A Christmas Favorite – Brittle

December 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Posted in dessert | 1 Comment
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Golden peanut brittle cracked on a serving dish

Golden peanut brittle cracked on a serving dish

Brittle, is a type of confection, consisting of flat broken pieces of hard sugar candy embedded with nuts such as pecans, almonds, or peanuts. It has many variations around the world, such as pasteli in Greece, croquant in France and Chikki in India. In parts of the Middle East, brittle is made with pistachios, while many Asian countries use sesame seeds and peanuts. Peanut brittle is the most popular brittle recipe in the US. The term brittle first appears in print in 1892, though the candy itself has been around for much longer.

 
Traditionally, a mixture of sugar and water is heated to the hard crack stage corresponding to a temperature of approximately 300 °F (149 °C), although some recipes also call for ingredients such as corn syrup and salt in the first step. Nuts are mixed with the caramelized sugar. At this point spices, leavening agents, and often peanut butter or butter are added. The hot candy is poured out onto a flat surface for cooling, traditionally a granite or marble slab. The hot candy may be troweled to uniform thickness. When the brittle cools, it is broken into pieces.

Fish of the Week – Turbot

September 3, 2013 at 8:42 AM | Posted in fish, Fish of the Week | 2 Comments
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Turbot

Turbot

The turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) is a species of flatfish in the family Scophthalmidae. It is a demersal fish native to marine or brackish waters of the North Atlantic, Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

 

 

The word comes from the Old French tourbout, which in turn is thought to be a derivative of the Latin turbo (“spinning top”) a possible reference to its shape. Early reference to the Turbot can be found in a satirical poem (The Emperor’s Fish) by Juvenal, a Roman poet of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries A.D., suggesting this fish was a delicacy in the Roman empire.
In the UK, Turbot is pronounced /ˈtɜrbət/ tur-bət. In the US it is pronounced /ˈtɜrboʊ/ tur-boh (the French pronunciation of “turbot” is [tyʁbo]).
In Turkey, where the fish is popular and expensive, it is called “Kalkan” – “shield” – due to the fish’s resemblance to the item. Instead of a smooth skin, Kalkan (Scophthalmus maeoticus), which is from the Black Sea, has small spikes on both sides; it is considered a subspecies of the Mediterranean Turbot (Scophthalmus maximus).

 

 

The turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) is a large left-eyed flatfish found primarily close to shore in sandy shallow waters throughout the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the North Atlantic. The European turbot has an asymmetrical disk-shaped body, and has been known to grow up to 100 cm (39 in) long and 25 kg (55 lb) in weight.

 

 

Turbot is highly prized as a food fish for its delicate flavor, and is also known as breet, britt or butt. It is a valuable commercial species, acquired through aquaculture and trawling. Turbot are farmed in France, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Turkey, Chile, Norway, and China. Turbot has a bright white flesh that retains this appearance when cooked. Like all flatfish, turbot yields four fillets with meatier topside portions that may be baked, poached or pan-fried.

 

 

 

 

Baked Turbot

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 serving-size portions of Turbot
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
4 pats of Light Butter
Ground White Pepper, to taste
Hungarian Paprika, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Lay the turbot fillets on a baking sheet or baking dish. Drizzle with lemon juice, then sprinkle with white pepper, salt, and paprika. Lay a pat of butter on each portion – you can break the butter in smaller bits if you like.
Bake at 400 degrees until the fish is cooked through – about 20 minutes. Serve hot garnished with a bit of lemon.
Slice the remaining 1/2 lemon into wedges and serve it with the fish.

