Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hopes For The New Year

What to expect in the New Year with Foodie Pantry? As the blog heads into its' fourth (!!!!) year there will be some interesting ideas coming forth. I plan on a trip to the famed Chelsea Market in New York and there will be several articles with that.Hopefully there will be pictures and video too.

I also will be focusing on nutrition. You are what you eat is very important to me. Although there will be plenty of posts and articles on junk food (I am American and a Jersey girl after all and it's in my DNA to eat a burger and fries and boardwalk candy apples) there will be some informative pieces on what's better to eat. I will always promote garden fresh and garden grown ingredients along with healthier food choices. Don't eat that pasta with jarred sauce. Try some whole wheat spaghetti with your own recipe of sauce.

Of course Wednesdays and Thursdays will  still be devoted to the New York Times however if the Daily News has an interesting recipe, then I'll be covering it.There will also be some Food Channel reviews as well as discovering new eateries and new products.

Myself and Foodie Pantry wish all our readers a very healthy and nutritious New Year. Eat well, but most of all eat happy.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Herring That New Year's Favorite

Germans love holidays and they celebrate in the best way  - with food. New Year's is no exception. One o the most loved and traditional foods is herring. It's served at countless parties on both sides of the Atlantic. It represents good luck however it should also represent health.

Herring is an oily fish , found mostly in the temperate waters of the North Atlantic, North Pacific and the Baltic Sea (hence the reason they're a popular dish with the Germans and Scandinavians). Herring has been use din cooking for three thousand years. They're extremely high in Omega 3 fatty acids as well as  Vitamin D. However on the down side the fish can also absorb PCBs and dioxins. These pollutants can influence how much herring can be caught,Baltic herring, which is larger than regular herring , soaks up more than regular herring. These should be eaten only twice a month. Smaller herring actually escape this and can be eaten more freely.

Germans usually like their herring either pickled or in cream. Pickled herring usually is a two step process where the fish is cured with salt to extract the water. The next step is is adding flavorings and these could be salt,vinegar, and sugar along to which  raw  onions, peppercorns and bay leaves are added. A similar dish, rollmops, ,involved wrapping the pickled herring around a gherkin.This originated in Berlin in the last century and quickly became popular. Creamed herring involves marinating the fish in sour cream. You cna make this at home or buy it in in jars as you can with pickled herring.

Herring isn't just for New year's although it's a great dish for welcoming in the New Year. It's is healthy  alternative to other fish and other meats. Have it at a party or just as a light supper. It's good for you

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Real Southern Cooking

Just in time for the New Year yesterday's New York Times Dining section has a great piece on Southern cooking.. Julia Moskin celebrates the real deal in her paeon of the best regional cuisines. It's not just fried chicken and biscuits. It's truly American food with layers of nuances and subtleties.

This particular branch of American cooking has gone back to it's roots, thanks to a new generation of chefs.It's more of a farm to table transition focusing on fresh veggies and freshly cured meats. Everything has an earthy , home made  taste  from hominy or grits to the New Year's classic Hoppin' John. The last is a traditional dish that involves black eyed peas and rice.  Thanks to heirloom grains and old strains being grown again. this dish is returning to its' original glory.Of course, artesanal bacon fat and herbs are also added, creating a  recreation of what planters ate. Southern crops flavors are returning due to  careful farming and processing.The taste isn't being  'washed out" by added sprays of vitamins and pesticides.Also crop rotation, learned from the African slaves is also making a comeback. This helps in producing, bigger and healthier produce.

Southern chefs are also learning to recreate some other dishes as well.They are going into butchery, important for making delicious cuts of ham and ribs. Side dishes such as piccalilli and chowchow are showing up on many a restaurant table.Reezy peezy , originally risi bisi , rice and peas and learned from 18th Century Italian engineers who came to the colonies to advise, is showing up, with more flavorful peas.. These involved red or cream peas that were eaten when green . This basic dish also is getting star billing. Not to be outdone cornbread is being redone with the  original recipes. It is more flavorful, and moister than what is normally baked in supermarkets and bakeries.

Southern cooking is making a comeback while maintaining its' original roots.The result is a return to what cooking was- delicious and flavorful. It's bringing back the best of the South with tasty results.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Warmer Spaetzle

Now that winter is officially here ,it's time to think of hearty meals. Spaetzles fill the bill nicely.These tender and delicate German noodles can be used in casseroles or with sauerkraut. Not only that, they are the perfect comfort food during these chilly , icy days.

This is what  New York Times Dining regular Melissa Clark wrote about in today's A Good Appetite column. She discovered their charm while perusing an old German cookbook. There she discovered a myriad of recipes,using traditional ingredients such as kielbasa(!) and cabbage. She decided on a casserole with them along with kielbasa , onion and Emmenthaler cheese. This sounds sort of like a Saxony version of baked mac with bacon. I don't know if it's to my traditional tastes however it's tempting enough to try. I am going to make it sans the sausage, although if I were to add meat, it would be the more traditional ham

Ms. Clark also tries making her own spaetzle. This is pretty easy wit being on the same par as making pasta dough, except the dough consistency is that of a thick pancake batter.You can buy a spaetzle board from any gourmet cooking store or online. You can also use a colander to press out the dough (unlike pasta which is basically ribbons, spaetzle vary in length and size). They are then boiled in salted water. After you can do what you like with them.  I prefer mine with string beans or plain with butter however some like them the traditional way, cooked with red cabbage or better  yet, sauerkraut.

Spaetzles are great chill chasers. These hearty little noodles are the perfect canvas for  anything , from a cheesy bake to traditional pickled cabbage. You can create a perfect  and winter meal with them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Fun At The Olive Garden

My family cashed in on the Olive Garden gift certificate they received on Christmas. Although I had been to one already it was fun to rediscover the fun and delight of going there and ordering. The Olive Garden may be a chain restaurant but it offers good quality food - similar to what a family owned

The restaurant is known for its' generosity. There is a huge bowl of salad that's almost served before you order along with their famed basket of bread sticks. The salad is the e Italian restaurant would.The food is plentiful and not badly priced - which explains its' popularity. We started with a complimentary salad, the size of a punch bowl and has every kind of veggie from hot peppers to olives and tomatoes in it. This on its' own is actually good lunch . The bread sticks are these wonderfully fat mini loaves of bread coated in garlic and oil. We ordered the bruschetta appetizer ,although to be truthful , it was like gilding the lily.It was a huge plate of toasted Italian bread accompanied by a large bowl of the tomato basil mix.

The Olive Garden serves such huge lunch portions you have to wonder what their dinner ones are like.There is a lot to choose from and meat lovers won't be disappointed.There are even some heart healthy dishes like the chicken with apricot sauce. Others include pastas with fresh pomodoro sauce which is what I had. I also tried their lasagna which was as good any any homemade one.The Olive Garden has a cooking school in Tuscany where it sends it's chefs on a yearly week long sabbatical which shows in their cooking. Unlike other chain restaurants, it really cares what it sends out to diners and also doesn't rely on prepackaged sauces or dishes that just have to be reheated. Everything is freshly made to order. We were all too stuffed for dessert however I am making a point to go back just to try their zeppolis with chocolate dipping sauce.

if you received an Olive Garden gift card this holiday season, cash in on it. The food is a great treat and the whole dining experience is just plain fun. Even if you didn't get one, go. Spending a meal at this restaurant is a great way to experience Italian classics such as pasta and lasagna at good prices.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quiet Simple Food

This is the season, and especially the week for rich foods. Between Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's , our diets go crazy with an overload of sweets, meats and alcohol. During this down time, think about eating simple. It's easy. It's just trimming away the fat literally,

A good idea is to start off right.A decent well balanced breakfast is always appreciated. It;s also a great way to top off a day that may have more treats than "normal" food. After lush holiday brunches of french toasts and fancy omelets, return to simplicity with just plain whole wheat toast or oatmeal. Lunch can be simple salads (and this is a head start on all those New Year's diets) or soup. You can have sandwiches, but try to stick with just simple cold cuts on white or wheat bread. Stay away from mayo and butter (which you probably had lots of at all those X-mas parties). Instead use mustard or ketchup which have less calories.

