Friday, July 31, 2009

Macaroni Salad That Summer Staple

Mention a classic summer dish and everyone will say macaroni salad. it;s been around for decades gracing our picnic tables and complementing our burgers and dogs. For beginning cooks it's the easiest recipe to make. For gourmands it sometimes can be an embarrassment - a homage to white bread cooking. Yet you can put different spins on it to make the classic more hip and modern.

Macaroni salad was first made in the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Elbow macaroni was mixed with fresh cream , spices and herbs and then served on iceberg lettuce. Somewhere along the line the cream was subbed with mayonnaise and the classic was born. it was first served molded as a side to dishes, usually in diners and delis. It would take a few more decades for it to become a home standard. even then only the most adventurous housewives (such as my Mom) would add chopped onions and celery to the mix. The braver ones would add carrots and sliced bell peppers ,giving the sometimes soggy salad crunch color and taste.

Nowadays you can do interesting things with macaroni salad. You can boil of the tricolore kind and mix in an oregano laced vinaigrette. This is the perfect accompaniment to grilled kabobs or fish. You can also add some tuna to turn it into a pasta salad Nicoise. Another variation is tweaking up the original recipe. Add a good dash of tarragon to the mayo along with some cold grilled chicken. Or try a mustard laced mayo and then add cold ham chunks and coarsely chopped celery. This is a salad after all so you can be as creative as possible. Put the flavors and textures you want in it.

Macaroni salad doesn't have to be that bland mass of mayo and soggy pasta. You can liven it up with a variety of ways. It can still be a classic but with a very modern twist.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lights! Action! Food!

Foodies everywhere should be excited at this summer’s movie fare. Yesterday’s Wednesday’ food section of The New York Times had a huge artile about the new Julia Child movie, Julie & Julia. The piece, written by, Kim Severson, tells about the food that was used for that and other movies. Yes there are movies where food gets the top billing. However the movies’ stars, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are pretty appetizing too!

Julia Child was the champion of French cooking here in the States. The movie shows this with the variety and amount of food. The stylist, Susan Spungen even baked twenty five cakes just for the scenes for Julia‘s birthday. Another required plunging lobsters; in boiling water for the scenes however no crustaceans were harmed in the making of these scenes. Instead there were a cold water mist to simulate steam and there were lobster wranglers from PETA present to make sure no one got hurt. Another scene called for Amy Adams to drop a fruit Bavarian, a rich type of cream cake . That required a special breakaway mold filled with whipped cream and raspberry puree so that it could spatter properly the way one would if you tossed it on your kitchen floor.

The film was written by the great Norah Ephron (remember she also wrote Heartburn and that also starred Ms. Streep twenty some odd years ago). Ms. Ephron is a notoriously good cook and it’s no wonder that she would give us a movie like that. It should be funny and sharp, with special and loving interest on that third leading character - the food. (OK fourth, the film also has Stanley Tucci as Mr. Childs).

Will I see Julie and Julia when it comes out. Being a foodie I should. Although it’s fun to watch it when it comes out on DVD with a wedge of Brie , good crackers and some Asti.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Bing Cherry - The Perfect Fruit

Everyone associates summer fruits as peaches or watermelon but there's another one it;'s also sweet and juicy and fun to eat. What is it? The Bing cherry The season is here to enjoy them. have them plain after a barbecue or pitted and sliced over vanilla ice cream.

The season for these is usually June or July but I've only recently noticed them in my local A&P. They come from the Pacific Northwest where they were first cultivated in the 1870's. Their "inventor " (if that;s the right word for him) was Seth Lewelling and his foreman, a man only known as Ah Bing.It was Bing, a Manchurian immigrant, who cultivated them and perhaps even invented this hybrid cross. Bing cherries are plump and firm when ripe but can spoil easily. Try to eat them within a couple of days of buying otherwise you'll have dry rotty, cherries in the fridge. Their skins are also delicate and they can burst almost upon touching They are helpful in lessening arthritis and gout pains. A cup is only fifty seven calories. Bing cherries as are very low in sodium but high in Vitamins A and C. They're the perfect snack if you're fighting off a summer cold or sniffles.

Bing cherries are a good dessert or snack just by themselves (although be careful, too many of them can cause a wicked stomach ache). They have a sweetness that just seems to envelope the mouth and leave a lovely aftertaste.I always feel that they should be left on their own and not paired with anything else. However you can mix pitted and sliced ones into your vanilla ice cream or use them in a decadent cherries jubilee. There's also Bing Cherry lemonade where they're crushed and added to fresh squeezed lemons , sugar syrup and ice water.They also are good cooked with duck, melding with the meats' sweet, gamy taste. Another use is sliced cherries in a melon or fruit salad, or even in a regular salad with chicken, and walnuts. You can also make a cherry vinegar adding a few Bings to red wine vinegar.

