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Cover: Founding Flavors

11Nov 12

Indulge in Pomegranates this Holiday Season!

As the holiday season takes off in full swing, so starts the procession of sweets that inevitably follow us from home to work to various social gatherings.  It is the time of year when a little bite here and a little munch there is permissible because, after all, we do have our New Year’s detox resolutions in place.  I for one will most certainly not skip out on warm cinnamon cookies and peppermint mochas this year.  But, while I’m at it, might I tempt you to indulge in another seasonal flavor that will leave you feeling festive and healthy? The pomegranate! It is not only equally delicious and nutritious but its deep ruby color makes it the perfect companion to a table centerpiece or garnish for a winter cocktail hour.  And, while you’ll find several pomegranate-related recipes, this year I’m encouraging 100% homemade pomegranate juice.  Not only will you find […]

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05Nov 12

Honey-Bourbon Raisin and White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Rugelach

Anyone who talked to me this week probably thought I sounded like Bubba Gump reciting the various ways in which shrimp is prepared.  But, instead of shrimp it was rugelach.  Because… I made rugelach using cream cheese and then tried making rugelach with avocados.  There was rugelach with semi-sweet chocolate, then bitter chocolate, followed by white chocolate.  I tried making rugelach with honey, rugelach with jam, rugelach with pumpkin spice, rugelach with cinnamon…you get the point.   And while there are a myriad of ways to make this cookie—that’s right, to my surprise too this wonderful sweet is considered a cookie—check out www.foundingflavors.com to learn how to create Honey-Bourbon Raisin and White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice rugelach. Enjoy! Sonia

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28Oct 12

What Does 100 Years of Existence Get You? Unforgettable Rugelach!

While last week’s blog entry focused on the Founding Flavors’ discovery of Tel Aviv’s Vaniglia ice cream shop, today I’m focusing my attention on an equally enticing sweet shop called Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  This bakery—located in Jaffa, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv—has been around since the late 1800s.  Given Jaffa’s 4,000 years of existence, this could technically place Abuelafia among a list of newcomers!  Once you arrive at this outdoor bakery and swoon over its mouth-watering selection of savory and sweet pastries, you quickly understand why customers have been lured back to this establishment for over a hundred years. After a little assistance from the staff, I opted for dibla, awwami, and rugelach.  The dibla is best described as a pastry that has a crunchy texture with a slightly sweet taste and is topped off with sesame seeds.  While I’m glad I tried this pastry, I did […]

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21Oct 12

If You’ve Got One Shot, Go With Vaniglia in Tel Aviv

Have you ever traveled somewhere and played what I like to refer to as the culinary roulette?  You know, it’s that moment in your vacation when you look through your travel guidebook and browse for restaurant recommendations.  Knowing that you have limited time and calories to spare, you go back and forth between suggestions worried you’ll pick the wrong choice.  Then, after finally deciding on what you hope is the best option, you pray your selection will not let you down.  Well, recently the Founding Flavors ventured off to Tel Aviv, Israel in search of unique, local, sweet establishments that will take you straight to dessert heaven.  The outcome was two must try sweet shops: Vaniglia and Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  Today, I’ll focus on the former. Before departing for Israel, I searched for places that were recommended by several tour guides and online articles.  While several bakeries and […]

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14Oct 12

Margarita Infused Cupcakes

I was recently invited to a casual weekend gathering and decided, naturally, that I’d bring dessert.  As I contemplated what specific treat to make, I decided I’d add a personal touch to my creation by honoring the host.  And, seeing as how the host was a fan of tequila, a margarita flavored cupcake seemed like the perfect choice for an outdoor barbeque.  Next time someone invites you over, try to personalize whatever hostess gift or offering you bring.  It is a great way to turn a casual “what should I bring” moment into a well-thought-out gesture that shows how much you appreciate the host’s hospitality. To create the margarita flavored cupcakes, I started with a recipe for vanilla cupcakes and then adjusted, eliminated, and added ingredients to design my alcohol infused dessert.  You can even increase the amount of alcohol if you prefer a stronger taste.  Pass no judgment please, […]

