Minty Tea Punch

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 12 mint sprigs
  • 4 individual tea bags
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange and lemon slices, optional

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat; add mint and tea bags. Steep, covered, 3-5 minutes according to taste.
  2. Discard mint and tea bags.
  3. Stir in orange and lemon juices, sugar and remaining water. Transfer to a pitcher; refrigerate until chilled. Serve over ice; add orange and lemon slices if desired.

The rise of DIY cuisine: has ‘deconstructed’ food gone too far?

Diners are reportedly up in arms about the trend for “deconstructed food”, whereby you’re presented with a set of ingredients – say an avocado, some bread, a toaster and – who knows? – an actual chicken, and told to sort out your own brunch.

In Melbourne, coffee drinkers are urged to construct their own flat whites from black coffee, water and steamed milk, which provoked outrage in some quarters. Andrea Hadfield ordered an orange juice in August and received two halved oranges, a small packet of sugar and a squeezer.

Coming on the heels of the post-plates revolution (involving travesties such as chips served in tiny shopping trolleys, bread in flat caps and a dearth of plates) which regrettably shows no sign of waning, it does seem to merit a certain gnashing of teeth. Just what is it we pay these bozoes for, people are asking, not without reason.

As with most trends, and more particularly with most reactions against particularly trendy trends, there’s a lot of codified stuff going on behind all the appeals to fair play and common sense, bubbling away like the lab beaker full of frothy milk served, alongside one of coffee and one of hot water, to one appalled Melbourne cafe-goer in lieu of the fully realised beverage she’d assumed she was getting.

People don’t like feeling that they are being trolled: the suspicion that metropolitan would-be sophisticates aren’t just doing silly things for the sake of it, but precisely in order to sort out the sheep from the goats – to make those outside the magic circle feel like rubes or hicks.

There may be some of that going on. But the origins of the trend aren’t unwholesome, or devoid of interest. For one thing, there’s a desire for transparency about ingredients, a sense that diners want to know what they’re eating and where it comes from. This is served effectively, if a tad over-literally, by laying the constituent parts of a dish before their eyes.

For another, there’s been a growing informality about presentation, itself a reaction to the tweezered fastidiousness of the Michelin style – whether in the strewings and scatterings of the modern British and New Nordic schools, or the artier approach of Italian superchef Massimo Bottura, whose signature dessert “Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart” celebrates the role of accident in the creative process, much as Marcel Duchamp did when he pronounced his “Large Glass” finished only once someone had cracked it.

Bottura’s tart is “deconstructed” in the strict sense, of course, rather than “not constructed at all” – but it speaks of dining as an event, a gesture.

The same can be said of countless dishes which are completed at one’s table, where a glug of buttermilk makes a cube of dry ice fume like the late Fenella Fielding, say, or – in a restaurant I reviewed nearly a year ago the “fish” and “soup” elements of a fish soup arrived separately. From here we’re well advanced along the primrose path to the present pick-your-own-full-English fiasco.

Even if we filter out its more complex subcurrents, it can’t be denied that there are valid objections to be raised against this rampant outbreak of DIY cuisine. If you’ve got places to be, factoring in the additional time required to assemble your own pulled pork bun or spaghetti bolognese may be challenging. Assembling a dish from its ingredients is what we do at home – why would we want to go out and do it? But the real killer is this.

If certain restaurants do take us for a bunch of idiots, and they’re willing to trust that bunch of idiots to assemble their food, eat it, post it on social media for other potential customers the world over to see – just what does that say about them?

This Is the Secret Ingredient Behind the Addictive Flavor of McDonald’s Fries

There are matchstick fries and steak fries; crinkle-cut fries and waffle fries; cheese fries and sweet potato fries. But among all the rest, McDonald’s French fries are an old standby. There’s something about the flavor that we just. Can’t. Stop. Eating.

No, it’s not just in your head that fast-food fries are one of the most addictive foods. One secret ingredient keeps you coming back for more.

