What Are Aji Dulces & How To Use Them

What Are Aji Dulces & How To Use Them

Ají dulce, ají cachucha, quechucha, ajicito, or ají gustoso as it is known throughout Latin America and the Caribbeans is a variety of sweet perennial peppers.

The pepper or chili is native to the Yucatan Peninsula of Central America and Caribbean islands.

It is most widely known in Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominion Republic, and Venezuela, where it refers to a specific native variety of Capsicum chinense that is related to the habanero but with a much milder, smoky flavor.

Where English is spoken in the Caribbean, the sweet chili is known as seasoning pepper and is essential to a variety of traditional dishes.

In Puerto Rico, where the chili is called Ají dulce, is an essential chili as well. It is used as a condiment of Puerto Rican cuisine called “sofrito.” Sofrito is the base of many prepared dishes.

The Meaning Of Aji Dulce Throughout Latin American

Throughout Latin America, ají means “chili pepper” and dulce means “sweet.”

Cachucha is a Latin American word for cap, so ají cachucha means “cap chili pepper” and refers to its cap-like shape.

Gustoso means tasty, so ají gustoso translates to “tasty chili pepper”.

Ajicito is the diminutive of ají and translates to “little chili pepper.”

The bottom line is, it’s a sweet chili pepper.

What A Aji Dulce Looks Like

Ají Dulce peppers widely vary in appearance depending on the climate, soil, and region they are grown in.

The pods can be squat, wrinkled, and hat-like, or they can be oblong to round in shape, averaging from 2-4 inches long and 1/2 inches to 3 inches wide.

When the peppers are young they have hues of light to dark green and as it matures, it transforms to orange-yellow, and then red.

Underneath the skin, the flesh matches the exterior part, depending on maturity.

They contain seeds that are flat, round and cream-colored.

Ají Dulce chile peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in the summer through fall.

If you can not find them in the produce section of your local supermarket, check with your local Hispanic markets.

During the summer you should be able to find them in local farmers markets.


Read And Learn More About Cooking With Chilies


How To Use Aji Dulce

Ají Dulce chile peppers have mild heat and are aromatic with a sweet, fruity, and smoky flavor.

The chile pepper is used both in raw and cooked applications. Which includes sautéing, roasting, and stewing.

Roasted Aji Dulce – Image Credit Bizcochos y Sancochos

They are most commonly chopped and used in sofrito. It is a savory sauce base made up of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro.

Sofrito – Image Credit: EATGORDAEAT

The peppers are also used to flavor sautéed vegetables, summer salads, meat dishes, stews, soups, rice, and bean dishes.

As they are a mild chili, they are used to flavor mild salsas, herbal vinegars, paprika, and sauces.

They pair well with potatoes, green lentils, olives, rice, beans and herbs such as cilantro, oregano, parsley, and rosemary.

Scramble Eggs With Aji Dulce Peppers
Scramble Eggs With Aji Dulce Peppers

Ají Dulce chile peppers can also elevate your scrambled eggs. The peppers scramble well with eggs, Smoked Gouda cheese, bacon, shallots, bell pepper, and Anaheim chilies.


Read More About The Different Ways To Cook Eggs


Where To Find Aji Dulces

Ají Dulce chile peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in summer and fall months.

If you can not find them in the produce section of your local supermarket, check with your local Hispanic markets.

During the summer you should be able to find them in local farmers markets.

Pickle Aji Dulces Using This Recipe – Pickled Mini Sweet Peppers

And if you are an avid vegetable gardener, seeds can be found on Etsy, eBay or Amazon.

They will keep up to one week after harvest when stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator.


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Know Your Herbs – Spices & How To Cook With Them

Know Your Herbs – Spices & How To Cook With Them

This article will cover the basics of knowing your herbs and spices and how to cook with them.

Herbs and spices are a treasure chest of zesty, sweet, savory and spicy flavors. These flavors fresh or dried impart flavor to any cooked dish or baked good they are used in.

One of the best qualities of herbs and spices is the variety of flavors you can add to foods without adding salt.

Some of these flavors include turmeric (a blend of spices), cayenne pepper, ginger, paprika, garlic, lemon juice or zest, black pepper, dill, Rosemary, coriander, cilantro, Sage, tarragon, and cinnamon.

Examples of fresh or dried herbs used in recipes include among others: basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, sage and dill weed.

