Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mistero Zuccarello Tarocco Blood Oranges

These blood oranges are from Sicily. They are far bigger, and heavier, than others that I have bought, with a thicker skin, and they have only a slightly red flesh. They are tasty, though. I noticed too, at Highland Farms where I bought them, that this company also has mandarins (though, I wasn't interested in those at the time). These are the Tarocco variety of blood oranges, I've learned now, which you can't see, but is marked on the label. Taroccos are available from December to April, and are less red, larger and loose-skinned. Zucarello also sells Moro and Sanguinello varieties, both which are darker in colour.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nabisco Picola Matcha Azuki Green Tea Red Bean Roll

We picked these up in a Japanese gift store in Mississauga, really because my beautiful Bride likes green tea in baked goods, especially Japanese ones, as well as red bean. The roll is a cylinder of crispy wafer that is filled with various sweetened ingredients, in this case matcha green tea powder and powdered red azuki bean. The roll is crispy, and it definitely tastes of the green tea, but I didn't get much of anything in terms of the red bean. Not something I'd eat on a regular basis, but it's interesting to try.

Go Chocolate Organic Raw Sun Dried Cacao Powder

Most cocoa powders are processed, either alkalized (this creates a milder flavour by neutralizing acidity; it also enhances colour and solubility) or by using the Broma process (warmth essentially melts the cocoa butter out of ground cacao beans); in either method, the cocoa butter is removed and the cocoa powder is dried. This raw product from GoHunza is sun-dried cocoa powder which has not been processed in any way (unheated, unsweetened, no fillers, no additives). It can be used in any of the many chocolate recipes that you might have. I found this for sale in a Health Food store ($20 for 3/4 Lb.), though you can get it online from GoHunza. So far, I've used it mostly, occasionally, to add a little mocha flavour to my coffee, which works, but look forward to seeing how it's flavour enhances my baking efforts, especially the natural healthier versions.

Dolfin Noir au Gingembre Frais

The Belgian chocolatier Dolfin makes a number of different chocolate bars with fresh and perhaps unusual ingredients (I've seen one with Rose, there are others with lavender, orange blossoms, lemongrass and ylang-ylang); this one has fresh ginger in it. I bought this at a German delicatessen. The cacao content is at 52%. The ingredient listing looks good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, fresh ginger, natural vanilla and soya lecithin.

How does it taste? I can see that there are smallish ginger pieces there, and the ginger flavour is not as strong as the Green&Black's Ginger I so like (okay, perhaps I like very strong ginger flavour, but even my beautiful Bride did not get that it had ginger in it), it also suffers a little from an underlying chalky texture. The bar snaps well and smells a little ginger-y. Overall, I would say that this bar is okay, and not one I would buy again.

Perth County All Natural Yogurt

This brings back memories. Fifteen to twenty years ago, I'd have eaten 2 to 3 containers of Perth County yogurt, which I'd purchase each week from Kitchener. I might even have one of their containers sitting on a shelf somewhere, most of them have been recycled in one way or another. One month it suddenly disappeared from the store shelves of the health food store where I bought it, and I had to find another source of all natural no added ingredients yogurt. It was tasty, sour and not too thick. Perfect for my morning breakfast concoction. This is their 500 mL small tub, the one I bought in the past was their larger 1 L one. After all these years, and I don't even know if it's made by the same people or even has the same quality, it's a little runnier than I remembered (albeit this is the low fat kind, I bought their 2% version), and it seems expensive compared to some of the other healthy yogurts out there, it still tastes good.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lindor Raspberry

The flavour for Valentine's Day this year is Raspberry. I like raspberry and chocolate, and this does taste and smell like raspberry, but I suspect it's artificial flavouring. They taste okay, not one of my favourites of the Lindors.

Arko Confiserie Bear Shaped Fruit Gums

The second of two Christmas gummi gifts from my Aunt in Germany has the more traditional bear shape, but it is also a better, more healthy, gummi. It has fruit juice (apple, orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry) and also fruit and plants concentrates (lemon, orange, apple, kiwi, elderberry, black currant, chokeberry, grape, spinach, stinging nettle, passion fruit and mango) for flavour. Tasty!

Gustaf's Traditional Dutch Double Salt Licorice

Not for everyone's taste, and certainly my boss said it must be an acquired taste, the salted licorice flavour is quite salty. Avoid too, if you are on a low salt program. Eat in moderation.

I find double salt licorice interesting, and remember eating them, enjoying them, when young; I also like eating hard-boiled eggs with lots of salt, too. Well, salted nuts might be as salty. These taste like I remember. Oddly enough, I found these in Canada, my boss couldn't find them in the Netherlands.

They are authentic, they have the "DZ" for "Dubbel Zoute" on each piece.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lindt Excellence Dark 90%

I've eaten other bars with very high cacao content, Lindt even has one they are selling at 99%. I think that 70% is a good cacao content, this one is at 90%. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, fat-reduced cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, natural bourbon vanilla bean (and no lecithin emulsifier).