June 14-16, 2013 Versailles Poultry Days – Versailles, Ohio

June 13, 2013 at 8:06 AM | Posted in chicken, Festivals, grilling | Leave a comment
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June 14-16, 2013 Versailles Poultry DaysVersailles, Ohio
The 62nd annual event will have chicken dinners, entertainment, Miss Chick and Little Miss Poultry Days contests, rides and games for POULTRYFESTall ages, two parades, kiddie tractor pull, 5K Run, arts, crafts, flower, and photography shows, and the greatest Ultimate Frisbee Tournament in the world! Attendance: 25,000.
The Versailles Poultry Days’ Board of Directors and the Village of Versailles welcome you to the 62nd annual Poultry Days festival June 14, 15 and 16th, 2013. The 2013 Festival theme is “Poultrystock, Three Days of Friends, Music and CHICKEN”.

Poultry Days is an annual community festival began in 1952 to celebrate the area’s history as a leading poultry producer held the second full weekend in June. Arrive early to enjoy one of our World Famous chicken dinners. We expect to serve over 24,000 of these delicious chicken dinners but they can sell quickly.

The festival is always packed with activities. There are two parades, the Grand Parade at 11am on Saturday and the Antique Car & Tractor Parade at 2:30pm on Sunday. The Village will host the 32nd annual Ultimate Frisbee Tournament which is one of the top tournaments in the nation. Other activities include: Miss Chick and Little Miss Poultry Days contests, FREE Kiddie Tractor Pull, 5K Run, rides and games for all ages, Vendor Area, Cake and Egg Contests, Flower Show, Photography and Art Shows along with many other family friendly activities.

New for 2013 will be the Tour de Versailles 62 mile Gran Fondo (and 31 mile “Half” Fondo) cycling event occurring on Sunday June 16th. The Darke County Photography show joins the festival and the festival’s 5K gets a new route and becomes part of the Wayne Healthcare “Darke County Challenge”. Back for 2013 are the Bear Hollow Woodcarvers!

The Social Tent “Poultrystock” entertainment schedule will be the largest in festival history including Nashville Crush, Almost Empty, On the Radar, TRSS Drum Corp, Higgins Madewell, Pocket Change, Bushwack, Mark Cantwil, 8 Ball, and Karma’s Pawn.

Mark your calendar, schedule your vacation, review our schedule and if you have specific questions please email: Versailles Poultry Days Chairman
We look forward to seeing everyone in June!

Eric C. Stachler

2013 Festival Chairman
http://www.versaillespoultrydays.com/

One of America’s Favorites – Garlic

March 25, 2013 at 9:34 AM | Posted in cooking, spices and herbs | 1 Comment
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Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek,

A basket of garlic bulbs

A basket of garlic bulbs

chive, and rakkyo. With a history of human use of over 7,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

According to Zohary and Hopf, “A difficulty in the identification of its wild progenitor is the sterility of the cultivars”, though it is thought to be descended from the species Allium longicuspis, which grows wild in central and southwestern Asia. Allium sativum grows in the wild in areas where it has become naturalized. The “wild garlic”, “crow garlic”, and “field garlic” of Britain are members of the species Allium ursinum, Allium vineale, and Allium oleraceum, respectively. In North America, Allium vineale (known as “wild garlic” or “crow garlic”) and Allium canadense, known as “meadow garlic” or “wild garlic” and “wild onion”, are common weeds in fields. One of the best-known “garlics”, the so-called elephant garlic, is actually a wild leek (Allium ampeloprasum), and not a true garlic. Single clove garlic (also called pearl or solo garlic) originated in the Yunnan province of China.

There are a number of garlics with Protected Geographical Status in Europe; these include:
Aglio Rosso di Nubia (Red Garlic of Nubia) from Nubia-Paceco, Provincia di Trapani, Sicily, Italy
*Aglio Bianco Polesano from Veneto, Italy (PDO)
*Aglio di Voghiera from Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (PDO)
*Ail blanc de Lomagne from Lomagne in the Gascony area of France (PGI)
*Ail de la Drôme from Drôme in France (PGI)
*Ail rose de Lautrec a rose/pink garlic from Lautrec in France (PGI)
*Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras a rose/pink garlic from Las Pedroñeras in Spain (PGI)

Within the species, Allium sativum, there are also two main subspecies or varieties.
*Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon Döll, called Ophioscorodon, or hard necked garlic, includes porcelain garlics, rocambole garlic, and purple stripe garlics. It is sometimes considered to be a separate species, Allium ophioscorodon G.Don.
*Allium sativum var. sativum, or soft-necked garlic, includes artichoke garlic, silverskin garlic, and creole garlic.
Bulb garlic is available in many forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, fermented (black garlic) and shelf stable products (in tubes or jars). In addition, see Culinary uses for other edible parts of the garlic plant.

Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. While sexual propagation of garlic is indeed possible, nearly all of

Garlic being crushed using a garlic press


Garlic being crushed using a garlic press

the garlic in cultivation is propagated asexually, by planting individual cloves in the ground. In cold climates, cloves are planted in the fall, about six weeks before the soil freezes, and harvested in late spring. The cloves must be planted at minimum 4 inches underground to prevent freeze/thaw which causes mold or white rot Garlic plants are usually very hardy, and are not attacked by many pests or diseases. Garlic plants are said to repel rabbits and moles. Two of the major pathogens that attack garlic are nematodes and white rot disease, which remain in the soil indefinitely after the ground has become infected. Garlic also can suffer from pink root, a typically nonfatal disease that stunts the roots and turns them pink or red.
Garlic plants can be grown closely together, leaving enough space for the bulbs to mature, and are easily grown in containers of sufficient depth. Garlic does well in loose, dry, well drained soils in sunny locations, and is hardy throughout USDA climate zones 4 – 9. When selecting garlic for planting, it is important to pick large heads from which to separate cloves. Large cloves, along with proper spacing in the planting bed, will also improve head size. Garlic plants prefer to grow in a soil with a high organic material content, but are capable of growing in a wide range of soil conditions and pH levels.
There are different types or subspecies of garlic, most notably hardneck garlic and softneck garlic. The latitude where the garlic is grown affects the choice of type as garlic can be day-length sensitive. Hardneck garlic is generally grown in cooler climates; softneck garlic is generally grown closer to the equator.
Garlic scapes are removed to focus all the garlic’s energy into bulb growth. The scapes can be eaten raw or cooked.

Garlic is grown globally, but China is by far the largest producer of garlic, with approximately 10.5 million tonnes (23 billion pounds) grown annually, accounting for over 77% of world output. India (4.1%) and South Korea (2%) follow, with Egypt and Russia (1.6%) tied in fourth place and the United States (where garlic is grown in every state except for Alaska) in sixth place (1.4%). This leaves 16% of global garlic production in countries that each produce less than 2% of global output. Much of the garlic production in the United States is centered in Gilroy, California, which calls itself the “garlic capital of the world”.

Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment.
The garlic plant’s bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. With the exception of the single clove types, garlic bulbs are normally divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Garlic cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked) or for medicinal purposes. They have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.
Other parts of the garlic plant are also edible. The leaves and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are sometimes eaten. They are milder in flavor than the bulbs, and are most often consumed while immature and still tender. Immature garlic is sometimes pulled, rather like a scallion, and sold as “green garlic”. When green garlic is allowed to grow past the “scallion” stage, but not permitted to fully mature, it may produce a garlic “round”, a bulb like a boiling onion, but not separated into cloves like a mature bulb. Additionally, the immature flower stalks (scapes) of the hardneck and elephant types are sometimes marketed for uses similar to asparagus in stir-fries.
Inedible or rarely eaten parts of the garlic plant include the “skin” and root cluster. The papery, protective layers of “skin” over various parts of the plant are generally discarded during preparation for most culinary uses, though in Korea immature whole heads are sometimes prepared with the tender skins intact. The root cluster attached to the basal plate of the bulb is the only part not typically considered palatable in any form.
Garlic is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions, including eastern Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America. The flavor varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato, or ginger. The parchment-like skin is much like the skin of an onion, and is typically removed before using in raw or cooked form. An alternative is to cut the top off the bulb, coat the cloves by dribbling olive oil (or other oil-based seasoning) over them, and roast them in an oven. Garlic softens and can be extracted from the cloves by squeezing the (root) end of the bulb, or individually by squeezing one end of the clove. In Korea, heads of garlic are fermented at high temperature; the resulting product, called black garlic, is sweet and syrupy, and is now being sold in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