To make McDonald’s fries, fresh potatoes are washed, peeled, cut, and blanched in a factory, according to a video from the company. The plant also adds chemicals to keep the potatoes a uniform light yellow color (but no, that’s not behind their addictive flavor). After that, the cut potatoes are fried for less than a minute before getting frozen and sent to McDonald’s locations. At the restaurant, those frozen strips are cooked in oil and salt before getting landing on your tray in that red box.

That all sounds standard enough, so why are they so exceptionally scrumptious?

It all started in the 1950s, when the shortening company that gave McDonald’s vegetable oil couldn’t afford the equipment needed to hydrogenate the oil, which would extend its shelf life. (Learn how to tell if you eat too many preservatives.) So the supplier gave a blend of oil and beef fat instead, according to NPR.

Over time, McDonald’s and other fast-food joints made the beef fat part of their signature fry flavors. But in the 1980s, fast-food restaurants took the ingredient out when health advocates criticized how much “bad” saturated fat it added. (Find out if you’ve been eating too many bad fats.)

McDonald’s wanted to keep its signature beefy flavor but without the beef fat itself, so it came up with a solution. Now, the fast-food chain adds “natural beef flavor” to its vegetable oil to give its fries their irresistibly meaty (though not-so-vegan-friendly) taste. Next, check out these 75 mind-blowing McDonald’s facts.

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker™ white angel food cake mix
  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, beat dry angel food cake mix and crushed pineapple on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour into pan.
  3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely upside down as directed on cake mix box, at least 1 hour. Run knife around edges; turn cooled cake out onto serving plate. Use serrated knife to cut into slices.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 64g Dairy Free Margarine
  • 48g Unrefined Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 48g Unrefined Golden Caster Sugar
  • 192g Gluten Free Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 2 tsp Vegetable Oil
  • 140g Vegan Chocolate Chips

Directions

  1. In a bowl beat together the dairy free margarine and the two sugars combined. Then add the additional ingredients and mix together until it forms a dough.

     

  2. Prepare a baking sheet with baking paper and preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C / Gas 4)

     

  3. Divide the dough and roll into small cookies and place each one on the baking tray. Place the tray in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes to avoid the cookie dough spreading too much in the oven.

     

  4. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until golden in colour. Leave to cool on a cooling rack once removed from the oven.

Tunnel of Fudge Banana Cake

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 ounces chocolate
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • banana chips, for garnish

Directions

Make Banana Cake:
  1. In a bowl, use a hand mixer to combine butter and sugar.
  2. Add dark brown sugar; beat again to combine.
  3. Then add salt, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil, mix until combined.
  4. Add an egg and beat until well combined, set aside.
  5. In another bowl, use a fork to crush the banana.
  6. Add the crushed banana to the cake mixture and stir.
  7. In another new bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda then mix with a whisk.
  8. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients; stir well.
  9. To make Fudge Filling:
  10. In a double-boiler, mix chocolate with heavy cream. Warm until melted.
  11. Take off heat, add butter and mix well. Set aside.
Make the chocolate Frosting
  • In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and milk until silky. Set aside.
Assembly
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a small tall Bundt pan with butter, use a pastry brush to get in all the cracks, and dust with flour. Knock out any excess flour so it’s a very thin layer.
  3. Fill half of a Bundt pan with the chocolate banana cake batter.
  4. Pipe in the fudge filling.
  5. Cover the fudge filling with the reaming banana cake batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Once the cake cools, flip the pan onto a wire cooling rack and remove the cake from the Bundt pan.
  8. Spoon/drizzle the chocolate frosting on top; let it drip down the sides.
  9. Top with dehydrated banana chips.

Cajun Chicken Strips

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first seven ingredients. Add chicken half at a time, and shake to coat.
  2. In a large skillet, cook chicken in butter for 8 to 10 minutes or until the juices run clear.
  3. Garnish with parsley and peppers if desired.