Take advantage of the short seasonthat produces htese amazing fruits. They're the perfect summer treat after a hearty barbecue or as a snack on a lazy hot afternoon. Enjoy one of the best fruits of the season.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hot Weather Hydration A Foodie Must Have

The hot, sticky weather is finally here. With it comes the need to hydrate our bodies with liquids. Let's face it Coke won't do it. It'll only make you thirstier? Forget about those calorie laden iced lattes. The best bet is H2O - yup a glass or bottle of iced water will always keep you quenched and hydrated.

Years ago just plain old tap water and ice did the trick. Now there are so many waters to choose from.There's the caffeine soaked Fyxx which gives you a kick plus hydration. Vitamin water which quenches thirst and supplies your body with much needed vitamins and a host of other waters. What to choose from? Again that's your choice. I think the best bet is try one that works with your lifestyle and your tastes (as well as your pocketbook or wallet). If an inhouse brand is on sale go for it. I've tried both Target's and A&P's bottled waters and they''re really the same as Poland Spring and Evian.

What about flavored waters?. Some are OK. To be truthful I've only tried the A&P's. it has no calories and tastes like watered down fruit ade. Not bad if you're having it with a meal , I guess . If I'm on the beach or out on my walks , then I just want a clean, crisp taste. For flavors i can always stir int hose strawlike packets of flavoring won't to the water bottles. I'm not going to go crazy over flavors. All I want is something that will keep me healthy and hydrated when the temps hit the high marks.

Now is the time to pick your water and get used to drinking a bottle or two a day. It will
keep you not only cool but also refreshed during these icky, sticky hot days. Have a cool icy glass or bottle now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grom - The Best Gelateria In NYC

Yesterday I finally went to Grom, a trendy little gelateria located on Bleeker and Carmine in Greenwich Village. 9there's another location at Columbus Circle too). I should have visited them sooner because the ice cream is the best in the city. it was fresh and flavorful, similar to what I had back in Italy.

Grom is the last name of one of the founders. There are two co owners Federico Grom (hence the name) and Guido Martinieti who come from San Maurizio , the town where my great grandfather was born in Piedmonte Italy.Their idea of ice cream and ice is creating the best form the ingredients found on Grom's farm Mura Mura in western Asti (yes that Asti where the sparkling wine is form). along with ingredients such as chocolate from Central America and Africa (both believe in Fair Trade) The gelateria has every kind of flavor from the rich nocciola and pistachio to the delicate flavors of vanilla and coffee. There is also granita and from what their brochure says hot chocolate in the winter. Grom also sells Piedmontese battifoglio biscotti and fresh made torrone as well.

What I love about Grom is that it's the closest I have to real Italian ice cream here in the States. I had some small bites of the nocciola and pistachio and was impressed with the smooth, creamy texture and the taste. there's no after taste as there is with American ice creams. The lemon sorbet was perfect. It's made with fresh Amalfi lemons and mountain (meaning theAlps here) spring water.It didn't have the metallic tang that some lemon ices possess and was just refreshing on a hot summer Sunday.I'm looking forward to their other flavors such as apricot and strawberry as well as the raspberry. Grom is pricey however. The smallest cup is five dollars so make the most of it.

If you're visiting New York this summer, head to Grom,Even if you live in the Bleeker Street area head over to it for a refreshing treat. It's like taking a mini vacation to the best gelateria in Turin.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spicing Up The Summer

Even though it's hot out , there nothing wrong with spicing up your summer cooking. There's a variety of ways to go , whether with curry or cinnamon, cardamon or nutmeg. They add a small blastof heat and flavor, giving even the most ordinary foods an exotic flavor. There are many spices to choose form.It just dpeends on what you want and the taste you're looking for.

Spices are used for rubs during the wamrer weather. This makes any grilled meat not only tastier but better looking too. The spice of choice for this is usually paprika. it gives it a peppery zest while tinging the meat a nice orange color. Cumin is another good spice used mostly in Indian cooking and mixed with cinnamon and cardamon.This is good if you;re making any kind of kabob or outdoor curry. marjoram and oregano, herbs considered to be spices, are good in a lemon marinade.

Spices can be used at the end of a meal too. There are many summertime desserts that can do with some flavor enhancement. Add some ground cinnamon or nutmeg to plain vanilla ice cream for a different spin. Another is to sprinkle some on berries such as blueberries or blackberries for a more exotic taste. Spiced apples in whipped cream is another interesting sweet.

Don't be afraid to heat up your meals and desserts this summer. Use spices to bring in a more lively flavor. it's the hot that welcomed.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Free Cakes

Some of us can't have our cake and eat it too. Thanks to the many allergies out there a slice of the sweet treat is usually forbidden. However there is hope, thanks to all sorts of cakes being made. Now you can buy or bake a sugar free, gluten free, egg free, and dairy free cake.

Glutens are what hold flour together when it's being mixed That's why all batters have that wall paper paste look and sometimes consistency. You can buy mixes and plain flours that are also free of this . Usually ground brown rice or bean flour is used.Another ingredient you can do without is white cane sugar. There are plenty of natural subs out there that can do the trick too such as beet sugar or even spices.