It's hard not to have a sumptuous dinner during the holidays. Old friends call and want to go out or invite you over. If you're heading to a restaurant ,choose the plainest food on the menu. Think about a broiled salmon or chicken.Finish with sides of steamed spinach or Brussels sprouts as opposed to anything fried or with sauce. Desserts out can be fun but fattening, Thanks to a week of buttery cookies and boozy fruitcakes you may want to opt for a fresh fruit platter or just coffee and tea. Even a flavored coffee or cappuccino can be a little over the top this week. If friends do insist, then share something with the table. This means one or two spoonfuls. You can still have that rich chocolate mousse or carrot cake with ice cream.

Treat your tummy well this week and veer back to a simple diet. It's tempting to keep eating all those holiday goodies. Yet, it's a more a present to treat it right with good ,and nutritious foods. You'll feel a lot better.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

To all my readers worldwide,

Have a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy your dinner and your gifts and think of those who have less. Hope that they have a good holiday as well and that they have food on their tables. Enjoy all the family favorite recipes and the sweets. Relax with a cup of cocoa or brandy laced egg nog as you enjoy your tree and presents. Enjoy your family and what they give you - not just their gifts but their laughter and smiles, their hearts and souls.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Minute Craziness

Christmas in America is like a wedding day. You only have twenty-four hours to get it right. Other countries have two, like England with Boxing Day. The Caribbean along with the rest of Europe stretch it out til the New Year. Too bad we can't do the same. It would save us a lot of angst and headaches. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

There's always the chance that you'll run short.Then just sub. Margarine can easily fill in for butter whether at the dinner table or cooking. Pureed cauliflower can fill in for mashed potatoes (and they're healthier too). Rice is another substitute that can work as a side. What happens if the roast burns? Salvage it. Try to save as much as the meat as you can.A good idea is drowning it in gravy to give it some moisture. A dried out turkey or goose can be made juicy again by cooking it again in a stock bath. If the potatoes are too runny then add extra potato flakes. Too gummy? Add some milk or cream.

What about the dessert? Usually shortages happen, especially around the cookie tray. See which ones are going fast and stay away from them. Let your guests nibble the best. Also if the cookie supply is diminishing then don't feel shy about breaking out the packaged ones. There's nothing wrong with serving Oreos and Fig Newtons in a pinch. If you run out of Cool Whip then think about pie and even cake a la mode. Any kind of ice cream can be a welcome treat and the kids will probably like it. If there's not enough coffee, then push tea. (or if worse comes to worse borrow some java from the neighbors)

Christmas comes but once a year and it has to be perfect. The problem is that sometimes our dinners aren't .If stuff happens let it. There's always a way to fix it even without Santa's magic.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Good Holiday Bubbly

Champagne and the holidays go hand in hand. A good bubbly adds to any meal or party. The question is what is good?That's what Eric Asimov answers in yesterdays. Wine of The Times column in the New York Times. Follow his advice and you'll select the perfect drink for your gathering.

What Mr. Asimov points out is that champagne is really nothing special. It is just a sparkling wine. Treat it as you would any ordinary dinner white. There are some good ones out there that would not seem out of place accompanying a roast turkey or common hors d'ouevres. he prefers blanc de blanc, the finest and most delicate of all champagnes. These are made solely of chardonnay instead of the usual pinot noir, pinot meunier and the chardonnay. Most of the bubbly tested was at the lower end of the price range, being around $35 to $55 a bottle.

Which ones did Mr. Asimov and his panel recommend? There is the Delamotte coming surprisingly out of Alabama and it has a taste redolent of minerals , herbs and chalk. For a more traditional taste there is Marc Hebrart Blanc du Blanc Premier Cru Brut NV which has a fruity mix of apple, plum and lemon flavors. This would b e perfect with poultry from goose to capon or with a lovely chicken salad appetizer. Another fruity blend is the Ruelle Pertois- Blanc de Blanc Brut , vintage 2005. Again this has a very light green apple flavor to it. Other champagnes had more of a mix of herbal and chalk taste.

Champagne, especially a good one, makes any holiday bubble. Select a blanc de blanc for a special taste . It can go with something as unique as caviar or as homey as a roast.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Taste Of Christmas Memories

Today's New York Times Dining section was a cornucopia of Christmas memories. This homage in a way to Marcel Proust is full of traditional and not so traditional recipes by the section's best writers. There are so many to choose from savory to sweet. All are tasty and can be easily blended into reader's traditions as well.

Most of the section is written in mini article form followed by a recipe.I like the diversity of it all and the dishes are immensely tryable. There are the savory ones, especially the one by Jeff Gordonier. His contribution is a honey glazed ham which has a spin - white miso. Usually holiday hams are awash in ginger ale and/or pineapple however this one calls for the miso along with apple cider and apple sauce.The apple mixture created a crunchy sweet glaze that counter balances the ham's saltiness.Another great piece is the great Frank Bruni's eggplant and pasta. This is a variation of lasagna that his mother made and it involved crisp fried mezzani along with pasta and sauce. It would be good even at a New Year's party too.

Sweets are also represented and some of the Dining section's have given some great ones. Julia Moskin pitches in with an easy Christmas pudding. This is her take on the traditional British kind that doesn't have the rum but everything else. It's a flavorful dessert rich with spices and candied fruits.It doesn't have the liqueur's cloying taste which is refreshing. Another good recipe is Pete Wells ' candied orange peels which have the added zing of rosemary,Of course the holiday wouldn't be complete without cookies and contributor , Kim Severson adds her mother's ginger snap recipe. These are a break from the usual butter cookie ones and provided much needed spiciness to the holiday sweet platter.

There are several other savory and sweet recipes . Go to the Times online to see more. The ones above and those are great additions to any holiday feast.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sufganiyot Hanukkah Doughnuts Treats

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah and it will be celebrated worldwide with songs, gifts and food. Most people associate latkes or potato pancakes with this ancient holiday however there is another treat.Jelly doughnuts are also a part of this seven day festival and they are just as delicious as latkes.

The sweets or sufganiyot originated in Isreal, atlhough the treats are surprisingly Greek.The names comes from sufgan which means puffed and fried.However the word can also come from the Hebrew word for sponge which is what the pastry's texture resembles. The doughnuts can be fried as two separate pieces of dough and then attached with a smear of jam. Some make them as fried balls, injecting with the jam later on. In some ways they resemble the Lenten treats Fasnacht doughnuts which as just plain dough balls that are fried and then rolled in powdered or granulated sugar.

Sufganiyot can be varied to suit tastes. Most people prefer the traditional strawberry, raspberry or apricot jam fillings. However the treats can also be filled with custard as in South America.The doughnuts are stuffed with dulce de leche which also follows the Hanukkah theme of eating dairy (to celebrate one of the holiday's heroine, Judith, who fed wine and cheese to a Syrian general, got him drunk. She then killed him ). Chocolate and vanilla custards are also popular sufganiyot stuffings , especially in Israel. The doughnuts can also be made savory and filled with tomato and Swiss card . The dough recipe can be varied as well. Some add buttermilk to make them more like the New Orleans treat beignets.

