German Sausage Summer

There are too many sausage products in the market and this makes it even harder to find the best. It’s important to go for quality and well-known brands. This is because you are sure that their meats are of prime quality. Sausages are all about the meat and it goes without saying that people are more interesting having good meat content than fillers. It’s best to read the ingredients at the back to identify what you are buying. Spices have given new meaning to the flavor of a sausage but you also do not want to go for a sausage that has too many spices. As a general rule of thumb the fewer the ingredients in the packaging, the better it is.

You want your sausage to be firm especially when grilling it and still have great meat texture. Fat is an important part of a sausage and contrary to popular opinion, your sausage doesn’t need to be filled with high fat contents to be great. As we have seen, there are great sausage products which have 2% fat content and this is enough to cook your sausage in any way you want and still enjoy a juicy, well-flavored treat. Last but not least, it’s important to note that good sausages do not shrink when cooked. This is usually a sign of poor meat quality.

Sausages are a good source of nutrients and this is because they are packed with proteins, Vitamin B-12 which is a necessity for healthy red blood cells and iron a vital mineral in production of hemoglobin as well.

Having given you tips on what to look for in good sausages and their health advantages, we now arm you with interesting ways to make your sausages more enjoyable. You can begin by having a casserole which is a great way to enhance the flavor. You may also want to consider making some curried sausages which provides for great comfort food or baked sausages. One of the unique things about sausages is that they do not dry out or toughen in the oven. Sausage rolls are quite popular and these are usually popular due to their tasty and moist nature. Alternatively, you could mix up your sausages with some rice or pasta dishes or go the old-fashioned way and simply fry them or better still grill your German sausage.

Keep Vegetables Fresh

Plan Your Weekly Grocery Shop

Before you start your grocery shop, firstly plan the meals you intend to cook for the forthcoming week. This means you should only buy what you need and not be tempted to buy everything you see on the supermarket shelves.

Don’t buy based on cheap prices, because if you have no where to store them, whether that’s your fridge or a store cupboard the chances are they will go to waste.

The majority of fresh vegetables can usually be stored from 2 to 3 days, with the exception of root vegetables which can be anything from one week to several weeks depending where and how they are kept.

Storing Incompatible Foods

The title of this particular tip may sound a bit strange to some, but storing fruit and vegetables together can be problem because they are incompatible with each.

Both fruit and vegetables give off a gas called Ethylene after they are picked. This particular gas is harmless, tasteless and odourless. Storing these two together in a confined space will speed up the ripening of the more sensitive vegetable.

A plus point though if you need a vegetable to ripen early, just store it with some fruit and it will quicken the process. Otherwise make sure that they are separated whether it’s in a fridge or store cupboard.

Understanding Your Fridge

Storing vegetables in the fridge will ensure that they keep fresh and last longer because the cold environment will slow down the decaying process.

A word of caution here though, there are some exceptions to this, especially potatoes, they will quickly darken and their starch content turns to sugar resulting in a unpleasant taste when cooked. Depending who you believe onions are another root vegetable which is best left out of the fridge, although the opinion is divided among many people. It’s probably true to say they may last a little longer in the fridge but unless they are used in a very short space of time, they will lose their crispness and go soft.

When storing your vegetables in the fridge the best place for them is in the crisper drawer where there is high humidity. Most fridges will have either a fresh drawer or a crisper drawer. There is a slight difference between them and can be somewhat confusing, and if you’re not careful it can lead to your food being wasted because it hasn’t been properly stored.

A fresh drawer is primarily used to store food at a low temperature without actually freezing them, whereas a crisper drawer will help those foods with a high moisture content keep fresh for longer.

