Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ADA Aware Week in your Flour Product

There is no ADA Aware Week, of course.   Nowhere in the world.  I made it up.
But if you have not caught on or even aware that your local market's 'Fluffy' bread / flour products may contain this additive ADA - Azodicarbonamide in it, then, you should be curious enough to check into it.   And if you love to bake, be aware of the flour manufacturer's process.   Find out what Dough Conditioner chemicals are being used to manufacture your Flour -- Bromated vs Nonbromated, Bleached vs Unbleached;  Find out about market's Artisan bread vs Fluffy stay on the shelf well French Bread vs Home Baked Bread, etc.  These are all worth the research.

If you live in the parts of the world where ADA is not banned from the food:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-02-27/how-a-rubber-chemical-found-its-way-into-500-food-products   << this site has a pop up Ad that pops up.  Just don't touch the pop up Ad for about 5 seconds.  It should go away from the screen.  Or go to any other site that has ADA info.  In the search engine, type>  "ADA in flour" 

In this Businessweek site, it explains ADA as:  (straight copy from the site)
"Underlying the concerns are two chemicals released  when bread is baked with ADA: urethane, a recognized carcinogen, and semicarbazide, which causes cancers of the lung and blood vessels in mice but poses a negligible risk to humans, according to nonprofit advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest."
"The Food and Drug Administration approved ADA as a food additive in 1962, according to research by the Environmental Working Group. The additive gained popularity as a substitute for another common dough conditioner, potassium bromate, that was banned by California authorities in 1987 after it was found to cause cancer in test animals. etc, etc."

Here is the info in our very own FDA - But guess who those decision makers are and who did they work for before joining FDA.  

After all, we all foodies who love to bake depend on these flour manufacturers to provide us with 'Flour' but as they are not required to label non-food items on the label (at this time yet in many places), then, let's be aware.  

I think those home made HOKKAIDO Soft Loaves and TANG ZONG bread are the best.  Try some of these recipes found and posted by bloggers.  But please purchase Flour without the ADA for your family's health sake.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Bunny Sugar Cookies on a stick

Being with grand-children are such a blessing.  Even when you cannot move anymore, they can keep you going.  
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, Wish Everyone a Great Remembrance of Communion, Fellowship, and Maranatha.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies On-A-Stick recipes found on the wrapper of the Bunny cookie mold.  This cookies taste so delicious that I was so tempted to eat them before icing them. 
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2-3/4 C AP Flour - Shifted 1 one time, then, measure them out to 2-3/4 C, then, add 2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt and shift 2 more times.  If you don't have a Shifter, just use the hand WHISK and mix everything thoroughly.
Prepare the cookie mold - spray or rub vegetable oil or thinly run butter or Crisco oil and coat the mold with flour.
Shake excess flour off the mold.
**If the cookie molds are coated with butter and flour, the bottom of the cookies will turn brown fast.
To avoid burnt cookie, stay close to the kitchen when baking. 
Tip:  Hand mix soft butter and sugar before turning on the electric mixer to avoid sugar from flying up into mixer's motor.
With Beater attachment - Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy... pale yellow. 
Add egg and extracts.  Beat well until egg disappears.  Scrape the bowl often with spatula. 
Preheat oven to 400'F
Add flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Hand mix them together thoroughly.   *No need to chill the dough.
Eye guess the amount of dough per mold - form into a ball and flatten it between your palms.
Place on top of the cookie mold and shape into bunny form.
Fill the dough 1/8 below the mold.
Insert cookie/cake pop stick 2 inches of end.
Press the top of the cookie with something flat -- like plastic pastry bowl cleaner.
Bake on middle rack for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven's BTU.
Bake only one sheet at a time.
Visually check the cookies at 5 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes.   Press the cooling rack against the cookie sheet and carefully invert the pan over.
Tap gently on the mold, the cookie should dislodge itself onto the cooling rack.
Cool completely before decorating.
Wash pan and repeat the process.

FROSTING:  Crispy and Shiny
1 Cup Powder sugar
1 tsp milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp Heavy Corn Syrup
Food colors or make your own natural food color
Mix all together.  Divide and add food color.  Make parchment paper piping bag and decorate the cooled cookies.
To fill the face of Bunny, pipe an outline then add more frosting to the middle.  Smear the frosting smooth with slightly moistened finger tip.   You need to work with the frosting a little bit when you try to smooth them across the cookies.  Some of it will lift off.  Just move your finger round and round gently with the frosting at the same time to spread it over the cookie to cover.  The motion is very slight and very very gentle.  The surface of the finger is 'floating' over the frosting to spread.
Leave the cookies out for the frosting to harden.
Woops!  someone ate their ears!

Homemade Tortilla for Taco Night

Taco is one of my favorite lunch at the office.    But it has not been one of the item to cook at home.  You would agree - just go eat at the Taco Bell or at your favorite local taco joint.   Well, the time has come to roll up the sleeve and enjoy them at home.  At first, I bought crispy taco shell, etc. out of box, then, I ran out.  I could easily just make the crispy taco shell, too, but... taco is something I enjoy eating out.  Until the price per Meal value jumped to a price that is just about the same as a sit down Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese restaurants for PHO noodle or UDON or fried noodle... then 'me' start thinking.... Oh my goodness!  there goes my favorite treat that I really enjoy.  The taco joint at the corner of Olson drive has lost a bunch of customers, I bet, after Panda Express opened up a block down the road; then the Koreana Plaza opened up the "International Food Court".   I love Nashny and all the goodies that I can taste.   But I still want to eat TACO, taco, taco!!
1 lb Organic Ground Beef
1 C chopped Onion
Freshly cut iceberg lettuce
A bowl of Tillamook shredded Cheddar Cheese - cool room temperature
Gluteless and preservative free jar of Salsa - yes, you should make it fresh, but Tomatoes are not growing yet in my garden.
Salt to taste
Packet of Taco seasoning or make your own:
a Couple of shakes of Cayenne Pepper
a good pinch of ground cumin
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tsp chili powder
Option:  cut tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, etc.