Cakes can also be made with dairy and egg substitutes . This is to prevent any other allergies from happening as well (considering these can be the most severe). Your best bet with the milk sub is soy milk. I've read online reviews of it and the bakers seems to like it both for its' consistency , and subtle flavor. Rice milk could also be used. For eggs look on line or in the egg section of your supermarket for a decent stand in. If worse comes to worse you can go to bakeries whether in your area or on line that specialize in dairy and egg free cakes.

If you have problems or just want a more healthier treat then think about cakes that are free of glutens, sugars dairy and eggs. You'll be surprised at how good they taste. Not only that, they're also better for you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Of Salads And TV Shows

Yesterday's NY Times Food Section was chock full of wild and interesting articles . The ones that caught my eye were Mark Bitman.s salad guide and an article dedicated to this crazy cable food show coming out of The Bronx, New York Both deserve some write up in today's blog.

The first article is a good comprehensive guide to summer salads. Hopefully you foodies out there with access to The Times kept it and will make good use of it this summer. What I liked about it are the cold pasta salads. Normally I would just serve a large romaine based one myself however there is something interesting and satisfying about I love the fact that Bitman also mentions to add slices of cold beef or Italian cold cuts to salads as well. Everyone is so about chicken ,salmon or shrimp in their salads that they forget how good it is to have sliced roast beef with a simple vinaigrette and mixed in with a salad.

The second article is about a local cable Bronx , New York show . It stars someone called the Baron (and kind of looks like a Sasha Baron Cohen ) It involves an adventure , usually with a woman , It also eating a different ethnic cuisine to get him out of the mess. OK, so may it's not Throwdown With Bobby Flay, but it sounds entertaining. He does help to open peoples minds and palates it comes to trying cuisine of different cultures. You can catch episodes on

So there you have it . Salads and a superhero. Leave it to The Times to make food interesting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Slicker Dumplings - A Midwest Treat

The American Midwest is known for some good food. There's pulled pork sandwiches, burgoo, cobbler and slicker dumplings. This last was a specialty of my great grandmother's . They rounded out many a meal and also absorbed the wonderful gravies that she was known for . They;'re easy to make and good with anything.

Slicker dumplings i, it turns out are also found in the South and Appalachia as well. They are big with chicken and turkey stews as well as with beef ones. The consistency is similar to pasta (hence the name slicker , because of their shiny appearance) . To make them, requires a good cup of chicken or turkey stock (more flavorful in my opinion) along with one beaten egg. Also add in a teaspoon and a half of baking soda to give them some airiness when cooking.The recipe sometimes calls for leavening which leaves them puffy. True slicker dumplings are flat and are more like lasagna noodles, They do puff up slightly when cooked. Slicker dumplings have a mild, breadlike taste . If you want you can add some ground pepper to them. my family recipe call for dropping them into the stew and then letting them cook up and flat to the top. until they form a "crust over the stew).

What are slicker dumplings good with? Usually a rich chicken stew, redolent with carrots, herbs and onions. You can vary it by cooking them with a beef stew and cut up pot roast (if that's the case then sub in beef stock for chicken in their initial making). They'll act as the bread, sopping up the stews juices or cushioning the meat bits. You can also store the leftovers in the fridge and reheat them for another meal (although I doubt that. Usually slicker dumplings disappear in one meal).

Slicker dumplings are a wonderul side of true American cooking. They add texture and flavor to any beef, chicken or turkey stew. Try them tonight for some down home cooking and flavor.!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nothing BetterThan Entenmann's

A big summer treat for any American kid was a glass of cold milk and Entenmanns' fudge donuts . There was nothing like the taste of a moist vanilla cake drenched in a candy coating of dark, rich chocolate. Then there's their butter cake that can send some people into rapture. Actually any Entenmann's product is good , considering it's factory made and mass produced. Every product tastes like it's just fresh baked and right out of your oven.

Entenmenn's was started in 1898 by William Entenmenn from Stuttgart,Germany. He took his father's bread recipes and started his own bakery in Brooklyn,, New York. It was later moved to bay Shore, Long island when his son suffered rheumatic fever and the family had to get out of the crowded city to the healthier Long Island countryside By the Twenties and Thirties the bakery had become a standard with even the Vanderbilts and the Morgan.s It was in the 1950s that home delivery gave way to supplying grocery stores. By the Sixties Entenmanns had its' own plant on five acres of bay Shore real estate.

Everyone has heard or eaten Entenmanns .They have a wealth of products form their many kids of donuts to their rich chocolate backed holiday butter cookies. there;s also the yummy crumb cake (once a favorite of Frank Sinatra). Entenmann's also bakes loaf cakes from butter to chocolate chip to raisin. These make a great dessert with a side of ice cream or fruit and whipped cream. Then there are the crumb cakes, moist gems with buttery sweet cinnamon toppings. The company also produces a wide variety of Danishes too, filled with sweet cheese or fruit and cinnamon. For the diet conscious there's also the Lite Bites which are only 100 calories. These are great desserts for brown bag lunches.

