Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm Back In Time For Lent

Hey , foodies sorry about yesterday. My computer went viral and had to be fixed. I'm back on just in time for Lent. This is the period where Catholics and Orthodox Christians give something up. Most give up some kind of indulgent food such as chocolate or cake. I was never one of those, preferring to give up intolerance or impatience with other people (and winding up with chest pains by Easter). Lent does offer some interesting foods however.

Hot cross buns are a favorite Lenten treat. These are raisin and citron yeast buns marked with a thick white icing cross. Their origin in British, the first being made during the Tudor times. They were only sold and specifically eaten on Christmas, Easter and mourning times. Later, during Early Hanover England they were eaten during the forty days of Lent. Instead of raisins , currents and different spices were added. The word bun itself is from the Greek word boun which means offering to the gods. Sailors also kept the buns aboard their ships to protect the vessels from catching fire. Homeowners followed this belief as well , keeping at least one hot cross bun, usually bake don Good Friday.

Other Lenten traditions include no meat on Fridays for the Catholics, no meat, butter, eggs or cheese, on Wednesday and Friday for the Greek Orthodox for their Lent. During this time, most of us become reacquainted with tuna fish, shrimp and crab cakes. This is actually healthier than seven days of red meat and poultry. After all we all need some Omega 3 in out diets anyway.

So foodies, are there any Lenten food customs that you observe? Let me know here what your traditionare foodwise.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Down with a virus

Hey fellow foodies!i`m writing this from my cell phone!crazy,huh? My laptop is down with a virus and will be fixed within a few days. Bear with me. have a good mardi gras!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wake Up To A Homecooked Meal

Yesterday I made an actual homestyle breakfast. Yup, there were even biscuits and sausage patties. OK , the biscuits came out of a tube and the patties were soy but it was still a homestyle breakfast of sorts. Cooking a big breakfast is easy, especially if you have the time which I did (it was a Sunday).

Biscuits and muffins are th e perfect breads to make for a large breakfast. They're always good with honey butter or to sop up egg yolks. Biscuits go well with ham and bacon along with any kind of sausage be it patty or link. You can make breakfast sandwiches using them, adding a slice of mild cheddar along with a fried egg. Muffins are a great accompaniment to hearty three egg omelets and are more filling than just plain toast. You cam bake variations such as blueberry corn, or walnuts. If you;re having guests over a fun treat is a brunch filled small muffins; miniature versions of the usual mammoth kind.

Most people love eggs and they always play a big part of a homestyle breakfast. Scrambled eggs are good.they're easy to make and are perfect for large crowds. Vary them by tossing in some bacon or hash along with some cheddar. Omelets are good too. The Western variety require pepper and ham tossed in and you can also add some broccoli and onions too. Spinach omelets are also real crowd pleasers. For a fancier take on eggs think about strata. this is an Italian take on an egg dish.This is layers of eggs with veggies, crumbled sausage on a bed of cubed sourdough.

No homestyle breakfast would be complete without waffles and pancakes. it's pays to have a waffle iron because the homemade taste better and are fluffier than what you get from a box. Besides there's nothing like a hot off the press waffle covered in creamy butter and maple syrup. Pancakes are the same way. With these, try to create a foamy, batter for airier lighter cakes. You can add everything from fruit to nuts and make them in a whole range of sizes.

A hearty breakfast can be done. Your family and guests will appreciate the work you've put into it. You'll appreciate the down home flavor and goodness of it yourself.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Get Ready For Oscar Night!!!

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl of fashion and film. Yup, it's Oscar Night 2009. No matter who you;re routing for Winslett or Streep, Slumdog Millionaire or Milk, you still have to eat. These gatherings are a bit more amped up than the average get together. let's face it you're not going to slurp down champagne during the March Madness finales or eat caviar during the Razzies (award for worst movie of the year). Plan something fun tasty and a bit more elegant than average.

