PEPPER…………..did you know??

8 Apr

 

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Black pepper is produced from the still-green unripe drupes of the pepper plant. The drupes are cooked briefly in hot water, both to clean them and to prepare them for drying. The heat ruptures cell walls in the pepper, speeding the work of browning enzymes during drying. The drupes are dried in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the pepper around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer. Once dried, the spice is called black peppercorn. On some estates, the berries are separated from the stem by hand and then sun-dried without the boiling process.

Once the peppercorns are dried, pepper spirit & oil can be extracted from the berries by crushing them. Pepper spirit is used in many medicinal and beauty products. Pepper oil is also used as an ayurvedic massage oil and used in certain beauty and herbal treatments.

 

White pepper

220px-Dried_Peppercorns

 

White pepper consists of the seed of the pepper plant alone, with the darker-colored skin of the pepper fruit removed. This is usually accomplished by a process known as retting, where fully ripe red pepper berries are soaked in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the pepper softens anddecomposes. Rubbing then removes what remains of the fruit, and the naked seed is dried. Sometimes alternative processes are used for removing the outer pepper from the seed, including removing the outer layer through mechanical, chemical or biological methods.

Ground white pepper is often used in cream sauces, Chinese and Thai cuisine, and dishes like salad, light-colored sauces and mashed potatoes, where black pepper would visibly stand out. White pepper has a slightly different flavor than black pepper, due to the lack of certain compounds present in the outer fruit layer of the drupe, but not found in the seed. A slightly sweet version of white pepper from India is sometimes called “whilte pepper”.

 

Green pepper

Green pepper, like black, is made from the unripe drupes. Dried green peppercorns are treated in a way that retains the green color, such as treatment with sulfur dioxidecanning or freeze-drying. Pickled peppercorns, also green, are unripe drupes preserved in brine or vinegar. Fresh, unpreserved green pepper drupes, largely unknown in the West, are used in some Asian cuisines, particularly Thai cuisine. Their flavor has been described as spicy and fresh, with a bright aroma. They decay quickly if not dried or preserved.

Orange pepper and red pepper

Orange pepper or red pepper usually consists of ripe red pepper drupes preserved in brine and vinegar. Ripe red peppercorns can also be dried using the same color-preserving techniques used to produce green pepper.

Pink pepper and other plants used as pepper

Pink pepper from Piper nigrum is distinct from the more-common dried “pink peppercorns“, which are actually the fruits of a plant from a different family, the Peruvian pepper tree,  or its relative the Brazilian pepper tree,  The bark of Drimys winteri (Canelo or Winter’s Bark) is used as a substitute for pepper in cold and temperate regions of Chile and Argentina where it is easily available.

In New Zealand the seeds of Kawakawa , a relative of black pepper, are sometimes used as pepper and the leaves (mountain horopito) are another replacement for pepper.

Several plants in the United States are used also as pepper substitutes, such as Lepidium campestreLepidium virginicumshepherd’s pursehorseradish,and field Pennycress.

 

The pepper plant is a perennial woody vine growing up to 4 metres (13 ft) in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises. It is a spreading vine, rootingreadily where trailing stems touch the ground. The leaves are alternate, entire, 5 to 10 cm long and 3 to 6 cm across. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes 4 to 8 cm long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening up to 7 to 15 cm as the fruit matures.The fruit of the black pepper is called a drupe and when dried it is a peppercorn.

Pepper can be grown in soil that is neither too dry nor susceptible to flooding, moist, well-drained and rich in organic matter (the vines do not do too well over an altitude of 3000 ft above sea level). The plants are propagated by cuttings about 40 to 50 centimeters long, tied up to neighboring trees or climbing frames at distances of about two meters apart; trees with rough bark are favored over those with smooth bark, as the pepper plants climb rough bark more readily. Competing plants are cleared away, leaving only sufficient trees to provide shade and permit free ventilation. The roots are covered in leaf mulch andmanure, and the shoots are trimmed twice a year. On dry soils the young plants require watering every other day during the dry season for the first three years. The plants bear fruit from the fourth or fifth year, and typically continue to bear fruit for seven years. The cuttings are usually cultivars, selected both for yield and quality of fruit.