Entenmann's is a mainstay of American life and our lives. We all have good memeoires of the products, After all there 's nothing like the memory of a cold refrigerated chocolate fudge donut on a hot summer's day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Swedish Cooking Perfect For Long Summer Days

Sweden isn't notorious for any summertime activities. Everyone knows it primarily for skiing and phenomenal Christmas sweets However this is also one of the countries for the Midnight Sun, a time when summer days are 24 hours long. It's also known as the best place for extravagant summer outings. These usually consist of hampers filled with native dishes, popular during the warmer months.

The Swedes are big on seafood and you'll find that in any hamper. They make a smorgastarta,
which kind of resembles a big tea sandwich.I t requires a loaf of bread, cream cheese and fillings such as hard boiled egg or shrimp. You can also use egg and salmon or even liver pate and then frost with a cream cheese "icing" plain cream cheese. The construct on is similar to those chocolate wafer cakes. Another favorite is open faced sandwiches with that staple from Viking days, herring. Another one meatball are served as are potatoes for great midsummer feasts.

Sweden is also known for its' crayfish and there are even festivals celebrating it. If you're over in Stockholm, It's a great pleasure to be invited to a crayfish dinner where they're prepared with dill , sugar and salt. They're served with side dish of new boiled potatoes and shaved cucumber. There is usually buttered rye bread too to help blance the fish's taste..

Sweden is the land of the Midnight Sun and all day revelry and fun. The picnics reflect it in their easy to make dishes, perfect for a summer outing anywhere. Even in places where the sun goes down at eight PM!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Birthday Cakes - Our Favorite Memory

There's nothing like a birthday cake to evoke memories of good times and good tastes. Our earliest memories are the festivities to mark our coming into this world. Memories of favors or games may fade but cake ones remain strong. they kind of like what Madeleine's were to Marcel Proust.

The best ones are the homemade ones in my opinion These are the one from Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines, usually in a chocolate or devil's food. The best icing ? Homemade butter cream where the icing gets hard on the top forming a thin crust but remains buttery soft underneath.The decoration? Colored sprinkles to round it out. It's still a favorite of mine - unless you sub in the vanilla icing with fudge frosting.

Of course as we get older some of our tastes change. I've enjoyed strawberry shortcake or Grand Marnier infused sponge cake as a birthday dessert with family or at a friends. There were the birthday cannoli as well (trying putting a candle in one of those) and the birthday crostata. A fun one is the cupcake, really a mini version of the standard birthday cake bit a cake just for me and me alone.

Yes, there' s nothing like a fun birthday cake to bring back the good memories. Just the taste of mosit vanilla cake frosted delicately with homemade buttercream icing can remind one of the small joys in life. Not to mention the fun that came with it.

Happy Birthday to anyone celebrating today!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Butler's The New Best Chococlate

The other day I wrote about Butler's Chocolates as one of the new things to watch on the foodie scene. It is an amazing shop, different from Godiva yet similar in some ways. It's also a great place to stop in for a coffee or an ice cream.

Butler's originated in Dublin in 1932 on small little street called Lad Lane. Marion bailey was an expert chocolate maker and began to sell her creations in the small sweet shop, Like today's recipes she used only the best Irish butter, imported chocolate and fresh fruit san d nuts. later in 1959, Seamus Sorenson bought it from her yet still kept the original headquarters in Lad Lane. over th e last fifty years it expanded its facilities moving from the original area to Pearse Street then eventually opening a factory in Clonshaugh Dublin,. They went first to New Zealand and then to , of all places, my local mall in Northern New Jersey. I'm glad they did though.

Butler's has become my new favorite candy. I love the dark bitter chocolate bars filled with praline and whole almonds as well as their "gift" chocolates, a free bonbon when you ordered coffee. It's has a smooth caramel center, and a creamy, milky chocolate exterior. I can't wait to go tonight to buy their fudge and brittle. The iced mocha lattes are the best, having the consistency of a rich chocolate milk shake. it;'s a quick pick me up when you're bargain shopping.I''m also in live with their Grand Marnier mousse cake , a perfect round or orange liqueur flavored mousse on top of a moist chocolate cake round.

Be lucky if you live in the Bergen County region of New Jersey . You;re only a stone's throw away from some of the best candy in the world. If not , then take a trip to Dublin to experience this amazing chocolates or visit their web site.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gyro In the Making

Yesterday's New York Times Food section had an interesting article on the gyro, that yummy Greek mainstay. New York city is known fro them (probably selling more a day than Athens does) and it can either be a delight or a nightmare. if dome right a gyro is heaven with a melange of all different tastes and textures,

Gyro is actually where our word hero comes from. the article written by David Sagal, explains how they became a part of tho American culinary scene. It actually started with a non Greek, John Garlic (no kidding) who mass produced the gyro cone and sold them from fairs to universities, making the gyro a staple of American fast food. The meat, a combination of lamb and beef along with bread crumbs, water oregano and other seasoning was put in these cones made for easy rotisserie grilling. They had been a staple of of Greek restaurants and Greek family barbecues for decades. Now was the chance to bring it to the masses.

