This page is for the curious kitchen snoop or anyone who can never take anything at face value especially if it's anything that's about to go into their mouth; food people, f-o-o-d, ya know, that other  four letter word.....

Galette

September 5, 2010


The French term galette can be confusing as it can actually be applied to myriad creations, from a tart to a rather flat almond filled cake to a cookie or biscuit, as is the case in Canada.

Most often it is thought of as a free form sweet, fruit filled or topped shortcrust or flaky pastry tart. However, it can also be savoury with toppings such as cheese, vegetables and even meat. In addition to the more common short or flaky pastry, it can be made from a yeasted or plain, unleavened dough. In Breton, France, there is even a galette that is a filled and folded buckwheat pancake.

The most well known of all is probably the French Galette des Rois or King Cake, a round, quite flat and very rich cake made either with flaky pastry or brioche dough, filled with ground almonds. It's baked and eaten in honour of the Feast of Epiphany. A charm is baked into each cake and the person who receives the portion with the charm, is crowned "King" for the day and  confered the honour of offering the cake for the following Epiphany feast.

 

 

Who Put Tartar Sauce in My Cake?!?!

February 16, 2010


You may have noticed that more than a few of my baking recipes, especially for scones and quick breads, both here and in my cookbook (if you've bought it...hint, hint) call for something called cream of tartar.

Many of you may know what cream of tartar is but I think just as many don't, judging from the questions I keep getting about it, including, "what is it?", "why is it called cream when it's a powder?", "will it cause tooth decay?" and "why are you putting tartar sauce in a cake ?!?"

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Ceramic Beans

February 10, 2010


Ceramic beans - tell me quick...what comes to mind?

I first heard of these in my teens, by default, an already confused and confusing time. My immediate reaction was "What kind of crackpot would want ceramic beans when real ones are gotten easily enough? I wondered if there really were people in this world who relished cracking their tooth enamel on cold, hard, unyielding beans, or if they were the brainchild of profit seeking dentists in league with the devil himself.

Turns out, they were...


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Scone is to Biscuit as Crumpet is to.....

January 22, 2010


Of course you know what a scone is. Or do you? It was George Bernard Shaw, I think, who said "England and America are two countries separated by a common language". Well, he said it. I didn't. But, I have to say something for the number of times I've been asked why the "scones" at certain fried chicken joints were presented on the menu as "biscuits"?, and for the fact that I've eaten and love both.

Now just what would someone who's neither British nor American know about biscuits or scones? ...


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Hanging

December 30, 2009


"Hanging" in traditional butchery refers to the practice of chilling or aging meat (suspended on hooks, hence the term "hanging") and game under closely controlled conditions until it reaches the peak of flavour and tenderness, before it is cut up for sale or consumption. The exact duration of this process differs from butcher to butcher but generally speaking, 10 days is more or less considered  the norm.

Connoisseurs will insist on a minimum hanging period of 2 weeks but will not balk at ...


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Varietal Wine

July 21, 2009


The term "varietal" in wine terminology refers to the grape from which a wine is made. By law, the varietal wine must have a minimum of 75% of that particular grape. It is not a widely known fact that varietal wines are not always unblended, but as long as the grape stated on the label constitutes at least the requisite 75%, of the wine inside, it's all in order.

You might expect that a bottle of Chardonnay will taste the same regardless of where it was made or who made it. Surprise, surprise...


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First Growth

July 17, 2009


In wine terminology, First Growth status (Premier Cru in French) refers to a classification of wines from the Bordeaux region of France. The four main regions in Bordeaux are Medoc, Graves and Pessac-Leognan, St Emillion and Pomerol.

The classification of the best Bordeaux wines was drawn up at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III for the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris. The result was the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, a list of the top ranked wines, named the Grand Crus ...


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Kuchen

July 12, 2009


The word "kuchen" is German and simply means "cake", but there are as many versions of this sweet treat as there are castles in Germany. A kuchen can be a normal cake made by the creaming method, pastry-like or a yeast-raised cake.

They are commonly topped with cheese, custard and fruit or nuts and often dusted with powdered sugar and a sweet spice like cinnamon. In America, they are referred to as coffeecakes, denoting that they are eaten with a cup of coffee, usually late in the morning for...


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Frittata

July 10, 2009


A frittata is a thick Italian type of omelette, that some food historians believe may pre-date the classic omelette. It differs from the classic French omelette in that it is cooked together with the chosen ingredients and served open-faced instead of  being folded over with the ingredients inside it as a filling. 

Traditionally it is partially cooked on the stove and finished off by broiling under a hot grill or baking in an oven, until just set. The ingredients that go into it may vary from ...


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Vinegar

June 29, 2009


The term "vinegar" originates from the French "vin" (wine) and "aigre" (sour). Vinegar probably was discovered about 10 000 years ago, when a barrel of wine developed a crack. The wine was exposed to the air, went stale' (fermented), and turned to vinegar.  The fact is if you leave out a bottle of unfinished wine, in a slightly warm room, unstoppered, it will in about a week, turn to vinegar, when acetic acid is produced through the action of aerobic bacteria on the alcohol in the wine, in th...


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