Tag Archives: sugar

Sweet Struggles

I have a problem, I thought as I started eating my third dessert of the day. I began at Jacques Torres Chocolate with a luscious, rich hot chocolate, to warm the coldest day I have experienced in a while. Then my friend and I crossed the street to Levain Bakery, my personal heaven (though it is not only mine – the bags from Levain actually say “Your Little Piece of Cookie Heaven” on them) (also whoever said that the Upper West Side is boring was deeply wrong). We split a cookie – oatmeal raisin, doughy in the middle, with a crispy, buttery top – and a luscious slice of banana chocolate bread. Honestly, these treats made me feel more serene and satisfied than I have felt in awhile. Of course, it helped that I was with an old friend who always makes me feel like home is near.

Afterwards, I walked around the flatiron and found Dough, one of the doughnut places that I have been dying to try (the other being Doughnut Plant). It was no coincidence that this shop, where I sat at as I wrote this, played gentle piano music, for this calmness that both the sweets and sounds provided made me feel so whole.

Doughnut from “Dough”

I think that sugar is my drug; I don’t ever really want to get drunk or high. I just want to feel satisfied. Sugar sure does it (and it apparently makes your brain react in the same way as it does to cocaine, so I guess it is more than a drug than I would like to think).

It’s like the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, that requires all things sweet: raisin-filled challah, apples and honey, all that goodness. These sweet things are supposed to hail a sweet, good New Year. They have a power to replicate their greatest qualities in your world.

The food we eat – it all taps into something. If meat evokes our carnal, then sugar evokes our comfort; so many carbs come with those little kernels of sweetness, that comfort and internal peace are almost sure to come. Indulgences also allow us to say “yes” to our desires, which is no small thing. I prefer to sit at a bakery, café or doughnutery, and join others as they enjoy themselves, be they strangers or friends. I like to feel like a free agent – I just want to want what I want, and to have a desire satisfied. We all have holes in ourselves, and as I start to find my own, I realize more and more that they are not worth leaving empty. If something like a cookie really makes me feel better, then cookies I shall have. Why shouldn’t I have what I want?

Here’s the sour, bitter, anything-but-sweet truth: sugar makes me feel like shit after too much of it. As I write, I feel my brain whirring, my stomach growing heavy. I don’t feel like I have slept 8 hours all week, which I have. I wonder if my skin will begin to break out even more than it has been. While all of these worries bubble up, I can’t help but think that whatever I just ate did something to me. I guess Julia Child said it best: everything in moderation, including sweetness.

Writing while eating desserts

Street Food Wonders: Craving Some Craffles

In the chaos of my first midterm week at Columbia, this freshman thought it would be wise to stick close to home. Thus, in my first installment of Street Treats, I didn’t stray far from 116th and Broadway to find something über delicious.

Approximately 20 steps outside of the front gates sits Craffles, a French crepes and Belgian waffles pushcart. Walking between Barnard and Columbia during class rush, you might have smelled the sweet aromas of sugar, berries, and cream wafting through the air. As each day brings colder and colder weather, my longing for a warm, sugary crepe has become increasingly overwhelming.

Thus, in a moment of weakness, I found myself in line outside the cart last Tuesday debating between a classic sweet crepe filled with every berry they had, and a savory garden crepe, packed with mushrooms, spinach, tomato, mozzarella, and pesto. In the end, I went with The Crepe Deluxe, a classic combo of strawberry, banana, and Nutella.

I watched as the crepemaker began assembling my afternoon snack — using a cool crepe spreader to make a perfectly crisp circle. Then came the toppings. A quick flip with a spatula, and a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon and powdered sugar, and my crepe was complete.

Words to describe it? Warm, deliciously rich, a perfect combination of crispy and chewy, gone in under 5 minutes. The strawberries and bananas were fresh and managed to perfectly balance the richness of the Nutella. The sprinkling of cinnamon gave another level of spice that melded well with the sugariness of the crepe.

Will Craffles be my new Crepe stop? Yes. Will it be contributing to the freshman 15? Possibly. Still, I can’t resist!

