Friday, April 30, 2010

Cold Spring


Thsi foodie has gotten the first really bad cold fo Spring. I am so dope d up right now I don't know if I'll write anything lucid or give the recipe for something odd like ocelot pancakes or pizza topped with herring and old shoes. (which sounds like a strange Northern European wedding custom)

I 'll be back tomorrow, hopefully better and less dopier.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Orleans Back In Style

Yesterday's New York Times Dining section featured an interesting article by
Sam Sifton, about New Orleans. Thanks to the HBO series Treme , people, especially foodies are becoming interested again in this amazing town. It's about time people got back to it and rediscovered the great melange of creole and Cajun cooking.

The city is vibrant as ever with old stand bys like Maldina's still serving a good mix of Italian and regional cooking. There is also the Vietnamese influence. They came here as refugees after the fall of Saigon in Italic1975 and like the Cajuns adapted the area and brought their own spin to the local foods. Now there are many shops featuring the Vietnamese sandwiches,sort of similar to po' boys. Of course New Orleans is nothing without Emeril Lagasse and his restaurant is still thriving. Some people felt he had abandoned the city after Hurricane Katrina but he is back generating good meals and money for recovering New Orleans

If you have the time, visit this grand dame of Southern Cities. The atmosphere is phenomenal. So is the food.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yes, I Did It

Last night's Eggs Benedict turned out to be not badCheck Spelling. The eggs were little dry but that's because I fried them instead of poaching. They and the fakin" bacon had a better taste and were crisper. This was a nice contrast to the Hollandaise which was uber creamy. I was surprised that I pulled it off.

Tonight I'm just going to reheat Chinese .(it's been a rough day here) and just sit back.I will be writing about the Times Dining Italictomorrow. It has a lot of interesting stuff in it that's worth discussing .

Now tonight go and did what I did. Conquer your culinary fears

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making The Impossible

Even though I've made Eggs Benedict before I always see it as a challenge. Why, you ask? it should be easy. It's not .It's poaching eggs, microwaving fake bacon along with whipping up Hollandaise sauce and toasting the English muffins.There's four cooking processes at once acting here and it all has to come together to form one perfect dish.

Funny how individually the four techniques are the easiest in the world.Yet combined - it has to be a strict ballet with every step orchestrated to go with the next.Poach the eggs to long and the yolks will solidify. Leave the muffins in the toaster too long and wind up with a burned mess. Don't whisk the sauce too much and yuck - lump city. That's why I meet this dish with trepidation.

I can't spend too much time on today;s entry. I have a whopper of a dinner to prepare. Making Eggs Benedict may seem simple enough. Yet it's more complicated than roasting or baking.
Wish me luck

Monday, April 26, 2010

Never Underestimate A Sandwich

WIth so much going on at my house these days I find it hard to cook. Right now I have a plumber snaking out my kitchen drain and trying to get rid of gook from hell. There's no way I can try to make a decent hot lunch. Besides I have to sort through a million things of junk that was stored underneath the sink. What to do?

Sandwiches. Luckily there are two sandwich shops in my area where I can pick up a hot or cold sandwich. I can get either bacon and eggs or a hot pastrami. There's also the chance of a hot roast beef or turkey ,with gravy in the cards too. That's what I love about sandwiches. They may belittle but they're just as filling as a regular dish of pasta or stew. Plus they're also easy to pick up and grab.

These times are crazy for me. I'm relying more and more on my local fast foods and grocery stores for quick easy help. Luckily I can also rely on my local sandwich shops to give me a hot, decent lunch. They 're easy to get to and easy to pick up. That's right up my alley.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

When In Doubt - Microwave!

Lately I havne;t had any real time to cook. As much as I would like to make scratch meals involving fresh veggies and meats, I just can't. That's when I resort to microwave dinners. Yes some of them have more salt than the Dead Sea or as much nutrients as a Twinkie but they are fast. Not to mention tasty too. Stouffer's or Marie Callendar's provides me with that hint of home cooking without all the fuss.

