Monday, August 31, 2009

Pound For Pound Cake

Pound cakes are probably the most under rated of all cakes.Foodies don't like them becauseof their plainness or the calories. They are rich and dense, yet versatile to be eaten for breakfast, snack or dessert. They can be served just plain or toasted, dusted with sugar or drizzled with a simple icing. They can be covered in fruit , whipped cream or ice cream. Yet, no one tends to serve or even bake them anymore.

Pound cake actually started off as a sweetened bread in the Middle Ages. The recipe got changed around a bit to include a pound of everything by the British in the 1700s. Pound cake's recipe became lighter in the 1900's with the arrival of baking soda and baking powder. Flavorings also were added such as lemon for a variation on the taste. Pound cake mixes were also ushered in during the 20th Century making it easier to create the perfect pound cake. Now you can also buy slices in almost every deli and supermarket across the US. There's still the plain but also there's the marble, lemon, orange and sometimes even pistacchio. Some have icing on them as well.

Pound cake can still be made at home using the same ingredients that have been used for the last three centuries. You can make it British style by adding dried currents and raisins or glaceed cherries You can make it French style, by adding chocolate or lemon . This is big in Brittany where pound cake is baked and served the most It's called quartre quarts or four fours.Mexicans bakes theirs with walnuts , called a panque des nueces You can add your own spins by adding a quarter cup of brandy, chocolate chips or cinnamon

Pound cake is an underrated cake that should deserve more press. It is one of the most versatile cakes out there and can be served with almost anything. It is definitely a cake to make this fall.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Eat This Not That - The Healthy Foodie's BIble

There is a great book out there, perfect for foodies and just plain folk watching their weight. It;s called Eat This Not That (ROdale Publishing), written by Men's Health magazine writer David Zinczenko and Matt Gould. This is an excellent little book to keep around if you're watching your weight but don;t like to give up taste or even foodie favorites.

This book is my favorite because it lists what national brands and menus to eat and to avoid. It;s also great at explaining what different food are and what have the highest calories. it let's you go to your favorite places like Taco Bell or Krispy Kreme and order some goodies, but not the high in calories or rich in sodium treats. The books lists every fast food joint from A to Z and what's their highest and lowest calories dishes. Eat This , Not That is also the perfect take along when going grocery shopping. It has the buys and don't buys of national brands. You can create a healthy low calories, breakfast lunch or dinner by following the pictorial guides.

Another aspect that I loved is the holiday guide. It tells you what's a better Christmas dinner and what kind of Halloween and Easter candies to snack on and to ignore. It also has Valentine's Day with a guide of healthy chocolates. Again these have marvelous pictorials that imprint what's good and what's bad on your brain. I also like it when the books explains the different ethnic cuisines and what's the healthiest and lowest calories dishes and desserts on the menu. It's a big help if you frequently eat out.

If you love food, then Eat This Not That for you. You can still love your favorite cuisines or treats but can sub in better and healthier ones. You'll continue being a foodie but a slimmer one

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mexican Dogs No Not that Kind

There's a new craze happening in America;s Southwest. Everyone is going crazy for Mexican dogs, No not Chihuahuas but hot dogs South of The Border style. Surprisingly this area treat is easy to make and actually based on a 1950's American idea

Mexican dogs are just hot doge wrapped in bacon and usually grilled. It was a popular recipe that hot dog companies like Oscar Meyer promoted back in the early Fifties. Somehow the Mexicans got hold of it and liked the idea. Their version includes guacamole and salsa covering the go(no chili like what you would expect). The roll is a hardier Portuguese roll which is more like a mini baguette. Hot do rolls are not used because they would be too flimsy when holding all that good stuff.

Mexican dogs are easy to make. Just wrap strips of bacon around a hot dog and broil or grill. Grilling them over an open flame could be dangerous because of all the bacon fats melting overt the coals. Be careful when cooking them and watch out for any sudden bursts of fire. You can als add homemade guacamole or if you want a Fifties turn put a slice of American cheese or cheddar on them. The roll id up to you. Serve them on a hoagie for a better base or try a sturdier hot dog bun such as Pepperidge Farm's.

