Friday, January 25, 2008

Haggis on Burns Night

At the Gourmet Fusion store we offer a variety of and kitchen products - some of them are well known items, and others are well, more unusual! One of the products we sell both online and in our store is Scottish Haggis in a can. This has been very popular as a gift for a Scottish friend, and even I suspect, as a joke, as I am not sure it really appeals to the American palate!

What is Burns Night and what has it got to do with ? The Burns supper is usually held on or near January 25th, the birthday of the poet, Robert Burns, author of such great poems as "Auld Lang Syne", which is sung at and other New Year celebrations around the world. On , Haggis is always eaten, and often it makes grand entrance while someone plays the bagpipes.

Anyone can celebrate Burns Night, but the three main ingredients are the haggis, yellow turnips (rutabaga), and potatoes. The turnips are either boiled and mashed with butter and seasoning, or they may be mixed in equal quantities with boiled potatoes to make an Orkney clapshot.

If you would like to create your own Burns night, Gourmet Fusion offers other Scottish products, including a Scottish Recipes Dish Towel, that has the following recipe on how to make your own haggis (or if you prefer, you can simply buy the can of Stahly Quality Haggis). Either way, it's fun to read about. Believe me, the more you read about it, the more bizarre it sounds. The dinner begins with the (also shown on the dish towel).

The Selkirk Grace

Some ha'e meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we ha'e meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.


Scotland's celebrated dish traditionally eaten at Burns Suppers and St Andrews Night Dinners. Hailed by Burns as the Great Chieftain o'the puddin' race.

Made from sheeps pluck, heart, lights, and liver, cooked then chopped and mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasonings. Stuffed into sheep's paunch and boiled. Served with Chappit Tatties (mashed potatoes), and Neeps (mashed turnips), accompanied with large drinks of whisky.

Our dish towel also shows more great recipes such as Cloutie Dumpling, Scotch pancakes, Cock-A-Leekie soup, and Tweed Kettle.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How to Choose a Paella Pan

This is one of my earlier posts from last April, but as many people often ask me about Paella, and choosing a paella pan in my store, I decided to re-publish it.

As Mediterranean cooking has become more and more popular in the United States, the number of pans and cooking utensils to choose from has increased dramatically over the years. pans are one of those items that come in many shapes and sizes, and which one you choose depends on what type of stove or oven you are going to be using, how many people you intend to cook for and what price you want to pay.

Paella pans come in sizes ranging from as small as 7 inches to as large as 36 inches diameter. Sometimes paella is made on a stove top or grill and sometimes in the oven. The largest size pan that fits in a domestic oven is about 17 or 18 inches (check the size of your oven before buying), and if you only want to use one burner on your stove top, then 12 - 14 inches is probably as big as you want to go, and is usually big enough for most people. 22 inches is the largest size that you could fit on a domestic stove top by placing the pan over more than one burner.

How often you are going to use the pan, how long you want it to last, and how much you want to pay should be considered when choosing a pan.

Polished Carbon Steel
This is the traditional pan used in . Polished steel is extremely durable, economical, and conducts heat better than any other metal. Care for these pans is similar to cast iron cookware, in that they must be seasoned. They can be used on gas stoves, in any type of oven, over campfires and grills. They are not recommended for use on electric or ceramic stove tops. They are usually the most economical to buy and produce great results. The polished carbon steel pan shown above is available at the Gourmet Fusion store.

Stainless Steel
These pans have absolutely zero maintenance, they cook fast and are easy to clean and do not need seasoning. Obviously, this does not come without a price, and you can expect to pay approximately three times the price of a carbon steel pan for one of these state of the art pans.

Enameled Steel
These pans are ideal as an entry level pan, as they heat up fast and clean up easily, and do not require seasoning. They are, however, a little more fragile and would not be used in a restaurant or by a professional chef, but can work successfully in the home kitchen and are less expensive than the Stainless Steel.

Restaurant Grade Stainless Steel
These pans have all the same features as the polished carbon steel pans, but are made from steel which is about twice as thick to make them indestructible. These pans will stand up to extreme repeated use under high heat without distortion and are ideal for restaurants and professional chefs. They cost about twice as much as the polished carbon steel, and would probably not be needed in most home kitchens.

Copper pans are also available and make a very attractive choice, especially if you will have the pan on display in your kitchen. Copper pans often have a tin lining because it has better food release properties. They are extremely heavy and also expensive.

This type of pan would not be used by the traditional Spanish cook, but they certainly help if cleaning up is one of your concerns. Usually constructed from a high quality steel with a non-stick coating applied to the cooking surface. Prices for this type of cookware vary greatly depending on the brand.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Low Calorie Red Wine Garlic Pot Roast

I am sure that all winelovers have read articles about being healthy. Red wine has long been given the vote of approval by many doctors and dieticians as the of choice, not only being less in alcoholic value than many cocktails and spirits, but also because it contains less , and some believe it can be helpful in lowering high . Today there was another report on the BBC's website about the combination of an active lifestyle with moderate intake of alcohol being the best all round choice to avoid heart attacks.

So continuing with the healthy red wine thought, I pulled out one of my favorite winter recipes for Wine Pot Roast from the New Dieter's Cookbook: Eat Well, Feel Great, Lose Weight (Better Homes & Gardens). This recipe is great because it is super-easy, low in calories, tastes great on a cold, winter's day and also contains that magic ingredient, red wine.

Garlic-Wine Pot Roast
Preparation time 12 mins; cooking time 2 hours; low cholesterol; low sodium; 290 calories per person

  • Non-stick spray coating
  • 1 3-pound boneless beef round rump roast, trimmed of separable fat
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dry wine (cabernet, chianti, bordeaux)
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 2-inch long pieces
  • 1 pound cut green beans or 1 16-ounce package frozen cut green beans
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

1. Spray a cold Dutch oven with nonstick spray coating, then preheat over medium heat. Brown roast on both sides in the Dutch oven. Drain any fat. Add the 3/4 cup water, wine, onion, garlic, bouillon granules, thyme, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

2. Add carrots to the Dutch oven and simmer for 40 minutes. Then, add beans and simmer for ten minutes or until beans and meat are tender. Transfer warm vegetables to a serving platter. Keep warm while making gravy.

3. For gravy, skim fat from pan juices. Stir together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Stir mixture into pan juices. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Then, cook and stir for 2 minutes more. To serve, spoon gravy over meat and vegetables. Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition information per serving
290 calories, 34 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat, 98 mg cholesterol, 138 mg sodium, 590 mg potassium.