Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Return Of The Oyster

Today's Dining section in the New York Time s had an interesting article about oysters making a comeback in Manhattan's East River. This is a subject close to my heart because I'm an environmentalist and I've bene wanting cleaner waters and cleaner environments for our local sealife now. Oysters are natures' way of filtering out pollutants. They also reflect Manhattan's culinary history.The local indigenous people made them a staple of their diet as did the Europeans who came after them. Now they;re hitting tables once more.

The article , written by David Kamp tells of their return of these bivalves. Most of then look like their ancestors that graced New York's waters, ridged, craggy and tightly shut. However the harbor still has PCBs in it and that makes eating any seafood form the area taboo. The students though are hoping for a day when future generations will be able to eat produce from New York's Rivers. Oysters have been planted in hopes of building reefs similar to what was gracing Manhattan four hundred years ago.

I know a similar program that wa s just instituted in New jersey's Raritan Bay . That area too was rich in oysters and a popular fishing spot between the Lenni Lenape and the English who settled htere. there were even oysters factories in South Amboy, one of the towns that graces the start of the bay area. Hopefully one dayin the green future we'll be able to eat some of the Raritan Bay oysters too.

The bivalve industry was a big and thriving one in this area until over harvesting and depletion kicked in. Now with the work of eco farmers and environmentalists we can bring it back. it may take a while but people will get the benefit of local oysters .

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wine And Fruit- The Perfect Summer Combo

This is the season for fruit - all kinds of it from strawberries to peaches to blueberries. There are also so many wonderful recipes too. however there is a limit to how many cobblers and salads we make and eat. A better way of enjoying the warm weather harvest is with wine. There's nothing more refreshing than an after dinner spritzers with fruit added.

It starts with the wine. I prefer Arbor Mist out of California because it already has fruit essence added to it. I usually go with the peach, strawberry or orchard mix Chardonnay. This is a light white wine that goes well with fresh cut strawberries peaches and even blueberries. I love placing heaping tablespoons of homemade fruit salad in tumblers an d pouring the wine over it. this makes for a relaxing and tasty dessert . It's also a great way to kick back after a hard or busy day.

This is also the weather that calls for sangria. Again Arbor Mist has a Merlot with added orange flavor for this. This is great when making paella for guest and you want a nice fruity drink that will go well with the meal and afterwards as a kind of dessert. If it;s too strong then cut it with ice. You can also add some fresh strawberries to the sangria for a different twist. Arbor Mist has a blackberry Merlot which again is perfect for now which is blackberry season. This would go well with a good barbecued pork roast or accompanying hearty grilled steaks.

You don' have to use have the season;s bounty of fruit the plain old fashioned way. Add some peaches and strawberries, blue berries or blackberries to wine for a lovely drink. it;s a great way to kick back and enjoy the yummy combination of fruit and wine.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cherishing Family Recipes

This is the time ofyear when family recipes get used the most. You would think Christmas with cookie and cake recipes but, no, somehow summer is the time for nostalgia and centuries old jam recipes. It's a time to not only write them down if they haven't been already but to make sure they're passed to the next generation. Family recipes are the links that connect us to our ancestors and our heritage.

I found that keeping these culinary heirlooms in a recipe box is the safest bet. Of course you; may have to up date the measurements to fit modern standards. You may even have to update processes to work with modern appliances (think canning recipes where there are some new techniques added" Once you've written everything down or typed you can make a decorative cookbook using scrapbooks. This would make a wonderful shower gift and would be perfect in welcoming a new in law into the family.

It;s also good to ask relatives for recipes. However don't be surprised that they may not want to give you Gran's barbecue ribs or Aunties peach cobbler recipes Some people can be possessive with anything and it may take a lot of sweet talking (plus getting them blotto wouldn't hinder). Most though do want the dishes to be carried on.

