A Home Cooks Coffee Cake Primer

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What is a coffee cake?

North American Coffee Cake is an informal, everyday cake meant to be served with coffee and frequently eaten as breakfast, dessert, or a snack.

A Coffee Cake Is Functional simplicity

Generally, a coffee cake:

  • Is a single layer cake,
  • May, or may not, have a topping, such as a streusel, crumb, or butter icing
  • May come in any shape; square, loaf, round, bundt, etc.,
  • And may include cinnamon, jam, nuts, and/or fruit.

Where did Coffee cake come from?

Coffee Cake evolved from different types of cakes in mainland Europe and later immigrated to the united states. By the 1870s, coffee cakes were well-known in America and already had a cornucopia of recipes for crumb cakes, streusel cakes, and streusel/ combinations.

Types of Coffee cake.

Because coffee cakes evolved from other cakes and continue to evolve, they are difficult to classify.  Coffee Cake can include cinnamon, jam, nuts, and fresh or dried fruit. The topping of a coffee cake may be a streusel, crumb, or butter icing for added sweetness. Even the form of a coffee cake may vary significantly.  Coffee cakes are usually single layer cakes and maybe a simple square or round cake, quick bread loaf, or a ring cake.  Some common types of coffee cakes are:

  • Cinnamon Coffee Cake
  • Crumb/Streusel Coffee Cake
  • Fresh, canned, or dried fruit Coffee Cake
  • Jam Coffee cake
  • Applesauce cake

Coffee Cake Recipes

Cooking – A Home Cook’s Slow Cooker Primer

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A Brief History of the Crockpot/Slow Cooker

During the depression of 1936, Irving Nachumsohn Naxon, who was born in New Jersey in 1902, invented the Crock-pot, or the Naxon Beanery, as it was then referred to. The inspiration for the Crockpot stems from stories Naxon’s mother told him of her life in a small Lithuanian village. With the coming of Sabbath, Jewish women would fill their cooking pots each Friday evening with meat, potatoes, beans, and vegetables and carry them to the bakery. After the baker’s ovens were turned off to honor the Sabbath, the pots would be placed in the cooling ovens to cook slowly in the residual heat. When Sabbath was over, the stews were ready to eat. This dish was known as Cholent and is still cooked to this day.

The Beanery was rebranded in the 1970s after Rival Manufacturing acquired the original design and gave it the name Crock-pot. In keeping with the 1970s love of color, the Crockpot came in a variety of colors and even came equipped with a recipe book. The target audience was ‘the busy working mother,’ but today, the crockpot/slow cooker is an essential cooking appliance in most households in America and the world.  Single women and men are particularly enamored with the slow cooker, as meals can be prepared in advance with minimal effort. There was, however, a short period when the slow cooker fell from grace. When the micro-wave made its appearance, the slow cooker fell from grace, but the slow-cooker remained a staple in many homes, and, by the 1990s, the slow-cooker began its come-back as a favorite way to cook.

Choosing and Purchasing a Slow Cooker

Below are some of the most important considerations when purchasing a crockpot/slow cooker.

Heating

When considering this aspect of the cooker, time should be taken to consider the method of heating. For example, does the removable pot sit on the heating element (the element will be on the bottom of the cooker)? Alternatively, does the heating element run up the side of the base? The difference is usually in the name of the appliance. Crockpots tend to have heating elements that run around and up the sides of the cooker to allow even cooking. However, the slow cookers sit on an element base, and the pot itself can be removed and used on the oven top or in the oven as a separate pot. This type of appliance requires food to be stirred occasionally as it can stick to the bottom of the dish. While the cookers are different from each other, the term slow-cooker and Crockpot have come to mean the same in the popular mind.

One Size Does Not Fit All

The shape and size of the slow cooker are essential when making a purchase. What will be cooked in the pot? Frequently small, round crockpots are chosen to suit one person or because they are small enough to store away in a cabinet. However, the size or shape may not accommodate a small chicken or ribs, so the Crockpot will not be used as often as it could be had a larger size or shape been chosen. If the cooker is purchased to make soups and bean stews, then perhaps a smaller size may be more appropriate.

Slow-Cooker Construction

The most popular slow-cookers come in porcelain or ceramic. Others have removable metal dishes. The preference is an individual one. It is important to remember that where a base and cooking pot are fused together, cleaning becomes more difficult, which in some ways defeats the object of having a convenient cooking appliance. The best way to cook in a slow-cooker is not to remove the lid as this releases heat while cooking. It is advantageous, therefore, to have a glass lid so that you can see how your cooking is progressing. Glass is a much better option than an opaque design.

  • Timer

Again, this is a matter of preference. Some slow cookers come with a timer, which is extremely useful for those people out of the house for a long time due to work or other commitments. A timer means that the cooker can be preset so that the food is cooked for the right amount of time without the need to manually turn the slow cooker off.This prevents the food from becoming overcooked.

The Warmer Function

Most slow-cookers now have a warmer setting. This is an absolute boon for keeping food warm until it is needed. Keeping food warm for dinner parties is extremely useful, so moving the pot from kitchen to table becomes convenient and practical. The warmer setting also allows the food to cool for a while before eating.

How to Use Your Slow Cooker

The Importance of the Slow Cooker Lid

Having a glass lid on a slow-cooker enables the user to see how the food is coming along. However, it is essential not to lift the lid to stir or just to admire the delicious concoctions simmering within because every time the lid is lifted, the cooking temperature drops, which lengthens the cooking time. It is best to leave the top on while cooking.

