Monthly Archives: January 2016

Cappuccino Cheesecake

cappucchino cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crumb Crust

1 ½ c. chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 15 squares)

½ c. sugar

½ t. cinnamon

¼ c. melted butter

Cheesecake Filling

2 eggs

½ c. sugar

2 t. vanilla

1 ½ c. sour cream

¼ c. instant coffee

2-8 oz. pkgs. Cream cheese, cut into pieces

2 T. melted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400o. Generously grease a 9 ½ inch deep dish pie plate with shortening. You can buy graham cracker crumbs already prepared, or break 3-4 whole graham cracker squares and put in blender. Blend on high to turn into crumbs. Dump them into bowl and repeat with remaining graham crackers. Add sugar, cinnamon and melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs in bowl and mix with fork until well moistened. Using the back of a spoon, press crust into pie plate. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. While crust is baking, wash out blender to remove any remaining crumbs and combine eggs, sugar, vanilla and sour cream in blender and mix until smooth. With blender running, & add cream cheese one piece at a time until blended. ( I just remove the handle and drop the cream cheese in the hole) Add melted butter and blend until incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. Cool & refrigerate.

Week 41: Coffee

coffee

When the weather is crisp and there is snow on the ground, what warms us up better than a steaming cup of coffee? We all have our favorite coffee houses. Breaking New Grounds is a coffee shop that anchors a corner in the seaside town of Portsmouth, NH. Yes, we have a Starbucks in town (in fact, it’s just down the street), but Breaking New Grounds is my favorite coffee shop. They offer a selection of coffees from around the world, fabulous desserts, and gelato. It’s a gathering spot for locals and visitors alike and offers both indoor seating as well as outside tables, which hardy local souls actually frequent in the winter.

breakingnewgrounds2

Coffee is a brewed drink made from roasted coffee beans, which are the seeds of berries from the Coffea plant. The two most commonly grown coffee beans are the highly flavorful Arabica and the less sophisticated but stronger and more caffeinated Robusta. Once ripe, coffee beans are picked, processed, and dried. Once shipped, the beans are roasted at 500 degrees. After a few minutes the bean will pop and double in size. A few minutes after that, the bean will pop again signifying that the roasting is complete. Roasted beans are ground and brewed to produce coffee as a beverage.

History

Legend has it that a 9th century Ethiopian goat herder first became aware of coffee when his goats became frisky after eating coffee berries. The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in Yemen shrines. Coffee was used in local religious ceremonies in both Yemen and in the Horn of Africa. Coffee traveled from the Middle East to Venice, Italy and from there it spread throughout Europe. Coffee became popular in England when it was introduced by the British East India Company. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is still in existence today. Did you know that before coffee caught on in the U.S., beer was the breakfast drink of choice? Americans did enjoy a cup of tea, but after the War of 1812, during which Britain temporarily cut off access to tea imports, Americans also developed a taste for coffee

Cultivation

The traditional method of planting coffee bushes was to place 20 seeds in each hole at the beginning of the rainy season. However, about half of the seeds fail to sprout. A more effective method of growing coffee, used in Brazil, is to raise seedlings in nurseries that are then planted outside at six to twelve months. About three-quarters of coffee cultivated worldwide is the Arabica variety.

Second only to oil, coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity, with about half a trillion cups drank per year. Not only used for brewing a cup of java, the coffee bean provides caffeine for beverages (cola), pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. Brazil, Vietnam and Columbia produce most of the world’s coffee beans. Hawaii is the only state in the US that grows coffee.

Coffee Drinks

Want to dry something different the next time you visit a coffee shop? Order one of these.

Americano: Also known as “Lungo” or “Long Black” and made by diluting 1-2 shots of espresso with hot water in order to approximate the texture, flavor and body of an American-style drip coffee. It was apparently created as a sort of insult to Americans who wanted their Italian espresso diluted. 

Caffe Freddo: Chilled, sweetened espresso served in a tall glass, often on ice.

Caffe Latte: Coffee combined with freshly steamed milk without foam.

Caffe Mocha: A combination of chocolate syrup and a shot of espresso, topped with steamed milk and a layer of micro-foam. Finish it with a sprinkle of chocolate.

Cappuccino: Steamed foamed milk poured over coffee and finished by topping with foam and a sprinkle of chocolate powder. The name “cappuccino” comes from the resemblance of the drink to the clothing worn by Capuchin monks.

Cortado: An espresso with equal amounts of coffee and steamed milk.

Macchiato: Means “stained” with a bit of foam. A touch of steamed foamed milk is added to a double shot of coffee.