A single stem will bear 20 to 30 fruiting spikes. The harvest begins as soon as one or two fruits at the base of the spikes begin to turn red, and before the fruit is fully mature, and still hard; if allowed to ripen completely, the fruit lose pungency, and ultimately fall off and are lost. The spikes are collected and spread out to dry in the sun, then the peppercorns are stripped off the spikes.

Black pepper is either native to South East Asiaor Southern Asia Within the genus Piper, it is most closely related to other Asian species such asPiper caninum

Pepper is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia and has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2 BCE. J. Innes Miller notes that while pepper was grown in southern Thailand and in Malaysia, its most important source was India, particularly the Malabar Coast, in what is now the state of Kerala Peppercorns were a much-prized trade good, often referred to as “black gold” and used as a form of commodity money. The legacy of this trade remains in some Western legal systems which recognize the term “peppercorn rent” as a form of a token payment made for something that is in fact being given.

The ancient history of black pepper is often interlinked with (and confused with) that of long pepper, the dried fruit of closely related Piper longum. The Romans knew of both and often referred to either as just “piper”. In fact, it was not until the discovery of the New World and of chili peppers that the popularity of long pepper entirely declined. Chili peppers, some of which when dried are similar in shape and taste to long pepper, were easier to grow in a variety of locations more convenient to Europe.

Before the 16th century, pepper was being grown in JavaSundaSumatraMadagascar, Malaysia, and everywhere in Southeast Asia. These areas traded mainly with China, or used the pepper locally. Ports in the Malabar area also served as a stop-off point for much of the trade in other spices from farther east in the Indian Ocean. Following the British hegemony in India, virtually all of the black pepper found in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa was traded from Malabar region.

Black pepper, along with other spices from Southern and Southeast Asia and lands farther east, changed the course of world history. It was in some part the preciousness of these spices that led to the Portuguese efforts to find a sea route to China during the age of discovery and consequently to the Portuguese colonial occupation of that country, as well as the European discovery and colonization of the Americas

Pepper gets its spicy heat mostly from the piperine compound, which is found both in the outer fruit and in the seed. Black pepper contains between 4.6% and 9.7% piperine by mass, and white pepper slightly more than that. Refined piperine, by weight, is about one percent as hot as the capsaicin in chili peppers. The outer fruit layer, left on black pepper, also contains important odour-contributing terpenes including pinenesabinenelimonenecaryophyllene, and linalool, which give citrusy, woody, and floral notes. These scents are mostly missing in white pepper, which is stripped of the fruit layer. White pepper can gain some different odours (including musty notes) from its longer fermentation stage.The aroma of pepper is attributed to rotundone  a sesquiterpene originally discovered in the tubers of cyperus rotundus, which can be detected in concentrations of 0.4 nanograms/L in water and in wine: rotundone is also present in marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, and geranium, as well as in some Shiraz wines.

 

Pepper loses flavor and aroma through evaporation, so airtight storage helps preserve its spiciness longer. Pepper can also lose flavor when exposed to light, which can transform piperine into nearly tasteless isochavicine.Once ground, pepper’s aromatics can evaporate quickly; most culinary sources recommend grinding whole peppercorns immediately before use for this reason. Handheld pepper mills or grinders, which mechanically grind or crush whole peppercorns, are used for this, sometimes instead of pepper shakers that dispense pre-ground pepper. Spice mills such as pepper mills were found in European kitchens as early as the 14th century, but the mortar and pestle used earlier for crushing pepper have remained a popular method for centuries as well

Peppercorns (dried black pepper) are, by monetary value, the most widely traded spice in the world, accounting for 20 percent of all spice imports in 2002. The price of pepper can be volatile, and this figure fluctuates a great deal year to year; for example, pepper made up 39 percent of all spice imports in 1998. By weight, slightly more chili peppers are traded worldwide than peppercorns.

The International Pepper Exchange is located in Kochi, India. Participation in the IPE however is domestic with regulatory restrictions on international membership on local exchanges; something common to almost all Asian commodity exchanges.

