Sunday, November 2, 2014

We could always do with a KIT KAT

Cover of "Charlie and the Chocolate Facto...
Cover via Amazon
Mars bar (UK style). Photo by sannse.
Mars bar (UK style). Photo by sannse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A US Mars bar
A US Mars bar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mars Believe Bar Limited Edition Football Worl...
Mars Believe Bar Limited Edition Football World Cup 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: A US Mars bar that has been split in ...
English: A US Mars bar that has been split in half. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Loco over choco

The taste for chocolate is one of the most fundamental and ineradicable human urges


London – I once met a nutritionist – one of these irritatingly healthy, glowing-skin types – who swore that she could eliminate the craving for chocolate. If you adhered to her chosen diet plan, she insisted, your body would return to a state of such perfect balance, be so in tune with nature and all its wonderful goodness, that the mere thought of a Mars bar would be enough to prompt mild nausea.

This struck me then, and strikes me now, as arrant nonsense. As far as I can tell, the taste for chocolate is one of the most chocolate fundamental and ineradicable human urges. Lord knows, I’ve tried to eradicate it. In fact, I’ve spent much of this week testing my taste for chocolate to destruction, after being left (in the wake of a birthday picnic) with a pile of confectionery that included a plate of brownies, assorted chocolate fingers, mini-rolls, squares of millionaire’s shortbread, and two whole chocolate cakes. After a few days of profiteroles for breakfast and scattering goodies around the office, I just about got through the backlog. But I could still murder a Kit Kat.


You can, of course, explain all this in terms of brain chemistry. Journalist Damian Thompson has written powerfully about the addiction mechanisms built into our cravings for little sugary treats, about how we become hooked on the hit of pleasure delivered by a cupcake frosted with towering icing. Sugar, as we all know, is an incredible mood-lifter: Another co-worker confessed recently – and was there a hint of pride alongside the shame? – that he has taken, when feeling low, to devouring an entire block of mint Viennetta in a single sitting.

It’s true that when you’re tired, or stressed, the siren lure of chocolate becomes ever more difficult to resist. The latest sneaky innovation is “sharing bags”, a section of the market in some places that’s going gangbusters. The ads tend to depict thin, happy people passing them round with beaming smiles, yet I have yet to meet anyone who has actually shared one, save under duress. Most are guzzled through in a single sitting, delivering bite after bite of chocolately goodness. (In fact, I’m prepared to offer a bar of Green & Black’s Maya Gold to anyone who has ever had the willpower to use the “resealable” bags to defer the pleasure till later.)


But I don’t think we’re just going through the neurochemical motions. I think there’s something deeper, more elemental, at work. With other products – wine or beer, for example – we gradually drift away from the cheap stuff, our tastes moving upmarket with our income. Sure enough, many confectioners now dwell on their bars’ cocoa percentage and the beans’ origins in a remote Peruvian village, presenting their choccies as the artisanal equivalent of a particularly spectacular Pouilly-Fuisse.

But while I’ll happily devour a bar of 70 per cent Venezuelan, there are many more times when all I want is to get hold of a little brown square of Cadbury’s, and let it do its Proustian work. I’m hardly alone: Indeed, the new musical of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has done such boffo box-office because Roald Dahl tapped in, with his peculiar genius, to exactly this sensation, setting up Wonka’s chocolate as the ultimate sweet, the Platonic ideal of chocolate.

Think of the almost pornographic way in which Dahl tantalises the reader with the thought of Wonka’s factory- first the view from outside, then the taste of that first bar of Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, then (once the doors creak open) the smell from the great Chocolate Room wafting down the corridor, until finally Charlie and the other children are unleashed to eat their fill. The book is, in theory, a parable about the virtues of restraint over indulgence. But if you had a golden ticket, you’d be scoffing your face alongside Augustus Gloop in a heartbeat. THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, June 29, 2013

Friday, October 24, 2014

New cookbook reveals popes’ favoured dishes

Cover of "The Bon Appetit Cookbook"
Cover of The Bon Appetit Cookbook

From an Argentinian dessert that translates as “milk candy” to Polish ravioli, a member of the Vatican’s famed Swiss Guard has unveiled a range of recipes of dishes favoured by popes.

David Geisser, 24, who joined the elite Vatican security corps a month ago, launched his cookbook Bon Appetit, Swiss Guard in Rome on Tuesday.

In includes recipes for dishes such as the Dulche de Leche, a milk-based dessert created in Argentina a century ago, which made its way to the Vatican’s tables last year with Pope Francis.

There is also the Polish pierogi, or dumplings of unleavened dough traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, meat, cheese or fruit – a nod to the late Pope John Paul II – and Bavarian delicacies favoured by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a German.

“A soldier can fight and wage war only when he has eaten well, and enough,” said Daniel Anrig, the head of the Swiss Guards.


Taken from My Paper, Thursday, October 23, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

When cooking liver...

Lamb (sheep) liver
Lamb (sheep) liver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you cook liver? Actually, I did not mean to ask that question. My point on this short article is how you prepare the liver before cooking.

So how do you clean pig liver or cow liver before you cook it? Or specifically, how do you lessen the liver-y smell or taste?

