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Sunday, 17 February 2013

What’s in your Food? by Mike Stewart


For many years, food additives have been used for a number of purposes. Additives are most
commonly used as preservatives, thickening agents or to provide foods with a certain colour or
texture. There has long been a discussion about the safety of these additives and whether or not they
can be harmful over a long period of time. At times, food additives have been blamed when they are
truly innocent. However, there are additives that can be dangerous and as a result some countries
have placed a ban on certain additives. Although not all food additives are bad or dangerous, you do
need to know what is in your food. Here is a rundown on the safe and dangerous food additives you
need to watch out for.

Safe

There are certain food additives that have been deemed completely safe and many of them have
been carefully studied to prove their safety. Some of these safe additives include the following:
• Ascorbic Acid is used to stabilize the colours in fruity beverages, cereals, and other prepared
foods.
• Beta Carotene is used to colour such foods as butter and certain lollies.
• Sodium Propionate is used to help preserve breads and other baked goods.
• Citric Acid is a flavouring used often in desserts like ice cream and sorbet.
• Carrageenan is most often found in dairy products and jelly. It helps to thicken the products.
• Maltodextrin is another thickening agent additive and it is often used in puddings and
canned fruits.
• Polysorbate is an emulsifier that ensures the oil and cream does not separate in baked
goods.

Although these additives are safe to eat that does not mean that they are nutritious or something
that you should try to include in a healthy diet.

Harmful

There are some additives that have been proven harmful as well. It is a good idea to know what
additives are harmful so that you can be sure to avoid them. Harmful additives include the following:
• Monosodium glutamate commonly known as MSG, which is often used as a preservative in
packaged food and as a flavour enhancer in Eastern cuisine, the ingredient can cause some
to have negative side effects after eating it.
• Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is an antioxidant found in cereals and potato chips. Some
studies have found BHT to be carcinogenic.
• Polydextrose is an additive that is used to bulk up foods like baked goods and desserts. Some
people are sensitive to it and can experience gastrointestinal upset after eating it.
• Olestra is a fat substitute ingredient which is supposed to be healthier, but it often causes
gastrointestinal upset in those who eat potato chips fried which have been fried in it.

For the most part, you do not have to worry about harm from additives. They have been tested and
deemed safe. However, it is always a good idea to know what is in the food you are regularly eating.


Mike Stewart is the editor of Australian Food Safety News. Based in Brisbane, Mike has an extensive background in food safety and is currently a senior research consultant at the Australian Institute of Food Safety.


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Meatballs

Meatballs is a dish that I have seen everywhere, you can find them in lots of restaurants and are very popular even in pop culture like movies, books, stories, etc. I still remember when I saw Lady and the Tramp from Walt Disney, they felt in love while they were eating spaghetti with meatballs. Today I won't cook the meatballs with spaghetti, I will do them as a broth with rice, from where I am this is way more common than with spaghetti, so I think it will be better to try it like this.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a kilogram of lean ground beef.
  • 1 egg.
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs.
  • A pinch of dry parsley.
  • A pinch of salt.
  • A pinch of pepper.
  • 3 tomatoes.
  • 1/4 of an onion.
  • 1 garlic.
  • 1 liter of water.



Preparation method

1. On a pot, boil 3/4 liters of water.

2. In the meantime use a bowl to mix the meat, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper, mix them until the consistency is uniform.

3. Use this to form small meat balls and shape them with your hands.



4. Use a blender to grind tomato, onion and garlic with 1/4 liters of water, and add them to the boiling water.

5. Add the meatballs one by one to the boiling water, and cook them from 20 to 30 minutes on low heat.




6. You can add rice to this dish, that will be the perfect companion for it.




As you can see this is a very easy dish to do, until next time, enjoy.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Produce to Platter Daylesford & Macedon Ranges, .. Book review

Hello, it has been a while, things have been a little bit busy around here, hubby went to America for work, school is almost over and the summer is now getting in!. So, I took a little hiatus from blogging but I am now starting again. Is not that I have stopped cooking, no way, is just that I didn't had enough time to do any publication. Anyway now that the summer is almost here, I got a book from to review, the name of the book is "produce to platter the food & wine lovers' guide Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges Ballarat & The Pyrenees", essentially is a book about these regions of Victoria and how they are full with outstanding produce and wine. I am fairly new in Victoria, so I only have been to Ballarat, and it is a beautiful place, however after reading these book I really now want to go back and also to the other places mentioned on the book, I am now starting to plan on going on several road trips this summer to go to these beautiful places and enjoy the good food and wine mentioned on it. This book is just gorgeous, it has so many photographs of the region and the products and even the people living there. It is full of places to go, from markets to restaurants and wineries. It also has lots of recipes from local chefs of these regions which look really delicious, I have to tell you, I am very excited about trying these recipes here on the blog. I am really pleased about this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes nice food and wine and has an adventurer spirit, I want to thank Smudge Publishing for sending these excellent material to me so I could read it and write about it, this is really the beginning of some exciting trips around Victoria. Until next time, enjoy.






Friday, 2 November 2012

Guacamole

A very traditional dish from Mexico is guacamole, this came from before Spain went to Mexico to colonize it, that is why the name has its roots with the Aztecs and it means avocado sauce. So is no wonder the main ingredient will be avocados, actually in order to prepare a very good guacamole, we have to be careful to select good avocados and be sure they are ripe, be sure to check for ripeness before you cut them. We can use the guacamole as a dip with corn chips, with crackers, as a condiment for tacos, tortillas de harina, etc. Its very versatile and nutritious, since avocado is been considered a super food.

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados.
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes.
  • 1/4 of an onion.
  • 2 to 3 jalapenos pepper.
  • 1/2 lemon.