Cherish these family recipes. They 're not only burst with old fashioned goodness and flavor they are a link to everyone's family history . There's no better way to celebrate with food and nothing tops a dish that been several generations in the making.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A simple Saturday lunch

Saturdays are usually busy times in any household. It' s either house cleaning, grocery shopping or catching up on chores. There's no time for an elaborate mid day meal. There's nothing wrong with a simple lunch between the endless rounds of laundry and dusting. Sometimes just a good old fashioned sandwich and a glass of juice will tide you over until dinner,

What makes a simple lunch?For me it's a crunchy peanut butter slathered on two slice s of Arnold's sandwich bread.This and a glass of juice can carry me to dinner thanks to the protein s and sugar respectively in each one. Sometimes it's a simple turkey or roast beef sandwich, again with no mayo, just covered with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper .Now that it's summer another simple lunch time treat is a tomato and mayo sandwich. Nothing beats fresh picked fresh sliced tomatoes on may drenched white bread. of course there are salads. Sometimes just a simple mixed green with tuna and grape tomatoes is all you need on hot summer days. Also a salad make from all veggies is a good , simple lunch and one that can be enjoyed with garlic or onion flatbreads.

of course you can make a simple hot lunch for yourself as well. Boil some pasta and just melt a huge hunk of butter over it if you want add some fresh cut garlic too for taste or a few drops of olive oil to balance out the butter. Polenta is another good simple lunch . Make enough for one or two bowls and serve with butter and Parmesan cheese.A hot open faced sandwich is always good and it;s easy to make. Just used gravy in a jar, deli meats and bread and there you have it. Something hot and satisfying to get you through a round of work

Saturdays usually mean a day of catching up ion chores and finally getting to those DIY projects. Don't bog yourself down with the addition of making elaborate lunches. Stick to simple stuff that will sustain you through all that work!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Farm Fresh Goodness

It' time t visit the farms as late June melts into early July Summer is the season for all things fresh and handpicked. What better than harvesting them yourself at the local farms in your area. It's also a fun way of getting the kids away from their Play Stations . You can start with strawberry season which is right now and work your way though the second raspberry season in mid September.

One of the first things you can do is Google what farms are in your area.I've mentioned this in one of last summer's posts. Mostly every state has some kind of farm with some kind of festival too.How you pick depends on the farms. Most give you pails or baskets and you pay by them. Some have an entry fee which is minimal. Others such as our great Delicious Orchards here in New Jersey come with a store where you can by other food stuffs such as fresh baked goods, cheeses and even meats. Their produce is usually from the gardens and orchards around it.

If you do decide to go any kind of fruit o veggie picking make sure you're prepared. Wear a protective straw hat to keep out the sun's strong rays. Also bring along plenty of sunblock an lip balm as well. Wear a comfy old shorts and a tee and make sure you have comfortable sneakers . I wouldn't recommend flip flops because your heels and ankles may get cut up by thorns or rocks. Bring plenty of water too. Picking is thirsty work and you want to keep hydrated.Also bring a rain poncho if the weather is looking cloudy or there are storms predicted.

This is the time to get out to your farms and enjoy their bounty. You can literally enjoy the cream of the crop. It makes for both healthy and delicious eating!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cooking Co Ops

Yesterday's New York Times' Dining section had an interesting piece about kitchen co ops. This is where two or more families cook for each other and share meals. it;s kind of a spin on the Sunday church suppers where casseroles and baked macs are brought. Kitchen co ops not only widen your choices, they;re also money saving.

The article , written by Laurie Woolever, tell about how three families not only swap recipe but gaining good friends. One makes enchiladas while the others make Greek watermelon barley salad , lentil soup and Vietnamese pork salad. This would be a great idea if I were closer with friends and neighbors. I 'd like a once a week get together with people pitching in.However the down side is that everyone has different tastes and favorites and they may not agree with what i like or even like to make.

Another plus of having a kitchen co op is that it is surprisingly cheaper. You may have t make more food but it's not like you have to make everything. Other people bring dishes and desserts. Then the next week you may have to only bring sides which are far less expensive to make. It also cuts down on shopping time too, having only to buy so much.

Kitchen co ops are big right now and they're gaining in popularity if it's something you'd like to try contact friends and family. It'll be fun coming up with new recipes and serving your best ones.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is Our Seafood Safe?

I've just come back from a glorious day at the New Jersey shore. It was full of sun and surf however gazing at the Atlantic got me wondering. Thanks to the BP oil spill is our seafood here safe? Will there be various side effects for months to come?.

