Passion Makes It Prefect

Man lives for science as well as bread

Have you ever assumed that a particular food would be tasty or flavorful simply because of its name or fame? well my friend and I did. There is an old saying ” when we assume it makes an ass out of you and me”In this case I could easily substitute the word you for her and make this our story.

The famous Christmas Song, Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire is one of my favorite, especially the reggae version. Listening to this song always makes me salivate as I imagine myself sitting around a warm, cozy fireside roasting and enjoying crunchy delicious roasted chesnuts. But that never happened.

A few weeks ago , on my way from church, I stopped at my friend’s house and took my usual seat at the kitchen counter. She offered me a snack then popped the question: “have you ever had chesnuts?” I responded no! but that should be very tasty, remembering the words of the famous christmas song. My friend then handed me a bag of chesnuts which I hurridly open and put one in my mouth. What disappointment! first of all there was no crunch, and secondly this thing had a very bland flavor. This needs to be roasted! I yelled at my friend, who calmly replied “read label” It indeed had the word ” roasted” next to the name. Oh no! this can’t be, I thought to myself. My friend took the remainder of the nuts and headed toward the garbage bin, but I stopped her and offered to take them home.

On my way home I kept thinking about chesnuts, then it suddenly dawned on me that I knew absolutely nothing about them. My curiousity heightened and as soon as I got home I started my research. The first thing I learned about chesnuts was that they are “true nuts” in the botanical and culinary sense. Unlike peanuts which are legumes and almonds which are seeds, chesnuts are the real nuts. They are described as starchy food with sweet taste, are primarily a source of carbohydrate and offer a fairly good source of vitamins and minerals. I also learned that chesnuts offer moderate amounts of fiber which may provide health benefits. Additionally I read that chesnuts have a few potential drawbacks. They are high in oxalates and therefore unsuitable for low oxalate diets, plus horse chesnuts are toxic; yet, they look similar to the sweet chesnuts.

After ensuring that the bag I brought home was not horse chesnuts, I began to think of ways to use these chesnuts. I immediately put on my scientist and baker’s hat. How about designing an experiment with the aim of improving the flavor of these true nuts. But how? Those of you who know me well would agree that I turn pretty much any thing edible into bread. However, transforming these chesnuts will definately pose a challenge. But that is exactly what the Scientific Method is all about: recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

I thought of all the exotic tropical fruits that would elevate the flavor of these bland chesnuts. After surveying my freezer and refrigerator, I decided to try the passion fruit. This fruit has sweet tart flavor and comes from the passion fruit vine, a climbing vine with beautiful flowers. It is thought that christian missionaries gave the vine its name when they observed that parts of the flowers resembled christian teachings about the resurrection of christ. Inside of the thick wrinkly rind are sacs filled with orange- colored juice and small crunchy seeds. The juice mixture is known as pulp. I was fortunate to have both the fresh fruit and the frozen pulp. A recent study of Evidence- Based Complementary and Alternative Medecine, reported that purple passion fruit reduced cardiovascular risk factors, such as systolic blood pressure and fatty blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes. Not a bad choice after all.

Here are the details of The Chesnut Passion Fruit Bread Experiment applying the steps in the Scientific Method.

1. Question: Can the flavor of chesnuts be improved by the addition of an exotic fruit such as passion fruit?

II. Background research: Chesnuts are starchy true nuts, they are less sweet and flavorful than passion fruit.

III. Hypothesis: If I add a sweet tarty fruit to chesnuts when used as an ingredient for a quick bread, then the flavor of the chesnut will be improved.

IV. Experiment: Materials (Ingredients)

  • 3/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup passion fruit pulp(thawed)
  • 1/2 cup fresh passion fruit
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped chesnuts

Procedure

1. Grease 2 – 9×5 inch loaf pans and preheat oven 325 degrees F

2. Cream butter or margarine and sugar using a hand mixer

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla

4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt

5. In a small bowl, combine passion fruit pulp( thawed), with the fresh passion fruit

6. Add dry ingredients then passion fruit mixture alternately to the creamed mixture. Fold in raisins and chesnuts.

7. Put mixture aside, make a second batch using all the above ingredients except the passion fruit. Substitute 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water.

8. Spread each batter in the prepared tin and label pans using sticky labels. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then cool completely out of the tin.

V. Data Analysis: A Taste- Test Evaluation Form was completed for both products with directions and a scoring system. Twelve tasters were asked to score the products for flavor from 1= poor to 5= excellent. The forms were collected and analyzed.