Sadly enough the article doesn't go into the delight of having one. A gyro is a wonderful meal, especially when it's made fresh with lamb or beef. There are the wonderful spices of oragano and marjoram in the meat iself. Add feta cheese, tomatoes and onion and top with tzatziki sauce. This last is a topping of yogurt, sliced cucumbers, garlic oil and vinegar. It moistens the meet in much the same way mayo does a sandwich.

Gyros are a fun dinner or even snack. The article doesn't say that the bestones are what you can find in authentic Greek restuarants or if you're lucky to attend one, at a true Helenic barbecue.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Stuff Plus Butler's Chocolates

There's a ton of new products and one fmalous newly arrived Irish candy store chain to write about today. I found a greatweb article yesterday about all the new food that will be coming out in Fall of 2009 and January 2010. Plus I happened on a great new candy store, coffee shop at my mall called Butlers. This is a foodie cornucopia of neat new tastes and textures.

Well, the newest foods on the markets are actually old ones with new spins. There is the pequino whic is like a watermelon for Barbie. It tastes more like a pickle and would probably be good in a salad or doused with vinaigrette aliongside burger s and kabobs. There's also a jalapeno infused relish that would be tasty along side spicy ribs next summer. That old standard cheese takes on a new spin with smoked (!yes smoked) blue cheese and a mild cheddar coated with a ground esspresso bean rind. The biggest surprise is the addition of bacon to both chocolate and pancake mixes.The meat's saltiness acts as a perfect foil for the sweet. If you think about it , combining bacon with sweet is nothing new. We've been dipping it into our maple syrup and pancakes for some tiome now.

Speaking of new and chocolate, the Irish chain Butler's has finally landed here in the States and at my local mall. I'll be writing more about it this Friday. I just stopped yesterday in for a chocolate iced latte which was phenomenal.It was like a mocha shake , all thick and creamy.They also sell phenomenal pastries and we had a mini cake with a Grand Marnier mousse on top of a moist chocolate cake round. Yummm. Another fun plus is that the store gives you an indvidual bonbon with your coffee. This was smooth and creamy too. I can't wait to go back Friday to get some other great treats

Foodies be on the lookout for all sorts of new foods to hit your local grocery shelves. Also keep an eye out for Butler's at your local malls. The new is coming so be prepared.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Voici - Toute La France Pour Le Jour De La Bastille

Today is Bastille Day French pastries, I thought I'd dedicate the entire entry to the various foods of France. The French landscape is a wide and varied one. It has the wine region in the Southwest while the Southeast has the Alps and fertile fields of the Mediterranean basin. The North is a mixture of land and sea, evident in their various dishes. French cooking is the most varied, owing to the climate and landscape.

Provence provides France with the rich cooking of the local farms and a bounty rich sea, Here you can find olives, fish, tomatoes and onion. There's nothing like a briny, saffron infused bouillabaisse with fresh made, crusty bread. Another treat is pissaladerie. which is a Provencale pizza made with ground olives on toasted bread. Travel a bit north and you get the Alpine cooking, such as the Swiss influenced fondue and raclette . On the other side of southern France there is the Burgundy wine region where the best wines and champagnes are made. Here is also good cuisine, escargots, snails drenched in butter and parsley and the famed jambon persille ham cured with again parlsey. Burgundy is also known for its' rich potage bourguignonne, a vegetable soup flavored with bits of bacon and ham.

Northern France is loaded with history and a history of good food as well. It is here that the famous sea salt, sel du St. Michel is mined in beds near the Monastery of St. Michel in the English Channel. In neighboring Brittany crepes , a true symbol of French cuisine, have been made for centuries and originated there. There are gallettes or crepe stands all through the towns of the region. Brittany is also known for its' mussel or moules, steamed in white wine. Then there's the part of France that borders Germany in Alsace. The region is a mix of Gallic and Germanic foods.

France - it's not just the cultural capital of the world. It's also the culinary one too. Celebrate it . Discover the wonders of French cuisine aujourd 'hui.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dill - The Summer Herb

Dill is a wonderful herb to grow and use in the summer. It complements many light summer dishes, and adds a delicate flavor to grilled fish, dressings and salads. Many people are afraid to use it because they’re not familiar with its’ sweet fennel like taste. Don’t; be. It’s a good addition to any warm weather dish.

