Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Mill City Farmers Market- and More Butter

Today we went to the Mill City Farmer's Market to celebrate the strawberry festival. I purchased 2 quarts of locally grown berries with a strawberry flavor I haven't taste for a long time- sweet and natural and nothing like the flavor of a Driscoll berry. I'm going to make freezer jam because it is so easy to make and it captures the sweet and juicy freshness.

We also brought home Alaskan wild salmon that was frozen at sea and freshly churned organic butter.

Tasting the butter alone it is was much saltier than Crystal salted butter but we both thought is had a better flavor. Now, I'm going to use it to bake a cake and practice for my July demo at the market.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Scotch Shortbread with Danish Butter

Today I volunteered at the Mill City Museum in the baking lab. When groceries were delivered one of the items received was Lurpak butter from Denmark. Of course we had to do a taste test. Several of us had a little bit of the butter alone and on bread. The flavor was very similar to Land O'Lakes unsalted butter (which we had as a comparison)but the Lurpak had a creamier texture. Lurpak is the brand used on all butter exported from Denmark. It is made from fresh cream that is pasteurized and soured with lactic acid. This creates a fresh aromatic taste. The manufacturer says it is considered the best butter in the world due to rigorous taste testings and rigid standards.

I made Scotch Shortbread to try it for baking. The shortbread had a delicate flavor and seemed to be flakier than with unsalted butter. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any notes about the % butterfat in Lurpak but the nutritional information on the package is the same as Land O'Lakes.

Scottish Shortbread from Baking Basics and Beyond (copyright 2006)

Shortbread is the most basic cookie—made only of flour, sugar, and butter. Traditionally, the dough was pressed into a circle and cut into wedges before baking, but I like to cut it into bars because they are smaller and easier to eat.


4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups unsalted butter

Heat oven to 350°F with oven rack in middle.
Beat flour, sugar, and butter in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium speed until crumbly and evenly mixed, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice.
Press dough, about 3/8 inch thick, into an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. The dough will not fill the whole pan. I usually press to fill the width and about 3/4 of the length. Cut into 3 x 1-inch bars, using a pizza wheel. Prick well with a fork.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown. Classic shortbread is very pale. While bars are still warm, cut again. After cutting, the bars can cool in pan on wire cooling rack.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Tastes and Trends of Baby Boomers

Yesterday I participated in a teleforum sponsored by the Marketing Communicators Section of IACP. Dana McCauley, owner of Dana McCauley and Associates, a firm that tracks food marketing trends, was the speaker. Her survey found that 48% of people without kids find it difficult to find recipes for two. Empty nesters and families use recipes the most often. One of the other participants commented that because of the downturn in the economy it's possible that people will be eating at home more often. In addition Dana also provided suggestions for recipe and new product development specifically targeted at boomers. All this information is very encouraging to me as I work on The Ultimate Empty Nesters Cookbook.

Dana has a newsletter on trends and an interesting blog that I've added to my links.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Joe's Farm Grill as Advertised

Last week we had lunch at Joe's Farm Grill in Agritopia, AZ. It's close to Gilbert where my son and his family live. With the boys in school, we were off to a fresh and fabulous lunch. Joe's had recently been featured on Food TV on Drive-Ins, Diner's and Dives. This exposure has greatly increased the lines and wait for food- great for Joe but less so for customers. It's is a very casual restaurant. Food is ordered at a window and you are given a number. When you food is ready, your number is called. Everything is freshly prepared after it is ordered but the lines are constantly moving. We ate outside on a picnic table near the misters which kept the flies away.

I must admit that my favorite items was the Sweet Potato Fries- why has it taken the food world so long to start frying sweet potatoes? The fries were warm, with crispy edges, lightly salted and slightly sweet from the concentrated sugars of the raw potatoes.

Joe's emphasizes local ingredients- fruits, vegetables and herbs are produced at the Farm in Agritopia. In addition they search for healthful ingredients such as transfat free oils for frying.

The rest of our menu consisted of BBQ Bacon Blue Burgers and an Ahi Tuna Sandwich. It was as advertised- fresh, flavorful and simply prepared. We're going to make it a regualr when we are in Gilbert.