Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diwali Feasting

Today is Diwali, the  Hindu festival of lights, starts today. It's a time of celebrating but also feasting on delicious savory and sweet dishes They are easy to make , not just for this holiday but for  an every day treat as well. Usher in  the harvest with them or just have them star in a dinner.

Diwali is praying to the goddess Laksmhi, the goddess of prosperity and fertility. Families dress up in their best clothes, visit each other and exchange's a five day affair with families honoring each other on the different days. Food  plays an important part and various  New York Times Food writers gives us some excellent savory and sweet ones. Try David Tanis' Chana Dal Sundal,  Southern India  street fare that reminds one of popcorn.It is the perfect party food, especially if there are a lot of kids in attendance . It's simply cooking cold water soaked chickpeas in abundant lightly salted water and then afterwards placing them on a cookie sheet to dry. They're then tossed with curry leaves cooked with curry leaves, red chiles and mustard seeds. A pinch of asafetida gives it a mild leek taste. An eggplant curry would be a great main dish . Again, most of the ingredients from the Chana Dal Sundal are used along with tamarind paste and unsweetened coconut. The eggplants are sliced and  slashed . Spices are then pressed into them and cooked over a high heat for six minutes.  A heartier dish is lamb curry , from David Tanis. It is rich with coriander, turmeric and cumin. The Indian clarified butter, ghee is used to cook the meat and sliced onions. A raita or sauce made from Greek yogurt, cumin and mustard seeds is also made to pour over the lamb.

Diwali is really a holiday of sweets, with sugary treats given to children.Kids will adore the chocolate burfi  - a kind of fudge given on holidays,birthdays and special occasions.  Like fudge it's super easy to make, using ghee, cocoa powder, and both condensed milk and powdered milk. A few drops of rose water  along with sugar gives the treet its' rich sweetness.The treat is made in layers, from the buttery ghee bottom to the chocolate top. Adults may choose shrikhand or sweet strained yogurt recipe from famed Indian food writer, Teja Rao.. This  is made by straining Greek yogurt for twenty-four hours in the  fridge and then gently adding in pistachios, confectioners sugar, saffron,  and cardamon. Once everything is thoroughly mixed , place into serving dishes and decorate with more pistachio and saffron threads.. A European take , again from Dave Tanis, is the coconut cardamom panna cotta. The spice's pods are added as well as unsweetened coconut milk. It's decorated with candied grated ginger along with peaches, nectarines, blackberries or raspberries. Sip some of Melissa Clark' mango rose waters Lassi, a refreshing mix of  mango, yogurt, milk and rose water. This can also be frozen intoa frozen yogurt for dessert.

Diwali is a time of lights and celebrating. It's also a time of feasting. Make savory and sweet treats to enjoy with family and friends.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Eating Better Thanks To Science

The name Musk is usually associated with science - the science of the electric car. Now there's another Musk, Elon's brother , Kimbal who is changing the food world. His style? Using science, of course. He wants to revolutionize the food world the way his brother revolutionized the auto world.

His was the main story in today's New York Times Food section. Food regular Kim Severson, conducted an interview with this innovator. Kimbal Musk's main idea is to promote a philosophy of  real food that will not only nourish the body but also the farmer and the planet.It's not really a new idea. Michael Pollan, a food writer, and author of Food Rules has been preaching this for years as others who have pushed and created a farmer's market and urban farms. What makes Mr. Musk's idea unique is that he wants to create a network of business, educational, and agricultural ventures  big enough to return the nation's food system back to healthy local foods, grown on pesticide free farms.It is the ideal dream and he does have have somewhat of a background in it, starting with his childhood. He cooked at his father's house for him along with for Elon and their sister, Tosca. Mr Musk does have restaurant experience too. He and his former wife, Jen Lewin, started Kitchen in 2004, in Colorado. It was a farm to table concept. A skiing accident that broke his neck and left him temporarily paralyzed got him to refocus his drive. He would devote his life to food.

This led him to be interested in school gardens. His ex wife designed a modular curved plastic planters that could be arranged in any school yard to hold produce yielding plants. They were first installed in the Denver school district in 2010, with the extra bonus of teaching kids about science.Other schools in Memphis, Los Angeles ,Pittsburgh and Chicago.He's also started a chain of hyperlocal restuarants, called Next Door,These feature wild salmon and local pasture raised beef, along with big Greek salads bursting with community vegetables. Not everyone is enamored of his efforts. There has been a lot of criticism, especially from Alice Waters, the pioneer of the American Slow Food Movement. and creator of the famed restaurant , Chez Panisse. To be fair, he has criticized her , proclaiming that she doens;t know how to scale a garden to fit a school. She in turn has accused of him the same thing. His Square Roots project has met with a lot of flak too. It's an idea that has young farmers growing greens with nothing but enhanced water and LEDs in shipping containers, It's hydroponic farming that has critics sniping about the lack of nutrient rich soil.