Red Eye: Drip coffee with a shot of espresso.

Coffee Around the World

In Italy espresso is the drink of choice. The term espresso literally means “when something is forced out.” It is not a type of coffee, but rather the way that coffee is prepared – shooting pressurized hot water through ground coffee. Espresso is regulated by the Italian government because it is considered essential to the Italian daily life. Brewed espresso has 2.5% fat, whereas brewed coffee has 0.6% fat. The average age of a barista in Italy is 48 and it is recognized as a very respectable profession.

A French doctor in the 1600s first prescribed adding milk to coffee, creating café au lait.

In 1857 the French introduced coffee to Vietnam where it is brewed with a single-serving metal filter called a phin which rests over a cup that holds spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk. Then the mixture is stirred and poured over ice.

In Vienna, brewed black coffee of any roast or origin is topped and served with whipped cream. (In Italy, “con panna” is the way to order coffee with whipped cream.)

In Hong Kong, coffee is blended with black tea and sweetened condensed milk to make a beverage called yuanyang.

In Turkey, coffee is grinded, boiled with water and sweetened.  It is very strong in general, and leaves a mud at the bottom of the cup.  After you finish your coffee, turn the cup upside down, and let the coffee mud drip for about two minutes.  Turn it back up, and have a fortune teller tell you fate according to the ‘paths’ and shapes of the coffee.   If your fortune teller is a gypsy with blue eyes, you fortune is deemed to be more credible.

The Swedish are some of the largest coffee consumers, probably due to their tradition of a daily coffee break or fika, where coffee is accompanied by a sweet pastry.

Strange Coffee Facts

African tribes combined coffee berries with fat to create the first energy capsule.

In ancient Arab culture, there was only one way a woman could divorce – if her husband didn’t supply enough coffee.

Sixteenth century Muslims banned coffee because of its stimulating properties.

The French philosopher Voltaire is said to have consumed 50 cups of coffee per day, and Teddy Roosevelt drank a gallon of coffee a day! But not to worry, the lethal dose of caffeine is equal to approximately 100 cups per day.

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote an opera about a woman who was addicted to coffee.

A Belgian man named George Washington living in Guatemala invented instant coffee in 1906.

The world’s most expensive coffee at $600 lb is Kopi Luwak, which is derived from beans eaten and excreted by a Civet, a Sumatran wild cat.

Resources

www.buzzfeed.com

www.huffingtonpost.com

National Geographic Travel

www.theoatmeal.com

www.rd.com

www.readersdigest.com

Pesto

pesto

Ingredients:

12 fresh basil leaves, washed
4 T. pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 T. grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ c. olive oil

Directions:

In a food processor or blender place the basil, pine nuts and garlic. Grind. Then add cheese and dribble olive oil through the tunnel while turning. Scoop out processor and place into a bowl or jar. Pesto can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for up to one week with a thin layer of olive oil over the top. Sealing the pesto with olive oil helps to retain a bright, green color. Use with pasta or as a base for pizza with a four-cheese topping (Parmesan, asiago, provolone and mozzarella cheeses).

Week 40: Garlic

garlic

Ahh – the fragrant aroma of garlic! Whether emanating from a grilled steak or a pot of homemade marinara sauce simmering on the stove, garlic adds depth and flavoring to cooking.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a member of the Amaryllis Family which includes leeks, onions and shallots. It’s a perennial and underground bulb composed of pungent “cloves.” Garlic is native to Central Asia and is prevalent in Mediterranean countries. In the U.S., approximately 90 percent of the garlic used is grown in California.

The ancient Greek name for garlic was scorodon, which was translated as “rose puante”, or “stinking rose”. The pungent flavor of garlic is a chemical reaction which occurs when the bulbs are broken and is most intense after chopping or mincing. This chemical reaction cannot occur after garlic is cooked, which explains why roasted garlic is sweeter.

Even though the flavor of garlic is intense, it is a low-acid vegetable with a pH between 5.3-6.3 which means that it can support bacterial growth and toxin production. Improper home canning, garlic-in-oil mixtures, moisture, high temperatures, lack of oxygen and low-acid conditions all favor the growth of bacteria which can cause botulism, food poisoning and potential death. So, buy your garlic fresh or use commercially preserved garlic in oil which follow strict standards.

History

Garlic has been used for over 7,000 years for medicinal purposes to treat hypertension, infections, and snakebites, and some cultures have used it to ward off evil spirits. It was believed in Central Europe that garlic would protect against devils, werewolves, and vampires. To ward off vampires, garlic could be worn on one’s person, hung in windows, or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans used garlic for healing purposes, and during the reign of King Tut, fifteen pounds of garlic would buy a healthy male slave.