Note that for each of these plants, the herb is the green leafy part.

Herbs Used To Flavor Food

As for spices they include any other part of the plant, but not including the leaf.

Spices include dried bark (cinnamon), seeds (cardamom), flower buds (cloves), the roots (ginger), dried berries (allspice) and twigs or just about any part of the plant, but again, not including the leaf.

Take note that spices are used in dried form while herbs can be used either fresh or dried.

How To Cook With Herbs & Spices

When a recipe calls for a type of herb, be sure to use it in the form it is called for. Either fresh or dried.

Dried herbs and spices which are particularly resistant to heat and prolonged cooking are typically used in roasting and baking.

Dried herbs are typically add at the beginning of the cooking process so as to impart flavor while cooking.

On the other hand, when herbs are fresh, they are typically added just as the cooking has been completed.

Fresh herbs are more vulnerable to heat. To much exposure to heat will kill the flavors.

Fresh herbs bring brightness and fresh flavor to a recipe. They are used more typically were no cooking or use of heat is involved.

Fresh herbs can be used in salads, to make sauces, like pesto sauce, and dressings or vinaigrette’s.

Melon Berry Fruit Salad with a Mint-Lime Dressing
Melon Berry Fruit Salad with a Mint-Lime Dressing

The most common dried herbs used include: oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, cumin, bay leaf, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg among others.

Cinnamon is a common spice used in both cooked and baked dishes.

Like these recipes.


Read More Here About – Cooking With Cinnamon


Where as the most common fresh herbs used are: basil, mint, cilantro, parsley and dill weed.

Garnishing With Herbs & Spices

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 
Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice

Other recipes may ask for a teaspoon or two of chopped parsley, cilantro, mint or basil to be sprinkled over the food at the end of cooking to bring some fresh flavor to the dish.

Dried spices can also be used as a garnish such as cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika.

This information is basic, but the idea is herbs and spices (dried or fresh) will significantly elevate the flavor of your dish.

Read more here about How To Spice Things Up When Cooking.


More How-To Articles


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Using Citrus Zest When Cooking & Baking

Using Citrus Zest When Cooking & Baking

When a recipe calls for “zest” of a citrus fruit, it’s referring to the colorful outer part of the skin, not the inner white part, which is known as the pith.

You can use the zest of oranges, lemons, and limes, among many other citrus fruits, to bake and cook with.

The zest of citrus fruits contains all of the aromatic citrus oils and provides a hint of citrus tang to the recipe.

A simple method of obtaining a fine zest is by rubbing the fruit against the smallest holes of a cheese grater.


Besides Zest, Lemons Have Many Other UsesThe Many Uses Of A Lemon


The Solution To Having Zest On Hand When You Need It

After squeezing or juicing lemons or oranges do not toss the peels.

Freeze the peels or rinds in a freezer bag and whenever you need zest of a lemon or orange, you can grate it from the frozen peels.

grating lemon zest
Zesting Frozen Citrus Peelings

The flavor is just the same as if the peel were fresh.

It will save a trip to the store just to buy a citrus fruit for a small amount of zest.

Besides freezing the citrus peelings, here are some other ideas as to what you can do to save zest for baking and cooking.


Read More Here About The Benefits Of The Orange Peel


Blanch The Zest

Immerse peels in cold water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain the zest. This technique allows to remove their bitterness.

Make Zest Powder

Set zest ribbons to dry for 2 days. Next, place zest in a preheated oven (250-300 degrees) for 5-10 minutes.

Let cool and grind them into a powder using a mortar or a grinder. Ideal to finely season any recipe calling for zest.

Try some of our favorite recipes using zest.


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Different Ways To Cook Eggs

Different Ways To Cook Eggs

If you were to eat a three-egg omelet every morning, you would have eaten roughly 1,095 eggs in a year.

The average American eats 250 eggs per year, which translates to a total annual consumption of 76.5 billion eggs.

Eggs are packed with protein and are a truly versatile food that can be cooked in many ways.

Here are just a few of the most popular methods with recipes included. So let’s crack into it.

Shirred Eggs

Shirred eggs, also referred to as baked eggs, are eggs that have been baked in a flat-bottomed dish.

The name “shirrrd eggs,” originates from the cooking vessel in which the eggs were traditionally baked. The vessel or dish was called a shirrer.