As of 2008, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter of pepper, producing 34% of the world’s Piper nigrum. Other major producers include India(19%), Brazil (13%), Indonesia (9%), Malaysia (8%), Sri Lanka (6%), China (6%), and Thailand (4%). Global pepper production peaked in 2003 with over 355,000 t (391,000 short tons), but has fallen to just over 271,000 t (299,000 short tons) by 2008 due to a series of issues including poor crop management, disease and weather. Vietnam dominates the export market, using almost none of its production domestically; however its 2007 crop fell by nearly 10% from the previous year to about 90,000 t (99,000 short tons). Similar crop yields occurred in 2007 across the other pepper producing nations as well

 

SALT it has many uses……………….

8 Apr

SALT

Salt Uses & Tips: In the Kitchen

Boiling Water - Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time (it does not make the water boil faster).

Peeling eggs - Eggs boiled in salted water peel more easily.

Poaching eggs - Poaching eggs over salted water helps set the egg whites.

Testing egg freshness - Place the egg in a cup of water to which two teaspoonfuls of salt has been added. A fresh egg sinks; a doubter will float.

Preventing browning - Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.

Shelling pecans - Soaking pecans in salt water for several hours before shelling will make nut meats easier to remove.

Washing spinach - If spinach is washed in salted water, repeated cleanings will not be necessary.

Preventing sugaring - A little salt added to cake icings prevents them from sugaring.

Crisping salads - Salting salads immediately before serving will keep them crisp.

Improving boiled potatoes - Boiled potatoes will be given a fine, mealy texture by sprinkling with salt after draining, then returning them to the pan and shaking them back and forth quickly to get rid of the excess moisture.

Cleaning greasy pans - The greasiest iron pan will wash easily if you use a little salt in it and wipe with paper.

Cleaning stained cups - Rubbing with salt will remove stubborn tea or coffee stains from cups.

Cleaning ovens - Salt and cinnamon take the “burned food” odor away from ovens and stove burners. Sprinkle spills while oven and burners are still hot; when dry, remove the salted spots with a stiff brush or cloth.

Cleaning refrigerators - Use salt and soda water to clean and sweeten the inside of your refrigerator. It won’t scratch enamel either.

Extinguishing grease fires - Salt tossed on a grease fire on the stove or in the oven will smother flames. Never use water; it will only spatter the burning grease.

Improving coffee - A pinch of salt in coffee will enhance the flavor and remove the bitterness of over-cooked coffee.

Improving poultry - To improve the flavor of poultry, rub the fowl inside and out with salt before roasting.

Removing pinfeathers - To remove pinfeathers easily from a chicken, rub the chicken skin with salt first.

Cleaning tarnished silverware - Rub tarnish with salt before washing.

Cleaning copper pans - Remove stains on copper pans by salting area and scouring with a cloth soaked in vinegar.

Cleaning coffee pots - Remove bitterness from percolators and other coffee pots by filling with water, adding four tablespoons of salt and percolating or boiling as usual.

Removing onion odors from hands - Rub fingers with salt moistened with vinegar.

“Sweetening” containers - Salt can “sweeten” and deodorize thermos bottles and jugs, decanters and other closed containers.

Cleaning sink drains - Pour a strong salt brine down the kitchen sink drain regularly to eliminate odors and keep grease from building up.

Brightening cutting boards - After washing them with soap and water, rub cutting boards with a damp cloth dipped in salt; the boards will be lighter and brighter.

Fixing oversalted soups - If soup has been oversalted, cut up a raw potato or two and drop into the soup. The potato will absorb the salt.

Cleaning dried-on egg - Salt not only makes eggs taste better, but it makes “eggy” dishes clean easier. Sprinkle salt on dishes right after breakfast; it makes them a whiz to clean when you have time.

Preventing food from sticking - Rub a pancake griddle with a small bag of salt to prevent sticking and smoking. Sprinkle a little salt in the skillet before frying fish to prevent the fish from sticking. Sprinkle salt on washed skillets, waffle iron plates or griddles, heat in a warm oven, dust off salt; when they are next used, foods will not stick.

