Interview with Scott Shoemaker, Yogurtland

yogurtland

We chatted with Scott Shoemaker, Head Flavourologist of Yogurtland.

1. Tell us about Yogurtland

Yogurtland opened its first location in 2006, introducing a new approach to self service frozen yogurt – allowing customers to select from 16 premium flavors with a vast array of toppings. You may see others offer self service but all are a flattering copy of what Yogurtland started eight years ago.  Something else that sets Yogurtland apart from the rest is our own, proprietary flavours, made from real ingredients sourced from their original locations, such as Madagascar vanilla beans from Madagascar and Maqui Berry from Patagonia. No other yogurt chain offers such original flavors and exciting combinations such as Salted Caramel Pecan, Blackberry Passion Fruit, Lychee, and Dragon Passion Fruit.

2. What does a head flavourologist do?

I have an amazing staff that assists me as we search for new, innovative and cravable flavours. We have developed a philosophy here in the Product Development Department at Yogurtland which is “an empathetic pallet”. We first do a lot of investigating to understand what people expect in a flavour. For example, not everyone likes the same kind of mango, yet they each expect to find the mango that they have come to know in their lifetime in our  Yogurtland flavour. We accomplish this by blending several mangos from around the world so that our customers can find the flavour that they expect. Our goal is to “evoke an emotional response in our customers – that “aha” moment when they recognize the flavour they expect.  So my job is to manage this process, learn what our customers want, taste flavour ingredients to match those expectations and test each batch of product that is produced to make sure it meets our standards.

3. What is your most popular selling frozen yoghurt?

Our most popular flavour is different in each location. In California, Plain tart is our most popular, every-day  flavour. In other parts of the US and Australia, Dutch Chocolate, Madagascar Vanilla, and Strawberry are the most popular. We have special flavours that are also very popular, depending on the time of year – such as Chocolate Milk Shake, Salted Caramel Pecan and Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet.

4. What do you love about frozen yoghurt?

The versatility of the flavour option is great. We’ve created over 100 different flavours and we still have lots more to share with our customers. I like that we can provide our customers with a bit of indulgence and a healthier alternative that other treats – in a non-fat base and with live and active probiotics.

5. What is your favourite flavour combination?

My personal favourite is Toasted Coconut with fresh fruit. It’s one of my regular go-to servings.

6. Which frozen yoghurt is your favourite to make and to eat?

I like the nut butters with caramel. Besides Salted Caramel Pecan, we have Caramel Almond Bar and others under development.

7. What’s the biggest mistake people make when preparing dessert?

The two most common short comings are not planning ahead and the quality of ingredients. You will never get better than the quality of ingredients in the mix.

8. Best piece of cooking advice.

When I cook, I always read several recipes before I start. What I end up with is usually a combination of the different recipes. My other advice, take a chance. Mistakes are great learning opportunities.

9.  What’s your favourite cooking product?

I actually have three favourites – my spices and cheeses. I am careful to search for the most flavourful spices. Often I will create my own. I am a big fan of Latin style foods. I search for flavourful spices, never keeping them long so that they are always robust in flavour. I roast my own chili’s, never buying canned or mixes. I am famous with my friends and family for cheese blends in my cooking, even for something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.

10. Do you have a favourite cookbook?

I have quite an eclectic collection. I am a fan of chefs such as Thomas Keller and Rick Bayless and have several cook books from both chefs. My favourite cookbook however is the Internet. There is so much information available to all and so much creativity that is shared.

Thanks you Scott Shoemaker, Yogurtland for taking the time to talk to us.

Paleo bircher muesli

paleo bircher muesli

This is a satisfy and filling breakfast which makes a large portion (you may like to use teaspoons if you want a smaller portion). I soak all the seeds and sultanas and craisins for better digestion, but you don’t have to. If you want to use ground flaxseeds (linseed meal) it is better to grind the seeds fresh, so they don’t go rancid. You can use also organic yogurt for a primal option.

A great way to start the day with paleo friendly muesli recipe.

Paleo bircher muesli recipe

1 Tbsp flaxseeds or ground flaxseed
2 tsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp sultanas or currants
1 Tbsp craisins (dried cranberries)
1 orange juiced
1 small apple grated
2 Tbsps of coconut yogurt
2 Tbsps of almond milk

  1. Soak the flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, sultanas and craisins in the orange juice overnight.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until combined.

Serves 1.

Kefir starters and grains

kefir

You can make home-made kefir with goat, sheep or cows milk and select your own live cultures for fermentation. It is also possible to make kefir from coconut milks and filtered water (not tap). Kefir needs to incubate for 24 hours or more so that the fermenting bacteria consumes all of the lactose and is therefore easier to digest.

Kefir grains or starters

Sometimes you can get the grains for free on GAPS or SCD mailing lists or social networks. The following places sell kefir grains:

Equipment

The following equipment is needed:

  • 2 wide mouth glass jars
  • 2 glass bottles with caps
  • Nylon mesh strainer (better than metal for the grains)
  • Funnel
  • Wooden spoon
  • Unbleached cloth such as calico
  • Elastic band or string

FAQs

Taste test: Sugarpova Flirty and Chic gummy candy

sugarprova

When I found out that tennis star Maria Sharapova had released a sweets range I was intrigued and wanted to try them but didn’t know who was selling them. Then I found out that Big Lolly an Australian online lolly shop sold them. I tried the Sugarpova Flirty and Chic gummy candy.

The Chic lollies have a mild sweet flavour and in the shape of shoes, bags and sunglasses. The Flirty lollies taste of mild fruity flavours and are in the shape of lips. The good thing about both of these flavours is the subtle flavours aren’t overwhelmingly sweet.