Sufganiyot is a wonderful way of celebrating this ancient holiday . Even though the recipe is new , the doughnuts are now part of this tradition. They celebrate the Festival of Lights and the victories that accompany it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holidays With Punch

Christmas and New Year's Parties need a good punch to start going.No, not the kind where someone fist slams into your arm,. but a delicious mix of juices, sodas , dairy and various kinds of alcohol. Punches make any holiday gathering special . They add zip and zing along with great tastes. Best of all you can tailor any punch recipe to fit your crowd. Make them to suit the mood, whether they're light or heavy..

The drink is really an Indian concoction known as panch . English traders from the East India Company brought the party drink back to the United Kingdom as early as 1632. It soon became a hit and with the introduction of rum a few years later on became an English holiday staple. The American colonists fell for it and it became a staple of all sorts of occasions, from ceremonies to various holidays.One of the most popular is Planter's punch.It's a great drink, with a combo of rum along with tropical fruit juices and a dash of curacao.It would be perfect for a Caribbean themed barbecue to welcome in the New Year. You can also do variations on the German punsch or Spanish sangria. These are light mixtures that just require fruit and a white or red wine. Some are also made with sparkling varieties such as Prosecco or Asti Spumante.

Heavier punches are another way to go. These are usually made with heavy cream and are perfect with cakes and cookies. One of the most famous is, of course, egg nog. This is a heavy mixture that involves six eggs plus extras yolks along with whole milk and cream. Bourbon is then added to it for kick. It is a great drink however not one that would go well with all holiday savories. I would have it rather with some short breads or crisp buttery snaps . Another heavy but heavenly cream punch is one made with ice cream. The frozen treat is added in chunks to a basic egg nog recipe and then whipped into a thick froth.Of course you can make cream punch just with low fat milk or even soy for a lighter taste and texture.

Holiday punches are a great addition to any party. You can create one to suit the mood, the food or just what people want. It can be light and fruity or heavy and creamy. However you make it, your punch will surely make an impact on your guests!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Dinner Sides - What Works

Yesterday I wrote about what roasts to grace your holiday table. Today it's another important component to your Christmas or New Year's dinner- the sides. Although they're not as important as the main course, they still have to figure heavily in the dinner menu. The question is here what to serve and how many sides make the perfect meal.

The perfect dinner should have just two sides. If you want more then just stick with a third and only three. Most chefs would agree to have a potato dish of some kind. The most obvious is a bowl of homemade mashed potatoes (no instant - it is the holidays). They go well with gravy , whether from a roast beef or turkey. Another bonus is that they can be turned into fryable puffs the next day. You can have them plain or lightly herbed for some variation. Another good and easy potato dish is scalloped.Again these are easy to prepare, with just slicing the taters and then layering with butter and milk last .Sometimes the simplest is best as in the case with new potatoes. These are tiny , red skinned ones that can be just drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary. These go well with nay meat from crown rib to goose to ham to turkey.

Of course there should be one green side.Brussels sprouts are an interesting and elegant choice They can sliced and grilled or parboiled and then baked with melted butter and Parmesan cheese. Spinach is tasty as well. it can be made with just the simple addition of oil and garlic or creamed. Of course you can make that modern American classic, green bean casserole. This is an odd yet surprisingly tasty combo of cream of mushroom soup mixed with soy sauce and milk.It is then poured over green beans and baked ,A layer of crunchy onions is then put over and under the bake.It''s a sure favorite with kids and definite do make if you have little ones over for the holidays.

Making sides for a holiday meal is a pretty easy task.It just takes potatoes and greens to finish off a holiday roast. Anything you make will go perfect with your meat of choice.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Roast Choices

Christmas dinner is one of the most important meals of the year. Not only is it is a celebratory feast but it's a bell weather of how well a person can cook. The problem is choosing a meat you're not familiar with can spell disaster -a holiday surprise you do not want. Luckily there are several choices you can pick from. Find one that suits your ability and you'll create a memorable and perfect holiday dinner.

Many home cooks opt for prime rib roast. Not only is it lush looking but also very flavorful. It also makes a good presentation and looks camera ready sitting on a perfectly set table. Rib roast is also one of the easiest to prepare. Just sprinkle on fresh ground sea salt and pepper and then pop into a waiting oven of 325 F. You can increase the heat to 500 F for the first fifteen minutes and then reduce it to the 325 to sear in the flavor.A two bone roast can serve six to eight while a three bone serves about ten to twelve people. . Another roast worth thinking about is London Broil.This is a good meat for those on a budget.It costs slightly less than most beef cuts yet makes for an elegant piece of meat. It's basically just a think flank steak, however cooked right , it down right buttery in taste and texture.

If you're not into serving beef, then think of the German Christmas dinner staple: ham. You can buy it fresh,cured or cured and smoked. There is some work and prep time for it however yet it's just easy steps. You can pour either ginger ale or pineapple juice over it before cooking. Some cooks also have a rub of brown sugar which offsets the meat's saltiness. Another route is poultry. Turkey is one of the most traditional however since Christmas falls a month after Thanksgiving it may be too repetitive for some people. You can try capon,duck or even goose. All three are surprisingly easy to roast and can create a classy and classic alternative to red meat.

What you want for your Christmas dinner is your choosing. However keep in mind that this is one of the most important meals of the year. Select a roast that you'll know you'll be good at cooking . It's one less worry to deal with on Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Faking It

This is season for collective church dinners and potluck parties. We all figure the other people worked just as hard on their casseroles and chilis as we did. Or did they? There may be a surprise on that groaning table - a store bought or premade dish.
That was the subject in yesterday’s New York Times article written by Jennufer Steinhauer in the De Gustibus section. Ms. Steinhauer descries those who bring already made dishes and sweets to everything from church dinners to class bake sales. After all if she could do it even with all her flops, then why can’t other parents? She also has harsh words fo those moms who doctor store bought goodies to look like the real homemade deal. It worked a decade ago when working mothers were encouraged to do so . It’s getting - pardon the pun - stale now.
There is also a rant about those who bring already made dishes to other gatherings. However even she admits that it brings deviation to centuries old recipes. Pot luck dinners date back to the 16th Century when people would stop by their host’s home bearing cooked meal. It was “the luck of the pot” whether they received something good or something so-so. The concept caught in in Colonial America, especially out West., when it was usually brought by a cowboy (perhaps where we get the chili tradition at get togethers?). Potluck dinners kept ethnic recipes within the group. It also kept up tradition. However with premade foods, different tastes and cultures are introduced, shattering old , fusty recipes. It could be a good thing for the next generation who are generally bored at potluck suppers..
Should we cheat on our baking and cooking during this holiday season? If you don’t; have the time do so. However be honest about it. People know when there’s lovin’ from the oven and when it’s a fake home bake.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spins On Holiday Classics

Classic recipes are always trotted out during the holidays. However that's the problem, classic could mean boring. How to make them shine with seasonal sparkle? Tweak the recipes to amp up their flavor and crowd appeal. The recipes might be age old but the variations are new and fresh.

This was the case in two articles in today's New York Times Dining section. One is Hanukkah latkes, while the other is a traditional party pate. The first piece, written by Melissa Clark ,tweaks the traditional recipe for potato pancakes. Usually they just contain shredded potatoes, onion and egg for binding, However the new one features apple which makes perfect sense. Latkes are always served with applesauce, why not just cut out the sauce and add chunks. It makes for a combination of savory and sweet blending together in one yummy treat. Ms. Clark tops them with cinnamon infused sour cream or Greek yogurt for a delicious twist.

