Foodie word of the Day: Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Amuse-bouches – I know the term Bouche from the childish mention of Ferme La Bouche (or however thats spelt!). But what does this curious term mean. Come Dine With Me’s more pretentious contenders do this.

They are different from appetisers as they aren’t ordered from a menu. They are served for frree by the chef’s selection. These are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to the art of cuisine. The term is French, literally translated to “mouth amuser”.

I tried one at Cinnamon Kitchen the other day, it was delightful!

Funny how some really fancy restaurants serve Amuse Bouche portions as mains!

The Sugar Myth Unveiled

We were sitting in the office when the question was asked: Is brown sugar healthier than white sugar?

[For informative reading, read the complete article. Otherwise, scroll down for the summary!]

We have been trained to believe all things brown are better for us: brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta… but what about sugar? Being a carbohydrate like the others it has been led to believe that brown sugar is healthier. I wanted to examine this claim.

What is sugar made from?

Sugars are found in the tissues of most plants but are only present in sufficient concentrations for efficient extraction in sugarcane and sugar beet. Sugarcane is a giant grass and Sugar beet is a root crop, both create sugar but grow in different climates, Sugarcane in hot, and sugar beet in cooler temperatures. 

But this is just the base ingredient, it requires processing before it reaches the table of the consumer.

How is it made?

The sugar cane is taken to be refined. The first stage involves immersing the sugar crystals in a concentrated syrup which softens and removes the sticky brown coating without dissolving them. The crystals are then separated from the liquor and dissolved in water. The resulting syrup is either treated by carbonation (a type of chemical reaction process).

Both involve the precipitation (dissolve the fluid) of a fine solid in the syrup and when this is filtered out, a lot of the impurities are removed. The sugar syrup is concentrated by boiling, cooled and seeded with sugar crystals causing the sugar to crystallize out. The white crystals are dried in hot air, ready to be packaged or used.

What does the refining process achieve?

So we are talking brown sugar versus white sugar, which is more healthy? The question first must be: Exactly what do we mean by that?

There are raw unrefined regular sugar, refined white sugar and brown sugar.

Raw Unrefined Sugar

It’s not the same as the brown sugar that you see in the store, even though they are both brown.Unrefined raw sugar is made from the juice from the sugar cane plant and has trace minerals and nutrients present.

Raw sugar contains roughly eleven calories per teaspoon and has the same vitamin and mineral consistency that is found in the juice from the sugarcane plant. These minerals include Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium.

Refined White Sugar

Refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients. Typically, white sugar is made of pure carbohydrates. when sugar is refined and processed there are many harmful ingredients that are added to the sugar as a result. Some of these include: Phosphoric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide, and Formic Acid.

When the term “refined” is used in reference to food products, most people think of a highly processed or altered product. However, in the case of sugar production, the term “refined” simply means “to make pure.” During the refining of sugar, natural sugar is extracted from the whole plant material to make a granulated product that can be easily used in food and beverage preparation.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is sugar that has been refined and then molasses has been added to it. Brown sugar varies in color according to the amount of molasses that has been added to it. Like white refined sugar, brown sugar does not have the nutritional content found in unrefined. Both white refined and brown sugar are comprised of sucrose.

So what is the difference between brown and white sugar?

When people talk of brown sugar, they are generally comparing two grocery products one stating ‘brown sugar’ one saying ‘white sugar’ and I have made that comparison on that basis.

So to help you make your decision I have made a Summary below:

  • They are equally unhealthy, equally void of nutritional substance.
  • The only difference is the colour, obviously, which is due to the addition of molasses.
  • Molasses also may create a mild difference in flavour between them.
  • White sugar is more processed as the colour is whitened, but this near to no effect on the end of products nutritional values. Refining of white or brown sugar, does not mean it is processed and unhealthy, it just removes substances we cannot or would have difficulty consuming.