Mexican hot dogs combine American food with Mexican flavor. They're easy to make and fun to eat.grill up a few today for some South of the Border taste.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Farm Fresh Vacation

It's Thursday and that means a dissection of one of the New York Times' Food section 's articles. the one that really caught my eye was an article about farm vacations. This is where you pay to live in a tent for a week and do farm chores and pick veggies and fruits. This would be an interesting vacation for me, considering most of mine are usually down in Atlantic City by a pool with a pina colada in hand.

The article, written by Kim Severson, tells of his and his family's week spent at a farm in upstate New York. here he and his partner and child got too pick vegetables and feed chickens.This is a wonderful experience for anyone, especially children . A farm vacation can not only teach about basics but also about global warming and the part agriculture can play in getting the planet green again. Another plus is that each tent (yes you stay in a tent but ieach also has its' own toilet facilities) does come with a wood burning stove where vacationers can make meals with fresh picked produce. Some farms offer goat cheese and tomatoes along with eggs for homemade pizzas and omelets. It is a good way of getting back to our farming roots and appreciating the land.

Agritourism , as it's formally called, can also be in the autumn too. There are farms in Vermont where tourists can not only enjoy the beautful fall foliage but also tap maple syrup and handle livestock. Some farms offer grape harvesting and taking care of smaller barn animals like the farm's cats. There's also apple and pumpkin picking along with some other usual chores. America isn't the only place to offer agritourism. Italy's lush Tuscany has vacation farms where visitors can pick peaches and strawberries in the summer and truffle hunt during autumn's early days.

If you're looking for a different vacation , one with fresh food , then go try a farm vacation. Being out in the fresh air and eating just picked veggies and fruits will do you and your family a world of good. Despite the vacation's starkness, there is a kind of luxury in agritourism.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Fine Jersey Diner The Coach House

I live in New Jersey where there's a diner or two in every town. There are so many but a few do stand out. One is the Coach House , which has two locations, one in my old hatching ground of Hackensack and the other in North Bergen (just outside New York City). Both offer restaurant quality food and variety. The prices are pretty OK too.

The original Coach House was on the site of the North Bergen location and started there in 1939. It was just a small joint where workers from local Jersey City, Union City and North Bergen could go for a quick sandwich or a burger. The Hackensack location as added within the last twenty years and both are currently owned by Greek lawyers. I love the North Bergen one which is more of a huge restaurant than a diner.The soup and salad bar are my lunch and dinner favorites. There are different soups designated for different days(try to get there on Saturday for the beef barley or potato leek). The salad bar is grand with a huge variety of different saladss. and green treats. You can stock up on a pea salad along with taking few dolmades or stuffed grape leaves. Every so often the salad bar offers free fresh baked banana bread. I love the Coach House on Christmas and Easter mornings when I can get a holiday breakfast after church services at my family's churches. The omelets are huge and could feed six . There's also a generous helping of hash browns and toast too.

What makes the Coach House also unique is their bakery. Their cupcakes are better than at the ones at the magnolia across the near by Hudson. They're bigger fluffier, and also have a better flavorwhich is more cakier. The icing is a wonderful mound of homemade butter cream topped off by either a strawberry or an Oreo cookie. The cupcakes come in vanilla and chocolate with either vanilla, a cookie infused vanilla or strawberry icing on top. The Coach House also produces some yummy homemade chocolate chip and cookies that they sell at the counter. Bring a bag of these home for some dessert or snacking. Theyre buttery and crisp and also are studded with walnuts to counterbalance the chips.

Jersey is known for its' plethora of diners but few stand out. The Coach House of both Hackensack and North Bergen does. Go to either location to have some of the best diner food in the state and in the NYC metro area!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Little Rice Book

My cousin and her husband recently gave me a neat little cookbook. It's all about rice and different recipes for it. The books contains every kind of recipe from savory to sweet. All different kinds of rices are also used, from basmati to arborio from long grain to short. For a rice fanatic like myself this book is a dream come true,

The books is simply called Rice and Risotto and was compiled by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen. The author herself has written numerous cookbooks from Jewish to French cuisine along with interesting books on Southern cooking and a slew of recipe books just on desserts. Her paean to rice is amazing. There are my favourites in here, the widely popular Risotto Milanese to the little known peas and arborio dish risi bisi. In between Wolf-Cohen also adds in easy risottos as well as pilafs and gumbos along with rice stuffing. There are Vietnamese dishes that call for rice flour wrappers and Mexican dishes that require rice mixed with broken pasta. Every corner of the globe is covered here with special emphasis on risotto dishes. There are so many of them here ranging from seafood to vegetarian wild mushroom to easy to classic.