Of course it will hit us economically There have been shrimpers who have been out of work since this began .This is affecting them and since we can't get our shrimp from them we'll have to go somewhere else.The problem is shipping it and trucking it into various cities. Chains like Red Lobster will probably have to hike up the price of some of their dishes. Unfortunately doing this also means that fans of the chain will have to curtail their eating there. For other restaurants it means cutting back on many seafood dishes and sticking with beef and chicken.

Of course it also means that the eco system is now totally shot. Any marine life will have ingested the oil and will be infused with it. This makes anything from the pompano to the shrimp unsafe to eat.with a host of side effects. I would be leery even years from now of eating any Gulf product. To be quite frank if this spill get sup the Atlantic Coast then forget eating lobsters, clams and crabs. It's time to stick to freshwater fish like trout or just forgo seafood complete.y

the ocean has always been a source of food and comfort for all. it;s given people food and jobs for millenniums. it's a shame that BP has ruined that and the industry's future. Will we ever have our water back the way they were? Not likely. Not soon.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Party Time!!!

It's summer and that means party times. It's weekends full of various get togethers, whether pool parties, or beach barbecues, patio brunches with friends or picnics in th e park.The big question is what to serve where. What may go well at a brunch may not be a big hit at a picnic. What could go well at the pool may be a total wash out at the beach.

As with any party think about what you' re serving and where. if you;re planning on an elegant brunch with friends then have simple dishes that can move quickly and seamlessly. from the kitchen to the patio. Mini frittatas are wonderful and they 're easy to whip up. You can make them with fresh produce from your garden or the local farm. Also have on hand chilled iced tea (preferably homemade) wine spritzers and fresh cut fruit. If you want any baked goods, stick with simple short breads rounds. These aren't messy and are a perfect end along with cups of flavored coffee or tea. Barbecues are heartier fare. Go with stick to your ribs foods such as grilled steaks, burgers, corn on the cob and a variety of different salads. You may want to start off with some fresh made salsa and or guacamole and end with an ice box cake or scoops of Italian ice.

Pool parties should be simple but fun. After all the main focus is on the pool and fun not eating Keep the fare to dogs, burgers and kabobs. If you want to make heroes or stuffed pitas then go ahead. Also a plate of crudites with dips won't go amiss here either. For beach barbecues, you ca go with the same fare as your back yard barbecues. After all the sea air makes every one's appetite increase so you can serve hearty steaks or double burgers. You can also have a lobster or clam bake too. Bring along some corn , plain Idaho potatoes and butter. Dessert may include hearty store bought oatmeal cookies and coffee brewed over the fire.

This is the season for all different kinds of parties Be prepared for whatever kind you throw with the right food. You'll be the hit of the summer party circuit!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Foodie Check List

Summer 2010 is officially here. It's a time when you should be cooking and eating lighter fare. Summer is also a time to clean out the fridge and just pare everything down to basics. I always find that it's best to keep the things you 'll need like eggs and milk along with some other foodstuffs.

What to have in your fridge/ pantry:
Bottled water/ soda. / juice - you'll need cooling thirst quenchers for these hot days.Also good to have cold bottles ready for trips
Eggs - you can always make an easy frittata or even scrambled ones for an easy hot meal
Milk - for iced coffees or you can make an iced milk dessert
Bread - us e this for sandwiches again-or simple toast for breakfast
Cold cuts. These are versatile. make for a quick lunch sandwich or julienned for a chef salad.
Mixed salad greens, This is a no brainer. The base for any salads
Tomatoes, broccoli, peppers - not only good in a salad and omelet but also makes for good snacks.
Mayo - for sandwiches , and a base for salad dressings
Barbecue sauce You can use this straight onto grilled meat s or as a marinade.
Any fresh fruit. Use s a snack, part of a salad or crushed and infused with a vinegar.

These are what a summer kitchen should hold. Live off the basics until the cooler weather sets in . It makes for easy and simple meals and an uncomplicated diet.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Dad's Day

Tomorrow is Father's Day here in the US and I'd just like to wish all the fathers out there a good day. Enjoy it either with an old fashioned breakfast that the kids have made, a barbecue of your creation or just a day at the beach with a favorite sandwich and drink (or in the backyard with a burger, a beer and the Sunday papers).