Tonight I seriously thought about making home made baked mac and cheese. This would be ideal if I didn't have to shop, launder cook and a variety of other little things that eat up my time. I'll just opt for something that can be popped into the microwave, nuked and will provide a satisfying dinner.Maybe if I feel like it I'll add a green salad with a homemade thyme dressing.

Yes, thank heavens for microwave dinners. I can toast up paninis in seconds, heat up pot pies in minutes and create a full blown meal within half an hour. Don't be ashamed if you have to resort to microwave dinners. They;'re a blessing to anyone with a busy schedule.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cleaning Out

Now that I'm home a lot more I can get to that dreaded task of cleaning out my fridge. Ugh. it's not the best job but someone has to do it. I realize I keep way too many Jello cups and bottles of everything. It's hard for me to just throw out stuff. Imagine getting attached to a bottle of marinade or barbecue sauce.

OI am a pack rat by nature and inheritance. I have kept perfumes and make up for years before checking it ( I still have some paraben laced stuff before I went all natural and all mineral)Food is the same way. I have cookies that I ordered on line from January. They're as hard as rocks and stale as anything yet I can't seem to part with them. One of these nights they definitely going to be raccoon snacks. I feel the same way about pudding cups I have one or two left from last summer. Those are way past the eating stage and into the botulism or something like that stage. Luckily jams and jellies seem to last forever (I'm hoping).

I hate tossing stuff out yet with food it's a must. After all I can't keep those Jello cups forever.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Veggie Snacks For Dinner

If you're having trouble with picky eaters and vegetables thenCheck Spelling it's time to turn that healthy harvest into fun snacks. That's what I did tonight with my dinner. It's hard dealing with picky eaters and making them eat what's good for them. That's when I bought a ton of mixed veggies from my local A&P's salad bar and made a heart healthy vinaigrette. It's like a no brainer. Everyone loves finger foods especially at dinner when they're usually forbidden.Have a plate with sliced red and green peppers, broccoli and cauliflower florettes along with grape tomatoes. I just made a simple Italian dressing with a good dose of flavorful rosemary.

Veggie snacks are also good on picnics. I plan on bringing dishes of them with me on days trips to the beach this summer. I may make my own dressings as well. Let's face it , pepper strips and tomatoes are healthier and less dehydrating than fries and chips.They're also easy to pack as well.

Picky eaters? no problem. Serve them fresh veggies with a dipping sauce. They're fun and nutritious!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today'ss Times

This is going to be quick. I saw that today's Dining section of the New York Times has a whole article about the Food Channel spinoff. At first I thought this wasn't going to be so good. After all do we really need more cooking shows with celebrity chefs? However it's going to be slightly different There are going to be imported shows from the great North, Canada which will be very interesting. I feel that country doesn't get enough air time and its' chefs bring about real cooking with good and practical ideas.

Another plus for this channel is the variety of shows. There will be some that show how unusual food machines are made along Unique Eats along with some newer and grittier shows. The Food Channel has become bland (which to a certain aspect I agree.) It needs to be shaken up with new faces and new cooking techniques and ideas.

Will it? I hope so. we need a revolution to come along and shake us out of our boring culinary existences.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Everything I Want To Cook

Now that I'm the chief chef in my family, I have to fund tempting meals and dishes that will coax about appetites (here;s the fill in- my Mom broke her hip and I am in charge of everything, from laundry to cat duties). With this comes the fun task of creating healthy and happy meals guarantee to please.

What would I like to cook? Easy answer. Anything that has to do with risotto, along with steamed fresh vegetables.I also love making French bistro foods as a bi monthly indulgence (let';s face it croque monseiur fried in butter served with a ton of pomme frites is way too much) I also want to make heart healthy salads that combine new ingredients like blueberries and fresh foraged greens

Right now I am busy with my other job (yes there's more to life than just Foodie Pantry) Hopefully another article will come your way soon.,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Quick Thoughts

I have to admit I have very little time now to write. Not to mention cook, I;m grateful for instant things, like Jello cups for dessert and take out food for every meal time.I wish i could go back to the old days when Icould write about a lot fo different topics and also spend hours food shopping. I'm lucky to have some time to write a few quick thoughts.

