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Peppering with Paprika!
June 2nd, 2011
Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried peppers. In many European languages, the word paprika refers to bell peppers themselves. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot and flavors also vary from country to country (my personal favorite is smoked paprika).
Paprika is produced in a number of places including Hungary, Spain and California and is used as an ingredient in a broad variety of dishes throughout the world. Paprika is primarily used to season and color rices, stews, and soups (such as Hungarian goulash), and in the preparation of sausages as an ingredient that is mixed with meat and other spices. In North America, paprika is frequently sprinkled on foods as a garnish, but the flavor is more effectively produced by heating it gently in oil.
Capsicum peppers used for paprika are unusually rich in vitamin C (contains more than is found in lemon juice by weight) and other antioxidants (about ten percent of the level found in acai berries).
Types of Tequila
March 10th, 2010
There are main three types of tequila: blanco, reposado and anejo, each with its own unique and distinctive flavor and quality.
Blanco, meaning white or silver, is often referred to as the grandfather of all tequilas. Tequila blanco derives its name from its crystal clear color. It is bottled directly from the distillation process and does not undergo any aging. Tequila blanco is a distinctively strong spirit that usually has heavy overtones of smoke from the cooking of the agave hearts in clay pots. This is the tequila that is usually used in margaritas or other blended drinks.
Reposado, meaning rested, is unmistakably flavorful because it enjoys a process of aging in oak barrels, but only for a period of two months. Reposado tequilas are intense spirits with subtle hints of exotic fruits, agave and slight wood aromas. This tequila is recommended straight or with salt and lemon or lime.
Anejo, meaning aged, is truly the finest of the three varieties of tequila. Anejo tequila is taken after the distillation process and rested in small quantities in white oak barrels for a period of at least one year. When the aging process is complete, the tequila is filtered and its alcohol content is brought up to 38 or 40% before bottling.
Just to complicate things further, there are two further distinctions that need to be explained. Tequila can either be labeled as “blended” or as “100% agave”. In blended tequila, a minimum of 51% of the fermentable sugar is derived from agave, with the balance made up by a variety of other sugars, such as molasses. Blended tequila can be blanco (silver) or oro (gold). The gold has certain characteristics of wood aging but these are generally derived from adding colorings and flavorings, such as caramel, and not through authentic aging.
The 100% agave tequila is that in which fermentable sugars are derived entirely from the agave tequilana weber azul or blue agave plant. Tequila 100% agave can be found in all three types: blanco, reposado and anejo and is truly the finest quality available.
Bite Your Tongue When Sharing These Hot Sauce Tips!
July 13th, 2009
Serious hot sauce lovers and collectors already use “liquid fire” in all kinds of ways. Outlined below are some suggestions that people may not have thought of or for those more timid, to convert and inspire them to “eat the heat”:
• Try mixing a small amount of hot sauce with softened cream cheese as a spread for bagels or as a dip for vegetables or crackers.
• Mix equal parts of olive oil and your favorite hot sauce and marinate skinless chicken breasts or fish fillets before grilling or broiling.
• Mix equal parts of soy sauce, dry sherry and hot sauce (or to taste), add a small amount of corn starch and mix in at the end of cooking your favorite stir-fry dish. If you’re using meat in your stir-fry, marinate the meat in the sauce mixture beforehand.
• Add a few drops of hot sauce to mayonnaise or salad dressing to add some extra flavor.
• Add a few drops of hot sauce to your favorite salsa, gravy, soup or stew for a little extra “kick”.
• For a different flavor in your next Bloody Mary, Caesar or glass of vegetable juice, try adding a few drops of your favorite hot sauce to “kick” up the taste.
• Use hot sauce on pizza and pasta dishes instead of red pepper flakes.
• Try cooking ham, pork roasts or smoked sausage in any tropical fruit nectar (pineapple, etc.) with a few shakes of hot sauce.
• Try a Caribbean style hot sauce on cottage cheese or your favorite salad as a low calorie, low fat dressing.
• Try mixing your favorite hot sauce with ketchup for a quick and delicious barbecue sauce.
• Tired of airplane food when travelling? Try carrying your own hot sauce to jazz up whatever they serve you.
• Try replacing the salt in your diet with hot sauce. Sprinkle it on burgers, vegetables, eggs, rice, salads, sandwiches or on any food that you’ve grilled. The sauce adds great flavor and is much better for you.
Hot Sauce Trivia
May 8th, 2009
- Hot sauces are excellent in sauces and stir-fry’s, make quick and handy marinades before grilling food, and are always welcome condiments on the table.
- Research has proven that adding hot sauces to your foods can help your body burn calories faster (up to 45 calories more per meal than if you eat bland dishes).
- When people eat hotter sauces, they experience pain in their mouths and throats. The nervous system reacts to the pain by releasing morphine-like endorphins. Endorphins create a sense of euphoria similar to the “runner’s high” that some people get from exercise. People who regularly eat hot sauces and chiles will find that they develop a tolerance to the heat and will have to eat increasingly hotter sauces to get the high.
- Hot sauces are North American’s favorite way to turn up the heat and add some extra flavor and spice to their food. Most hot sauces are a blend of chiles, vinegar and salt, but many are variations that may also contain ingredients such as carrots, onion and papaya.
- By adding lots of flavor to food with hot sauces, chiles and spices, you can reduce the amount of fat, oil and salt in your diet.
- The stinking “rose”, otherwise known as garlic and a common ingredient in hot sauces, is an excellent antioxidant that can help reduce free radicals that exist in the human body. Garlic reduces cholesterol, clears arteries and helps maintain healthy blood circulation.The true hot sauce collector and aficionado looks for several qualities when evaluating a new sauce: appearance, originality, aroma, heat and flavor. Why not invite friends over for a hot sauce tasting party with evaluation forms for the sauces you’ll be trying? Try each sauce on unsalted crackers or tortilla chips and have some fun.
- Half the fun of collecting hot sauces is laughing at the names that their creators give them. The names are as original as the sauces themselves and range from reference to fire and explosion, animals, religious, crime and punishment, controversial, erotic, naughty, mental health, and western themes. The names and labels make us laugh and represent much of the fun that enjoying hot sauces bring us.
Garlic as Medicine?
March 24th, 2009
Garlic is an excellent antioxidant that can reduce harmful free radicals that exist in the human body. Garlic reduces cholesterol, clears arteries and helps maintain healthy blood circulation.
Roasted garlic adds a wonderful rich, sweet flavor to dishes without adding any fat. Try it in mashed potatoes, sauces, dips, soups, appetizers and vegetable dishes. To roast garlic, preheat oven to 350F. Remove any of the skin that comes away easily and cut about 1/4″ off the top of the garlic head. Place cut side up on a piece of foil, wrap and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool. To remove the garlic, turn the head upside down and gently squeeze the garlic out of the skins.