Garlic may be applied to different kinds of bread to create a variety of classic dishes, such as garlic bread, garlic toast, bruschetta, crostini and canapé.
Oils can be flavored with garlic cloves. These infused oils are used to season all categories of vegetables, meats, breads and pasta.
In some cuisines, the young bulbs are pickled for three to six weeks in a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices. In eastern Europe, the shoots are pickled and eaten as an appetizer.
Immature scapes are tender and edible. They are also known as “garlic spears”, “stems”, or “tops”. Scapes generally have a milder taste than the cloves. They are often used in stir frying or braised like asparagus.[16] Garlic leaves are a popular vegetable in many parts of Asia. The leaves are cut, cleaned, and then stir-fried with eggs, meat, or vegetables.
Mixing garlic with egg yolks and olive oil produces aioli. Garlic, oil, and a chunky base produce skordalia. Blending garlic, almond, oil, and soaked bread produces ajoblanco.
Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. If used as a substitute for fresh garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to one clove of garlic.

Domestically, garlic is stored warm [above 18 °C (64 °F)] and dry to keep it dormant (so it does not sprout). It is traditionally hung; softneck varieties are often braided in strands called plaits or grappes. Peeled cloves may be stored in wine or vinegar in the refrigerator. Commercially, garlic is stored at 0 °C (32 °F), in a dry, low-humidity environment. Garlic will keep longer if the tops remain attached.
Garlic is often kept in oil to produce flavored oil; however, the practice requires measures to be taken to prevent the garlic from spoiling. Untreated garlic kept in oil can support the growth of Clostridium botulinum which causes the deadly botulism illness; refrigeration will not assure the safety of garlic kept in oil. To reduce this risk, the oil should be refrigerated and used within one week. Commercially prepared oils are widely available. Manufacturers add acids and/or other chemicals to eliminate the risk of botulism in their products. Two outbreaks of botulism related to garlic stored in oil have been reported.
In 1961, Chester Lilley from Kent in England was the first person to transform garlic into a pill form for storage. Although not widely accepted at the time for culinary uses, a capsulate solution for both the storage and simple dosing of garlic has become commonplace.

One of America’s Favorites – Ham

December 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Posted in baking, cooking, Food | Leave a comment
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Ham is a cut of meat from the thigh of the hind leg of an animal, sometimes being a pigs. Nearly all hams sold today are either fully

Ham

Ham

cooked or cured.

 

The word ham is derived from the Old English ham or hom meaning the hollow or bend of the knee.

 

The United States largely inherited its traditions relating to ham and pork from 17th-century Britain and 18th-century France, the latter especially in Louisiana. The French often used wet cure processed hams that are the foundation stock of several modern dishes, like certain gumbos and sandwiches. Until the very early 20th century, men living in the southern Appalachians would drive their pigs to market in the flatlands below each Autumn, fattening up their stock on chestnuts and fallen mast. Further, archaeological evidence suggests that the early settlers of Jamestown (men largely from the West Midlands) built swine pens for the pigs they brought with them and, once established, also carried on an ancient British tradition of slaughtering their pigs and producing their pork in mid-November. To this day, the result is that in many areas, a large ham, not a turkey, is the centerpiece of a family Christmas dinner.

 

In the United States, ham is regulated primarily on the basis of its cure and water content. The USDA recognizes the following categories: Fresh ham is an uncured hind leg of pork. Country ham is uncooked, cured, dried, smoked or unsmoked, made from a single piece of meat from the hind leg of a hog or from a single piece of meat from a pork shoulder (picnic ham). Country ham typically is saltier and less sweet than city ham. Virginia’s Smithfield ham, a country ham, must be grown and produced in or around Smithfield, Virginia, to be sold as a Smithfield ham. Similar hams from Tennessee and the Appalachians have a similar method of preparation, but may include honey in their cures and be hickory smoked. As country ham ages, mold may grow on the outside of the ham, while the rest of the meat continues to age. This process produces a distinctive flavor, but the mold layer is usually scrubbed or cut off the ham before being cooked and served.