Will Kimbal Musk change the food industry the way his brother, Elon changed the auto industry? Can he change the way we eat ? He has the drive and determination to do so - just like his brother.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rock Star Dishes

Rock stars are no different than us - in fact they were us before all the success and fame. They also cooked like us, honoring family classics and whipping up their favorite dishes. Now there's a new cookbook, thanks to self taught chef and former music writer, Mark Bego. He's given us some recipes that will surely rock a home chef's kitchen.

Eat Like A Rock Star (Skyhorse Publishing 2017) is the perfect cookbook for any cook who love both the art of cooking and the arts of music and song. There are all sorts of dishes and drink recipes from classical pianists to the rock royalty.Mr. Bego , himself , has also contributed a variety of different ones to the book. His career,  revolves around interviewing celebrities for Record World as well as penning biographies of such superstars as Madonna, Tina Turner and Jackson Brown. Yet he also love to cook and bake, and the book are evidence of this.what is great about the book is that readers dive straight into the recipes. There are no pages or  chapters telling you what  instruments and gadgets you should have  or what ingredients your pantry should hold. Every recipe has an interesting  story with it along with tips for varying the recipe or shortcuts. The chapters are divided into the usual, brunch and breakfast, lunch , salads and soups, meats, pasta, sides  and dessert. There is one exception and that is the cocktail chapter. Any of the drinks would pair well with the hors 'ouevres and brunch recipes.

Mr. Begos has had his famed friends contribute delicious recipes any home chef can make. Ray Parker Junior, known for the theme , from the original "Ghostbusters" movie  contributed his Salmon, Eggs and Grits recipe, a fun Sunday brunch recipe.It's scrambled eggs with salmon and a side of buttery grits. Rock royalty, Sean Lennon has  his Zen like Ginger Scallion Salmon with four main ingedients - again a pefect light supper , especially if served with  Mr Begos" roasted root vegetables. Pasta has always fed musicians and there's no shortage of good ones here to try.  The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald gives  us his Pasta With Ham, Peas and Parmesan Cheese. This is a hearty dish  that can be made so easily  thanks to frozen peas and shredded ham. Lou Christie, the man behind the 1966 hit "Lightenin' Strikes" has a downright tasty Summer Linguine with the salsa cruda, made with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil.Mr. Begos himself, has some extraordinary recipes too. Try his Chicken Paprikash, an homage to his Hungarian heritage or  his Mongolian Beef , a nod to his;love  of Chinese cuisine. Desserts are varied, from Angela Bowie's Cowboy Cookies, a combo of peanut butter and chocolate chip and the heavenly Hungarian Dessert Crepes from classical pianist Havasi,Try a drink from Mickey Dolenz of Monkees fame or Ricky Jones of  The Village People.

Eat Like A Rock Star can make any home chef cook and bake like one. The recipes are tasty and fun to recreate. They're definitely classics in the kitchen.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spicing Up Your Meats

Want to zing up that chicken or pork. Add spice - and yes, you can add  some of the ones that make pumpkin spice what it is. It's a nice way to add some flavorful heat on a nippy fall day. Best of all it give home chefs the chance to be creative.

Spiced meats are nothing new. Before refrigeration and salt, adding spices to various meals to preserve them and take away their rancid flavor. Pepper, cinnamon, cumin and cloves were the ones of choice and they still are today. What should today's cooks use?It depends on the meat. If you're having qualms about using anything more than rosemary or oregano - which are herbs, then just use a light hand. Start off with a roast chicken , flavored with ground pepper and  the Indian classic, garam masala. This last can easily be made at home  by blending cumin, coriander, and cinnamon with cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.It's then marinating the chicken for fifteen minutes before roasting and then roasting in an oven. Pair  the smoky sweet allspice and nutmeg with cayenne  in a fiery jerk rub . Cinnamon on its' own can flavor a chicken. For a Moroccan vibe mix the spice with cumin and ginger  and then fricassee it. Add almonds and couscous for more authenticity. Allspice and cumin can be turned into a paste along with paprika, onion and garlic powders  to rub over chicken . it's then roasted , producing a crispy, spicy skin.