Oscar parties usually require some flair and dash. Most party throwers serve champagne or martinis to deaden the pain of watching the less important Oscar categories. You can also serve sangria if you're also going to serve paella. Any fruity cocktail is good. Serve it in a long glass with a slice of lemon or lime or with a sprig of mint. If you want, you can make a champagne punch too. Bellinis, that wonderful mix of champagne and peach nectar or juice is good with light fare. This is usually served with brunch but it's good with any light chicken dish or even chicken sandwiches. Of course you can go all Hollywood and Wolfgang Puck and serve fancy bottled water too for the designated drivers. (Ginger ale is also good. It looks like champagne when it's served in a flute )

What to feed your hungry movie critics and fashionistas? During these hard times you can nix the caviar but still serve elegant foods.Take deviled chicken , mix with mayonnaise and tarragon and serve on mini croissants. Bruschetta is another good party food. You can make it with tomatoes, vegetables or with cut cold cuts for different twists. Paella is good. It feeds a lot and everyone can have either big or small servings.

Desserts can be just as stylish as any Hollywood chef's can. Buy chocolate cups (or make your own. Melt chocolate chips and then coat cupcake papers). Fill with any instant pudding and fruit. Top with whipped cream or Cool Whip. Also a fun chocolate fondue wouldn't go amiss here either.

Sit back tomorrow night and enjoy the glitz and the glamour. Hoist a glass of your favorite champagne to your fave winning . Enjoy Oscar night in true Hollywood style!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Real Foodie Pantry

I just read a disturbing article in today's New York Times. The article told about laid off middle class people are relying on food pantries to survive. This is a sad sign of the times. Hopefully , this will end within a year. For the meantime, we have to deal with it.

If you are laid off an d have children, don't; feel that there's shame in asking for assistance. You and your kids need sustenance along with nutrition to stay healthy. If anything go for the fresh vegetables and fruits. These provide you with minerals and vitamins. Also beans are another good stock up. With these, you can make a variety of long lasting chilis and ratatouilles for your family . Make extra amounts so that they can be frozen for later dates.Pasta is another stock up. It can be used as the base for both Italian and Chinese dishes. Food pantries also have juice and cereal, much needed staples for little ones. Pantries are great places to get much needed bread, milk, and eggs. There is also some pet food there so if your cat or dog isn't on a special diet, then pick up cans or bags.

For any store owner or manufacturer reading this, please contribute to the food banks. if you're just the average citizen , volunteer in any way possible. Sadly, these harsh economic times call for our help , whether on a grand level or just something small scale. Do what you can. Think of the families involved who need that next meal to keep going. If you want have a food drive yourself where you can collect cans and tins from neighbors. Get involved in your kid's schools fund drives . Even spend a few hours a week at your nearest pantry , helping out.

It's jolting to see most Americans looking for assistance. These are hard times foodwise. We have to help each other out. Swallow our pride and open our arms. We can make life easier for each other.u

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dessert Bacon and Eggs????

There's a new trend right now with restaurant owners and chefs. It's taking breakfast ingredients and serving them up for dessert. The New York Times dedicated an entire article to it in their food section yesterday. There were even recipes .

I don't know about you but having a cup cake iced with frosting made from bacon fat is not my cup of tea. Yet there was a recipe for it , in Wednesday's Times. Bacon is good with eggs, (naturally) and on spinach salad. It's the right accompaniment for a cheeseburger or even criss crossing the top of a meatloaf. It just wasn't meant for dessert. I can understand dipping it in maple syrup with pancakes if you're into the whole sweet salty thing. There's also the comeback of the sweet omelet. Jam omelets are nothing new. I used to make them as a young cook but they weren't really popular in my house. Chef's take the leftover egg batter from French toast and cook it up. French toast itself can be an excellent dessert if served with fresh fruit and maybe a light syrup. That's about it.

Not to be left out cereals too are being mashed and crunched to be made into little cakes or the crust for pies. One recipe calls for the left over milk from a cereal bowl . Somehow I think I'll just stick with a Rice Krispies treat and a cup of tea for after dinner.