How does it taste? Very chocolatey, maybe a little too chalky (as bars with this high cacao content tend to be). The chocolate was very dark in colour. Pretty good (my beautiful Bride enjoyed it), but the chalkiness prevents me ultimately from really enjoying it, and thus I likely won't buy this again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brimfield's Fine Confections Dark Chocolate Almonds

I've enjoyed the US chocolatier Brimfield's Fine Confections Dark Ginger several times before. I wish I had a good source for their products, Winners or Home Sense seem to be hit or miss, leaning towards the miss, in availability. This is their Dark Chocolate Almonds offering. The cacao content is at 70%. The ingredient listing is okay (the dark chocolate is good, as is the almonds; the rest not so much), dark chocolate (made from chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanilla), almonds (roasted in cottonseed oil), shellac (confectioner's glaze), gum Arabic and corn syrup.

How does it taste? The dark chocolate is good and similar to the ginger one. The almonds are crunchy and tasty. Overall, I prefer their ginger still, but this one would be good as well. My beautiful Bride likes them.

Valrhona Madagascar Manjari

Valrhona is one of the chocolatiers that I look for, its chocolate stands above others. I must say, that this is the first bar I've tasted of theirs. This one features cacao beans from Madagascar, of Criollo and Trinitario type. The cacao content is at 64%. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin and vanilla.

How does it taste? If this is the entry level for me for Valrhona, this would be a good one to try. The chocolate taste is mild, melts well in the mouth, and doesn't have much of the bitter taste of dark chocolate. A good first try for those wanting to move from Milk to Dark. Not really a bar I would buy on a regular basis, better bars tend to be more expensive, but it does intrigue me into trying other ones from Valrhona.

Kashi Dark Mocha Almond Granola Bar

Kashi makes a number of granola bars that I like, this is one of their new ones, which features, along with its signature seven whole grains and sesame blend, salted roasted almonds, dark chocolate and natural coffee extract. The mocha coffee flavour is not too strong, and the dark chocolate is good, while the almonds are crunchy. I would say that this is another granola bar that I like, and would buy again.

Green & Black's Espresso

This is one of the few chocolate bars from Green & Black's that I had not tasted yet. The espresso part comes from Arabica coffee beans, ground as fine as the cacao. This is an intense coffee flavour chocolate bar. The cacao content is at 67%. The ingredient listing is good (all save the lecithin are Organic), chocolate liquor, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, coffee, soy lecithin (emulsifier), vanilla extract and whole milk powder.

How does it taste? Like drinking a cup of coffee. I'm exaggerating, but it is a strong coffee, or espresso, flavour, so, if you don't like coffee, then this bar is not for you (the strong flavour comes from freshly roasting the coffee beans, then grinding them so fine that the tongue can not distinguish between the chocolate and the coffee). I do like coffee, but most of the time not in a chocolate bar. This is good quality chocolate up to the standards of Green & Black's. I don't think I would get this bar again.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bretti's Naturkost Frucht-Zoo Fruchtgummi

Every year I get some interesting gummis from my one Aunt in Germany, lately they have been more healthy versions, with fruit juices and other better ingredients. Which I appreciate greatly. This one from Candy Factory is like that: the colours of the gummis come from turmeric, carrot, elderberry and spinach; the Gelatine is organic; Natural flavours are used; a lot of the ingredients are cultivated in an ecological manner. The shapes are different too, there are hippos, dinosaurs and other beasts; a Zoo! Yummy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

President's Choice Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts

This very big chocolate bar from President's Choice I got as a Christmas gift. The chocolate is milk chocolate, unfortunately (you have to go with the Almond one for Dark chocolate), but it does contain whole hazelnuts. The ingredient listing is as good as any milk chocolate bar (okay, perhaps better), sugar, milk powder, hazelnuts, cocoa butter, unsweetened chocolate, canola lecithin and natural vanilla flavour.

How does it taste? Sweet, like most milk chocolate bars, but the hazelnuts are tasty, and crunchy. I'd definitely like to see a Dark chocolate version.

Kashi Toasted Berry Crisp

If you go to Kashi's Website, they are offering free samples of either their Honey Almond Flax cereal, or the one I chose, Toasted Berry Crisp. You get a very small sample in the mail, good enough for one breakfast. The cereal on the package looks way more tasty than what is inside the box, far more of the dried cranberries and wild blueberries than what you actually get. The cereal itself is tasty enough, there is a definite fruity flavour to it, and it is crunchy yet not hard (what I don't like about some granolas or mueslis). This cereal, like all of Kashi's products, contains their seven whole grains and sesame blend. Overall, I think that I would eat it, but do know that its goodness, as a health product, comes with a much higher price tag than the sugared cereals it intends to replace. Oddly enough, tonight I was in Walmart, and I saw a couple of people, one in front of me, one behind, in line buying this very cereal, so it might very well be good.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Thai Society of Ontario Saturday Market

We found out something the other day on our visit to Chinatown on a Saturday, that the Thai Society of Ontario has a Saturday Market, where lots of freshly made Thai foods are sold. The Thai Society of Ontario has their office in the building on the northeast corner of Dundas and Spadina; go to the door before the Fruit Market going North, there are stairs going up. The Thai Society is on the left.