In 1858, Pasteur first noted garlic’s antibacterial activity. During World War 1, the Russian army used garlic to treat wounds incurred by soldiers on the Front Line. The Red Army physicians relied so heavily on garlic that it became known as the “Russian Penicillin”.

Currently, garlic is used for reducing cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risk, as well as for its antimicrobial properties. Garlic has been tried for treating an enlarged prostate, diabetes, osteoarthritis, diarrhea, cold and flu. Some of these uses are scientifically supported. Garlic is also used as an insect repellent, a tick repellent for animals, and was once used to treat hoof and mouth disease in cattle.

Culinary Uses

Garlic is usually part of a recipe in minced form – salad dressings, marinades, or oils flavored with garlic are used to season meats, seafood, vegetables, bread and pasta sauces like marinara and pesto. In Indochina, garlic, chopped fresh chilies, lime juice, sugar and water are basic components in fish sauce. Chili oil with garlic is a popular dipping sauce in Southeast Asia for meat and seafood. Hummus is made with chick peas and garlic. Egg yolks, oil and garlic blended together become aioli, and tzatziki sauce, used in Mediterranean cuisine, also depends heavily on garlic for its flavor.

Can you eat other parts of the garlic plant? In Eastern Europe, the shoots or “scapes” are pickled and eaten as an appetizer. Immature scapes are tender and have a milder taste than garlic cloves. They are also known as “garlic spears”, “stems”, or “tops” and are often used in stir frying or braising. “Laba garlic” is a type of pickled garlic made by soaking garlic cloves in vinegar and is served with dumplings in northern China to celebrate Chinese New Year.

In British and European cuisine, smoked garlic is becoming increasingly popular and is prized for stuffing poultry and game, and in soups and stews. In both these cases the papery skin is used as most of the smoky flavor is concentrated there rather in the cloves.
Garlic leaves are a popular vegetable in many parts of Asia. The leaves are cut, cleaned, and then stir-fried with eggs, meat, or vegetables.

Roasted garlic also makes a flavorful spread for crackers or toast. Cut the top off a whole bulb of garlic to expose the cloves. Allow one half to one head per person. Place the heads in a baking dish or wrap in aluminum foil with a little olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour until tender. The roasted garlic cloves can easily be squeezed from the skin and spread with a knife.

What about other forms of garlic? Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. If used as a substitute for fresh garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to one clove of garlic.

And finally, the flavor and aroma of garlic are great, but what about “garlic breath?” Try eating parsley – it usually alleviates any offensive odor.

How to Buy and Store

Choose garlic bulbs that are firm and tight-skinned. If you grow your own garlic, spread the bulbs out on newspaper and let them cure for 2-3 weeks until the skins are papery. Garlic cloves can be frozen unpeeled or the whole bulbs can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 3-5 weeks in a well-ventilated place. To peel garlic cloves, press down with the flat side of a knife until the clove and skin crack and remove the skin

Resources
http://www.allicinfacts.com
http://www.americanfolklore.net
Dept. of Food Science and Technology, University of California at Davis
http://www.webmd.com

Week 39: Aphrodisiac Cooking

oysters

 

Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away and it’s time to think about how you’re going to celebrate with that special someone. Gifts are always nice, but why not prepare an aphrodisiac meal for them? Who knows where it will lead (wink, wink)?

Aphrodisiac recipes have been cooked up throughout the world for centuries. You may have heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac — but what about potatoes, skink flesh, and sparrow brains? These things were once considered aphrodisiacs, too. Almost everything edible was, at one time or another. Some foods thought to be aphrodisiacs resemble genitalia – oysters, bananas – you get the picture. Short of taking Viagra which has been shown to effectively treat erectile dysfunction, aphrodisiac foods are those which possess vitamins, minerals and chemicals which stimulate desire. In actuality, foods which boost energy, stimulate attraction, fertility and promote blood flow to all important regions are believed to be effective in increasing sexual performance and satisfaction.

Aphrodisiacs get their name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and sexuality. One account of her “birth” says she arose from the sea on a giant scallop, after Cronus castrated Uranus and tossed his severed genitals into the sea. Aphrodite then walked to the shore of Cyprus. Her name derives from aphros which means “foam” and refers to her as rising from the sea foam. She is always depicted nude and is often shown floating on a scallop shell.(In Roman mythology, Aphrodite is known as Venus, whose messenger is Cupid). In Ancient Greece during a festival to celebrate Aphrodite, participants were initiated into the Mysteries of Aphrodite and were given salt, a representation of Aphrodite’s connection to the sea, and bread baked in the shape of a phallus. The Aphrodisia festival is still held in Greece and Cyprus each year over a three day period in the summer.