So anyonehave any ideas about quick meals and easier ways of grocery shopping. Let me know

Friday, April 16, 2010

Foodie Pantry Partially Opened

I may decide to keep Foodie Pantry partially open because I will miss writing for it too much. I also will miss you readers from all over the world. The upcoming days will decide what will happen

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Time Off

To all my loyal readers,

I am going to take a temporary leave from Foodie Pantry.I have a lot of family problems and work. There is no time right now to devote to researching and writing a blog.
I apologize to all of you.

Hopefully we'll meet again in June.......

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Odd Couples

Ever look at certain couples and wonder what they have in common? I mean sometimes there’s a nerd with a hot looking model. Sometimes it’s a Goth with a preppie. Or an academic type with a homeboy. It’s the same thing with food. There are odd couplings that make you want to go “Huh?” The truth is they’re pretty good together and create a unique and delicious taste!
You would never think of adding to horse radish to any salad yet a dose of it in cole slaw is wonderful. It livens up the cabbage and brings out its’ initial sweetness. It also cuts the creaminess of the mayonnaise and gives it a sharp exciting bite .Another odd yet yummy coupling is bacon and cream cheese on a toasted bagel. You would think it would make anyone sick while eating it but you’re wrong. The cream cheeses delicate taste balances the bacon’s saltiness. It’s the same principle behind bacon with maple syrup anything. The extreme salinity balances out the sweet. That’s why there are bacon maple lollipops and bacon maple doughnuts out there these days.

Traditional sweets are getting some strange friends these days. Besides the bacon and maple there’s the caramel and sea salt. This is pretty common these days and the pairing does make sense. The sea salt brings out the caramel’s meld of butter and sugar while providing an unexpected crunch. It’s the same principle about adding salt to cookie and cake mixes. Another wild pairing is chocolate with chili peppers. The Aztecs originally came up with this centuries ago but once chocolate was sweetened by the Europeans the coupling was dropped. Peppers brings out chocolate’s wild side and let its’ different and complex flavors come to life. Of course it can also be paired with mild and edible lavender. It’s a different taste, sweeter and perhaps even earthier.
There will always be odd couples out there, especially in the culinary world. They create something new and a vast improvement on already established tastes. It may not be something we’re used to but it’ll always result in something we’ll like and possibly even come to love.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mmmm Butter

There's nothing like the taste of butter.It's smooth, creamy and sometimes slightly salty. Yes, it;s bad for you but so are a lot of things and a lot of foods for that matter.We still eat them. Butter is different, It's a much needed ingredient in a lot of cuisines, especially French and Northern Italian. Unlike some other bad for you ingredients, it add richness and complexity to all sorts of dishes from breakfast to dessert.

Butter is the perfect element to fry food. However this does come with a warning. Use it in moderation. Too much butter cna make any dish from eggs to that French bistro treat the croque monsuier too soggy. Use a small pat or knob . You can add more if it seems the process needs it. Butter is a wonderful component in sauces.It gives Hollandaise its creaminess and gives pasta con burro its' delicacy. You can also use it for flavoring in some roues but again be gentle with its use.

Butter is also important in baking. Pound cake practically calls for it. There are also some scratch cakes that demand butter because it's necessary for the cake's texture and consistency. Icings need butter. A good butter cream is nothing when it;s made with a substitute like margarine or even - gasp- lard. It gives frosting a creaminess and much needed spreadability.It also creates a consistant texture so the cupcake or cake has smooth surface.

Is butter so bad? Not really. Just use it with wisdom and moderation. You don't have to scrimp on somehting that will add to your cooking. Just treat it with respect.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Luxury Of Cheating

It’s awful being a foodie on a diet. There’s nothing but restrictions and salads. And a lot of the last. However you have to treat yourself. You’ll go mad depriving yourselfof the foods and drinks you love.

