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Hidden Ingredients in Beer and More News

Hidden Ingredients in Beer and More News


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In today's Media Mix, every McDonald's in the world, plus how much food does the world waste?

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

Pok Pok Ny's Move: Andy Ricker's moving his flagship New York restaurant down the street in Brooklyn to a larger space. [NY Times]

Hidden Beer Ingredients: Yikes. Here's what is really in your beer: MSG, anti-freeze ingredient Propylene Glycol, and a product made from formaldehyde. [Food Babe]

Every McDonald's in the World: When you map out the 34,392 McDonald's in the world, America is obviously just a blob of yellow, with almost 14,000 stores. The next largest market? Japan, with 3,746 restaurants. [Guardian]

Food Waste Today: Let's look at the numbers of food waste, where we grow 27 percent more food per person than we did 50 years ago. The problem? Almost 8 percent of food is lost even before it hits a plate. [Visual.ly]


Listen: The Hidden Labor Behind Recipes

Julia Turshen, a New York Time’s bestselling cookbook author and food equity advocate, discusses her latest book while making a guest appearance on the Chronicle's 'Extra Spicy' podcast.

Courtesy of Julia Turshen Show More Show Less

Soleil Ho's & Justin Phillip's food and culture podcast.

On this episode of the Extra Spicy podcast, Julia Turshen, a New York Time&rsquos bestselling cookbook author and food equity advocate, discusses all of the ethical considerations of recipe making. From pitch to publication, Turshen shares the steps of making her latest cookbook, &ldquoSimply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food.&rdquo

Plus: Hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips take on the headnotes debate.

Listen to the episode by clicking on the player above, and scroll down to read a partial transcript of Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips&rsquo conversation with Julia Turshen.

Here is a partial transcript of Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips' interview with Julia Turshen, edited and condensed for clarity.

SOLEIL:
We're so excited to talk to you today. We don't really have that many cookbook authors come on the show, unfortunately. And it's such an important part of the food media industry complex, there's so much for us to dig into, so I&rsquom really excited.

JULIA: No, thank you so much for having me! I definitely spend most of my time in this kind of odd corner of the cookbook world, but it's part of this bigger thing and I feel like you both do such a good job of talking about all these different aspects of the bigger thing. So, whatever I can add to the conversation, I&rsquom happy to, thanks for having me!

SOLEIL: So can you describe your corner?

JULIA: Sure! I feel like I've had a really interesting experience compared to a lot of other cookbook authors I know, because I've worked on a lot of other cookbooks besides my own. And I've also done my own! Most people I think do one or the other of those two things and I've gotten to do both and if you add up all those books, I've worked on 15 books in pretty much as many years. So, it means [working with] a number of editors, a number of photographers, a number of publicists &ndash which was like a whole side of cookbooks that I feel like we don't always think about &ndash so, I've worked with just basically a ton of people on a ton of books and I've learned a lot. Does that give you a good sense of the corner? I don&rsquot know, I feel like I&rsquom talking too much.

SOLEIL: I think that does a great job of just sketching it out, especially for listeners who have never interacted with the cookbook world beyond using a cookbook. There's a lot of politics and hierarchy and certain parts of the food media are sexier versus others. And I also think, as someone who has been so prolific in the cookbook writing world, I'm sure you've been through the ringer and seen all kinds of. things.

JULIA: That is definitely accurate. I can look back now and see how broken a lot of things were, but you know, I've been involved in just the publishing industry and food media, like all that kind of stuff. I also see so much positive stuff and I'm very hopeful about a lot of things now. It's interesting because I think most people interact with cookbooks just as you're saying, like maybe you pick one up at the bookstore at the library or you see one mentioned in a magazine you read, and maybe buy it or check it out. Maybe you cook some stuff out of it. But I imagine maybe you don't have a sense of all the politics and inside baseball. It's the same with any kind of business that also involves a lot of creative output, I think that's kind of the same thing where there's a lot behind the scenes.

JUSTIN: I know how much work goes into creating a cookbook. And I'm always interested in hearing the mechanics of it, hearing someone like yourself, talk about what that process is like. Can you let people know what goes into this and also what would inspire burnout? You know? Cause that's, it's a very real thing.

JULIA: I think answering your first question about what is involved in making a cookbook simultaneously answers your second question about why it might lead to burn out.

JUSTIN: There you go.

