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Let’s Talk Food: Trends and happenings in the food industry

Spice check

It is time to check on your spices to make sure they are not moldy and mildewy before the holiday baking starts.

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Remember that ground spices start to lose their punch after six months, and especially here in Hilo, where our humidity is high, they might not last as long as in drier climates.

Healthy trick-or-treats

According to scientists at California’s Loma Linda University, chocolate with high concentrations of cacao (at least 70 percent) “can reduce stress and inflammation while also improving memory, immunity and mood.”

Candy Corn history

George Renninger invented candy corn at Philadelphia’s Wunderle Candy Company in the 1880s. It was called Chicken Food and was meant to be eaten year round. But the shape of the corn kernel, like a fall harvest, made it a Halloween candy.

Today, 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced annually.

Butter

Remember when we all switched to margarine because we were told butter is bad for us?

Well the trend was reversed and butter is OK now. In fact, folks are opting for the European butters, which are very flavorful.

It is interesting that the nutritional ingredients in Kerrygold Irish butter are pasteurized cream and salt while a butter made in the U.S. has pasteurized cream, canola oil, sea salt, Vitamin A palmitate and beta carotene.

CBD

There is an interesting article by Taria Camerino in “Bon Appetit” about ignoring the pain under her arm for months because she had a kitchen to operate and no time to get it checked out. When she finally went for a mammogram and ultrasound, her diagnosis was stage 1 breast cancer.

She suffered memory loss, vertigo, nausea, seizures and even a mini-stroke. She had to leave her job in the kitchen because she was so tired.

Five months after her diagnosis she took intensive doses of CBD, 1,000 milligrams a day, along with the pills the doctor prescribed. Then, one morning she decided to put the CBD in chocolate. Today her cancer is in remission, but her company, Alchimique, is getting a lot of inquiries and interest in products with CBD.

Cooking with aluminum

We have heard that constant exposure to aluminum is associated with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute claims there is not enough evidence that cooking with aluminum foil will put us at risk.

However, Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, of the Cleveland Institute says, “To err on the side of safety, avoid cooking acidic or heavily salted foods with foil; otherwise you’re good to go.”

Canola oil scare

You might have read online about the erucic acid, a fatty acid in canola oil linked to cardiovascular risks. However, years of cross-breeding eliminated almost all the erucic acid in the canola plant, so canola oil is safe to consume.

Is sea salt better?

The only difference is the grain size.

The amount of mineral is so little that it does not matter if you use sea salt or regular table salt. My preference is kosher salt because it is less salty than finer table salt.

Ella Brennan

Ella Brennan, 92, the matriarch of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and the person who helped the careers of Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse, passed away in May.

Lagasse, who was hired at 23 years old, said this about Brennan: “She was there to embrace and elevate not just me, but the entire staff. She’s one of the greatest restaurateurs I’ve ever met. She has an incredible palate and an even more incredible mind. And she just has this way with people, of leading and showing the way of exceptional hospitality.”

In 1969, Brennan and her older sister, Adelaide, bought Commander’s Palace, then a run-down restaurant, and created a wonderful restaurant, winning six James Beard Awards and six Wine Spectator Grand Awards.

Madeleine Kamman

Chef, author, restaurateur and TV personality Madeleine Kamman passed away at the age of 88.

Madeleine was considered to be a genius when it came to communicating her passion for food to her students. She wrote seven cookbooks and had a PBS TV show called “Madeleine Cooks.”

Her French cooking influenced many chefs. Here is a recipe from her as a tribute:

Butterscotch Creams

Serves: 6

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups heavy cream

Pinch salt

8 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Roughly chopped toasted almonds, for sprinkling

Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium pot, combine the brown sugar and butter and melt over medium heat to make butterscotch, stirring until melted and smooth. In a small pot, scald the cream just until bubbles start to appear at the sides, then gradually whisk the cream into the butterscotch. Add the salt.

Choose a large bowl for whisking your hot butterscotch cream into your egg yolks. If it seems like the bowl will wobble as you whisk, you can steady it by rolling up a damp kitchen towel into a coil to make a nest for your bowl. Add the egg yolks to the bowl. Gradually whisk the hot butterscotch cream into the egg yolks, then add the vanilla.

Set six 3-ounce custard cups or ramekins on a rack, a tea towel or a silicone baking mat in the large baking pan, evenly spacing the cups. Pour the custard through a strainer evenly into the cups. Pull the middle oven rack part way out for easier access, then carefully pour or ladle very hot water into the baking pan around the custard cups until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cups. Carefully push the oven rack back in and close the oven.

Bake until the edges of the custards are set and firm, but the center of the surface still ripples when gently jiggled, about 35 minutes. The custards will keep firming up as they cool. Remove the custards from the water bath and let them cool on a rack until you’re either ready to serve, or cover and chill them. Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with the toasted almonds.

Hawaii Community College

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Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Arts Cafeteria is open 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Call 934-2559 for menu options or take-out orders.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.