Slow Cooker Safety Tips

According to Good Housekeeping (2018), there have been very few house fires caused by slow-cookers. Between 2011 and 2015, there were only “70” cooking fires that involved a slow-cooker (p. 1). This is a significantly low number, but nevertheless, any appliance that creates heat needs to be used safely. Here are some tips to ensure peace of mind:

  • Before setting up the slow-cooker for use, ensure that the cord is not damaged. There should be no exposed wires and no fraying. Do not attempt to use electrical tape to repair the damage. Appropriately dispose of the appliance after cutting the cord from the cooker.
  • Ensure that when the cooker is in use, it is not close to any flammable materials such as curtains and towels. Take special care to keep the slow cooker away from cooking oils. Also, do not use a counter that is situated near the sink.
  • When the slow-cooker is not in use, unplug and store it away in a cabinet, making sure that the cord is not bent in such a way as to cause fraying.
  • A cursory look around a yard sale will reveal the odd slow-cooker or two. Make sure that second-hand appliances are in good condition. If the cooker smokes or gets too hot when in use, dispose of it. If the slow cooker is old, it is wise not to purchase it.
  • It wise to ensure that smoke detectors in the home are all in working order. Check batteries regularly.

Cooking Tips for the Slow Cooker

Pay Particular Attention to How Much Liquid Goes Into the Pot

Never fill the pot more than three-quarters full as the temperature required for the slow cooker will not be adequately reached. Not enough liquid and the food may burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.

Err On the Side of Caution When Using Recipes That Require Alcohol

When cooking in a regular pot on the oven, the temperature reached is much higher than in a slow-cooker. Alcohol is boiled away under these circumstances or evaporates when cooked in a pot without a lid. When cooking in a slow cooker, this doesn’t happen, so the result can be a dish that has an extremely burned liquor taste, which masks the flavor of the food.

Thaw Frozen Food Before Cooking in a Slow-Cooker

Thawing frozen food is common sense, really. Because the meat takes a long time to thaw in a slow cooker, the stage at which harmful bacteria may be present in the food is too long, so it can be dangerous to health.

Liquids and Slow Cooking

Water

The trick to making tasty, rich gravy in a slow-cooker is to make sure you have the correct amount of water that the recipe requires. For example, braising a piece of meat that falls off the bone, smothered in a thick flavorsome sauce, requires just a small amount of water: maybe only just covering half of the meat. Too much water will make the gravy too thin. 

Broths

Making broth in a slow cooker is inexpensive and very satisfying. The Crockpot comes into its own when making broth because the best broth is simmered for as much as 36 hours. The broth needs only a variety of vegetables, meat bones, and a dash of lemon and perhaps a bay leaf. Cover with enough water to almost fill the pot. When cooked, strain the vegetables and bones, and the remaining broth can be used immediately or bagged up for the freezer.

Milk Products Such as Cream, Milk, and Sour Cream

Dairy products do not do well in a slow cooker because they separate and curdle, making a mess of the recipe. Add dairy products at the end of the cooking period and stir in slowly.

How to Prep Ingredients for Slow Cooker Use

 Meats

The slow-cooker loves cheap cuts of meat. Shoulder of lamb, chicken thighs and brisket can be turned into works of art. All fat should be trimmed before the meat is placed in the pot. The fat on the meat won’t reduce down in the slow cooker, so it is vital to take the time to do this. You will not require as much water to cook the meat as would you would in an oven pot. When modifying traditional recipes, it is suggested that the liquid should be around a third of what would typically be used.

Vegetables

Preparing vegetables for the slow-cooker is much the same as would be done for other methods of cooking. Scrub carrots and top and tail. Carrots work better in the slow-cooker if they are diced. Make sure the vegetables are clean and peeled where necessary and diced if they take a while to cook, for example, potatoes, carrots, and turnips work better diced.

Pasta and Rice

As a general rule, it is best to add pasta or Rice to the Crockpot about twenty to thirty minutes before the cooking time has come to an end. If you put the pasta in too soon, then it will turn to a soggy mess. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pot for the pasta to absorb. If not, then add about half a cup of hot water with the pasta. If using whole grain pasta, put it in the pot about thirty-five to forty minutes. Add Rice about forty minutes before the end of the cooking period.

The Topping (biscuits and dumplings)

Dumplings for the slow cooker are prepared in exactly the same way as for oven top or inside oven recipes. Combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add small pieces of butter. Mix in the milk and mix to a soft dough consistency.  Make into balls in the palm of the hand (around a tablespoon) and then gently drop them into the soup/stew about thirty minutes before the cooking period is over. Make sure the lid is secure and continue cooking.

Ingredient Load Precedence

Most of the ingredients for slow-cooker recipes all go into the pot at the same time. However, for best results, it is good to have loading precedence as follows

  • Meat: first, Together with root vegetables such as carrots and turnips.
  • Vegetable: second,Including sliced onions, peas, and beans, tomatoes, etc.
  • Pasta and Rice: third, 20 to 40 minutes before the cooking period is over.
  • Toppings:  fourth, Dumplings/biscuits around the same time as pasta and Rice.
  • Dairy: last, Sour cream, cream, and milk are added when the cooking period is complete.

How to Adapt other Recipes to the Slow Cooker

Many people remember the delicious aromas spilling out of the kitchen from when they were small children. Warming casseroles and stew pots full of flavorsome meats and vegetables always seemed to greet a hungry family at the end of a long day. These recipes have been passed down over the generations, and now nanny’s stew and grandma’s chicken soup (with a little twist here and there) have found their way into the slow-cookers of the modern-day. Below are some favorite recipes that have been adapted for the slow-cooker using everyday ingredients. Meatless recipes are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.  Hearty soups such as pea and ham are suitable to serve any time of the year. The ingredients are inexpensive to buy, so in times of hardship, they provide the family with their daily supply of vitamins and nutrients.

Meatless Monday Stew

Leftover vegetables from weekend meals are used together with frozen or fresh vegetables that can be used together with frozen or fresh vegetables. This recipe serves four people.

  • 1 cup of frozen vegetables/fresh vegetables
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • Half a cup of diced onions
  • Half a cup of pearl barley or lentils
  • 1 can of either tinned tomatoes or baked beans
  • A dash of bottled sweet chili sauce or Worcester sauce
  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Add at least half a liter of water, but the amount depends on the required thickness of the soup.

This soup can be bulked up by serving with dumplings or potatoes.

