Friday, June 25, 2010
As I have mentioned many times, I am not a fan of tomatoes. I do like salsa, though. I had this salsa at a Wining Women event a few months ago. It is the perfect salsa for me. No tomatoes! It has a sweet-salty taste that is "to die for." The combination of the feta cheese and the apple cider vinegar along with the sugar really makes this salsa delicious! Don't let the black beans put you off. It is such a great salsa for a summer day! Easy to make and yummy...
Feta Corn Salsa
1 whole yellow pepper, diced
5 green onions, diced (or to your own taste)
1 container of crumbled Feta cheese
1 bag of frozen sweet corn (defrost by running warm water over it)
1 can of black beans, drained
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil (I used safflower oil)
1/2 cup sugar
Mix together and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with scoops corn chips or other corn chips. Also great over salad!
The Creative Cook
Posted by bloggingmom at 6:42 PM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Everyone knows what a marshmallow is, right? Those ubiquitous round pillows of sweetness that come out of a plastic package from the grocery store. Jet Puffed or Stay Puft or whatever they are called in your neighborhood. We use them in hot cocoa, to make s'mores, toasted, in rice krispie treats, and so on.
Well, marshmallows didn't start out as little round drum-shaped pillows. Way back in ancient Egypt, over 2,000 years ago slaves were making the Pharaohs candy out of the marsh mallow plant (which is only one variety of many mallow plants). These candies were very different from what we know today as the marshmallow. The ancient Egyptians mixed the mallow sap with honey and grains and then baked it into cakes. Soon, these delightful treats made their way to Europe and around the world. The Romans and Greeks loved the mallow plant, too. They believed that tea brewed from the marsh mallow plant would soothe sore throats. They also believed it would eliminate mucus. Interesting, huh?
Europeans also loved this sweet treat. There is even an Italian cookbook written in the 15th Century which devotes an entire section on how to season mallows. Why not?
In Medieval times, marshmallows liquids were given to cure all kinds of illnesses like toothaches, coughs, sore throats, chapped skin, indigestion, and diarrhea. It was used by herbalists of the time for everything from love potions to scorpion sting protection. Even Monks, living in the south of France, grew the mallow plants, along with licorice roots, in monastery gardens during the same time period.
The French, who love their sweets, were the first to think of making a candy strictly for adults from the mallow root. This was around the middle of the 1800's. Before the French thought of using the sap to satisfy our confectionery passions, this delightful root sap was used mainly for medicinal purposes.
The French shop owners started making their marshmallows by hand. They discovered cooking and whipping marshmallow sap with egg whites and corn syrup created a substance that molded easily. It figures that the French would come up with something like this. Viva la France!
Thus, the marshmallow was born. Since they tasted so good, everyone wanted some. This handmade delight took a long time to make because they were being molded one at a time. It wasn't long before someone figured out a better way to make marshmallows.
Early in the 1900's, marshmallows were finally being made quickly enough that they were able to be sold as penny candy in tiny little tins. It was because of the "starch mogul system" that marshmallows were being made so quickly. In the starch mogul system, a machine automatically fills trays with starch about 2 in (5.08 cm) thick, which is then evened off and slightly compressed. Then a printing board, made of plaster, wood, or metal trays shaped to mold the marshmallow of the final product is pressed into the starch and withdrawn. Then the space created is filled with hot creme. The first moguls were wood, but all were steel by 1911. Gelatin and other whipping agents replaced the mallow root in the ingredient list.
In the 1950's, marshmallows came in a little box. The box had a wax paper layer and the marshmallows were sort of sugar coated. These marshmallows were used mainly to make s'mores.
Today you can find marshmallows everywhere and in almost everything. Marshmallows can be found in our cereals, hot chocolate, Jell-O, candy bars, and puddings. You will find them in recipes for hot foods like carrots, hams, and yams. Some wines are even made with marshmallows!
There is even furniture based on the marshmallow. Have you ever seen a marshmallow couch or chair?
In the United States, we use the marshmallow at our most important holidays. At Halloween we give out candy bars with marshmallow centers. At Easter, the famous Peeps come to visit. During Christmas we sip hot chocolate with little marshmallows floating on top. Preschool and kindergarten teachers use marshmallows to make crafts at school.
Marshmallows even found their way into our movies as monsters. Do you remember "Ghost Busters" from way back in 1984? The Stay-Puft Marshmallow man was a big evil monster bent on destroying New York City! The list of marshmallow goodies is endless. Can you think of any more?
Thanks to http://www.twisted-candy.com/marshmallows.html for all of this great historical information about marshmallows.
Now, what you have been waiting for......
I used Martha Stewart's Homemade Marshmallow recipe but there are hundreds or maybe thousands of recipes including all different varieties such as chocolate, strawberry, and raspberry. You can find recipes without corn syrup, without sugar, vegetarian varieties, and so many more. But if you are not diabetic or allergic to any of these ingredients, go ahead and try this one. It is very similar to the ones by Alton Brown, Emeril and other famous chefs. This is the one recipe that I can say came out great. I did not think it would taste like the marshmallows from the grocery store but I had people tell me that they did. You will have to make your own decision about that. Don't be afraid to try making these! If you are nervous about putting hot liquids in your mixer, just drape some plastic wrap over the top of the mixer. I will also strongly suggest that you don't try cleaning the whisk attachment of your mixer until you are completely done with this process! I hear that you will wind up with marshmallow "strings" and a big mess. Follow the instructions carefully (i.e., don't let the sugar mixture get too hot).
by Martha Stewart
Makes 24 (depending on how you cut them)
• Vegetable oil, for brushing
• 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
• 3 cups granulated sugar
• 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1. Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with oil. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil; set aside.
2. Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
4. Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.
5. Sift 1 cup confectioners' sugar onto a work surface. Unmold marshmallow onto confectioners' sugar; remove parchment. Lightly brush a sharp knife with oil, then cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares. Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.
The Creative Cook
Monday, June 14, 2010
What in the world is a Kumato Tomato? I had no idea what these were until we had some friends over for dinner. They brought appetizers and dessert. The appetizer consisted of these brown tomatoes (Kumato) with fresh mozzarella and basil on top then drizzled with olive oil! My boys loved them. I don't eat tomatoes so I didn't try them. I just may break down and take a taste-test myself. I am hearing so many good things about these unusual tomatoes.
I did some research (naturally) and found out that they have a more authentic tomato flavor. What does that mean, you ask? Well, in recent years tomatoes have become tasteless, or so I hear. These Kumatos are intense and sweet. They have a higher level of fructose in them. The Kumato originates from a ‘lost’ wild tomato and has been developed through ten years of cross-breeding by plant specialists at Syngenta. They have been available in the U.K., Australia and other countries for a few years. I only recently found them in my local Giant grocery store.
If you check out the company's website you will find many fantastic-looking recipes. I will be trying a few of these. I am especially looking forward to trying the Egg and Tomato Strata and the Tomato Sauce recipe, Baked Kumatos with a Crunchy Parmesan Crust! The list goes on...
The color of the Kumato is unusual to say the least. They go from brown to a greenish brown and are always edible. The Kumato ripens from the inside so it is edible no matter what color it is. They come in two sizes: a regular golf-ball size (which is what I found in my grocery store) or mini Kumatos. I haven't seen the mini ones yet.
The Creative Cook
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's website but this delicious recipe is courtesy of Jennifer Shea, owner of Trophy Cupcakes in Washington State. I finally made the cupcakes today after much debate and contemplation. The recipe looked fairly difficult. They got rave reviews from my intrepid tasters!
The batter is very watery. Don't be alarmed by that. I was lazy today so I used chocolate morsels rather than chopping or shaving a chocolate bar. It didn't really work because I ran out of chocolate to put on top of the cupcakes. Also, I found that I had left-over batter. I'm not sure why there was so much batter left after I filled all 24 cupcake "cups" but I could probably have made another two or three cupcakes with it. Another issue I had with these cupcakes was that I didn't want to go out and buy a torch. I found out from another blogger that I could have frosted the cupcakes with the Marshmallow Frosting and not torched them or I could have tried to brown them very carefully under a broiler. Instead, I used homemade marshmallows to top each cupcake. They came out great! I will post the recipe for the marshmallows soon.
Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
Makes 2 dozen.
2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used semi-sweet)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.
Sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine; set cake batter aside.
Place graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined.
Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Reserve remaining graham cracker mixture for topping.
Place 2 teaspoons chocolate in each muffin cup. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Return to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely.
Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or French tip (such as Ateco #867 or Ateco #809). Pipe frosting in a spiral motion on each cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting, taking care not to burn the cupcake liners. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, up to 2 days.
Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes
8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately
The Creative Cook