Pressure Cooker Foods

No doubt that no one can make applesauce like my grandmother used to, partly because she said what made it so good was her loving fingers. I believe her. Although we don’t have my grandmother’s pretty hands and smiling face with us anymore we do have her method and I am willing to share her method with you (lucky). So first things first, if you don’t already have a pressure cooker please go out and get one now. I would look in thrift shops and second hand stores first to find the best economic value. More than likely you will be able to find one in good condition that will last you for quite a while. If you are unable to find one used you will have no trouble finding one new in any major department store that carries kitchen appliances. Good luck on your hunt!

When making applesauce the apples are very important. Great care should be taken when obtaining your apples. My grandmother and I would get a bushel of apples from the tree that lived behind our house. If you don’t have your own apple tree you can always go out to an orchard (for a small fee) and pick your own apples. The next best thing would be to buy them from a farmers market pre-plucked. As a last option you can always get them from a grocery market. After we picked the plumpest apples we would bring them inside to wash, peel, take the core out, and cut them into chunks. Now we were ready to plop them into some water inside the pressure cooker. Next we would add two or three whole cinnamon sticks (Which never failed to surprise my cousin. He always thought that we had somehow put apple tree branches in there by accident.), some honey to taste (to lightly sweeten), and if it’s to your liking a smidge of butter.

The funny thing about my grandmother is that she never measured anything out yet somehow it was always consistent and always yummy. After being in the cooker for what seemed like forever (though in retrospect it probably was more like ten minutes or so). She would take the pressure cooker off of the heat source and let it stand for a while before opening it. Inside the pot magic had happened. The smells were fantastic and would fill our whole house. It was great. During the next step we would fill the quart sized Mason jars (32 Oz or 946.35 mL) almost to the tippy top with our homemade applesauce. Next lay on the flat part of the lid and then lay on the ring part screwing it down firmly. Fill the cooker with two or three inches of water, making sure you put the pressure cookers rack in before you place the jars inside. Tightly close up the cooker with seals in place. Turn the heat on high and wait for the steam.

Once the steam starts check your gauge to make sure it is at five or six pounds of pressure. Let the pressure cooker cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. Keep an eye on your cookers gauge to make sure everything is going smoothly. If there is excessive rattling, reduce the heat a tiny bit. Once the time is up (10 -15 min.) reduce the heat slowly until the pressure cookers gauge is at zero. Be careful when taking the lid off as the steam rising up could burn your skin. Take the jars out using tongs and place them on a cooling rack. The lids will make a popping noise when they cool. This popping noise will let you know that your can of yummy applesauce is sealed. Let the jars stand overnight.

In the morning take the rings off to check that the lid is sealed. If the lids are sealed replace the rings and put the jars in storage. If the lid is not sealed eat the applesauce right away or throw it out. You now know how to make a jar of grandma’s old fashioned applesauce to enjoy with your family for generations to come.

Louisiana Pecans

These nuts are very light and creamy, filled with nutrients that help you power through the workday. Their exceptional flavor has made them one of the most traditionally popular nuts for sweet confections like the pie and pralines mentioned above. Other varieties of nut can have a slight bitterness due to tannins that offset sweet applications. They are also used in savory dishes, such as crunchy salads or as a crust for fried fish. This incredible versatility makes pecans a top-notch companion to coffee or tea. A smoked nut is a great choice when drinking strong black coffee, or highlight the contrast of the bitterness with a sweet candied variety.

In addition to being naturally delicious, pecans are high in vitamins, protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. They also have a high amount of vitamin E and a substance called “tocopherol,” which has been connected to a lessened degree of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. In fact, the American Heart Association has declared pecans a “heart healthy” food! Nuts contain other compounds that can help shield your health from diseases like ALS, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Those searching to reduce their weight will appreciate a relatively low caloric impact with a filling nutritional profile. If munched alongside tea, your antioxidant intake can double instantly!

