Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Storing and handling

To preserve butter's flavor and freshness, refrigerate opened butter in a covered dish in the butter compartment. Unopened, wrapped salted butter can be stored in the refrigerator for as long as 2 months. Butter can be frozen in its original wrapper for several months. Unsalted butter is best kept frozen until ready to use. For longer freezer storage, wrap in foil or plastic. Unsalted butter can be kept frozen for about 5 months at 0 degrees. Salted butter can be frozen for about 6 to 9 months.

What are the equivalencies for these measurements?

2 cups = 4 sticks = 1 pound = 32 tablespoons

1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 pound = 16 tablespoons

1/2 cup = 1 stick = 1/4 pound = 8 tablespoons

1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 1/8 pound = 4 tablespoons

How to make whipped butter

Cream slightly softened butter in a mixer or processor at medium speed or with on/off pulses of the processor until light in color and slightly fluffy. Continue mixing at high or process continuously until butter is fluffy.

How to make clarified butter

Clarified or drawn butter is clear, melted butter separated from its milk solids and water. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Remove white froth as it forms on top. When the milk solids separate and settle at the bottom of the pan, carefully pour off the clear, yellow butter and discard the milk solids. Compared to regular butter, clarified butter can be heated to a higher temperature without burning and can be stored longer. One pound of butter makes 12 ounces of clarified butter.

Prevent butter from going rancid

Properly storing butter in the refrigerator or freezer and tightly wrapping butter to minimize its exposure to air will help keep butter from going rancid. Exposure to oxygen increases the risk of rancidity. When oxygen comes in contact with the unsaturated fatty acids in butter, off-smelling and off-tasting compounds can develop. Rancid butter is safe to eat.

The best way to soften butter

For 4 tablespoons of butter, place the butter in one piece on a small microwave-safe plate. Place the plate in the microwave and heat for 1 minute at 10 percent power. Press on the butter with your finger to see whether it is sufficiently softened; if not, heat for an additional 20 seconds at 10 percent power. This method also works with whole sticks.

Can I substitute whipped butter for stick butter in baking recipes?

Whipped butter is made by incorporating air into butter. Manufacturers do this to increase the butter's spreadability, especially for slathering on toast. Adding air increases the volume of the butter, not the weight. In other words, a 4-ounce stick of butter measures 1/2 cup in volume, and 4 ounces of whipped butter measures 1 cup.

Unsalted whipped butter makes a fine substitute for unsalted stick butter in baked goods, but do not make the swap in uncooked applications, such as frosting. And remember to make the substitutions based on weight, not volume. A standard tub of whipped butter weighs 8 ounces, equal to two sticks of butter.

Why shouldn't I cook or bake with salted butter?

Originally, butter was salted to preserve it, but its flavor keeps people coming back for more. It's fine for your toast, but we strongly advise against cooking with it for three reasons:First, the relatively high amount of salt in the recipe can unbalance a recipe's salt content. Secondly, salted butter tastes different than sweet cream butter. The salt masks some of the delicate nuance, especially once cooked.And lastly, salted butter almost always contains more water. Water content in butter can range from 10 percent to 18 percent. (By law, fat content in butter must exceed 80 percent.) In baking, the butter with the lowest water content (sweet butter) is preferred, because excess water from butter can interfere with the development of gluten in the flour.

Why wait for butter to stop foaming in the pan before cooking?

The simple answer is that it's an easy visual cue for the cook to know when the melted butter is ready for cooking. To be more specific, when the foaming stops, it's an indication that all the water in the butter (which is about 80 percent fat and 20 percent water) has evaporated. Melted butter starts out near 212 degrees, but as the water cooks off and the foaming subsides, the fat in the pan will continue to get hotter, starting to smoke when it reaches 250 degrees. Saut?ing food in butter is most successful when the fat is at a higher temperature, which can be reached only when most of the water has been removed. Additionally, cooking food in the presence of water could produce unwanted steamed or boiled flavors rather than the dry-heat flavors and browning produced by straight-up fat.