Peppery Carrot and Parsnip Soup

  • 6 large carrots
  • 6 parsnips
  • Pepper to taste

Place in the slow-cooker with 1 liter of water and cook for around six hours. Blend the cooked soup to make a thick soup. Before serving, add a splash of chili sauce.

Pea and Ham All-in-One

Sliced or diced leftover smoked ham or a whole cut of roasted ham can be used in this recipe.

  • Smoked ham
  • 1 half-liter of water
  • I half-liter of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of peas

The result should be a thick, hearty meal. This recipe can be adapted to use leftover cooked meats, including chicken beef or pork, instead of smoked ham.  If using meat such as beef or lamb, use beef stock instead of chicken or vegetables. To spice up a beef recipe, add oxtail soup if available. The thickness of the soup will change a soup to a casserole or a casserole to a heavy stew. Adding potatoes will change the consistency, but it will need a lot more water. The ham recipe does not require salt as the ham provides the salty seasoning.

Closing Summary

The crockpot/slow-cooker remains a popular culinary addition to any kitchen. Its versatility fits the modern-day quest for more time and more labor-saving appliances. Over time cooks, both amateur and professional, have experimented with new ingredients and old favorites to produce recipes that appeal to people of all ages and nationalities. Using very little electricity cooker suits the need to preserve energy. Its record of safety ensures that the cooker can be left unattended for many hours, and its modern design means that it doesn’t have to be hidden away in the back of a kitchen cabinet.

The slow-cooker serves the needs of different types of families, whether financially secure but who have a scarcity of time, to families who have lots of time but a scarcity of funds. Slow cooking methods using simple ingredients can turn into rich nutritional meals to suit any budget. Through the ages, mothers have learned how to feed growing families, and single people have learned how to prepare meals with limited waste and little effort. The slow-cooker is the turn-to appliance for convenience and versatility.

Related References

A Home Cook’s Smoothie Primer

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Smoothies have been around for a long time and are an excellent way of working in some low effort, health, food into your diet.  The term smoothie came out of the 1970s but some form of the drink has been around since about the time that blenders became commercially available in the 1930s.

Smoothie Basics

All you really need to get started is a good blender, some fruit, and berries (fresh or frozen), vegetables, ice, fruit or berry juice and, usually, some dairy product or a dairy substitute.  

Smoothies As Time Savers

Smoothies can be a very quick, easy, and tasty way to work some fruit and vegetables into your day.  I will admit a preference for the fruit smoothies, but there are a large number of perfectly good vegetable or green smoothie recipes available, as well. They can be consumed as meal replacements, when in a hurry, as a tasty relaxing dessert, or simply as a nutritious and refreshing drink.

Smoothies As A Hot Weather Beverage

Because smoothies are usually made with frozen fruit, ice or ice cream, smoothies are a cool drink will which can be very refreshing and a nice break from the heat of a hot day. The ease of creating smoothies can make them a crowd pleaser when entertaining or juice a healthy tasty drink for your family.  few children would turn down a tasty fruity drink after some hard play time.  The children really don’t need to know or care that it can good for them.     

Beware Of Commercially Prepared Smoothie Mixes

I recommend that you use a combination of fresh and or frozen fruits and berries.  However, take care if you are considering buying a commercial prepacked smoothie blend.  Unfortunately, many commercially prepacked smoothie’ blends have added sugars, food coloring, and other less desirable ingredients.  For the healthiest smoothies use fresh fruit or unsweetened frozen fruit and or berries, and vegetables (if you are into green smoothies). Even a little unsweetened juice can be used as a dairy substitute, to add some color, and flavor to your smoothie.

Smoothie Experimentation

Smoothies are easy to experiment with you simply switch out an ingredient or two and see if it meets your tastes.  I do recommend starting with a couple of recipes which you know you like already and use them as a foundation by adding or swapping an ingredient or two at a time, that way you ease your way into new flavor combinations.

Time To Get Started

 Well, if you are still reading this article, I assume you are ready to get started, so, go find some recipe which appeals to you and has a fun wonderful smoothie adventure.

Cooking – A Home Cooks American Pies Primer

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Ask your family or dinner guests if they’d like a slice of pie for dessert and watch the delight in their eyes. Americans truly love their pies, oozing with sweet fillings amid flaky crusts, perhaps topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or even a swirl of fresh whipped cream.

Pies weren’t always dessert though, and if you think about it, they still aren’t always sweet. In order to be properly called a pie, it must have a crust. This baked dish with pastry dough that covers or contains any variety of sweet or savory items is the very definition of pie.

Whichever pie you love best, the history of how they came into existence is rather fascinating. Read on to discover more about where pies came from and who you should be thanking for their existence.

Pies in History

Pies have been around for centuries and were vastly different from the pies we eat today. It’s believed the ancient Greeks made the first pie pastry dough, though the Egyptians made something similar just prior. Back then, it was just a flat circle called a galette which was even denoted on the walls of Ramesses II tomb.

The early Romans are credited with making the first pies though, perhaps learning to make them from the Greeks. Word soon spread about pies all through Europe. In the 14th century, it was a popular word according to the Oxford English Dictionary. It was the Romans that published the first pie recipe for goat cheese and honey pie in a rye crust.

Back in the early days, pies were almost always made with meat. In England in the 12th century, the crusts were called “coffins” because they preserved the meats contained within. It was a handy way to keep fillings fresh. Fruit pies weren’t recorded in history until the 1500s when the English credited Queen Elizabeth I with making the first cherry pie.

The Pie Pilgrimage

Once the first Pilgrims came to America and became the early colonists, they brought their pie-making traditions along with them. The crusts were not eaten, much like in the ancient days for they were merely used as a means of preservation of the fillings. We romance the idea of modern-day pies in our theatrical productions of the first Thanksgiving, but back then, the pies they served were not of pumpkin, apple, or pecan varieties.

In 1621, the year of that first Thanksgiving, those pies were meat-based just as they were in the old country. The first recipe for pumpkin pie didn’t appear in a cookbook until 1675 and was the British version of a spiced, boiled squash filling. Americans didn’t popularize the now-famous pie until the beginning of the 1800s.