OK< foodies, let's hear your opinions. What do you think of this trend? Do you want a bacon and strawberry souffle to top off your meals. Or a chocolate chip omelet served over oatmeal toast?

Sound off here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Power Behind Power Bars

We've all eaten them. We've all been lured by the promise of low calories and a huge energy boost. What are these seductive little goodies? Power bars. yet are they a help or a hindrance to our daily lives and diets?

We have NASA to thank for their invention. The astronauts had to had something not only nutritious but compact to eat. Ingredients such as rolled oats and peanut butter were added for nutrition. Chocolate was added for the taste. Later on dried cranberries and raisins were added for more nutrition. Power bars are a mix of carbs and fiber which help. Personally I'd rather eat fruit as a pick me up. At least I know I'm receiving vitamins and antioxidants. The most I can get from power bars is a dose of calcium.

If you're still gung ho about eating them, then make them yourself. There are a few no bake recipes you can get on the web. With creating your own, you can add the ingredients you like. Add some sunflower seeds to the mix or dried apricots or plums. You do have to buy protein powder, available at any GNC chain or your local health food store.

Are power bars worth incorporating into your diet. That's your decision. If you're active and don;t have time for a proper meal, I ll say OK. Just don' make a habit of them. Everyone needs a meal, full of real food, full of vitamins and nutrients every now and then.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Scotland's Culinary Side

If you think Scotland is just kilts, bagpipes, Nessie and romantic scenery, think again. This ancient land, with its' robust , handsome people also has a great culinary history. Its' rivers and seasides are full of delicious catches and its' country side bursting with crops and sheep. Some of the world's best chefs also have come out of Scotland in recent years. It's not just a wild land, full of passionate people but also a cornucopia filled with amazing foods.

Since Scotland is surrounded by the Irish and the North Seas, its' cuisine has a large amount of fish recipes. There's the famous finnan haddie which is smoked haddock poached in milk and usually served for breakfast (OK, this is not for the faint hearted, that's for sure). The country also has a series of fresh water streams running through it which produces plump, tender salmon.

Oatmeal has always played a large part in the Scottish diet since ancient times. It started as a base for simple cakes and now has been an ingredient in haggis. This is a translation of a Viking dish and is a sausage made from sheep intestines or offal, beef suet and toasted oatmeal. (trust me , it's not as bad as it sounds). Robert Burns, the famed bard of Scotland, immortalized it in it
his famous "Address To The Haggis". Oatmeal is also seen in Scottish desserts as well. There's a rhubarb oatmeal crumb as well as a sweet oat cakes that are very similar to American oatmeal cookies.

I'd be remiss not to include that Scottish favorite - short bread. This buttery cookie was and still is usually made for the Christmas holidays. Housewives used to prick their clans' symbols in the dough and then bake. Now you can buy it with chocolate chips as well as with it dipped in chocolate.

Scotland is an amazing country with amazing good. There are all sorts of foods one can have there, satisfying a taste from the savory to the sweet.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Versatile Eggplant

February calls for hearty meals. There's nothing that fits this requirement than the eggplant. You can cook it a variety of ways, from breaded to stir fried. It's easy to prepare and easy to use. Anyone, from foodie novice to seasoned gourmand can create a tasty dish with it.

Surprisingly enough eggplant has been around since prehistoric times. it was probably one of the first veggies primitive man ate. This cousin of belladonna or deadly nightshade had its' or gins in India and China. It has been written about since the 5th century ACE. It didn't take hold in European households until the Moor s introduced to Spain and Italians trade with the Middle East. The French loved it grilled while Italians made it stuffed or breaded. Even though Americans were leery of this vegetable, President Andrew Jackson loved Spanish style stuffed eggplant and frequently requested it for its' dinner. The great playwright and vegetarian George Bernard Shaw integrated eggplant into his diet as much as possible enjoying an eggplant au gratin.