Pork is another meat that can be zinged up with spice. Pork roast on its' own is delicious, but add cinnamon to bring out the meat's sweet flavor. It's combining the spice with salt, pepper, onion, sugar and garlic,. Soy sauce is added to make it a paste and then the mixture is rubbed onto the meat. It does need three to  twenty-four hours to marinate. Cinnamon can be combined with ground pepper for a tasty rub, sweetened with brown sugar and zinged up with dried mustard.Pair the spice with its' fellow sweet spices of nutmeg and allspice for a different kind of dry rub. Red pepper and garlic powder are also added to balance out the's then rubbed onto the pork and left to stand for twenty minutes to let the flavors soak in. Ham can also be improved with a variety of fall spices. A cinnamon glaze is a nice change of pace for a Sunday or holiday ham. It's combining it with maple syrup and dark brown sugar for a spicy sweet foil to the meat's saltiness. Allspice can also be used for ham as well. Mix it with cloves and a jolt of whiskey along with brown sugar and garlic powder. for a memorable glaze that will give the meat a nice bacon like crust

Consider spiced meat this fall. It's a nice alternative and will give chicken, pork or ham a smoky, warm sweetness. Add autumn's flavors to your main meal for a tasty change.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Sweet Side Of Polenta

Polenta has long been a savory meal. For years it's been drenched in everything from tomato sauce to eggs, be fried or grilled. Yet it can be used in sweet dishes as well,It's ot just for dinner anymore. It's for dessert and most surprisingly breakfast.

What is polenta? It's a dish of boiled cornmeal that's then baked, grilled or fried. It's derived from earlier pulses, hence the name, from spelt, faro and chestnut. The introduction of corn in the Columbian exchange changed the dish forever. Remember, there are two kinds, usually referred to as grinds. The coarser one makes for a firmer consistency , able to hold its' shape while the finer produces a creamy , soft texture. Use the coarser grinds for the breakfast polentas. One interesting dish is the corn made with cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg.Cook the polenta first and then add the sugar and spices, It's then pouring it out on a sheet tray and letting it chill for thirty minutes. Cut into squares and then fry, Serve with maple syrup and butter for a tasty breakfast.It can also be turned into a breakfast's adding the meal to a boiled mixture of  milk vanilla bean and salt. A cup of sugar is then stirred in and it's served with Greek yogurt , honey and preserves such as apricot or marmalade.Try it with coconut milk , topped with strawberries and almonds.

Once you've tried sweet polenta, there's no stopping. It makes for an interesting dessert., because of the texture. A very trendy recipe in many Italian restaurants right now is chocolate polenta. This is an easy take on a classic chocolate pudding. Use the finer ground one for an extra creamy texture. It's cooking it for three minutes as it's whisked into a thin steady stream. Three tablespoons of sugar are added as is one teaspoon of vanilla extract and eight ounces of good dark  finely chopped chocolate.Stir until smooth and melted and served. Add a dollop of whipped cream or creme frache. Polenta can be cooked with butternut squash, coconut milk, and vanilla paste along with such spices as ground ginger and cinnamon for a healthy take on  it. Polenta is also an excellent base for cake too. Try it in a cake loaded with orange and coriander for a tasty and citrus-y dessert. Polenta can even take the popular form of the cupcake.It's mixed with regular flour to create a nice crumb. A cup of chopped strawberries and lemon zest are added for a nice fruity flavor and then they're iced with a strawberry lemon glaze.The Italians have been making polenta cookies for centuries. Try their buttery lemon infused swirls or simple tea cookies, perfect with espresso. The last can be dipped in melted dark or milk chocolate for a fancier party treat.

There is a sweet side to polenta. This classic Northern Italian dish can be made into a delicious breakfast pudding or a tasty orange infused cake. Use it to make fun cupcakes and buttery cookies. It's a great ingredient to any breakfast or dessert dish.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Edgy Veg - Vegan Fun in A Cookbook

Most vegetarian cookbooks are usually preachy with staid tofu recipes. Not so with a kicky new meat free recipe nook that's loaded with fun recipes. The Edgy Veg turns the vegan lifestyle on its ear and gives it  roller coaster ride of flavor in the kitchen.