Shirred eggs are considered a simple and reliable dish as it is very versatile. The recipe is easily varied and expanded upon.

An alternative way of cooking shirred eggs is in individual ramekins, cook in a water bath, creating the French dish eggs en cocotte.

Instant Pot Eggs en Cocotte – French Baked Eggs
Instant Pot Eggs en Cocotte – French Baked Eggs

Sunny-Side Up

The first known use of the phrase sunny-side up was used in 1887.

A sunny-side up in culinary terms is an egg cooked on one side.

In other words, it is an egg, fried in a pan with butter or oil on one side so that the yolk remains runny on the top.

After the egg is cooked, the round yellow yolk gives a sun-like appearance, hence the name.

Usually it takes about 2 to 3 minutes to a cook a sunny-side in a skillet on medium low heat.

But there is a faster way.

Place the skillet over a medium-high heat. Add butter and melt.

Lid Removed After One Minute

Next, crack egg over butter. Add 1 tablespoon of water and place a small lid over egg for 1 minute.

Sunny-side Eggs Served With Different Dishes

When egg is done, remove from heat and slide onto a plate.

What video here on How To Make The Perfect Egg In One Minute.

Sunny-side up eggs make great Eggs Rancheros

Poached Eggs

A poached egg is an egg that has been cooked, outside the shell, by poaching, as opposed to simmering or boiling.

This method of preparation can yield more delicately cooked eggs than cooking at higher temperatures such as with boiling water.

How To Poach Eggs

This is the traditional way to make poached eggs on the stovetop.

1. Use Fresh Eggs

Egg whites turn runny with age, so the fresher the egg, the firmer the whites. Make sure to check the date on the carton before you buy.

2. Use A Ramekin

Crack each egg into a using a small ramekin to crack one egg into, will be easier to see and remove any bits of egg shell.

Also if the yolk ends up cracking you can dispose of the egg without dirtying your poaching water.

The bowl also makes it easier to slip the egg into the water gently, so it stays in one piece.

3. Add A Splash Of Vinegar

Adding vinegar to the water helps keep the whites together. It also firms up the proteins on the outer surface of the egg, making the egg rounder and the white less wispy.

No need to season the egg. Just add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart of water and a splash of white vinegar (about 1/8 teaspoon).

Alternatively, you can use a small skillet to poach eggs in. Add 3 cups of water, boil, then lower heat to simmer. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a splash of white vinegar.

4. Do Not Drop The Egg Into The Boiling Water

Dropping a raw egg into boiling water is the recipe for scrambled egg soup.

Get the water hot by bringing it to a boil over high heat. Next, lower the heat until the water is just barely simmering. Gently simmering water keeps your eggs together.

5. Set Timer

Poached eggs cook fast. egg. About 2-3 minutes for soft poached and about 4 minutes for medium to firm yolks.

For hard poached eggs, bump the cook time up to 5 minutes.

6. Dry Before Serving

Remove the eggs from the poaching water with a slotted spoon so the water can drain off.

Then, blot the bottom of the spoon with a clean kitchen towel to remove any remaining water.

Poached eggs are great for making Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce.

Read more here for Tips For Working With Eggs In The Kitchen.


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What Apple To Use For Cooking & Baking

Apples

When using apples for cooking and baking does it matter the apples you choose to use? It does matter. As all apple varieties have their own flavor and texture.

All apples are made to eat fresh. But to use an apple to make apple pie, apple sauce and even apple juice, the apple you choose matters.

As noted, each variety of apple has its own flavor and texture. And each of those varieties react differently to heat.

In the United States alone, there are 2,500 different varieties of apples. And for that reason it can be challenging to know which apple to use for what kind of recipe.

What Apple To Use For Cooking & Baking

The following are some of the more popular apples available to buy at the market.

Braeburn

These apples have a sweet-tart flavor. The texture remains firm when it’s baked. Braeburn is an all-purpose apple, as if bakes well in pies and tarts where you don’t want the filling to be overly juicy.

Empire

This apple is a cross between McIntosh and the Red Delicious. It has a firm texture and a sweet-tart flavor. The Empire is a fine all-purpose apple good for juicing, making apple sauce, baking, salads, eating fresh, and drying.

Fuji

The Fuji apple is firm, crisp, and juicy. It’s the most popular apple for eating fresh and for baking as they hold their shape when they cook.