Eggplants have changed since their early days when they actually resembled swan's eggs. There are many kind s including a seedless Sicilian, Listada di Gandia along with some Asian varieties For a hearty winter dish , think of ratatouille, full of cube d eggplant mingling with tomatoes and onions in a rich vegetable broth.My German great grandparents and grandfather loved making it breaded and calling it poor man's oysters ( I guess it tastes like them). For a healthier alternative stir fry eggplant in garlic and oil and serve with brown rice. Eggplant is a good anti coagulant. It's perfect for reducing the risk of strokes as well as liver problems.

This winter use eggplant to create a hearty flavorful meal. They are wonderful anyway you cook them and provide some good eating too. Pick up a few for your cold weather recipes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

If Chocolate Be The Food Of Love

Today is Valentine's Day (and a good friend's big 5-0 birthday). Celebrate it with chocolate and anything else sweet. Luckily in today's depressed market, candy is the one indulgence we can all afford. There's nothing like a caramel enrobed in dark chocolate or a coconut mound dipped in creamy milk chocolate kind

Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac.It was first used by the Aztecs in MesoAmerica 2,000 years ago in religious ceremonies but also as a stimulant. The Europeans first had it as hot cocoa, sweetened with milk added. Louis XIV of France gave the drink to his mistress. Madame du Pompadour to get her all hot and bothered. A century later chocolate was revolutionized as a yummy candy that could be filled with creams, fruits and caramels. Beaus started to give it to their sweeties ornate candy filled boxes as a way of currying favor and showing their affection.

Thanks to Valentine's Day first being a holiday in the 1800's chocolate giving has reached new heights. It's de rigeur to at least give even a small box of bonbons on this day. There are larger boxes, full of luscious truffles and home made cremes and ganaches. Chocoholics can munch on pepper infused ones that celebrate the sweet's exotic Mexican past or ones that have unusual fillings like salt and bacon (go figure). I prefer caramels or any fudgy sorts. The fruit filled ones are also good as are the chocolate coated nuts.

On this day of hearts and love, indulge in the strongest passion of all - chocolate. Sip a rich hot cocoa during a romantic movie or nibble on some truffles after a candlelit dinner. Enjoy the food of the love gods this February 14th.

A birthday shout out to that St. Valentine's Day baby - Debbie Humphris -Meyer! Enjoy this special day and may every day be like Valentine's Day for you!!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lovin' From The Oven

Well,tomorrow is Valentine's Day and hopefully all you baking savvy foodies are busy with flour and sugar. Nothing says loves like a fresh baked treat whether it be a batch of muffins or a devil's food cake with rich , fudge frosting. You don't have have to knock yourself out. There's Pillsbury and Duncan Hines to turn to if you're a lousy baker.

What to make? Hey, everyone and I mean everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, even Pillsbury';s Slice and Bake kind. There's nothing like the taste of brown sugar and dark, bitter chocolate melting on one's tongue. Sugar cookies are good too. Use heart shaped cookie cutters and then dust with red sugar. A better deal is to ice them with pastel frostings and write cute messages on them. For a more sophisticated batch try gaufrettes, buttery thin wafers that work well with either coffee , tea or a sweet dessert wine.

If you want your valentine to start the day off with some love think about baking biscuits or muffins for breakfast. There are some quick mixes out there that you can create an almost immediate batch of them. they're also not that elaborate to whip up so you can spend your energy making other breakfast goodies. Fresh bread , although, not necessarily thought of as romantic, also makes a nice opener to the day. There's nothing like it to go with bacon and eggs or a big country omelet.

If you're planning on a full dinner for several, then think about making a cake or cupcakes. Red velvet, though a bit more complicated to make than the average is a perfect end for an informal gathering. A plain pound or Bundt cake served with fresh strawberries and cream (or Cool Whip) is a great way of ending a Valentine's meal.If you're throwing a Valentine's Day buffet, then think about ending it with chocolate and vanilla cup cakes iced in pink and white.