Preparation method

1. Cut the avocados in half and remove the bones from the center.


2. Separate the pulp from the shell with a spun, then mash it.




3. Cut the tomatoes, onion and jalapenos into little squares and add to the avocado with a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lemon.



 
4. Mix everything well together.


Conclusion

This is a great condiment which can be used in lots of different dishes, try it and you won't regret it. Until next time, enjoy.





Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tacos!

Well, finally we come to a recipe to make some tacos, i believe that 99.99% of the people that thinks about Mexican food will think about tacos first, I would like to say that this is a cliche, however, to be fair we Mexicans really eat lots of tacos. There are a lot of ways to prepare them, they are after all something cooked inside a tortilla, so they can be from beef, chicken, lamb, veggies, different combinations, and why not, even kangaroo meat tacos. So being said that, the secret to good tacos are what we are going to put inside them, the tortillas and also the sauce, if we follow these three rules, we will have some really good tacos. However, there is a big issue here in Australia, tortillas here are just OK, not anything to write home about, on a future recipe I will cook some home made corn tortillas that will make your tacos great.

Ingredients

  • A kilogram of beef meat chopped in little squares.
  • 2 tomatoes sliced.
  • 1/4 of a lettuce finely chopped.
  • 1/4 of an onion finely chopped.
  • 1/2  a kilogram of corn tortillas.
  • Arbol hot sauce, as described on this blog previously.


Preparation method

1. On a frying pan cook the meat until it gets a nice brown color.
 
2. Once the meat is done, fill the tortilla with the meat, then tomato, lettuce and onion to taste, add some hot sauce and you are ready to go.




Conclusion

I have to tell you, we really enjoyed this meal, it took us somehow closer to our birth place, for sure this is not going to be the last time I post a tacos recipe, specially since my next step will be to bake my own tortillas, in the meantime this is a very easy recipe and will certainly be delicious for you too. Until next time, enjoy.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Spaghetti with prawns

Nowadays food may be more international than ever, I really don't know where the line can be drawn. I know there are recipes that may be very regional and traditional for each country, however, we may tend to have lots of stereotypes about other countries and their food, by example, I am pretty sure that a lot of people may think we Mexicans eat the whole time, tacos, beans, and even nachos! which by the way I wouldn't say  they are even Mexican. However, since I was a child, I have eaten lots of pasta, Chinese food, hamburgers, etc. Food that may be related to other countries besides Mexico. Spaghetti is very common in Mexico, I know that most of the Mexican families will eat it at least once a week. We may cook it with meatballs, with ground beef, with butter, with cheese, and hundreds of different ways. I have even tried a couple of times here in Melbourne in restaurants (reviews coming soon), and really, even in Italian restaurants, the difference is not that much, this is why I am starting to believe the borders related to food are starting to fade away. Today I will try a recipe I know from some time now. I am sure you will find is delicious, and will make a great main entree any day of the week or even at a reunion. 

Ingredients

  • 3 bell peppers.
  • 250 grams of prawns.
  • 500 grams of spaghetti.
  • 2 tablespoons of butter.
  • Dehydrated parsley.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.

Preparation method

1. First we cook the spaghetti in a pot.


2. In the meantime, we cut the peppers Julianne style (strips). We also have to cook the prawns.



3. Use the butter to fry the spaghetti, then add the peppers, prawns and stir. Finally add  the  salt, pepper and dried parsley to taste.Serve immediately.  



Conclusion

I can tell you this is a very good and tasty dish. It isn't very hard to do, and it may be easy for all of you to try different combinations of ingredients, you mat try to add chili peppers, olive oil, different spices, etc. We really had a great dinner, we ate it wit a very nice Australian wine and we sure enjoy it while having a nice romantic dinner, so I hope your experience will be as pleasant as ours. Until next time, enjoy.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Shepherd's Pie

I have tried some very easy and classic recipes, now is time to try a classic from UK, a meat pie, known formerly as cottage pie and nowadays probably more known by the name of Shepherd's pie. Pies must be between the food I like the most, apple pie, strawberry pie, lemon pie, cheeses pie, etc. The ones I just mentioned are desserts, and some of them are very good hot, some others are served cold. However as a main dish, instead of fruits a pie will be filled with meat, veggies, etc. The cottage pie has its origins in the 18th century, and was considered a dish for poor people, however its really delicious and is still very cheap to cook, it isn't particularly hard to do and will be very nutritious. I was taught this recipe in Michigan in a conversation group, and my family and I found that is really delicious.

Recipe

  • Four potatoes.
  • 500 grams of ground beef extra lean.
  • 1 large clove of garlic.
  • 2 tablespoons of flour.
  • 3 cups of mixed vegetables.
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce (ketchup).
  •  3/4 cup of beef broth.
  • 3/4 cup of sour cream or 3/4 cup of butter.
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (cheddar or mozzarella).


Preparation method

1. Cook the potatoes and garlic in a large pot with boiling water for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.


2. In the meantime, cook the meat until is brown and add the flour.


3. After 1 minute, add the vegetables, broth and tomato sauce. Stir constantly so it won't burn.


4. Heat oven to 190 Celsius degrees, drain the potatoes and use a recipient to add the cream or butter, mash them until it has a creamy consistency.Then add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.


 
5. Put the meat stir on a baking dish, and start to add the mashed potatoes to the top, covering the meat and veggies with a mashed potatoes layer.




6. Bake the pie in the oven for 18 minutes or until the potato top begins to get brown, add the remaining shredded cheese and bake for 2 more minutes or until   he cheese melts.



Conclusion

Well, it really wasn't that hard, don't you think? I cooked this on a Sunday after a very busy Saturday and it really was a very good dinner for the whole family, I really hope you can try this and let me know your results. Remember to be creative with the ingredients too and then we can share notes. Until next time, enjoy.