Monday, March 19, 2012

Around The Culinary World

Hello again everyone and welcome back to another Monday full of culinary news and adventure here at Out of the Culinary! I can’t speak for the entire country, but in the greater Midwest, the weather has been absolutely outstanding over the past week. We’ve hit 80 degrees for four straight days in the Des Moines metro and look to stay in the 70s all of this week as well. Even with rain in the forecast, it’s hard to be discouraged with temperatures like those.

With the beautiful weather, Maggie and I have been spending the evenings taking nice long walks and enjoying the outdoors. Hopefully a large majority of you have been able to do the same. Even when the weather’s nice and the evenings are long, the culinary news doesn’t stop. This week is no exception as we have quite an assortment of stories to share ranging from scandal in seafood to a consumer letter calling out one particular food product. Let’s dive into all the culinary news for the week!

Let’s get our mouths watering right off the bat: Alton Brown (one of our personal favorites on this blog) has found a way to make the delicious waffle even better. He added sweet potatoes (which are scientifically proven to make almost everything better). Check out this tasty concoction HERE (and you can bet this recipe will be getting a trial on the blog in the near future).

Scientifically Proven To Be Awesome

Coconut water has become somewhat of a culinary phenomenon over the past year. It has infiltrated every grocery store, gas station and corner store imaginable. With a multitude of flavors and offerings, there seems to be a variant of coconut water for just about everyone. Except those who despise coconut (like myself). I haven’t found a variant of coconut water that I can even swallow – let alone enjoy. According to KitchenDaily, even if you think coconut water tastes like gym socks (it does) the health benefits warrant the beverage finding a way into your everyday diet. So, how do you utilize coconut water if you cannot swallow the stuff? Easy, you cook with it. Check out some recipe ideas utilizing coconut water HERE.

Gym Sock Flavored

Sriracha hot sauce has an almost cult like following here in the US. The Thai based hot sauce is known for its great flavor and packs a decent punch of heat along with it. Sriracha almost becomes drug-like for some, once you have it, you simply cannot ignore it – it has to be used on all dishes or they seem lacking. While Maggie and I have tried sriracha, we were not as enamored as most (mainly because we don’t like overly hot or spicy foods). However, we understand that our readers are a diverse group, so for those of you who have heard the call of sriracha – HERE is a list of sriracha recipes to whet your appetite for the white rooster.

There’s scandal in the seafood industry and you’ve likely been involved. The FDA is launching an investigation into the advertised weight of seafood products. Recent investigations have found that about 40% of seafood has some form of ‘label fraud’. This can range from substituting lower quality fish in place of the advertised higher quality filet, or (more commonly) seafood that is sold at a lower weight than listed on the label.

The FDA states that if a product is advertised as containing 10 pounds of fish, that it should actually contain 10 pounds of fish (amazing, right?) and that glazing or ice must be in excess of the listed weight – not a contributing factor of it. (I.E. the ice cannot be part of the advertised 10 pounds). Studies have found this fraud occurs in about 8 of 10 cases.

The main culprit behind this weight disparity is the MSG like solution that many manufacturers package their scallops (and other seafood) in. We’ve actually covered this solution in the past; in our lemon herb scallop recipe we discussed wet (MSG treated) vs. dry (non treated) scallops. The wet scallops have a different (chemical like) flavor and we recommended that you avoid them altogether. It turns out that wet scallops are likely to cost you more while you get less actual product. The FDA found that most wet scallops used the MSG weight in the advertised weight, meaning people were paying for the salty solution in place of actually seafood weight.

This is an interesting development that we’ll have to keep an eye on going forward. For the time being, we’d recommend paying attention to the origin and packaging style of any seafood your purchase. Always opt for dry scallops over wet and read the label of any packaged fish to ensure you’re actually getting what you are paying for. You can read more about this story HERE.

There has been a rise in a new type of restaurant fraud recently. Unscrupulous individuals have begun posing as health inspectors in order to gain access to restaurants. Once inside, they either demand free food or blackmail the owners into paying a deposit or bribe in order to receive a better grade. In reality, actual health inspectors will not make any claims of that nature. There have even been cases of health inspector fraud reported in our own neck of the woods. You can read more about this story HERE. (You have to wonder what these people could accomplish if they used their creativity and talent in a constructive way…)

Speaking of health inspectors and the Department of Health’s letter grading system – it turns out some restaurant owners are not fans. Check out THIS fascinating piece from in which the system of letter grading and Department of Health's inspection policy are called into question for both their purpose and motivation.

Finally, in what could be the funniest thing you read all week, one particular 12 year old is angry – and not going to take it anymore. This young girl is calling out plain doughnuts in her (adorably funny) well thought out attack letter. Check it out for yourself HERE.


That’s all the news that’s fit to blog about this week. Once again we have a full week of new recipes lined up for you. I’ll take to the kitchen on Tuesday to create a brand new dish that utilizes a new ingredient (one we’ve never tried before). Maggie follows me on Wednesday with a tantalizingly tasty dish of her own. Tune in Tuesday night to see what I’ve got cooking. Until then,


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