Pate has always been a holiday party staple too. It was a treat for the guests when the host or hostess whipped up their own. However classic pate is made with chicken or goose livers which may not fly with some people. David Tanis of the section, City Kitchen, takes another approach, Why not combine three flavorful meats, in this case , Italian bacon or pancetta, chicken and pork shoulder. Grind these with garlic along with spices and a good splash of Cognac and voila - a tastier version of the traditional dish. Another plus is that this new pate is good leftover on sliced baguettes. It can also be made in smaller versions for holiday gift giving.

Traditional holiday foods are just that traditional. However , once in a while they need to be spruced up for a new generation. It's not tampering with a classic such as latkes or pate. It's improving them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pre Party Eating

This is the season for parties - from office to home invites. The problem is that they start late - which is not good for those of us who like an early meal. Can we wait til eight or dine at nine? If we do , it's usually results in an attack on the hors d'ouevres or worse the booze. Both on an empty stomach can be hellish later on. What to do? Pre eat.

If you know you're going to party , then eat accordingly. It doesn't pay to snack through the afternoon and eveningon snacky kind of foods like chips and candy. (besides you don't want to when you're getting ready anyway - too messy). Your best bet is a light broth or even a Ramen soup. Both are light yet filling enough to sustain you until the festivites begin. Have them with crackers or Oysterettes. You could also have cheese such as Brie as a side This will give you some protein . This way you can nibble through the evening, having eaten something relatively substantial.

Another good idea is just a plain sandwich. Stick with a simple roast beef, chicken or turkey on white or whole wheat bread. If you want just add butter or mayo for some more taste. Some nutritionists recommend peanut butter which again is good. You can make a sandwich or have it with celery , bread sticks or on crackers . A healthy pre party snack are apple slices smeared with peanut butter.Another idea is eating a small fresh salad with a low calorie dressing or just fresh veggies with a dip. These are both good and light. Cut up apples and pears also are perfect foods to snack on as well. Again have with a light tea, gingerale or even water.

Eating late at a party is no big deal if you've already had something at your normal dinner time. Don't go overboard.Something light and filling with do the trick before tackling all those platters of goodies.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Budget Foodie Gifts

Last week I covered both high and mid priced foodie gifts. Today it's going to be all about completely affordable presents for your favorite food lover. The best part of this is that you can create your own or even just go to your local supermarket. Even better is that you can come up with a wide variety that suits every taste and passion.

Themed food baskets are always fun to give and receive.Your local grocery stores can make them up for you whether they 're cookies and brownies or fruits. However you can be equally creative as well. Buy baskets at your local craft or dollar store and start piling in all the good stuff. Soup lovers may appreciate the colorfully packaged bags of dry soup ingredients along with a variety of crackers such as Oysterettes and Ritz. You can even add bowls and spoons too. A variation of this is with chili. Create a basket full of different chilis along with cans of different beans. Toss in a bottle of water for some laughs too. A pasta lover could have a goodie basket with both regular and whole wheat pastas along with fancy jarred sauces. Toss in some inexpensive pasta tongs and some cheese to give it some polish

For sweets lovers think about holiday baking or even candy making. You can come up with some lovely cookie trays, interspersed with candy canes and Hershey's holiday wrapped kisses.Luckily even packaged cookie mixes can be turned into a variety of different treats. Chocolate chips can be dipped in chocolate and simple sugar cookies can be turned into snickerdoodles or almond twists. A fresh made batch of fudge or haystacks, coconut mounds are another present worth thinking about giving as are chocolate dipped pretzel rods. Another easy treat is chocolate bark. Just melt either white, dark, or milk chocolate chips , add nuts and other candies such as M&M's, peppermint shards and toffee. Let set and then break into pieces.Put into a festive tin or on a tray.

You can still give a lovely foodie gift for pennies. All it takes is creativity to come up with baskets or freshly made treats. These will make any food lover smile .

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Nibble Time

These next two weeks are going to be filled with all sorts of parties from tree trimming to at home office gatherings. It's the time of the year to dust off all those hors d' oeuvre recipes and pick out what works. After all, a full blown sit down dinner is a bit too fusty for all that mingling. The best bet is to serve trays of nibbles, first savory and then sweet with coffee and liqueurs afterwards.

Savory appetizers are easy to serve and to make. They also go great with everything from non alcoholic punches and sodas to champagne. One of the easiest is bruschetta . This is just simply toasted rounds of sliced Italian and/or French breads with a scoop of chopped tomatoes , olive oil and spices. You can vary the recipe by placing slices of Italian cold cuts such as Genoa salami or soppressata under the tomatoes. For healthier fair try inch long celery bits stuffed with a mix of cream cheese and chopped hard boiled egg. These are tasty and fun without being oh so decadent.Another idea is getting trays of frozen nibbles. There are some great ones out there,especially from Target's Archer Farms brands. Try crab or chicken puffs which are easy to dip and easy to maneuver. Themed savories such as Japanese or Mexican also make for fun eating.

Nibbles aren't only relegated to the salty and savory. There's nothing like ending the evening with tiny bites of sweetness. A fun ender is stuffed dates. These are easy to make, with stuffing pitted dates with either creamy or chunky peanut butter and then rolling in granulated sugar. You can also make mini brittles which is forming small clusters or hills of nuts and then pouring a heated sugar syrup ove r them. Spiced nuts are also good. All it takes are any nut of choice and then dipping them in egg white. Later roll in a mix of cinnamon and sugar or for more zip and zing nutmeg and mace . Bake for twenty minutes for 25 minutes. Mini tartlets or galettes are a great dessert. These can be made with biscuit dough cut in small squares and filled with pie filling. Of course there are the traditional cookies and bars too. If you're serving these , then vary it with a melange of shortbreads, bars, sugar cookies and chocolate chips. You can add some sophisticated types such as madeleines and macarons.

This is the time for fun eating and fun parties. Try a night of nibbles to satisfy guests . Nothing beats a bize size treats to get a gathering going!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Elegant Algonquin Hotel

New York City at holiday time is magical. There are the Broadway lights sparkling against a winter's dark night. There's Bryant Park, agog with shoppers and skaters. 30 Rock has the magnificent tree and more skaters. Then there's the classic Algonquin Hotel, one of the city's most famous and home to literary legends.It also has one of the best dining rooms as well.

I got the chance to eat at this marvelous Beaux Arts style hotel built in 1902 and home to the famed Round Table. This was the place where famed writers such as Dorothy Parker , Alexander Woolcott, Harpo Marx and Robert Benchley spent every Wednesday exchanging sharp words over good foods and drinks. The Round Table is still there and I was privileged to eat at it . The food is just classy and elegant. No trendy dishes or wild creations. I ordered off their vegetarian menu and received portabello mushrooms in a balsamic reduction along with a vegetable Napoleon (layered veggies interspersed with mozzarella cheese). There is also a delicious penne with asparagus that is heavenly and worth trying too.

Since the hotel is only a couple of blocks away from the Theater District and Times Square, there is a prix fix theater dinner. Several of my guests ordered from it and were not disappointed. Soup du jour and Caesar salad were served in elegant bowls and plates followed by such dishes as linguine with shrimp and a fabulous crunchy chicken scallopini. Others had the pepper crusted salmon filet with ricotta gnocchis. There was an apple galette and decadent three chocolate mousse for dessert. The real stars were the cocktails, again elegant, celebrating the hotel's history (and the hotel cat Mathilda) . These were the most expensive starting at 20 dollars however the glasses that they are served in are huge.