If you are seeking to bring more pecan nuts into your diet, the options are close to infinite. You can reduce calories by choosing a handful of raw unsalted nuts for a protein-packed pick-me-up, or choose a decadent chocolate-covered option for those long and trying days. For something a little on the sweet side but not quite sugar-packed, try a variety in a candy shell or cinnamon-spiced dust. For those who are lovers of savory things, try them smoked or cayenne-spiced for something different. No matter what the variety, these wonder nuts are an exceptional alternative choice when the clock ticks to 4 PM and the cookies are calling.

Mooncakes

Background

Traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a major holiday across China, Taiwan and Vietnam and is rife with traditions and history. As could be expected, food plays a major role in this autumn holiday.

Traditional Foods

One of the most visible and traditional Mid-Autumn recipes on display is often the mooncake. While many varieties exist, traditional mooncakes have a soft outside crust with a sweet, dense filling in the center. Other foods that are enjoyed during this time are things like pumpkin and taro to bring good health and good luck respectively. Other foods include wine with osmanthus flower and river snails, each of these are also tied to lore bringing happiness and bright eyes to those who consume them during the festival.

Simple mooncakes

Making mooncakes along with other Mid-Autumn recipes can be quite a challenge without access to traditional ingredients or mixes. In order to easily make this recipe, stopping by an Asian grocery will help speed up the process. Try to pick up ingredients like golden syrup, alkaline water, melon seeds, along with whatever fillings you’re considering for your traditional mooncakes. Another thing that should be picked up at any Asian market is a mooncake mould. They come in a variety of shapes and designs, so pick a few that could add a pleasant variety to your display.

Once you have picked up your ingredients, it’s time to make the filling and dough. For the filling to do ratio, consider this ratio 7 parts filling: 3 parts dough. That should give you an idea of how much to make when planning different types of filling.

Filling (feel free to make your own variations):

  • 14 oz. (400g Package) Lotus Seed Paste
  • 1.5 oz. (around 40g) Melon Seeds

Dough:

  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 / 2 Tsp Alkaline Water
  • 5 Tsp Vegetable Oil
  • 5 Tbsp Golden Syrup

To make the dough, first mix together the alkaline water with syrup. Stir in the oil and mix until they are completely blended. In a separate bowl, add the flour and make a well where you will stir in the syrup mixture. Mix the dough until it forms a loose dough. From there, knead and shape the dough into a round ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let this dough refrigerate for at least two hours.

While the dough is resting, mix together the lotus seed paste and the melon seeds. Separate the mixture into two tablespoon portions and shape into balls. Set the balls of filling aside for later.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into.5oz portions and shape into a ball. Roll each ball into a small disc with some flour about two inches in diameter. Place a ball of filling in the center of the dough and shape into a ball and dust well with flour. Add the ball to the mould and press out the mooncake. Add to a baking sheet. Spray them lightly with water to prevent cracking and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them stand on the baking sheet for ten minutes before moving them. Make a quick egg wash and cover the mooncakes before returning them to the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove the mooncakes and let them cool.

Tellicherry Black Peppercorn

Tellicherry Black Peppercorns are ideal for using in Indian dishes as well as for use as table pepper. They also make very useful additives for marinades and sauces in oriental and continental cuisine. Due to the strong flavor, small amounts can go a long way into enhancing a dish. They do not induce much sneezing even when directly inhaled, yet have a very recognizable aroma. They are also a better option in the use of Indian medicine such as Ayurveda and also for the creation of aroma oils and perfumes.

What distinguishes Tellicherry Black Peppercorns from the Malabar variety is the larger size of the peppercorns, the richer aroma, the fuller taste and the significantly lower heat signature. Obviously, these peppercorns are priced higher since they are a premier produce. They are best consumed freshly ground and lose their flavor quicker than regular peppercorns.

Storage is always recommended in airtight containers, since prolonged exposure evaporates the flavor and aroma of these peppercorns. In fact, if left out in the open too long these peppercorns become tasteless and odorless much faster than regular peppercorns. However, when stored correctly they can retain their flavor for a long time. Tellicherry Black Peppercorns are also used as a clarifying and elevating agent in a lot of dishes. It can serve to heighten the flavor of many other ingredients including ginger and lime.

