Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Have You Tried Chutneys?

Have you tried chutneys for your favorite roast? Sweet or spicy, this condiment is becoming more and more popular, but some people don't know exactly what it is. 

Courgette and Tomato Chutney 

This (photo above) is an example of a seasonal glut of fruit and vegetable preserved for the colder months. Pot them up prettily! You'll love some easy to make chutney recipes, at the BBC Good Food.
History of Chutneys

Chutney began in the 1600's as luxury pickled goods made from fresh fruits and spices originating in India. During the colonial regime, the British brought the chunky and spiced condiment which was mostly mango chutney in sticky syrup to Europe, which has spread to its whole empire reaching Africa and the Caribbean. In the late 1800's, chutney has become popular in Europe and North America using local farm grown ingredients and other unripe fruits as substitute to mango, until stored chutneys became a favorite condiment for meat and fish.

Chutney took a take-off fame in the 19th century as plain homemade jams boomed into spiced fruit and vegetable. It was the very long experience of jam-making that has expanded to the combination of fruits or vegetables in sugar and spices, finally called chutneys. Its conventional blend describes mildness, sweetness, sourness and a lot of spicy-ness in flavor making it a well-acclaimed accompaniment to a main dish. 

Beginner's Pepper-Peach Chutney by Mother Earth News

Taste Profile in Chutneys

Taste in chutneys is derived from the natural interaction of fruit acid and essences coming from the various ingredients used. The uniqueness of its taste and flavor depends upon the kind of fruit or vegetable selected for the pairing, and textures that range from smooth to coarse chopped preserves and pickles. 

Serving Suggestions

Chutneys make a perfect accompaniment to foie grass, or fish with rice. May be served cold or warm and can be used to enhance the flavor of mayo-based salads and casseroles. Chutneys are best condiment to roasted meats, great when drizzled over greens, risotto or polenta, best for marinades or poured over fresh fruits or ice-creams.

Sweeter chutneys make an interesting spread on breads and pastries. To suit any taste, chutneys, cover a dip of oriental cuisine and Mediterranean touch for a fuller spread of a spicy gastronomical delight.

How to Store Chutneys

To keep chutney fresh and safe for a few weeks, store in jars with tight-fitting lids to reduce exposure to air microbes. Refrigerate.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Green Green Pesto

Little did most kitchens put attention to is on how a touch of pesto extremely modifies dish. Yes, there is an Italian sauce called pesto; traditionally made by hand with a mortar and wooden pestle in the best natural ingredients without preservatives and food coloring.

This genuine Italian specialty spread and sauce is known for its old-country flavor and aroma. So, what is pesto made of and what makes it hearty?  Perhaps a little background will help explain. 

Pesto sauces and spreads have been used in Italian cuisines since the times of the  Romans. The practice of this traditional paste that is typically made of basil,  garlic,  pine nuts, Italian olive oil and Parmesan cheese, has its origin from Genoa in the Italian province of Liguria. This favorite is best used as spread on breads, pizza sauce or pasta, and as a final flavor touch for soup.

In the preparation of pesto spreads and sauces, there is significance in using only the freshest of ingredients because pesto is not cooked. Chefs of today’s generation can choose from either the classic-by-hand method the modern blender method of preparing pesto. The combined culture and fresh character in a pesto has made it another hearty European tradition we all can embrace.

Taste Profile 
The basic ingredient of pesto that is common to all pesto recipes are fresh basil leaves, cheese, pine nuts, garlic and Italian olive oil. The fresh taste and sharpness of basil is maintained in mortar and pestle. Pesto flavors are often very strong therefore it must be used sparingly with care. A small amount is what is usually needed to go the way. Flavors are the taste of combined basil from Liguria and Pignoli from the Italian hills that ranges from light and flavorful to spicy. 

Cooking Suggestion

Pesto spread is perfect when spread evenly on baked pastry to the edge,s as a grilling sauce, burger topping, pizza sauce for pasta, on cooked meats, and in soups. Pesto spreads may be tossed with spaghetti, macaroni, trofie or the classic Lingurian pasta of Genoa. Traditionally, pesto is famous in sandwiches and pizza. Learn how to make fresh and flavorful pesto in very pesto for your own tantalizing recipes.

10 Great Ways to Use Pesto

Storing Pesto

Pesto is valued for its texture and taste and must be stored properly for its many wonderful gourmet uses in enhancing food flavors and invigorating recipes. Store your pesto in a jar and keep it inside the refrigerator.  In preserving homemade or store-brought pesto, pour olive oil over the pesto to seal it from oxygen and to control it from getting spoiled. The fragrance or aroma and flavor of a homemade pesto are on top when stored at room temperature. Once opened, be sure to keep it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Start Healthy with Olive Oil

If you are looking for the best culinary oil for your family, start with gourmet cooking oils. There are many types of gourmet cooking oils that can make you a bunch of delightful recipes in cultural tastes. Nut oils like hazelnut oils and olive oils are among the most popular in its low in fat and perfectly balanced nature. 

Ever heard of Columela Extra Virgin Olive Oil? It's by far the best olive oil in the world awarded top honors in the latest "Cook's Illustrated" taste test. The blend of intense Picual and mild Hojiblanca olives is a unique classic taste you could not afford to miss.

Best extra virgin oils in the world are manufactured in France and Italy since 1878, produced in the highest quality, small batch, and naturally handcrafted to preserve its legend of traditional taste and freshness. It is the continuing interest and cultural combination of healthy cuisines that introduced the mixing of herbs and spices to oils creating different rich and classic flavors of gourmet oils. Today, the choice of extra virgin oils for their home and gourmet cooking is endless. You can even make your own flavored oil from the mixture of your own favorite herbs and spices for your own cooking.

The Origin of Oil and its Production

Oil had been used by men since the ancient times using the sun and fire to heat oily plants until oil is produced. This was the beginning of how oil became used largely as food. 

Today, the production of finest oils come from a method of extracting called the  “cold extraction” method, which is how the finest oils are produced. Oils also come either from a single vegetable oily-based plant or a blend of one or more of these oily-based plants that undergo an international standard processing to not destroy the fragile nature of oil. 

The Oil Taste Profiles

The taste of oil depends on how it has been processed and the techniques used in the processing, as well as how it has been stored.  Most culinary oils are made to produce a more neutral taste profile that must impart a “no after-taste”, permitting the taste of other ingredients to come through. Modern technology has enhanced the culinary world with varieties of infused flavored oils. 

Cooking Guide  

Aside from the popular frying, culinary oils play a very important role in delighting the flavor of dishes. It is greatly used by chefs and caterers around the world for garnishing, drizzling and brushing over meat and vegetable before grilling. Suitable for  marinating, for making  dips & sauces, and perfect for salad dressing. 

A Guide to Storing Oil

Different oils has different fat combinations and are not made the same. Oils that are high in monosaturated fats can be stored in longer period of times to a few years while the shelf-life of the majority of oils after being opened is between six to eight months. It is best to store oils in room temperature or in a dark place to prevent the sunlight from destroying its properties. The best quality oils are traditionally stored in dark-tinted bottles or packaged in stone to preserve freshness.