Avocadoes

Plump and moist, these sensuous pear-shaped fruits resemble certain parts of the body. They contain vitamin E which helps your body churn out hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, which circulate in your bloodstream and stimulate sexual responses like clitoral swelling and vaginal lubrication.

Bananas

Bananas are high in potassium which delivers muscle strength, so in theory intensifies orgasms.That’s something powerful to think about when you wrap your lips around this phallus-shaped fruit.

Chilies

The chili pepper’s effect on the body has actual scientific backing, so there might be some truth to this one. Chili peppers contain capsaicin which can cause a physiological response – increased heart rate and metabolism, sometimes even sweating — that is quite similar to the physical reactions experienced during sex. Eating chili peppers also releases endorphins for that “feel good” sensation. Its bright red color is considered a symbol of love by many, and the shape is, well, self-explanatory.

Chocolate

Sinful and sweet, chocolate has been historically used in seduction rituals. Even Casanova was rumored to indulge in chocolate prior to a sexual rendezvous. Chocolate contains the chemicals anandamide and phenylethylamine, which boost serotonin levels – the chemical which occurs naturally in the body when someone is happy or feeling passionate. It also contains tryptophan, a brain chemical that yields serotonin, which is known to produce feelings of elation.

Ginseng

Some say ginseng is an aphrodisiac because it actually looks like the human body. (The word ginseng even means “man root.”) Studies have reported sexual response in animals which have been given ginseng, but there is no evidence to date of ginseng having any effect on humans.

Figs

Figs have for centuries been considered an aphrodisiac, and we’re not talking about Fig Newtons, but actual figs. If you’ve ever split a fig in half and checked out the inside, you’ll see why some have likened the pink fleshy insides to the female form. But aside from its appearance it does contain essential minerals and vitamins that could help kick things off in the sexual arena. The magnesium, potassium, and iron levels alone will help get you back online in these departments, and the Vitamin B-6 will give you energy to keep things going.

Maca

Nutty and sweet, maca is used in beverages, cookies and baked goods. This sweet root vegetable has been nicknamed Peruvian Viagra, and animal studies have indicated some aphrodisiac qualities, although this hasn’t been extensively tested on humans. It contains a steroid like chemical which is a precursor to sex hormones and is also thought to increase stamina and heighten awareness.

Oysters

The most famous of aphrodisiac foods, oysters have a reputation for fertility. Research shows they are high in zinc, which science has linked to increased sperm production. Oysters also contain two unusual amino acids – D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, both known to trigger the production of testosterone. Eating this libido-lifting treat raw ensures you get the greatest benefits of these amino acids, as cooking significantly reduces the amount. Oysters are eaten very seductively – you suck, slurp and eat them out of your hands, or someone else’s hands. See what I mean?

Red Wine

A little alcohol can dissolve inhibitions and put you in the mood. Red wine helps with relaxation and contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation before and during intercourse.

Salmon

Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which keep sex hormone production at its peak. The pink, velvety texture of a salmon fillet is also stimulating to the senses.

Truffles

Earthy and black, truffles caused religious consternation in the days of the Arab empire. These precious fungi were banned from sale near mosques for fear they would corrupt the morals of good Muslims. Today, anything associated with luxury or indulgence is considered sexy – it must means she’s worth the extra expense, right?

So, light the candles, put on some soft, romantic music and incorporate the above foods into your menu. Cooking for your partner can serve as the best aphrodisiac of all.

Resources

www.cosmopolitan.com

www.greekmythology.com

www.health.usnews.com

www.independent.co.uk

www.webmd.com

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

burritos

This combination may sound odd, but these burritos are delicious and they contain five superfoods!

Ingredients:

4-6 whole wheat tortillas

2 large sweet potatoes

1 T. olive oil

2 cans black beans, drained

1 clove garlic, minced

3 T. cilantro, diced

2 c. grated cheddar cheese

1 bunch scallions, sliced

2 avocados, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

Directions:

Bake sweet potatoes for 30-40 minutes or until tender in 350oF oven.  Cut in half and squeeze potato pulp from the skin into a small bowl.  Cut into small chunks or smash with fork.  In a saucepan, heat olive oil and saute garlic.  Add black beans and cilantro and heat through.  To assemble, place a tortilla on a plate, top with 2-3 T. of mashed sweet potato, add 3 T. black beans and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Heat in microwave for 40 seconds until cheese melts.  Remove from microwave and top with tomatoes, scallions and avocado.  Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and hot sauce.  Fold up the bottom and then the sides to form  burritos.  Enjoy!