If you're in New York for the holidays, stop at this famed hotel for at least a drink . It's like going back to a more elegant time where cocktails were had along with witty bon mots. What a perfect Christmas present for literary buffs and foodies together.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sassy Drinks

The New York Times Dining section yesterday ran their annual spirits issue. This was and is the perfect guide to holiday cocktails and gift giving. One article featured different cocktails and another featured some very sassy wine labels. All in all it made for some fun reading.

I liked the article about the nontraditional and unorthodox wine labels.William Grimes wrote this fun piece that featured brands such as Bitch and Fat Bastard - perfect for friends - however not for your boss.The taste is the same for any wine. There are shirazes and Cabernets which are lovely additions to any holiday table.These also make good presents between office mates too. Just don't get Big Ass Wine (which sounds like a Letterman joke) for anyone who's weight is a robust red but stick with the reds with the more genteel names.

Another fun article was the one about home cocktails. This is Jeff Godinier's take on creating the perfect cocktail no matter what the cost. His comic zeal in making a heavenly drink takes him to all sorts of liquor stores , wracking up $135 dollars to create the Mount Vernon, This is a drink that features a mix of cherry liqueurs such as Cherry Heering and Kirschwasser. The ingredients are expensive and the recipe made for more advanced mixologists. However it seems worth it. Mr. Gordinier did create his ambrosia.

The holidays are meant for merry drinks and The New York Times knows this. It's a time to have fun with holiday spirits. Make your own or buy some with sassy labels.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spirits Of The Holidays

Today's New York Times Dining section has it's holiday spirits guide. The section, commandeered by the Pour section editor, Eric Asimov, has a variety of interesting and helpful articles. There is one on malt whiskey which I'll cover today and some others which will be mentioned in tomorrow's blog. All in all it's a keeper to be brought out when buying gifts or stocking up for one's own holiday blast.

Eric Asimov wrote about the malt whiskey. a perfect chill chaser during these cold December days. His article takes him to the isolated Scottish isle of Islay (pronounced Eye-lah) where some memorable bottles have been produced. Whiskey depends on peat ,a composition of decomposed bog soil to give it its' smoky flavor and here assertive peating or peat roasting helps. Another factor that makes any Islay whiskey different is the seaweed taste or salty air aroma most of the whiskies have (Islay is located on the Irish Sea). This makes it more bolder than just the average Scottish whiskey.

Another interesting fact about Islay blends is that the various distilleries cater to different age groups. There is one called Smokehead which has a powerful and smokey taste. For a more mellower crowd Bruichladdach Islay 12 years hits the spot. This is a blend that is milder with tones of honey citrus and surprisingly a butterscotch aftertaste. for hard core lovers buy a bottle of Ardbeg Islay 10 years which has a strong medicinal flavor along with a brininess taken from the nearby sea.

Whiskey is the perfect holiday chill chaser along with being the perfect gift. Read Eric Asimov's guide to decipher what you want to serve and give . It's a great way of picking out the best.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Foodie Gift Pyramids

Yesterday I wrote about some of the world's most expensive foodie gifts. Today I'm taking it down a notch by mentioning mid priced foodie gifts. These are usually those fun pyramids and baskets filled with every kind of treat from hams to nuts, cookies to popcorn. They're not only great for the receiver, they're excellent for givers on a budget. For a certain price you can give a lush looking gifts for only a few pennies.

One of the oldest and most famous is Hickory Farms. It started in the late Forties with Richard Ransom and his cousin, Earl, started to sell cheese wheels and summer sausage at home shows in Toledo. It paid off. Today the e company offers baskets and pyramids along with boxes of just truly yummy foods. For one hundred dollars you can send family and loved ones the snack tower which has everything from their signature beef sticks to smoked cheeses to almonds along with sauces and mustards. You can also give gift packages that just feature cooked ham and turkey or ones that features sweets. Another great company is Figi's They have a variety of different baskets and pyramids that features flavored cheeses and sausages.

For those sweet toothed foodies think about a nice pyramid of cookies and brownies. Blue Chip Cookies which produces the best chocolate chip ever has a holiday cookies pack with customer faves. Cheryl's Cookies offers a huge variety of home baked sweet treats. Their pyramids offer an entire kitchen of holiday faves from richly iced brownies to buttery spice balls. They also make rich butter cookies frosted with an even richer frosting. Of course there are fruits you can send as well Harry and Davids offers healthier treats such as a pyramid of pears and apples. They also sell oranges,perfect for the cold weather.

You can give a food pyramid for a good cost this Christmas or Hanukkah. It can be savory or sweet, decadent or healthy. Whatever you give it's a lot of treats for an affordable price.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Most Expensive Foodie Gifts

It's that time of year for foodie gifts. What's great about any food or alcohol product is that they come in all price ranges. If you're extravagant you can buy your sweetheart something amazing. If you only have a few pennies, you can still present a really yummy surprise for that someone special. In the next few weeks there will be articles reflecting this . Take from this what you will and use it in gift giving.

Expensive gifts are always memorable. They make a lasting impression and are talked about for years to come. One of the most expensive is Angel Champagne, created by Britalian Stefano Zagni (he's fourth generation Italian bred in England) and American songbird Mariah Carey.One 75 ml bottle can set you back $575. The most expensive goes for quarter of a million (yes, it does) and comes in a diamond encrusted bottle. Another neat thing is that Angel was featured on that ultimately trashy show "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" however don't let this deter you. Some royals and celebrities also are big Angel fans too.

For the most expensive food gifts think caviar and truffles. Petrossian is one of the best online stores to get a variety of different roe. One of their most expensive is the Alverta , a buttery and nutty tasting caviar that costs $863 for just two to four servings. Planning for a party? Then the Alverta is $6,800 . However you can buy a cheaper version of it for only $63 dollars for the Tsar Imperial Transmontanus California bred white sturgeon. Truffles are every foodies X-mas fantasy gift. These gems, mined, in my great grandparents' province, Piedmont Italy can go for $340 for just one. There is also jarred truffle sauce that sells for $34 and can be used as a sauce for gnocchi or risotto.

If you want to score big with your foodies, then gift them with the best. You can try a bottle of Angel champagne and serve it with caviar or truffles. There's nothing like making a gourmet's holiday wishes come true.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Good Tomato Sauce

A well made tomato sauce is important to any pasta, whether it's for a holiday party or for a Wednesday night dinner. The dilemma is creating one that's the right blend of ingredients. Some can be too watery. Some over salty or over sweet or not spiced enough. They key is to create a sauce is properly balanced ; one that will let the pasta shine through.

A good tomato sauce starts with , of course, the tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are the best to use because they are the meatiest with a richer, more robust flavor. Usually the canned diced kind are the most adequate however if you can get fresh right now then use them. Another must is a good base. This is usually a mix of olive oil and three cloves of chopped garlic. For an extra fillip , add fresh or frozen pesto sauce. The basil gives the sauce an earthy taste plus a richer color. Simmer for an hour before serving over pasta.

As with any basic recipe you can vary it to suit your tastes. Plain sauce is called pomodoro , the Italian word for tomato. Meat can be added, the most common being chopped beef. this results in a tasty Bolognese sauce however try ground steak too. A famed Neopolitan recipe calls for the addition of both pork and beef for a very tasty sauce. Chicken is another add in but not as common as beef. Some chefs and home cooks put in fish such as lobster, crab or shrimp. Other spices such as red pepper is added for the hot and fiery arrabiata sauce. Some home cooks add veggies such as broccoli, green pepper and cauliflower for a healthier variation.

