The Origins of Cotton Candy

Posted by Mozelle | Cuisine and Food | Monday 2 May 2016 3:01 am

Fairs have become synonymous with the melt in your mouth sugary flavors of cotton candy. Memories of childhood for many people include the sticky, sugary sensation of eating cotton candy. More than 100 years ago, cotton candy did not even exist. However, the origins of cotton candy directly correlate to the wide use of electricity and inventive men who wanted to create new confectionary treats. One gathering in particular immortalized cotton candy as a carnival fixture.

Four men were responsible for invention of cotton candy, Thomas Patton, Joseph Lascaux, John C. Wharton, and William Morrison. In 1897, Morrison and Wharton, two candy makers from Nashville, Tennessee, created an electric candy-making machine. Their inventions worked by using centrifugal force to spin sugar, then melting it through small holes. Morrison and Wharton got a patent for their candy-making machine in 1899.

In 1904, the two cotton candy inventors demonstrated their technique to the world at the St. Louis
World’s Fair. People attending the fair were intrigued by this new invention. Morrison and Wharton sold approximately 68,000 boxes of cotton candy at the fair for a mere 25 cents a box. At the end of the World’s Fair, they earned $17,163.75 from the event. That estimates to approximately half a million according to today’s standards; therefore, their invention, which they called “Fairy Floss,” was an outstanding success.

Around the same time, Patton began work on his version of the cotton candy machine. At the turn of the century, he patented a gas-powered devise that contained rotating plates that caramelized sugar while spinning. The machine worked by boiling the sugar as it was rotating. He used a fork to thread the cotton candy. Instead of serving his cotton candy in a box, he served his on a cone.

In 1921, New Orleans dentist Lascaux worked on and patented a machine that created cotton candy. Like Morrison and Wharton, his machine utilized electricity and centrifugal force to make cotton candy. To add to the irony of a dentist making a sugary treat, Lascaux served his confection to his dental patients. What better way to make sure he continued having customers at his day job. He, however, didn’t call his creation fairy floss. He is credited with calling the sweet treat cotton candy.

In 1949, cotton candy history transformed when Gold Medal Products introduced a device that had a spring base. This machine was an improvement on previous cotton candy devices. This new machine made the process easier and a staple of county fairs, circuses and school carnivals and fundraiser events.

Now, people can enjoy cotton candy in different flavors such as bubble gum, grape and strawberry. The colors pink and blue are the two most popular types purchased at events. Interestingly, although cotton candy is made of pure sugar, it contains less sugar than a 20 oz. soft drink.

Sources:

http://www.cottoncandy.net/inv ention.html

http://www.cottoncandyexpress.com/history.html

http://www.contentcaboodle.com /recreation-and-sports/the-lon g-and-illustrious-history-of-c otton-candy.html

The truth behind those delicious homemade treats

Posted by Berry | Cuisine and Food | Saturday 30 April 2016 3:01 am

When thinking about homemade cookies, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The taste? How about the texture? Maybe the temperature (who doesn’t love warm cookies)? All of these things are very important in homemade cookies and treats. 

Now think about what might go into creating those delectable treats. Most people will begin forming an ingredient list in their minds when asked about this. It is true enough that the right elements must go into making the cookies and treats. The freshest ingredients, the appropriate tools and of course, a functioning oven are vital to treat success. However, these are not the most important elements in making cookies and treats.

What is about to be revealed is very important, therefore brace yourself for the impact of what you are about to learn. This is a carefully guarded secret, you are privileged to be told what follows. The real secret to awesome cooking and baking is the person doing it. 

Mood

The mood a person is in can have a huge impact on anything they do. Think about it, when you’re in a bad mood, doesn’t the whole day seem to just go wrong? It can start with something small and snowball from there. 

This can carry over into making treats. If you are in a bad mood when beginning the treat making process, things can go south in a hurry. You can forget a key ingredient, get distracted and cookies can burn in the oven and other awful treat disasters. 