VI. Data Interpretation:The results from the data showed that Product B (Passion Fruit Chesnut Bread) was rated 4’s and 5’s while product A (Chesnut Bread) received lower scores of 2’s and 3’s.

VII. Conclusion: My hypothesis was supported by the data. The flavor of the chesnut was indeed improved by the addition of exotic sweet passion fruit.

Thanks Jennifer Johnson for sharing the chesnuts and the West Pines Bible Study Group for participation in the taste test.

Kids in the Kitchen During Quarantine

Cooking with kids is about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity

Spring break is an opportune time to get kids involved in the planning and preparing of meals. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, most if not all travel plans are put on hold and many parents are mandated to work from home. Social distancing and in some cases isolation has become a necessity, so sending the kids to grand parents is not an option at this time. The question is: How can parents keep their precious kids safe from the virus and free from boredom, while fulfilling job obligations?

The proverbial phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” can be taken literally and be used to boost the body’s immune system. Water may have run out at the grocery store due to panic buying, but lemons are plentiful and cool, boiled tap water is readily available in all households. Do not forget to stock up on some vitamin-c rich fruits and veggies, canned as well as frozen.

Pre-schoolers, grade-schoolers, tweens and teens are not only interested in what goes on in the kitchen, but can also gain immense benefits from cooking. Here are eight which I have observed and they are also research endorsed.

1. Development of math skills such as fractions (1/2 cup), multiplication( doubling recipes), measuring (using scale) and conversion( standard to metric).

2. Comprehension by reading and following step by step directions, sequencing and learning culinary terms. Writing skills can also be developed if kids are encouraged to create their own recipes.

3. Science Fundamentals, as cooking allows hands- on application of the Scientific Method, and observation of many concepts such as chemical change when baking cookies, or physical change when making a salad. Even more complex laws of matter can be obsereved and explained while making spaghetti.

4. Promotion of healthy Lifestyle: When we cook with our kids we are modelling healthy lifestyle. The importance of handwashing, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, and keeping hands away from the face can not be over emphasized at this time. What better way to have kids learn and put that in practice than by being actively engaged in the activities of the kitchen? Cooking is also a great outlet for discussing body wellness, the importance and benefits of exercise and why we need to eat healthy.

5. Communication in a relaxed atmosphere like the kitchen allows parent to take advantage especially with teens. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss the covid-19 virus with kids and clarify any misconceptions or address any questions they may have.

6. Self-esteem is developed as cooking allows for instant feedback which promotes self-knowledge through learning a new skill.

 7. Life Skill as important as cooking will be needed as an adult. The more time spent in the kitchen as a kid, the less time a college student will spend texting parent in a panic, when he or she is forced to cook. In some families right now college students are stuck at home with younger siblings. What better way to show love and impress your sibling than by cooking a meal together.

8. Fun is what cooking is all about, good food, good vibes and positive memories.

We do not know how long this pandemic pandemonium will last, but what I know is that we will get through this. In the meantime let us just be thankful for the gift of time to spend with our loved ones and keep cooking as we strive to be healthy. Our health is our wealth.

Here are some helpful websites with fun activities to keep kids busy while you work from home

littlebinsforlittlehands.com

healthykids.nsw.gov

gethealthyu.com

heas.health.vic.gov

choosemyplate.gov

New Style, New Lick for Jamaica’s National Dish

Saltfish and ackee siddung pon de counta a wait fe bread and butta.

Translation : Saltfish and ackee sits down on the counter awaiting bread and butter.

Meaning: Lazy people wait for rewards to come to them without any work on their part

adapted from Wise Jamacian Proverbs.com

Happy Independence Day my friends especially those who are visiting to be a part of the Island’s fifty seventh year of celebration. We must give thanks for being alive. I know that on this Independence morning there are literally thousands of ackee and saltfish sitting in the dutchies waiting for bread and butter. After all, ackee and saltfish is indeed our national dish and what better time to partake than on the nation’s birthday.

For those folks who desire something a little heavier than the bread there might also be roast breadfruit, green bananas, fried dumpling and fried bammy or plantain waiting as well. How could we forget the serving of greens (callaloo) on the side. A breakfast of this nature is usually complemented with a piping hot mug of chocolate tea with the fat on top or coffee with coconut milk.

Jamaicans are creative and industrious, most if not all of us know how to cook our national dish and all its accompaniments. But the kitchen is hot! we are tired!Independence is just one day. Why should a half of the holiday be spent preparing one meal? What if there was a way for you to cook your ackee and codfish,bread and calaloo all at the same time while catching up on your snooze?