Right now I’m on a diet. I want to look good and fit into my summer clothes from last year. I have been living on the aforementioned salad plus soup for weeks now.I need relief from. this regimen. What to do? Eat one or two cookies or even better – the low calorie graham cracker when I feel the need for sweets. Jello cups with Cool Whip also satisfy my cravings.I will also have dark chocolate but it’s the new M&M darks and only a few pieces. Another good sub in is a cup of instant hot cocoa. It’s low in calories but satisfie that need for dessert

Saltier snacks are trickier . You can sub in the low fat chips abd popcorn but you wind up eating too much. Limit yourself to a cup every now and then, like once a week. I usually go for pretzels which are low calorie and low fat. Evne these have to be watched because of their high sodium content. Sometimes when I’m in a really indulgent mood, I’ll make two or three peanut butter cracker sandwiches for myself., They satisfy my craving for salt and protein. I also don’t go all hoggy about them either.

Let yourself free from your diet every now and then. Enjoy that candy.. Let loose with the chips. You have to otherwise you’ll snap and go on a Godzilla like binge . Fridge look out!

M&Ms graham crackers, fridge, diet, chips, Jello , Cool Whip

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The New Wireless Foodie Pantry

Guess what, guys? I'm back and this time I'm wireless. I decided to buy a new Toshiba hybrid laptop/notebook. Yes, it's about time. What this means is that I can now interview chefs right as they're cooking or go to restaurants and take pictures of them as I'm reviewing them . I'll be able to spot new trendy restaurants in my state(New Jersey) and then show you them. Live.

Will this change Foodie Pantry? Absolutely. I'll be able to stream some interesting sites to you .

Stay tuned. This only gets better. Trust me

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tech Difficulties Please Hold On

I'm experieincing technical difficulties with my computer. I don't know how long Foodie Pantry will be down . My guess is a week to ten days.Ttake a breather the way I am or look a t previous posts. Reread the one I wrote about Mariah Carey's new Angel Champagne. That drops in the US at the end of this month and it promises to be the best new sparkling wine ever.

See you soon (hopefully)


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Salmon Heathy Goodness

Salmon is one of those foods that's not only good for you but also tasty.It's good for both the body and the palate. Salmon is also one of the most versatile of all the fishes going from pan to grill, from sushi to lox. It also can be served at any time, form breakfast right on through to dinner.Salmon is the perfect seafood for any cook from the novice to the pro.

Most salmon eaten is usually the salt water kind. These are divided into sub categories: Atlantic and Pacific . The Atlantic salmon are farmed while the Pacific variety are more "freer ranged"or wild. There are some fresh water salmon breeds that are also sold in fish markets and groceries. These are the sockeyes and come come from Alaska mostly. Keep in mind that the salt water ones from the Atlantic do contain PCB a dixoin that can cause damage to the body. If you're buying salmon, ask specifically for the Pacific grown ones because they will be healthier for you. All salmon contain Omega 3 fatty acids which are good anti cancer agents as well as brain food. (meaning they speed up the growth of brain cells) Salmon is usually a pinkish coral in color although you can buy white fleshed kind. the color comes from the fish eating carotenoid pigments found in krill and other smaller seafood (like shrimp). Most people prefer their salmon with this rich reddish hue.

Salmon is a versatile meat. It can be grilled with just a spritz of lemon or a variety of marinades.This makes for th e perfect summer time dinner, especially with a side of quick made rice pilaf or a nice fresh picked garden salad.Another easy and tempting dish are salmon cakes. These are similar to the classic crab ones except that Worcester sauce and cheddar are added. A salmon mousse makes a wonderful spread when you're having guest overs for hors oeuvres and drinks. Don't forget about salmon for breakfast it can sub in nicely for Canadian bacon in Eggs Benedict and is often included in omelets.

Salmon is a versatile fish that can be made a variety of way. Not only that; it tastes good but it's good for you. It's the perfect food on any level, whether culinary or dietary. Salmon is just full of goodness and health.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday A Time For Picnics