For most other purposes, under US law, a “ham” is a cured hind leg of pork that is at least 20.5% protein (not counting fat portions), and contains no added water. However, “ham” can be legally applied to “turkey ham” if the meat is taken from the turkey thigh. If the ham has less than 20.5% but is at least 18.5% protein, it can be called “ham with natural juices”. A ham that is at least 17.0% protein and up to 10% added solution can be called “ham—water added”. Finally, “ham and water product” refers to a cured hind leg of pork product that contains any amount of added water, although the label must indicate the percent added ingredients. If a ham has been cut into pieces and molded, it must be labelled “sectioned and formed”, or “chunked and formed” if coarsely ground.

Sugar is common in many dry hams in the United States; it is used to cover the saltiness. The majority of common wet-cured ham available in U.S. supermarkets is of the “city ham” or “sweet cure” variety, in which brine is injected into the meat for a very rapid curing suitable for mass market. Traditional wet curing requires immersing the ham in a brine for an extended period, often followed by light smoking.

In addition to the main categories, some processing choices can affect legal labeling. A ‘smoked’ ham must have been smoked by

A hickory smoked country ham being displayed

A hickory smoked country ham being displayed

hanging over burning wood chips in a smokehouse or an atomized spray of liquid smoke such that the product appearance is equivalent; a “hickory-smoked” ham must have been smoked using only hickory. However, injecting “smoke flavor” is not legal grounds for claiming the ham was “smoked”; these are labeled “smoke flavor added”. Hams can only be labelled “honey-cured” if honey was at least 50% of the sweetener used, is at least 3% of the formula, and has a discernible effect on flavor. So-called “lean” and “extra lean” hams must adhere to maximum levels of fat and cholesterol per 100 grams of product.

Turkey ham, a boneless product made from pressed turkey thigh meat, is a low-fat alternative to traditional ham in the US.

Spiral sliced ham has become popular option for bone-in or boneless hams sold in the US. In the spiral cutting process, the ham is firmly affixed, on the top and bottom, to a rotating base, which is gradually lowered as a blade is applied. This creates one single continuous slice.

 

Tinned ham (more commonly known in the United States as “canned ham”) is a meat product that is sold exclusively in tins (or cans). The ham itself is usually formed from smaller cuts of meat, cooked in the can, and is often covered in an aspic jelly during the canning process. Two versions are available, perishable and shelf-stable. Tinned ham is usually sold in supermarkets and convenience stores.

 

Ham is uncooked preserved pork. It is cured (a preservation process) usually in large quantities of salt and sugar. Then hot smoked (hung over a hot, smokey fire but out of direct heat) to preserve it more. This process keeps the pink hue of the uncooked meat. Standard pork, like chops, are raw and unpreserved. When heat is applied to the meat a chemical reaction happens that turns the hemoglobin white. This also happens when an acid is applied to meats.

 

The pink color of ham develops in the curing process which involves salt and usually either nitrites or nitrates. The nitrate cure is used

Sliced ham

Sliced ham

for product that will either be kept a long time or at room temperature like dry salami. Most hams are cured with nitrite and salt today.

 

The cure prevents the growth of unhealthy bacteria (maybe deadly) before enough moisture is withdrawn by the salt. This is particularly important if the product is to be smoked above 40F when these bacteria grow. The “danger zone” for uncured product is between 40F and 140F.

 

There is confusion in the words curing and brining. Brining is done with salt and usually sugar and only alters the product color a little. Curing is done with salt and nitrates.