Gala

The Gala is a mildly sweet apple. It’s among one of the best apples to use for making applesauce, juicing, adding to salads, and eating fresh

Golden Delicious

This apple is mildly sweet, and is a good all-around cooking apple that maintains its shape when baking.

Granny Smith

The Granny Smith is a crisp sour or tart apple. It’s an all-purpose cooking apple, and the apples flavor is enhanced when paired with sweeter, spicier apples in pies and tarts.

Honeycrispy

Honeycrisp apples deliciously yummy eating apples. As the name would indicate, they are crisp and juicy, with a honey-sweet tart flavor. They are good for baking and making applesauce.

Ida Red

Ida Reds have a tinted rosy pink flesh that has a tangy flavor. These apples are good for making applesauce and they keep their shape during baking and are also excellent in salads and for freezing.

Jonathan

Jonathans are very tart, and they have a slightly spicy flavor. They hold their shape well when baked. They are also good in salads and for making applesauce.

McIntosh

These apples are crisp and juicy. They tend to break down when cooked so are great for making apple sauce. The are delicious eaten fresh and are best paired with Golden Delicious or other apples in pies and other baked goods.

Different kinds of apples are better suited for certain kinds of recipes than others, but you don’t have to limit yourself to using just one variety of apple when cooking or baking.

Many experienced cooks like to use a mixture of apples to get more complex flavors and textures.

Here are some deliciously yummy recipes using apples.


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4 Ingredients You Can’t Do Without In Cooking & Baking

4 Ingredients You Can’t Do Without In Cooking & Baking

You will find through a Google search lists of all the necessary ingredients you need in your pantry to cook and bake.

There are though, four ingredients that are the most important, and you cannot do without them.

Each of the 4 most important cooking and baking ingredients serves a particular function, reacting with each other and other ingredients to create the structure, flavor and texture of the finished cooked dish or baked good.

These include:

Salt

Salt is one of the most important ingredient in everything we cook and bake.

Salt is unique and the only mineral we use in cooking and baking.

It primes our palates to identify and enjoy flavors and textures. Salt works to amplify and balance what we taste.

Different types of salts have varying textures and levels of salinity.

There are different types of salt.

Salt crystals differ in shape and size and the various types will melt at differing rates.

Choose a lighter, smaller crystal like table salt for baked goods and larger grains or flakes as a finishing salt.

Whichever type of salt is used, it directly influences flavor in a surprisingly complex way.

Adding a hint of salt to batter won’t give the cake a salty flavor. Rather, salt reduces bitterness and allows sweetness to come forward, producing a more well-rounded flavor.

Salt is not only a flavor enhancer, but also affects the tenderness of a baked good.

Ultimately, salt is used as a seasoning to enhance the taste of food. It makes bland foods such as carbohydrates, like bread or pasta palatable and it helps to bring out the natural flavors in food.


– Read and Know More About – What You Should Know When Cooking With Salt


Vinegar

Few ingredients have the versatility, range, and potency of vinegar when it comes to cooking.

There are different types of vinegars as well.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – pickling vegetables – flaky pie crusts – salad dressing & vinaigrettes
  • Rice Wine Vinegar – Japanese sauces & condiments
  • Sherry Vinegar – glazing vegetables – pan sauces
  • Balsamic Vinegar – Meat, Salads & Desserts

– Try This Deliciously Yummy Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus


Citric Acid

Citric acid is used in preparing foods for preservation and adding flavor. The sour flavor to be exact.

Like those sweet and sour candies. Yes, their sweetness is from sugar and the sour flavor is from the use of citric acid, among other naturally occurring acids.

Citric acid is also used in pickling fruits and vegetables to making jams and jellies.

Zest of lemons as well as oranges contain citric acid and can be used as an agent for enhancing flavor in cooking and baking.

Lemon zest is a popular flavoring for baked goods and desserts as well as in savory dishes, such as meats and sauces.


Some Lemon Zesty Recipes


Lemon juice can replace or compliment vinegar in salad dressings, or to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry or fish.


Try These Salad Dressings And See How Vinegar Is The Star In These Vinaigrette’s To Complete Your Salad


Sugar

In addition to imparting sweetness, sugar is added to food to contribute not only to flavor (sweetness), but most importantly to color. Such as the browning of baked goods and meats.


Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum SauceSugar Helped Not Only With Browning Of The Baked Good – But Also With The Carmel Color & Flavor Of The Sauce

Sugar interacts with other food ingredients, enhancing the flavor profile.

Here is some to remember about sugar in your baked goods.

Sugar is hygroscopic, which means that it both attracts water and holds onto it, leading to a moist cake.

If you reduce the necessary amount of sugar in a recipe, you’re also decreasing the cake’s ability to retain moisture.

You can replace the reduction of every 1/4 cup sugar with: 3 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup. Keep in mind the flavor of each replacement as regards the one you choose.

Sugar acts synergistically to increase the aroma of a flavor or balancing bitterness, such as with dark chocolate.


Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint CupcakesMade With Bitter Cacao & Balanced With The Sweetness Of Sugar

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Bruschetta with Chicken Salad & Cheddar Cheese

In the United States, the word Bruschetta is used to refer to a prepared topping, which is typically sold in jars at local markets and are usually tomato-based.

An example of viewing Bruschetta in the U.S as a topping, is – Healthy Canning – a website that aims to direct people towards information on canning that is safe and healthy.

One of their posts is – Bruschetta in a jar: tomatoes in dry white wine with basil and oregano.

The article goes on to say, “Open a jar, drain, and serve on toasted Italian bread with a good Italian cheese and a drizzle of fruity olive oil.”

Here is a photo of Healthy Canning’s Bruschetta in a jar. It’s a delicious looking canned tomatoes with wine, and herbs.

Check Out Healthy Canning For Healthy Recipes and How To Safely Can Them

What Is A Bruschetta

Actually though, a tomato based Bruschetta is unheard of in Italy.

As this image shows, a product of Italy jarred sweet peppers offered as a Bruschetta topping.

In Italy, a Bruschetta is an antipasto dish starter that is prepared with toasting or grilling bread (typically Italian bread) and rubbing it with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt.

In other words, a Bruschetta is a fancy way of saying, “put it on toast”.

Toppings for a Bruschetta can include, Healthy Canning’s canned tomatoes, wine and herbs or vegetables, fruit, beans, cured meats and cheese.

Or try this Sweet Tomato Chutney as a Bruschetta topping. It is made with Roma and heritage orange tomatoes, garlic, sweet onion and spices.

The recipe featured is sliced whole wheat French bread Bruschetta topped with a chicken salad and cheddar cheese.

Bruschetta can be served hot or cold, and is always a quick and easy appetizer to any casual meal.

History of Bruschetta

Bruschetta originated in Italy during 15th century.

The dish though, can be traced back to Ancient Rome when olive growers would bring their olives to a local olive press and taste a sample of their freshly pressed oil using a slice of bread.

Typically, bruschetta is served as a snack or appetizer.

It can also be made for brunch, or prepared and taken to parties, dinner gatherings and potlucks.

Bruschetta with Chicken Salad & Cheddar Cheese

For the Bruschetta

1 loaf whole wheat Italian or French bread, sliced thick, about 1 1/2 inch slice

1/2 – 1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon Harissa seasoning, optional

Salt and black pepper to taste

Brush olive oil onto bread slices, one side only.

Next sprinkle some Harissa seasoning over olive oil brushed bread slices.

Place bread into a large iron skillet and place skillet under broiler and broil bread until lightly toasted.

Remove skillet from heat and set toasted bread aside.

The Cheese

1 slice mild cheddar cheese per bread slice

The Salad

2 cups cooked shredded chopped chicken breast or shredded chopped rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sweet pickled relish

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped white onion

salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl place all prepared salad ingredients and mix until well combined.

Spoon 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of salad on to bruschetta.

Next top bruschetta and chicken salad with a slice of cheese.

Place and arrange bruschetta slices with toppings into a large cast iron skillet.

Put skillet under high heat broiler until cheese is melted and bubbling a little but not burnt.

Plate bruschetta and eat alone or with a side dish of your choice. Here bruschetta is plated with a broccoli slaw.

Want a fruity chicken salad to top your Bruschetta? Then you love preparing this Mango Guacamole Chicken Salad.


Cooking With Cinnamon

Cooking With Cinnamon

You may be surprised to know that there are two main types of spice labeled as cinnamon.

One type is labeled as Cinnamon and the other is labeled Cassia. The one most commonly used in the U.S. is called cassia.