Dill originated in Eastern Europe but was also found around the Mediterranean and Asia. It was even discovered in the tomb of the Egyptian king, Amenhotep II and in archeological digs of ancient British settlements. Dill seeds were also found preserved in the Neolithic ruins around Swiss lakes. The herb is mentioned in the Talmud as well as in the New Testament when Jesus scolded the Pharisees for using seeds and stems to pay their tithes. The name either comes from the Norse or Anglo-Saxon word dylle which means to lull or to soothe because it relieved gas.

Nowadays we use dill in everything from fish dishes such as gravlax or grilled salmon and various salads and pickles where the entire flower is used. My favorite and easiest is cucumbers in a dill and sour cream sauce. This an easy recipe. Take one large cucumber, Slice thinly. Place in a bowl containing about half a cup or sour cream and fresh dill (Note always use fresh dill to get the best flavor). Add freshly ground sea salt and cracked pepper. Chill . Serve as a side dish to any summer dish whether it’s kabobs or hamburgers.

Don’t be afraid to use this great and versatile herb. Use it for your outdoor cookouts or in a salad. It’s one of the best things to come out of a summer garden.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Came I Saw I Tried

Yesterday's entry was devoted to this stand in my local mall. All it sold was corn and potatoes. As a foodie I was intrigued so I went up. Mind you the mall was already crowded because the kid who plays Draco Malfoy (that snotty blonde teen from Hogwarts) was also at the mall promoting the new Harry Potter movie. it was chaos getting to the stand which was well out of the food court.

Was it worth it?

Well, to be honest I don't really know. The stand is called Cup It and it features food in - you guessed it - a cup! it was created by a Turkish immigrant to the States and the concept is really really new. there's another one at the Palisades Mall in Nyack, New York, not far from here. I checked the reviews on that one and like me, diners were a bit confused. The concept is food in a cup but it's corn niblets not popcorn or fries. It cost me four bucks for niblets mixed with butter and salt. There are other flavors such as Mumbai which I guess is curry and then there's a barbecue one. I like corn and especially buttered corn but I don't feel a cup of it is a substantial dinner with a diet Coke. Also the idea of paying four bucks for it is a little pricey. I can go to my neighborhood A&P and just buy up a whole slew of canned corn fo r that price

The potatoes were little waffle fries , not balls and they were flavored as well. I didn't get that but tried my Mom's waffle in a cup. It a medium sized round waffle squished in a cup. Nutella is added to it along with fruit or nuts. She chose fruit and whipped cream. It wasn't so bad , kind of tasting like a warm brown derby cake. Still not what I would get at my local mall for dinner though.

So I tried Cup It. I think it would have more potential if it served a variety of fries or maybe even soups. Eating niblet corn , even as a snack is just too outre. Maybe it could work , with some tweaking. It just leaves me puzzled.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Corn-y Stuff

There was a new stand at the mall yesterday that caught my attention. All they were doing is selling cups of cooked corn kernels. Nothing else with it , just steamed kernels. They also sold little potato balls, not gnocchi, just rounded dime sized balls. This has snagged my curiosity.

I am planning on checking out this corn stand tonight. Anyone that sells just a cup a corn and expects to be successful - well bless 'em. Unless there's some kind of sauce whether butter , or oil or spice sprinkled on it no one is going to buy this,. There are other veggies that would be more saleable such as carrot sticks and broccoli florets, These could work Serve them with a cup of ranch dressing - a perfect pick me up for diet conscious mall walkers and mall rats.

I'm also kind of curious about the potato balls too. They looked like those veggie puffs you see in your health food aisle . It seemed like they had some flavoring there, sort of like parsley because they were green flecked. I wonder if they come in different flavors, like barbecue and sour cream (the most obvious flavoring choice).Again on my weekly Friday night pilgrimage to the mall, I'll pick up some cups and report back .

Corn and potato sold in styrofoam cups? This foodie will have to see for herself what's all about. Read tomorrow's entry for my review.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Crust Of The Matter

It's Thursday and that means a dissection of the lead article in the NY Times Food section. It was a good article devoted to pizza crust. It's more of a local article , dealing with what NY pizzerias make the best crust. (although I'm sure many other cities, especially Chicago can bake up a good crust too).

The article written by the famed Frank Bruni goes on to ask what makes a good pizza? According to Bruni it's the crust but the other ingredients plus the toppings are just as important. TO be honest NewYork pizza is the best because of the water that's used in the dough. The same can be said of New York bagels. The area is a hard water one and that plays a vital part in the making of any good NY bread dough.Another factor is the question of using a coal burning oven. This always makes the best bottom, with a tender midsection and crispy outer edge. the problem is not leaving it in so long as the crust crackles and burns. The problem is you don't want it too crunchy or too soggy, this last will give it the appearance ,taste and texture of a frozen pie.

What goes on top is also important as the article proclaims. The best topping is fresh tomatoes with a mild mozzarella and fresh picked basil. This classic Margerita style is the best and the easiest for at home pizzioli. If there are to be toppings, don't glop them on. Bruni would rather have them in little bits, and likens them to the ingredients of a perfectly made salad. After all, a salad can't be too gloppy and loaded with extras. It has to have a light, crunchy base and be infused, more or less , with the ingredients who have a cameo role.