Another aspect of the book that's appealed to me. is the variety of the dessert dishes. There are variations on the classic rice pudding, from a sinful dark chocolate one to a a creme brulee type with a glazed top. There's also a flan influenced Spanish style rice pudding that looks heavenly. Other sweet rice treats include rice pancakes, New Orleans fried rice cakes (a take on the famed beignet ) and shortbread made with a combo of rice and wheat flour.

Rice & Risotto is the book to get if you're a rice enthusiasts. There are so many different recipes you'll never get bored with them. They're tasty for any part of lunch or dinner.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Julia Child - A Culinary Star Reborn

Thanks to the summer's blockbuster hit, Julie & Julia foodies are rediscovering Julia Child all over again. We have a lot to thank her for. One, she got us Americans away form all that Fifties food like meat loaf and molded Jello and two, taught us how to have a more sophisticated palate. Thanks to her people could have boeuf bourguignon instead of beef stew and cassoulet instead of beans ad franks. She opened our taste buds to a new and wonderful world : French cooking.

Child is enjoying a revival and with it her most famous book, Mastering The Art of French Cooking. It is the best way to learn about the complexities of French cooking and Child also demystifies it as well. be warned however. The book was published in 1961 in a n era where butter and fat were used freely and people just didn't worry about cholesterol, heart attacks and clogged arteries. Some recipes call for an entire stick of butter while others are big on different meats and fats. This is course the best of French cooking and why the cuisine always has a melt in your mouth flavor. If you do have the book , make the recipes only on monthly basis . They're just too rich to be eaten on a weekly one.

There are also several other classic chefs out there you may want to research. TV also brought us the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr from Scotland and England. He, like Julia Child, used large amounts of butter lard and cream in his cooking.If you want more recent vintage, there's the great master Jacques Pepin along with the Two Fat Ladies (both were believers in the butter fat, and cream approach to cooking) Of course they can't compare to Julia but some of their recipes are worth testing and trying out.

If you get the chance not only see Julie & Julia but pick up Mastering The Art of French Cooking. As a foodie you'll appreciate the wonderful dishes and flavors. As a cook, you'll appreciate the artistry that goes into creating a dish. You'll also appreciate the artistry and talent of one of our greatest chefs Julia Child.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More S'Mores!!!

This is the time for camping and campfire treats. That means bring out the s'mores. These fun , gooey sweet treats have been a staple of summer since the turn of the last century. Everyone knows them. Everyone loves them. Who doesn't? They're a fun mix of our favorite flavors and foods .

S'mores are as American as apple pie and maybe even better tasting (sorry pie lovers). They just basically toasted marshmallow sandwiched between a square of milk chocolate and two graham crackers. The heat from the marshmallow melts the chocolate to a creamy goodness and it then squishes between the graham crackers. You can also make s'mores in a microwave however you don't get the crispy burned marshmallow coating though. The treat was invented around 1900 with the advent of its' newly mass produced ingredients. The recipe spread from one campsite to another and the name just came about with people asking for more of it. The recipe debuted in the Girl Scout Handbook 1927 edition.

Most people stick with the traditional recipe of plain graham crackers a square of Hershey's milk chocolate and a toasted marshmallow You can create a more decadent version with any dark chocolate and chocolate graham crackers. I've also found out that there are flavored marshmallow./s which come in different flavors like cinnamon and mint along with chocolate (they're called Plush Puffs and you can order them at . You can use these to make wickedly tasty s'mores!Another variation is to layer a thin coating of plain or crunchy peanut butter on the graham crackers before adding the chocolate and marshmallow.

Before the summer is out, treat yourself to that hot weather standard, the s'more. You'll be making more and more of them after one bite. They're just a fun snack.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Garden Parties FLowers in Your Cocktails

There;s a trend now of using flowers to flavor drinks. instead of decorating rims or shooting merrily out of glass herbs and blooms are now being added to cocktail ingredients. They leave a different, more sophisticated taste to liqueurs, They also enhance the drinks' taste as well.

You have to be careful with floral drinks. As with scent , a flower's taste can be overpowering and cloying. Roses may be a romantic idea to put into the drink but rose syrup can b e overly sweet (think of what it does to Middle Eastern pastries). Settle on flowers that work well as teas such as chamomile, nasturtium and wild hibiscus. They only delicately flavor the various ingredients . Another idea is to make a simple syrup and then add the petals. This works well for lavender and some roses. You can also apply this to making dandelion schnapps using regular schnapps, simple syrup nd dandelion heads.

Another idea is simply buying flower distilled spirits. You can try elderflower liqueur, primarily the French St. Germain. It's made with the blossoms of the Swiss elder tree and has a faint lilac smell taste to it. This is the only flower infused drink I know of on the market. For anything else you have to do blend it yourself. Liqueur companies, may hover get onto this trend and we may start seeing nasturtium and wild hibiscus spirits within the next year or two by 2012.

If you want to add a breath of a summer garden to your cocktails then add flowers. They're a new twist and a new taste. Pick a bouquet today for your next party

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Fight Against Ice Cream

In yesterday’s Food Section of The New York Times there was a great debate about the ice cream man. it’s hard to believe that this symbol of America and summer could be knocked around, yet there are parents out there who hate the very sight of him or sometimes? Why? There’s a whole menu of reasons.

The article, written by Helen Stapinksi deals with parents who do no like the Good Humor man or or any other ice cream vendor. Sometimes the reasons are legitimate, The truck rolls around at dinner time leaving kids screaming and desirous for a treat. Sometimes it’s the drivers themselves who don’t represent wholesomeness. Some are dirty , some even vend drugs as opposed to pops. Some parents don’t like the amalgamation of chemicals binding the ice cream. My opinion is let them have the ice cream but 1)make sure the truck and vendor are clean and two 0 save the stuff for dessert.

Of course parents could also make their own ice cream. Nowadays it’s easy to make ice cream and freeze it into molds. You can then have the kids dip them in chocolate or sprinkles along with cookie crumbs You can also make healthy ices and frozen smoothies , using real ingredients like fresh, soy or rice milk along with yogurt. This will teach kids that the home made kind can be both fun and good for them.

What do you foodies think? Would you let your kids go wild when the local ice cream truck pulls up? Or do you restrict them and offer them something homemade and better?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Capers Let Them Add Zest To Your Summer Dishes

If you want to add zing to any marinade sauce or salad then think about capers. These salted buds can liven up anything from boring kabobs to a bland vinaigrette . They are wonderful , thrown into a lemon marinade or add dash to chilled veggies. Capers are the perfect ingredient for any summertime dish.

Capers are the unripened flower buds of the prickly perennial Capparis spinosa. They're indigenous to the Mediterranean region, growing on rocky coastal areas. The ancient Greeks used it in a tea to combat gas but mostly it has been a vital and much loved ingredient in Mediterranean cooking for the last millennium or so. It is big in Cypriot cooking mostly in salads (and even in potato salads there too!) The buds acquire their salty taste by being fermented in either wine, vinegar, salt, or brine. Capers from southern France are the most prized and the most expensive because of their size(the smaller the better)Most grocery stores sell the larger buds,. You can also make your own version using nasturtium seeds.

What to do with capers? They're good livening up a celery or fennel salad. Their saltiness highlights both the celery and the fennel's sweetness. Also a handful of capers can add spark to a simple grilled chicken or salmon salad. Another idea is adding a small teaspoon to a creamy lobster or shrimp and mayo mix and foregoing the salt. Capers can also be used a a pizza topping or in a garden bruschetta. There are several ways in which to enjoy them.

If you're looking for a spin on your old summer recipes, think about adding some capers to the mix. They'll punch up any salad or sauce , bringing out the other ingredients' flavors. They're a fun addition to any hot weather dish.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Purely Decadent Purely Irresistable

We all know I'm not a big lover of ice cream. It's a little too viscous for me and leaves my lactose intolerant stomach a bit queasy. HoweverI have discovered Purely Decadent - anon dairy ice cream that is perfect for me. The plus ? It has all these wonderful flavors including a sinful concoction called pomegranate chip.

Purely Decadent is made by the sweetly named Turtle Mountain out of Oregon. They make a lot of non dairy ice cream but Purely Decadent is their premium brands. They have 35 per cent less calories than regular ice cream and no cholesterol and trans fat. I have only tried Pomegranate Chip (and will not sway from this ) but the company offers up such yummy flavors as Snickerdoodle , Chunky Mint Madness, regular Chocolate Chip Mint and Dulce de Leche. I can't tear myself away from the Pomegranate Chip though. This is a tart like a raspberry sherbet like ice cream loaded with big hunks of decadent and delicious dark chocolate. It's like the best treat ever (and no Turtle Mountain isn't giving me anything to write this. I would marry PC if I had the chance - that's how good it is.)Purely Decadent also comes in coconut milk base with six flavors along with the soy variety.

The company also produces Soy Delicious which has everything from bars to sandwiches. Their fruit and fudgesicle bars look good and I would be willing to try them. There are also the So Delicious brand of mini ice cream sandwiches (my brother loves these) which are just bite sized and perfect for a small dessert or afternoon snack.

The next time you're in your store's ice cream section check out the Turtle Mountain Brands, especially the Purely Decadent pints. These are wonderful and tasty plus good for you. They're not a bad addiction.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer Time And the Eating Is Easy

Now that the temps are hitting the century mark here in North Jersey (and the rest of America's East Coast) no one feels like cooking or even eating. What to do? We can't exist on ice water and flavored ices. The best bet is making easy meals like salads and sandwiches. They''re not only filling but a snap to make.

I tend to go off into a Mediterranean mode when the temps hit the high nineties. I love a good Italian bread either with morta della , that melt in your mouth ham or sliced mozzarella and tomatoes. To me this is the easiest but also the most delicious and filling. All it takes is sliced bread and thena layering on meat and fillings. Another simple lunch or dinner treat is a salad. Here it's fun to vary ingredients. Get away from the regular field greens, romaine, and spinach. Instead try new greens. There's nothing like a celery and olive salad to liven up a lunch table or a fennel salad to spruce up dinner. Peas also make a neat side when they're e done cold and with a dressing.

Ifyou feel up to a dessert, then keep it simple and cool. I love the chocolate and vanilla sponge cake cups my local A&P and Stop and Shop offer. These are easy to fill with sliced berries and Cool Whip. You can also fill them with ice cream and then drizzle either chocolate or caramel sauce on them. Another hot weather treat is just chilled strawberries or blue berries. On a diet? Then try some of Skinny Cow's yummy ice cream sandwiches. I just bought their strawberry shortcake and cookies and cream ones. Another favorite is the dairy free Purely Decadent Pomegranate chip ice cream with hunks of bittersweet chocolate in it.

The temps may be boiling but that doesn't have to be your kitchen. Cool down with easy food and easy eating. Your stomach will thank you for it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fried Veggies Healthy or Harmful

We all knowthat veggies are good for you. We also know that fried foods are bad for you as well. What happens though when you start frying up those veggies?Are they still healthy? Are they still harmful? What's the deal with them?

We've always had fried vegetables at our table. Thanks to our Piedmontese heritage fritto misto or fried assortment (loosely translated) has been included in our summer dining. Mostly it's been squash flowers lately which is true Piedmontese cuisine. We just use a light coating of bread crumbs and then fry in margarine. This also applies for cauliflower which again is just lightly dusted with crumbs after an egg wash. The health benefits of these outweights any of the risks associated with frying.

Another method is coating veggies in batter. This is great for green tomatoes along with zucchini and peppers. I would make sure the batter is light and just barely coats the vegetable's surface. Also what you fry the veggies in is also an important factor. Butter is tasty but it's not good for you. Don't use fat because it counterbalances the veggies' health benefits. A canola or a light extra virgin olive oil is good for well as a quick fry. Another way of making the fry up healthier is cutting out the salt. Use dipping saluces such as a a fruity vinegar or a salsa for more flavor.

You can have tasty fried food with the benefit of healthy eating. Fry up some veggies today for a quick crunchy treat. They're one fo the few fried snacks that's actually good for you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hitting The Jackpot In Brigantine Laragosta Ristorante

Well the Atlantic City proved to be interesting, foodies. My Mom and I stopped by the Flying Cloud again and had really good food (sadly though the extreme heat made me sick and I couldn't enjoy it)The next day we were devoured by sand flies on Brigantine Beach. Cranky, hot, and chewed up, we drove around Brigantine Island looking for a decent restaurant. Low and behold we found a very very good Italian one. It was on a par with my beloved Marinella's in New York.

The name of the restaurant is Laragosta and it was started in 1984 when its' owner came from Calabrian in Southern Italy. They actually had a branch up by me in nearby Ridgewood NJ but closed. Too bad I would have loved to have tried it.The menu is rich and varied with all sorts, of pasta , chicken and fish dinners. After starting off with some garlic knots which were free we then settled on a simple lemon chicken in bread crumbs with a side of salad. It was refreshing and light. The meat was tender beneath a crunchy breading while the romaine lettuce proved to be the perfect base to a light lemon infused salad.I would hav e liked to have gone back for another meal but maybe on a second visit int he fall.

Another discovery was at Harrah's where my Mom and I stayed. it was at Temptations a cappuccino/ chocolate bar where we had the best hot cocoa in the world. It was Jacques Torres and it was exactly like what we had in Paris. Dense, rich without being too sweet. this was the perfect relaxer after a day of pure activity.

Despiter the getting sick and th esanflies we did have a great culinary time in Atlantic City. It was like hitting hte jackpotfood wise! Thnaks to Jacques Torres and the great Laragosta Restaurant.

Laragosta Restuarant is located at 3400 Atlantic Brigantine Boulevard,at the first traffic circle that leads to the northern part of the island.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Quick Foodie Welcome Back

This is a short entry to let your fellow foodies out there know that I've returned. I've got a few things to write about and found soem new paces to eat down in Atlantic City.

How was it otherwise? Let's just say that I was a new foodie treat for the sand flies onthe Brigantine beach. Talk about feeling yummy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Foodie On Vacation

Yup, It’s that time year again when this foodie goes on vacation. Where to? The usual place Atlantic City. I will be off Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday but will report back with some neat impressions of the Atlantic Coast’s gambling mecca. ,Mom I may try the fondue restaurant in the center of AC or the microbrewery /restuarant at the AC Hilton.

We’ll see what comes of it. Wish me luck . In the meantime pick out your favorite Foodie Pantry entries and enjoy rereading them.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Party Days Of August

It's the height of summer and also the height of party giving. With summer get togethers you can throw away the formalities and loosen up. You can throw a big do but it can be just as relaxed as a casual get together.

What works? Grilled food. Hamburgers and hot dogs may seem like the easiest but you can also have kabobs and fillets too. You may also want to go with a cold plate such as Italian cold cuts served with cheese and fresh (however make sure you do this in a well air conditioned kitchen otherwise it can get too hot) This works for baked ham or chicken. Have simple sides such as cold potato salad or macaroni salad. Building a barbecue pit in the backyard and having a Southern style get together is another fun idea.

How do you end a perfect get together? Some would say ice cream but I think I'd rather go for a sorbet of different ices. You can buy buckets of ice at your local Rita's. Another idea is to layer ice with fresh cut fruit for a refreshing meal ender. If you're intent on serving cake then go with the lighter fare. Angel food cake whipped cream and strawberries are a lovely way to end a party. You can also have store bought meringues too. These are light and airy with the right amount of crunch.

A summer gathering should be fun and casual. You don' t have to make a big effort to give a lavish party. Ease up! It's August!

Friday, August 7, 2009

T'is The Season For Pesto

It's mid August and you know what that means. Basil harvesting. Yup, it's that time of year for pesto . It's one of the easiest sauces to make. It's also one of the most versatile. It can be swirled onto a pizza or coating gnocchi. Have fun with it.

Pesto sauce dates as far back as Roman times. However it was the ancient Ligurians, probably acquiring the seeds from sailors stopping in Genoa, who made it. it's a simple sauce of dried basil leaves puned with pine or walnuts and then turned into a "cream" Olive oil is then added or cheese for a smoother consistency. Our family recipe calls for olive oil and walnuts and thenwe freeze it in batches. It's good mixed with tomato sauce or plain on gnocchis.

What you do with your pesto is entirely up to you. Again you canb use it as a pizza topping (not too generous though, because it is strong) . it;s better on pasta making a different and unique sauce for spaghetti or fettucini. You can use a little of it on grilled steak to bring out the flavor as well.

if you have a lot of basil leaves then makwe a few batches of pesto. It is a handy sauce to use and also flavorful. It;s also easy to whip too.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Foodie On Vacation

Yesterday’s New York Times featured an article about cooking while on vacation. It’s a great idea and the article offers some suggestions. You don’t; really need to take aloof supplies with you. Just enough to make do for a week or two.

The article, brilliantly written by Jhumpa Lahiri features what to bring and what to make. Lahiri is a big proponent of keeping it simple and she recommends that you only should bring along a skillet. This is great for cooking eggs in the morning, grilled cheese for lunch and cod and potatoes for dinner. You can also make a crisp in it too. I wouldn’t bring a skillet, myself, but a stock pit for making ratatouille and boiling lobsters and corn along with a sauce pan. I would think about buying a small fry pan for making eggs, bacon and the occasional burger.

If you’re lucky enough to rent a house or even an efficiency for your holiday , I’d recommend my suggestions along with some microwavable containers. Let’s face it, you’ll be eating out a lot and you may want to bring home leftovers for the next day’s lunch. I would also bring some along some basic knives and forks and a good chef’s knife . Other extras would be just sturdy paper plates plastic utensils for beach picnics and hot and cold cups.
You don’t have to haul your entire kitchen when you go away. Just take what you think you’ll need the most. After all you’re on vacation to relax - not to cook,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Easy, Cheap Cooking

Now that it's the height of summer and the height of the recession it's time we start changing our eating habits. We want something tasty and good We don't want to be chained to the kitchen . We also don't want to break what's left of our banks either. What to do ?

Rely on easy and cheap cooking. First of all stick to your grocery . It may be tempting to hit some of your local farms and farmer's markets but watch out. I've found that both here in New Jersey are higher in cost than my local A&P. All that freshly picked corn and tomatoes may look yummy but you re bound to pay a few extra bucks for them. Go to your local store and also check out sales too. Also sub in one kind if fruit , like the inexpensive peach for the more pricier bing cherry. (unless there's a sale).Think about what you want to make. Salads are easy. Just avoid the salad bar and pick up a bag of the less costly mixed greens. Add tuna or grill your own chicken for it as opposed to getting the inhouse fancier mixed Cobb or chef's salads.

Another place to shop is Costco or BJ's here you can save on burgers and dogs. Also look to your local Wal-Mart or Target for sales on frozen dinners and deli meats. Choose wisely on these , because they can be overloaded with sodium or fat. Try to get something from the Weight Watchers or Healthy Choice lines. You can microwave a tasty but low calorie dish along while saving money on it. Another easy choice is Ramen soup which is every dorm student's staple. Don't underestimate these. They make a good alternative to a brown bag lunch or a quick Sunday supper.

This is the time and the season to go easy on your kitchen and your wallet. Keep your food bill down to a bare minimum along with your cooking time. You'll feel better by havingmore money and less hassle in the kitchen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Egg Creams A Hot Weather Treat

Happiness is a cold, frothy chocolate-y egg cream. For those who aren't from the New York area this is a wonderful concoction that's perfect for hot summer days. You can get it out at a diner or make one at home . A five year old can make it, that's how easy it is to whip up.

Egg creams are just a mixture of t seltzer, chcocolate syrup and milk. Why were they named egg creams if the main ingredients don't contain egg or cream (although you can put this in if you want a rich dense drinks)? The origins may have stemmed from a common 19th Century practice of putting egg and cream together with flavoring for a nourishing drink. It may have come from the Yiddish word echt meaning genuine or real . This comes from describing the cream. The name could have also come from the French chocolat et creme, a drink that WWII soldiers brought home with them from France. More than likely it's the second explanation with egg creams originating in Brooklyn soda shops. There were variations of it with vanilla syrup being used as well as the San Francisco version that mixes hazelnut and chocolate syrup.

How to make a good egg cream? That hinges on the syrup,. My favourite is the A&P brand which tastes exactly like Hershey's. Some people like Fox-s U-Bet, which is thinner and has a stronger, sweeter taste. As for the milk, just regular will do (don't try any soy or rice milk subs, there won't be the texture or the taste). Some recipes called for whipped cream to be mixed into the syrup and you can do this for a more decadent taste . Then add seltzer. This should all be done in a tall glass ,by the way, so you can have a lovely head of foam. Also make sure the seltzer and milk are well chilled. Adding ice will only dilute the flavor later on when the cubes melt.

An egg cream is the perfect antidote for these dog days of August. Make up one in a tall glass using your favorite chocolate syrup, chilled milk and seltzer. Then insert straw , sit back with your feet up and enjoy!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Garden Freshness of Celery

Even celery's smell means garden freshness and goodness. this is the most aromatic of all garden vegetables and the most versatile too. You can make a fragrant soup with it or the base for a dip. It adds crunch and flavor to salads while giving subtletaste to dressings. It's also refreshing and low calorie - perfect for foodies on a diet.

Celery comes from the Apiaceae family and is a cousin of the carrot , dill, parsnip and even the pretty weed , Queen Anne's Lace. Both the plant's stalks or petioles or roots can be eaten. The seed is ground into a salt and used for Bloody Mary's as well as Old Bay seasoning. It's also the main spice in Chicago style hot dogs.It is a natural diuretic and hence a well preferred diet food. It's also low in calories with only 9 1/2 calories per cup of diced celery. It's also high in calcium which is good for the lactose intolerant tor milk haters out there.Another good thing about celery is that you can grow it in your garden. It''s known as a filler because people use it and lettuce to fill out any bare patches.

My favorite way to have celery is as an hors d'ouevre . This comes from a family recipe where we stuff cut stalks (usually cut tow to three inches in length) with a mix of hard boiled eggs and cream cheese. Salt and pepper are added for flavor and once the stalk is stuffed, then dusted with paprika. This last is done for coloring and taste. To be honest this is the easiest but also the most elegant appetizer to make. It goes well with summer cocktails or decorating a tray of Italian cold cuts. Celery soup is also a good way of using the veggie. The soup is richly laced with root's fresh , taste and blends well with the other ingredients. A great summer recipe is celery salad with red onion. The stalks are diced, mixed with cut Bermuda onions and tossed with just a simple vinaigrette.

Use celery as often as you can this summer. It's a great way of getting much needed calcium but also a versatile stalk. Add it to your Bloody Mary's or serve it up as an appetizer. Chop it in a salad as well. it;s so versatile. You can use it a hundred ways.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Let Them Eat Wedding Cake

August is the month of weddings nowadays and with it comes endless helpings of wedding cake. This is the high point of any big day , even if the couple is just having a city hall nuptial. No matter how fancy or simple the nuptials are there's always a wedding cake. It symbolizes the celebration of love and all the sweetness that comes with it.

Wedding cakes are nothing new.They go back as far as the Roman Empire when some form of a sweet (probably a honey) bread was broken over the bride's head. The Medevial period gave us sweet buns piled up to be given to guests later on. The couple were expected to kiss over these and if they succeeded it meant many children for them in the years ahead.Tiered and iced cakes started coming along with the marriage of the English nobles. It trickled down to the lower classes and the American colonies. Early Americans favored a white iced cake because it the whiter the icing the more refined and more expensive the sugar was , hence symbolizing wealth. A white wedding cake also symbolized purity. The whole tradition of saving the top most layer. That came form having a couple's first child christening close to the wedding (they weren't all that uptight back then). and eating it then.

Nowadays wedding cakes can come in different shapes , sizes and flavors. If a couple likes the beach, the cake can be made to look like a sand castle.If the couple adore football, then it can be turned into a stadium. Flavors are also different. Chocolate, once reserved for the groom's cake - a Southern tradition- is now the most popular flavor for wedding cake.s Carrot is another popular one while vanilla seems to be up holding its' own. Wedding cakes also have cascades of fresh flowers coming done them too, a popular decorating idea first executed in the 1980's

If you're invited to an August wedding or several , sit back and enjoy the cake. It's a tradition that has held up for millenniums . Enjoy it as you celebrate the new couple.