There is! It is called the Savoury Ackee Codfish and Callaloo Bread Pudding. With a little pre -preparation overnight, this gourmet breakfast will save you time and stress.

This pudding will serve 4 – 6 persons

You will need : 6 slices day old bread, hardough is best, 1 cup cooked calaloo, 1 cup cooked ackee and codfish, 1 cup coconut milk, 6 eggs, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon mustard (optional) paprika( optional) salt and pepper to taste

Callalo and ackee and codfish can be prepared overnight and refrigerated. Bread can also be cut up the night before, no refrigeration needed.

This is how it is done: Preheat oven 350 degrees and grease a 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish and place bread slices around the baking dish. I like to cut my bread in triangles. Interspread the ackee & codfish and callaloo amongst the bread. In another bowl whisk eggs, yogurt, milk, salt pepper and mustard. Pour this mixture over the bread slices and sprinkle with paprika. Set your timer and alarm for 45-50 minutes. Take a nap while pudding bakes.

Need a longer nap time? use the slow cooker , it will take 3 1/2 – 4 hours. Canned ackee or fully cooked ackee is not suitable for this cooking method, fresh chopped callaloo rather than canned is best and bread should be cut in cubes and placed in the inside of the cooker, which must be sprayed or greased to prevent sticking. The ackee and codfish is added to the bread and then the custard is poured last. Inserted knife should comes out clean when it is done.

Substitutions: Regular milk can be substituted for condensed milk. No yogurt? no problem, just add 1/4 of a cup lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk and allow it to stand for a few minutes.

Thanks for visiting Bread Xpressions, feedbacks are welcome.

The Perfect Combination

Hopefully, if it is not working. I’m like a navigator and I try to encourage our collaboration and find the best way that will produce fruit. I like coconut, I like banana.   – Adapted from Jim Jarmusch

It is finally here readers,  today is National Banana Bread Day! A day set aside to indulge with Banana Bread. February is also Black History Month so today is the perfect day to whip out mom’s or grandma’s favorite banana bread recipe from the archives. It is also the ideal day to surprise those family members or friends who have underestimated your baking skills. Can’t seem to find that recipe? No need to worry as I will share one of my favorite – Banana Coconut Bread compliments of Saint Mary’s Banana ( Jamaica Producers). Before diving into the recipe let’s examine some interesting facts about the two super ingredients to be used.

Banana

Did you know that the banana may have been cultivated as early as 3000 B.C. in Assyria? The early Spanish Explorers had mistaken plantains for bananas in  the west Indies, and that the first banana tree was planted on the island of Hispaniola in 1516. The first bananas entered the United States in 1804 from Cuba by John Raynard. In 1870 Captain Lorenzo Baker of the Telegraph brought a cargo of bananas to Boston from Jamaica. In 1876 the Boston Fruit Company introduced the banana as an exotic fruit, wrapped in foil and sold for a dime at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Banana’s success at the turn of the century led to widespread involvement of American companies and Federal Government in the affairs and politics of the Caribbean and Central and South America. Bananas consumed in the United States were shipped from Costa Rica, Guatemala and other countries with the majority being common bananas (m. sapientum)  of which Gros Michel, my favorite variety from Jamaica was the predominant variety until 1944 when other varieties entered the marketplace.

Americans who consumed twenty eight pounds of banana per capita each year, have them raw in salads, various desserts and flavoring for bread and other confectioneries. Our celebrant today- Banana Bread, a loaf with a cake- like consistency, became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, ( see previous blog for more information on the historical aspect of banana bread) a period of delight in hearty, fresh- made breads, banana bread took the cake!

Today, science -based health benefits of ripe bananas are well documented and include: anti-cancerous properties, ease of digestion, high antioxidant levels ( improving immunity), anti aging and anti inflammatory properties, aids in reducing anxiety and depression, contain nutrients that moderate blood sugar levels (low to medium glycemic Index levels), and providing a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium which are important for heart health.

Coconut

Did you know that the word “coconut” is a combination of a Portuguese children’s term coco for “goblin” shell of the fruit and the English word “nut”? All parts of the coconut including the husk  and shell can be used for culinary and other purposes. The dried meat of the coconut called copra, can be shredded or flaked, often sweetened or processed to make coconut oil or coconut milk. The coconut oil and milk is used for cooking. The coconut water is used as a drink, which the Jamaicans claim” goes straight to the heart”.

