Friday, January 30, 2009

Food Fact Friday: Bagels

I'm in NYC this weekend and needed something New York-ish to write about. I've done Pizza and Hot Dogs. My Long Island friend suggested bagels...duh! New Yorkers think their bagels are the best, and hopefully I'll get to sample one during my trip. Here is the story of the bagel...

A bagel is defined as "a hard bread roll made of yeast dough twisted into a small doughnutlike shape, cooked in simmering water, then baked." The bagel is the only bread product that is boiled before it is baked. That's what gives the bagel its unique texture and the crust its characteristic shine.

Legend has it that in 1683 in Vienna, Austria, a local Jewish baker wanted to thank the king of Poland for protecting his countrymen from Turkish invaders. He made a roll in the shape of a riding stirrup (Bugel in German, commemorating the king's favorite pastime. As bagels gained popularity in Poland, they were officially sanctioned as gifts for women in childbirth. Mothers also used them as teething rings that their infants could easily grasp.

When the Eastern European Jewish immigrants arrived in North America at the turn of the century, they brought the bagel with them. Many settled in Canada, giving cities like Toronto and Montreal their reputation for having superb bagels. The American bagel industry established formal roots in New York between 1910 and 1915 with the formation of Bagel Bakers Local #338. This exclusive group of 300 craftsmen with "bagels in their blood" limited its members to sons of its members.

Professional bagel baking required know-how and backbreaking labor. Bagel makers' sons apprenticed for months to learn the trade. Bagel-making machines, a boon to commercial bakers, were introduced in the early 1960's. The machines form bagels by extruding the dough through the ring shape. These new machines could help bakers produce up to 4,800 bagels an hour, making bagels much more affordable and readily available to today's consumers.

Big Bucks Bagel: The most expensvie bagel was served at the Westin in Times Sqaure. It was topped with Alba white truffle cream cheese and goji berry infused Riesling jelly with golden leaves.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Taste Test Tuesday: True Delights

Being a part of Foodbuzz has some great perks! I was lucky enough to get some samples of Quakers new granola bar, True Delights. I got their three flavors and have tried two of them so far, they are good!

Price: $3.49/box (5 bars)
Calories: 140
Fat: 4.5g
Sodium: 65mg
Carbs: 23g
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 2g
Rating: 4 out of 5

My first bar was the Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut. I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised! There were huge chunks of banana and macadamia nut, and I could taste it in every bite. The only flavor that was muted was the coconut...darn. But besides the missing coconut, it tasted great and I would buy it for sure. It's a good size for a small snack...I bet it would be great crumbled in some yogurt!

The Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond was also better than I expected. There were bits of raspberry scattered around and lots of real dark chocolate chunks. The chocolate tasted like chocolate! The snozzberries tasted like snozzberries (oh wait....that's something else). It was another great granola bar that exceeded my expectations. I can't wait to try the Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Return of the Pillsbury Bake-Off!

It's baaaccckkk (and I'm back from hiatus)! I am so excited to enter a recipe in this year's contest. I have lots of ideas, and I'll be practicing a lot starting in February. The 2008 Bake-Off was such an amazing experience, I really hope I'm lucky enough to go back a 2nd time.

Pillsbury is accepting entries through April 20th. Click here for rules and to enter. They have a few changes this year. They only have 4 categories instead of the usual 5. Also, Pillsbury will be selecting 90 contestsants, but there will be a head to head online voting contest for the last 10 spots. I think it's a fun idea which will get more people involved. The contest will be in April 2009, in Orlando.

Last year's winner was Double Delight Peanut Butter Cookies. I have yet to try them out, but I heard they are delicious! So get your thinking caps on and your ovens ready! Who can pass up a chance for a million dollars?