What makes a good pizza.A crispy crust, fresh tomatoes, a smattering of cheese and the barest ingredients. Add in a good coal oven and that's all it takes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Quick And Easy Summer Salads

Everyone wants minimum prep time now that's it;s the hot weather. The easiest dish is a salad. It's just mix or toss then serve. Just that simple What's great is that there are a variety of different salads from tuna to Cobb to choose from.

For an easy eat at home or pack for the beach salad stick to tuna chicken or egg. You can just open a can of tuna, dice up last night;s grilled chicken or hard boil a few eggs and add some mayonnaise and a little tarragon. This is a great easy lunch spread too. if you have any left over ha you cana do th e same and have a ham salad to spread on pumpernickel rolls or even rye bread. A more elegant stay at home salad is a Nicoise which also uses tuna ,egg or for a different spin chicken. Just throw these in along with some olives, tomatoes, tomatoes over some field grins. use a good virgin olive oil and some red wine vinegar as a dressing and you're good to go.

Salads that involve meats are also a snap to assemble. You can buy precooked bacon and pregrilled chicken to make a good Cobb salad. Another one is taking deli meats roll and then cut them. Serve over a bed of Romaine with some bacon bits and croutons tossed in . Another easy one is a tomato and mozzarella where it's just sliced tomatoes and shredded cheese with a oregano infused vinaigrette. If you want you can add salami to it to give it more body and served with sliced Italian bread.

make it easy on yourself by preparing a simple salad. It's easy to do and just as satisfying as an elaborately made meal. It's what to serve during these hot summer days.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Target Foodies

It's no secret that I love Target. Almost everything that I have is from there including their food. They have two great divisions, Archer Farms and Market Pantry. Archer farms is the more upscale and "gourmet" if you will and offers interesting treats and sweets. Market Pantry is more basic, offering everyday staples. Together they bring in an extra fun factor at this store.

Archer Farms is the more upscale of the two. With their candy line , Choxie, Target brings gourmet treats at good prices. The brand is made with the best ingredients and there's no skimping on taste. I am madly in love with their Chai cookie, a buttery version of the German classic pfefferneuse. It's a rich blend of cinnamon, cardamon and clove mixed with premium butter and flour. I can finish a bag off in one sitting. The raspberry version comes a close second. I also love the Archer Farms chocolate chunk cookies. This is a yummy blend of crunch and bittersweet chocolate. For the savories try the sea salt and barbecue flavored potato chips or the salt and pepper pretzels. This last is a neat mix of traditional salt pretzels dusted with a fine coating of black pepper. They're like little fireballs but oh so good.

Market Pantry is the more down to earth version. They have everything from frozen pizza to eggs to popcorn. They're great for supplying you with pantry and fridge basics like cookies, crackers and soups. I'm a big fan of their popcorn and 100 calorie packs of cookies. The popcorn is by far the best of any fo the microwave kinds.It has a not too buttery taste and is lightly salted. Another plus is that the entire bag pops , unlike some other brands that leave you with half the pack unpopped. The cookies are great!!! My favorite are the cappucino ones but I'm duscoveringthe chocolate chips ones are pretty tasty too.

The next time you head to Target go straight to their food section. This company has a dazzling array of good and delicious in house brands. Try them. You'll then think twice about Target beging your go to store for clothing and appliences.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Splenda Idea

I know it;s been around for a few years but I've just discovered Splenda. It was a love at first taste kind of deal and I went out and bought myself the regular packets and the vanilla flavored slim ones for coffee. To be honest it helps this fat foodie on her diet and it;s not bad tasting like some other artificial sweeteners out there.

Splenda first came on the market in1976 as a mistake. scientists Leslie Hough and Shashikant Phadnis were trying to create chemical intermediates such as chlorinated sugar. Accidentally doing a taste test on it , they realized that the sucrulose was almost 600 times sweeter than regular table sugar. Thus Splenda was born and first used in Canada then the US. There are several controversies over it, the most virulent is that damages internal organs. According to claims, it can cause enlarged liver, kidneys and the intestinal track. Lesser but still damaging claims are that it's not all that low calorie and has two calories per tablespoon. All I can advise is that use it in moderation., If you are addicted to sweet iced tea use it instead of sugar. If you crave a hot coffee with flavoring then use it but not daily.

Is it for baking and cooking? A good friend of mine used it Thanksgiving to make pies and according to her it was like using sugar dust.Standard recipes made with it required half the amount of sugar. There is a web site that's full of recipes that you can make with regular and brown sugar Splenda.The reviews seems to be good and there are people who like to bake and cook with it . I may try one of the Splenda recipes for the holidays just to see what it's like. Right now I'll stick with the regular flavor and flavor packets for my coffee and iced tea.