Show your love this Valentine's Day by baking your heart out. Have a batch of something hot and sweet waiting for your beloved.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Prepping For Love

I know today is the bicentennial twin birthday's of history's most instrumental men, Abraham
Lincoln and Charles Darwin, however we should get ready for another famous man who has influenced almost every age and generation. Yup it's time to celebrate his day.if you;re cooking for that special someone, it pays t o be prepared early.

You should be writing down right now what you want to make. Sometimes a few grilled steaks and some veggie constitute a romantic meal. Sometimes you've got to put a little elbow grease into it to create wonderful home made pasta followed by a heavenly chocolate mousse. The best bet is making what your beloved likes. If it's an elaborate recipe, then start grocery shopping tonight. Get any eggs, pasta, sauce, flour and extra sugar that you may need. There will probably be a rush of anything chocolate so buy now. If you're looking to cook fresh meats and vegetables go out early Saturday morning and buy them. The same applies for fruits.

Once you've decided what you;re going to be making, ask yourself if some things can be made on Friday night. You can bake tomorrow night and get any cakes, cookies and pies out if the way. The same is true with ice cream and even some tomato sauces. On Valentine's Day itself, you can start with cooking early on. If you're making homemade pasta the best bet is making it that afternoon so it's ready for Saturday night. You may also want to wash , peel and chop veggies.

Another point. Get that champagne early whether it be tonight or tomorrow night. It's the most consumed drink for Valentine's Day and some liquor stores may be out of your favorite brands. Keep it chilled until Saturday night and also keep an extra bottle of the stuff on hand.

While everyone is celebrating the genius of Lincoln and Darwin, start thinking about celebrating that other influential man. Saint Valentine. Make sure his day is full of love and good food.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Underestimate The Simple Sandwich

During these hard times we have to get back to basics. Usually that means cutting out the lunch whether it's at a four star restaurant or Wendy's. There's nothing wrong with brown bagging it and it's always fun to create your own sandwiches. This food item, more than any other has a million variations.

If you want, get a good loaf of fresh baked rye or pumpernickel. Having this as your sandwich base adds another facet to the basic bread meat bread combo. The bread's texture is chewy , perfect for "hearty" meat s like ham and pastrami. You can just add a slick of sharp mustard or plain mayonnaise . A cold roast beef sandwich on pumpernickel is always a good choice. Just add a few grains of sea salt and a small, quick dash of cracked pepper to bring out the meat's deep rich taste and you're good to go. You can also put deviled ham mixed with mayo and celery seeds on this as well .

If you want a more traditional lunch, then stick with rolls. There are so many out there. My favorite is the onion pocket with has a small pocket of moist onions. This is excellent with ham . Another favorite is the egg roll where the bread is a deep, intense yellow. This is due to the large amount of eggs in the recipe. I usually like these stuffed with a chicken salad, the recipe came from Au Bon Pain years ago. It's simple to make. Just take a can of Underwood deviled chicken, mix with about two to three heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise and add about a tablespoon of dried tarragon. I've even made this for fancy luncheons, subbing croissants for the rolls. Sliced turkey and chicken are also good with egg rolls, especially if it's from left over roasters. Somehow sandwich meat tastes better if it's fresh carved off the bone.

For vegans., there's the good mix of tomatoes and soy cheese (or even mozzarella) with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of basil.Sliced red and yellow peppers are also good, served on a crusty roll . Put a few slices of artisanal goat cheese (consider this your one foodie luxury). For any veggie sandwich also consider a mash of olive sand capers to give them some texture and crunch.

Don't discount a simple sandwich. It's a great way of breaking up a day, not being too heavy but at the same time not being too light. It's a perfect meal to hod you over til dinner.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Rise Of The Mega Food Store

Americans love everything big. Houses. Portions. Even our kids and animals. It's no surprise that our supermarkets are huge warehouses , selling everything under the sun. here you can buy lobster, fresh baked bread, cleaning supplies and birthday cards. There's every kind of meat, cookie, veggie and fruit all under one enormous roof.