While the Pilgrim’s pies were full of meats, they were seasoned with nutmeg, cinnamon, dried fruit, and pepper, an interesting assortment of flavors indeed. But once the colonists spread out and began founding the colonies that would one day form our great nation, pies took on a whole new meaning.

The colonists would make use of local ingredients in their pies and soon, it gave way to a new era of sweet pies. In 1796, there were only 3 different kinds of sweet pies recorded, but by the late 1800s, there were 8 sweet pies. According to the Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, by 1947, 65 different sweet pie recipes were on the written record.

Pie in Modern America

With the introduction of new technological developments that would bring the world into modern times, America began to create ways of convenience. While most women knew how to make a pie from scratch back then, for many people today it seems to be an intimidating process. The first frozen pie crust came out with a patent in 1955, and by the 1960s, ready-to-bake frozen pie crusts were available.

Then McDonald’s jumped on the bandwagon in the 1960s with the introduction of mini homemade fried apple pies in its Knoxville, Tennessee location helmed by Litton Cochran. These were such a huge success that by 1970, all locations sold a manufactured version of it.

As America grew prosperous and women burst into the workforce, there was less time for pie. Instead of being a regular staple, it became the mark of an indulgence reserved for special occasions. Pie is no less important these days. In fact, it’s still as popular as ever in both sweet and savory forms.

Keep Your Eyes on the Pies

Pies have gone from a method to preserving meat to a decadent culinary experience. Both savory and sweet pies exist today, though sweet pies seem to dominate the pie world.

Savory pies are something you might serve for dinner. Deliciously rich, this isn’t the sort of thing you eat when you’re watching your waistline, but sometimes it’s good to indulge, isn’t it?

You can make pies for your main course and follow it up with a sweet pie for dessert!

Savory Main Course Pies

If you’ve primarily focused on sweet pies, you’ve been missing out on a sublime slice of life. Chicken pot pie is one of the most widely known examples, but there’s more than one way to fill a pie to serve for your main dish.

For one, you can turn leftover turkey, vegetables, and gravy from Thanksgiving dinner into a pie when everyone tires of turkey sandwiches. You can fill them with braised meats, pea, and carrots. Basically, you can take your favorite meats, vegetables, and cheeses, and feel free to create, much like those before us did. The only notable difference is you can easily cheat by using premade pie crusts from the frozen section and make an entire dinner pie in 30 minutes.

Decadent Dessert Pies

At the end of a meal, whether you’re at home or out at a diner, having a slice of pie is one of the best pleasures in life. The American Pie Council notes that our love of pie is worth over $700 million according to data rounded up from grocery store sales though that doesn’t include what we spend when we dine out. That number is likely astounding.

Essentially, it proves that all across America, we still love pie. In fact, every state has a pie that the locals resonate with. Your favorite pies might just be from other states, or yours could be the one from your home state. At the very list, if you keep reading, you just may decide that it’s time to try more pie.

Alabama – Buttermilk Pie

A Southern specialty, this pie is a rich and custardy treat.

Alaska – Raspberry Baked Alaska Pie

Created based on Baked Alaska, it’s the same great flavors in pie form.

Arizona – Prickly Pear Pie

Using local prickly pear, this sweet and fruity pie is unlike anything else.

Arkansas – Chess Pie

Chess pie comes in many forms and is as Southern as it gets. You’ll find it made with berries, lemons, and other fruits. You’ll even find it made with chocolate.

California – Lemon Meringue Pie

Noted for its meringue topping, the zesty citrus of California lemons makes it a light yet decadent dessert.

Colorado – Rocky Road Pie

Rocky Road ice cream has always been a favorite, however, Colorado has turned it into a pie you’ll love, even more, a fitting tribute to their Rocky Mountains.  

Connecticut – Pumpkin Pie

As one of the first settled states, one of America’s staple pies served at Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie, Connecticut’s pride and joy.

Delaware – Strawberry Shortcake Pie

With strawberry as its state fruit, it’s no surprise Delaware’s pie is all about the strawberries. It’s likely better than any strawberry shortcake dessert you’ve ever had.

Florida – Key Lime Pie

Made with Key limes that are native to the state, this sweet, creamy, citrusy pie is something you can’t make fun of Florida for.

Georgia – Peach Pie

As the Peach State, the state pie has to be made with peaches. Sweet and classic, it is always a solid choice for dessert.

Hawaii – Coconut Cream Pie

With an abundance of coconuts, tropical Hawaii makes the best coconut cream pie around.

Idaho – Rocky Mountain Pie

Not to be confused with Colorado’s Rocky Road Pie, this one is brimming with chocolate chips, walnuts, vanilla, and bourbon.

Illinois – Honey Pie

An interesting mix of honey with fresh nutmeg and coarse salt, this is one pie to try!

Indiana – Sugar Cream Pie

Sometimes called Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie, this one features a vanilla sugary-sweet filling in a flaky, butter crust.

Iowa – Sour Cream and Raisin Pie

Don’t judge Iowa’s odd combination of ingredients before you try it. It’s a Midwestern style that is as comforting and sweet as the very people who live there.

Kansas – Hazelnut Pie

Similar to pecan pie, this one is made with toasted hazelnuts for another sublime treat!

Kentucky – Banana Cream Pie

A pie to go bananas for, every Kentuckian has their own version of it. And to think the state was once famous for fried chicken!

Louisiana – King Cake Pie

If you’re ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you’ll know that this pie version of King Cake is a must-try.

Maine – Blueberry Pie

With more blueberries out in the wild, blueberry pie is Maine’s main squeeze.

Maryland – Baltimore Bomb Pie

You know those fudge-topped Berger cookies? Those are the staple ingredient in this pie. Need we say more?

Massachusetts – Boston Cream Pie

Don’t waste your time arguing over how this technically seems more like a pie. There are better things to do, like eat it. You can’t go wrong with anything slathered in that much chocolate ganache!

Michigan – Cherry Pie

With more tart cherries grown here than anywhere else in the country, Michigan naturally makes the best cherry pie.

