[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ave you ever thought about food and its storybook presence?Â Food and fairy tales are often intertwined.Â The preoccupation ranges from subtle references to food being an integral part of the overall story.Â Food was an allegory used to symbolize larger concepts such as wealth, attainment, reward, happiness, temptation, danger, etc.Â It’s fascinating to explore the assortment of food mentioned.Â Consider the following food and fairy tales:
- Cinderella – a pumpkin becomes a coach, which leads Cinderella to the ball
- The Story of the Three Bears – Goldilocks ate the bears’ porridge
- Jack and the Beanstalk – the beanstalk is a means to Jack’s fortune
- The Princess and the Pea – the princess is found to be a true princess by feeling a pea underneath the mattresses
- Puss in Boots – the ogre is defeated by being eaten
- The Little Match Girl – The Match Girl dreams of a roast dinner
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Alice grows very large or small when she eats certain foods
- Hansel and Gretel – the gingerbread house is home to a cannibal witch
- Snow White – Snow White eats a poison apple
- Rapunzel – food from the witch’s garden leads to the kidnapping of the young baby
It’s not surprising that food was rooted in fairy tales and folk lore.Â It was a familiar object that conveyed imagery and symbolism.Â I enjoy researching the story behind the dish, especially when it is a fairy tale.Â Food and fairy tales make great forklore.
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]appy Cinco de Mayo!Â Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5.Â It is celebrated in the United States and regionally in Mexico.Â It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.Â Â In celebration, I thought it would be fitting to make tres leches.
Tres Leches, is literally translated as “three milks” in Spanish.Â It is a sponge cake soaked in three types of milk.Â The texture of the cake is important in order to keep it from not having a soggy consistency despite being soaked in milk.
The origins ofÂ tres leches are disputed.Â Â Similar types of cakes soaked in liquid, such as British rum cake andÂ Italian tiramisu,Â are popular through out Europe.Â NestlÃ© claims to have helped the tres leches recipe evolve, during World War II.Â However, tres leches is usually found in Latin American countries.Â Its association with Latin America makes tres leches the perfect fit for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.Â Its phenomenal taste makes tres leches a great dessert for any occasion.
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]eviled eggs are a favorite in my house.Â It’s a team effort too.Â Midas (my husband) helps, because he knows how much I hate peeling eggs.Â He loves the finished product, so he’ll do anything to help the cause.Â Making deviled eggs can be tedious, but it isn’t complicated.Â It’s a simple recipe with delicious results.Â If you have the patience to make them, everyone will appreciate your effort and love your deviled eggs.
Around the world “deviled eggs” have taken on different names, including “eggs mimosa” in France, “casino eggs” in Hungary, and “stuffed eggs” in the Netherlands.Â There is even a variation known as “Russian eggs”, which did not originate in Russia, and is served in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.Â Recipes for deviled eggs have history as far as back as ancient Rome.
The term “deviled” was first used in reference to food in 1786 to denote a spicy or zesty quality.Â In the United States,Â deviled eggsÂ are sometimes referred to as “salad eggs” or “dressed eggs” to avoid any association with the devil.Â Â Whatever you choose to call it, this dish isÂ a favorite of Midas, so I like to call them Golden Deviled Eggs.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hink flair, fruit, fun, and… fat free!Â Sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t.Â Â It’s aÂ trifle.Â I love an occasion to pull out my trifle dish.Â It has a classic beauty that adds to the overall presentation.Â The fruit selection can be modified to coincide with the color scheme for the event.Â Â Perhaps you want to pick colors to represent a sports team, or a baby shower theme.Â Fruit can create a color palette of possibilities – strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, mandarin oranges, blackberries, mango, etc.Â Another alternative is to add food coloring to the cream mixture.Â Best of all, this culinary concoction can be whipped up using fat free ingredients.Â So have fun and indulge.
Throughout history people have enjoyed many variations of the trifle.Â It is thought to have evolved from a similar English dessert known as a fool (or foole), which is made by mixing purÃ©ed fruit, whipped cream, sugar, and rose water.Â The earliest known use of the name “trifle” was for a thick cream flavoured with sugar, ginger and rosewater.Â The recipe was published in England in 1596,Â as part of aÂ book called “The Good Huswife’s Jewell” by Thomas Dawson.Â Sixty years later, eggs were added and the custard was poured over alcohol soaked bread.Â Some trifles contain a small amount of alcohol such as port.Â Non-alcoholic versions may use sweet juices or soft drinks such as ginger ale to moisten the cake.Â Another popular trifle variant has the sponge soaked in jelly (liquid-gelatin dessert).Â While some people consider the inclusion of jelly to be a recent variation, the earliest known recipe to include jelly dates from 1747, and the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote of trifles containing jelly in 1861.Â The trifle has adapted with time.Â Thank the modern day miracle of fat free ingredientsÂ has helped the trifle reach an all time high of guilt-free goodness.
