Archive for December, 2007
As we go into the New Year, I’m sure that many people have weight on their minds, so I thought I’d write about it. Of course, personal weight doesn’t interest me much, but using weight in recipes is another matter!
Specifically, I wanted to pass on an important tip going into 2008 and that is to:
Always use weight as a measure for dry ingredients.
If recipes offer both volume and weight measures for things like sugar, chocolate, etc., use weight! If recipes offer only volume measures for dry ingredients, convert it to weight and make a note on the recipe.
A basic kitchen scale is a very cheap investment that will pay huge dividends, since the weight of dry ingredients doesn’t vary. Volume measures do (much more than you might think) and that could spoil a recipe.
A cup of sugar, for example, depending on how packed it is, can easily make a recipe too sweet (or not sweet enough). If you want to measure out a cup of sugar, you most likely will give the measuring cup a little shake to level the sugar for an easier reading. That shake settles the sugar and means you will need more to fill the cup. Top it up, and the recipe will turn out sweeter. Give it another shake, and even more sugar will fill the cup. The size of the sugar granules also vary in different regions, and smaller granules mean that more fit in the measuring cup. All of this goes away as an issue if you use weight.
Other dry or solid ingredients have similar problems – for example, I’ve never known how to pack butter into a cup! Also, what’s a cup of chocolate? You can buy chocolate as a bar, little drops, or big pieces, and each will fill a cup differently. So the easiest thing is to use weight!
In our production, we use metric when we weigh ingredients, because it’s so much simpler. If you like using ounces, you should know that an ounce can be almost as confusing as a cup (I’ve written about the problems of using non-metric volume measures here).
There’s the scarily named avoirdupois ounce (most common), troy ounce, and apothecary’s ounce, to name just a few, all weighing different amounts. For liquid weight measures, a UK liquid ounce is different from a US liquid ounce.
If you want help with conversions, there’s a very handy website here.
Happy cooking in 2008!
I thought, after two years of the same design, it was time for a new look for the blog. I wanted something a little more white and fresh. I’ve adapted it from Azeem Azeez’s White as Milk WordPress theme. I’ll probably be tinkering away at it (and ironing out the bugs) for a while, but I hope you like it!
This is always a hectic but fun time of year for me, since yesterday is my Aunt Carol’s birthday, today is my mother’s birthday, tomorrow, of course, is Christmas, and then there is the wren on the 26th.
Today, despite dire weather forcasts, the sun shone brightly, the wind was slack, and the afternoon was much more like May than December.
With the shops closed and the deliveries done, we all went for a stroll on Ventry beach, including Ivan the ice cream dog (above).
What an absolute delight. I might have ice cream and chocolate on the brain for most of the year, but for these few days it’s great to relax and spend time with family. I hope this day was as enjoyable for you!
There seems to be some disagreement as to whether the Irish or the Scots invented whiskey, although the first written account (in 1405) is Irish – a monk happily distilling away. It’s very likely that whiskey pre-dates this record, and there are even some who say that none other than St. Patrick brought the method of distilling when he arrived on this island.
We’re happy to claim it, and there are few better uses than with chocolate. The earthy flavour and alcoholic tang of a strong whiskey add a great deal to chocolate, whether it be in truffles, in a sauce or in ice cream. We call this flavour “Fuisce.”
I think it is especially great at this time of year, when the weather is cold and the body craves comfort. This is my brother’s favourite flavour, and I do hope you enjoy it as well, especially over the holidays.
- 100 g sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 220 ml milk
- 200 ml cream
- 150 g dark (70%) chocolate
- 45 ml (3 tablespoons) whiskey (we use Paddy because it has a strong flavour)
What to do:
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water or a in a microwave. Take care – chocolate melts at a low temperature (ca. 37C) and it burns easily, so once it’s melted, remove from the heat!
- Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until pale yellow.
- Bring the milk to a low simmer.
- Remove from the heat and beat the milk into the egg and sugar mixture in a slow stream. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over low heat.
- Stir continuously until the custard thickens slightly (around 65-70C) and just coats the back of a spoon. Don’t over-heat, though, because at around 76C you will scramble the eggs! Immediately remove from the heat.
- Add to the melted chocolate in small parts and mix thoroughly until smooth and velvety.
- Cover the chocolate custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.
- Stir in the whiskey.
- Whip the cream until it has doubled in volume (you should have soft peaks – don’t over-whip).
- Fold the cream (gently stir) into the custard.
- Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer, stirring every few hours to break up the ice crystals.
- If you’re using a domestic ice cream machine, transfer to a freezer-proof covered container when the ice cream has achieved a semi-solid consistency (around 15 minutes). Place it in the freezer, and continue to freeze until it is solid.
Yield: 8 servings.
- The chocolate and the custard must both be warm when you mix them, or you wont get a good emulsion. It’s also important to add the custard to the chocolate in small parts, incorporating it each time by stirring.
- To pasteurise the eggs, heat the custard to 73C and maintain that temperature for at least 5 minutes. Use a cooking thermometer, though! If the custard goes any higher than 76C, the eggs will scramble. Immediately cover and place in the freezer until cool.
As we look at what we put on our menu boards for our shops in 2008, I was wondering about flavoured lattes. We already have the option of a Latte al Caramello (caramel latte), have played around with other flavours, and should we offer them all the time?
Please take part in the following poll, and feel free to comment if it is too restricting!
Instead of the usual, we decided to do a 5 star Christmas breakfast this year for our staff party. We went to the Aghadoe Heights Hotel in Killarney for a great feed and lovely views.
Afterwards, we went skating. Well, at least we tried!
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