 

Sodium nitrite is used for the curing of meat because it prevents bacterial growth and, in a reaction with the meat’s myoglobin, gives the product a desirable dark red color. Because of the toxicity of nitrite (the lethal dose of nitrite for humans is about 22 mg per kg body weight), the maximum allowed nitrite concentration in meat products is 200 ppm. Under certain conditions, especially during cooking, nitrites in meat can react with degradation products of amino acids, forming nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.

Cheese of the Week – Vignotte

November 3, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Posted in cheese, cooking, Food | 3 Comments
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Vignotte is a high (75%) milk-fat (“Triple cream“) cow’s milk French cheese in a powdery white, bloomy skin of mold.It tastes like an

Vignotte cheese

intense version of Brie. Extra heavy cream is added to the cheese during manufacture. A traditional wheel of Vignotte is smaller and shaped higher than the familiar flat wheel of Brie.

 

While the crust of the cheese is velvety, its insides are not runny, as one would expect. Rather, the insides are solid, and more like creamy paste. This makes the cheese perfect for use in a variety of preparations, right from soups and appetizers to main course dishes and even sauces and dips. Largely considered a table cheese, it is great for grilling as well; and thanks to the mild flavor of the cheese, it is pretty good when paired with most of the white wines as well as dry red wines. Fruits are also a good companion.

 

Although the cheese is prepared in a few places apart from France, the typical French variety is considered the best and most preferred especially by purists. Across France, this cheese is available in stores and supermarkets; and overseas the cheese can be bought from some specialized stores. It can also be ordered online. This French cheese can be bought in rounds as petite as a pound; however, ones with larger rounds are considered to be more flavorsome.

Storing the cheese is never a problem as the cheese has a good shelf life. Vignotte is stored in a cool and dry place.

Cheese of the Week – Mini Baby Bells

August 22, 2012 at 9:58 AM | Posted in cheese, cooking | Leave a comment
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Babybel is a brand of cheese sold internationally. The Bel Group introduced Babybel in 1952 and in 1977 Mini Babybel was launched in France. In 1979, Mini Babybel was launched in the U.S. under the Laughing Cow umbrella brand. As of 2011, Mini Babybel is eaten in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. As of March 2011, 75% of all Mini Babybel cheese is eaten outside of France.

The brand is marketed as a natural, convenient snack. Flavors distributed in the U.S. are created in Leitchfield, Kentucky, and at times in France.

Mini Babybel is known for its unique packaging which consists of a netted bag in which each piece is encased in wax. Numerous flavors of Mini Babybel are offered across the world. The original Mini Babybel and US distributed Mini Babybel light, an Edam variety, is encased in red wax. Other varieties offered in Europe are available such as Mini Babybel Light (diet version of the Edam variety) in white wax with a light blue label, Emmental in yellow wax, Gouda in yellow wax with an orange wrapper, Goat in green wax and Cheddar in purple wax. The original is also available in Kosher and Halal variety in the UK, which come in nets of 5 with each cheese wheel weighing 22 grams – slightly more than the original varieties. Tesco and Sainsbury’s are the first major UK supermarkets to sell Kosher/Halal Mini Babybel ranges.Others have shown interest.

There are currently nine flavors offered in the US: Original, Sharp Original, Light, Bonbel, Cheddar, White Cheddar, Emmental Art, Swiss, and Gouda.

Cheese of the Week – Brie

April 25, 2012 at 8:54 AM | Posted in cheese, Food | Leave a comment
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Brie is the best known French cheese and has a nickname “The Queen of Cheeses”. Several hundred years ago, Brie was one of the

Brie

tributes which had to be paid to the French kings. In France, Brie is very different from the cheese exported to the United States. “Real” French Brie is unstabilized and the flavor is complex when the surface turns slightly brown. When the cheese is still pure-white, it is not matured. If the cheese is cut before the maturing process is finished, it will never develop properly. Exported Brie, however, is stabilized and never matures. Stabilized Brie has a much longer shelf life and is not susceptible to bacteriological infections. Brie, one of the great dessert cheeses, comes as either a 1 or 2 kilogram wheel and is packed in a wooden box. In order to enjoy the taste fully, Brie must be served at room temperature.