On the other hand, being in a good mood will also carry over to the treat making process. You will be more attentive to gathering the proper ingredients and tools. Extra care will be taken so that treats don’t burn while baking.  You might even whistle or sing while creating those treats! 

Attitude

People have heard that attitude is everything. It is true in life and in treat making. If you have a general bad attitude towards cooking/baking, then whatever you make will not taste as good as it could. This is not science, it is common sense. People seldom excel at things they do not enjoy. 

If the mere thought of spending a day in the kitchen cooking/baking provokes deep sighs and eye rolling, then the treats may suffer for it. If you enjoy cooking/baking or at least enter the kitchen with a smile, then the process will flow more smoothly. Think of it like adding the special ingredient of your sunny disposition.

“Grandma’s cookies always taste so good because she bakes with them with love”. Ever heard this, or something similar? Odds are you just chuckled and didn’t think about it any further. It just happens to be true, at least in the minds of some people. 

The secret to delicious homemade treats is the person doing the cooking and baking. It may sound far fetched because anyone can make good tasting treats. Anyone can create or follow a recipe with success. However, the treats that are “To die for” are made by people that truly have passion. The passion could in the form of love for the people who will enjoy the treats. It could be a passion for the treat itself. 

Attitude and mood play the biggest roles in making fabulous treats. If you are in a good mood and have a positive attitude toward the cooking/baking process, you will put more effort into it. You will make sure the ingredients are fresh, the tools are appropriate and will closely monitor cook/bake times. 

Now that you have been told the secret, go forth and use it wisely. This powerful knowledge can lead to smiles and accolades from recipients of your treats. This will never be spoken of again. 

The Origins of Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

Posted by Sean | Cuisine and Food | Wednesday 27 April 2016 11:01 pm

It is almost impossible to think of deep dish pizza and not think of its association with Chicago. Deep Dish pizza is deeply rooted in Chicago, and for the longest time, legends have abounded about who invented this unique variation on traditional pizza.

Thanks to the work of Chicago’s cultural historian Tim Samuelson, some of the mystery surrounding the origins of this legendary food may have been solved.

It is almost certain that the origins of the dish came out of a restaurant that was located in a 19th century mansion that was built by lumber baron Nathan Mears. The mansion was located at 29 East Ohio Street and it became the home of The Pizzeria when it opened in 1943. It was located just north of Chicago’s downtown loop. The first deep dish pizza that was served in Chicago was served at The Pizzeria in 1943.

The founders of The Pizzeria were Richard Novaretti, who also happened to be known as Ric Riccardo, the owner of Riccardo’s Restaurant on the corner of Rush and Hubbard Streets and Chicago liquor distributor, Ike Sewell.

Riccardo’s was located just a few blocks away from The Pizzeria and it became a stomping ground and hang out for journalists and writers who were visiting Chicago or those who lived there.

Not long after the Pizzeria opened, the name was changed to Pizzeria Riccardo, perhaps to let people who frequented Riccardo’s Restaurant know that this new pizza place was also his establishment.

Evidence from Chicago phone books of the 1940’s and 1950’s show that the tenants of the mansion at that time were Riccardo, Rudy Malnati, Sr (from the famous Malnati family, another important family of pizza creators in Chicago,) and a restaurant that served something called “pizza.”

Additional evidence from newspaper clippings and advertisements of the day show that in 1951, Rudy Malnati, Sr. became the manager of Pizzeria Riccardo. Other newspaper clippings refer to him as the main operator and a co-owner of the restaurant.

In 1955, Riccardo, Sewell and Malnati opened another pizzeria on the corner of Wabash Street and Ontario, a block from where the original Pizzeria Riccardo was. The new restaurant was called Pizzeria Due, and the name of the original one was changed to Pizzeria Uno.

In 1978, Aaron Spencer got Sewell’s approval to introduce a franchise of Pizzeria Uno into Boston. That was the beginning of Pizzeria Uno’s expansion. The company’s corporate headquarters are now located in Boston.