Find them everyday right outside the gates of College Walk, or online at www.craffles.com.

Taste of Mendoza: Horseback riding in the Andes and Sopapilla

Sopapillas: A Recommendable Way to Start a Day of Horseback Riding

I wouldn’t generally call myself super gung-ho when it comes to horseback riding—what with suffering from a sore pair of legs and butt after just a few hours of walking, and having generally been assigned temperamental horses on past excursions, the thought of sitting on top of a massive, powerful, moving animal makes me a little nervous—but there’s no turning the opportunity down when it comes to horseback riding in the Argentine Andes. So a few days ago, I went to Potrerillos, a tiny village about one hour away from the city of Mendoza, to ride in the province’s backcountry.

Andean Lanscape

Gaucho day, as they called it, was an incredible experience. We saw the beautifully barren landscape of the Andes mountains, we walked through streams and snow, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch complete with malbec and my host mom’s banana and cacao bizcochuelo (a sponge cake-y banana bread). The weather was beautiful. Condors soared above us and off in the distance. My horse might have been a little temperamental (he bit and kicked a few of his slower friends and constantly tried to eat prickly bushes, which didn’t strike me as the most appetizing of the flora available), but hey, that’s all a part of the experience. After four hours on horseback, we came back to Mendoza happy, tired, sore, and dazed at the incredible landscapes we’d seen.

Before the horseback riding adventure had even begun however, we were welcomed into the estancia with mate and warm sopapillas, fried squares of dough sprinkled with sugar—a most perfect way to begin the day. These pillow-y pastries were served very simply, but my goodness were they delicious. Crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and only slightly sweet with the sprinkled sugar, it was incredibly difficult to resist taking seconds (and thirds and fourths). Sopapillas are definitely not the healthiest of pre-horseback riding snacks, but hey, anything’s permitted when you’re about to go horseback riding in the Andes.

Cranberry Pecan Tart

Photo Credit: Pippa Biddle

I love pie. I really love pie. I count tarts as a form of pie. One pie/tart I have never understood is pecan pie. I mean, I’d be kidding you to say that I don’t enjoy a mouth full of gooey sugar every now and then but something about pecan pie is just to much. Every Thanksgiving, when it came to choosing what desserts to make, we left out pecan pie in favor of apple pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cake.

A few years ago Bon Appetit published a recipe for a Cranberry Pecan Tart that seemed to be the perfect mix of sweet and tart. You see, I love all things sweet and sour and desserts are no different. Over the past 3 years this has become a staple not just for Thanksgiving dinner but also throughout the fall and winter. It is a universal crowd pleaser and is epic when served with homemade vanilla ice cream or bourbon whipped cream!

A sampling of our Thanksgiving desserts!

Continue reading Cranberry Pecan Tart

Dutch Apple Pie

Photo Credit: Pippa Biddle

Pippa’s back with In-Season, a great series that explores fresh produce and gives you way to create really delicious things.  

So you went apple picking a few weeks ago and have barely made a dent in the PILES of apples that you foolishly said you’d finish in a week. Say hello to the apple pie. Unlike a more traditional apple pie the dutch apple pie is known for having a pie shell bottom and then a crisp-like streusel top crust.  Important factors in a successful pie include keeping the crust from getting soggy, having firm but not crisp streusel, and not overcooking the apples. Since this pie is made in parts and then assembled it is very easy to control these factors.

Serve it up right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but be sure to save some for the breakfast the next day! As the pie cools down the apples pull in the juices and intensify the flavor. I would go as far as to say that I actually like it better chilled the next day! That might also have something to do with the satisfaction of eating pie for breakfast. Happy Baking! Continue reading Dutch Apple Pie

Culinary Queries: Sugar

Courtesy of www.noflournosugardiet.org

Every week, the Culinary Society gets a handful of questions on food stuffs. Do you have questions about how to cook a certain type of food, how to use certain kitchen appliances, or do you just want to know cooking tips?  If so, Culinary Queries is here to help!  Let us help you demystify your cooking experience!

Question: Can I save space by combining my white sugar and brown sugar?