Country: France

Milk: cow milk

Texture: soft

Fat content: 45 %

Recommended Wine:     Bourgogne

Producer: Societe fromagere de la Brie
19 Avenue du Grand Morin
77169 Saint-Simeon

Brie /ˈbriː/ is a soft cow’s cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern département of Seine-et-Marne). It is pale in color with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold. The whitish moldy rind is typically eaten, the flavor quality of which depends largely upon the ingredients used and its manufacturing environment.

Brie may be produced from whole or semi-skimmed milk. The curd is obtained by adding rennet to raw milk and heating it to a maximum temperature of 37° C. The cheese is then cast into molds, sometimes with a traditional perforated ladle called a pelle à brie. The 20cm mold is filled with several thin layers of cheese and drained for approximately 18 hours. The cheese is then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with cheese mold (Penicillium candidum, Penicillium camemberti) or Brevibacterium linens, and aged in a cellar for at least four to five weeks.

If left to mature for longer, typically several months to a year, the cheese becomes stronger in flavor and taste, the pâte drier and darker, and the rind also darker and crumbly, and is called Brie Noir (Fr: black Brie). Around the Île-de-France where Brie is made, people enjoy soaking this in café au lait and eating it for breakfast.

Overripe Brie contains an unpleasant excessive amount of ammonia which is produced by the same microorganisms required for ripening.

There are now many varieties of Brie made all over the world, including plain Brie, herbed varieties, double and triple Brie and versions of Brie made with other types of milk. Indeed, although Brie is a French cheese, it is possible to obtain Somerset and Wisconsin Brie. Despite the variety of Bries, the French government officially certifies only two types of cheese to be sold under that name: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.

The Brie de Meaux, manufactured outside of Paris since the 8th century, was originally known as the “King’s Cheese”, or, after the French Revolution, the “King of Cheeses,” and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.

Brie noir

Brie is usually purchased either in a full wheel or as a wheel segment. Further sub-division in most homes is subject to social

conventions that have arisen to ensure that each person partaking in the cheese receives a roughly equal amount of skin. Slices are taken along the radius of the cheese rather than across the point. Removing the more desirable tip from a wedge of brie is known as “pointing the Brie” and is regarded as a faux pas. The white outside of the cheese is completely edible, and many eat Brie whole.

Camembert is a similar soft cheese, also made from cow milk. However, there are differences beyond the simple geographical fact that Brie originates from the Champagne and Camembert from Normandy. Brie is produced in large wheels and thus ripens differently: when sold it typically has been cut from a wheel, and therefore its side is not covered by the rind; Camembert, meanwhile, is ripened as a small round cheese and sold as such, so it is fully covered by rind. This changes the ratio between the rind and the inner part of the cheese. Furthermore, Brie contains more fat than Camembert.

Cheese of the Week – Blue Cheese

April 9, 2012 at 9:58 AM | Posted in cheese, Food | Leave a comment
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One of my favorite Cheese!

Blue Cheese

It is a white cheese with blue veins and sometimes crumbly interior. This cheese usually has tangy, piquant, spicy and peppery flavor.

Gorgonzola, a veined blue cheese from Italy.

Use in salad dressings with cream cheese for spreads.

Country:
Texture: hard

Blue cheese is a general classification of cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk cheeses that have had cultures of the mold Penicillium added so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with blue, blue-gray or blue-green mold, and carries a distinct smell, either from that or various specially cultivated bacteria. Some blue cheeses are injected with spores before the curds form and others have spores mixed in with the curds after they form. Blue cheeses are typically aged in a temperature-controlled environment such as a cave. Blue cheese can be eaten by itself or can be crumbled or melted over foods.