Minnesota – Cream Pie

Want to go to pie heaven? Head to Minnesota and try any variety of cream pie. They’re made in all different kinds of flavors like butterscotch and peanut butter, to name a few.

Mississippi – Mississippi Mud Pie

No real mud goes into the making of these pies. Dig in and treat yourself to this densely-rich decadent explosion of chocolate.

Missouri – Butterscotch Pie

If you love butterscotch, you can thank the Midwest. Missouri is most noted for this rich and creamy butterscotch-based concoction.

Montana – Huckleberry Pie

Want a pie with superfruit powers? Try Montana’s huckleberry pie, a fruity treat that fights inflammation.

Nebraska – Apple-Cranberry Walnut Pie

Nebraska takes all those soothing flavors from fall and rounds them up into one amazing pie.

Nevada – Pomegranate Pie

Nevada is the perfect place for pomegranates to grow. If you love the juice just wait until you taste this fruity pie!

New Hampshire – Maple Syrup Pie

New Hampshire’s maple syrup just might be better than Canada’s. Try it in their state pie!

New Jersey – Sweet Green Tomato Pie

While it might sound unusual, let us remind you that tomatoes are indeed a fruit. Plus, New Jersey grows lots and lots of them. With cinnamon and lemon juice, it brings out the sweetness of the green tomatoes for a most interesting flavor profile.

New Mexico – Green Chile Apple Pie

New Mexico draws much influence from neighboring Mexico. With green chilis included in this apple pie, it gives a beloved favorite a spicy new spin.

New York – Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake Pie

Crafted from the love of coffee and cinnamon rolls the Empire State thrives on, you really can’t beat a pie like this, especially for breakfast!

North Carolina – Scuppernong Pie

Made with a special grape varietal which just happens to be North Carolina’s state fruit, it’s a uniquely fruity flavor to experience.

North Dakota – Chokecherry Pie

The highly-adored chokecherry, North Dakota’s state fruit, makes for a juicy, red filling in this pie.

Ohio – Buckeye Pie

No surprise that this would be the name of the pie from the Buckeye State. Likely, you’ve heard of the sweet chocolate and peanut butter confection, and if you love that, then you’re going to go head-over-heels for the pie version.

Oklahoma – Strawberry Pie

Oklahoma is another state that loves strawberries. Different than Delaware’s version, this one combines fresh strawberries with strawberry gelatin, sometimes with fresh mint too.

Oregon – Blackberry Pie

Oregon is home to blackberries. Ripe and bursting with flavor, it’s a truly satisfying pie.

Pennsylvania – Shoo-Fly Pie

It’s said this pie got its name from shooing the flies away from the sweet, sticky molasses it’s made with.

Rhode Island – Coconut Custard Pie

Creamy toasted coconut flavor makes for big flavors that make this tiny state stand out on the map.

South Carolina – Sweet Potato Pie

Leave it to the hub of the South to turn healthy sweet potatoes into a decadent pie. South Carolina’s signature pie is a special treat, especially for the holidays.

South Dakota – Sorghum Buttermilk Pie

Sorghum is one of the most popular crops from South Dakota, which they use to make a syrup that’s thick like molasses. Then, they use that syrup along with buttermilk, eggs, and sugar to make this wonderful pie.

Tennessee – Tennessee Whiskey-Pecan Pie

Go ahead and thank Tennessee right now for taking pecan pie to the next level by adding whiskey!

Texas – Sparkling Grapefruit Pie

Red grapefruit is the state fruit that is used to make this citrusy pie.

Utah – Cherry Rhubarb Pie

Cherries and rhubarbs are abundant in Utah. Instead of choosing between them, they married them both together for a splendid creation.

Vermont – Apple Pie

Vermont claims the apple pie as its own, though apple pie was originally born in England, not on our soil. Still, it’s one of the most classic and adored pies that ever existed. It’s truly hard to beat.

Virginia – Peanut Butter Pie

Virginia has its own peanuts which the state boasts taste unique from other peanuts. Whatever the case, this rich pie filled with chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, peanuts, and cream cheese in buttery graham cracker crust will make you swoon.

Washington – Loganberry Pie

Like blackberries, loganberries are just as sweet, and make for a blissful pie-eating experience.

West Virginia – Pawpaw Pie

Pawpaws look like papayas and have a distinct citrus taste, making this pie a very special thing to taste.

Wisconsin – Cranberry Pie

If you love cranberries, this soothingly fruity pie might just be something you should recreate for your Thanksgiving table.

Wyoming – Salted Honey Pie

Sweet and salty, this is the kind of pie that will bring a tear of joy to your eye.

Hungry for pie? You can travel the country and try sweet and savory pies in every state, or get cooking in your own kitchen!

A Home Cook’s Soufflé Primer

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What is Souffle?

Souffle is a French name for an airy dish. The dish consists of properly cooked eggs and other ingredients.

Types of Souffles

Delicious souffle can be made in two type:

  • Savory Souffles, which contain eggs and ingredients such as fowl, fish, meat or even vegetables.
  • Dessert Souffles, which contain eggs and ingredients such as fruits, liquors, chocolate, and jams.

Are Souffles just for breakfast?

No; a soufflé dish can be served as a main dish for lunch or even dinner.  A soufflé is a flexible dish and you have a variety of ingredients with which to prepare your soufflé depending the and meals or purpose of the soufflé. 

How to serve souffle?

A souffle must be served hot and immediately after it has been cooked.

When to cook your Hot Souffle?

Savory Souffles

Souffles will start falling off (sink) as they cool. Therefore, it is best to have guests arrive before you start baking your Souffle if serving your Soufflé as part of the main meal. So, that you can serve the Soufflés as soon as your Souffle finishes cooking.

Dessert Souffles

You need to start baking souffle when your guests are midway through eating the main part of the meal. While everyone guest eating the rest of their meal you can bake the Soufflés, that way you will have the soufflé ready just in time.