JULIA: Because it is a lot. It's a ton of work to make a really good cookbook. And I just mean that because to write recipes that work, to test recipes enough times and to have them tested by enough people that they will work in various kitchens that have all sorts of variables, including, you know: my skillet might be smaller than yours, my knife might be sharper than yours, or my oven might get hotter than yours. To take all of these variables into account, and to still produce recipes that will work, to answer reader's questions before they might even know they have them, to think about how ingredients are labeled at the grocery store and have those things reflected in how you write down the ingredients and your list of ingredients in the recipe. I think about how big the packages are, how big the containers are at the grocery store, because I don't want to call for an amount that you have to buy two when you could just buy one. so taking all of these many details into consideration, you know, making sure when you take the photographs, there's not something in the photograph that's not reflected in the recipe. It's a mountain of details. And I'm talking about micro things here, but on the macro level, just the process of building a whole table of contents and stuff. it's a lot.

SOLEIL: So, how does it start?

JULIA: It starts with the book proposal, which is, I like to think of it as it's the business plan for the book. If you've ever written a business plan for something else, if you've ever made just a plan for something else, a lesson plan or whatever, that is very much what the book proposal is. You&rsquore basically making this document that explains what the book is, who you are, why you&rsquore the right person to do it, what's going to be in this book, your table of contents with the recipes.

For me, that is my favorite part of every project is coming up with that table of contents, because it's the moment when I feel most creative. You include some sample recipes and stuff. Maybe you'll include stuff about who else might be on your team for this. maybe we already know the photographer. And then hopefully your agent takes that book proposal and sells it to a publisher. And that's the ideal scenario.

Then you get your book advance, which is the money you're given upfront to make your book, and sometimes that is not enough money to make the book you'd like to make. Sometimes it's enough for a few people. From proposal to book on your shelf, it's about two years. And the first year is creating all the content, doing all of your writing, your testing, your photography. The next year is spent usually editing and going through many rounds of editing and then going through many rounds of design, laying out all the pages. A lot of that second year is just spent waiting for, I don't know what usually for the book to get printed, and a lot of the second year is also spent planning publicity. So you've made this thing, the publisher has invested in this thing. So now how are they going to make the money back? Will they make the money back? And that includes doing things like reaching out to the two of you to see if you'll speak to someone like me on your podcast, tons of stuff like that!


Why Ingredients in Beer Matter – And What Beer Companies Aren’t Telling You

I was having a blast watching the Super Bowl last weekend… and it had NOTHING to do with the game! Bud Light started advertising that they have No Corn Syrup in their beer, and texts like this kept rolling in…

You see, we launched the petition that started the conversation about beer ingredients and why they matter. And now, Bud Light is spending millions of dollars on a marketing campaign to tell us that corn syrup isn’t in their beer – but there is SO MUCH MORE to this story.

Here’s how it all started…

A little over 4 years ago I was sitting at Anheuser-Busch headquarters trying to convince their executives to develop an organic beer. At the time they told me they had tried one in the past, but it didn’t sell. Stone Mill Organic Pale Ale was the first one they produced many years ago, but they took it off the market…

The original organic beer as seen at the Anheuser-Busch headquarters

Well, so much has changed since then, and not only did they end up coming out with an organic Michelob Ultra Pure Gold beer, but they advertised it during the Super Bowl! I couldn’t have been more happy to see that. I remember sitting in their board room, wondering if my arguments for an organic beer were convincing enough or just falling on deaf ears.

Meeting with executives at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, MO

I’ve been investigating the ingredients in alcohol for the last 6 years and dedicated an entire chapter (chapter 7!) to it in my first book. The ingredients in beer are not required by law to be listed anywhere on the label and manufacturers have no legal obligation to disclose the ingredients. The beer industry is regulated by the U.S. Treasury Department (the people who collect taxes) instead of the FDA like most other food and beverages. This is why we know more about what’s in a can of Coke than what’s in our beer.

Since beer companies aren’t required to tell us their ingredients, I knew I needed to investigate this for myself and what I found shocked me. I grew concerned after discovering there is a long list of additives the government has approved for use that beer companies don’t need to tell you about… corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, stabilizers linked to intestinal inflammation, artificial colors, caramel coloring, and genetically modified ingredients, to name a few.