For all those foodie dad s out there, here's hoping you receive more than an apron that says "Number One Dad". I hope you get a Weber grill or an outdoor pizza oven. If you're into cooking then , then, her;es to getting those silicone oven mitts or that new food processor. let's also you get the newest trend masculine cupcakes. These are not the typical girly girly vanilla or chocolate ones with a puff of pastel buttercream on top. These are made with bacon, beer or Kahlua and are topped with colored chocolate discs in plaids , houndstooth or wood grain; perfect to go with a cup of breakfast joe.

Have a good day out there to all you dads across the US. Enjoy this special day with special food and family.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mom and Pop Places

Today I ate at the Galloping Hill Grill down in Union , New Jersey . I love this place not only because they do have th e best hot dogs in the Garden State but because it's also privately owned. It's family place (although different families have owned it in its' eighty year old history). The Galloping Hill is like others -a dying breed. Unfortunaltey there ar e not many small burger and dog joints like there used to be.

The Galloping Hill Grill is located in Union County where luckily there are still family owned grills still being operated. I remember on one trip out on it I counted about seven or eight that featured everything from homemade chili to a variety of burgers and dogs. Nothing fancy. Just a grill and a griddle ready to serve out three meals and late night snacks.Whole generations work them. Kids come back from college , even thought they have degrees, waiting to begin their turn at a burger or dog dynasty. Some have been there for five generations now.

This probably is more common in the southenr part of New Jersey and just small town America in general. There are no slick chain restuarants (however good)> No fancy , trendy celebrity hangouts owned by celebrities that you see in nearby Manhattan. I love the fact that family style is not just the way it's served but the way food is cooked in a diner or cafe.I love the fact that the veggies might have been grown in the back or that the butter and milk could have come from the dairy up the road.

I'm hoping the homespun Mom and Pop places don't become relics of the past. They're too special to be relegated to a part of lost Americana. if we lose them , we lose a part of American cuisine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Humming For Hummus

Yesterday 's New York Times Dining section had another article that caught my eye. it was about hummus which is the perfect food for this time of year. it makes for an easy dinner on nights when you don't wan t to cook. Hummus is a good party foods that can be served with both the traditional pita bread and crudites. It's easy to make as it is to buy too.

The piece written by John T, Edge profiles the Holy Land Hummus Company. this is owned by the Wadi family and they've introduced the centuries old spread to Middle America. They make not only th plain traditional but ones that include jalapenos and tsaziki sauce There is also the Crazy Camel that makes traditional hummus plus a dessert one that uses cocoa (yes there is a hummus that;s like chocolate mousse) Not surprisingly there is an upswing in hummus restaurants too, especially in Manhattan. I saw one yesterday in Greenwich Village and it looked like it had a long list of different tastes. There is also the fast food hummus franchise. Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill that specializes only in the dip. The twist is that you can get it in a variety of different flavors.

I'm not a big hummus fan however I do prefer my own to store bought. I downloaded my recipe from the Web. I also tailored it to wha t my family likes which means halving the amount of chickpeas used and subbing in cannelloni beans. These give the hummus a creamier, less intense flavor. I also add in sea salt and peppercorns for crunch and heat as well as a good dose of lemon juice. Adding a little more juice not only gives the hummus a refreshing tartness, it cuts down on th e"too beany" flavor.

Hummus is a great summer time addition to any table. You can buy it in a variety of flavors to be used for different reasons. Serve it at your next party or just have it with some crisped pita bread for an easy dinner or Saturday lunch.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Real Sno Cone

Today's Times' Dining section had a luscious picture of two natural snow cones on its; first page. these caught my eye because I love anything icy and sweet . especially now. However they're snow balls, a sleeker , smoother and much more natural frozen treat. Luckily they're also popping up in nearby NYC.

The article , written by Dining regular , Julia Moskin, tells of the frozen treats which are lighter and fluffier than the average Sno Cone. They're big in the Latin American countries where summers are roasting and the only respite at times is a cup of ice from a local street vendor. Here the flavors are truer,s ticking with fresh fruit juices and and creating agua fresca. Most vendor sin New York are from these areas and come up with some creations as cafe con leche, a sweeter spin of coffee granita, that uses sweetened condensed milk to balance the strong coffee flavor.