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]henever I happen upon a new place for breakfast, it’s almost a given that I am going to try their French toast.Â I love all the variations that I come across.Â I’ve tasted an array of spices, breads, and toppings.Â Personally, I keep it pretty simple when I make french toast at home.Â I use angel food cake instead of bread – and it’s heavenly.
People have been making and eating some version of French toast since the dark ages.Â Surprisingly, many of the variations weren’t in France.Â The earliest known reference to French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 4th or 5th century; the recipe mentions soaking in milk, but not egg, and gives it no special name, just “Aliter Dulcia” meaningÂ ”another sweet dish”.Â There is a 14th century German recipe under the name “Arme Ritter” (German for “poor knights”). “Poor knights pudding” is also the name for French toast in Sweden, Norway and Finland.Â There is a popular diving area in New Zealand named Poor Knights Island for its resemblance to the dish.Â There are 15th century English recipes for “pain perdu”, which is French for “lost (or wasted) bread”, suggesting that the dish is a use for bread which has gone stale.Â A similar dish, “suppe dorate”, was popular in England during the Middle Ages, although the English might have learned it from the Normans, who had a dish called “tostees dorees”.Â Personally, I don’t care how French toast came about.Â I’m just glad French toast is here to stay.
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]reparation, anticipation, and aromas filling the kitchen…I love everything about cooking a new dish.Â Recently, I came across a recipe for fish en papillote and was inspired to make my own adaptation.
En papillote, which is a French term that means “in parchment”, is when food is placed into a folded pouch then baked.Â Usually the pouch is made from folded parchment paper, but other material such as a paper bag or aluminum foil can be used.Â The parchment paper is a must for presentation.Â The pouch is formed and sealed to trap in the moisture and your choice of herbs, spices, and seasonings.
It’s a great technique for fish and vegetables.Â In particular, white fish such as halibut, cod, and tilapia are excellent choices.Â I recommend experimenting with a variety of ingredients.Â Some thought starters are bok choy, ginger, and soy sauce for an Asian flavor or asparagus, basil, and white wine for European feel.Â What ever you choose, add a garnish that provides color contrast and prepare to be stunned.
Every aspect of fish en papillote is impressive.Â Its preparation is quick and easy with minimal clean up.Â Its presentation is posh.Â Its flavor is remarkable.Â Overall, it’s haute!
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here may be a shortage of chicken, but there is never a shortage ofÂ variations to prepare it.Â One of my husband’s favorite dishes is something I call Chicken Monaco.Â It’s similar to chicken piccata, but with a twist.Â There’s no lemon, but there is white wine.Â Chicken Monaco has all of the class and sass of the principality it is named after.Â It’s a sure bet that guests will love it every time.
Speaking of chicken, the folk tale of Chicken Little comes to mind.Â It’s the story of a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end.Â He repeatedly says, “The sky is falling!”Â The phrase has become an idiom in the English language to indicate a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.Â In Britian, the tale is known as Henny Penny or Chicken Licken.Â Versions of the tale date back more than 25 centuries.Â The idiom “the sky is falling”Â continues to be referenced in media.Â Â Pop culture references include British band Radiohead’s use of the line “Go and tell the King that the sky is falling in” in their song “2+2=5″, and the Aerosmith song “Livin’ on the Edge”, which has the line “If Chicken Little tells you that the sky is falling, even if it wasn’t would you still come crawling back again?”Â Like I originally stated, there’s never a shortage of chicken variations.Â
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f you haven’t tried cooking a Thai dish, you probably think it’s more complicated than it is.Â Recently, I was asked to prepare an Asian dish for a large group of people.Â I decided to make Thai Red Curry, because it’s quick, easy, and versatile.Â Curry does not mean “hot”.Â The level of spice can be adjusted simply by increasing or reducing the amount of curry paste that you use in a recipe.Â Depending on the type of curry, various herbs and vegetables (sometimes fruit too) can be added.Â You can opt to serve it with meat or without.Â Coconut milk is used, making red curry dairy free.Â Red curry paste is gluten free.Â This makes the dish versatile and able to accomodate those with dietary restrictions.
Dishes of highly spiced meat are thought to have originated in pre-historic times among the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization.Â Archaeological evidence dating to 2600 BCE from Mohenjo-daro suggests the use of mortar and pestle to pound spices including mustard, fennel, cumin, and tamarind pods with which they flavoured food. Such curry style dishes are also recorded during the Vedic Period of Indian history, roughly 1700 to 500 BCE.
Traditionally, curry spices are used both whole and ground; cooked or raw; and they may be added at different times during the cooking process to produce different results.Â In the original traditional cuisines, the selection of spices is a matter of national or regional cultural tradition, religious practice, and, to some extent, family preference. Curry dishes are known by specific names that refer to their ingredients, spicing, and cooking methods.
Curry powder, a commercially prepared mixture of spices, is a Western notion, dating to the 18th century.Â They are commonly thought to have first been prepared by Indian merchants for sale to members of the British Colonial government and army returning to Britain.Â As the British empire expanded its horizons, it also expanded its tastebuds.Â Although, I’m not a big fan of traditional British cuisine, I am eternally grateful for curry.