I knew people wanted to know more about what was in their beer (especially since my husband loves beer), so I launched a petition in 2014 asking the two biggest beer manufacturers in the world (Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors) to publish their ingredients online (1). The response was HUGE. Within the first 24 hours the petition received 43,000 signatures and Anheuser-Busch publicly agreed to publish the list of ingredients onlin e (2) . MillerCoors quickly followed.

The petition we started in 2014

Thanks to the work of the Food Babe Army, we made history that day. And that’s when Anheuser-Busch invited me to St. Louis to see how their beer was made.

Behind the scenes at Anheuser-Busch

If you watched the Super Bowl, you likely saw Bud Light’s ads about how they don’t use corn syrup in their beer. They also threw Miller Light and Coors Light under the bus for using corn syrup in their beer…Which is completely true.

I LOVE how they played the part of “Food Babe Army” in listing out the ingredients for everyone to see in these flyers. But as I wrote about in my first book, Bud Light actually never used corn syrup in their beer, so I found that misleading.

Anheuser-Busch (the parent company for Bud Light) is insinuating that just because one product is “clean”, all of their other products are a better choice, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are using the same ingredients as Miller Light and Coors Light in some of their other beers.

Anheuser-Busch is still using corn syrup in other beers, which is likely made with GMO corn.

Bud Light spent millions of dollars on a marketing campaign to tell us that corn syrup isn’t in their beer, but other beers by Anheuser-Busch still use it. And this didn’t go unnoticed by their competition. During the SuperBowl, MillerCoors called them out online for putting high fructose corn syrup in some of their beers…

The battle is brewing between Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. And while it’s great to see them open up the conversation around beer ingredients and transparency, it would have been better to see Anheuser-Busch remove all corn syrup from their beers before making a such a spectacle.

You’ll find corn syrup in several of their most popular beers like Rolling Rock, Kokanee, and Busch beer…

MillerCoors uses corn syrup in their beers too, but hasn’t always disclosed this…

When MillerCoors first published their ingredients online following our 2014 petition, they did not list “corn syrup” as an ingredien t (3). While the media was eating up the story , they simply reported the ingredients in Coors Light and Miller Light as “water, barley malt, corn, yeast, and hops” (4) . More recent updates to their website shows the ingredients as this…

Coors Light: Water, Barley Malt, Corn Syrup (Dextrose) , Yeast, Hop Extract
Miller Light: Water, Barley Malt, Corn Syrup (Dextrose) , Yeast, Hops and Hop Extract

Was MillerCoors not telling the whole truth about their ingredients 4 years ago or did they recently add corn syrup and hop extracts?

Should you care if there is corn syrup in your beer?

Corn syrup isn’t typically used as a sweetener in beer, rather it’s used as a cheap sugar which ferments. The reason why you wouldn’t want to drink beer made with corn or corn syrup is because almost all corn is genetically modified (GMO)(5) and if you don’t want to support GMOs, Monsanto/Bayer, and the chemical companies who are poisoning our food and environment with Roundup herbicides linked to cancer (6) – you don’t want beer produced with GMOs. Beer is traditionally brewed with malted barley, a non-GMO grain (7), and not corn.

It’s not just the corn syrup. Beer companies are guilty of using other ingredients that don’t belong in beer. These two are the most common in mass produced beer…

Hop Extract : Rather than using whole hops or hop pellets, beer companies use a chemically altered hop extract to add bitterness while reducing the amount of actual hops in the beer. This is a cheaper way to produce beer.

Caramel Color : This brown coloring is used to make some beers appear darker. It’s manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creates carcinogenic compounds. Newcastle removed this from their beers in 2015 (8) after we called them out for this. It appears Stella Artois (by Anheuser Busch) also no longer contains caramel coloring, as we had reported finding it listed as an ingredient on an overseas website in 2014 (3).

This is another big industry lie that we’ve seen companies do many times. They advertise how one product doesn’t contain something, but their other products still do. So you think that you can trust a brand, but you can’t.

It is CRAZY that Anheuser-Busch would base an entire multi-million dollar campaign on ONE product that doesn’t have corn syrup or hop extract – while their other products still use these ingredients.

Bud Light VP Andy Goeler was quoted as saying “While ingredient labels are not required, consumers deserve to know more about their beer. We brew Bud Light with the finest ingredients and we’re happy to proudly display them on our packaging. When people walk through a store, they are used to seeing ingredient labels on products in every aisle, except for the beer, wine and spirits aisle. As the lead brand in the category, we believe increasing on-pack transparency will benefit the entire beer category and provide our consumers with the information they expect to see.” (9)

I hope they live up to that statement when it comes to ALL of the beers at Anheuser-Busch – and not just Bud Light.