American chefs are also incorporating these ices into their dessert menu. At Pulino's on Manhattan's Lower East Side, the chef makes an almond snow, which tastes like Southern Italy's signature tortoni ice cream. there;a so a restaurant that serves an apple grape ice that combines the sweetness of grape juice with the tartness of unsweetened apple cider. The Mexicans, make their ices with cinnamon and chocolate while the Koreans add mung beans to theirs. Any flavor combination is possible. All you need is a good ice shaver or machine to get the fluffy ice.

Nothing beats a cool fresh ice on a hot summer's day be adventurous and make your own version of this or if yourself in New York City then try any of the Sno Balls straight off the vendors' carts. They're a refreshing alternative to ice cream and Italian ice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Sales For Foodies

This is the season for foodies. It doesn't have to do with the weekend barbecues or the availability of every flavor of ice and ice cream. It has to do with the sales. Every store from the smallish Sur La Table to the giant Target has all sorts of cookware and gadgets at half price right now .

Ive found that many companies are offering their summer dinnerware at up to forty to sixty percent off. there are some pretty Fiesta ware sets along with other brands in summery yellows and reds along with cool greens and blues. This is also the time to pick up any extras like butter dishes or gravy bowls along with tureens. I've also noticed glasses both glass and plastic up for grabs at low prices too. Pick up a few to tide you over during summer party season. You can also use them in the fall and winter as well. Don;t forget the table too. With everything being sold for just a few bucks, snap up some fresh new tablecloths and matching napkins to replace your old , ratty sets.

It's a good time for buying larger items at cost too. Many places , even Home Depot and Lowe's are having phenomenal sales on gas grills. right now. get one and you'll be able to use it til October or even November. Also pick up some brushes and other barbecue necessities too. Even indoor appliances such as microwaves and ice cream machines are being offered with some kind of discount. if you haven;t had the last then take advantage and treat yourself and your family to one.

The hot weather brings many things to us foodies. The best one is the lower pricing on many items.Now is the time to buy and get yourself things you need or things you want. They're all on sale!!1

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hot Weather, Hot Meals?

Is it so wrong to cook during these steamy late Spring and early summer days? A lot of people would say so, sticking with sandwiches and salads. Some would even abandon the kitchen for the grill outside. I say stuff all of that and use your stove during these hot days. There's nothing wrong with cooking during hot weather.

That being stated you can make simple meals like stove top grilling as opposed to the oppressive roasting, baking or broiling. A stove top grill is wonderful for having that barbecued taste indoors without all that carcinogenic charcoal. You can also use your George Foreman grill to grill burgers and dogs along with chicken breasts and steak cuts.. Another idea is using the microwave to make even quick stews and bakes. the last will come out moister and whatever meat you add won't have that dried stringy texture over baking i a n oven can give.

Another idea is using a wok or a fry pan. Wok cooking is not only fun but its 'a also fast. Another plus is that it lets you be creative with the season's bounty and you can have fun stir frying fresh broccoli. cauliflower and onions. Fry pans are a blessing because they allow you to fry up a quick steak or chicken breast after a hard or long day at work. Afterwards just add more butte r, margarine or oil to fry up some accompanying veggies like tomatoes or onions.

Use the kitchen this summer. There's nothing wrong with dong some quick cooking to get a nice hot meal. Even when the temps hit the nineties, treat yourself to a well cooked steak, chicken and home cooked sides.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Goodness Of Beets

There's nothing like beet salad with a summer lunch. it's sweet yet refreshing , a different taste than other vegetables.Most people discount the root veggie as something for baby food but it;s much much more. It can go from a hearty peasant soup to a tasty side dish. You can buy them fresh , canned or even grow them yourself. Another plus ? They're good for you.

Beets are a part of the Amaranth family and is a cousin to the chard and spinach beet. It has been around for millenniums , being first grown in the Mediterranean area and then heading to china. it was popular in early cuisines however was replaced by spinach as a side dish. The 19th Century changed everything for the beet. it was discovered that its' sucrose could be xtracted and made into sugar. This was a cheaper alternative to the more expensive cane sugar which had to be imported from the West Indies. beets and their parts were used in medicines throughout the years and they have what's known as betalain.