Coconut meat is classified as functional food because of its health benefits. It also provides a lasting boost of energy due to its high protein content, making it helpful for individuals trying to gain weight such as body builders. Coconut meat is highly nutritious and a rich source of vitamins fiber, and minerals and is widely used in many cultures for traditional foods.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup coconut oil, I/2 cup coconut milk, 2 1/2 cups ripe banana mashed, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Method

Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl sift all dry ingredients, except sugar. Add the sugar to the dry mixture and stir to fully incorporate the ingredients. Combine all wet ingredients and stir until no more flour residue remains. Place mixture into greased loaf pan and bake until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.

Substitutions:

Gluten free – use coconut Flour, 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup apple sauce.

Sugar Free – Roast bananas in skin before mashing. Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars in bananas, giving them a rich sweetness. To roast bananas, first preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then line a 15 x10 inch baking pan with foil, Place bananas in the prepared pan. Prick banana skins with a fork at 1 – inch intervals. Roast 15 minutes (skin will turn dark brown). Cool. Omit sugar and add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

Coconut allergy _ substitute 1/2 cup pureed mango or crushed pineapple.

Sources:  Mariani, John, 2013. The Encyclopedia of American food and Drink

http://www.Healthline.comwww.Jamaica observer.com

 

A Chocolate Love Affair

Hello to all the love birds ! It is that time again when you are picking your brains,wondering what to get your significant other or your bestie for Valentine’s Day this year. Oh no! not another box of chocolate again. Those of you who know me well can attest to the fact that I am a chocolate addict, so I have no problem accepting a box of high-end or a bar of low-end chocolate for any occasion. I did not even realize the relationship I had with chocolate was so intense, until two months ago while reading Diane Jacob’s book,Will write For Food. One of the actvities at the end of a chapter  required that I write about a food that I had a passionate for. What a love story I composed. Will share that with you at another time. I am sure that that am not the only one who has this chocolate love relationship going on. The question is, what is the origin of this love affair with chocolate, will it last or does it need a boost to survive?

Historical and Cultural Aspects of Chocolate

Chocolate played an important role in both Maya and Aztec civilizations. The Mayans believed that chocolate (cacao) was a “gift from the Gods”. The Mayans even honored a Cacao God celebrating the bean’s powerful transformation of mind and body. In its early history chocholate was consumed as a bitter beverage, but was not introduced as a confectionary ingredient until the sixteenth century when the Spaniards used cane sugar and cinnamon to sweeten the bitter cacao. Because cacao was an expensive import it became a symbol of wealth, power,and luxury.

In the mid-nineteenth century the invention of the cacao press revolutionized the production of chocolate. The first chocolate bar was produced in 1847. By the early 1900’s chocolate was produced and distributed on a wide scale.

The rich history of chocolate contributes to its popularity today as gifts especially on Valentine’s Day. Scientists have also highlighted cacao’s health benefits including the release of neurotransmitters, like phenylethylamine and serotonin, the “feel happy” chemicals.

This time honored traditional relationship has the potential to succeed and must be spared. Here is how : For the chocholate lover in your life you can spruce up the relationship by giving the gift of love, health and indulgence in a different way by making your own Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Ganache. This easy to prepare gourmet bread pudding will take less time to prepare than it requires to buy a box of chocolate. It is more economical too!

Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur Bread Pudding

Mozart Liqueur is a combination of dark chocolate , vanilla and caramel which creates a bittersweet flavor with a lingering taste. The ideal addition to this delightful gourmet dessert for two.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 loaf (2 cups ) french bread cut- up in 2″ cubes
  • 4 ounces semi- sweet chocolate chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Method

Grease 1-22 ounce stoneware “souper” mug or 4 -5 ounce ramekins with the butter. Place bread in a large bowl. In a small saucepan whisk together milk, chocolate liqueur and vanilla, and warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. In a small bowl whisk together eggs and sugar. Add egg and sugar mixture to chocolate liqueur mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add bread cubes and chocolate chips to greased mug or ramekins and carefully pour mixture over bread cubes, pressed firmly with spatula or whisk to make sure bread is soaked. Microwave for 2 minutes.

White Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces white chocolate ( Chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

In a microwave – safe bowl, microwave the heavy cream on medium high in 15 seconds intervals, stirring between each , until it starts to steam. Add Chocolate chips then whisk until smooth texture is achieved. Pour over bread pudding and enjoy.

Helpful Suggestions:

No heavy cream

  • 3/4 cup milk (whole)
  • 1/3 cup butter

Melt butter in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time pour cool melted butter into milk and stir ( This can be used in place of 1 cup heavy cream).