Sources: National Dairy Council and Cook's Illustrated

Friday, October 24, 2008


For Baking

Instead of

½ cup Butter or margarine - ¼ cup applesauce(or prune puree) + ¼ cup canola oil, butter or margarine

1 egg - 2 egg whites. ¼ cup liquid egg substitute.

Sweetened condensed milk - Lowfat/nonfat sweetened condensed milk Evaporated milk - Evaporated skim milk

1 cup all-purpose flour - 1 cup finely milled whole wheat flour. 1cup “white” whole wheat flour. 7/8 cup all-purpose flour + 2 tbsp. soy flour.

Pastry pie crust - Phyllo crust (use nonstick cooking spray between layers). Graham cracker crust.

1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate - 3-4 tbsp. cocoa powder + 1 tbsp. oil + 1 tbsp. sugar (for frosting or sauces). ¼ cup cocoa (for cakes or cookies)

1 cup chocolate chips - ½ cup mini chocolate chips. Chopped nuts. Chopped dried fruits such as cranberries, raisins, apricots, cherries (for quick breads and muffins).

Fudge sauce - Chocolate Syrup

Frosting - Sliced fresh fruit. Pureed fruit. Light dusting of powdered sugar

source AICR

For more sweets, Desserts & Drinks, Log on to...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Blueberries, in season now, get a lot of press for nutrition (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber), but we're going to spotlight their wonderful flavor and versatility. Sprinkled over cereal, added to pancakes, tossed into salads or turned into salsas, cold soups or dessert, they're one of summer's delights.
Here are tips for choosing and using:
* Once picked, blueberries do not ripen further. Look for firm, plump berries with smooth skins and a silvery sheen. Size doesn't matter, but color does. Reddish berries are not ripe and won't taste good.
* Refrigerate fresh berries, but wait to wash them until just before using. They can be refrigerated up to 10 days but are better used sooner.
* After rinsing the berries, let them dry on paper towels so that extra water doesn't get into the recipe.
* When buying frozen berries, make sure they are loose inside their bag. If they're lumped together, it means they've partially thawed and refrozen, compromising quality.
* Frozen berries can be used unthawed in pancakes, waffles and other recipes.
* Blueberries generally can be added to a recipe with no need to adjust the amount of other ingredients. They add bulk but no liquid.
* When baking muffins or cakes, dust the berries with some of the recipe's flour so they won't sink to the bottom.
* Instead of folding berries into pancake batter, sprinkle them onto each pancake before flipping. That keeps the berries from getting crushed and the batter from turning blue.More sweet news
* Blueberries contain disease-fighting phytochemicals, and their fiber helps reduce LDL cholesterol. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, blueberries ranked highest in antioxidants compared with 40 other fruits and vegetables. Blueberries also contain proanthocyanidins, which help fight urinary-tract infections.* A cup of blueberries has just 80 calories.
* To freeze blueberries, rinse them in a colander. Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Place the blueberries on the paper towels, cover with more paper towels and pat dry. Let the berries dry for several hours. Pack the berries in 1- or 2-cup portions in individual freezer bags, squeeze all the air out and freeze. They will keep 9 to 12 months.
* Add blueberries to yogurt, cereal and pancakes; toss them into a smoothie; pair with cheese and wine; use in salads or dressings; puree and add to barbecue sauce; or freeze and use as ice cubes in margaritas or martinis.

by Carole Kotkin - Aug. 6, 2008 McClatchy Newspapers

For the best in Sweets, desserts & Drinks, Log on to...

Monday, September 15, 2008


A perfect pie requires a perfect crustPie crusts stand in the way of many bakers and their homemade pies.Making a good one is difficult enough -- the right fat in the right combination, the correct amount of water, not over-mixing -- but having it come out of the oven tender or flaky has its own separate challenges.A soggy crust is an issue with so-called custard pies, those that contain a great deal of liquid (including pumpkin and sweet potato). The liquid soaks into the crust before the pastry has time to set, leaving it colorless, bland and wet.Pre-baking the crust makes the final pie more appealing to some bakers, but has its own issues.If the dough has been handled a lot before it is put into the pie pan, it is likely to slide down the sides of the pan as it bakes, leaving a flat disc in the bottom. Even if the dough is handled carefully, or given time to rest, it will certainly shrink a little during pre-baking.Bakers prevent this shrinking by filling the pie crust with something heavy (lining it with foil, then filling the crust with beans or rice).But that seems like too much trouble to many cooks (including me, occasionally), who try to time their precooking to get enough color and set the dough before the pastry starts to shrink, often with mixed results.

