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Cooking Challenge

What would be your biggest cooking challenge? Mine would be making cheese(always wanted to do this), oh and croissants.

Saffron in a pinch.

The color of a Buddhist monk’s robes with its legendary powers, Saffron is undoubtedly the world’s most valuable spice.
One of the few not originated in India, saffron’s discovery is still one of mystery.
The word is from the Middle East, collaborating the words sahafarn (thread) and za’faran (yellow).

In Medieval times it was offered as a dowdy for a bride and accepted as currency.
It is also said to be “possibly the first spice ever used by man”.
Used for its incredible dying ability and unique flavor there is no substitute in the world.

Saffron comes from the flowering plant, the Crocus. Stigmas from the Crocus flowers are few and far between and it takes 14,000 hand picked stigmas to yield one ounce of saffron.
The stigma (female part of the flower) is the actual source of saffron. Then dried or cured and transformed into pure saffron. The masculine part of the crocus is the stamen. Cleopatra scented her baths with saffron, thinking it enhanced sexual pleasure. The emperor Nero in one of his many mad displays of decadence ordered the streets of Rome be strewn with it when he entered the city.

To appreciate its magic, experiment a little. Take half a dozen threads, rub them between your fingertips and bring them to your nostrils. The scent is elusive, fugitive, perhaps a little dusty, a hint of thyme and sage and hot hillsides. Drop the threads on a dry pan and set it over the heat, count to ten - the stuff is fragile and easily burnt - and inhale the fragrance. Better? Now drop the toasted strands in a heatproof glass with a splash of boiling water, just enough to soften them. Wait a few minutes and crush the threads with the back of a spoon. Now you're talking. The dark-red filaments leech their magic into the water, turning it the color of luminous gold. Inhale once more. The scent is there at last: full-blown and mature, it is the essence of summer; musky, with the fragrance of hay, the sweetness of honey, citrus and lemon balm.

It’s value lies partly in the fragrance, but above all, in it’s ability to turn everything it touches the color of sunshine.

You say tomato I say tamato.

The red plump like fruit which is known as “plump thing with navel” can be traced back as early as 700 AD to the Aztecs called Xitomatl pronounced Shi-to-ma-tlh. But it is thought to be native to America.

Originally in Britain it was believed to be poisonous a lot similar to the wolf peach, it is also in the same family as the deadly night shade. The English word for tomato comes from the Spanish word tomatl, first appearing in print in 1595.
It has been said that wealthy people ate a lot of their meals on pewter which has high-lead content. Foods high in acid made the lead leak, causing food poisoning and even death. The poor could only afford to eat from wooden kitchenware and it never affected them.
In 1880 the mass immigration from Europe to America brought the Italians who were and are to this day renowned for their tomato dishes. The invention of the pizza in Naples 1880 was created by a restaurateur to celebrate a visit from Queen Margarite. He is known to have made a pizza comprising of Basil, Tomato’s and Mozzarella, now known as Pizza Margarite.
As much of the red rich history this fruit has had a lot of confusion, be it fruit or vegetable considering the palate and where it originated from one thing is for sure it will always be in our recipes.

King Kiwi Margarita

Serves 2

60ml Tequila
60ml Cointreau, or other orange flavored liqueur
120ml fresh lime juice
4 kiwi fruit green or gold or mixed
Sea salt (for the rim)
1 lime wedge to garnish
Dash sugar syrup (optional) (sugar syrup for cocktails = equal portions sugar and water boiled for 5 mins and cooled)
Sliced Gold Kiwifruit for garnish
Place sea salt in a shallow saucer. Wet the rims of two margarita glasses with the lime wedge, and dip rims in the salt.
Put Tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a blender and blend well with a dash of sugar syrup. Add chopped kiwifruit. Blend just until combined being careful not to over blend as crushed kiwi seeds can taste bitter.Add two handfuls of ice and blend again. (optional).

To serve, pour into prepared margarita glasses and garnish with kiwifruit or lime slices.

Jul 16, 2008
Wine and Food tube in Spirits

My Paella

Jun 10, 2008
Wine and Food tube in Recipes

Death of the Honey Bee...

You are right with the fact that Australia does not have this mite. This is one of the reasons we are so strict with our food laws.

Thyme the Versatile Herb

Re:English, French or German Thyme?

You'll probably be happy with whatever one you go with, it's just a matter of taste. I find that English thyme has, for lack of a better vocabulary, more of a "thyme" flavor. It's lush and green and the flavor is so pungent as far as thyme goes and it's always added the most flavor to my cooking when it comes to using the thymes.

Out of the three I like English the best, but my favorite by far is lemon thyme. The flavor is so bright and fresh.

If all three are available to you, why not plant all three and try them out and see which one your palate prefers?

Death of the Honey Bee...

Bees have been disappearing and at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of many crops.
“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard in California. “Box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”

The sudden mystifying losses are highlighting the crucial link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the world.
Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.
Now, in a mystery worthy of Sherlock Homes, bees are disappearing in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their hives. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are likely dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.

As researchers try to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming nervous about the capability of the commercial bee industry to meet the growing demand for bees to pollinate dozens of crops, from almonds to avocados to kiwis.
A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food,” said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation.
“There are less beekeepers, less bees, yet more crops to pollinate,” Mr. Browning said. “While this sounds sweet for the bee business, with so much added loss and expense due to disease, pests and higher equipment costs, profitability is actually falling.”

What can we do?
National Pollinator Week is the last week in June. You, your children and your community groups can become Pollinator Partnership participants and make a difference through actions as simple as creating pollinator-friendly habitat in your back yard! This includes:
• Plant for pollinators in your yard, garden, farm, ranch, local community.
• Reduce your impact on the environment
• Get involved as a Pollinator Partner
• Learn about bees and other pollinators – and teach others of their importance

View video of bee decline at

Thyme the Versatile Herb

A lot of people who love to cook are very fond of herbs and spices and look for every opportunity to present them into a dish.
Some cooks go overabundant, and sprinkle them in everything on the off chance they will find something new.
Then there are those who avoid seasonings altogether for fear they will ruin an entire dish by over-seasoning, or worse, adding the wrong seasoning.

One such herb is thyme; its most active ingredient - thymol - is a well-known ingredient in products like Listerine and Vicks.
Thymol has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which makes it useful for a number of things.

Its oil, when inhaled, can help to loosen phlegm and relax the muscles in the respiratory tract and when made into a tea, thyme is helpful for colds and flu. Adding thyme to a dish infuses a whole new flavor and fragrance; its dry aroma and slightly minty flavor allow it to pair perfectly with minced garlic in rubs for lamb, pork, or even beef roasts, or by itself to enhance cheese, tomato, and egg dishes.

Try adding some thyme to stuffing, spaghetti, pizza sauces or chilli.
Thyme retains its flavor on drying better than many other herbs, and dried thyme, especially powdered, occupies less space than fresh, so less of it is required when substituted in a recipe.

As a rule of thumb, use one-third as much dried as fresh thyme, a little less if it is ground.
Thyme is slow to release its flavors so it is best added early in the cooking process to ensure proper flavor penetration.

Thyme is great on roast beef, which makes a great Kummelweck.
Kummelweck or a weck is a roast beef sandwich made famous in Buffalo, New York by being served on a special Kaiser roll topped with lots of pretzel salt and caraway seeds.
Its name comes from its creator who is believed to have been William Wahr, a German baker from the Black Forest, an area of Germany where bread rolls are known as wecks.
Whats your favorite herb?