If you're on a constant diet like I am , then go with Splenda but take it in moderation. It's great if you 're craving some sweetnesss in your tea or coffee. Like with anything , don't get overly addicted to it. Use it with a scoop of common sense.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy July4th Everyone

Happy July 4th to my American foodies and American foodies abroad.

Enjoy the day with your favorite barbecues or just chips and soda on the beach. Have a double dipped cone when you're watching the fireworks later tonight.

Above all enjoy America and what she means to you! This is an amazing country with an amazing story. Besides she provided the world with some of the best loved foods in the world!!!


Friday, July 3, 2009

Getting Ready For The Fourth

Today is the day before the holiday and it's time to make sure you get prepped and ready for tomorrow. After all the July 4th parties that will be remembered are the ones that are very good or very bad. Make sures your as sparkly and bright as any fireworks display.

The most important must have are your meats. Make sure you have what everyone wants whether it's hamburgers for the red meat lovers or chicken strips or breasts for the dieters. Also if you're going to be grilling any barbecue tomorrow,have the marinades and the sauce s on the ready. If you have time today you can also prepare them for tomorrow's meal. The one thing you buy last minute should be your fruits and vegetables. They always should be served fresh. You can run out early tomorrow to buy those.

You can either make the desserts today or tomorrow. If you want to bake, although here in the East Coast it's not really good baking weather - too much humidity and heat. You can make an ice cream bombe instead This is just layering three or four different flavors of softened ice cream in a big bowl, freeze overnight and then inverting it you're ready to serve . It's an easy dessert and one that goes well with fruit, syrup and whipped cream. You can also make fruit pops today for tomorrow. Either mash up fresh fruit and milk or seltzer or use fruit juices and fruit (although the last will be high in fructose). Another idea is have plenty of ready made cookies on store to make ice cream sandwiches for tomorrow.

Start your memorable July 4th party by prepping today. Start mixing tho marinades and sauces. Decide what will be the best dessert. Then get ready to have the bestAmericna holiday ever.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seal Burgers Anyone?

In yesterday’s food section of the Times, there was an article on seal meat. yes, those seal with their sweet round head and heart melting brown eyes. I love my meat but this is too much. I know this is a popular dish among the Inuits and some French Canadians but still - BABY SEALS???

The article, written by, Micheline Maynard goes on about how delicious it is and how it can be made into anyone. There are seal tenderloins and seal steaks, each with a deep , gamey taste. There is also raw seal tartare too, served with seaweed. The Canadians have no qualms about this , much to the disappointment of PETA and any animal lover on the planet. Seal is now a staple in a lot of restaurants in the Quebec province. The meat has been a staple of the indigenous people of Hudson Bay, for centuries. They usually eat the seal heart raw. Another part, the blubber has always been a dietary staple for them and the Eskimos.

Sorry fellow foodies I just can’t deal with eating such a cute animal. They remind me of my one cat when he’s sleeping. OK, maybe all animals, not just the seal don’t deserve to be stuck between two slices of bread . After all that‘s what soy is for. It’s just that seals are just so innocent looking and cute. How could anyone eat them? It’s like chowing down on your neighbor’s puppy.

I’m off to the other article about the hot dog wars which I’ll cover tomorrow. At least you can‘t get too worked up over a dog (well actually you can).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

That Cool Summery Treat - Eskimo Pie

othing says July like a cool Eskimo pie. it;s one of the best things about summer, biting into a square of sweet ice cream, surrounded by crunchy chocolate candy. It maybe messy but it's oh so good. No matter what age you are ,this frozen goodie still the best summer snack and dessert around.It's good until you hit the stick.

In the millennium long history of ice cream Eskimo Pies are a relatively new thing. They were created in 1921 by a Danish immigrant, Christan Kent Nelson . His inspiration was a little boy who came into his tore and couldn't decide between a chocolate bar and vanilla ice cream. Nelson experimented with different methods to adhere the chocolate to the ice cream. Once he perfected it he was able to get an agreement and a partnership with a chocolate maker known as Russell Stover (yes that Russell Stover). The new treat was being named "I-Scream Bars" and was changed to Eskimo pie at the suggestion of Mrs. Stover. Stover himself bought out of the business to start his own candy company. nelson then became independently wealthy from the sale of this quickly popular treat. A Canadian company Coolbrands then bought it out around Nelson;s 99th birthday in 1992. it was then sold only a couple of years ago to Dreyer's

Eskimo pies soon branched out into chocolate and strawberry ice cream flavors. Nowadays you can have them with different insides and all sorts for chocolate coatings. A popular one is coated with Nestle' s Crunch and Butterfinger. There are also ones sold with Butterfinger ice cream and Nestles' Crisp chocolate coating on top of it. To be honest the original is the best with the right mix o f candy and ice cream.

Eskimo pies are the perfect way to enjoy a hot summer's day.Have one today to celebrate the season. Enjoy it under the shade of your favorite tree.