It’s just common sense. Don’t bash other products that use corn syrup and hop extract when you are doing the exact same thing. Either clean up your beers or don’t. I hope Anheuser-Busch learns from this and realizes this is not the way to win customers. We are smarter than that.

In just two short weeks my new book hits shelves and I’m so excited for you to read it. It is very eye opening. In Feeding You Lies, I delve deep into the lies that food and beverage companies tell us to get us to keep buying their products. My hope is that it will change the food industry again, by encouraging them to use more transparent practices and improve their products.

We need all hands on deck, Food Babe Army! Pre-order a copy below to be one of the first to read it and be part of our movement pushing the industry to do better.


Next Level Chili: Combining More Than One of the Above

While some degree of moderation is probably prudent, you can absolutely deploy several of the above secret weapons in a single batch of chili.

I always do, and certified food genius J. Kenji López-Alt uses a whole bunch at once for his favorite chili, so be bold, add extras in small doses to start (like, one teaspoon at a time), and taste often.

And don’t let anyone bully you into thinking your chili is bad because it’s not authentic! Even if you go with more idiosyncratic additions, like yellow mustard, pineapple, Coca-Cola, apple butter, and grape jam, what’s important is that you like eating it.


What did the beers of ancient Mesopotamia taste like?

The honest answer is, we don’t really know. No one from the Mesopotamian past had the foresight to jot down tasting notes for the benefit of future historians and archaeologists like me. Or perhaps they did, and we just haven’t yet uncovered those particular cuneiform tablets. Archaeological excavations are ongoing in Iraq (though, unfortunately, not in war-torn Syria), and new discoveries of cuneiform tablets can be expected. There’s always a chance that these will add some new dimension to our understanding of Mesopotamian beer.

For now, the most that we can say with certainty is that beer was sometimes described as sweet. Of course, we can also turn to the (admittedly imperfect and speculative) results of “experimental” archaeology. The beers that my collaborative project [more on this below] produced varied, but most were on the murky side in appearance and on the tart or sour side in taste.

Date paste is added to a batch of experimental beer, while it heats over a portable brazier. Dates were abundant in ancient Mesopotamia, and date syrup was sometimes used in brewing. It may have been added during the mashing stage to increase the potency of the beer, as shown here, or after fermentation to sweeten the finished product. Photo: Tate Paulette

We experimented with different flavoring ingredients, for example, coriander, cardamom, fennel, juniper berries, dates and date syrup. All of these (and more) were available in Mesopotamia, but, unfortunately, no scribe felt it necessary to put down in writing which were actually used in the brewing of beer.


Great Australian Bake Off contestant shocks Maggie Beer with hidden cake ingredient

Great Australian Bake Off is finally back and it didn’t take long before a “hipster” shook things up with a bizarre blend of cake ingredients.

The Great Australian Bake off - Grand Final.

The Great Australian Bake off - Grand Final

Matt Moran and Maggie Beer. Source:Foxtel

We are living in an era of weird and wacky food.

Think cronuts, wild milkshakes, burgers made of donuts, pizza in a cone… it goes on.

So it makes sense the emerging generation of foodies are experimenting with their baking.

The Great Australian Bake Off finally returned to Foxtel tonight for its fourth season, where we watched 21-year-old cafe manager Laura kerb tradition with her obscure style of cooking.

Kicking off the first episode with cake week, Laura made a chocolate and orange butter cake - but judging by her ingredients list you𠆝 never guess that’s the flavour.

Her cake batter was filled with mayonnaise and stout (yes, beer), while the chocolate icing was made with avocado and cauliflower flavour combinations which stumped judges Maggie Beer and Matt Moran.

Laura said the use of mayonnaise helped make cakes more moist.

“I’ve never heard of that before in my life,” Moran told her, while Beer pulled a mortified face.

“I like to use ingredients you wouldn’t traditionally use and show people you can use weird stuff.”

Her gamble paid off, with the judges blown away by the finished product.

Get all the best drama, movies, lifestyle, news and sport, all in one place. Get Foxtel

A true 2019 cake. Source:Foxtel

“It’s actually a really good cake to eat, it’s like a chocolate mud cake,” Moran said, with Beer agreeing: “Yeah but without the heaviness. I just can’t get over the moistness of it from the mayonnaise.”