By Sarah FritschnerThe Louisville Courier-JournalWednesday, August 8, 2007

For the best in sweets, Desserts & Drinks , Log on to...

Monday, August 11, 2008


Chocolate is a year round favorite - it's not just for Valentine's Day and Easter. The following tips will help chocolate lovers work with chocolate throughout the year.
* Melting chocolate - It scorches easily, so it should be melted over hot, not boiling, water. It is best to use a double boiler, kept below simmering. If steam curls up and hits the chocolate mixture, it will thicken the mixture to a stiff mass. You can melt chocolate directly over very low heat in a heavy-gauge saucepan, but you must watch the mixture carefully.
* Microwave method - Place a 1-ounce square in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave, uncovered, at medium (50 percent) power for 1 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir until melted and smooth. Add 10 seconds for each additional ounce of chocolate.
* Making chocolate curls - Use a vegetable peeler with a long, narrow blade and a chunk or bar of chocolate. Warm chocolate and blade slightly. Be sure your peeler is completely dry. Draw the peeler along the smooth surface of the chocolate.
* Grating chocolate - Be sure the block of chocolate is cool and firm. Grate with a hand grater, cleaning the grater often so the chocolate does not clog the surface of the blade. You can use a blender, but you will need to cut the chocolate into small pieces.
* Storing chocolate - It should be tightly wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place at a temperature of about 60 degrees. If the chocolate becomes too warm, the cocoa butter rises to the surface and forms a dusty gray film known as "bloom." The "bloom" is not harmful, and, once the chocolate is melted, it returns to its rich brown color. If you store chocolate in the refrigerator or freezer, take it out and let it stand until it returns to room temperature before you use it in a recipe. Chocolate is very sensitive to sudden changes in temperature.
Chocolate substitutions. To substitute for:
* 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate - Use 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa plus 1 tablespoon shortening.
* 1 ounce semisweet chocolate - Use 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips or 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate and 1 tablespoon sugar
* 6-ounce package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate morsels - Use 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup shortening
* 4-ounce bar sweet baking chocolate - Use 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1/3 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons shortening.
Gadsden times - April 2008

For the Best in Sweets , Desserts & Drinks , Log on to...

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Ovens come in many shapes and sizes. Here we will focus only on convection ovens. Earlier, they used to come tin a round, lightweight variety, with a glass window. Simple equipment, but very effective. Some companies still make this model and even the best recipes can be made in it.
Modern Kitchens use sleek, square OTGs (Oven-Toaster-Griller) operated on electricity. You can bake a cake, toast sandwiches, or grill kebabs with the press of a button. There are instructions manuals and recipe booklets that come along with the oven. Do make it a point to read them thoroughly. There are gas ranges that have flame burners on the top and large oven at the bottom. These too are effective as electric ovens, ensure to read the manual and learn about the gas marks.
Baking : When baking cakes, cookies, breads or pies, ensure that the oven is preheated to the correct temperature as the recipe demands. It is the simplest rule for getting perfect results. When baking, use the setting that gives both top and bottom heat.
Toasting : To make pizzas, open sandwiches or simple toast, use the setting for top heat. Place pizzas on the tray and toast on the wire rack.
Grilling : To make kebabs in the grill, use the skewers provided and the basting tray to catch all the drips. Use the setting that gives top heat and remember to baste the kebabs regularly and rotate them.
Reheating : Ovens are great for reheating samosas, patties or stale bread. Use the setting as for baking.
Safety Tips :• Use the oven only for its intended use.• Never heat water in the oven. Never try to cook a whole egg.• Never use an oven to heat a room• Never leave a working oven unattended especially if there are children around.• Never use an oven to store things. If it is switched on accidentally, there could be a major disaster.• Keep the are surrounding the oven clean. Keep it free of bags, towels, drapes, crockery and other equipments.• Use of oven mitts is highly recommended to handle the hot baking dishes.