Saute chopped onion over medium low heat till they are translucent; Add ground beef.   Stir and press and separate ground beef to make chunks into individual ground state.   Add all the spices and add salt to taste.  Add anything else you like.

Ingredients for Soft Taco Shell:
1 C flour
1 Tbsp vege oil
pinch of salt
about 6 Tbsp of water

Mix flour and vege oil together first - thoroughly.   Then sprinkle salt over it.   Add water and mix with hand and knead until a smooth ball forms.  About 10 min.   Cover and set aside and rest for 15 min.
Divide the dough into a good size ball that you can roll into a 6 inch soft Tortilla.  Thickness is up to you.
Heat a flat pan.  Rub some vege oil, if you wish, on the pan ... place the tortilla dough to cook. 
It would puff up.  Turn it over to cook the opposite side when the bottom side turns slightly brown.
Remove from heat and place it in a Taco stand while warm, if you have one.
Spoon ground beef, ... and all the goodies.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Polly's very first French Macarons

I contemplated on making this French Macrons that looks so cute.  I have see many bloggers making them with such a ease, but I held back for a longest time.  This time I have to find a recipe that use the egg whites that got orphaned when I made cinnamon rolls, and this Macarons was a perfect choice.
To prepare for this, it's best that you have all the 'fillings' pre-made.   As with any other French recipes, the ingredients are so basic and simple, but the prep and or the baking techniques are the key to a successful product.  Sounds like an advice from an expert, but after making Canneles de Bordeaux many times, it is a things to remember.

Makes about 20 to 25 Macarons
Overnight - 2 Large Egg Whites in a covered bowl left in refrigerator overnight.

From anything you like to put in between or these:

Chocolate Mink Ganache:

Chocolate Mint:
5 oz of  Andes Creme de Menthe >>Mint Chocolate chips - finely chopped and placed in a heat proof bowl
2 tsp light corn syrup - add to the heavy cream when heating to boiling point
1/4 C to 1/3 C heavy cream or Milk - heated to boiling point

Add corn syrup to chocolate.  Bring cream/milk to a boiling point.   Removed right away and add 1/4 to finely chopped mint chocolate chips.  Stir to melt.  If it look dry, add the rest of liquid.
Let it cool a bit and pour into pastry bag.  Need a small tube tip, if you have one.  Set it aside.

To make Espresso / Coffee flavored filling, you need Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream - Reduce the following recipe by half or calculate into 1/4 batch.

5 Large Egg Whites - room temperature
1 C sugar for Egg Whites and 1/4 C sugar for Butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 C (4 sticks) butter, room temperature

Butter Preparation: 
Whip the Butter in a separate bowl until pale yellow.  If all buttercream will be used for  a dedicated flavor - Add it now.  e.g.  Add Espresso/Coffee mixture.  Set aside.

Meringue Preparation:
METHOD - Bain Marie
Tip:  The water should be boiled and brought down to simmer.   Add egg white and 1 C of sugar into a heat proof  bowl/pot.  The bottom of the bowl/pot with egg whites and 1 C sugar should not touch the water.
Whisk egg whites and sugar and place over bain marie and whisk continuously until sugar is melted.  The mixture should feel hot, but the egg white should not be cooked.   *Close to 180'F.
Remove and transfer to a mixer bowl -  with Whisk attachment.
Whip at low speed for 2 min.   Then, at medium speed for 2 min.   Bring to High speed and whip until stiff and shiny peak form.

Add 1/2 C of Meringue into Butter, fold with spatula.  Add 1/3  of Meringue with butter; Fold.  Add another 1/3 of Meringue, fold.  Repeat.

Espresso / Coffee:
Dissolve 1/4 tsp of instant espresso/coffee with 1/4 tsp hot water.   Set Aside
1/3 C powder sugar with 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder.
Add dissolved espresso/coffee into buttercream

Pressed Maraschino Cherry:
1/4 C maraschino cherries 
Squeeze the as much liquid out as possible.

 French Macarons Ingredients:
71 g Almond Flour   or sliced blanched almonds processed into fine flour
117 Powder Sugar
2 LARGE Egg Whites (overnighted)
53 g Sugar
2 large baking sheet covered with Silipat

Grind sliced blanched almonds in a food processor until fine.  Shift it through sieve.
Return solids back into food processor to process further until fine flour forms.   Sift it through the sieve again.   Sift Powder sugar through.

 Mix almond and powder sugar well.   Set aside.

Beat egg whites and sugar by hand until combined.

Beat 2 min on medium speed -speed #4 Kitchen Aid mixer.
Then, 2 min at medium high speed-speed #6 Kitchen Aid mixer

Preheat oven to 350'F

Then, beat at high speed, #8, until the shiny stiff peak forms.

Add almond mixture and Fold to combine all well until shiny mixture forms.

Divide the paste into two bowls.

Add Flavor or color to it at this point.

Transfer into pastry bag with straight piping tip #804 Ateco, if you have one;  Otherwise, cut the tip of the plastic pastry bag to 7 mm opening.

Pipe a 2 cm round  (about 2mm less than a Quarter coin) on the baking sheet - 1 inch apart.   *It will expand.

Bake 1 sheet at a time.  Rotate the pan half way baking - moving quickly and gently.   Bake 13 min - depending on the power of your oven - *Until risen and just set.

Let cool.

Pipe the filling on one side and top with the other half.

Add pressed maraschino cherry, if desired.

Sprinkle some instant coffee or fine chocolate powder on top to decorate.
Make a great present.