“If you’re going to keep throwing weird things in your bakes I can’t wait to see what else you come up with,” Moran added.

So there you have it. Swap the butter or oil for mayo if you want to make your cake extra moist.

When you leave the feral ingredients off the menu. Source:Foxtel

After three challenges, which included making a butter cake, the technical challenge and the illusion cake task, 39-year-old Zee was sent packing.

Meanwhile, 36-year-old California woman Angela won the first ‘star baker’ title, with Sonny, 26, and Sue, 70, also among the early frontrunners.

The illusion challenge produced this fine cake disguised as a pancake stack. Source:Foxtel

The show, hosted by comedians Claire Hooper and Mel Buttle, will air across 10 weeks and features a group of bakers as they are put through a series of challenges in search of Australia’s Best Amateur Baker.

The latest episode, as well as the first three seasons, are available to stream on Foxtel.

The contestants on season four of The Great Australian Bake Off. Source:Supplied

The Great Australian Bake Off is available to stream on Foxtel On Demand, with new episodes airing on Lifestyle every Thursday at 8.30pm


White House beer recipe released

A hearty "cheers" goes out to the president's in-house brewers who bowed to popular pressure on Saturday and released the recipe for its coveted ales.

At a time when other classified information was making its way to the media – and prompting a criminal investigation in the process – the lips of those guarding the beers' ingredients remained firmly shut.

But in the face of a growing protest over the lack of transparency in regards to the ale, the White House finally yielded, giving away the secret behind its White House Honey Ale and White House Honey Porter.

Barack Obama – a man not shy when it comes to necking the odd pint while on the campaign trial – introduced a home-brewing kit last year to the White House kitchen.

It was then down to staff to source out the best ingredients, according to White House assistant chef Sam Kass, who revealed the recipe in a blogpost titled Ale to the Chief.

This led the home brewers to the South Lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where the president's bees are kept.

Kass explained: "Like many home brewers who add secret ingredients to make their beer unique, all of our brews have honey that we tapped from the first-ever bee-hive on the South Lawn.

"The honey gives the beer a rich aroma and a nice finish but it doesn't sweeten it."

According to the lucky few staffers and reporters privileged to have given the brew a go, the results are said to be pretty good. Obama, in his Ask Me Anything chat on Reddit last week, called it "tasty".

But until Saturday, the recipe was kept hidden, despite a petition that garnered some 12,000 signatures.

In the post unveiling the ingredients, Kass wrote that with public excitement about the beer "fermenting such as buzz, we decided we better hop right to it".


Cooking With Hops: The Bitter Truth

If beer is the new wine, we need to start doing some of the same things with beer that we do with wine. Pairing cheese with it and making sauces with it are too easy. Raise your game, guys: Let's cook with hops!

Challenged by celebrity Chef David Burke, who offered an intriguing array of hop-infused dishes at his restaurants (David Burke Prime, Burke in the Box, et al.) last month, I acquired a bag of these gossamer jade-green flowers and started devising recipes. First up was agave-sweetened Meyer Lemon Hopinade:

Since ancient days, wine has been made from grapes, a prolific plant which humankind also enjoys in many other ways. Since ancient days, beer has been made from hops, a prolific plant which humankind couldn't recognize if hops suddenly poured out of the sky.

As beer itself suggests, hops are bitter blossoms indeed. Unaccompanied and unbuffered, hops are eye-poppingly, palate-slammingly bitter. You can't just pop these babies into your mouth and munch away as you can with grapes.

"Cooking with hops puts a hop in your step and your meal," laughed Burke, who created his hops recipes -- see his formula for hoppy ice-cream donut sliders, below -- in collaboration with Samuel Adams, whose citrusy seasonal Alpine Spring craft beer is made with Tettnang Tettnanger hops, a variety cultivated on century-old vines in the Alpine foothills.

"Tettnang Tettnanger hops will give food an earthy flavor -- a taste that's hard to get from other ingredients. These hops also give a nice piney aroma to foods they work well with pastas and rice and can also be a perfect finish on chicken, similar to cracked pepper," Burke said.

The trick is to use hops lightly, as a suggestion rather than a statement. They're just so strong. Texturally they're deceptively dainty, like jasmine petals. Flavorwise, they're bitter the way Chinese bitter melon is bitter. Bitterer than bitter lemons. I added a big handful to a quinoa dish:

. which tasted very bracing, the gentle grassy graininess of quinoa and the starchiness of corn confronting that bold raging scream of the hops. An exciting experience, if arguably medicinal-tasting.