I love beet salad but you can also make the Eastern European cold soup borscht. (there is a hot version that the Ukrainians make and love0This is a combination of beets, beef shank, dill and sour cream, The last gives the soup its'smooth texture and strong taste. I prefer a simple salad using only canned beets, oil vinegar and a liberal dose of onion salt. You can use fresh sliced onions for a more bite and pungency. The salad is best if it's been chilled for a couple of hours. Always remember that beet tastes their best when cold so plan ahead if you do want to serve them.

Nothing beats beets for a refreshing summer vegetable. Make a salad of them to act as a refreshing and tasty side to burgers and ribs at your summer barbecue. They'll not only add color but flavor too!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Googling Your Food

I remember a time when you used to just walk into a restaurant blind and sit down. there were no reviews on Bing. No menus poste d on Google. No reviews listed by anyone and their cousin. You just walked in and if the aroma was good , then that was all you needed to make a judgement.

I miss those days.

Now you get everything on your Blackberry. Looking for a particular sushi restaurant ? You can find it's location plus the number of stars enthusiasts have given it. Interested in a brick oven pizza or a good polenta? Google it and the answers automatically comes up.In some ways this is great. At least you know that you can always find a good meal as well as the best atmosphere and service too. It cuts out the guess work and gives you a direct answer.

Yet I miss the old days of just driving by a restaurant and stand and stopping. the whole adventure was wondering if it was good or bad. I've found the best places that way, whether they be coffee stand or diner. I like the sense of adventure when I head o ut on my occasional day trips. That's how I disocered this awesome Polish deli in South Amboy that makes the best ham on rye sandwiches. it;s also how I discovered a cool and yummy bakery in Long Branch. This last had received such bad reviews on line and if I had read them I would have avoided the place I walked into it , seduced by the pastries' look and smell. The result was a yummy homemade cupcakes and cookies.

Sometimes it's best to avoid the Internet when you're looking for a good meal or even a snack. If a place catches your eye. then look into it. You may just be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's Wrong With Plain Hot Choolate?

During a mini cold snap here recently I turned to hot chocolate for some comfort. After all there's nothing like a cup of steaming pure cocoa for an after dinner evening treat. However my hot cocoa had another flavor -hazelnut. It made it taste like a fancy coffee or a brand name chocolate. Not what I expected.

It seems hot cocoa is going the way of coffee and tea.It' s gets to be multi flavored. Is this a good thing? I don't think so. Thee are different flavors now and even a white cocoa mix (which Iwonder looks like steamed milk or is beige??), like the said hazelnut, raspberry and mint. In my opinion these make the drink taste most like a liquid cake. In fact I did need a drink of water after my cup. It was too sugary and sweet tasting. I didn't find it all that enjoyable. A real hot chocolate should be a rush of bitter cocoa followed by the rich sweetness of milk or cream.

I don't mind when a hot cocoa brand puts mini marshmallows or extra chocolate in their hit cocoa mixes. It only enhance the drink.It brings out the rich cacao flavor and adds to the creaminess. I do mind when extra flavor is added. After all hot chocolate is a drink - not a pastry ,not a coffee or a tea. It's just a simple drink, that's all.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Explosive Onions

There i an interesting article in today's Times' Dining Section about onions and garlic.It;s not your typical coking piece.In fact, it;s more of a scientific view of them. This is a refreshing take on cooking articles, showing the food in a different light.

The piece, written by Harold McGee is in The Curious Cook., This is a section that runs occasionally, I guess, I never really follow it that much. However Mr McGee's writing caught my eye. He writs bout the chemical properties of the allium family. They're very similar in composition to gunpowder thanks to having a fair quantity of sulfur in their chemical make up.The sulfur is in small quantities that act as protection when the plant is damaged. That's why our eyes and noses run when we slice them. It's called the lachymatory factor and works well with other animals - not us. We 'll go through anything to add our beloved onions and garlics in our fave dishes.

Luckily the sulfur offensive is short lived. The heat of cooking almost eliminates this chemical leaving the onions and garlic almost sweet tasting. However some members of the allium family like chives are almost always used raw. MCGee recommends washing them and these to cut the sulfur odor.He also suggests cooking whole bulbs of garlic as opposed to individual cloves. This also cuts down on the garlic's intensity

Amazing what a simple onion or garlic bulb holds. Who knew they were like gunpowder waiting to go off. However unlike gunpowder, they result in some good things.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In Praise Of Fast Food

Say what you will about fast food joints but they do come in handy. Yeah, they're make fatty and salty food yeah they;re nutritional deserts but they a great if you need a quick meal. There's nothing wrong with going to one every no and then.