Yesterday my Mom and I visited a local Super Stop and Shop. I remember when these were smaller grocery stores, they still had a good meat and deli section along with an excellent selection of national brands. The new super kind surpasses it. We were agog with the vast of array of well priced cupcakes (24 for $14.99. That's like a little over a buck and a half each- excellent buy) and the variety of freshly made breads. They even have that rare loaf, the marble rye. Stop and Shop's deli counter looked like one block in length.Amazing. The store had long aisles full of any variety, generic and national brand. We only bought a few needed things, but promised to go back for a proper shop.

The rise of the mega grocery store isn't new. It's been happening here for the last ten to fifteen years. it probably has something to do with Costco, the company who has everything under the sun in a huge warehouse like building. the smaller chains couldn't compete with this (although you do need a paid membership to belong to one) and decided to enlarge. it seems we're the benefactors. Now chains like the A&P and Shop Rite along with Stop and Shop all have mega stores. These are great for suburban shoppers like myself who don't live within walking distance of a store. I can buy a week to two week sworth of food and supplies at these mammoth groceries. In the meantime I can pick up some fresh baked cookies, bread and fresh cut cold cuts for my dinner or lunch. They also have fried chicken , meatl oaf, grilled veggies and an array of salad s in case I want to o some entertaining.

The Mega food store is as much a prt of Americna life these days as voting or a bad economy. We love everyhing supersized things - including our supermarkets.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Manhattan's Finest Its' Bakeries

Manhattan is an amazing island. It's really a foodie's version of Eden. You can get Chinese on one corner, Italian on the next , and Belgian frites across the way. It's also a mecca for great bakeries. too. After all it is the birthplace of the cookie.

New York is teeming right now with cupcakes, thanks to Sex and the City along with the famed Magnolia Bakery down on Bleeker Street. There is also Billy's bakery that makes the same versions and then some. New York cupcakes are what other cupcakes should aspire to. There's a dense , rich cake topped with a mound of butter cream icing and some decorations whether they be sprinkles, chocolate chips or silver dragees. Cakes are phenomenal, with everything from red velvet to cannoli cream filled ones.

Since this island birthed the cookie during the Dutch rule (and is a variation of a Dutch based fried cake), expect to find any and every kind. There is the black and white - made famous on that epitome of al l New York shows, "Seinfeld" along with buttery ruggalah and Lindzer tortes. There are some good small French meringues too, belonging to some of the city's best patisseries.

This is also the island for bread. You can get every kind, from Jewish rye and challah to loaves of crusty French and Italian. There is also German pumpernickel and Arab flat bread as well to fit the variety of sandwich fillings out there too.

Manhattan has some amazing sites , most of them belonging to the food industry. If you're visiting the island, make Manhattan's bakeries your first stop.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lincoln's Foods

This week, February 12th , marks the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. His family was very much like my father's ancestors, frontiersmen making do in a new Eden. Some dishes, popular in Lincoln's Indiana and Kentucky are still eaten today. There's the spicy stew burgoo and barbecue, a sweet mix of sauce and pulled pork. Squirrel and raccoon was eaten back then, as I'm sure , snake was. Thankfully, people have lost their taste for those meats.

Burgoo was a popular dish that everyone made. My great granny Roberts was an excellent cook and had her recipes for it. Burgoo came from 17th century English sailors and it was originally a thin gruel made of bulghur and cooked like a ragout. Say these two words quickly and it sounds like "burgoo." Another explanation is a slurring of "bird stew." Early burgoo recipes were great ways of getting rid of leftover game and vegetables. Most families and restaurants have their own recipes, with some using more beef and tomato or others using chicken and peppers. Originally cooked over a fire in a steel pot you can now make burgoo in a crock pot, letting it simmer for two hours. The tastiest ones have a mix of chicken, beef and pork cut along with veggies such as corn, tomato, okra along with red and green peppers. Seasoning is up to you. It usually has a sweet, spicy taste so you can add one or two tablespoons of brown sugar or molasses. A few shakes of cayenne and cracked black pepper won't go amiss here either. Burgoo can be frozen and microwaved for later meals.