Strapped for time

Substitute 1 table spoon cocoa powder for dusting and omit white chocolate ganache.

No Mozart Chocolate Liqueur

Any other brand of chocolate liqueur can be used.

No Ramekins or souper mug

use two 10 – ounce wide mouth, microwave safe tea cups.

This valentine’s day all you really need is love, but a little chocolate bread pudding for dessert doesn’t hurt at all!

Source: History.com

Historical Aspects of Bread Pudding and Quick Breads

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all—Nelson Mandela

Food historians trace the history of bread pudding to the early eleventh and twelfth centuries, as frugal cooks looked for ways to use stale, left over breads instead of letting it go to waste. In the thirteenth century, England’s bread pudding was known as “poor man’s pudding” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes. While bread pudding is still a way to use left overs, it has gained a reputation of comfort food and is a featured dessert in trendy establishments, having shed its humble roots. Bread puddings today, much like the ones that I make, are far more luxurious, often utilizing fresh gourmet bread such as brioche, include expensive ingredientsand often served with different sauces.

Quick breads were not developed until the end of the eighteenth century in the United States. Before the creation of quick breads baked goods were leavened either with yeast, or by mixing the dough with eggs. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), the increased demand for portable quickly- made food, coupled with a scarcity of skilled bread- makers, encouraged the adaption of bread that was rapidly made and leavened with baking soda instead of yeast.

Jamaican Coffee Banana Bread ( Jamaica Coffee Board)

The very popular banana bread first became a standard feature of American cookbooks with the introduction of baking powder and baking soda in the 1930’s. Even though bananas appeared in the United States in the 1870’s, it took a while for them to appear as ingredient items for desserts. Some food historians believed that banana bread was a by- product of the great depression, as resourceful housewives did not wish to throw away left over ripe bananas. Others are of the view that the modern banana bread was developed in cooperate kitchens to promote flour and baking soda products. What are your thoughts? leave comments and keep the discussion going!

Source: Daily Gazette.com

Breaducation from the Bible

Happy Sunday Breadthusiasts! welcome to the first in a series of blogs about bread. I am super excited to dedicate this blog to all the late risers including me who did not make it to a place of worship today. We got up way too late so we missed the live streaming as well. Just remember that whatever the reason is for our absence be it the awful weather conditions, exhaustion from a rough week at work, illness or sheer laziness. He understands and He forgives. By the way, if you happened to miss Bible Study last Wednesday or whatever day your small group meets; this blog post serves as a make up class. You will only be successful if you read the required scriptures. So good luck and happy reading!

Did you know that the word Bread was mentioned 429 times in the original languages of the Bible? This is the magnitude of the role that the staff of life- Bread played and continues to play in our lives. Bread was part of the basic diet that include vegetables,fruits, olives and cheese. Meat and fish were seldom eaten, except for special occasions (Genesis 18:7) or keeping one of God’s holy feast days (Exodus 12:1-18) by those who were wealthy.Bread was usually made of simple ingredients like flour, water, and salt. Olive oil was sometimes added if it was to be used in the worship of God. Yeast could be used to make it rise, but it did not have to. This was the case for bread made during Passover. In ancient Israel bread was made of wheat or barley. Since barley was cheap and in abundance, the poor bought it to make flour, even though the loaves produced were thicker, heavier and less pleasant tasting than those made from wheat (Deuteronomy 8:8)

What does bread Symbolize?

  • worship and God’s presence (Exodus 25:30)
  • An enemy being totally conquered (Numbers 14:9)
  • Hospitality (Genesis 19:3)
  • Acceptance of wisdom (Proverbs 9:5)
  • God’s love and care for his people (Exodus 16: 32- 34)
  • Jesus the messiah and the eternal life he offers to those willing to follow him (John 6:32-35, 41, 50- 51)
  • the unlevened bread used during Christ”s last Passover represents his willingness to offer his own body as a sacrifice for our sins and to make healing possible (Matthew 26:26)

Source: Bible Study.Org

Bread Xpressions

This blog is dedicated to more than just recipes! Its mission is to “breaducate” readers about the evolution of bread-baking from yeast to baking powder. My emphasis is mainly focused on the versatility of ingredients used for quick breads, and the convenience afforded by the various methods of cooking. Bread Xpressions also encourages meditation and an appreciation for the role of bread in our lives.

Manna was God’s visual aid to teach his people to look beyond their stomachs to see their spiritual needs… There are more important activities than eating. Jesus referred to himself as the Bread of Life. “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Taken from: A Garden of Blessings by Jean Shaw