Week 38: Superfoods

What are “superfoods?” There isn’t a real definition for this term, but they are understood to be foods which contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – the ones you need to add to your diet to boost your immune system, trim your waistline and start the year off right.

We are all familiar with vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants are molecules which protect the cells in the body from harmful free radicals. These free radicals come from sources such as cigarette smoke and alcohol, and are also produced naturally in the body during metabolism. Too many free radicals in the body can result in oxidative stress which, in turn, causes cell damage that can lead to age-related diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Here are 16 superfoods you should add to your diet:

almonds

Almonds

These energy-rich snacks lower bad cholesterol, thanks to plant sterols, and benefit diabetics by lowering blood sugar. They’re also rich in amino acids, which bolster testosterone levels and muscle growth.

 

Apples

Apples contain a flavonoid called quercetin, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of lung cancer. Quercetin also reduces swelling of all kinds, reduces the risk of allergies, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and prostate cancer.

 avocado

Avocadoes

The myriad of healthy fats and nutrients found in avocados – oleic acid, lutein, folate, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione among them – keeps you satisfied and helps you absorb other nutrients. They can help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.

 black beans

Black Beans

A cup of black beans packs 15 grams of protein, with none of the artery-clogging saturated fat found in meat. Plus, they’re full of heart-healthy fiber, antioxidants that help your arteries stay relaxed and pliable, and energy-boosting iron. Beans help raise levels of the hormone leptin which curbs appetite. They also deliver a powerful combination of B vitamins, calcium, potassium and folate. All of this good stuff will help maintain healthy brain, cell and skin function and even helps to reduce blood pressure and stroke risk.

 

Blueberries

Blueberries are full of phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals (agents that cause aging and cell damage). The antioxidants in these berries may also protect against cancer and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. They improve memory by protecting your brain from inflammation and boosting communication between brain cells. Blueberries have the power to help prevent serious diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stomach ulcers and high blood pressure and can reduce “bad” cholesterol.

Broccoli

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain phytonutrients that may suppress the growth of tumors and reduce cancer risk. One cup of this veggie powerhouse will supply you with your daily dose of immunity-boosting vitamin C and a large percentage of folic acid.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a good source of magnesium, a mineral your body uses for more than 300 chemical reactions (such as building bones and converting food to energy).

Edamame

One cup has an amazing 22 grams of plant protein, as well as lots of fiber, folate and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

Green Tea

Green tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat everything from headaches to depression. The leaves are supposedly richer in antioxidants than other types of tea because of the way they are processed. Green tea contains B vitamins, folate (naturally occurring folic acid), manganese, potassium, magnesium, caffeine and other antioxidants, notably catechins. Drinking green tea regularly is alleged to boost weight loss, reduce cholesterol, combat cardiovascular disease, and prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is low in calories, packed with calcium and live bacterial cultures. But Greek yogurt – which is strained extensively to remove much of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, giving it its thick consistency—does have an undeniable edge. In roughly the same amount of calories, it can pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half.

Kale

Kale contains a type of phytonutrient that appears to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian. Though scientists are still studying why this happens, they believe the phytonutrients in kale trigger the liver to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances.

Oats

Full of fiber, oats are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients. They contain a special type of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Magnesium works to regulate blood-sugar levels, and research suggests that eating whole-grain oats may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Salmon

Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which the body cannot produce by itself. These fatty acids reduce inflammation, improve circulation, increase the ratio of good to bad cholesterol, protect against macular degeneration, depression, cognitive decline and may slash cancer risk. Salmon is also a rich source of selenium, which helps prevent cell damage, and several B vitamins and vitamin D.

Spinach

A half-cup provides more than five times your daily dose of vitamin K, which helps blood clot and builds strong bones.

Sweet Potatoes

Half of a large baked sweet potato delivers more than 450% of your daily dose of vitamin A, which protects your vision and your immune system. This tuber is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. In addition to countering the effects of secondhand smoke and preventing diabetes, sweet potatoes contain glutathione, an antioxidant that can enhance nutrient metabolism and immune-system health, as well as protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, HIV, cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant rarely found in other foods. Studies suggest that it could protect the skin against harmful UV rays, prevent certain cancers, and lower cholesterol. Plus, tomatoes contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C.

Resources

www.drfranklipman.com

www.health.com

www.health.usnews.com

www.menshealth.com

www.realsimple.com

www.webmd.com

www.womansday.com