Of course, if your referring to RAW SUGAR (Which is brown) then there is a difference, and it is healthier – but as rule in cookery if used as a substitute, it weighs differently to brown and white sugar, so recipe measurements must be adapted when swapping them around.

Hope this helps!

Foodie word of the day: Ambrosia

Ambrosia

 

In ancient Greek mythologyambrosia (Greek: ἀμβροσία) is sometimes the food or drink of the Greek gods (or demigods), often depicted as conferring ageless immortality upon whoever consumed it.

Ambrosia is very closely related to the gods’ other form of sustenance, nectar. Both nectar and ambrosia are fragrant, and may be used as perfume.

Ambrosia, A mythological delight

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Guest Post: Little Miss May’s Glorious Banana Cake

This cake recipe was given to me by a very good friend of mine and fellow foodie. She is an amazing cook whether its party food and creative alcohol innovations, great home sushi and asian cookery of baking. It was only right that I include her in my blog:) Hope you like the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe Bananas
  • 4oz Butter or Margarine
  • 2 Eggs
  • 8oz Self-Raising Flour
  • 6oz Sugar
  • Jar of Nuttela (covering the cake)
  • Maltesers (decoration)
  • Icing Sugar (finishing touches)

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Recipe:

1> Preheat the ovan to Gas mark 4.

2> Get two big bowls and mash the bananas in one and in the other mix the sugar, butter and eggs until it becomes creamy.

3> Tip in the mashy bananas in with the creamy mix then add the self-raising flour and mix well.

4> (Usually banana cakes are placed in a loaf tin but I prefer it in a round tin that you can pop the bottom. Its easier to bake and transfer onto a plate.) place the mix into the round tin and put it in the oven for 40mins to an hour.

5> Once done, smother with Nuttela (the best bit!!). Grab some Maltesers and sprinkle some icing sugar on them and decorate the cake to your liking.

Foodie Word of the Day: Consommé

Consommé

Stephanie Moon from Great British Menu

This term was posted following far too many evenings watching Great British Menu for comic relief. Consommé was one of the elements in Stephanie’s humorous dish: Why did the chicken cross the road? 

She placed the watery mixture into a whisky-like glass and her first batch was commented to not be clear enough, which it seemed was a bad thing. But what is it exactly?

Consommé is a strong, rich, flavourful soup made by concentrating and clarifying stock. 

The word consommé means “completed” or “concentrated” in French. 

Beef or veal consommé is made from brown stock, and has a rich, amber color. Chicken consommé is made from chicken stock, and is a pale yellow color. In each case, however, the distinguishing characteristics of a consommé are its strong flavor and its clarity.

The Process

Consommé is clarified through a process that involves simmering the stock along with a mixture of egg whites and lean ground meat called a clearmeat. 

As the consommé simmers, the clearmeat solidifies into what is known as a raft which floats atop the liquid. The clearmeat draws proteins and other impurities that cloud a stock out of the liquid, leaving it perfectly clear.

 

 

Foodie Word of the Day: Julienne

Julienne

‘Julienne’ is the French name for a method of cutting vegetables into thin strips.

Julienne? Is that a girls name? No.. Well it might be but thats not the usage of the word in this post. Don’t you hate it when you watch TV food, and they use foodie terminology that you don’t understand? Michel Roux uses this word in passing as if it’s general knowledge, some colloquial everyday term thats used when throwing together a burger.

“I’m just gonna Julienne these onions for this bad boy burger than I’ll come help you dear…”

No didn’t think so. For help on a good old HOW TO see the video below.

 (Courtesy of Holidaykitchen on Youtube)

Foodie Word of the Day: Al Dente

Al dente

Rice or beans that have been cooked so as to be firm but not hard. “Al dente” also describes vegetables that are cooked to the “tender crisp” phase – still offering resistance to the bite, but cooked through.

I always thought the question: “how would you like your pasta cooked?” was ridiculous, “I would like it cooked for god sake!” “What do u mean how? …until its not raw?…”

Turns out I was the ridiculous one (but don’t tell the guy I scoffed at)