Baking tips for Souffles

  • You need to bake souffle in an ungreased casserole or a baking dish. When the souffle rises, it will tend to cling to the sides of the ungreased dish where it will climb to the puffy heights.
  • Add a little lemon juice or cream of tartar to help strengthen the structure of the souffle
  • Use room temperature eggs
  • To achieve a level top on your souffle level the top by running a straight-edged knife or another kitchen tool
  • Preheat your oven and bake your souffle on the bottom rack

Soufflé Related References

A Home Cook’s Muffin Primer

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Who can say NO to muffins? Definitely NOT me. Everyone in the world adores muffins regardless of what they may say. If you have never tried one before, you will become a believer once you take your first bite.  Muffin recipes come in many different flavors which make them more irresistible.

Muffins are small, sweet cup-shaped bread usually served in a paper baking cup or straight out of a muffin tin and are accompanied by jam, butter, Cheshire cream, and much more.

Muffin quick breads are delicious and a perfect addition to your breakfast. They are very versatile. You can make savory cheese and ham muffins or sweets like strawberry and banana chocolate chip muffins.  There is an array of muffin recipes out there today.

A Brief History of Muffins

Bakers started making muffins in the early 1700s They were little flat, quick bread or cake with little sugar and easy baking. The word was spelled “moofins,” and many language historians suggested that the word comes from either the French word “moufflet,” meaning “soft bread,” or from the German word “muffe,” which is often applied to a type of cake.  Regardless of where they got their names, muffins have become very popular.

These little round bread became much sweeter in the 19th century. Some bakers still used yeast while others relied heavily on baking soda but were still round and flat.  Many chefs used plain wheat or corn and baked them on a griddle instead of in the oven.

Modern muffins look like cupcakes, but the first sets were a lot like what we call English muffins. One big difference between the ancient and modern muffins is that the first muffin recipes had a limited number of flavors, while current ones come in almost every flavor one can imagine such as chocolate, strawberry, pineapple, pumpkin chips, banana, and et cetera.

Different Types of Muffins

There are two main types of muffins – the English muffins and the American muffins. Both vary in style, flavor, and history.

English-style muffins have a dry texture. They are flat yeast-raised muffins with nooks and crannies that are cooked on a griddle rather than baked in an oven. This muffin recipe dates back to the 10th century in Wales. The muffins were then cooked in hoop-like muffin rings and on the bottom of a skillet or directly on a stove.

So what are American muffins? American-style muffins differ from the English-style muffins. They are quick bread made with flour in individual molds. This is because the mixture forms batter rather than dough.  American muffins are leavened with potash which produces carbon dioxide gas in the batter. These muffins can be further divided into two categories – cake-like and bread-like muffins.  Both categories have peculiar techniques of mixing the batter. The surface of American muffin quick bread is bumpy because the volume of the batter usually doubles during baking. They are traditionally served for breakfast.

In the United States, three states adopted an official muffin. Blueberry muffins are the official muffins in Minnesota. Massachusetts adopted the corn muffins in 1986 as its official state muffin and in 1987 New York adopted the apple muffins as its official state muffin.

The Different Approaches to Making Muffins

Breakfast

Breakfast muffins are normal muffins but with extra nuts, veggies, fruits, and whole-grain flours. You can bake a batch of healthy morning muffins during the weekend and they will take you for the week or you can easily bake a fresh batch every morning.

Sweet vs. Savory

Sweet muffins don’t have to contain excess fat, sugar, or calories. These muffins are soft and light with a delicious taste of different flavors and fresh ingredients.

Winter is coming! This means there will be lots of savory dishes like stews and soups and baked goods like muffins.  Savory muffins are perfect for the toppings to the batter, filled with Bacon, spring onions, and other spicy ingredients. They are ideal as a soup side and are great for a lunchbox treat. Extra virgin oil makes it more virtuous.

Muffin Mixing Method

When making muffin quick bread, there is a need to pay close attention to the order and manner in which you mix the ingredients in the recipe. If the ingredients are mixed in the appropriate way, it will produce perfect results. The dry and wet ingredients should be mixed in separate bowls. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and then pour in the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Cooking Tip

  • To make muffins that are soft, light and fluffy, you must avoid over mixing the batter. The over-mixed batter will not give the desired outcome of a perfect muffin; it makes muffins too dense and ruins the airy texture.
  • Always remember to use a muffin liner or grease your muffin pan thoroughly before you scoop in the batter. If you skip this step, baked muffins will lose their shapes when you finally take them out
  • Preheat oven before baking time. This makes the muffin batter less dense and allows for easy baking and puff up.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and then stir in the wet mixture until combined.
  • Don’t overfill muffin cups. Filling the cups to the brim will alter the beauty of the baked muffins. Aim to fill your muffin cups ¾ full.
  • After removing muffins from the oven, let them cool off in the muffin tin for 5-6 minutes, and then remove and transfer them to a cooling rack for further cooling before storing or serving.
  • Allow muffins to cool off completely before storing them. Put muffins in sealable plastic bag or airtight container. Use a paper towel to line the base of the container and cover the muffins with another paper towel. You can also put muffins in freezer bags or wrap in foil and store in the fridge.
  • Creativity is the spice of life. Be creative. Do not adhere strictly to the available Try something new by adding some form of creativity to the recipe. Be bold and let your imagination run wild.

Muffin Recipes

A Home Cook’s Cake Primer

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Cakes are one of the world’s most favorite desserts and have a rich history behind them. Cake, a proud descendant of bread, goes back nearly four hundred years. Today, cakes can be well thought-out to be a form of bread like food and are a sweet baked dessert. The new cakes, typically a mixture of butter, eggs, flour, and oil, is a western evolution. Many alternatives are accessible for the key ingredients, and an extensive variety of minor designs and components can be used. Round shapes symbolize the cyclical nature of life. Most notably, the sun and the moon. In today’s world, individuals traditionally serve cakes at birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other special events. The tradition of making cakes for ceremonial occasions has its basis in an ancient ritual.

