Thursday, November 19, 2009

recipe experimentation

Lately I've been trying to lighten up things in the kitchen and use less saturated fat, no trans fat, and less sugar in my recipes. I started using extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter for regular stove-top cooking years ago so that hasn't been an issue at all, but in some of my recipes, particularly the ones that call for shortening, it's been a bit of a challenge.

My Little Prince has been asking for a couple of weeks now for biscuits. Tonight I made them and instead of using 1/2 cup of shortening I used one stick of cold, unsalted butter. I cut it in with my kitchenaid mixer and the metal whisk.

I know that butter has a lot of saturated fat but it has zero trans fat. It's easier, I think, to get saturated fat out of your arteries than it is to get trans fat out. The biscuits rose higher, were fluffier and lighter in texture, were less crumbly, and browned more nicely than the biscuits I've been baking for years with shortening. I used a baking powder biscuit recipe with the buttermilk variation and the only substitution I made was exchanging butter for shortening. I'm very happy with the results but will still make them only occasionally because of all the butter. I did find that they needed no butter spread on them after baking because they were already very moist and buttery-tasting so that was a plus.

One other success I've had was with oatmeal. My favorite flavor is maple-brown sugar but I couldn't find a really maple-y tasting syrup to use, and adding syrup and brown sugar seems a bit much when I'm trying to limit sugar. I had a "eureka" moment earlier this week and put a few drops of maple extract in the bowl before cooking. Voila! Maple flavor with zero calories and zero added sugar.


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