Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Shrimp Chips

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2011 at 10:41 pm

A friend of mine brought me a bag of prawn cocktail flavored and BBQ crisps. The BBQ was the standard smoked paprika blend you find on US chips. The prawn cocktail though? That was pretty new.

First, UK or US, I’m not a big chip fan. If I can’t tell they used to be a potato, I’m definitely leaving them alone. These though…surprised me. The cocktail flavor was the strongest and first . You don’t catch a hint of prawn until the very end, and even then it was faint.  Being a seafood fan, I was a little disappointed, but I have to admit they were enjoyable. If I ever make it to the UK, I’d definitely pick up a bag.

I’ve got some marmite in the cabinet too, but after seeing it named on CNN’s World’s 50 most delicious foods list, I’m waiting to get some marmalade to try it with.


How to fix your mac and cheese

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 at 1:48 am

Here’s an excellent article from Saveur on what cheeses work best for the ever popular side. Cheese choice solves all those issues of clumpy, greasy, chewy and just plan bad. So…







Pecorino Romano



Goat cheese

Stan’s doughnuts are on their way!!

In Desserts, Shipping, Sweet on July 13, 2011 at 1:20 am

I am SO excited about this. There aren’t many doughnut dealers out there that ship (none that I know of that ship their yeast leavened stuff), so when I found Stan’s site after a disappointing doughnut hunt on Florida’s west coast, I was ecstatic.

What’s even better is that I’ve had Stan’s on site in California AND sampled them after toting them back to Florida myself, so I’ll get a good feel for what shipping does to the little rings of glazed happiness. Teehee.

The importance of icing…

In Desserts, Help, Ingredients, Sweet on July 9, 2011 at 3:29 am

I’m calling it. The 2000s are the millennium of the cupcake.

Why a rearranged and super-cute slice of cake is so popular, I don’t know, but what I do know, is that it’s RARE for someone to get the icing right. It’s almost always good, but good and right are two very different things.

The biggest mistake I’ve run across is forgetting who you want your cupcakes to appeal to…and when it comes to the taste of a cupcake, I say there are only two groups…adults, and children. Unfortunately, most that I’ve tried exercise that distinction in the appearance alone, choosing sprinkles and cartoons over gold flake and royal icing or vice versa. This leaves more mature appearing cupcakes giving a very inconsistent taste experience. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen cupcakes decorated with an obviously adult audience in mind, only to be met with a flavor profile that said little more than “Are you ready to play pin the tail on the donkey now?”

Since cake seems to get a decent amount of thought dedicated to it, I’m going to call out icing as the primary culprit. Not to be too harsh, I do understand the difficulty that icing presents. I’ve made a ton of the stuff in my time, mostly the butter cream that’s pretty much mandated for cupcakes, so I know the challenges.

The primary culprit, sugar, isn’t just in the icing to add flavor. It’s a key structural element to any butter cream, aiding in the ability to hold shape and preventing the icing from giving too fatty or greasy a mouth feel. So when I taste an icing that’s little more than Sweet, I have sympathy…but my adult palate is still bored. Why? Because sugar, especially refined sugars like confectioners and casters sugars, have very little aroma. That’s the part of the taste experience where the nose takes over and that gets you beyond sweet-salty-sour-bitter-umami…and that is what sets grownup icing apart from the stuff made for the kiddies. It’s the burnt richness of caramel and earthy ring of molasses. It comes from adding chocolate or lemon juice or the ever so beautiful vanilla bean. When paired properly with the cake base, it can make for a wonderful little treat.

Somebody ACTUALLY got packaged brownies right.

In Desserts, Ingredients, Sweet on July 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm

I…am a sucker for food marketing. Throw the word “rich”, “chocolaty”, “creamy” or…anything that hints at seafood, and all those semesters of graduate marketing go out the window. Well, a couple months ago, I stopped by The Earl of Sandwich at a rest stop. Yelp said such wonderful things, that I passed up almost always disappointing Dunkin’ Donuts and overpriced Cheeburger Cheeburger and took a chance.

The Earl makes a nice sandwich, I must say. They’re simple, classic, and made with ingredients that are on par for the price. The menu is short (something I’ve come to admire in an age of menus that read like novelettes), to the point and familiar.

But the brownies. They’re smart to display them bakery style on elevated trays. It keeps them closer to eye level and mirrors higher end dessert presentations. I also give them credit for recognizing something that is truly uncommon in the dessert world…possibly all of food-dom. Brownies are about the only creation out there that most likely will taste better out of a box than homemade. They bake theirs in small tart pans and they taste just as good as anything you make at home. No “brown” instead of chocolate. No egg substitute instead of egg. Very friendly. Very fun.

Halls Defense® and Aspartame

In Commercial, Sweet on July 2, 2011 at 11:08 pm

In an effort to stave of the colds of a couple of friends, I recently picked up some Halls Defense. I love these things. They’re the only product, the one and only, that I’ve run into that taste like actual, real live citrus. So, I was surprised when I looked on the back and saw aspartame in the ingredient list. I’m insanely sensitive to the taste of artificial sweeteners and reject any product that carries it…yes, even toothpaste. I’d eaten two and hadn’t even noticed I’d accidentally picked up the sugar free version. I must say…kudos Halls, kudos.

Who I am…

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm

As a child during Halloween, I would come home from trick-or-treating, empty my bounty out on the floor and proceed to push aside candy corn and bubble gum, leaving my beloved dark chocolate. I come from a long line of caterers and amazing home cooks who taught me at a very young age, the importance that food and taste experiences play in life and, thanks to a few rotten branches of our culinary family tree, how those experiences can go wrong.

My taste experiences grew from their Southern roots with yearly visits to my Mother’s heavily Greek influenced home town and later trips to China, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico and Japan. Now, in increasingly multi-cultural South Florida, I get to explore the spectrum of taste even more.

Tasting Ability and Race

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2011 at 11:45 pm

In 2001, the NIDCD Epidemiology and Bio-statistics Program released this graph outlining the association between ability to taste the bitter substance, PTC ( phenylthiocarbamide) and race.

It’s a fascinating study, but what’s most interesting is the correlation between spiciness of food and percentage of non-tasters in a culture. India, possibly the culture most famous for its use of spice, rates high in percentage of non-tasters. North American Native food places much less emphasis on spice and additional flavorings and rates low on percentage of non-tasting members. It doesn’t correlate exactly, but I would theorize this is because the more sensitive a person is to taste, the less spice they would require/tolerate/prefer.

Unfortunately, Japan, whose heavy cultural emphasis on food appearance, texture and heat has fascinated me for some time now, isn’t included in the study.