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Archive for the ‘Ingredients’ Category

Popcorn Flour

Popcorn Powder

Popcorn Flour

For some inexplicable reason, the only way to buy popcorn kernels from my distributors is in 50 lb bags. 50 pounds makes a gargantuan amount of popcorn. (Or you could grind the kernels into cornmeal.) I went on a madcap adventure of popcorn mousse, popcorn ice cream, and popcorn pudding dessert specials. The endless popcorn infusions got tiring and I wondered what would happen if I dumped a bunch of popcorn in a food processor…

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Corn Flour

Corn Flour

I’ve been on a mad tear with the corn flour lately: corn flour biscuits, corn flour pancake, corn flour bread. Corn flour, which is super-fine ground cornmeal, adds a subtle corn flavor and stunning yellow hue to baked goods—all of the corn flavor with none of the grit. Although corn flour is gluten-free, I tend to use it for flavor rather than a flour substitute because when used in large amounts, the texture of cakes and breads become dry and crumbly. By far, my favorite corn flour treat has been this blueberry-corn flour poundcake. One taste of this poundcake and you’ll understand why blueberry and corn is a refreshing food pairing that offers respite from the humid haze of summer months.

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Ricotta is underrated in the cheese world—always a supporting actress but never the lead. Cheese connoisseurs wax poetic about the vintage of a Cheddar cheese or the stink of a blue cheese but I’ve never heard people swoon over ricotta (unless they’re debating which ricotta makes the best cannoli filling). This ability to fade into the background makes ricotta the perfect companion in desserts where its creaminess and simple sweet taste creates a blank canvas for flavors to co-mingle and meld. My obsession with incorporating cheese into desserts thus inspired me to make this simple cheese. Although my initial attempts at making ricotta met with paltry curds and oceans of whey, I felt that ricotta was a Mount Everest worth climbing as commercial ricotta tastes so bland and nondescript.

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A pictorial glance at the commercial ice cream industry: the uncensored truth behind how much we eat, what those marketing terms mean, and what those stabilizers do:

 

whatsinthaticecream--INFOGRAPHIC

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Olive Oil-Polenta Cake with Candied Olive Shortbread and Tangerine Sorbet

Olive Oil-Polenta Cake with Candied Olive Shortbread and Tangerine Sorbet

When you think of olive oil, dessert is not the first thing to come to mind. In Italy and the Mediterranean, olive oil is so abundant that it’s cheaper than butter and is a common ingredient for baking. Some would say using olive oil in desserts is just a trend but I hope it’s a trend that’s here to stay. I used to have a running joke that “butter makes it better” which I’ve found to be true with cookies.  But with other pastries and desserts, my love affair with butter is starting to wane. (Unless the butter is browned, but that’s another post…)

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Although fermented foods can be an acquired taste, they are much more common than people think.  Beer, cheese, wine (notably Champagne), and vinegar are all fermented foods. What we commonly think of as bread proofing is actually bread fermenting. Even cocoa, coffee, and vanilla beans are fermented to develop the unique flavors that we’ve come to prize. Fermentation used to be the province of households and communities but we have relegated this process to factory production. The techniques developed over thousands of years to make alcohol, preserve food and make it more digestible and delicious are becoming obscure and in danger of being lost to future generations. What is fermentation and why should we care?

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