This week is “Healthy Eating Week” so I am planning about lots of different salads  for myself and hopefully the children to enjoy. Whilst at the supermarket today I bought loads of salad from radishes to romaine lettuce  which were on offer at Aldi. I am keen to get stuck in and have an idea in my head of stuffing the leaves of the romaine lettuce with some vegetarian concoction involving tomatoes, mushrooms, Quorn mince and lots of yummy spices. Also, I am making a soup as I write using up some broccoli and celery. I will add some cheese later and have this with some home made corn bread which I need to use up today. Now I have made myself really hungry but I don’t want to eat yet as it still a bit early.

Another idea I am mulling over at the moment is a vegetarian sushi recipe for “International Sushi Day” which is happening next week. Always got to try and stay ahead in this game. 🙂 I am thinking of something with rice and leaves which is maybe where the urge to make something with romaine lettuce has come from?

As for the rest of today I am adding my vanilla essence article to my ingredients page – this has my thoughts and ideas on vanilla essence and how I use them in baking.

Vanilla Essence

Vanilla essence is the flavour compound vanillin which comes from the vanilla pods when they are crushed and mixed with alcohol and water. There are different forms of vanilla from the extract to the essence and flavouring. The latter contains no alcohol. Vanilla essence is a synthetically made flavouring.

Basically the more you pay the better quality the vanilla is but saying that it does not really do that much to the recipe apart from flavour. The cheaper essence can be used instead of extract as in the cakes, and so on, you can’t really tell any difference. Maybe in custard making one would use the pods or extract to ensure the strong taste of vanilla which you require when making custard. Vanilla extract has a stronger more concentrated flavour than the essence which in turn means that the extract is thicker and so less of it can be used in the recipe.

There are other essences which can be used in baking to achieve whatever desired flavour you want. I have some in my store cupboard such as white chocolate and raspberry, salted caramel which I use when I want a different flavour in cupcakes and cookies.

I do find that if colours are used with these flavourings that the overall sponge texture changes to resemble a very close textured sponge which does not look very good in appearance. For this reason alone I try not to use the stranger flavourings with the colourings.

Back to the rest of the day now as my tummy rumblings have beat me sorry!