The selection in the Market varies from week to week, but there could be all kinds of Thai desserts, snacks and meals, such as Mor Gang, Khanom Tuey, Curry Puffs, Khanom Dtom, Toddy Palm Cake, Tod Man Pla, Som Tam and Sticky Rice.

Cookie Sabparod is a pineapple cookie. Delicious and the best of the desserts.

Khanom Chan is a multi-layer rice flour dessert. Peel the layers for extra fun.

Krong Kreang Grob is deep-fried flour with a peppery coating. Interesting but not exactly what I'd expect in a dessert or snack.

Trinidad Pelau

I first saw this recipe on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, there was this particular Trinidadian restaurant in Seattle, Washington, the proprietor made an interesting version of this traditional Trinidadian dish, which is essentially first cooking chicken with a caramelized brown sugar sauce, then further with rice and beans and vegetables and spices. They didn't provide her recipe, likely a secret, so I did an Internet search and found this "foolproof" recipe. I write "foolproof", because we did not follow the recipe exactly, and thus it didn't come out quite as expected; we neglected to soak the rice ahead of time (more a measure of time, but also because we forgot to) and we decided to make it in a rice cooker - this turned out well and tasty, but the rice was not quite cooked through, so a little chewy; the second time we made it, we soaked the rice and made it in our large stainless steel pot, it turned out far better. This is a great recipe, and one we'll make again, I'm sure, essentially a one-pot recipe that makes lots. Apparently, Pelau is preferred either wet, or dry and grainy; this will determine how dry you cook the rice. I think ours came out the latter, which was good.

Trinidad Pelau
4-5 lbs chicken, cut into pieces and washed with lime/lemon juice
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, crushed
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2-3 Tbsp cilantro
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 hot pepper (optional)
1 green onion or chive, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 tsp dried)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 cups water
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
1 can coconut milk
1 can pigeon peas, strained and washed
3 cups of long grain brown rice
1 tsp butter (optional)

Cut and wash the chicken pieces with the lime or lemon juice, then add the salt, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger, onion, tomato, cilantro, black pepper, hot pepper (if using), green onion and thyme, mixing to coat all the chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 1 hour.

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium to high heat. Then add the brown sugar and heat until the sugar goes to a dark frothy brown.

Add the pieces of chicken, stirring to coat with the caramel. Cover the pot and allow to cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Put both the peas and carrot pieces into the same bowl you seasoned the chicken with and stir to coat. Add the peas and carrots to the pot. Cover with the lid and turn down the heat as you wash the rice.

Pour the rice into the pot, then the coconut milk and the three cups of water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Then cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 35 minutes or until all the liquid is gone and the grains of rice are tender and plump.

For extra flavour, add the teaspoon of butter as you turn off the heat to the stove. Stir the contents. Cover the pot for about 5 minutes.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Ecuacocao Alteza Dark Chocolate Ecuador

I like chocolate from Ecuadorean cacao beans, so I was intrigued as to this offering from Ecuacocoa, as it's been hit or miss for me for chocolate bars from there. This is different than those I have previously tried, as, like El Rey in Venezuela, Ecuacacao is an Ecuadorean company using their national "Arriba Flavour" cacao beans. This is a Dark chocolate, at 65% cacao content. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin and vainillin (how they spell it in Spanish countries).

How does it taste? Really good, fruity, and it smells fairly good. It snaps well. Overall, a very good chocolate bar, and one I would purchase again (and would like to see more in their line). Cost me about $3 from a Health Food store.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Trumpf Gourmet Bitter & Cocoa Nibs

The second of the chocolate bars from the German chocolatier Trumpf features cocoa nibs. It is a Dark chocolate, with 74% cacao content. The ingredient listing is good, cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, cocoa nibs, soya lecithin and flavouring.

How does it taste? Better than the other one, very chocolate-y. The cocoa nibs are crunchy, but small enough that they don't cause a problem. I would buy this bar again.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Hans Freitag Mignon Waffeln

I've tried other versions of this hazelnut creme-filled wafers drenched with chocolate, this is a tasty version from Hans Freitag in Germany. The hazelnut taste of the hazelnut creme is fairly strong (the hazelnut content is 6%), and the chocolate was not bad, though is a milk chocolate (at 30% cacao content). I think I would buy these again.

Rosehip Juice

I've had rosehip as a tea, as a Vitamin C, as a jelly, eaten it raw, but never have I had rosehip juice. Rosehips are the fruit of wild roses, and are high in Vitamin C; they have other health benefits, including benefiting circulation of blood, kidney, stomach and ulcers. This juice from Azerbaijan is 100% rosehip juice, with no added sugar and not from concentrate. It tastes quite interesting, a little "medicinal" in flavour. I don't know that I could drink it other than as a health benefit.