Fortune cookies are when Japanese meet Americans meet Chinese.
- Fortune cookies are sweet biscuits that are a folded circular shape, and they have a paper slip inside, that typically contains a message, which is revealed once the cookie is broken in half.
- In China, fortune cookies are relatively unknown yet they are extremely popular in America, ironically in Chinese restaurants, and due to their availibity in such restaurants, they are widely thought to be of Chinese origin.
- Fortune cookies are made from a batter primarily consisting of flour and sugar, as well as egg, and they usually contain either butter and vanilla, or miso and sesame, and are baked in an oven.
- Many stories exist regarding the invention of fortune cookies, however it is likely that they are simply a slight variation of ‘tsujiura senbei’ (‘fortune crackers’), that were being made and sold near temples in Japan in the 1800s.
- Once fortune cookies have been cooked, a slip of paper with a message is placed on the circular biscuit, and while the biscuit is still hot, it is folded in half and the points are squeezed together to form the distinctive shape of the cookie, and this encloses the fortune.
- It is believed that Japanese immigrants living in California introduced fortune cookies to the United States in the early 1900s, possibly changing the ingredients slightly to suit Westerners.
- The messages contained inside fortune cookies are commonly vague, though generally positive, and they may have a proverb, suggest a destiny, or give advice, or may list numbers that are said to bring good luck.
- ‘Fortune cookies’ were initially known as ‘fortune tea cookies’ in the United States, until around the time of World War II.
- The mass production of fortune cookies began sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, as specially purposed machinery was invented; and in 2008, approximately three billion of the cookies were produced across the globe, most of which were consumed in the United States.
- Fortune cookies increased dramatically in popularity when Chinese immigrants took over the production of the food in the United States, after Japanese labourers were imprisoned during World War II.
Who would have known that a sour quince could become so sweet?
- Quinces are a variety of fruit that originated in south-western Asia and the Middle East; and they contain a large proportion of pectin, enabling the cooked fruit to easily set into jellies and jams.
- The scientific name of the tree that quinces grow on is Cydonia oblonga, from the family Rosaceae, the family of roses, and it is a close relative of pears and apples.
- Quinces grow to an irregular shape spanning 7 to 12 centimetres (2.8 to 4.7 inches) in height, commonly with a slightly smaller diameter.
- Most quinces are extremely bitter until being cooked, and combined with their tough texture, the fruit is generally quite impractical to eat raw.
- The skin of quinces is a bright yellow, with flesh of a cream colour that generally becomes pink when cooked.
- Quinces are often made into preserves, baked desserts, sauces or jellies, as they are flavourful, and with a small quantity of sugar or other sweetener added, they develop a sweet taste.
- Consuming a large quantity of quince fruit seeds at one time can cause a toxic gas to develop in the stomach, as the seeds react with stomach acids.
- Quinces are scented with a pleasant fragrance and flavour, that is described as a combination of citrus, apples and vanilla.
- Each hectare (2.5 acres) of quince trees typically produces from 25 to 35 tonnes (27.6 to 38.6 tons) of fruit, and Turkey was the largest producer in 2012 with around 135,000 tonnes (149,000 tons), which was more than 20% of the world’s production.
- Quinces are good source of vitamin C and have significant quantities of copper, fibre and potassium.
Meet the long lost cousin of the tomato – the tamarillo!
- Tamarillos are a variety of fruit, comparable to the tomato, and they are native to South America.
- New Zealanders gave the name ‘tamarillo’ to the ‘tree tomato’ fruit, a name it is also known by, in 1967 for commercial purposes, and the fruit is also called ‘tamamoro’, ‘tomate dulce’, ‘tomate granadilla’ and ‘tomate de árbol’ among other names.
- The tamarillo grows on the plant with the scientific name Solanum betaceum, and it is from the family Solanaceae, the family of nightshades.
- Tamarillos are somewhat ovoid in shape, and typically reach a length of 4 to 10 centimetres (1.6 to 4 inches) and have a diameter of 3.8 to 5 centimetres (1.5 to 2 inches).
- The skin of tamarillos can be yellow, red, orange, or purple, while the flesh is often a similar colour to the skin but it sometimes differs.
- Tamarallos grow on a tree with a height generally between 3 to 5.5 metres (10 to 18 feet); and a single tree can produce 20 to 30 kilograms (44 to 66 pounds) of fruit each year.
- A tamarillo’s flavour varies with the colour, with red variants generally having a tart flavour, while the yellow varieties are typically sweet, having a flavour combination of kiwi or passion fruit and tomato.
- While tamarillos can be eaten raw, often with a utensil that is used to spoon out the flesh, the tough bitter skin is usually left uneaten unless cooked; and the fruit is also popularly made into spreads, stews, curries and other sauces.
- Tamarillos are very high in vitamin C and are good sources of vitamins A and E, as well as iron and pyridoxine.