Novaretti may have been responsible for coming up with the idea for this unique pizza that had a thick crust and that must have weighed at least five pounds. ,Sewell was responsible for making the restaurant and the pizza famous. Pizzeria Uno’s website claims that Sewell was the one who was responsible for inventing this celebrated dish.

Samuelson has amassed enough documentation to prove that what is pretty certain about this famous pizza is that in 1943, the restaurant which was then called the Pizzeria produced a unique variation on traditional pizza as it was formerly known in the United States.

This pizza had a characteristically coarse but crunchy crust. Unlike most pizzas, the sauce was poured over a layer of cheese, and then another layer of cheese was sprinkled over the tomato sauce. The pizza was made with Italian sausage. This is how the unique style of deep dish pizza that is now universally associated with Chicago came into existence.

Rice in Different Parts of the World

Posted by Lon | Cuisine and Food | Saturday 16 April 2016 4:06 am

Apart from the economical and food reasons, rice production has become an important part of many cultures. Rice is not just used for eating purpose, but also it is used for artwork industrial starch and many other purposes. In china, rice has become an important part of their culture. Since more than 3000 to 4000 years of rice cultivation, they have gained enough importance to their aristocratic life. There are many traditions in china regarding to the consumption of rice. Starting from how to cook rice till the artwork, they have consumed rice in a good manner. In almost every festival in china, the frequent use of rice is an important part of their work. Even though, they have used rice in many places to show their artwork and various different traditions regarding to the early production and consumption of rice. Indeed, rice has become an important part of culture.

The Risks of Eating Sushi

Posted by Terrell | Cuisine and Food | Wednesday 13 April 2016 11:01 am

There are many people for whom the idea of eating sushi does not appeal because they don’t like the thought of eating raw fish. Of course, sushi isn’t only raw fish but the very knowledge that there is some raw fish in the dish can be unappetizing. There are others, however, who don’t like the idea of eating sushi because they consider the inherent risks too great. But what are the risks in eating sushi and are they as great as some fear?

As with any food care should be taken in the preparation and cooking process to ensure that food hygiene is strictly adhered too. When serving raw fish it’s even more important because you don’t have the cooking process to fall back on; usually the cooking of food to the appropriate temperature will kill any lingering bacteria that would cause food poisoning if the food was consumed in its raw state.

Many people avoid eating raw fish because they believe it to be infected with viruses, bacteria or parasites. While this is possible, it’s good to know the extent of the risk because it may alter one’s opinion.

There is a condition known as “anisakiasis” which is quite unpleasant and is potentially fatal. It is caused by tiny larval worms that can be found in some sea creatures; as far as ingredients used in sushi is concerned, the most commonly found fish that contain these larvae are cod, herring and mackerel. These are fish that are used less often in sushi restaurants and more by people making sushi at home so choosing to eat sushi in a restaurant is a good move; ordering certain dishes from the menu rather than a set platter of sushi will help you avoid any fish that cause you more concern.

Tapeworms are another worry for some diners but one that shouldn’t really be concerning at all. The truth is that a tapeworm requires at least one freshwater phase in its lifetime and sushi restaurants use only freshwater seafood and fish in their dishes so the chances of being stricken by tapeworms from eating sushi are virtually nil.

The contamination of predatory fish, such as tuna and swordfish, with mercury and other heavy metals is a topic that is grabbing the headlines these days. Pregnant women and people with weak immune systems are advised to avoid such foods and while scientists acknowledge that the risk to healthy people is low, they should limit the amount of these kinds of fish to no more than one or two servings a week. PCBs are another contaminant that is associated with fish used in sushi though again the risks are minimal when average amounts are consumed.

Overall the risks of food poisoning or more serious illness are no greater from eating sushi than any other food. Sushi chefs undergo possibly the most stringent training of any kind of chef and get special training in recognizing fresh fish and identifying possible contaminants. Furthermore, many countries have strict guidelines on what can be defined as “sushi grade” fish which may entail special deep freezing that will kill any bacteria present.