BUT – Cassia Is Not Real Cinnamon.

The Jar On The Left Is Being Labeled As CinnamonBut It’s Not – It’s Cassia A False Cinnamon – The Jar On The Right Is Labeled Correctly – It’s A True Cinnamon

Later in the article we will discuss cooking with cinnamon, but first let’s see what’s the difference between what is cinnamon and what is passed off as cinnamon.

How to Tell the Difference Between Cinnamon & Cassia

Real cinnamon sticks or quills curl in a telescopic form, in a perfect circle.

True Cinnamon Sticks

It has a pale color and is comprised of many thin layers of bark rather than a single coiled strip of bark like cassia.

Whole True Cinnamon bark can easily be ground in a coffee grinder.

Cinnamon is also known as Ceylon cinnamon – named after the country of origin, Ceylon (formerly Sir Lanka).

Cassia is not necessarily another name for cinnamon as it is a completely different spice, though they both are related.

It is is cheaper to produce and has a bolder, less subtle flavor than true cinnamon, so it is sometimes referred to as “bastard cinnamon,” or “false cinnamon.”

Cassis or False Cinnamon Sticks

Cassia sticks curl inward from both sides, appearing like a scroll. The sticks are very hard to break and will not grind easily in a coffee grinder.

According to Burlap & Barrel the sole importers of Cinnamon Verum from Zanzibar says it’s perfect for savory dishes like tomato sauces, stews, chili and barbecue rubs, as well as for baked goods and breakfasts like oatmeal or pancakes.



The Spruce Eats says that Cassia is usually a better choice for savory dishes, rather than sweets, while true cinnamon (Cinnamon Verum) is best for sweet baked goods.


Roasted Chicken With Chipotle Cinnamon Orange Glaze

What Do They Taste Like?

True Cinnamon has a warm, sweet flavor and pungent aroma.

The taste and scent come from cinnamaldehyde, which makes up most of the essential oil of cinnamon, but also 80 additional aromatic compounds.

Cassia has a stronger flavor than the more subtle true cinnamon, which can have floral notes.


Cooking With Cinnamon

When reading a recipe that calls for cinnamon, you can safely assume it refers to the common cassia cinnamon from the supermarket.

You will find recipes that call for cinnamon sticks or quills while others call for ground or powdered cinnamon.

Apple-Cinnamon Up-Side Down CakeThis cake calls for True Cinnamon – The cake though is topped with Cassia Sticks (for decorative purposes)

Ground cinnamon can be added before cooking or baking as it will maintain its flavor and aroma.

When flavoring drinks, such as egg nog, a cinnamon stick can add flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.

National Eggnog Day

A sprinkle of ground cinnamon can be used to top again, egg nog or other hot drinks such as hot chocolate, a mocha, or latte.

Cinnamon and Cassia are both commonly used in the culinary to flavor foods and beverages.

Although cassia it is often used to flavor sweet foods, it can also lend warmth and flavor to savory meat and some Indian dishes.

Hyderabadi Chicken Korma

So in conclusion, if you’re eating cinnamon every day, great – just make sure it’s the right kind.

In the U.K., if it says cinnamon, then it’s Ceylon cinnamon. Chinese cinnamon is labeled cassia.

In the U.S., though, they can both just be labeled cinnamon, and since Chinese is cheaper, that’s what most cinnamon is on our shelves. So make sure it specifies Ceylon.


Soufflé with Chicken & Vegetables

Soufflé with Chicken & Vegetables

Anyone who can make a soufflé is an accomplished home cook.

Understanding the basic underlying scientific principles that make a souffle what it is, can help your attempt of making one go off without a hitch.

It starts with knowing that it’s all in the eggs and 3 secrets.

First Secret Of Making A Soufflé

You have to separate the egg yolks from the whites. This is done so you can beat or whip the whites into a thick foam or airy stiff peaks as some recipes describe it when whipping egg whites.


Tip

It’s easier to separate the white from the yolk when an egg is cold not room temperature

Take extra care when separating out the whites to be sure that there are no yellow bits floating around in them.

The egg whites contain protein and if there is any presence of fat (yoke) in them, this will cause the bubbles to collapse and the egg whites will lose all their structure.

Second Secret To Making An Egg Soufflé

The second secret to a perfect souffle is not to overmix the whites into the souffle base.

Gently fold just long enough until all white streaks disappear.