Samuel Adams Brewing Manager Jennifer Glanville offered me a few further thoughts on hop-eating:

When used as an ingredient, the "spice of beer," as Glanville calls hops, "can add dimension to a recipe, just like they do in beer, and can bring an unexpected yet welcome flavor to dishes. . Hops leave a lingering citrus note on the palate and a clean, dry finish that cleanses the palate. When cooking with Tettnang Tettnanger hops, the fresh, piny, citrus character is a bit more pure and intense since the other flavors -- yeast, malt, et cetera -- found in beer aren't present.

"As with brewing beer, the wonders are often in the difficulties. Cooking with hops is still a fresh idea and there aren't a lot of precedents, therefore much like home brewing, the difficulty and wonder is in experimenting with different hop varieties" -- available online and at homebrew shops -- "and hop recipes and trying them on your own. Cooking with beer isn't new for example, people have been using brewers' grain in breads and pizza dough for years. But cooking with hops is uncharted territory."

True! But as beer gets trendier, bitterness might soon be right up there with salty and sweet.

Chef Burke adds: "Hops can certainly work wonders on a meal, adding lots of robust flavors, aromas and textures. If you're still a bit timid, test run them as a condiment -- a garnish for mashed potatoes, or sprinkled on soup. A hop-diment!"

And if you want to bring some of your newfound hop-hop-hoppiness with you everywhere you go, consider B-Hoppy, hard candies made with Cascade hops. Maker Bob Bero is an Ohio homebrewer who told me:

"After a failed attempt at making hop-scented soap with some extract that I had obtained from some folks up in Yakima [Washington], I didn't want to waste what was left in the container and it was sitting on the kitchen counter during my Christmas present making period. While making hard candy for the family, I kept looking at the container between batches and finally it became candy." Sweet!

Samuel Adams® Alpine Spring Donut Ice Cream Sliders
Recipe by Chef David Burke
Yields 5 large or 24 small servings
Samuel Adams Alpine Spring Donut
Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 oz. butter
3 oz. Samuel Adams Alpine Spring
¼ cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Strawberry jam (for serving - see assembly below)

Method:
1. Melt butter and let cool a little (not hot).

2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, melted butter, and Samuel Adams Alpine Spring until well blended.

4. Pour the liquid mixture into flour mixture, stir until just incorporated. NOTE: Do not over mix or dough will be tough.

5. Set fryer temperature (or vegetable oil in a deep frying pan) to 375°F. Using an ice cream scoop, form donuts about a size of a golf ball. Fry until golden, about 2 minutes. Roll in cinnamon sugar, slice in half.

Samuel Adams Alpine Spring Orange Caramel Sauce
Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
Pinch salt
¾ cup Samuel Adams Alpine Spring
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (found in specialty markets)

Method:
1. Combine sugar and water in a small high-sided saucepan. Without stirring, cook the mixture until dark amber in color.

2. Reduce heat to low, carefully adding heavy cream into caramel (it may splash and form bubbles). Stir to combine.

3. Remove pan from heat, add salt and Samuel Adams Alpine Spring

Samuel Adams Hops-Infused Ice Cream
Ingredients:
1 cup Tettnang Tettnanger hop flowers (can substitute U.S. Tettnang hops)
4 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups sugar
10 large egg yolks

Method:
1. In a saucepan, bring milk to heat. When it simmers, add hops, steep about 15 minutes. Strain milk, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

2. Put milk, half of sugar (1 cup) back to sauce pan. Bring to heat, just about to boil.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the rest of sugar (1 cup) and egg yolks until they lighten in color. Pour milk mixture into eggs by adding small amounts gradually, until about 1/3 of milk mixture has been added.

4. Pour the egg mixture back to the saucepan, over low heat. Cook, stir frequently, until mixture thickens slightly to coat the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Remove from heat, add heavy cream. Mix well.

5. Strain the mixture and put in a container, let cool before placing it into refrigerator (to avoid condensation on the lid). Cover and store in refrigerator for 4 - 8 hours, or overnight.