After this it is only the attention to cleanliness of yourself or the person preparing the sushi that can guarantee the safety and freshness of the food you are consuming.

The Difference between Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame

Posted by Bunny | Cuisine and Food | Saturday 2 April 2016 7:01 am

Whether they’re served at a sidewalk cafe or in a narrow cobblestone alley bar, the croque monsieur and croque madame have been on menus throughout France for more than a hundred years. Both sandwiches feature a buttery crunch on the outside and smoky ham, melted cheese and the tangy flavor of Dijon mustard on the inside. The difference is the croque madame adds a fried egg on top. The madame is not necessarily meant for women, but the fried egg may have resembled a woman’s hat when it was first invented.

Essentially, they are grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, perfect pub fair, guy food, a satisfying snack to have with a glass of wine or beer. The classic culinary tome, Larousse Gastronomique, does not mention a topping on the croque monsieur or madame. It refers to this toasty culinary offering as a “€œhot sandwich, made of 2 slices of buttered bread with the crusts removed, filled with thin slices of Gruyere cheese and a slice of lean ham.” And that is exactly what the brief recipe directs. 

Yet, most recipes since then, including those by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, cover the sandwiches with a bechamel sauce and broil it to a golden, bubbly goodness, often adding more cheese on top. Truly, if creating a croque madame, an egg on top of cheese over the sauce really seems like overkill. They may be a heart attack in the making, but egg or no egg, sauce or no sauce, they are the ultimate ham and cheese sandwich. They will spoil you for any other toasted sandwich on the menu.

The bread should have body, a bit on the chewy side and able to hold the butter, sauce and cheese. This is not the time for fluffy, doughy slices. To remove the crusts or not is really your decision. The classic cheese to melt within the bread is a Gruyere with its slightly sweet and creamy flavor. Generous slices of black forest ham really makes the recipe. Dijon mustard is here to offer balance and acidity to the finished product. Some recipes will even stir a small amount into the bechamel sauce.

The cooking techniques vary depending on taste as well. Toasted to a golden brown on both sides in a frying pan with melted butter is found in Larousse. Some recipes toast the bread before assembling the sandwich and a few even leave it open faced with bechamel drizzled over it like a rarebit. Many chefs opt for pan frying, then topping with the bechamel and finishing briefly under a broiler to brown the sauce. Just before serving is when the egg, white firm, but yellow still runny would be added for the croque madam.

Variations on this basic grilled sandwich are many. Included are, sliced tomato for a Provencale, croque bolognese with a meat sauce and the Norwegian with smoked salmon replacing the ham.  A favorite, sweeter version sure to please the kids is the Hawaiian with a slice of pineapple.

The Rice you Eat

Posted by Garry | Cuisine and Food | Tuesday 29 March 2016 11:01 am

One of the common cereals or the most consumed is rice. About 1/3 of the world population consumes rice. It is an annual crop grown in swamps, dry land depending on variety and mode it is being planted is through spraying in large scale or using the nursery. Some countries have much capitalised on it as it is a source of revenue to the government due to their exportation. Even kids cherish rice to other foods. There was a time when a relative was taking one of these rice varieties and he said it taste like you are eating sponge, why? Because he ate another part of the same ‘rice’. The science inclined refers to rice as Orysa sativa, Orysa glaberrima.

Also there is different rice produced from different parts of the world like the one cultivated majorly in:

Africa

The African Rice is one type of rice cultivated by peasant and commercial farmers. It can’t be milled unlike its Asian counterpart. They are good resistant variety to climatic, soil PH and diseases.

New Rice for Africa looks like a hybrid  or the crossing of the Orysa sativa and Orysa glaberrima and it got the character of both. This rice is just an improvement to boost the production of rice in Africa as there are teeming demands for rice. So, Africa Rice Centre developed a method to supply the masses with enough cereal.

Ofada Rice is very common in South West Africa (Nigeria) . The specie of rice has this commercial importance in this part of the world as it supplements the imported Asian Rice. Apart of that, the Ofada rice is a demand especially among commercial caterers in that part as it swells better when cooked than other species and this increase their profit.