It is always a good idea to invest in Tellicherry Black Peppercorns instead of regular peppercorns since they can really enhance a dish and make even ordinary dishes come to life. They are also richer in the antioxidants that make peppercorns so healthy. Consumption of just two pinches of this pepper on a daily basis is not only beneficial to the body and mind; it is a great way to make even the most mundane meal flavorful and exciting.

Need to Know About High Teas

  • Fruits: There is no doubt the people everywhere love fruits not only for health reasons but because they are also extremely delicious. While there may be guests who will give any sweets a wide berth, this is hardly the case where fruits are involved; fruits should therefore be an integral part of your high tea menu.
  • Petit Fours: These are basically small cakes that appear quite attractive to the eyes especially since they come in different colors. They can actually be adorned with a variety of flowers, pastels or stripes and their cube shapes look very nice when layered with jam or any other form of filling. Petit fours are available in a variety of types such as chocolate, sponge or pound.
  • Tarts: No matter what size of tarts you provide, tarts, whether small or large will always be a perfect accompaniment for tea. While most people love strawberry or lemon flavored tarts, you could also include those with mixed fruits especially for those of your buddies who are careful about calorie counting.
  • Scones: These are perhaps the winners when it comes to tea companions since they are bulky and can easily be dipped in tea for those who don’t mind it. There is a choice between plain and sweet scones that you can serve with your high tea with a variety of spreads. Among the most popular are poppy seed, cranberry, cherry and orange glazed scones without forgetting lemon curd which seems to be extremely famous.
  • Finger Sandwiches: These are minute sandwiches which your guests can savor by using their fingers especially if you split them into fours or even eights with each having its crust. Some of the most loved varieties include cucumber mint, chicken salad, herbed cream cheese, smoked salmon, watercress, and egg salad, tomato with basil, ham and orange as well as tomato with mayonnaise.
  • Cookies: Who does not relish tea accompanied with some cookies? You can definitely create your very own at home to surprise your guests with your culinary skills or simply purchase some ready made ones. Some of the most preferred varieties include shortbread cookies, meringue, medaleines and linzer cookies.
  • Desserts: There is no better way of enjoying all those cakes, scones, tarts and cookies than presenting a very special dessert to simply wow all your guests just when they think everything they could savor has been served.
  • Other pastries: You have the choice of making your high tea a simple one with just a few pieces of biscuit and sandwiches or increasing the varieties to make a sumptuous offering; only remember to create a comfortable environment and you are home and dry.

Food Ideas for Halloween

Eyeball Pops

What’s a Halloween without any candy, right? That is why eyeball pops are perfect for your party and they can also add in as decorative pieces. All you have to do is get chilled cake balls and dip them into a melted candy coating. After that, place a green candy coating wafer in the front. To make the balls resemble more like eyeballs, get some edible ink pens in red and black, and white miniature confetti sprinkles. With the black pen, draw a black circle in the green candy coating, big enough to paste a piece of white confetti sprinkle to resemble the iris.

Finger Sandwiches

These sandwiches will make sure that your party has enough creepiness to make it really feel like Halloween. Plus, it’s healthy and very easy to make. All you need are white bread, soft margarine, peanut butter, almonds, and jam. Flattened out the bread with a rolling pin and apply a little margarine and peanut butter. After that, roll up the bread and make three lines with a blunt knife to resemble finger joints. Shape the bread like a finger, almonds as nails, and add jam on the other end of the fingers.

Freaky Veggies and Dip

For the health conscious people, a freaky veggies and dip will be a great option. All you need is a dip of your choice and an assorted spread of vegetables, including carrots, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and olives. The point of this item is to use a little bit of creativity. On the carrots, spread some dip to make it look like nails. Make two dots with ketchup on the beans to make them look like snakes. Lastly, slice cherry tomatoes into two and top the flat side with a sliced olive and pea to make them look like eyes.