When you bake the mixture, the air in the bubbles will expand, causing the souffle to rise.

In addition, the protein and any fat that was in the base will harden to provide support to the overall structure.

Soufflé with Chicken & Vegetables

The Third Secret

DO NOT OPEN the oven door any time after you have placed the soufflé in the oven to cook.

Doing so will lower the temperature in the oven and allow cooler air in, causing the soufflé to fall or collapse.

The Soufflé your making is not only for eating – but is for SHOW as well – but only if you follow the 3 easy secrets to making the perfect soufflé.

Soufflé With Chicken & Vegetables

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus softened butter for brushing

1/4 cup grated white cheddar or smoked Gouda

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup frozen peas and carrots

1 cup chicken breast, cut into small cubes

6 large eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400° and brush seven 1-cup ramekins with butter.

In a medium saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute.

Next whisk in the milk and cook over moderately low heat until smooth and very thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt.

Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolks. Let cool slightly.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in cheese, chicken and vegetables. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-high speed until frothy.

Increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the soufflé base until no streaks of white remain.

Spoon the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, filling them to 1/2-inch below the rim.

Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and put into bottom third of the oven and bake until the soufflés are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Alternatively, bake in a 7-cup soufflé at 375° for 40 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinegar Compliments More Than Just a Salad

Balsamic Vinegar Complements More Than Just A Salad

Balsamic vinegar enhances nearly any food it touches as it is so much more than a salad dressing.

You can use balsamic vinegar to marinate meats, glaze roasted vegetables and even as a baking ingredient.

The process of making balsamic vinegar is a more than 900 year old tradition from Italy.

Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Balsamic Mustard Vinaigrette

Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Balsamic Mustard Vinaigrette

How Balsamic Vinegar Is Made

Balsamic vinegar is made by pressing grapes complete with the stem, seeds, and skin.

The unfermented grape juice, also called “grape must,” is reduced and then cooked down and aged in hard wood barrels either oak, cherry or walnut, to create a delicate flavor that expertly balances both sweet and savory.

Depending on the wood barrels being used, flavor is added to the essence of the balsamic gradually over time.

As it ages, moisture evaporates out, further thickening and concentrating the balsamic.

Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus

Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus

Traditional Balsamic verses Commercial Made

Many consumers outside of Italy are unaware of the fact that there are two types of balsamic vinegar.

According to Compass and Fork, the balsamic vinegars sold at a local market or gourmet food shops are commercially made vinegar, and even if it says Modena on it, it has not been produced according to the traditional standard.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs

Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs – with a Balsamic Dressing

To be able to be labelled as a balsamic from Modena, only one step in the process has to be performed and it can be to any quality standard.

Though the bottled balsamic vinegar is sold at moderate pricing, it is only bottled in Modena.

Wine Vinegar Included – Not Traditionally Made

Traditionally produced balsamic vinegar is also protected under labeling laws, with only products made in a particular way and in Modena bearing the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena label.

How To Use Balsamic Vinegar

There are three basic age groups of balsamic vinegar, and each is used differently:

Group One

The youngest group, 3 to 5 years, is good for salad dressings, dipping sauces for vegetables and bread, sauces and marinades.

Group Two

The middle age group, 6 to 11 years, is more viscous and is quite versatile. Use it in sauces (at the end of cooking), in risotto and pasta dishes, in marinades and mixed with mayonnaise or sour cream for a sandwich condiment.

Group Three

Well-aged balsamic vinegar (12 to 150+ years) is best used after the cooking is finished, and in otherwise mild dishes (nothing spicy or heavily seasoned), so it can shine on its own.

Use it to flavor meat like chicken, steak, fish or veal. It is well-suited to fruit and cheese pairings, such as strawberries, peaches and pears, along with ricotta or feta cheese.

Smoked Bacon And Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts – with a Balsamic Drizzled over Chicken

It may be enjoyed by itself (just a tiny amount) or added to water (or sparkling water) for a refreshing beverage.

Flavors Infused with Commercially Made Balsamic Vinegar

There are commercially made balsamic vinegars that are infused with different flavors such as but not limit too:

  •  Chile Balsamic Vinegar
  • Garlic Cilantro Balsamic Vinegar
  • Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
  • White Sesame Ginger Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cranberry Balsamic Vinegar

What Others are saying about Balsamic Vinegar:

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