Canada

Indian Rice/Canada Rice/water Oat; they are historically grown by North America and China but it’s almost going into extinction in that part. Grown in small lakes and shallow waters commercially. A source of food as many eat the grains and its stem  as its good vegetable.

Chinese

Forbidden Rice; also known as purple rice or black rice. It has got high nutritional value, with a deep black colour which can turn purple when cooked. The Chinese use this rice to produce some of their foods like noodles, porridge, rice cake or bread 

The Indian varieties

Basmati Rice; traditionally from the Indians and Pakistanis has different varieties. To complement it is its fragrance like that of pop corn

Ambemohar Rice; grown in India, with a  good flavour and has this aroma like that of mango when cooked. It is preferred to others  as when it is prepared, it looks soft and can be chewed easily.

Dubraj Rice; Grown by the Indians available in sizes ranging from short to medium. Having an aromatic taste in cooked.

Joha  Rice; a variety of rice grown in paddy field in India and notably for its aroma, delicate and excellent taste.

Rosematta rice; also known as Matta rice, rich in fibre which takes long time when cooking and takes much of water.

Navara Rice; One of the popular grown rice in India which is said to have mineral and chemical compositions which energises weak muscles. Also used in treatment of neuromuscular disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism and other related problems.

Patna Rice; a good staple food  known for its elongated kernel with large grain greater than 6mm. Possessing a strong aroma  in  relation to Basmati Rice.

Improved Samba Mahsuri;a kind of hybrid from a research institute(Directorate of  Rice Research ) present in India, which made the variety resistant to bacteria blight disease. Fine grain with excellent cooking quality.

Iranian variety

Domsiah Rice; a long grain rice possessing black spot at one end. It is more or equal to the Basmati Rice.  When being cooked, it becomes flaky, fluffy and tasty.

Italian variety

Arborio Rice; a short grain rice that when cooked it has this firm, creamy and chewy nature due to its starch content.

Cornaroli; different from Arborio Rice with higher starch content, firm nature and longer grain.

Variety in Japan

Sasanikishi; produced from Furukawa Agricultural Experiment Station. What is very particular about this rice is its ability to retain its taste even when it is cold and it is good for Sushi.

Thai variety

Glutinous Rice; Also known as sticky, sweet rice or waxy rice grown in the Asian continent which is sticky when cooked. The glutinous rice also has this distinguishable feature like possessing amylase and high amount of Amylopectin responsible for its sticky nature.  The bran can be removed or not removed if it is to be processed.

United States variety

Wehani Rice is an aromatic brown rice slightly resembling Wild Rice. Slightly chewy and when cooked have an aroma similar to hot buttered peanuts.

Calrose Rice is a medium grain variety produced from California Rice Industry accounting for more than 70% of rice consumed in the US. After cooking it the grain holds flavor, soft, stick together making it good for sushi.

The difference between brand name food and store brand food

Posted by Garry | Cuisine and Food | Saturday 26 March 2016 3:01 am

The concept of store brand food is a recent innovation and has become increasingly popular at supermarkets as a competitor to brand-name products from companies such as Heinz, Coca-Cola or Nestle.

It is clear that store-brand food versus brand-name food has certainly gained a greater place in consumers’ consciousness. Indeed, some studies have even predicted that store-brand foods will represent 20% of sales in the next few years.

There are several reasons for this innovation, which include better margins, a more vertically integrated supply chain and more control over the customer experience and business operations. All of these are relevant factors to consider when comparing store-brand food versus brand-name food.

The history of store brands

Although some brand name companies argue that their products provide better quality than those of store brands, this myth has been widely debunked by companies such as Loblaws.

The company has been actively increasing the presence and credibility of store brand foods through their President’s Choice, which was widely touted as the first premium store brand, an innovation which was widely duplicated in the grocery industry. This is just one example of the prominence of store-brand food versus brand-name food.