A portion of every purchase is given to the Maria Sharapova Foundation for helping children across the world achieve their dreams. 

A nice treat for special occasions like Valentines day. I can’t wait to try the little tennis balls (Sporty) and the rest of the range.

Thank you to Big Lolly for providing a sample pack. The full range of Sugarpova products are available for purchase online from Big Lolly

How to cook toasted cheese and chilli relish sandwich

toasted-cheese

Ok, here’s another easy one I just wanted to knock off my list of recipes for Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge. It’s a toasted cheese and chilli relish sandwich, instead of the chilli relish I used a tomato chutney and boy is it a great combination. I’m glad I tried it, even if it was one of the simplest recipes in the book. Delia calls it “a vegetarian version of Croque Monsieur”.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook - Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook pork sausages braised in cider

pork-sausages-braised-cider

Yesterday I cooked two recipes for dinner for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge – Pork sausages braised in cider with apple and juniper, and Perfect mashed potato.

Basically you brown the sausages and onions and apples separately , then you combine them together and stew them in a casserole dish on top of the stove. It took about half an hour prep time, and then an additional one hour stewing, so this isn’t a quick after work dish.

Matt adjusted the pan as it wasn’t sitting on the hob properly in the center. I had to take the lid off to boil some of the liquid off and thicken up the cider sauce.

I boiled two potatoes to have as a side and mash them with a cool device which looks like a spiral on the end of a masher. (I don’t know what it’s called but it works a treat.) I added cream instead of crème fraîche because I couldn’t find any in either Coles or Woolies.

The highlight of the dish was the lovely apple and cider gravy. It was nice but I wouldn’t cook it again. The mash was delicious based on cream, but again a bit of treat since rice milk works just as well without the guilt.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook - Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook chocolate and almond crunchies

chocolate-almond-crunchies

The next recipe for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was Chocolate and Almond Crunchies. I was a little disappointed in how these turned out.

The uncooked biscuit mixture was yummy to taste so I had high hopes.

When I lifted the first batch out of the oven and off the baking tray, half of them crumbled and fell apart. So to remedy the second batch I decided to add some water to the remaining mixture. This was a big mistake because when they came out of the oven they had melded and ran into each other resulting in one big biscuit instead of nine!

The key I think is in the instructions which tell you to let them cool for ten minutes on the baking sheet. This is when they harden up. Oh I forgot, I also put in double the amount of chocolate to make them extra rich and just to use it up. Perhaps that was also a mistake.

Overall a nice biscuit but the instructions need to be followed to the T. There are two variations in the book, so I may give them another go.

Delia’s Complete How to Cook - Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

How to cook Croque Monsieur

croque-monsieur

OK so Croque Monsieur is basically just a flash ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Delia says it reminds her of the cafes in Paris and that it is “one of the nicest snack meals for one that I know”.

It’s an easy recipe, so I thought I’d knock it off my list of recipes on the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge. I didn’t use grated Parmesan on the outside of the sandwich as I like to keep our sandwich press clean. Instead of Gruyere I used cheddar cheese. It hardly needs a recipe. A quick and easy meal for when you are in a hurry and lacking inspiration.

There are a couple of other people doing cooking challenges, so pop over to their website and cheer them on:

Delia’s Complete How to Cook - Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

The Garden Share Collective: February 2014

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

feb-zucchini

We have been harvesting black beauty zucchini (above) and a few acerola cherries (below). All the rain we have had was a welcome sight. We also harvested a suyu cucumber, but it was terribly bitter and inedible. Apparently the bitterness is caused by environmental stress, or irregular watering (ah ha!). The only downside of all the rain we’ve had recently.

feb-acerola-cherry

Some of our fruit trees really need to go in to the ground as they are out growing their pots.

feb-mandarin

We’re having mixed results with the citrus trees. I rang the nursery to see why they were forming fruits and then falling off – they suggested the citrus need a complete fertiliser. I have only been using chicken manure and Epsom salts. However with the rain, they seem to be starting to form larger fruit. Some how in my head I think they need potash, but I could be wrong. The photo (above) is of a mandarin that has taken months to mature.

feb-rockmelon

We are yet to harvest the canary yellow rockmelon (above), as I’m not sure how big the mature sized fruit is, but I’m really looking forward to trying it. The Egyptian spinach is at the end of it’s life and now producing seed pods.

Matt spent the long Australian Day weekend mowing and cleaning up both the front and back yards, so the place is looking really good (outside anyhow). I need to get some more seeds in the ground in the coming month.

Post for the Garden Share Collective challenge hosted by Stayed Table

In My Kitchen: February 2014

Thank you Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for allowing me to participate In My Kitchen February 2014. This month, in my kitchen are …

mork-hot-chocolate

The absolutely delicious Mork Hot Chocolate. I can’t say enough good things about this, but I encourage you to try it. It’s the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

smooze-coconut

We’ve been loving the new simply coconut Smooze. You pop them in the freezer and have a ‘healthy’ creamy snack – perfect for hot summer days. They are made from freshly pressed coconut milk.

hills-cider

I continue to drink ciders and at the moment The Hills Cider Company is my favourite. The cider has no added sugar or concentrate – important factors in finding a good tasting genuine cider. I also tried three ciders at the Fluid Festival.

oz-tukka-herbs-spices

This one was a present – lots of interesting Australian flavours to try by Oz Tukka.

walkers-tin

Another present with a beautiful tin - Walkers shortbread.

Also this month, I compiled a list of the top 49 essential cookbooks as voted for on Food52.com.

I started a challenge where I am Learning how to cook with Delia Smith.

Thank you Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for organsing In My Kitchen February 2014.