6. Pour chilled ice cream mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions.

To Assemble:
1) Place half a Samuel Adams Donut on a dish (base). Spread a layer of strawberry jam onto the open side of the donut.
2) Place a scoop of Samuel Adams Hops-Infused Ice Cream on top.
3) Using a small squeeze bottle, drizzle a layer of Samuel Adams Alpine Spring Orange Caramel Sauce and top with the other half of the Samuel Adams Donut.
4) Enjoy your Samuel Adams Alpine Spring Donut Ice Cream Slider!


Benefits, in Moderation

If you drink it in moderation, beer (just like wine, spirits, or other alcohol) can have health benefits.

Continued

"The strongest evidence suggests alcohol of any kind can increase good cholesterol," says Harvard researcher Eric Rimm.

Limit yourself to no more than one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men. One drink is 12 ounces of regular beer.

The hops, yeast, and grains in beer contribute carbohydrates, a small amount of B vitamins, and potassium. But don't plan to get your nutrients from beer, or to drink beer or any other alcoholic beverage for health benefits. And if you don't drink now, most health experts don't recommend that you start.

Drinking too much beer, or any other type of alcohol, is bad for you.

"Heavy alcohol consumption wipes out any health benefit and increases risk of liver cancer, cirrhosis, alcoholism, and obesity," Rimm says. "Heavy or binge drinkers may have increased risk of stroke, chronic hypertension, weight gain, colon and breast cancer."


Kōji — Japan's vital hidden ingredient

The development of Japanese cuisine owes much to the humble kōji or kōji-kin. A type of fungus or mold, it is used in all kinds of foods and beverages. It’s as important in Japan as the fungi, bacteria and yeast that give character to cheese, yogurt, wine, beer and bread are in the West. The difference is that just one type of fungus is used in so many foods.

Kōji (Aspergillus oryzae) was probably domesticated at least 2,000 years ago. It is used to make sake, mirin, shōchū, awamori (an Okinawan beverage), rice vinegar, soy sauce and miso – all ingredients that define Japanese food. No wonder that it was declared the kokkin (national fungus) by the Brewing Society of Japan, and the genome was closely protected until 2005. Besides Japan, it is also used extensively in China and Korea to ferment and mature various foods.

To use kōji, spores are mixed into steamed rice (potatoes, wheat and soybeans are also used, depending on the purpose), then allowed to mature for a period of time in a warm environment, about 50 degrees Celsius. The kōji turns the starch in the rice into sugar (a process called saccharification) and releases a variety of fatty acids and amino acids including glutamate, the basis for the “fifth taste,” umami. This kōji-rice mixture is called kome-kōji.

To make alcoholic beverages such as sake, the sugar is allowed to develop further into alcohol. In miso and similar foods, the kome-kōji is mixed with other ingredients such as steamed soybeans and allowed to mature. The addition of salt inhibits the development of alcohol, and the umami is able to develop. This is what gives miso and soy sauce their distinct, savory and delicious flavor.

Kome-kōji that has been allowed to saccharify until it tastes very sweet is used to make amazake, a sweet nonalchoholic beverage served hot that is a traditional part of Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Festival) on March 3.

A recent development in Japanese cuisine is the increasing popularity of shio-kōji. Shio-kōji is kome-kōji with added salt, which is allowed to mature for a few days at room temperature. The salt and the lower temperature inhibit the development of simple sugars, but not the amino acids. This results in a condiment that is full of umami, with a hint of sweetness and enough salt to bring out the flavors of various foods.

Shio-kōji has been around for hundreds of years, mostly used to marinate or pickle vegetables, but it started to get a lot more attention around 2007 or 2008 on Japanese food blogs and popular recipe sites such as Cookpad. Last year saw a veritable explosion of interest in shio-kōji recipes in Japan, both in print and online, and the trend looks to continue in 2012.

Why the sudden interest in such a traditional food? One reason may be that it’s really easy to make. All you need is some kome-kōji and salt, both of which are easily obtainable at any supermarket in Japan. Another reason may be that using shio-kōji instead of salt or soy sauce to add flavor can help to reduce salt intake.

A more somber reason is a response to the continuing concern about the radioactive material released into the environment in the aftermath of last year’s accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. As people worry about what is safe to eat, there is an increased interest in the purported health benefits of traditional Japanese foods, including foods that have been fermented or matured with kōji. Shio-kōji is riding on that trend because some health-food advocates say that kōji may help to strengthen the body’s immune system.

But whether you buy into this theory or not, shio-kōji is worth trying just for its unique, delicious flavor and ease of use.

