Saturday, May 19, 2007

How To Make A Peanut Butter Sandwich

Everyone loves peanut butter sandwiches. There's the great peanut butter and jelly vs. peanut butter and fluff debate. As a future adult-onset diabetic, I can truly say I am addicted to sugar. While wine connoisseurs appreciate the fine subtleties of a glass of Cabernet, there is nothing subtle about my ravenous lust for sugar. In the great debate, I say Fluff. Hands down.

(Note: I have run into people not familiar with marshmallow fluff. For your information, check out: I'm proud to say that fluff has some strong ties to New England.)

Below is the secret to my favorite peanut butter sandwich:

  1. Whole Wheat Bread - Although it may not be what you'd expect, a prefer a hearty whole wheat bread for my peanut butter sandwich. Choose something with some thickness that contributes to the sandwich experience.
  2. Toasted Marshmallow - Generously spread the marshmallow fluff on one piece of bread and toast it in the toaster over.
  3. Peanut Butter - Another great peanut butter debate: chunky vs. creamy. Personally, I tend to favor creamy because I don't want the chunks to get in the way of enjoying the sweet marshmallow fluff on my tongue. That being said, I'm definitely not a zealot and do appreciate a good chunky spread as well.
  4. Nutella - If you have not yet discovered this miracle spread or think it's for Europeans only, you are missing out. Like the hot pepper jelly I used to get at a farmer's market in San Francisco, I find myself purchasing things at the supermarket for the sole purpose of being a vehicle for this yummy spread.
  5. Spreading - Immediately after the toasting is done, spread equal parts of peanut butter and Nuttella on the non-fluff piece of bread. The two quantities combined should be approximately how much peanut butter you would put on a sandwich normally. Due to the fact that the toast is still warm, the peanut butter and Nutella should melt a little (yum).
  6. Enjoy - put the two sides of the sandwich together and cut the sandwich in half - diagonally, of course.

- He Said

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ratios and Combining Flavors

At the age of 34, as a relatively adventurous eater, there are few discrete 'flavors' that I have not yet tasted. Therefore, as a general rule, new taste experiences are created by combining multiple flavors. Along with simply finding flavors that blend well together, it's crucial to mix them in the correct ratios.

One such example is the Twix bar. The chocolate, caramel, and cookie in a Twix bar are all optimally proportioned. Consider a Twix with significantly more chocolate. Along with calling attention to the fact that the quality of the chocolate doesn't hold up on its own against a good solid chocolate bar, it would begin to overpower the subtle caramel flavor. The caramel itself is well-proportioned to provide a little chewyness to contrast the cookie as well as provide an injection of sugary sweetness as you bite into the bar.

The cookie, the key to Twix's success, is also perfectly proportioned. Not only does the cookie provide the correct ratio in terms of flavor, but more importantly, it provides just the right amount of crunch. What differentiates the Twix bar from other candy bars is its combination of textures. A thinner cookie wouldn't provide enough crunch while a thicker one would overpower the caramel and chocolate.

An example of the subtleties of ratio can been seen when you look at Twix's crunchy cousin, the Kit Kat. Like the Twix, the Kit Kat is well proportioned for both flavor and texture. Unlike the Twix, the Kit Kat has an estranged big brother, the Big Kat. Released in 2000 the Big Kat is essentially the same thing as the standard Kit Kat, but about four times the size. Somehow, in the process of making the Kit Kat larger, they lost track of the ratios. The larger size is harder to bite and the chocolate on the outside overpowers the wafer.

Sooo... next time you eat, think about not just the individual ingredients, but the ratios of those ingredients and how they work together. Think about the interplay between the elements that make up the food you're eating.

Salad needs dressing and dressing needs salad. Chocolate enhances peanut butter and peanut butter enhances chocolate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Portion Control - and I mean CONTROL

I'm not sure at what age this came about, but I've been a huge fan of eating my food "evenly" until it is finished. Perhaps it was a fondness for the trio of tastes on my plate, or a culinary match made in heaven, but some foods taste so good you can't bear to eat one first and be done with it - the good feeling must go on! The hardest part is trying to decide what bite you are going to end on...

The photo here is the tail end of a brunch this past Sunday with bacon, scrambled eggs dry (I will write about 'buffet eggs' at some point when I can get a good wiggly wet egg photo of them), and marble rye toast. I must not tell a lie, I had a side of french toast (one slice) that was puddled in butter and only lasted about 8 seconds. For the record, I ended up on the rye toast as a last bite, preferring a crunchy butter bite to greasy meat or eggy eggs. - SHE SAID