Today is Easter Monday - a time when most families throughout Europe take the day off and have a lovely Spring picnic. I wish we could do this here in the States. The weathe r is perfect for it. Besides there’s nothing like enjoying a fun meal with family under sunny skies. An Easter Monday picnic is a great way to unwind after a hectic holiday weekend plus using up leftovers from yesterday’s feasting.
If you do have the day off pack a lunch and pack the kids You can make some delicious ham sandwiches with your Easter meal’s leftover ham. Add some celery seed laced mayo and a potato roll and it’s a great lunch. You can also chop the ham , add celery and mayo and make a yummy ham salad. Another thing is using up those Easter eggs before they go bad. Peel and either have a side of hard boiled eggs or an egg salad. If there are no leftovers, pick up some freshly sliced chicken or turkey at your supermarket and then create heroes for you and your family.
Spring picnics also have the greens of the season too. You can make a light yet filling salad using field greens and any leftover asparagus. Cut the asparagus into one inch pieces, add what’s left over of the Easter eggs . . If you want, toss in some grape tomatoes to give the salad some color. Top with a vinaigrette and voici -la you have the perfect salad.
If you’re lucky to have this day off, then go out and enjoy it. Transform yesterday’s holiday meal into a the perfect picnic lunch. Bring a favorite drink along with a kite or a Frisbee and you have a great and fun Easter Monday outing!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday The Start Of Easter

Today is Holy Saturday the start of the Easter weekend. It's a time for Catholics to get their food blessed by their local clergy while other Christians prepare the dinners for tomorrow; Easter dinner. This year we shared our Easter with the Greek Orthodox so there may be some cross cultural celebrating with classic Hellenic holiday foods with other European dishes.

Today is also when millions of kids and their parents dye eggs which is always fun. This goes back to the Zoroastrians who gave colored eggs out for their new year which was the Spring Equinox. Also ther e is th e legend of Mary Magdalene bringing eggs to eat while waiting for Christ to rise from the dead. upon His Resurrection the eggs turned bright red. This may be the reason behind the Greeks giving out red eggs at Easter.Nowadays kids can have fun dying them different colors and applying wax to create a batik effect.

No matter what you believe in have a good Easter tomorrow. Enjoy it and the sweets and surprises it may bring.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday - Day of Fasting And Observance

Today is Good Friday , one of the most holiest of the Christian holidays. It’s a time when some Catholics fast while others , including most of the Protestant sects forgo meat. I will be observing the holiday as well by not eating meat and settling on the traditional Piedmontese style asparagus for dinner . Some prefer to go the fish and seafood route which is allowed . Some of the stricter , such as the Greek Orthodox usually forbid dairy products too or fast for a certain period of time today .

Observe the day whatever Christian beliefes you hold.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Joke Good Irish Cuisine

If you see the phrase good Irish cooking you may think it's a joke, especially with today being April Fool's Day. Yet that was the featured article in yesterday's New York Times Dining Section.,written by Dining regular Julia Moskin. She interviews the Alice Waters of the Emerald Isle, Darina Allen. hers is an interesting piece about the changes in Gaelic cooking and the many improvements that have been made.

Ms. Allen is more than just a champion of Irish cooking however. She runs the Ballymaloe Cookery School which is a twelve week course on all sorts of cooking and even 19th Century preparation skills. There is butter making, bacon curing and animal skinning as part of the work. She demands her students have a hands on approach to cooking starting with them planting their own vegetables and herb gardens.Ms Allen is part of the fresh food locavore revolution which advocates cooks use nearby farms and orchards.

Let's not forget her contribution to Irtish cooking. It is simple and humble, learned from her mother in law Myrtle Allen, a proprietress of the Ballymaloe House.This was a restaurant that featured true Irish cooking complete with brown bread , smoked eel, fresh picked turnips and apple cake made with the farm's freshly made yellow butter.She showed what could be done with what the Irish had to work with for centuries,After all the Brits robbing them of their best products After all all the best Irish products such as salmon, lamb and beef were all taken by the British. This left the natives with a limited and simple diet. However the island, is rich in other seafood such as fish both fresh and salt water., along with goats and sheep, herbs berries,turnips onions and the famous potato There are a number of dishes that can be made with these. All are nutritious yet delicious. Most of all they are fresh and locally grown and raised.

Irish cooking is no longer a joke . It's not just corned beef and cabbage anymore. It is a full bodied and flavorful cuisine straight from the garden and fields .The real April fool in all of this are the foodies who think Irtish cooking is nothing more than something from a bad St Patrick's Day menu. It's so much more thanks to Darina Allen.