What makes a good pasta? It's always the sauce . A well made one can make all the difference between a memorable dish and an ordinary one,

Friday, December 2, 2011

Peruvian Cuisine Uncle Paulie's

South American food is slowly but surely becoming a mainstay in American diet. With it comes a variety of truly delicious dishes from the Southern Hemisphere. I recently ate at a great Peruvian restaurant Uncle Paulie's near me. Their food was amazing and I will definitely go back.

This small restuarant located in Maywood New Jersey, (14 miles directly west of New York City more or less) has one signature dish -pollo de brasa - rotisserie chicken. Diners can order it whole, halved or quartered and with a special sauce. However it is just amazing plain, succulent and flavorful. It was really cooked to perfection , which is unusual for rotisserie chicken served in restaurants. There is also bifsteak and fish too, spiced to reflect the Peruvian diet.

Another good dish are the fried plantanos or plantains. These were perfection as well. The bananalike veggies were fried to a lovely crisp which seemed to caramelize them. Another plus is that Uncle Paulie's doesn't stint on servings. There were enough for three or four people (however they were so tasty I practically finished up one basket). The restaurant also has traditional rice and beans along with fries as other sides too along with salads.

Uncle Paulie's is a great place to go to and to be introduced to Peruvian food. The dishes are wonderful and addictive.It's a restuarant that will surely get a following.

Uncle Paulies 109 West Pleasant Ave, Maywood NJ.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Home Cooking With The Best

There's nothing like home cooked meals especially for the holidays. It turns out that even the best chefs like comforting cuisine as well and have written books about it. What's even better is that these cookbooks are out for the holidays. They're perfect for the home cooks who want to cook classics but also want that gourmet vibe as well.

The books were reviewed in an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Julia Moskin, the Dining section's doyenne wrote whose was the best. There are a few, actually and they would make a great under the tree surprise to any comfort food loving foodie. There is Mario Batali who wrote "Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home To Yours"(Bloomsbury). This is an unusual cookbook in the sense that is is divided into seasons. His summer recipes include corn and fennel baked together along with tomatoes while his winter ones feature the veggies of the season such as pumpkin. For true foodies there is Ferran Adria, the avante garde chef from Spain. His meals aren't for home really but were geared more for dinners with his restaurant staff.His book is "The Family Meal:Home Cooking With Ferran Adria" (Phaedon Publishing). Another foodie adored chef is Hestom Blumenthal who has " Heston Blumenthal At Home" (Bloomsbury Publishing) and his is filled with simple and homey roast and vinaigrette recipes.

For true family cooking there is John Besh's "My Family Table:A Passionate Plea For Home Cooking. "(Andrew McMeel publishers) Chef Besh reflects his life as this in his book: a busy and messy dad cooking for his four little ones. However his recipes wouldn't go amiss at any adult dinner party. He creates a risotto and creamy veg soups that work with any palate. On a higher note there is Jean Georges Vongerichten who brings his Alsacian roots into play with his cookbook," Home Cooking With Jean Georges;My Favorite Simple Recipes" (Clarkson Potter).

Home cooking is always a good thing for the holidays.Even chefs realize this and want to impart their best take on comfort food. It results in some good dishes, a perfect gift for the home chef who loves to cook simple dishes from family recipes..

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pig Wings The Newest Treat

The expression"When pigs fly" actually may have some truth to it. The latest craze now is pig wings. This tasty cut of meat is hitting restaurants and home kitchens right in time for the holidays. It's kind of like the pork version of chicken wings and just as addictive. People across the US are clamoring for this latest craze and with good reason. Pig wings are tasty.

This new treat was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. The piece, written by Dining section regular, John T. Edge, explains that that pig wings are nothing new. They're just a reinvented shank which is the fibula of the pig's back legs. These pieces have a part of chewy meat on them and they're small enough for fun eating. Traditionally they've been used to flavor soups and stews. Shanks have been cut from the ham before selling and were reprocessed into cold cuts and other products like hot dogs and sausages. Now that's all changing , thanks to a renaming. At first they were called slammers and then the cuter name pig wing was then settled on.

Pig wings are served like traditional chicken wings. They're usually battered and and then deep fried, served with a variety of dipping sauces, Like chicken wings , they can be hot and fiery or mild and crunchy, always having a side of cool ranch dressing and celery sticks. Celebrity chefs are jumping on this new phenomenon. Paula Deen has her own brand of pig shanks and she's selling them on QVC., the home shopping channel. Farmland Foods,a division of Smithfield which produces hams , is selling them as KC Pig Wings to chain restaurants. Some eateries are even putting them on sticks and serving them as Carnitas Lollipops. French restaurants are also picking up pig wings and giving them the fancier name of French pork confit.

Pig wings are becoming the latest craze to hit the American palate. They are exactly what people want, crunchy and flavorful along with just being fun. We'll definitely be seeing more of them in the months to come.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cake Pops Pop

There's a new treat phenomenon hitting restaurants and parties - cake pops. These fun yummy takes on classic lollipops are now easy to make. Once a domain for only gourmet bakers . they're now being created for something as simple as a family dessert or holiday party.

The treat is only a few years old and it's the first sweet that received its' buzz through social media. People gobbled up this idea of a fun cake that's not messy to eat and easy enough for little hands to hold and bite. Restaurants started making their version , first using cheese cake which can be scooped into small orbs using melon ballers. It was then used on regular cake and the next step was a cake ball maker. This last looks like a waffle iron except that it has a mold pocked like a golf ball's surface. Another lookalike section is put over that and then pops baked.

Like cupcakes, cake pops can be made in a variety of flavors using any cake mix. . Bakers can vary using marble and carrot mixes and even add a squirt of jam inside for a surprise. The cakes are them dipped in melted chocolate or frosted with a regular bought or homemade frosting. Luckily there are You Tube videos that help neophytes with icing their first batch. If you're making cake pops for the holidays think about attaching two balls together to form snowmen or even penguins. There are so many ways in which to present them for any holiday. They can be dipped in pastel white chocolate for Easter or frosted in orange to make cute pumpkin pops for Halloween.Cake pops also make great favors at showers and weddings too.

Cake pops are the latest craze that foodies are going wild over. Now they can be made as easily as cookies, thanks to pop makers. They're a fun spin on traditional cake and a perfect sweet for the upcoming holidays.

Monday, November 28, 2011

PBS Vs The Food Channel

PBS was the original food channel and its' shows opened the eyes of the American public . Fast forward to the Nineties where a fledgling food channel started to air its'own food based programming. Now both are neck in neck as to giving the public viewing audience cooking lessons and tips to create the perfect meal. Who is better though? That's the question.

PBS was and still is the classier station for cooking shows. After all it was the one who gave us the great Julia Child and Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet. It showed America that French cuisine is as easy to cook ans American and debunked a lot of myths. It continues to this day with the fabulous Jacques Pepin who still create amazing meals. America's Test Kitchen is another informative no nonsense program. Chris Kimball gives a dry and wry view as he tests out recipes and products. it is an excellent way of learning about the nuances of cooking. For a more low key and maternal cooking style there is Lidia Bastianich who also runs the famed Da Posto restaurant in New York.PBS also offers a kid's cooking show,Fizzy's Lunch Lab, where the little ones can create surprisingly sophisticated meals.

Thre Food Channel does offer chefs who give good advice. While the PBS ones are more reserved these are loud and in your face. (think of Charlie Rose vs Jay Leno or David Letterman).Ann Burell is interesting chef, and her advice cam be helpful. However she can be loud at times as some of th e other Food Channel faves such as Guy Fieri. He not only has his cooking half hour but also is the force behind Diners Drive Ins and Dives" a fun and informative half hour that shows off the best of America;' eateries. The channel also feature competitions which does appeal to certain crowds. Yes, they entertaining but do home chefs really learn from them?