By Sanjeev Kapoor. Sourced from the asian Age 4th aug, 2007

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yum! Cherries!

Cherries, named after Cerasus, a city in Turkey, are divided into two general groups: sweet and sour.
The United States is the world's largest producer of sweet cherries, and Washington state produces about 40 percent of the nation's crop. Varieties of this dark red, heart-shaped fruit include Bing, Lambert and Tartarian cherries. Other sweet cherry varieties, such as Royal Ann and Rainier, are yellow with red tinges.
You also know sweet cherries by a different name: maraschinos. To make maraschinos, the cherries are bleached, dyed red and steeped in a sweet syrup. They are named for the Italian liqueur with which they were originally soaked.
Sweet cherries are available May through August, with peak season in June. Select plump, glossy, hard fruit. The ripest cherries have the deepest color. Fruit with stems left intact last longer.
Refrigerate unwashed cherries in a plastic bag up to 5 days. Freeze individual cherries on cookie sheets until solid, about 1 to 2 hours; transfer to a freezer bag to use later in pies and other baked goods. Frozen cherries are at their best only up to 4 months.

Posted on Wed, Aug. 01, 2007 in the State (SC)

For the best in Sweets, Desserts & Drinks , Log on to...

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Blanching Almonds:

To blanch shelled almonds, put them into boiling water and let stand 3 minutes. Drain. Slide
skins off with your finger. Spread nuts on absorbent paper towels to dry. Roasting also will loosen the skins of peanuts, either shelled or unshelled. Source: Almond Board of California.
Chopping Nuts:
If you need large nut pieces, simply break nuts like pecans or walnuts with your fingers. For finer pieces, use a knife or chopping bowl. Almonds may be chopped in a blender or food processor, 1/2 cup at a time for 30 seconds on high speed. Or, place nuts in a zip lock bag and pound with a mallet or the bottom of a small sauce pan.
Roasting Nuts:
Roasting improves the flavor of nuts. To roast, place blanched or blanched nuts on a baking sheet in a preheated 300 o F. oven. Bake for about 5 to 10 minutes, turning frequently to avoid scorching. Watch closely, as the nuts may be golden one minute then turn dark brown the next.
Storing Nuts:
Store nuts in their shells to protect from light, heat, moisture, and exposure. If already shelled, store tightly covered in cool, dark, dry place or in the freezer. Salted nuts are more prone to rancidity than unsalted, so we recommend refrigerating after opening.
Bonus Tip! Roasted Oats:
Roast in a 325*F (160*) oven, stirring 2 or 3 times during baking, watching closely, as the oats will roast faster than nuts. Try using roasted oats the next time you make oatmeal for breakfast... yum!

For the best in Sweets, Desserts & drinks, log on to...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to make whipped cream

If you're serving a pie for dessert over the holidays, it's going to look naked without whipped cream. You could go the spray-can route, but for a better-tasting alternative, whip up your own. Here's how:

# Before you begin: Make sure the cream is very cold; if you have time, chill the whisk (or beaters) and bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will help the cream whip quickly and will increase its volume.

# Adding flavor: If you plan to use any flavorings, such as extracts, liqueurs or spices, add them with the sugar in Step 2 (below).

# A sweet substitution: You can replace granulated sugar with an equal measure of confectioners' sugar.


Makes: 2 cups

1. In a deep mixing bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. If you use an electric mixer, beat on medium speed; do not overbeat (or the cream will turn buttery).

2. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar over the cream. Beat until soft peaks return.

-- Adapted from the Holiday 2007 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

For the Best in Sweets, Desserts, Indian Sweets & Exciting Coolers, Log on to