Another dish, that was getting started in Lincoln's youth was barbecue. This was a passion of mine , pulled pork (and later soy meat) drenched in a spicy vinegar based sauce. In Lincoln's day cooks may have used mutton thanks to the extensive sheep farms in western Kentucky. The sauce was probably a mix of vinegar, water, molasses and spices and added to the meat. Carolinians and Virginians probably brought this dish with them when they claimed land s in the west. For th e last almost one hundred year barbecue has been served on a soft bun and eaten with a Coke . The dish was called "a soak and a Coke" as my dad and aunt would have said. Sadly enough you can't get it here in North Jersey although there are a few places in South NJ that do make it.

Basically Abraham Lincoln ate American foods; variations first brought over from his English and Colonial American ancestors. Foods like burgoo and barbecue are still being served today. Their taste is part of what makes America great, using traditions of the past for today's meals.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cauliflower The Most Versatile Veggie

I get excited every time I see cauliflower. Why? Because it's a vegetable you can do a million things with and each way is always so delicious. Not only that but certain grocery stores are having sales on it. That alone should make it popular in these dollar challenged times.

The plant is a member of the Brassicacae family and more specifically brassica oleraca and is a cousin to kale , Brussels sprouts and broccoli. it is a cruciferous veggie and is loaded with cancer fighting sulfurophanes. These keeps estrogen levels down as well as providing much needed Vitamin C and folate.Cauliflower also has sulphur containing phyto nutrients that help detox the liver. The vegetable is low in calories and an excellent diet food.

What I love about this veggie is its' versatility. It's pure heaven when it's breaded and fried. It's makes a nutty, creamy soup as well as being delicious in a light cream sauce. It adds to any big meal , complimenting poultry and beef. Cauliflower is also a good crudite. The little white florets are fun to snack on raw with a healthy dip such as olive oil and red pepper. It can even be used as a substitute for potatoes and you can make a mashed cauliflower dish. (it's known as fauxtato).

Buy cauliflowers now that they're in season. They're so versatile. You can make them fried for lunch and then save the rest for a warm creamy bisque for the weekend. They're the best food bargain out there right now.

Breaded Cauliflower Recipe (my mom's/family recipe)

1 medium sized cauliflower washed and broken into pieces

2-3 eggs beaten

1 cup plain breadcrumbs (you can add dashes of sea salt and cracked pepper to this if you like)

4 tablespoons margarine and two tablespoons olive oil for frying.

Boil cauliflower in unsalted water for about ten minutes . DON'T overcook or the pieces will fall apart in tiny bits. After boiling, drain and cool.

While the cauliflower is cooling off heat margarine and olive oil in a skillet over a low flame. Dip cauliflower florets in egg until evenly coated and then dredge in breadcrumbs. Fry until brown. You should have fifteen large pieces of cauliflower.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Avocados - Good Tasting And Good For You

if you think avocados are just for guacamole , think again. This fruit is wonderful in salads and with eggs. It's also good just on it's own , thanks to its' rich buttery taste and texture. Avocados are very healthy for you , lowering cholesterol.

The fruit is a cousin of a pear and it has the same kind of shape as an Anjou pear. The name itself is derived from Nahuatl word and was indigenous to Mexico. Avocados are high in potassium which helps lower cholesterol. They also help to boost the immune system so incorporate them into your diet this winter.warning though., They are high in calories and fat. having one or tow a week is fine.

Avocados should be firm yet yielding to the touch when ripe. Try to pick them when they're in the ripening stage. If you do pick unripe ones just let them sit on the table or in a bag with an apple or banana to speed up the ripening process. Try not to have too much leftover because they blacken quickly and resemble mulch. I usually like mine with some sliced tomatoes and onions with a light dousing of oil and vinegar. You can mash them and put them on toast for a healthy breakfast or as a burger topping (known as a California burger).