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12Oct 12

Puff Pastry: A Work in Progress

Puff pastry is a light, flaky dough that can be used for a variety of savory or sweet treats.  For my first attempt at making this dough, I used a more traditional recipe that called for an equal ratio of bread flour to butter.  While I knew I’d be using a lot of butter, the reality of just how much butter is used in the production of puff pastry hit me as I formed a 20 tablespoons block of butter worth 2,000 calories!  Even though I really, really wanted to reduce the amount of butter, I stuck to the exact ingredients because I wanted to see how the final product would turn out as it was originally intended. What followed was a lengthy process of rolling out the dough, creating a single turn (folding the dough similar to a letter before it is inserted in an envelope), and letting the […]

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11Oct 12

Vanilla Extract on the Rocks, Please

As I started drafting this blog entry, I got distracted when I overheard a 60 Minutes report entitled The Flavorists: Tweaking tastes and creating cravings.  I encourage you to check out the news clip because it examines the food flavoring industry and its overall impact on obesity in society as food is enhanced with flavors designed to entice our taste buds.  The timing of the report was quite apropos given that I was writing about creating homemade vanilla flavoring.  My favorite part of the news clip is when reporter Morley Safer states that vanilla flavors can come ‘from a gland in a beavers backside.’  Yuck-a-luck! And, while I’ll attempt to refrain from being hypocritical–because come on who doesn’t love munching and sipping on all sorts of store-bought snacks that are infused with these flavors–I do have to say that I couldn’t help patting myself on the back for making my own […]

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10Oct 12

Viva la Lard!

Bread flour, cake flour, lard, eggs, butter…wait… LARD!?  That was my brain processing the ingredients listed to make a type of pie dough known as Pate Brisee.  And, while I kept reading through the recipe, all I kept thinking about was this sinful, dirty, little, four letter word that made me feel like my jeans were getting snugger by the minute just by looking at it on the page.  Why LARD?  This is the year 2012 for heaven’s sake!!!  Isn’t there some sort of organically infused substitute!? And so the internet searching began as I frantically looked up substitutes for lard.  But, as I kept reading I found some interesting tidbits regarding the use of lard in baking.  Most surprisingly to me was that lard is actually not as bad as I had originally thought!  That’s right, in fact, when compared to butter it actually contains less saturated fat and […]

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04Oct 12

The Versatility of Short Dough

While I’m still getting acquainted with the various types of dough used in baking, I’ve come to have a greater appreciation for short dough.  It is one of the most commonly used types of dough in bakeries because it can be used for so many items such as cookies, tarts, and cake bottoms.  Its texture is crumbly, which is attributed to a couple of factors.  First, there is a higher fat (butter) content.  Second, the technique for mixing the ingredients together calls for the butter to be thoroughly mixed in, as opposed to left in clumps for making a flaky dough.  Because the butter is thoroughly mixed in with flour, which contains protein, gluten strands are prevented from being completely developed and instead are ‘shortened’.  This shortening of the gluten strands is what ultimately creates the crumbly texture.  Some additional online references can be found on Gourmet Traveller or The […]

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02Oct 12

OatCho Treats

A few months back, I was having lunch at Lime Tree Cafe in Dubai when I stumbled across one of the most memorable desserts that I’ve had in a while.  It was a triple chocolate brownie filled with gigantic chunks of white, milk, and dark chocolate.  I remember thinking to myself, “how do they get the chocolate to just the perfect consistency so that it oozes into your mouth without having to pre-heat it before it is served.”  So when I recently came across an article on yahoo entitled Best-Ever Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies, I remembered my Lime Tree Café treat and decided to adjust the recipe listed in this article to create a dessert that would resemble the triple chocolate brownie.  And thus, the OatCho treat was born! For those who have been following the Founding Flavors blog, you probably noticed that I tend to substitute or […]

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