My life is nothing but housework these days. There's cleaning dusting ironing sorting an various other duties associated with cat rearing. Throw in teaching class (really just talking to the one or two loyal students who actually do show up) and ther's even less time at the stove. That's when I can rely on my local KFC , Taco Bell or Wendy's for a tasty and filling meal.I may get red meat or fries but it;s still constitutes a hot dinner. That's fine by me. There's also little clean up and that means less time at the sink an more time - fun - cleaning.

For those who pooh pooh the whole fast food concept, think again. Do you actually have time during a busy day to clean veggies, thaw out a roast and then cook the whole thing? I thought not. Then think again about your local drive throuh window. It really is a lifesaver!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cannery Row The Easiness Of Canned Foods

Thank heavens for canned food. It's been a godsend these past few months and it's helped me out considerably.It's easier to make sides and even salads. All you do is open, pour and that's it. What you do is up to you.

Canned food has always gotten a bad wrap but in truth it's actually better for you at times than fresh picked. You don't 'have to worry about salmonella (although there is that pesky botulism to worry about). Everything has been cooked and vacuum sealed for your protection). You can store it for months without it getting rotty or stale tasting. Also sometime just a small amount of veggies is all you need for a nice side. Another good thing about canned food is that it come in different sizes. You can make something fro yourself or for an entire crowd.

My favorite canned products are devilled ham and chicken.I create easy and delicious spread just using these, mayo and herbs. It makes for a tasty sandwich filling or topping for canapes. MY second favorite are sliced beets.Add some fresh slice d onions and a vinaigrette and I have a yummy beet salad that goes well with everything from meat loaf to burgers. Another fun dish is a quick potato salad using canned potatoes, mayo and some chopped celery plus onions.

Don't discount canned food.It's nothing to turn your nose up at. You can create tasty meals just by opening up a few cans.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hot Dogs Your Way

This is the season for those little doggies. Nothing goes better together than hot dogs and warm weather. What's great is you an cook them in variety of simple ways. What's even better is that you can have them anyway you like,with a variety of toppings on different breads. Hot dogs are the most versatile of summer foods.

Like most people prefer a plain hot dog. Unlike most other dog lovers I eat ones made from soy. I do crave the real kind and get them occasionally at my favorite place, The Galloping Hill Grill in Union ,New Jersey.However I have a mostly vegetarian household so real meat is out of the question.The soy pups aren't bad . I just fry them in margarine and serve on a toasted roll or on a slice of just plain white or rye bread.Since I am also German, they're served with sauerkraut although I prefer a gherkin or a spoonful of piccalilly on the side.

You can make hot dogs anyway. Another tasty variation is wrapping them with bacon and then grilling them..The bacon fat adds more flavor and they have a smokier, saltier taste.Also you can load up your dog and buns with chili, hot relish and hot peppers for a spicy treat. Cheddar dogs are also popular. I'd recommend using the sharpest cheddar out there to give them some bite.

Ho dogs are like the little black dress of summer cooking. You can dress them down or up, depending upon your tastes.have them plain on a a simple slice of bread on time. The next add anything you want and serve on a toasted bun. They let you be creative while having fun.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Strollo's Italian Ices A Jersey Shore Classic

The Jersey shore and Italian ices go hand in hand. After all , what's a perfect ending to a relaxing day at the beach than a cool, creamy and flavorful Italian ice. There are many that dot the shoreline but one stands out and that's Strollo's Lighthouse Ices of Long Branch ,New Jersey.The Strollo's have been serving ice since the 1930's They've added a few mor e locations and types n those seventy odd years but they still produce top quality frozen treats.

When I first discovered Strollo's Ices about twenty years ago, they not only had their trademark product but also sausage and pepper sandwiches to celebrate their Southern Italian heritage. There were also just a handful of flavors too. I loved their cherry and chocolate ices and it was always such a pleasure to get them.Now they've moved to a specially built ice stand with a large parking lot and table area. The sandwiches are gone however there are plenty of different ices and soft ice cream that you'll enjoy.