In the European Union many blue cheeses such as Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Blue Stilton carry a protected designation of origin, meaning they can bear the name only if they have been made in a particular region in a certain country. Similarly, individual countries have protections of their own such as France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and Italy’s Denominazione di Origine Protetta. Blue cheeses with no protected origin name are designated simply “blue cheese”.

Blue cheese is believed to have been discovered by accident. The caves in which early cheeses were aged shared the properties of being temperature and moisture controlled environments, as well as being favorable to many varieties of harmless mold. Roquefort is said to have been invented in 1070 AD. Gorgonzola is one of the oldest known blue cheeses, having been created around 879 AD, though it is said that it did not actually contain blue veins until around the 11th century. Stilton is a relatively new addition occurring sometime in the 18th century. Many varieties of blue cheese that originated subsequently were an attempt to fill the demand for Roquefort-style cheeses that were prohibitive due to either cost or politics.

Blue cheese is a common categorization of cow’s milk and/or goat’s milk cheeses with a blue or blue-green mold. The blue mold in these cheeses is due to mold spores from Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum to name a few.

Most blue cheeses (bleu cheese) today are either injected with the mold or the mold is mixed right in with the curds, to ensure an even distribution of the mold. Blue cheese was initially produced in caves, where there was a natural presence of mold. Most of these cheeses must still be matured or aged in the caves where they were originally developed. So the longer it ages, the more intense the flavour and smoother the texture. A combination of mold and other ingredients make up the color, flavor and texture of the cheese.

Many blue cheeses are made from whole cow’s milk, but there are also made with goat’s milk. These complex blue cheeses are usually categorized as some of the best cheeses in the world. There flavor is usually strong, and have a tangy taste that differentiate these type of cheeses from others.

Types of Blue Cheese
• Gorgonzola – This blue cheese is from Italy and is made from cow’s milk.
• Stilton – This cheese is considered to be the king English cheeses, it is manufactured from sheep or cow’s milk.
• Roquefort – This is made from cow’s milk and is one of France’s national treasures. It is somewhat porous and has a green color rather than blue streaks. It has a soft, creamy texture and has a spicy taste.
• Cabrales – is one of the four most famous blue cheeses. It is a combination of cow, sheep and goat’s milk.
Danablu – One of the most well-known blue cheeses originally from Denmark.
• Benedictine Bleu – This cheese is from Canada and has been famous since 1943.

Cheese of the Week – Babybel

March 30, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Posted in cheese, Food | Leave a comment
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Babybel

This cheese is the French version of the Dutch Edam cheese. It features a distinctive, red wax coating.

Country: France
Milk: cow milk
Texture: soft

Babybel is a brand of cheese sold internationally. The Bel Group introduced Babybel in 1952 and in 1977 Mini Babybel was launched in France. In 1979, Mini Babybel was launched in the U.S. under the Laughing Cow umbrella brand. As of 2011, Mini Babybel is eaten in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. As of March 2011, 75% of all Mini Babybel cheese is eaten outside of France.

The brand is marketed as a natural, convenient snack. Flavors distributed in the U.S. are created in Leitchfield, Kentucky, and at times in France.

Mini Babybel is known for its unique packaging which consists of a netted bag in which each piece is encased in wax . Numerous flavors of Mini Babybel are offered across the world. The original Mini Babybel, an Edam variety, is encased in red wax. Other varieties offered in Europe are available such as Mini Babybel Light (diet version of the Edam variety) in white wax with a light blue label, Emmental in yellow wax, Gouda in yellow wax with an orange wrapper, Goat in green wax and Cheddar in purple wax. The original is also available in Kosher and Halal variety in the UK, which come in nets of 5 with each cheese wheel weighing 22 grams – slightly more than the original varieties. Tesco and Sainsbury’s are the first major UK supermarkets to sell Kosher/Halal Mini Babybel ranges.

There are currently nine flavors offered in the US: Original, Sharp Original, Light, Bonbel, Cheddar, White Cheddar, Emmental Art, Swiss, and Gouda.

My favorite way to eat Babybel is with your favorite cracker and a few Apple slices.

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