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Bon Appétit: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES

The Gilmer Free Press

Ingredients:

Servings: 6

For the biscuits:
2 cups (8½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
1 to 1½ cups heavy cream, plus extra to brush the tops of the biscuits
2 teaspoons sugar

For the filling:
2½ pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered if the strawberries are small, cut into sixths if they are large
¼ to ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve


Directions:

To make the biscuits, heat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour in enough of the cream to just form a dough. The dough should be shaggy and clumpy, but moistened.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, or just until it comes together. Use your hands to form the dough into a square. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 6-inch square about ¾-inch thick. Cut the dough into 6 equal rectangles, transferring them to the prepared baking sheet. Leave about 2 inches between them.

Brush each square lightly with cream, then sprinkle each with the sugar. Bake on the oven’s middle shelf until pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar and zest. Add more or less sugar to taste. Use a fork or potato masher to lightly press on the strawberries. Set aside for 1 hour.

To serve, cut the biscuits in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Arrange the flat bottoms on 6 serving plates. Spoon a sixth of the strawberry mixture (including any juices in the bowl) over the biscuit bottom. Top with other half of the biscuit, then spoon whipped cream or ice cream onto the top and serve immediately.

Bon Appétit: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

The Gilmer Free Press

Ingredients:

Servings: Makes 24

Crust

  Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  2 1/4t cups finely ground graham crackers (from about 17 whole graham crackers)
  2 tablespoons sugar
  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  3 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
  1 cup sugar
  3 large eggs
  1/2 cup purchased dulce de leche*
  2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze

  2/3 cup purchased dulce de leche
  3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
  Fleur de sel


Directions:

Crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.

Filling

Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla; process until blended, about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

Glaze

Heat dulce de leche and 3 tablespoons cream in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour (amount of cream needed will depend on brand of dulce de leche). Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake; spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour (glaze will not be firm). DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.

Cut cheesecake lengthwise into 4 strips, then crosswise into 6 strips, forming 24 bars. Sprinkle bars with fleur de sel.

Playing With Food May Help Preschoolers Become Less Picky Eaters

The Gilmer Free Press

Parents who have tried in vain to teach their preschoolers table manners may have a new reason to give up the fight. Playing with food may actually help kids overcome a fear of new flavors and eat a more varied diet, a small study suggests.

Researchers in the U.K. asked a group of kids to search for buried toys in mashed potatoes and jelly and found that the children who were comfortable getting their hands dirty at the table were less likely have a condition known as food neophobia, a fear of tasting new things.

“Although this is just an association, the implication is that getting children to play with messy substances may help their food acceptance,“ lead study author Helen Coulthard, a psychology researcher at De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K., said by email.

It’s fairly normal for young children to go through a period when they are wary of unfamiliar foods or refuse to consume more than a handful of different items, though most kids outgrow this during elementary school. It isn’t necessarily harmful as long as the children maintain a healthy weight for their height, pediatricians say.

But, because previous research has linked food neophobia to limited fruit and vegetable consumption, Coulthard and colleagues wanted to see if they could establish a link between touching food and tasting unfamiliar dishes.

They asked a group of 70 children ages two to five to play with mushy, slimy food while their parents observed, watching to see if kids would happily use their hands to search for a toy soldier buried at the bottom of a bowl of mashed potatoes or jelly. Children who wouldn’t use their hands were offered a spoon.

Parents and researchers each rated how happy the kids were to get their hands dirty on a scale of one to five, with a higher number indicating more enjoyment. Children could get a total score as high as 20, a tally of the scores from researchers and parents for play with both the mashed potatoes and the jelly.

To understand what children typically ate, the researchers questioned parents about how reluctant kids were to try new foods and also asked how many portions of fruits and vegetables they and their children ate each day, excluding juices, dried fruit and purees.

Children ate more fruits and vegetables when their parents did, the study found.

Researchers also gave parents a questionnaire to assess children’s so-called tactile sensitivity, quizzing them about things like whether kids disliked going barefoot in the sand and grass or avoided getting messy.

The study found that kids who liked playing with their food were less likely to have neophobia or tactile sensitivity.

The good news for parents is that many picky eaters can be taught to enjoy playing with food, Coulthard said.

Food art is a good place to start, she said. Parents can use food to make pictures or shapes on the plate, without pressuring kids to touch or taste anything, and then gradually encourage the children to make their own art and let them sample the results when they’re ready, she said. Offering as much variety as possible from a young age also helps children experience lots of textures and flavors, which may minimize their fear of unfamiliar foods.

“Parents might think less about pressuring or forcing their children to eat fruits and vegetables, and more about ways to foster fun, curiosity, and exploration,“ Myles Faith, a nutrition researcher at Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said by email.

“They might consider activities where children are ‘food detectives,‘ tasting and rating new foods, or even being food critics,“ said Faith, who wasn’t involved in the study. “Gardening or even crafts with fruits and vegetables is a practical activity. Caregivers might think less to pressure and more to pleasure, as controlling feeding can backfire.“

SOURCE: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, online April 29, 2015.

Bon Appétit: Thai Grilled Chicken Wings

The Gilmer Free Press

Ingredients:

Servings: 4

Dipping Sauce

  6 dried chiles
  ⅓ cup fish sauce
  1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  2 teaspoons sugar

Wings and Assembly

  ½ cup oyster sauce
  ½ cup Thai thin soy sauce
  2 tablespoons sugar
  2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated


Directions:

Dipping Sauce

Grind chiles in spice mill to a fine powder. Mix chile powder, fish sauce, lime juice, sesame seeds, and sugar in a medium bowl to dissolve sugar. Adjust with more sugar or lime juice if needed.

Wings and Assembly

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Combine oyster and soy sauces, sugar, oil, and pepper in a large bowl. Add wings; toss to coat. Let sit 20–30 minutes (if allowed to marinate longer, they’ll be too salty). Thread 2 flat pieces onto each skewer on a diagonal, spacing about ½“ apart. Grill along with drumettes, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

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