Avocados are a good , healthy fruit, perfect for the winter. They will help you lower your cholesterol and amp up your immune system. have a few on hand for some salads or as a nice sandwich topping.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Foods To Soothe A Foodie's Tummy

A foodie's life may be a great one but he or she has to have a strong stomach. Our kind love everything from the spiciest to the iciest when it comes to food and drink. However our stomachs may not like what we eat. What to do? Well, there could be that ever present bottle of Tums or Rolaids or you can fight fire with fire. There are a few foods that settle a dyspeptic tummy.

Ginger is one of the best cures for any upset stomach or nausea. I always have some on hand that I can eat right from the canister or drop a cube or two into my tea. It's been soothing stomachs since the beginning of timeand was considered a digestive aid in Colonial America. Ginger ale, beer or tea is perfect for anyone suffering through a bad stomach flu. The ginger will stop and settle the nauseous feelings while the sugar and liquid stave off any dehydration. Ginger is also good for curing motion sickness so have it in the car for long trips. You can buy the Ginger People's Ginger Chews for this. One or two taken with hot or cold tea should do the trick.

I found that peppermint is another good tummy soother. I always have a tin of the uber mints, Altoids in my bag. These little dynamos have gotten me through some greasy, spicy meals and their aftereffects for the years.Peppermint is good in tea and help a roiled stomach after a big lunch or dinner. Have a box of it at the ready for just such occasions. It may be a little daunting if you have some kin d of stomach bug however. Use it in moderation if you feel a little off. Ginger is the better choice here.

Don't reach for the Tums or Rolaids right away if you're not feeling quite right. Try the foodie remedy of all natural ginger or peppermint to cure an upset stomach. You'll feel better . Trust me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Dark Side Of Bread

If you're getting tired of white bread, you may want to try the alternatives. There are a variety of dark breads out there from rye to pumpernickel. These are flavorful and good as toast or just as a sandwich bread.

Rye bread has been around since Anglo Saxon times. it is a staple of Germany and eastern Europe although it was also popular in the United Kingdom. as tasty as it is , it did have a bad rap when rye bread also produced the brain altering ergot disease. Modern day rye breads are fine, making an excellent base for roast beef, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. Rye slices make excellent toast and are good with bacon and eggs.

Another good choice is pumpernickel. This is a variation of rye and sourdough, originating in Westphalia Germany (yes, that Westaphalia, Germany where the luscious Westphalian hams comes from).The bread gets its' dark color from the addition of either molasses, cocoa powder or coffee and comes out of the oven usually a dark brown or black color. Pumpernickel is good with any kind of pork cold cut such as ham (and usually slathered with sharp German mustard). Pumpernickel rolls are also a good accompaniment to any kind of hearty, winter soup. The name means the devil's gas. I prefer the story where Napoleon first saw this bread and wouldn't eat it. He declared. "C'est pain pour Nicole". "It's bread for (my horse ) Nicole." and hence the name.

If you're tired of white bread then head for the darker ones. They add some zest and flavor to ordinary sandwiches, rolls and even toast.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Spain's Culinary Wonders

Spain is known for many things including excellent cuisine. The country has many different provinces and different examples of regional cooking. It is centuries old and full of native meats and vegetables. There is tapas, seafood, rice and flan , all traditional, all good.

Spanish food has both Arab and European influences. The country was first settled by Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians who brought with them their love of olive oil and good wine. The Arabs also claimed the peninsula and gave Spain. their different sweets and cakes. The Celts also had settlements in Northern Spain in Asturias and gave that region some of their food preferences. The Spaniards also love saffron and any of their dishes are seasoned with it. It is one of the main ingredient s in their national dish, paella.

Spain has some excellent seacoasts that provide the country with shrimp, lobster and eels. The interior is home for pig farms which give the Spanish their beloved serrano ham. Veal is also big in Spain especially in the north.Other crops like the tomato and potato have come when the country was the dominant leader in discovery.

Spain is an interesting country with a variety of different dishes and tastes. It's a major influence on world cooking as well.