What to watch? That;s a hard call. For information and education.I'd go to PBS. For just plain fun, then watch The Food Channel. In the end you will know a little bit more about how to cook and what to cook.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pecans Nuts For The Holidays

Pecans are the perfect nut for the holiday season. They're great in salads, main dishes and most appropriately in pie. These crunchy gems are easy to incorporate into any festive feast or just on their own as a snack.They have a rich earthy taste that works well with sweet or savory.

Pecans are a truly all American food, having been eaten by the Indians for centuries.It comes from the hickory tree (and that itself is named after the Indian word for pecan based alcohol powcohicora) and was found along waterways. It is indigenous to North America and it's the only tree that the Native Americans cultivated.The name derives from pacane, meaning a nut that be hit with a rock. Colonists fell in love with the easily shelled nut and it was a great favorite of both Washington and Jefferson. Pecans were one of the first cash crops coming out of New Orleans and it was a Southerner, Abner Landrum of South Carolina who grafted wild buds onto domesticated branches, producing one of the first commerical hybrids as early as 1822.

Pecans have been loved ever since. The most famous dish is , of course, the downright, sinful pecan pie. This is a recent creation brought to life by Karo Syrup in 1940 although it supposedly goes back to the 1600''s in Louisiana. However pecans make a neat addition to salads, bringing crunch and a butteriness to any creation from Caesar to Waldorf. You can also grind them up and use them as a coating for chicken or fish dishes. Pecan also work with vegetables. Try them with string beans instead of almonds or in a broccoli gratin for some crunch. They can also be added to pasta or risotto for texture and added flavor.

Pecans are a wonderful nut to have during the holiday season. Have them in the traditional pie or as part of dinner. They're just a delightful flavor and a great addition to any dish.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A New Spin On Leftovers

Most Americans have about half an eaten turkey along with a ton of sides and gravy left in their fridges. Leftovers are tasty. After all it's the reheating that gives most foods that extra oomph. However for people who find those extra morsels boring there is a solution.They can be creative with them.

There are million recipes for leftover turkey. A turkey tetrazzini is classic as is just a turkey sandwich. These are yummy but predictable. A newer spin would be creating a turkey salad incorporating yesterday's leftover salad (or new greens for a fresher bite). You can turn your rolls into croutons and add them for crunch. Also melt down the cranberry sauce and create a vinaigrette with it. Another turn on the classic is creating a sandwich with turkey sandwiched in between two stuffing squares and doused with leftover gravy.

What about those sides? Mashed potatoes are the easiest because you can do a lot with them. One of the tastiest is potato croquettes. Mix the leftover mash with breadcrumbs, eggs and parsley, roll into balls and fry. For added crunch coat them in breadcrumbs before frying. If you cooked just plain green beans and caulilfower then combine what's left into a salad. You canalso use the stuffing to create mini pot pies. Put turkey, gravy and veggies in little ramekins or crocks. Cover with the leftover stuffing and bake for a few minutes in a toaster oven. It's a great meal after a day of touch football or early X-Mas shopping.

Leftovers don't have to boring. Turn yesterday's dinner into interesting gourmet treats that are flavorful and unique. You won't have anything left by Sunday!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Wishes

To all my American readers at home or abroad, have a good an peaceful Thanksgiving. Eat as much as you can of your favorite foods. Count your blessings for having that food and a job to buy it. Also be thankful for those who made it or helped you make it. Be thankful for their time and consideration. Be thankful for having a varied diet that has important vitamins and minerals as well as being thankful for having three square meals a day.

Consider those who do not have what we have , whether on a local or global basis. Include them in your payers and pray that the upcoming season and year will be a good one for them.

Enjoy the day but also enjoy all the blessings and luck that have come your way. Say thanks for them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Feasting Well

Tomorrow is one of the biggest eating days of the year.It's a time to indulge in every favorite holiday food for almost an entire day. The question is can our stomach manage it?Is it right to eat three helpings of stuffing or four of turkey and green bean casserole? The answer is surprising.

This quandary was the entire topic of Jesse McKinley's article in today's New York Times Dining section. The writer even interviewed such food contest champs as Crazy Legs Conti. Mr. Conti has had his share of gluttony in the past. After all he is the country's reigning sweet corn eating champion. He wants "civilians" to go easy tomorrow and actually today as well. Don't spend today fasting. It'll only result in overeating tomorrow. Try little meals and a sensible breakfast instead. You'll eat the turkey dinner as if you were eating a regular meal then, with some moderation because you've already filled up earlier.

What about those calorie counters?Another group that has headaches with tomorrow's feast. Again Mr. Conti offers this suggestion : don't beat yourself up too much. People have a tendency to chastise themselves for overeating. The best bet is to let those feelings go and enjoy the meal. Another guilt free method is sticking to the lower calorie foods. Opt for celery sticks and crudites along with slices of plain turkey breast. Skip the usual gravy stuffing and anything with sweet potatoes and marshmallows.Also just drink seltzer which has zero calories or water.

In the end though you can indulge in as much as you want. The body does adjust according to doctors who were also interviewed. Gobble away on that pecan pie or turkey leg. You can walk away the calories the next day anyway during your Black Friday trip to the mall.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Juicy Bit Of Bird

What makes a turkey dinner memorable?. Not the gravy or the crispy skin(although that does help). It's not the bird's weight or how many it could feed. It's the meat. A good juicy slice of turkey is crucial to a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.The whole meal will be ruined if the meat has the texture of parchment. There are ways to combat this and have the best bird ever.

Turkey dries out because of overcooking. Mostly it's the white meat that loses moisture, namely the breasts.This part cooks almost too quickly while it takes the darker meat much longer. According to some cynics , this always happens and there's no way to have a perfectly cooked, juicy turkey. That's where they 're wrong. One of the best hints is to smear butter under the breast skin before cooking. It'll not only impart a yummy, buttery flavor but keep the meat moist for hours. Another way is brining it , or soaking it into a salt water bath overnight.A third method is tenting with aluminum foil for most of the roasting process. Take the foil off about three quarters of an hour before serving.

Suppose the worst happens? You can salvage the dried out meat. First slice it off the bones and then place the slices in a casserole dish. Add the drippings along with a can of chicken broth. Now cover the dish with tin foil and cook for five minutes at the same temp you used for cooking the entire bird. You'll have moist , juicy slices ready for your company.Another quick fix is a good dousing of gravy to combat the chewiness and toughness.

You can serve a juicy bird that's tasty and moist. It's in the manner of prepping that ensures a delicious turkey with tender meat. Choose what works for you and then go with it. You're bound to have a turkey that's juicy through and through.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crust Time

Baking a good pie crust is crucial to a successful holiday pie. The problem is that sometimes it doesn't work out and you wind up with a bad pie. How to avert this dilemma? Follow the recipe to the letter and you'll have a crust to be proud of.

The basic pie crust consists of flour, butter, a pinch of sugar, salt and cold water. You can sub in Crisco or a half and half for butter . The result is actually a more flakier and tender crust. What kind of flour to use? An all purpose kind is your best bet. Don't try Bisquick (unless it's one of their recipes taken from the Bisquick box or website). You can mix everything up in your food processor with the setting on pulse or do it old school. This requires using two knives and crisscrossing the flour and butter until it resembles peas. Gradually add ice water and then make a ball. Chill in the fridge for up til one hour. Raw pie dough can be left in the fridge for up to two days only.