These days it is relatively easy to buy ready-made shio-kōji in Japan at a well-stocked supermarket, in a department-store food hall or by mail order. It usually comes in a jar, and looks just like rice porridge with a hint of gold color. If you can’t find shio-kōji, though, you can probably find kome-kōji. Readers outside of Japan may be able to find kome-kōji at a Japanese grocery store, but if not you’ll have to make your own from kōji spores this can be obtained from online merchants, if you are adventurous.

To make your own shio-kōji from raw kome-kōji, mix 1 kg of kome-kōji with 300-350 grams of salt — or 30-35 percent of the weight of the kome-kōji increase both amounts proportionately as desired. Add enough water to produce an oatmeal-like consistency. Mix it very well so that the salt dissolves completely — your clean, bare hands are the best tool for this. Put it in a nonmetallic container and cover, then leave the container in a warm, dark place in your home. Open the container and give it a good stir at least once a day if the mixture looks a bit dry add a little water. Leave it like this for at least seven days in the winter or five days in the summer. Once ready, store the shio-kōji in the refrigerator and use within a week it can also be frozen for a couple of months, and defrosted as needed.

You can use shio-kōji for all kinds of savory cooking, not just Japanese dishes. It makes a great marinade for meat, fish, vegetables or even tofu. For meat and fish, coat both sides well in shio-kōji and leave in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Wipe off the excess, and grill or pan-fry. The shio-kōji alone will give the meat or fish a wonderful flavor and color.

To marinate vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots or cut-up daikon radish, put some shio-kōji in a container or plastic bag, put in the vegetables, then mix (or if using a bag, massage it gently from the outside) to completely coat the contents with the shio-kōji. Leave for an hour or overnight to make flavorful “instant” shio-kōji pickles.

To marinate firm (momen) tofu, drain the tofu well, wrap in a piece of gauze or cheesecloth, then coat it thickly on both sides with shio-kōji and leave in the refrigerator for up to three days. Drain off any excess moisture and slice, and eat as-is. Some people swear that shio-kōji-marinated tofu tastes a little like cheese.

The easiest shio-kōji marinade of all is hard-boiled eggs. Just leave the eggs (with shells off) in a bed of shio-kōji for up to a week, taking out and eating as desired.

Shio-kōji can be used for much more than marinating. Try putting a spoonful in tomato sauce, for instance, instead of or in addition to salt. Some people add a little bit to miso soup and reduce the miso. A rather unusual way to use it is to add it to cooked oatmeal — if you like your oatmeal salty instead of sweet, that is. And of course, it’s a great addition to okayu (Japanese rice porridge). Some adventurous Japanese food bloggers have even tried it in sweet dishes with success.

Will this new-yet-old condiment be embraced by the rest of the world, in the way miso and soy sauce have been? Time will tell, but I think its chances are pretty good.

Makiko Itoh is the author of “The Just Bento Cookbook” (Kodansha USA). She writes about bentō lunches at www.justbento.com and about Japanese cooking and more at www.justhungry.com.

Warm Vegetable Salad with Shio-Kōji Dressing

Shio-kōji makes a very flavorful base for a salad dressing. It may look a bit strange, but the flavor will more than make up for it. Besides the vegetables suggested, try boiled potatoes, kabocha (squash) or carrots. This dressing works well on a crisp green salad too.

Nanohana — 1 bunch (or use more broccoli if you can’t get nanohana)

Snow peas — 1 small handful

Cherry tomatoes — 10 to 12

Apple-cider vinegar — 2 tbsp

Wash and cut the broccoli and nanohana florets into bite-size pieces. Reserve the broccoli stalks for another dish. Cut the tips off the snow peas. Halve the tomatoes.

Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add a little salt and the broccoli florets to the pot, cook for 2 minutes then add the nanohana and the snow peas. Boil for another 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are crisp-tender yet still bright green. Drain.

Put the dressing ingredients into an empty, clean glass jar. Shake well until combined.

Arrange the vegetables on a plate and pour the dressing over.

Dressing variations: Add one or more of the following ingredients to the basic dressing mix: 1 tbsp irigoma (toasted sesame seeds) 1 tbsp finely grated raw onion 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley a few drops of dark sesame oil.

You can also vary the flavor by trying different vinegars, such as balsamic vinegar or white-wine vinegar. Replacing some or all of the vinegar with citrus juice such as lemon or yuzu is interesting, too.

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