Preventing mold - To prevent mold on cheese, wrap it in a cloth dampened with saltwater before refrigerating.

Whipping cream and beating egg whites - By adding a pinch of salt, cream will whip better and egg whites will beat faster and higher.

Keeping milk fresh - Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.

Setting gelatin - To set gelatin salads and desserts quickly, place over ice that has been sprinkled with salt.

Filet mignon/Root beer BBQ/ crispy prosciutto

6 Apr

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From Cymera

Braised Lamb Shank / couscous /yellow beets/chimichurri sauce

6 Apr

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From Cymera

Caramel Toffee Brownie Bites

6 Apr

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From Cymera

Caramel toffee brownie bites

6 Apr

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MADE BY: PASTRY CHEF ADELIA VIEIRA

MADE BY: PASTRY CHEF ADELIA VIEIRA

Russian Meat Piroshki

18 Feb

Piroshki pirozhki-1

Ingredients for the Dough: 
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
15 oz warm water
4 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (divided)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast

Ingredients for the Meat Filling:
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground beef (Fat content: 80/20)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely grated
3 tbsp dill
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup warm water

Other Ingredients:
Enough canola oil to go half-way up the side of the piroshky when frying.
Lots of extra flour to dust the cutting board (I probably use at least 1/2 cup extra flour)

Ingredients for Garlic Dip – “Vmochanka”  (this is for one serving, so increase it accordingly):
1/4 cup  warm water
1 tbsp olive oil (you can use any kind of oil really)
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 tsp salt

How to Make Russian Pirojki (Chebureki) Dough:

How to make the Dough:

1. The easiest way to do this is in a bread maker. If you have one, set it to the dough setting and add the ingredients in the following order: Oil, water, 2 cups flour, salt, 2 cups + 2 tbsp flour*, yeast.
A bread maker will do the following: mix, let dough rise, mix again and let the dough rise (It takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours) and once it’s done in the bread maker, its ready to go.

*to get an exact flour measurement, use a dry ingredients measuring cup and scrape off the top with the back of a butter knife.

You can also make this dough using a stand mixer with a dough hook on speed 2(mix all the ingredients together, let rise, mix again and then let it rise in a warm place (like the oven). (It should be 2 to 2 1/2 times in volume). While it’s rising, work on the meat filling for piroshki

2. Put the finished dough onto a well floured cutting board, dust the dough with flour and with well-floured hands, shape it into a large log.
It will rise more as you make the piroshki

3. Cut off pieces one at a time about 3/4″ thick.

4. Place the piece of dough over your well-floured hand (dough will be sticky) and shape it into a 3″ to 4″ circle using your hands. Do not put flour on the side where you are going to put the meat, otherwise the sides won’t seal.

5. Stir the meat mix to distribute the juices. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of meat filling in the center.Cover the meat with the sides of the dough (being careful not to let oils or juices seep out), and pinch the edges together to seal the dough. Flatten the pirojki slightly to make them a more uniform size.
Notes: It helps to wash your hands half-way through the process to keep the dough from really sticking to your hand. And keep those hands well-floured!

6. Heat oil in a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron dutch oven. There should be enough oil to cover the pirojki half-way up the side.

7. Place them in the hot oil (about 330 degrees F) and fry until deep golden brown on each side. Sometimes they puff up a lot on one side so you may end up with a third side that needs to be fried.
8. Place on paper towels to cool .

How to Make Meat filling for Belyashi:
1. Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Brown ground beef and turkey, breaking it up into small pieces with a spatula. Season meat with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/ tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

2. When the meat is almost done, add diced onion and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add shredded carrots and saute another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add 3 tbsp dill, mix well.

5. Add mayo, stir well.

6. Stir in 1/2 cup water to moisten the meat mix. Transfer meat mix to a bowl and let cool to warm or room temperature.

Notes

It helps to wash your hands half-way through the process to keep the dough from really sticking to your hand. And keep those hands well-floured!