- Tamarillos have been cultivated in parts of Asia and Africa, and they have also been commercially grown in New Zealand since the 1920s, after which demand increased during World War II, due to the fruit’s vitamin C content.
The mouth-watering fragrance really lifts from the waffle iron.
- Waffles are relatively flat baked goods, with an embossed lattice-like pattern, made of flour; and they are often associated with Belgium.
- ‘Waffles’ have also been known as ‘wafles’, while variants include ‘Belgian’, ‘American’, ‘Brussel’ and ‘Flemish’.
- The ingredients of waffles are usually a cooked batter of wheat flour, eggs, salt, milk, sugar and sometimes yeast.
- Waffles are commonly spread or covered with cream, butter, icing sugar, fruits including berries, syrup, jam or ice-cream.
- The term ‘waffle’ was derived from the Dutch word ‘wafel’, which itself came from the Proto-Germanic word ‘wabila’, meaning ‘web’ or ‘honeycomb’.
- Waffles typically have a light or airy feel with a crisp texture, and are golden brown in colour and are cooked in a variety of shapes, including squares and hearts.
- Waffles are cooked by pouring the batter in a patterned waffle iron that generally has a base and a lid that encloses the batter, and when heated, cooks the batter.
- The ancestor of the waffle was the ‘obleios’, a wafer cake from Ancient Greece, which from the 1200s AD became a patterned form similar to the modern one.
- The earliest known printed recipe of the waffle can be found in the late 1300s book Le Ménagier de Paris.
- The waffle’s correlation to Belgian culture was created in the World Fairs of 1962 and 1964, where Belgian cooks would serve delicious Belgian-style waffles, which became popular in America.
How can you resist a warm chocolate chip cookie?
- Chocolate chip cookies are a variant of cookie, identifiable by its inclusion of chocolate pieces.
- Sugar, flour, eggs, butter, baking powder and chocolate bits are the typical ingredients used for baking chocolate chip cookies.
- The chocolate pieces of chocolate chip cookies can be replaced with white chocolate or M&Ms, while a popular combination is white chocolate with the addition of macadamia nuts; or the dough can be flavoured with chocolate or peanuts, for an interesting variant.
- Chocolate chip cookies were invented in the 1930s by Ruth Wakefield of the United States, then owner and chef of Massachusetts’ Toll House Inn restaurant, and despite various stories of the invention being an accident, it is said to have been a deliberate alteration of a butterscotch cookie recipe.
- The first recipe for chocolate chip cookies was published in the 1938 edition of Ruth Wakefield’s cookbook “Toll House Tried and True Recipes”.
- Around 1939, as chocolate chip cookies grew popular, Ruth Wakefield exchanged the rights for her cookie recipe with the Nestlé company, for a lifetime supply of their semi-sweet chocolate, and they printed her cookie recipe on their packaging.
- Shortly after obtaining rights to the chocolate chip cookie recipe, Nestlé reconfigured their semi-sweet chocolate from a bar, to small chocolate pieces purposed for cooking in the cookies, naming them ‘Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels’.
- As of 2015, the largest biscuit ever made in the world, happens to be a chocolate chip cookie, which was baked in 2003 by the United State’s Immaculate Baking Company as a museum fundraiser, and it was approximately 31 metres (102 feet) in diameter.
- The chocolate chip cookie is the official state cookie of Massachusetts of the United States, while it was proposed that it also be the state cookie of United States’ Pennsylvania.
Apple strudels with their juicy apples and crispy pastry are mouth-watering delights.
- An apple strudel is an apple-filled pastry popularly eaten as a dessert or snack, and it is most commonly served warm, though it is also eaten cold.
- ‘Apple strudel’ is also known as ‘Apfelstrudel’, which is the German term for the dessert, while ‘strudel’ is German for ‘swirl’ or ‘whirl’.
- Apple strudels consist of a light and very thin unleavened pastry, rolled and filled with an apple mixture that commonly includes cinnamon, raisins, sugar and breadcrumbs, with the crumbs helping to soak up excess liquid during the cooking process.
- While apple strudels are the most popular strudel, other fruits and nuts may be used, and savoury strudels can also be made that can include meat, vegetables and herbs.
- Apple strudels are believed to have originated in the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and they were being made by the 1800s, while various strudels were produced as early as the 1500s.
- Although it can be eaten plain, ice-cream, custard or cream are common apple strudel accompaniments, and the strudel is usually sliced into pieces to serve.
- Once apple strudel dough is kneaded and stretched out to be extremely flat and thin (so writing is visible under it), the filling is placed on the dough and then encased and wrapped by it, after which it is cooked in an oven.
- Apple strudels were the United State’s Texas’ official state pastry from 2003 to 2005, as it is thought to have been one of the first pastries cooked in the state.
- The shape of an uncut apple strudel is typically a flattened cylinder, and the pastry is crispy and golden brown when cooked.
- Due to the accessibility and quantity of apples during hard times, apple strudels were perhaps one of the earliest strudel types.