Day and vice versa. One easy thing you can help your kids do is to make some yummy chocolate cupcakes. Most of the time, you can choose your favorite cake or cupcake recipe and just throw into the mix some melted chocolate to add in the sweetness of the dessert. Always remember that this is still dependent on the recipe. But anyways, just to make it more special, add in some icing on top for an interesting twist.
Another kid favorite would be jell-o. Until now, I have never seen a child uninterested with this tasty treat. Turn the jell-o into something fit to be Valentine's food by creating shapes out of it resembling the holiday. Use cookie cutters shaped as hearts, cupids, lips or alphabet letters to make cooking the dessert a more fun activity. A better idea would be to make your kids cut the gelatin themselves after it has been set. Most of the time, you'll be surprised by their new found creativity.
Speaking of creativity, why not take it a notch higher by letting your kids decorate the Valentine's dessert with their choice of icing, sprinkles and candy? Cupcakes, cakes and brownies are perfect for this idea since these decorative tools blend well with these confections to enhance them further. If you don't have an icing bag, you can always use an ordinary plastic storage bag cut with a small hole in the corner as an alternative for your kids to use. Just imagine the children putting in words and pictures depicting love on a cake for Valentine's Day. Now, isn't that a swell idea?
Wednesday, 04 February 2009
The origins of this popular cake and why it was given such an endearing name remain a mystery to this day. Perhaps it is because once you sink your teeth into a piece of "Italian Love Cake" it will literally be love at first bite.
Italian desserts are famous for being rich, flavorful and delicious and this luscious cake is no exception. It combines the slightly sweet flavor and creamy texture of Ricotta cheese with a moist marble cake. Despite the varied number of recipes available, the end result will be a beautiful creation of tasty decadence; perfect for celebrating Valentine's Day.
1 Box of Fudge Marble Cake Mix
1 cup of Milk or Half and Half
Cheese Mixture Ingredients:
2 pounds of Ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Blend together chocolate pudding and whipped cream. Beat until thick and creamy.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Tuesday, 03 February 2009
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, considering making some easy Valentine's snacks that the little ones can bring to school? Whether you are preparing them for your own child's lunch or as a special treat for the class, here are some snacks that are easy to transport and easy for the little ones to devour once they dig in!
Marshmallow-Popcorn Hearts are a simple alternative to popcorn balls. With this recipe, you can skip the Karo syrup and just melt some marshmallows instead! This quick and easy recipe works just like Rice Krispie bars, only with popcorn instead!
Here's what you need to get started:
• 10 cups popped popcorn
• Put the popped corn (minus the unpopped kernels) into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan and keep it warm in your 300 degree oven.
This one is a little messy, but for an extra-special treat, exceptions can be made to almost any rule. Take along a pre-packaged wet napkin in a zippered plastic bag to assist in quick clean-up.
Candy Apple or Caramel Apple Valentines
1 bag of caramels
Melt the caramels or hard candy according to the package directions. Insert a craft stick into one end of each apple. Dip the apple into the melted caramel, covering it completely. Lift the apple and let it drip for a few seconds and then set it on the wax paper until completely set- about two hours) Use your cake decorating tool (or a plastic bag with a hole in the corner and a decorating tip) to write a nice message on each apple. Wrap in plastic wrap and secure the wrap at the top of the apple with a rubber band, leaving the stick exposed as a handle.
Finally, you can mix up these peppermint stars from a quick meringue batter. They make a tasty little treat that travels well in a lunch.
1. Place egg whites in a medium mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Your kids will be delighted when you take the time to make these special Valentine's Day snacks for their lunches. After all, special surprises from those who loves us most are what Valentine's Day is all about!