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Food News

Reviews of food Products below include:

Butter vs. Butter Substitutes

What is Premium Butter

Three Blue Cheeses Compared

Hannaford’s Beef vs Market Basket Beef

Hannaford’s Chicken vs. Purdue Chicken

A new Shrimp product worth trying.

Testing Butters and Butter Substitutes
This review involved several butters and butter substitutes. We looked at Land O’ Lakes Soft Baking Butter with Canola Oil which is designed for cooks who want soft “butter” directly out of the frig. We also tasted Olivio and Smart Balance. We wanted to see how these new products stacked up against real butter. We choose Land O’ Lakes regular unsalted butter and Land O’ Lakes Ultra Creamy as our test butters.

Tested on a toasted English muffin the butter substitutes were clear losers. Several spreads tasted fake with a slight plastic taste.

Melted over veggies and used to sauté mushrooms Land O’ Lakes Soft Baking Butter actually tasted slightly better than the two real butters. The two other butter substitutes: Olivio and Smart Balance, also did OK but not as well as the butters.

In the making of shortbread, real butter was the hands down winner.

In our opinion use butter. The trans fats in many butter substitute make them considerably less healthy than butter, and you are sacrificing taste as well.

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What is Premium Butter?
The principal differences between "regular" butter and "premium" butter are fat content and price. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, all butter must consist of at least 80 percent milk fat. (The rest is mostly water, with some milk solids, too.) Regular butters rarely contain more than 80 percent. Premium butters have a milk fat content of 82 to 88 percent, which is typical of European butters. They are often called "European-style."

Traditionally, butter is made from cream that had been allowed to sit for a few days and sour slightly before it was churned. Some present-day butter makers attempt to reproduce this flavor by adding a bacterial culture to the cream before agitating it into butter.

In our opinion Land O’ Lakes Ultra Creamy and regular Land O’ Lakes butter, easily hold their own against butters costing twice as much. For a special treat we recommend the European style cultured butter made by the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company.

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Three Blue Cheeses Compared

We did a side by side comparison of Great Hill Blue, Saga Blue and Stella. All bought at Hannaford’s in Plymouth, NH. Great Hill Blue was by far the creamiest and best flavored of the three, closely followed by Stella (which sells for a lot less than Great Hill). The Saga Blue lacked both the creaminess of the other two and the flavor was just not as pleasant. In our blue cheese dressing recipe you couldn’t tell one from the other. Stella may be the best value. As we test locally made Blue Cheeses we will update this comparison. One note of caution: blue cheese, like all cheeses, is a natural product and quality will vary depending upon its age, degree of ripeness, etc. A great cheese today may taste second rate at another time, so before using any cheese in a recipe, taste it to see if it has the flavor you are looking for.

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Hannaford’s Beef vs Market Basket Beef

The price of Ribeye steak at Hannafords (Plymouth) and Market Basket (Tilton) are nearly equal at between $8.99/lb to $9.99/lb. The price at both stores varies a little from week to week. So, we did a side by side comparison of Ribeye from both. In both cases we choose Choice grade beef; Angus from Hannafords and Market Basket’s Choice Beef. They were cooked side by side on the same grill for the same length of time until they were medium rare. The Hannafords Angus was the clear winner. The Market Basket beef was tough and flavorless. The Hannafords beef was tender, juicy and flavorful. We recommend the Angus Ribeye steaks from Hannafords.

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Hannaford’s Chicken vs. Purdue Chicken

Unlike their beef reviewed above, Hannafords chicken did not compare favorably versus Purdue chicken. In a side by side test of boneless, skinless chicken breasts we found the Hannfords to be dry, and tougher than it should be. The Purdue breasts were juicy, tender and flavorful. The Purdue and the Hannafords breasts had the same expiration date and bought at the Hannafords in Plymouth. They were both cooked side by side in the same sauté pan until the juices ran clear. Purdue is a little more expensive but we recommend their chicken over Hannafords.

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A New Shrimp Product Worth Trying

In our Notes Section we discuss the various form of shrimp. Recently we came across a new variety available at Hannaford’s. It is Sail Farm Raised Shrimp from India. They come in a two pound bag, are raw, deveined jumble shrimp with shells on. The fish monger at Hannaford’s says they are fresh water shrimp, if so, it does not indicate that on the bag. The bag does indicate that there are no preservatives or other things added to the shrimp, just pure shrimp. In three separate tastings we have found these shrimp to be plump, juicy and flavorful. We made scampi, shrimp Mozambique, and sautéed them with garlic and lemon. We were very impressed by the quality of this product. We tend to shy away from products from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, simply for hygiene reasons, but this product (which comes frozen) appears to be well cleaned and handled. Besides, unless you make shrimp sushi, you will be cooking these shrimp. We recommend you give them a try. If you do, please send us some feedback at kitchen@lakesregionculinary.com.

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