Safety first

The first thing I did after I got home from my food safety course was rearrange the food in my fridge.

Today I took a course in basic sanitation with TrainCan Inc. ®. This is a company that undertakes training and certification programs in food safety in Canada for those in foodservice/hospitality and retail/grocery businesses.

Here are some tips that I think would be useful for a home cook.

  1. The temperature danger zone for food is 4°-60° C. From preparation to cooking, food should not stay in this range any longer than four hours.
  2. Properly freezing can kill parasites but not bacteria.
  3. The greatest tools for food safety are clean hands and a thermometer. Clean your hands thoroughly and often. Use soap and water to scrub the cuticles and clean hands front and back and in between the fingers. Do this for at least 15 seconds each time you wash your hands. Food thermometers vary in price, from $6 – $100 and you get what you pay for.  Generally the higher the price, the more accurate the reading.
  4. Cooked rice is a potentially dangerous food. If not cooled properly, bacterial spores on the rice can multiply and may form toxins. Cook rice in small amounts and cool any leftovers quickly.
  5. The best way to thaw food is in the fridge.
  6. Only reheat food once.
  7. Avoid keeping easily perishable items in the door of the fridge.
  8. Wet cleaning sponge with some water and add a little soap. Leave in the microwave for two minutes to sanitize.

Some news and information from the TrainCan website:

http://traincan.com/index-news.asp

Laissez les croissants rouler!

It’s Mardi Gras! Eat all the things! The period of fasting begins tomorrow for those who observe Lent.

In the spirit of the indulgence and gluttony that leads up to this period I decided to make croissants with the organic New Zealand butter sitting in my fridge. Having made croissants before in my artisan bread making course, I was familiar with the labour intensive process and obscene amount of butter used. Should you take on the task of making homemade croissants, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Not all butter is created equal. A higher water content makes for a lighter and flakier croissant. European butter, particularly that in France, often comes in a variety of water content.
  • Start the process at least one day in advance of baking your croissants. It is a laminated dough which means it must get folded several times to build the layers of flakiness.
  • Use disposable parchment paper for baking. The high amount of butter will leave silicon baking sheets very greasy. To avoid an intense clean-up, use throw away parchment paper.
  • Size matters. Though you can find monster croissants in the stores, it is healthier to make small ones. There’s a lot of butter in this crescent-shaped bread.

Did you know…? Croissants are said to have originated in Austria. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/croissant-really-french-180955130/

Comfort food

Kimberley’s kitchen travels 

It’s interesting from a culinary perspective why some people travel. To experience the local cuisine, try something new or simply eat what you are used to eating at home?

In Europe, I overheard Americans on many occasions ask if the dining establishment served hamburgers and in Ethiopia one of the British tourists in the tour group requested fish and chips at every restaurant where we ate. Europe, particularly France, is known for tasty food that doesn’t include beef and buns and the pulse and vegetable based cuisine of Ethiopia is flavourly spiced and nutritious. The hamburgers and fish and chips will be waiting for them when they return home.

However, there is something to be said about enjoying comfort food on the road. A sensitive or tentative stomach may appreciate something familiar to digest while the mind in culture shock is somewhat placated by familiar flavours. Wherever I go, I seek out bread and chocolate. What’s your go-to comfort food when travelling? And why? Feel free to share in the comment section.