Eye-Cream

Another very easy recipe is ice-cream decorated to look like eyeballs. Take a dollop of vanilla ice-cream on a wax-paper and freeze it. After freezing it for about 20 minutes, drizzle strawberry syrup on each ball to create a bloodshot effect. Finish off the ice cream with a piece of M&M to make it look like the pupil.

Glazed and Confused

Being a new enticing addition to the Eastern Suburbs café scene, The Cook and Baker are taking Sydney one tasty donut and chocolate cake at a time, and having the evidence to prove it with people lining up outside their shop on a Saturday morning. The Cook and Bakers’ aim is to create a variety of your childhood favourite treats with a modern organic touch.

So, where did the “donut” come from? The origin of this appetising treat is heavily disputed, as the concept of fried dough is not exactly exclusive to one culture or country. Yet, it is said that donuts originated in Holland, back in the 16th-century. Their donuts were cooked in oil and were so greasy that the Dutch called them “olykoeks”, or “oily cakes.” Since then, this circle of goodness has transformed into all sorts of wonders in every continent – even dropping the ‘ugh’ to make for easy spelling.

No matter where the donut was born, each country or even café has a different take on it. The Cook and Baker is one of these cafes, being renowned for recreating the center hole of the traditional donut, and filling it with delectable ingredients. Their selection claim to be the “best donuts in Sydney,” and each customer would definitely agree. Oozing sweet vanilla custard, encased in unique tasting dough, then topped with organic strawberry jam, their donuts are a one-of-a-kind delight.

As a snack that The Cook and Baker have obviously mastered, a donut seems to be a timeless favorite, however it is created. People have valued the mouth watering, sweet tasting masterpiece since the test of time. People all around the globe like it so much, there is now even a national donut day held on June the 1st in the respect of the delicious treat. This event was actually first held in 1938 as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army.

Salad for Spring

Start with some chopped Romaine lettuce. It contains both beta-carotene and vitamin C, which work together as antioxidants to keep plaque from forming in your artery walls and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s also full of fiber that helps remove bile salts from the body. And if that isn’t enough, Romaine is a good source of potassium, which helps reduce high blood pressure, and another heart-smart B vitamin, folic acid. It tastes good too!

Add some fresh Spinach leaves. Along with this vegetable’s antioxidant contents, which include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium-all of which help protect the heart-comes cancer-preventative properties. Researchers believe that the flavonoids found in spinach help prevent against stomach cancers, some skin cancers, some aggressive prostate cancers, and may possibly aid in reducing the growth of some breast cancers. Spinach is also believed to help prevent age-related macular degeneration. And the vitamin K in this deep green leaf helps to maintain bone health. No wonder Popeye loved his spinach!

Throw in a little Arugula for nutty flavor and good health. It adds interesting texture and flavor, and is also packed with antioxidant vitamins C, K, and A, which help boost the immune system. But, that’s not all! Arugula is also a good source of iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K.

Spice it up with some chopped fresh Basil. This anise-flavored herb is rich in vitamin A and also contains some oils, which are believed to aid in reducing inflammation and bacteria.

And top it off with a few Broccoli florets. Since it is high in potassium broccoli helps keep your nervous system healthy and your brain function sharp. Like the green leafy vegetables in this salad, it too contains vitamins C and K. It’s rich in magnesium that works with the calcium and potassium to help regulate the nervous system. And also contains glucoraphanin which is believed to help repair skin damaged from the sun.

Sprinkle shelled, roasted Sunflower seeds on top for added flavor and a little cell-building protein.

Then, shake up a healthy vinaigrette of: 1/3 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Juice of 1 Lemon. 1 Tbls Honey. 1 tsp Dijon Mustard,

Toss the desired amount into the salad and enjoy a heart-smart serving. It’s guaranteed to put a spring into your step.