A great advantage that President’s Choice and other store-brands had over their brand name competitors from the onset was that the cost of selling their product was always below their brand name counterparts, which created greater incentive to give them more shelf space, flyer space and advertising exposure .

Since the grocer has control over what he or she displays on the shelves, it became easier for store brands to gain prominence in the consumer’s mind.

The argument for brand names

Brand name companies argue that their products are better quality and also contend that the brand names are often the ones driving innovation within the industry, only to be copied by store brand imitations.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to patent or trademark a food recipe so brand names are very susceptible to this type of competition, the ethical implications of which have been debated by many.

However, as store brands gained more exposure, customers began to appreciate that the quality in many cases was in fact comparable or better than the supposedly ‘more premium’ items created by the big multi-national conglomerates.

Nonetheless, brand loyalty has helped large companies like Pepsi maintain their staying power and continue their reach to millions of customers. Especially for products which are difficult to differentiate such as Pepsi, the power of the brand name is even more pronounced than normal.

It is clear that there are arguments to be made in favor of both store-brand food versus brand-name food. While there is debate as to whether the quality of food is superior to brand name providers, there is no doubt that their exposure will decrease as supermarket and grocery chains realize their store brand items are able to earn better profits for their stores.

The Benefits of Eating Shiitake Mushrooms

Posted by Hildred | Cuisine and Food | Saturday 19 March 2016 3:01 pm

Shiitake mushrooms are commonly associated with Asian cooking, primarily because they are native to Asia. However, in recent years, they have become popular in many other countries. In the United States, for example, they have become so popular that many local farmers are now growing the mushrooms and selling them at $16 a pound.

As a USA Today article explains, the Department of Agriculture, recognising that there was huge market potential in shiitake mushrooms, gave a grant to the University of Vermont Extension’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Cornell University Cooperative Extension. As a result, 20 farms in Vermont and New York were chosen as research sites. The farms in question are now selling to local restaurants and cooperatives after workshops in shiitake mushroom growing. The initial injection of capital is relatively low because all that is needed is logs, mushroom spawn and hard work. 

There are a number of reasons why shiitake mushrooms are currently in such high demand:

Great taste

USA Today describes the taste of fresh shiitake mushrooms as “both light and meaty, with a rich nutty flavor featuring a hint of garlic,” yet depending on the type of logs they are grown on and how they are cooked, they can have a range of different flavours. In the past, dried shiitake mushrooms, which can be imported very cheaply from Asia, have been more commonly available and are certainly full of flavour. However, as the market in the U.S. has shown, the fresh version is increasingly in demand.

Nutritional benefits

People don’t generally think of mushrooms as being nutritious, but in the case of shiitake mushrooms, they certainly are. They contain high amounts of Vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6, as well as Vitamin D. They also contain minerals in the form of selenium, manganese, copper, zinc, potassium and phosphorus as well as a variety of phytonutrients, dietary fibre and protein. They are very low in calories.  

Health benefits

Probably because shiitake mushrooms are so full of nutrients, they are believed to have a number of health benefits. According to WH Foods, numerous studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms “help prevent excessive immune system activity.” However, they can also stimulate the immune system when necessary. They are also believed to help reduce the amount of cholesterol in the body and, because of the antioxidants that they contain, they help prevent damage to the lining of blood vessels. Finally, there is ongoing research that suggests shiitake mushrooms have anti-cancer properties. 

Long shelf-life

Although shiitake mushrooms are primarily grown in the United States to be eaten fresh, they do have an excellent shelf life. According to mushroompeople.com, if they are refrigerated and stored in paper bags or cartons, they can be kept for about a month. They can also be dehydrated if they cannot be eaten within a month. The flavour of dehydrated shiitake mushrooms is more intense than the fresh, which some people find preferable; however, eight pounds of fresh mushrooms which are dehydrated and then rehydrated only make about four pounds. 

Whether you are thinking of growing shiitake mushrooms, or just want to eat them, there is no doubt that they have a number of benefits. Perhaps that is why the average person in the United States eats 4 pounds of them per year.