Origin of Cakes

Cake dates back to prehistoric times. The cakes made in ancient days were very dissimilar from what we have today, they were more bread-like with honey as sweeteners; nuts and dried fruits were also added.  This logical derivation links bread too early cakes, as they were both once round leavened loaves.  Cakes, in the ancient times, had ties with the annual cycle, and other folks used cakes as sacrifices to their gods and spirits who used their powers at particular periods of the year. The earliest evidence of cakes and baking came from the Egyptians, who were excellent bakers. They were the first persons to use natural yeast to make cakes rise. According to food historians, the word cake is a derivation of ‘kaka,’ an Old Norse word and denotes a baked flour confection sweetened with sugar or honey. Medieval European bakers frequently made fruit cakes and gingerbread, and these could last for several months.

By the 18th century, the development of baking soda and the usage of eggs in cakes significantly fast-tracked baking and other cake making processes. They paved the way for further expansion in the discovery of innovative variations of cakes. This technology advance was primarily due to dependable ovens, industrial food molds, and the accessibility to major ingredients such as refined sugar. The foremost icings were typically a cooked mixture of the best obtainable egg whites, sugar, and occasional flavorings. Icing at this time was poured on the cake and then returned to the oven. After baking, the icing cooled rapidly to make a hard ice-like and glossy finishing. Many cakes designed during this period still had dried fruits inside. It was in the mid-19th century that we started having modern cakes as seen today. Cake of, today, are made with extra refined white flour and baking powder in place of yeast.

Types of Cakes

Today, there are over a thousand varieties of cakes available in the world today. These types come with its own culture, differences, and specialists. Currently, we can groups cakes into three basic categories:

  • Butter cakes
  • Sponge cakes, and
  • Yeatterst cakes

The distinctive feature amongst the three primary types is primarily the alterations in leavening.

Butter cakes

For Butter cakes, they are a contemporary standard recognized for its signatory constituents of butter or margarine, in combination with a leavening agent. They can also be well thought-out as a particular type of sponge cake. Butter cake got its roots from the English pound cake. A wider option for decorations and icing selections are available for butter cakes too.

Sponge cakes

Sponge cakes are very easy to make, but the right procedure and keen devotion to detail are quite essential.  Sponge cakes are also cakes that rise due to trapped air. Leaving agents are used to attain this increase, and they are typically light and natural. Common types in sponge cake include angel food, chiffon, and sponge. Angel food cakes make use of only egg whites, while sponge cakes have no shortening or oil but use egg whites and yolks. Chiffon cakes make use of oil, egg yolks and whites.

Yeast cakes

Yeast cakes are the oldest variety of cakes, and they are very more comparable to yeast bread. Their roots can be traced to ancient Egyptian times. Yeast cakes, are rather scarce to find in recent baking but were at a time in history the key technique in baking up until the 18th century.  While they may be rare, yeast cakes can still be found in the shape of yeast muffins or vegetarian cooking.

A note about Cheesecakes

Cheesecakes have more filling of cheese and cannot be considered true cakes in the strict sense of the word. The making of Cheesecakes requires very little flour addition, and their origins can be traced to the period of the ancient Greeks. White cake is, white, by the omission of the egg yolk. They make use of only egg whites, multi-purpose flour, and are easily modified. Yellow cake, on the other hand, is colored by the addition of the egg yolks as a constituent, uses pastry flour, and needs no extra flavors.

Conclusion

These days, cakes find a central place in our lives, principally in anniversaries, birthdays and weddings. There are numerous varieties available today, and you can easily find a cake style or design that fits perfectly into any occasion or event in your lifestyle. With many services offered, you can also get something like a midnight cake delivery in situations likes birthdays. With the arrival and continuous improvement of modern technological equipment and tools used in cooking and baking cakes, the process of cake baking and making have progressed to advanced levels, all within reach of professionals and even beginners!

Related Reference

A Home Cook’s Cheesecake Primer

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It’s gooey, creamy, and it just seems to melt in your mouth the moment you take a bite of it. What are we talking about here? What else, if not everybody’s favorite? It’s Cheesecake. If you haven’t had your first slice of this delicious dessert, then you certainly must have been living under a rock since you were born. You seriously need to have a taste of this great heavenly cake, do so but thank me now not later.

So, what is cheesecake? Well, cheesecake is a large family of thick and creamy torte with either sweet or tangy flour, made with cream and soft cheese, and other baking ingredients.

A Brief History of Cheesecake

The history of cheesecake is quite an interesting tale, and if you have ever had the thought that cheesecake is a modern creation, then you’re so wrong. Cheesecake is believed to be the dessert of Gods and Olympians. History has it that the first cheesecakes were made in Ancient Greece – more than 4000 years ago. The dessert began solely as a source of energy – it was used as food by athletes before the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. and was served during wedding receptions.

Romans added a little twist to the cheesecake recipe after conquering Greece. Instead of grinding the cheese, Roman pounded it, and included eggs in the mixture and then called it “libuma.” They offered libuma to appease their gods into giving them blessing and achieving success, and it was also served during special occasions. Politician Marcus Cato was the first Roman to record their version of the recipe.

As the Romans moved through Europe, they carried the cheesecake with them, and without much delay, it became a favorite dessert in Britain and all of Eastern Europe. The different regions used special ingredients which were unique to the area, and the dessert began to shape into the cheesecake we recognize today. The original recipe had its biggest change during the 18th century – When eggs were used to replace yeast, and it made the dessert more cake-like

When the Europeans visited America, they brought the recipe along. Unknown to them, they were exposing the recipe to one of its most distinctive changes. A New York dairy farmer made the first cream cheese when he was trying to make a Neufchatel, but instead, he made the cream cheese. The new cream cheese was branded and sold in 1875. After 50 years, the recipe was purchased by Kraft Company and is still making it.

Different Types of Cheesecake

Today, Havarti, ricotta cheese, twaróg, quark or cream cheese are used for making cheesecake, with additional ingredients like cream, eggs, sugar, and fruits. Just as there are many cheesecakes flavors, there are also many styles of making them. Below are few of them and a summary of each.