 

 

A New Design for Sharing and Reblogging

10 Feb new-reblogs2

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

Today, we’re launching a refreshed sharing and reblogging experience. We’re bringing both visual and functional improvements to how reblogging, sharing, and liking posts on WordPress.com works. Let’s take a look at some of the changes we’ve introduced.

Reblogs

We’ve redesigned reblogged posts for clearer attribution and more intelligent excerpting. If the reblogged post contains pictures, those images now really shine — even in the reblog.

new-reblogs2

To accompany the new reblog design, we also crafted a brand new Reblog button to show next to the Like button, and both have a fresh, clean look:

likes-reblogs

Sharing

Speaking of new buttons, we also overhauled your blog’s social sharing buttons:

sharing-text-icons

With a more subdued, streamlined feel, these buttons lend your posts’ footer an airier, lighter look. They now also share the same visual style as the Like and Reblog buttons.

We replaced the previously-used graphics with an icon font — which means the new…

View original 92 more words

How germy are those lemon wedges we plop into our water glasses at restaurants?

28 Jan

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How germy are those lemon wedges we plop into our water glasses at restaurants?

A slice of lemon can spruce up plain-old water, but you might be drinking more than you bargained for. Turns out, those seemingly innocuous water glass garnishes (see also: iced tea and diet soda) could be serving up a host of unappetizing organisms.

For one Journal of Environmental Health study, researchers swabbed the rinds and flesh of 76 lemons from 21 restaurants collected during 43 visits and found that a whopping 70 percent of them produced microbial growth. The samples were collected as soon as the beverage (either soda or water) was served, before drinking or touching, and while the researchers couldn’t pinpoint the exact origins of the microorganisms, they speculated that they may have come from the restaurant employee or raw meat or poultry contamination, among other sources. “Although lemons have known antimicrobial properties, the results of our study indicate that a wide variety of microorganisms may survive on the flesh and the rind of a sliced lemon,” the authors wrote in their report. “Restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes.”

Philip Tierno, Ph.D., clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, has conducted dozens of similar experiments, including one commissioned by ABC news, which found that half of lemon wedges collected from various restaurants were contaminated with human fecal matter. What’s more, the ABC cameras nabbed employees handling lemons with their bare hands. And in Tierno’s experience, restaurants may not be diligently washing lemons — or they rinse them, but don’t scrub. It’s also easy for a worker’s hands, whether it be a bartender serving up a drink or a chef slicing the fruit in the kitchen, to cross-contaminate after dealing with patrons, washing glasses and handling food.

“We found in every single group of specimens from different institutions, representations from the three body sites that men usually impart their flora,” Tierno tells HuffPost Healthy Living of his research. Those include bacteria from the intestines (in the form of fecal matter), the respiratory tract (think coughing, talking, sneezing) and the skin. Among the specimens collected were E. coli, staphylococcus epidermidis and candida, a fungus commonly found in the vagina. While his team didn’t test specifically for viruses, such as norovirus (a.k.a. the stomach flu) or the cold virus, this type of contamination is typically an indicator that they are present, he explains.

But beyond the gross-out factor, how likely is a lemon to actually make you sick? The answer, according to Tierno, is that there is a decidedly small but distinct risk. “The usual course will probably result in no infection, but there is a possibility,” he says, with a caveat: “You can’t live in a bubble. Your immune system is usually pretty good.”

Germaphobe lemon lovers might opt to squeeze the juice directly into the water instead of letting the wedge float about for the duration of a meal — doing so will reduce exposure, though not eliminate it, as Tierno points out that even the flesh of the lemon can be contaminated.

But before you freak out, here’s some perspective: His research has turned up similar organisms all over restaurants, from ketchup bottles and salt and pepper shakers to menus and table surfaces. And the same likely goes for a variety of other drink garnishes, including onions, limes and your cherry on top. Aside from basic hygiene, like hand washing and choosing a clean restaurant, sometimes you really do have to trust your immune system to do its job. “Microbes are ubiquitous … You’re not going to escape unscathed forever,” he says. “You do your best to prevent unnecessary illness.”

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Rack of Lamb

13 Jan

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