I decided to try their lime ice and it was worth it.It was cool and tangy, creamy and smooth Unlike some ices this was not grainy or watery. Plus the taste was refreshing. Strollo's has added mango , peanut butter(!) cappuccino and blueberry to their original list and strawberry ice cream to their original chocolate and vanilla ones. I plan on going to nearby Monmouth Beach at least one a week this summer so I ' will sample all of Strollo's flavors.

There's nothing like the Jersey shore for fun in the sun. Afterwards stop off at Strollo's for a refreshing frozen treat.It's the perfect end to a beach day!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Foodies Entrepreneurs

Yesterday's New York Times' Dining section had an interesting article about small time foodie entrepreneurs..It seems these hard economic times have pushed foodies to not only get creative but also down to business when selling their specialities. If you have a talent or specialty then sell it to the crowds.

The article written by Dining regular Julia Moskin tells of New York foodies who want to make it big in the food trade. Some are very creative selling cake pops ( specially made cakes that can be put on top of a Popsicles stick) to empanadas. A few even offer smaller versions of their wares to lure customers in. If you're in New York City ,whether living or visiting there, go to these markets such as the Greenpoint Food Market in Brooklyn, The New Amsterdam Market at the South Street Sea port or the Hester Street Fair. These places offer a unique variety of different homemade goodies from granolas to Mexican Popsicles.

Unfortunately these independent vendors may be endangered. As of May 25th the New York Department of Health decreed all food vendors must have a licence to sell their wares. They also can not cook or bake in their kitchen and must use commercial ones. This is all well and good for the consumer however for the food sellers this means paying up to $200 for use in a restaurant kitchen or bakery. It seems to me not worth it and I would either get a loan or backers for more cash to spend on a proper retail space.

You have to love foodie entrepreneur. When they have an idea , they'll go forth and cook and bake it no matter what the cost. The best part of their independent spirit? Other foodies get to taste and enjoy their fruits of labor.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just Beachy Food

Summer is here and it's time to hit the beaches. What comes with that is the bathing suits, towels, sunblock and of course food. What to bring? The easiest would be sandwiches but if you can grill then bring burgers and dogs. Some beaches even have their own snack bars eliminating the what to eat problem.

I usually just go to my local Subway to get a hero and iced tea. I don't have to worry about lugging a cooler and loading it down with sandwiches and drinks. It satisfies me and it's a healthy alternative to getting something fried. Salads go well at the beach however avoid any dressing with a mayo base. Mayo turns quick in hot weather and that could lead to food poisoning (something you don't want when you're enjoying surf and sand) . Go for an herb infused vinaigrette that will keep better. You could also use this a dip for loose veggies such as broccoli florets, grape tomatoes and cauliflower bits.

What to drink with your beach meal? Soda is OK but it is dehydrating and you'll wind up drinking more.A better choice is any kind of water like Fyxx Hybrid Caffeinated water or Vitawater. The first is infused with caffeine and will give you the energy for swimming or volleyball games. The second comes in a variety of different flavors and has zero calories, perfect for keeping that bikini bod.

This is the season to hit the beach . Hit the surf and sand with good food and good drink for a more enjoyable day out.There's nothing like it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hot Weathr? Order Out!

No one feels like cooking when the temps soar. You're hot, you're tired,you;re sticky.Why stand over a grill or stove? That only adds to the uncomfortable feeling. Order out. You can splurge and get those fries you've been or enjoy that cool salad, a perfect reward after a day's work.

If you're worried about the sodium and fat in take out, then choose wisely.Every fast food chain has their dishes' calories long with other RDI's listed. Your local Italian and Chinese restaurants wont have this however. Try to get lunches and dinners without a lot of embellishment. Nix the heavy sauces and cheeses. Try boiled dim sum dumplings with just a scallion and soy sauce or an old fashioned pizza sans the mozzarella. These don't have any extra calories. They're just good simple foods that are made with fresh ingredients.

I also recommend going to your local grocery for dinners when it's just too hot. You can pick up some really nice stuff, like grilled chicken or turkey breast There's also a variety of other dishes. like crab cakes and meat loaf with gravy. A lot of supermarkets, like the A&P,feature a large variety of salads.I love the already prepared asparagus salad along with their potato salad.

Close the kitchen when the temps soar. Give yourself a break from cooking. There's nothing wrong with ending a summer day with take out food,