We have the American style cheesecake which is made of cream cheese. After the creation of the first cream cheese in 1872, it became a popular ingredient for cheesecake in the country.

New York-style cheesecake also called Jewish style cheesecake is a favorite among others because of its richness and smooth consistency which comes from eggs yolks. The recipe contains cream cheese, eggs, eggs yolks and heavy cream, and it’s baked in a 5 to 6-inch springform pan. Just every restaurant has its version of the recipe; some recipes include cottage cheese, lemon, chocolate or strawberry to give a distinct texture and flavor.

Philadelphia style cheesecake is lighter in texture and creamier than the NY style cheesecake.

Pennsylvania Dutch-style cheesecake relies on cottage cheese with large curds. This kind of cheese is known as pot or farmer’s cheese.

Country style cheesecakes are made of buttermilk which produces a firm text while increasing its acidity – serving as a preservative.

Chicago-style cheesecake is made of cream cheese produced by Eli’s Cheesecake. This cheesecake is creamy on the inside with a firm crust.

The United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand style cheesecake make use of biscuit for its crust, and the filling relies on soft cheese, cream or gelatin, and sugar.  It’s a rich, creamy no-bake dessert. Rumor has it that Queen Elizabeth II enjoys strawberry cheesecake.

Italian style cheesecakes are a modern-day version of the Roman cheesecake. The cheesecake uses either mascarpone or ricotta cheese and substitutes honey for sugar. Italian cheesecake recipe also excluded the use of bay leaves and adopted the use of ingredients, like vanilla extract and barley flakes. This cheesecake is drier in comparison to the American style cheesecake and often presented with small bits of crystallized fruit.

French style cheesecake is very light in texture. The light texture is from cheese that can be found in Paris and some part of South France. Gelatin acts as a binding ingredient, and the height of the cake is only about 3 to 5cm.

Like I mentioned earlier, the list of styles is not exhaustive as every area has their distinct way of making it. This list will get you started on your quest for knowledge on how to make this great dessert.

The Different Approaches to Making Cheesecake

Baked Vs. Icebox Cheesecake

Baked cheesecake as the name implies, is baked in a water bath or oven. A baked cheesecake recipe contains cheese, flour, and eggs which help to set the cake. The cake is dense and velvety, unlike Icebox Cheesecake.

Icebox cheesecake is No-Bake (no cooking) delicious dessert that you can use to impress your guests or for summer. It is refrigerated overnight. The cake has a custard-like texture and is often light and airy and has the same rich and creamy taste of the regular cheesecake. Icebox cheesecake has tender layers filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Regular Vs. New York Cheesecake

Other cheesecakes are not like the NY cheesecake. They are not as creamy and dense like NY cheesecake.  Historically, there are only three primary ingredients were used in making cheesecake, and these include cheese, flour, and sweetener. Out of the quest for making cheesecakes more relevant than the conventional after course, culinary experts and researchers have been able to record tremendous success.

New York cheesecake tastes better than cheesecakes made in other places. According to American Classic, all other cheesecakes are frauds.  The whole of U.S. has come to accept cheesecake as New York Cheesecake. The cake is heavier and creamier than regular cheesecakes. The ingredients are nothing but cream cheese, sugar, cream, eggs. Adding to the ingredients or removing from them alters the New York cheesecake.

Sweet Vs. Savory Cheesecake

Sweet cheesecakes are sufficiently soft and delicious. The flavor and taste of the cheese and other fresh ingredients are dominant. You can use fruit, jello or even chocolate as the topping.

On the other hand, savory cheesecakes have different ingredients which make them salty and spicy. However, they can be made with the use of various types of cheese, but fresh Italian ricotta cheese is perfect for making them. They can also be made using skim milk, goat milk, and cow milk. With a savory recipe, you will need to use one of the ingredients – like spinach, walnut, etc. to garnish it and to show what flavor of cheesecake it is.

Cooking Tips

  • Don’t over mix. Over mixing would cause cracking.
  • Always preheat the oven for about 15 to 30 minutes to ensure an ambient temperature. 30 minutes is perfect.
  • Do not peak while the caking is in the oven. If your oven doesn’t have a glass window, you must wait for at least 30 minutes before you take a quick look.
  • Use springform pans – they are perfect for cheesecakes. I recommend you use an aluminum foil to wrap the bottom before baking. With springform pans, you can easily remove the cake without any cracking. Loosen the side of the pan with a spatula before removing the cheesecake.
  • Always stick the recommended cooking temperature. Setting the temperature above or below may get you a crusty topping which will lead to cracking – instead of a nice creamy top with a golden brown appearance.

Related References

Cooking – A Home Cook’s Soups, Stews, and Chowders Primer

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Although soups are not served as frequently as a first course these days, they are often a  part of a light meal or can even be the main course.

Basic soups are like basic (or mother sauces) in that dozens of variations can be made from the fundamental item. A basic brown stock is used in making bouillons, French onion soup, vegetable beef soup, or the popular Slavic soup Borsch Garnishes added to soups also change their character.

Soups are liquids, which can be very thin or quite thick, depending upon what they contain and are classified according to their thickness or to the principal liquid and/or other ingredients they contain. So, here is one system of classification:

Stock or broth

Stocks or broths and their derivations bouillons and consommés. A stock is predominantly made with bones and some trim, where and broth is usually made with pieces of actual meat; except vegetable broth, obviously.  All usually, have some vegetables and herbs added during cooking, before they are then strained

Cream soup

Cream soups are those are prepared by adding cream or milk at the end of the cooking process, but are not considered to be chowders.

Bisque

Bisques are heavy cream soups and typically containing shellfish.

Puree

Purees are thickened with cooked vegetables or fish passed through a sieve or comminuted by some other device such as a blender.

Chowder

Chowders, thick soups or stews usually containing seafood, potatoes and milk (or cream).

Potages or paysanne

Potages or paysanne (country or common folk soups) are heavy with ingredients, such as gumbo, chili, chicken noodle or vegetable.

Stew

Stews are similar to soups, generally, contain a lower ratio of liquid to meat and/or vegetables.