Candice Hutchings and her husband,James Aita are the writers of this really entertaining cookbook published by Robert Rose Publishers. The pictures alone are drool worthy, that make anyone want to eschew meat and head to the kitchen. The books has an unusual opening, starting with books and TV programs about  going meatless before diving into the basics. Another big plus is that Ms. Hutchings and Mr. To have a list of tools that are divided into three categories - critical, important and helpful.  There is also a very detailed list of pantry staples that all novice vegans should have. Every meat free cookbook has egg, meat and dairy substitutions and this one is no different.These can be bought or made at home.Some are versatile such as aquafaba - bean water from chickpeas along with coconut milk.Tofu and seitin are musts . They are the backbone of any kitchen as Ms. Hutchings points out. Another plus is that there is an opening chapter devoted to basic recipes. You can learn how to make four types of yummy vegan bacon along with pizza dough and simple neat - yes neat - balls.She has recipes for such basic sauces as Hollandaise and Bearnaise along with eggless mayo and non dairy sour cream.

I  absolutely love this book and the fun recipes in it.It's divided into such  cheekily named chapters as Souper Natural, The Main Squeeze and Thirsty Girl. MY favorite chapter is MUnchies which has  crunchy golden samosas and even movie popcorn with four different flavorings ,from dill to chili cheese to salted chocolate. They include a yummy Buffalo cauliflower seven ways that would be the perfect Saturday night dinner/snack. Of course there is main and side dishes too, and they are from around the world , including recipes that honor Mr. Aita's Syrian background.A vegan home chef could easily impress guests with their steaks with Bearnaise sauce or impress family with a cauliflower version of General Tso's Chicken.Pair it with the Edgy Roasted Veg ,a tasty mix of various veggies zinged up with hot pepper and lemon juice. Comfort foods are also here, There is tomato bisque served with non cheese grilled cheese along with a French dip sandwich and Easy Cheesy Fondue made without any cheese! There is a chapter on power drinks like the eye opening ginger shot and the tasty mint chocolate chip smoothie. Of course there are desserts and they feature the elegant and the cozy. Home bakers will love recreating the classic Victorian Sponge while kids will go mad for the coconut cream based ice creams and the "Literally Dying Skillet Cookie ala Mode, a giant chocolate chip cookie.

 Home chefs should definitely buy The Edgy Veg. This is the perfect cookbook for any vegan or thinking about a lifestyle change carnovire. The recipes are way too delicous to pass up! Get it today  for some yummy cooking and eating!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Top Chef Becomes A Top Entrepreneur

There are some chefs who just cook - and that defines them. Others turn their skills into a multi-level business and that also defines them. Then there is Mike Isabella who is a combination of both.He's setting the Washington DC culinary world atilt and now has a new concept, a modernist food church .

Jennifer Steinhauer interviewed Chef Isabella for yesterday's New York Times Food section. Mr. Isabella first came to prominence ten years ago when he appeared as a contestant on Top Chef. He wowed judge Tom Colicchio with a tasty pepperoni sauce. In the years in between he established eleven restaurants in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.By then end of this year he'll be opening a vast food emporium at Tyson's Galleria, a McLean Virginia luxury mall. His latest venture, a French eatery, Requin will bring life to The Wharf, a refurbished  area of the Washington waterfront. This new eatery is a kind of food church being helmed by him and chef Michael Rafidi who has also has a background in southern Spanish and Moroccan cuisine. Chef Isabella has a whole globe of international restaurants, including Greek,Italian Mexican and Chinese.

Mr. Isabella is much more than a restauranteur . He is a mogul, somewhat rare in the food world. His empire is worth thirty million and it includes stands in airports and sports arenas. He has an army of six hundred workers whiich will double when the new restaurants open. This boy  from New Jersey had humble beginnings. His culinary career started at the now defunct Restaurant School of New York, did stints in Manhattan and Philadelphia. He cooked for the famed Marcus Samunessen and prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr. He experimented with eastern Mediterranean food at Zaytinya. He met Tom Colicchio at food writer , Joan Nathan's house where he pushed Mr. Nathan to let him compete on Top Chef. After the show he started Graffiato in Washington 's Chinatown section. His future lies with the success of Isabella's Eatery at the upscale mall.. It will have a variety of different cuisines from Mediterranean to Japanese , with Italian thrown in He'll also have an  ice cream parlor and a coffee bar.

Mike Isabella is beyond just a restauranteur. He is a giant in the industry  and his empire will keep growing. It will be exciting and interesting as to what he'll do next.