Answer: I would not suggest doing so since white sugar and brown sugar have very different tastes and are usually not used interchangeably.  White sugar is typically made from sugar cane and sugar beet.  The sugar cane is cut down then put in a press to remove the juices.  The juice is boiled then cooled to allow the crystals to develop.  For white sugar, the molasses is removed.  Raw sugar is brownish because it still retains some of its molasses and is less refined than white sugar. Continue reading Culinary Queries: Sugar

The Mad Foodie: Science in Unexpected Places

We introduce Ethan Fudge and his new feature, The Mad Foodie. As much as people think food is a work of magic and random craft—in truth, well…a lot of it is—it is first and foremost firmly rooted in science.

In this feature, I’ll be teaching you all a bit about the science the goes on in cooking and baking as well as showcasing some awesome new techniques, like making foams, creating hot ice cream that melts as it cools, reverse spherification, ooh, perhaps sous vide! Or maybe…

Whoa, sorry. Got a little excited there. Let’s start with basics before we (read: I) get ahead of ourselves, shall we? And what is more basic than a chocolate chip cookie?

The chocolate chip cookie is always my go-to teaching example for cooking and science: I can talk about chemical leavening from the baking powder and soda, gluten formation from flour, protein structures from the eggs…the list goes on. These are all things we will be exploring later on.

Continue reading The Mad Foodie: Science in Unexpected Places

Gift Idea: Sugar Gloves

Yeah, so this wouldn’t be possible without proper sugar gloves! These have been on my list for a while…

Do you know someone who is an aspiring confectionary genius? Or maybe someone who’s just a sugar fiend? Personally, my friends sometimes refer to me as the sugar monster since I use up our supply of sugar too quickly… What can I say? Making sugar creations is really fun!

But it would be even more fun with these gloves! Plus, I can only imagine the garnishes we could make for catering events! Anyways, online they can be found for as cheap as $20.

Food Talk

Introducing a new feature: quotes about Food overheard by members of the Culinary Society… What funny things are being said on campus about food? Are you hearing inspirational sayings from professors? Reading the United States of Arugula? Post your latest food quotes!

My suitemate (while looking upon a canister of sugar and a canister of flour): “Which one of these is sugar?”

I laugh hysterically, only to realize that the question was not asked in jest: “Wait, you were serious?”

Maybe I’m a mean person, maybe my suitemate is just hopeless. Either way, you should know the difference between sugar and flour. Confectioner’s sugar and flour may have been acceptable, but not the typical granulated sugar that everyone has seen since birth. I will admit, however, that I have confused sugar and salt once… It was mean April Fool’s Day trick that left me with salty oatmeal. Bleh.

Simple Syrups!

Hi Everyone!

This year, we’re going to try to post more tutorial-like snippets… Our first is simple syrups! Tomorrow is the Activities Fair for those of you who didn’t know, and we decided to provide Italian Sodas. We made the following flavors: Citrus, Orange Cardamom, Lavender, Lemon Mint, and Cinnamon Vanilla.

Simple syrups are obviously very simple to make, but they add so much complexity to otherwise mundane drinks! You can add these syrups to coffee, tea, smoothies, milkshakes, and/or mixed drinks. It all depends on what you like. All of the recipes follow the same idea:

1. Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan.

2. Add whatever flavor(s) you would like to the saucepan. Bring all ingredients to a boil in the saucepan. Turn off heat and cover.

3. For optimal taste, steep in the saucepan for 4 hours at least. After steeping, strain out flavor ingredients. Pour into a container with a lid and store in the fridge. These syrups can keep almost indefinitely!

For our combinations, we used the following flavor ingredients:

Citrus: Rinds of 3 lemons and 2 limes as well as the juices

Orange Cardamom: Rinds and juice of 3 oranges and 12 cardamom pods, crushed

Lavender: 2.5 tbsp. dried lavender

Lemon Mint: Rind and juice of 1 lemon, 4 C mint leaves and stems

Cinnamon Vanilla: 8 sticks cinnamon and 1.5 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1 bean, split)

Here are our lovely pictures: