Sunday, January 31, 2010

Foodie Down ..... Again

Sorry about the absence of yesterday's column. yet again thsi foodie was sick - in the grips of a particularly violent stomach virus.(imagine 24 hours of straight agony and you' ve got my Saturday)

Anyway tomorrow will be a new month and new and fun subjects.


Friday, January 29, 2010

A Thermos Full of Goodness

Just because it’s winter , doesn’t mean you should not take advantage of the out doors. There are sunny, crisp days that are perfect for skiing, skating and even just walking on the beach. What makes these activities bearable is having a thermos by your side. There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee or tea that keeps your blood warm during a frigid day out.

What goes well in a thermos? A couple of cups of coffee. If you plan on doing a lot start with the caffeinated kind and some milk. If you want to add some brandy for kick do so but not enough that it’ll impair you. This is good for warming your veins and you’ll be ready for anything. Also a hot coffee is a good companion to any kind of sandwich. Hot tea is also good . Pick something milk like Earl Grey or Lady Grey add some lemon or even a squeeze of orange and some sugar. Hot tea is a good companion during a long walk . Again, like coffee. it’s also good with a sandwich and even better with granola bars or organic cookies.

Many people like hot cocoa in their thermos. This is a fine idea however it does make one thirsty. I think the scratch kind is better than the commercial ones. These can be too sweet , like soda and can leave you wanting some water afterwards. Make your own , using hot milk, Droste powdered chocolate and a small amount of sugar You can also make a variation of a mocha by adding coffee to the mix. This cuts down on the sweetness even more and makes for a bracing drink.

If you’re planning on cold weather activities, then bring a thermos with you. There’s nothing like breaking for a hot coffee , tea or hot cocoa. they’re not only warming but restorative. . You’ll feel like staying out no matter how low the temps go!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dining and Downward Dogs.

Can foodies enjoy yoga and yoga students enjoy food? In some classes yes. Yesterday’s New York Times Dining section has an interesting article about incorporating the two. Dinner courses are being brought in by local restaurant owners and enjoyed after a sweaty hour of stretching and getting in touch with one’s inner bliss is it a good idea? Yes, if it replenishes a depleted body and serves for a better appreciation for the food.

The article written by Dining regular Julia Moskin tells of ashrams and local NY city yoga classes that serve food. It’s healthy vegan food, adhering to the Ahimsa belief of not harm others including animals. Some yoga instructors even bring a variety of dishes, usually tempeh mixed with vegetables and spices. Butters, fats and processed food is never served . Some yoga instructors do allow meat dishes to be brought and eaten. They follow the idea that what ever it takes to bring the yoga students to their nirvana , then do it, even if it involves beef or chicken.
In a way it is a good idea. I’m sure people build up an appetite after an hour of any physical activity. A multi dish buffet satisfies that. Another facet if it is that communal eating brings the students closer together and they can bond more. Also the instructors are introducing them to healthier foods and the Indian ayurveda way of eating and keeping th e body in balance . The yogis find out what doshis or dominance their students possess. There are vata - wind or air, pitta bile or kapha phlegm. Foods are invested with properties such as warming and cooling, heavy or light wet or dry.

Should yoga and food combine? Yes, if it means introducing the student and the body to healthier eating. It also shows more aspects of the practice and maybe enables students to have a better understanding of yoga. Not just stretching helps with enlightenment but eating does too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cooking After A Busy Day

The last thing you want to do after a busy day is cook. The problem is what to eat? Do you go for a quick but fattening take out? Eat dinner at yet another restaurant or food court? Whip pout the microwave dinners? Or just eat another bowl of cereal and call it a day?
You can create easy and filling meals even when you’re too pooped to care what you eat. The key is to shop when you have the time and anticipate dinner hours like this. You can also shop on the way home to ensure you get fresh ingredients as well. I like to stock up on cans of deviled ham and chicken. Mix these with mayo, some tarragon or celery seeds and I have a creamy and tasty filling for sandwiches or a spread for crackers. Another must have is a can of tuna, whether plain or flavored. I usually have a tin of the Bumblebee lemon pepper flavored one. I love this in a simple salad of Romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes and assorted other veggies. I just put a simple vinaigrette on I,t serve it with crackers and it’s a filling yet light dinner. There’s also very little clean up too,

Of course there is the lure of a hot meal , especially after a hard or trying day. To me there’s nothing like a hot open faced roast beef or turkey sandwich. Just buy some fresh sliced meat at your deli counter, along with a jar of gravy and Kaiser rolls. Pour the heated gravy over the open faced sandwich and - voila- a hot comfort food. You can whip up some instant mashed potatoes if your prefer that with your meat and gravy. Another good idea is Knorr‘s Soup mixes. Their cream of leek and cream of spinach is a nice spin on soup and tastes like homemade. You can also cook up their spring vegetable a thin kind of soup, and load it up with orzo or pastina. This creates a flavorful and filling dish in no time. It’s better than a plate of pasta and just as satisfying.

Don’t despair after a busy day. There are plenty of easy , hot or cold filling dinners to make and create. They require very little time and very little effort. All you have to do is just kick back and savor them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cream of Wheat Creamy Goodness

There’s nothing like a hot bowl of cream of wheat cereal on a winter morning. It’s filling, tasty and nutritious. It can arm for you a bad or stressful day ahead along with giving you the strength to boldly face a l winter’s day

Cream of Wheat was firs t invented in 1893 by North Dakota wheat farmers in grand Forks. It made it’s debt at the World‘s Columbian Exposition the same year in Chicago Illinois. The idea behind it is the same as for grits except that milled wheat or farina is used. Commercial farina is a little younger first being mass produced in 1898. The cereal is only 130 calories and five calories in fat. It is high in iron, around 57 per cent which make sit an excellent addition to any diet. You can buy it plain or with flavorings such as maple, cinnamon along with fruit ones such as strawberry, apple and raisin.

Cream of wheat isn‘t for everyone. If not enough water and milk are added, the cereal looks like a hot gummy mess. Too much liquid and it becomes a breakfast soup. The best result is add about equal parts boiling water, stir and then add a good portion of milk until the mixture is creamy. Cream of wheat is sort of like silky grits to the novice farina eater lacking the crunch and chew of regular cereals or instant oatmeal. Its’ taste, when mixed with either maple syrup or cinnamon will make you addicted though because it’s a mild, soothing flavor.
During these cold and stormy days it’s nice to start the day with something hot and soothing.

Try a bowl of Cream of Wheat to keep you warm and toasty. It the like the food equivalent of a security blanket - the perfect thing to have before you face bittern winds and icy temps.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sweet Monkee Cookies A New Sweet Treat

I’ve just discovered a great new non bake cookie. it’s from Sweet Monkee and it’s combo of all those good things - oatmeal flax seed, dried cranberries and oatmeal. These are hearty little scoops that have to be eaten in two sittings. They’re a new spin on an old recipe

Sweet Monkee was created by Tina Tomkins Ames for her café in 2007 in upstate Clarence New York. Using a family recipe she created a delicious and highly addictive treat for her café. One thing led to another and now she sells via the internet as well as through Vegan Essentials. I bought my first batch, the Chunk Monkee flavor through them. This is a combo of peanut butter, oatmeal, dried cranberries and flax seed. The box was gone within a day and I wanted to try the Coco Monkee. Unfortunately the online store was out of them so I went to the source itself and ordered two box of the chocolate variety. To my delight I found out there were other flavors including Luv Monkees ( ones with a Hershey’s Kiss in the center) and Cosmic Monkees - ones covered in multicolored sprinkles. There are also Cinna Monkees and PB& J ones too. There’s even a Monkee of the Month Club. You can also contact them for any fund raising as well.

I love these cookies and they’ve instantly become my new favorite. They remind me of the awful sounding but yummy cow patty cookies . I’m looking forward to the chocolate ones and I plan on sending away for the Luv Monkees too. The texture is creamy and chewy all at once and I love the tangy bite of the cranberries. They’re not that high in calories and fat. They are also gluten and wheat free and have no milk or eggs in the recipe. The Monkees are also the only cookie with green tea added to them,. They’re also the perfect dessert for those with allergies.

Treat yourself to Sweet Monkee cookies. These are highly addictive sweets that are just a joy to taste. Talk about Monkee love!
Go to to order these bites from heaven. The site also caters to fundraisers too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Amazing Potato Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about mashed and French fried potatoes in the vast array of tater dishes. There are so many of them that it deserves two days worth of writing. Today it's time for th e more "upscale dishes" such as scallopped or gratinee potatoes as well as soups. The first adds class and , flavor and character as a side to any roast while the second make a wonderful, elegant lunch or dinner staple.

Scalloped potatoes are an easy to fix dish but they add a very classy touch to any roast beef or pork dinner. The dish is also called gratinee or dauphinais because it originated in the Dauphin region of southwestern France . Using a mandolin, slice russet potatoes wafer thin and layer in a buttered casserole dish. Spread milk or cream on each layer and bake for forty minutes in a 325 degree oven. They can be baked alongside a roast.Variations can include a mix of grated Gruyere and breadcrumbs on the top or even breadcrumbs between the potato layers.

Potatoes also make wonderful soup especially vichyssoise. This is a simple yet classic potato soup not from France surprisingly, but from New York City. The man who invented it . Louis Diat named it after his hometown of Vichy France. It is a cold soup or potage glacee and made with leeks and pureed potatoes . For heartier fare during this cold weather stick with hot soup such as baked potato soup. This is popular even in diners. It's a simple soup full of pureed and chunks of the tuber. Usually there is bacon. cheddar cheese bits and chives added to to give it a "Loaded potato taste"

Making potatoes into scalloped or soup dishes is easy. Both are great ways of exploring the different sides of this versatile tuber.Try them to bring out the best tastes and textures of the potatoes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Amazing Potato Part 1

Potatoes are one of the kitchen's most versatile ingredients. You can fry, bake, scallop mash, stuff , the list goes on and on. They're good accompany everything from chicken to fish to just on their own. They're also the easiest thing to make as well. Many potato dishes do not have overly complicated instructions so even a novice cook can prepare them without too much fuss and headache.

One of favorite potato dishes is mashed. The best way is taking Yukon Gold potatoes boiling with out their skins and then mashing with milk or cream and generous amounts of butter. Add some fresh ground seas salt and butter. If you want , for a richer dish, add some sour cream already and chives and a little more milk. Remember that leftover mashed potatoes can be made into patties and fried. Mold cold leftover mash into balls. Dip into beaten egg then roll in bread crumbs. Fry in a deep fryer with veggie oil These are great just eaten alone with some ketchup for extra flavor.

Everybody loves french fries and the homemade kind are always the best. Years ago I used to make th e Brazilian kind, sliced potato chip thin and fried until crispy. They were fried in garlic infused oil and had a lovely texture and flavor. For a more heartier fare use baking potatoes and slice into thick planks. You can roll them in onion and garlic powders before frying for a more flavorful fry. These are good accompanying burgers and steaks.

Tomorrow we'll explore the different ways of making potatoes into soups and other dishes, No matter how you cut , fry,bake or scallop them taters are wonderful. They are great anyway and in any form.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Serbian Delight The Balkan Burger

Serbian food isn't well known in th e States unless you're in a Serbian or Bosnian American neighborhood. Te thing is is that you're missing out on good food if you haven't tried it. Yesterdays' New York Times Dining section was all about some specialties of the former Yugoslav Republic. One was the pljeskavica, the Balkan version of a burger.

The article, again another one expertly written by Dining regular , Julia Moskin, tells about some interesting and tasty Balkan foods. The most famous , of course is the pljeskavica. This is a mammoth sized hamburger made with not only ground beef but also lamb and pork and served on a light , fluffy pita. It also has sparkling water along with chopped onions and paprika added to it to give it its' distinct flavor and body. Every Serb and Bosnian has a different spin on the recipe but it amounts to a great flavor . There are several different toppings that can be served with the hamburger. One is ajvar a red pepper and eggplant mix. Another topping is kajmak, a butter and cream cheese spread that's served a a dipping sauce with the pljeskavica.

The meat can also be rolled into sausage like shapes called cevapis. These are usually made with ground beef or pork, and then kneaded to make the meat hold together smoothly. They can also be extruded through a funnel. Afterwards they are grilled and served with white bread and pepper. The name derives from the Turkish kabob and they can also be found in Turkey as well as Macedonia and Romania..

Balkan food is one of Europe's best kept secrets . Take some time and uncover these phenomenal meat specialties of pljeskavica and cevapis . They are delicious and filling, a familiar form of ground beef or pork in an exotic new way.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Meat Glazes Making Your Dinner Special

Glazing is one of the best things to happen to meats. It not only makes any roast look picture perfect it imparts a better taste to sometimes bland tasting meats. Glazes are one of the fanciest yet easiest techniques to do. The best thing is you can turn a potentially bland dinner into a gourmet offering just by a simple glaze.

Glazes are pretty simple to make. A standard one is taking the juice from any roast beef and then simmering it with five cups of beef stock. This will take up to three hours to reduce it to three quarters of a pot. The glaze will be ready when it is thick enough to cat the back of a spoon.Use a pastry brush to spread it on your roast. If you're glazing lamb or chicken you can add herbs to this to make it more flavorful as well. However remember to strain the glaze through cheesecloth . This enables the meat to have a very smooth clear looking coating and gets rids of the herbs..

Honey and red wine are also used for glazing. The first is primarily for hams to balance the meat's saltiness. The second is usually used with meat loafs to give this ordinary dish some oomph. Barbecue ribs are always glazed usually with a mix of prepared sauces along with ketchup and a dash of HP or Worcester sauce thrown in. Jame and marmalade can also be used for glazes, primarily if you're cooking pork, ham or duck.

If you want to rev up your roast . then add a glaze. It not only makes the dish look better but also gives it a better flavor. The best part is that glazing is easy and can be done anytime during the roasting process. It doesn't take much effort to create this wonderful finish.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Slice Of French Luxury Brie Cheese

Nothing beats Brie cheese. It has the perfect mild , slightly fruity creamy taste. It's not strong or highly aromatic like other cheeses. It's good on crackers, even better on a thick crusty slice of baguette. Best of all nowadays it's not so much of a luxury . Many grocery stores have a variety of good imported and domestic Bries.

Brie originated from the Seine et Marne region of France, an area where both the rivers Seine and Marne meet. This is also the same region where Paris is located. Brie has been manufactured since the 8th Century and was known as the King's Cheese until the French Revolution. It was the Emperor Charlemagne's favorite along with being Louis XVI's favorite and last meal request. There are two varieties of brie sold. One is Brie di Meaux a straw yellow in coloring with a red spotted white mould coating. Other types are Brie de Melun and Brie de Montereau. American made Brie has to be made with pasteurized milk whether whole or skim. You can also find it coated with ground pepper, nuts,herbs and even mushrooms. There is even a hybrid Brie called Brie Bleu, the result of combining with bleu cheese.The cheese can be sold as whole wheel for parties or in wedges.

What to do with a good wedge of brie? Personally I would just have mine spread on slices of a crusty, chewy baguette washed down with real Breton cider. That to me is the ultimate meals. You can also serve in on cracker s or the more popular method, Brie en croute. This last is the cheese baked in a puff pastry and served warm. it makes for a good appetizer at a small party.

Brie is a wonderful cheese that every foodie should experience. Whether you try the real French or the American , it;s still is the most delicious taste on the planet. Buy some today along with a crusty baguette. some good red wine or Breton cider.

Monday, January 18, 2010

In The Spirit Of MLK Day

This is the American holiday of Martin Luther King Day, when we honor a great man of service and dedication as well as of passion. However his message was not just American , it was universal . We are all equal. We all are linked together. We have to look out for each other.

How can we foodies honor such a legacy? By donating to food banks to help our fellow brethren .There are so many people unemployed and desperate right now who need our help. If you can spare a couple of cans of veggies or packages of pasta , please do so. Help out at the banks too if you can. There are also soup kitchens everywhere that always need a helping hand. if you own a restaurant you may want to donate any extra food to them as well or open up your place solely for the homeless and unemployed.

Today also think about the Haitians who have almost no food and water much less anything else. This is the time to donate so that they can receive some sort of decent victuals. Your best bet is the Red Cross who will get food and supplies to Port Au Prince and other devastated areas.

Give up the little luxury of gourmet candy or sea salt and spend the money you would have spent on cans of food and donations. Instead of whipping up a batch of cookies fro yourself, make a few or organize a bake sale to help those in need. Remember we all share this planet. We all have to look out for each other.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Tribute To Haiti -Its' Cuisine and Its' People

Haiti is an interesting combination of African, Arabic, Amerind and French culture. it combines the legumes of one continents with the meat s of another along with island spices to create a unique and varied palate. The tastes can range anywhere from lightly spiced to fiery. It's an interesting mix from an interesting culture.

Haitian cooking or Manje Kreyol is a form of Creole cooking similar to what you would find in Louisiana. In fact one influenced the other there are the same components - rice beans and different kinds of meat and seafood. One famous dish is du riz colée a pois , brown rice with kidney or pinto beans, this is glazed with marinade and topped off with a red snapper. Goat meat or kabrit is also popular on the island as well as beef. There is a hearty stew called bouillon made wit red peppers ,beef or goat as well as tomatoes and potatoes. It is chicken that is the backbone of Haitian diets. It;s usually boiled and then marinaded in a mix of lemon juice, black pepper and garlic.

The Haitians crave their sweets too .Sugar cane has been grown on this island for the last three centuries so it figures prominently in the diet. Some it;s sold on the streets where it can be eaten as a snack or as a sweet afterthought. The Haitian version of Italian ice or fresco is sold on the streets. this is shaved ice with syrup. They do make their own desserts such as banana fritters known as benets as well as sweet potato pie and sweet breads made with sweet potatoes, evaporate d milk and cinnamon,

Haitian cuisine is as varied and interesting as the Haitians themselves. it;s an interesting mix of native spices and vegetables mixed with French and African cooking techniques.It is strong and long lasting as the people who make it.

Please remember the Haitians in their time of need. Donate to the Red The need it desperately and ASAP.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Take Home Homemade Goodness

I've noticed a phenomenon in recent months in my local supermarket. There seems to be a glut of plastic containers not unlike what your mom or any other relative gives you when you've had dinner over at their house. Except these have Marie Callender or Stouffer's labels on them. What they are are dinners or sides in a microwavable , reusable container,

I guess putting food in these containers give s them a homey feel .Yet in the end they're just like a TV dinner or even takeout.I'm sure they taste good but they still processed food. There is a big variety from steak tips and rice to meatloaf and gravy. There are even pasta selections that can be downright fancy. These are not badly priced and I can see a lot of single twenty and thirty somethings stocking up on these. After all these meals are probably the closest to homemade that they'll eat.

To be honest if you have the time you can make these dinners yourself on a Saturday or Sunday night.It's a no brainer to prepare a big pot of pasta or a meat loaf or anything else and freeze it into microwavable containers. This way, you're cutting on down on the amount of sodium added as well as nixing the preservatives. Your creationswill have a somewhat fresher taste than the store bought variety. A good thing is you can do this after large holidays meals and still enjoy the taste a month after.

Ready to eat meals are fine if you re in a hurry and don't have the time to make and freeze your own. They're quick and easy , along with being the closest to a fresh from the stove or oven taste.If you can't make your own, then go this route.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perking Up Chicken Breasts

tYesterday's New York Times Dining Section honed in on an old kitchen standby - chicken breasts. These have been one of the staples of both home and restaurant cooking for more than a century. Unfortunately the desire for them has waned due to the fact that chickens are pumped with hormones and other additives thus creating a bigger but tasteless breast meat. That's all going to change.

The article, expertly written by the Dining' regular Melissa Clark tells of her hatred of this meat and why she didn't want to deal with them. She writes of them being too dry and flavorless. However thanks to the help of some chefs she manages to create some tasty dishes. She puts an Asian spin on them with a garlic chili ginger sauce. Of course the breasts are cooked in a chicken broth first which renders them better tasting . other ingredients such as soy sauce - always good bet - and brown sugar are also added. Like Goldilocks looking for that just right blend, Ms., Clark then does a variation of a Spanish style stuffed and crisped chicken breast .the stuffing calls forr ham and cheese, - wonderful but then she adds sauerkraut, I'm not a fan of this so this wouldn't appeal to me.

I'm a big believer that chicken breasts are at their best when grilled. Drizzle olive oil and just season with salt and pepper and to me they're fine.If you want a more tender meat then marinade them in a mix of olive oil and lemon juice for a n hour before cooking. This way they'll absorb the flavor while the citric acid breaks down the meat.

Chicken breasts should aways be a kitchen standard. Maybe they have changed in texture and taste over the years but that doesn't mean to abandon them. There are several ways t bring them back tot heir former glory. It's just a question of how to do it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sick Day Food

Every year around this time I write about food s for a sick day. I know it becomes tedious but ther'es a reason I write an entry like this. I'm a magnet for all sorts of germs and right now I'm fighting off the double whammy of a cold and a virus. The problem for me is what to eat without upsetting the apple cart (pardon the bad analogy). The thing is I'm probably not the only one with the question of what to eat when you' re sick.

Soup is always good. It calms a restless stomach and it;s easy to make. , especially the homemade kind. I always have to boxes of bouillon on hand for my family's recipe of pompeist. it;s Piedmonte version of chicken soup - a cure all for anything. That's made for any illness .it has gotten me through a lot of colds and viruses over the years. It'sa simple recipe of making chicken or vegetable broth. adding beaten eggs and then bread crumbs. Another good soup is pastina. You can make pastina soup thick or thin . It's better when there it's thick though, it's hardier and more nutritious.

Another problem is snacking. Of course no one wants to have guacamole dip after a bout of a nasty stomach flu (ewww, looks like soemthing you just got rid of anyway) however if you're hungry nibble. Thin pretzels or dry Saltines are fine. They're not greasy and satisfy your need for crunch. Have these with Coke or ginger ale . These last are perfect for helping sooth a stomach irritated by the ravages of a virus. A sweet snack is any Social tea or Lorna Doone cookie. Stick with plain bland, short breads and some hot lightly sweetened tea.Don't munch or fruit or ice cream until you feel your stomach is up to it. Wait a few days before heading back to old favorites.

The best bet for any cold, flu or virus is eat light but nutritiously . You'll still receive your daily dose of vitamins and minerals but in a lighter form.these will help you fight whatever nasty bug you;re battling and also keep you satisfied.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cold Snap Equals High Prices

We;'re nto the onyl ones freezing during this rare cold snap. Our fruits and veggies across the country are doing the snme. Entire harvests are being detroyed thansk to a weeklong bout of chill air and below normal temps. I dont; know what you cna blame it on. GLobal warming? The Myan calendar? Whatever the cause this cold snapit's hitting our local grocery's produce section big time.

FLorida is feeling it the most. Tons of oranges look like hanging popsicles thansk to frost and ice on the trees. This damages the entire fruit and th eonyl thing it;s good for is just juice. Thsi means that any salvaged citrus will be high in price and basically unaffordable to many. The same goes for grapefruit. There is the chance of importing them from South America but the cost will be high. Florida's winter strawberry crop is also suffering . Any decent berries will be coming either form California or South America. Again this could mean that their cost is going to be sky high.

What does this mean for fruit lovers or those wanting a healthier diet? Keep buying fruit but cut down on the quantity. Right now treat oranges and grapefruit like like expensive candy. Cash in on any sales local markets have and look for coupons with good discounts. Fruitwise we're at a disadvange because othe r fruit is also dear and it's hard to find a reasonable replacement. it; snto lie summer where we can jus t hea d off to any farm to get strawberries and peaches. Make the most of your fruit. Don't let it rot or get moldy. It's too darned expensive to waste.

The codl nspa not only affected affected our valuble crops. Luckily the temps will be getting higher and hopefully no more damage canbe done. otherwise we'll be treatng Florida oranges liek caviar - a rare luxury and treat.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sausage Variations

Sausage is versatile food product. You can eat it on the summer right off the grill or have it for breakfast on cold winter days. It's also flavorful with its' variety of meats and spices. If truth be told you can have every variety of sausage there is every day for a week and have any particular one twice.It's also easy to cook as well - a plus for beginners.

It's one of our oldest prepared meats having being made as early as 2,500 years ago. The name comes from the Middle English word sausige meaning salt. It was one of the first cured meats however it also included the precursors of our modern day cold cuts. Sausage was first mention in a Greek play of the same name and was also popular with Romans on feast days (so much so that the early church banned it) Smoked sausage was developed in Northern Europe to keep the meat good throughout the year while the Mediterranean countries developed dried or air cured sausage. As the international spice trade began and grew , spices were added to the meats to make them more delicious. Soon towns such as Bologna , Lyons and Berlin were lending their names to their famous creations. English towns and counties such as Berkshire, Wiltshire, Lincolnshire, and Cumberland also flourished in sausage making and their sausage.became known throughout the British Isles.

Nowadays there are several varieties of sausage. They're mostly made from ground pork however you can buy ones stuffed with chicken turkey and beef. Asians make and sell a seafood one in their outdoor stands. Sausages are often spiced usually with nutmeg, all spice or sage. Italian ones use fennel and garlic for a heartier , more robust flavor. Some have ginger as well and chili pepper for some kick and bite. If you're making your own you can have fun with spicing and try different combos.if you're making breakfast sausages stick with a light hand and maybe fresh ground pepper . However if you're making a heartier one then try out some dried onions , dill and garlic for a tastier type.

Sausages are a wonderful addition Io any meal. You can serve them with an omelet for breakfast or as a sandwich with peppers for lunch or for dinner. They're great in a hearty stew for winter or perfect for a barbecue grill in mid summer. Sausages are truly a versatile food.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fondue Wintery Cheesy Goodness

Fondue is making a comeback and in a big way. This Sixties staple is being served throughout the US and there are even fondue restaurants randomly popping up allover New York and New Jersey., Fondue is a great for celebrating winter and enjoying a fun cozy dinner with family and friends. Cheese fondue is great and requires very little ingredients and cooking skill. It's also a good way to use up leftover wine and cheese.

The dish started in Switzerland in the 18th Century when the Swiss needed to get rid of the hardened cheeses. the dish was invented int he Swiss Canton of Neuchatel when the locals melted cheese and wine together. the name however is from the French fondre meaning to melt. However fondue can refer to anything that can be melted , dunked or dipped into a small Emmanthaler cheese mixed over a small sterno and the minced garlic is added in. the traditional dipping choice is chunks of stale French or Swiss bread but you can add apples or potatoes for more flavor.

Fondue is one of the easiest party and dinner dishes to make. Modern recipes call the same basic ingredients , that reall Swiss fondues have however cornstarch or flour is added for body along with dry mustard and nutmeg for some spiciness. Sometimes kirchwasser or cherry liqueur is added to give the fondue it's slightly tart taste. Also you can use Swiss cheese however this can be very gummy. Stick with a good Gruyere or Emmenthaler. Luckily with fondue there are no leftovers so you won't have to worry about storing it.

During these chilly nights make a comforting fondue for you and your family.It's perfect chill chaser and a great way to get together for some fun and conversation. Everyone will enjoy this tasty , rewarding treat from the Swiss Alps!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Just Like Our Ancestors Ate

Would we really want to eat lie our ancestors ate? Surprisingly the answer is yes. After all the animals back then were not pumped full of growth hormones nor where they treated cruelly. They were raised on farms and had good diets. Now there’s a movement to genetically engineer farm animals and bring back breeds that have become more or less extinct.
Say what you will about it but it has become an obsession with foodies. it’s part of the locavore revolution , the ones who want to eat what’; growing in their neighborhood. Already scientist s have brought back the fainting goat and which has a lot of meat and some breeds of cattle that came to North America via the Spaniards in the 1500s. The animals are packed with flesh which make them desirables for butchers and the flavor is probably more intense too.
Right now agrarian schools like Tufts University are handling the genetically engineered breeding. This is where endangered breeds are having their ovum frozen along with being artificially inseminated with a more everyday kinds One experiment is Hogg Island sheep, on e of Virginia‘s indigenous breeds and known for their dense, flavorful being mated with amore common breed to produce a hybrid with the best traits of both parents. Dorrance Hill Hamilton, heir to the Campbell Soup fortune, is another driving force behind these goings on. . She also believes that cryopreservation will help in preserving the animals incase there is an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease.
I suppose it is a good idea, to create a better locally farmed meats . I’m sure the idea will spread to the poultry farms as well . Do we want to eat richer meats like our ancestors did?. There are bonuses here, as in less fat and more flavor? There’s nothing like bringing back a rich taste and texture.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Extrending The Holiday With Ukranian Cuisine

Even though the holidays are over with and Epiphany was done with on January 6th you can still extend the taste of the season with Ukrainian food. Yesterday's Times Dining section gave an an entire page to this ancient and varied cuisine. These dishes are also wonderful chill chasers, flavorful and hearty. They are perfect for the snowy day and nights that come with this month.

The article written by Dining section regular Julia Moskin write about the dishes and the people who preserve this taste s of one of Russia's oldest provinces. She also wrote about the bastion of this cooking- the East Village where Ukrainian restaurants abound. It is hearty fare with the popular beet soup or borscht along with vuska , tortellini like dumplings filled with mushrooms or onions. These are a standard and and are usually added to the soup.Another popular food is stuffed cabbage. Usually these are meatless for Christmas Eve . Mos t of the time they are stuffed with pork or lamb.

The Ukraine isn't really associated with sweets. Yet there is the holidays meals end with a dried fruit compote called uzvar. Dried apples, pears prunes and raisins, basically the fall harvest is cooked with water, honey and lemon and then spiced with cinnamon and clove. The article doesn't mention the jam and semolina treats called povidlyanka. This is a type of custard made with whole eggs, semolina flour and jam of choice along with chopped nuts. The Ukrainians have several other pastries that they make and I suspect they have a few Easter treats that are really y something too since Russian Orthodox Easter is a huge holiday with them.

Ukrainian food reflects the people who make it - no nonsense and hardy .It is a great cuisine not just for holidays but for chilly winter nights to warm the body and the soul. Ukrainian food is the ultimate comfort food especially on a cold January night.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Goat Cheese - A Healthy Alternative

If you're looking for ways to cut back on calories and improve your diet look no further than goat cheese. This a great alternative to any cow's cheese . It also is a great addition to any meal or snack, being much healthier for you. A lot of people are squeamish for some reason when it comes to this kind of cheese . I don't know why. It''s actually tastier and creamer than any Edam or Brie I've tasted. There's a certain farm freshness to it that can't be gotten with regular cow's milk cheese.

Goat cheese has been around for millenniums. The Middle Easterners first realized that they could create a cheese from goat's milk and quickly added it to their diets. It then spread throughout the Mediterranean , ad became popular in France where it is still known as chevre and in Spain. The Greeks worship their version otherwise known as feta. Goat cheese is low in calories and high in protein . It has the same chemical components as human breast milk. Goat cheese can come hard or soft, creamy or crumbly. You can buy it on a cone, log or buche shape, circular or puck or crottan shape for entertaining. Goat cheese can also come in a wheel or "button" shape as well. it can be infused with lavender or marinaded in olive oil or red wine (this last was recorded by Homer in The Odyssy)

There's a lot you can make with goat cheese. I like it in a wrap with a healthy dose of spinach and red peppers. Its' creaminess offsets the veggies and makes for a really good and filling lunch. You can also sprinkle it on crisp Romaine lettuce along with olives and dolmades for an Athenian style salad.Some goat cheese have a creamy texture to them and these can be used for spreads A very nice one for parties is the super quick to make chevre and artichoke dip. Try goat cheese on individual pizzas for a different appetizer as well. it;s versatile and can add ot any main meal or horsd'ouevre.

Goat cheese is a healthy alternative to cow's milk cheese. Use it if you want to lose weight or just would like a better diet. Once eaten it will be your favorite for life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Spring Rolls A New Year's Treat

Like us the Chinese have tasty New Year's food to celebrate the birth of a new year. One beloved one is our popular spring roll. This crunchier cousin of the egg roll is not only a good party food but also makes a quick and filling lunch or dinner. They're also less filling and just right for those starting their diets.

Spring rolls began in China and Taiwan during their New Year however the Vietnamese and Laotians also eat them. The rolls are different from the egg roll in the sense that they have a crisper, lighter wrap filled not so much with shredded cabbage ,shrimp or pork but with spices and different lettuces. They are fried with the gold color symbolizing wealth and prosperity for r the upcoming year. Some do have meat in them, but most are strictly vegetarian. In Vietnam , spring rolls do have a little meat added but also herbs, chives and some minced fresh garlic. The Northern Taiwanese add a different spin to their s with a layer of peanut powder added right before wrapping, The Southern Taiwanese add caster sugar and the powder for a sweeter

Are spring rolls easy to make? Well you can buy them in your frozen food section already wrapped and waitingto be fried or boiled. You can make them from scratch as well . They're really easy to make. Perhaps the only headache is finding rice wrappers which some stores do not carry. However any Oriental grocery store in your area probably will have them in stock, along with the necessary spices. Other wise it's just making what you like and then boiling or frying them. Malking the outer layer spring rolls is no different than creating a wrap sandwich. There's the same same kind of folding involved. Spring rolls also make great hors d'oeuvres even in the summer because they're very light.These can be filled with fresh picked herbs along with tomatoes, Romaine lettuce shreds and fresh picked string beans.

Spring rolls are a great way to ring in any New Year. They're also a fun appetizer or meal to create for these drab winter days. Try some for luck and prosperity!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Buckwheat A Cold Weather Must Have

This is the season to eat hearty and healthy. Buckwheat , thankfully falls under these two categories along with being tasty and extremely versatile. You can make vitamin loaded meals with this amazing herb . You can also add some flavor to a bland January diet as well. Buckwheat is great in almost everything from pancakes to pasta.

Buckwheat is surprisingly part of the herb family(Fagopyrum sagittatum Gilib) and not a cereal or a grain. it was first cultivated in Manchuria and central China and then moved west to the Arab countries. the seeds were then sown in northern Italy, Holland, Germany and Scandinavia where it grew in more or less hardy terrains. The Dutch brought it to the Hudson Valley in the mid 1600's where it was a staple of early colonial cuisine. Buckwheat is also known as kasha or groats . It is one of the best things to eat. Buckwheat is high in fiber along with being chock full of Vitamins B1 and B2. The flour lowers cholesterol and helps reduce high blood pressure . It is an excellent source of fiber and is helpful in preventing such cancers ans colon and breast. The only drawback is that it can cause rash in allergy sensitive people. if eaten too much.

Most people only eat buckwheat for breakfast. the most common is kasha cereal however it is good in griddle cakes as well. Recently I've eaten buckwheat pasta which is a dense chewy kind and buckwheat dumplings again chewy but with a nutty flavor. I actually like these buckwheat products better than their whole wheat cousins. I would love to experiment with making a buckwheat pizza or ravioli sometime,long with a buckwheat waffle. I also like the fact that the flour makes for a more robust version anything This makes for a better but much more healthier meal choice during these frigid days.

Buckwheat is definitely the food product to consider , especially during these chilly days. there's nothing like starting the day off with a stack of buckwheat pancakes or ending it with a soothing buckwheat pasta. It's a great way if dealing with winter.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year New Foods

It's good to be a foodie in 2010. There are so many new foods out (thanks to an innovative 2009). There's also some new twists on old classics that should get tongues wagging and palates wanting. All in all it will be a very interesting and flavorful year.

Some things that I've noticed have been right on my grocery shelves. One that is really outstanding are the Lu madeleine sandwiches. These are made by the same French based company who makes those luscious Petit Ecolier biscuits. The madeleines are even better. These are two butter, silky textured shell shaped cookies bound together with the richest darkest chocolate you can imagine. These are new to the market and completely addictive. Another item I've just seen - although it may be out for a while - the baked Ruffles with ridges. It surprised methe other day when I tasted then. I don't like baked potato chips. To me they have a rather flat taste.However these baked Ruffles were pretty much like the regular old school ones - without that heavy , oily aftertaste. Another new trend I think will catch on is buckwheat pasta. I had this on Christmas Eve at my favorite restaurant and just recently bought buckwheat dumplings. Buckwheat is high in fiber and gluten free. It is also rich in magnesium and zinc along with being chock full of flavanoids.Even though it's been around for centuries in Milan's province of Lombardy (thanks to the Saracens bringing it to Northern Italy) I really think we'll be seeing a lot f it , whether in the form of ravioli or just plan spaghetti and fettuccine.

Now here;s something I didn'texpect. Bacon is going to be the most wanted ingredient of 2010. I had heard it on the radio just before writing this. There are ways now to make it into everything from a liquid to a powder. There is talk of a new drink - the bacon-tini which featured bacon powder lining the rim of a martini glass. Another big thing is bacon ice cream where flecks of it will be scattered through the vanilla flavor. This doesn't surprise me. there is already bacon maple lollipops and bacon brittle. It was just a matter of time before it wasincorporated into other sweet dishes. besides it is also the cheapest ingredient to work with as the news reporter pointed out. Chefs love it because they can buy it in relative large quantities and do a host of experiments with it.

These are are samplings of what 2010 will bring to the table , literally and figuratively. I'm sure other new products will come out. Chefs will do a variety of experiments with other ingredients and some long forgotten spices will get their due this year. 2010 will certainly be a good year for us foodies.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year Happy 2010

To all my readers - Happy New Year!!!!!

This will be the year that Foodie Pantry will offer more. There may be contests - video cooking demonstrations and links for coupons!!!!

My resolution (besides losing forty pounds) is to make Foodie Pantry your blog - what you want to see - what you'd like to know and what you'd like to eat.

I'm open to any suggestions. If you're not too hung over - please write!!!!