Some say soak in vinegar. Some say pre-cook for a short while, etc.

What we discovered is to simply cut and wash well, and then before cooking, about half an hour, soak in water that can be easily drained. So it could be in some deep bowl and the cut liver in some strainer, which can be easily lifted up and out and washed.

Do this every 5 minutes, and you would notice that the water will always be red, for why not? Liver is doing blood cleaning, so it is just naturally soaked in blood. And the blood in liver is what makes it taste and smell liver-y.

Once the blood in the liver is removed, or kept to the minimum, then the taste and smell will be very different.

So if you need to eat high-protein meat, which is usually liver, try this one. You'll like it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Does Scent Carry Olive Oil's Secret?

Oil tasting, BAIA October 2006 Wine Tasting, C...
Oil tasting, BAIA October 2006 Wine Tasting, California, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand...
A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand Riserva Premium extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil from Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia, and bottled and packed in Italy. Olive oil purchased in a Stow, Ohio store. Photographed in Kent, Ohio, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Olive Oil
Olive Oil (Photo credit: Smabs Sputzer)

Well, it's been about 2 years since my last post, and since I stopped writing articles due to work constraints, I just decided to collect papers so one day (and that is now), I would be able to type in selections. This is one, and I have a whole stack of year-old papers but timeless and priceless artifacts. Read on....

by Anahad O'Connor

Why is olive oil, the crown jewel of the Mediterranean diet, so good for your health?

Nutrinionists points to its abundance of antioxidants and oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that protects the heart. But new research suggests that some of the benefits of olive oil might be contained in its aroma.

The research found that compared with other oils and fats, extra virgin olive oil was more likely to increase a person's feelings of satiety after a meal.

But another phase of the study showed that imparting the scent of olive oil to food -- by adding an aromatic extract -- reduced the amount of calories people in the study consumed and improved their blood sugar response.

The senses of smell and taste, it is well known, are two senses that are strongly tied together.

Previous research has shown that manipulating the aroma of certain foods can influence the amount of them that people choose to eat. Intensifying the smell and flavor of a dessert, for example, can prompt people to take smaller bites.

The goal of the new study was to look at the factors that make some foods more filling than others.

Many products in supermarkets attract buyers with labels saying "low-fat," but eating low-fat foods can cause people to compensate by overeating later, said Dr. Malte Rubach, a nutritional scientist who conducted research with colleagues at the German Research Center for Food Chemistry, a government-financed institute based outside of Munich that published the report.

"We wanted to see whether there was a way to reduce the fat content of food without losing its taste or aroma," he said.

The researchers, who received no funding from producers of olive oil, began the study by comparing the effects of four different fats on feelings of satiety: lard, butter, olive oil and canola oil. Canola oil has less monounsaturated fat than olive oil, but less saturated fat as well, and is often recommended along with olive oil as a healthy alternative to other cooking oils.

The researchers recruited 120 people and randomly split them into five groups. The participants were told to eat 500 grams of yogurt every day for three months. In four of the groups, the yogurt was enriched with one of the four fats. The fifth group, which served as the control, ate plain, zero-fat yogurt.

The subjects were followed closely and regularly given blood tests. They were not told specifically what was in their daily yogurt, though for ethical reasons they were informed that it might be enriched with animal or plant-derived fats, Dr. Rubach said.

After eating their yogurt, the olive oil group showed the greatest increases in blood levels of serotonin, a hormone associated with satiety. They also reduced their caloric intake most days to compensate for the extra yogurt, which prevented them from gaining weight, a pattern that was also seen in the butter and control groups.

The canola and lard groups, however, did gain weight during the study period. Instead of cutting back on other calories, they added the yogurt to what they were eating on a regular basis.

"You could see that those who felt satiated reduced their total energy intake," Dr. Rubach siad, "whereas the others didn't reduce their energy intake and they gained some weight."

The researchers were particularly surprised to see that weight and body fat increased in the group that was fed canola oil, despite health properties that are similar to olive oil's. So they designed the next phase of the study to see whether something other than the nutrients in the two oils accounted for their different impacts.

This time, subjects were split into two groups that were given zero-fat yogurt.

In one of the groups, the yogurt was mixed with an aroma extract that imparted the scent of olive oil without adding any fat.

Those who ate the plain yogurt showed a drop in serotonin levels and reported less satiation after eating it.

They also did not cut back on other calories to compensate; instead their intake increased an average of 176 calories a day.

The group eating the olive-oil scented yogurt, meanwhile, reduced their calories from other foods and showed better responses on glucose tolerance tests,which measure blood sugar control. Abrupt swings in blood sugar are part of what drives hunger and satiation.

The researchers attributed the impact of the olive oil scent to two compounds that are particularly abundant in Italian olive oils, including hexanal, which is said to resemble the scent of fresh cut grass.

Dr. Rubach siad that because the study was small, it would not be a good idea to draw any general recommendations from it.

But the findings suggest that consumers should be aware that the physiological impact of a meal is not limited to what they can see on the plate.

"This is the first time where we've really looked at the effects that things other than fatty acids, protein and carbohydrates have on satiety," he said. "Everything that completes our impression of a meal can have an impact."

Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, April 13, 2013