The second most favorite crust is graham cracker. This is the best for a cold pie filling, such as pudding or ice cream . It just requires finely ground graham cracker crumbs mixed with sugar and melted margarine or butter. You can add cinnamon for added flavor. You can also sub in cinnamon graham crackers instead. For chocolate pudding or ice cream pies, use the chocolate flavored ones or better yet thin chocolate snaps. Reserve the crumbs for dusting on top of the pie too.

A perfect pie crust means a perfect pie. Even though it's simple to make, there still can be a few mistakes.Just be diligent and careful and you'll have a successful and great dessert!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turkey Day Check List

These next few days are going to be crucial shopping days for any home chef. You have to be prepared for not only Thursday's Thanksgiving feast but also for whatever disaster (and there will be some) that coes your way. How to handle all of this? Organize! It helps to have plans along with fall back solutions that will see you through the day.

The first step is to write an extensive list of what you'll need. Always include the basics such as turkey , potatoes, both Idaho and sweet, , bread for stuffing, vegetables and the makings of dessert. From there add the secondary foodstuffs, such as frozen rolls, seasonings , non alcoholic drinks and after dinner mints or nuts. Make sure your list also has foil roasting pans and disposable containers for leftovers and extras on it . Keep in mind your guests 'dietary restrictions and also what kids may like as well (such as chicken nuggets for fussy eaters and chocolate turkeys and cookies for dessert).

Once you have everything home, it's time to get out the recipes. Hopefully you've tried out the new ones at least once. If you haven't you have three days to do so. Also make sure you have all the necessary spices and other ingredients like flour and nuts for baking. Doing a trial run on your electric carving knife and meat slicer won't go amiss either. Check coffee urns too,not that they go on the fritz in the middle of dessert . Now is also a good time to air table linens or buy new ones if the old ones are ratty or torn.

Make sure your Thanksgiving runs smoothly without any glitches or mistakes. Be prepared when you shop and when you cook. It makes for a calm, stress free and enjoyable holiday cooking and dining experience.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Joy Of Japanese

There's nothing quite like Japanese food. It's a fun treat of textures melding with flavors and colors to create a different meal. The Japanese know how to blend simple ingredients to create just heavenly dishes. It's amazing how a few fried veggies can be turned into perfection.

After a long , dry spell I finally had the cuisine today! For me it's a welcome change from the usual Chinese and Italian lunches that I'm used to . What was even more fun is that it arrived in a bento box. The new local restaurant, Yama has brought authentic Japanese dishes and even dessert to my area. They have everything from the light but satisfying miso soup to teriyaki and tempura . What is even neat is that there is sushi included too. Their sushi bar has as much variety as larger Japanese restaurants, and their sushi chef can create both new and traditional rolls.

It was an absolute thrill to enjoy a crunchy tempura in a warmed soy teriyaki sauce . The light coating of panko breadcrumbs added instead of detracted as fried coatings often do. Another neat addition is adding broccoli to the mix which is delicious in tempura form.I also loved the fact that Yama gave veggie sushi rolls with the lunch. Again this was an added treat. It was chock full of carrots, avocado and cucumber. There was also a small salad with a special tomato dressing too.

Japanese food is always a fun treat. This local restaurant is a new favorite and I'm sure to be back soon. I'm looking forward to having their teriyaki and hibachi grilled dinners.

Yama is located on Main Street , Lodi New Jersey , 12 miles west of midtown Manhattan. Google or Bing for directions

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Arizona's Food Controversy

Most states have some kind of state food. Ohio has barbecued pork. Massachusetts has - what else - Boston cream pie. Maine has blue crabs while Indiana has Indiana sweet cream pie. Now Arizona is getting into the mix by electing a food dear to its' natives hearts. The chimichanga. With it ,though, comes a controversy.

This was the subject of an article by Marc Lacey in yesterday's main section of the New York Times (not the Dining as you would suspect or think). It seems the tasty dish is the center of a huge fight over who created it. Carlotta Flores is claiming her great aunt Monica Flin first made it when the woman accidentally nudged a burrito into hot oil and let it fry. Others such as Sharon Johnson claims her dad, Woody, created the tasty dish back in 1946 . There there is the theory that the dish was originally another spin on a North Mexican dish chivechangas. The dish isn't found on authentic Mexican restaurants. It's sort of a hybrid food, kind of like th e Chinese American General Tso's chicken and Italian American garlic knots.

Chimichangas a re a part of Arizona culture however, like its' state tie , the bolo or its' state flower, the saguaro lily, along with its' official firearm, the Colt Revolver. Chimichangas are big in Mexican restaurants here in he States. It's a staple at Taco Bell However recently the dish, more or less a big fried burrito, has gone upscale. One restaurant El Charro in Phoenix is using lobster as a filling and it also offers fruit ones for dessert. Most just feature either beef , pork or chicken and few places do have a seafood one as well.

The controversy should be settled soon. Arizonans are eager to make this delicious dish their state one. It reflects their inventiveness along with its' rich Mexican culture as well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Day SOS

Next week is Thanksgiving and with it comes all sorts of problems. The bird got over roasted. The relatives got over toasted. The sides are boring. Or worse - under cooked. Not to worry .There solutions to all of these, thanks to today's New York Times Dining section.

This section has thankfully turned into any home chef's guide for the perfect Thanksgiving. Its' writers not only offer advice but also recipes . There is everything from ideas on making interesting sides to dealing with alcoholic family members. There are even some unusual questions such as can an entire Thanksgiving dinner be cooked on a stove top. (Yes, it can). Another one is how can chocolate be incorporated into the scene? (By painting a pecan pie crust with melted chocolate or whipping up a batch of homemade brownies instead of fruit pies.)

What I like about this issue is that it imagines every situation possible. After all Thanksgiving is the time when all things that go wrong do. This is te perfect answer to any T-Day SOS. Another plus is that Dining's section team of seasoned writers supply the answers. Everyone from Florence Fabricant to Eric Asimov to Jlia Moskin to Jeff Gordonier. I also like the fact it has alternative recipes too that can be made all year round. The recipes for the Thanksgiving sides can be used even on Christmas and Easter or just for a regular Sunday dinner.

Save today's Dining section for next week's serious round of cooking. It should be right at any chef' fingertips. It's the lifesaver to have to insure a perfect feast!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bath Time :Washing Veggies and Fruits

We've all been told early on to wash our produce as soon as we get it home. We're also told that keeping it damp and dewy is the best way to preserve it. There seems to be a debate about that.Is it OK to mist greens ?Or is it potentially dangerous? And what about the practice of constantly washing fruits and veggies? Don't the stores do that for us?

I ran across this reader question in today's Science section of The New York Times. The person writing in wondered if greengrocers were doing more harm than good in misting their produce. The answer was no. Misting is the best thing for any cut plant. Their roots usually carry water to them, bringing hydration to leaves and stems. Picked green s no longer have this vital system, so no, it is a good otherwise they will wilt and die. Contamination can occur rapidly too and that means bringing home spoiled greens.Once home ,greens should also be submerged in cold tap water for five to fifteen minutes. Afterwards they should be blotted dry with a paper towel,and then placed into plastic bags.

This also brought me to another thought. Are we just being overprotective when we wash fruits and veggies before eating?Or are we just being too over cautious? The answer is a resounding no! Bacteria can lurk anywhere on a plants mostly in leaves but sometimes can linger on the skins. Any one of these diseases. E coli,listeria( the beginnings of meningitis) and salmonella can be found. Remember when the salmonella outbreak in spinach occurred a few years ago? Then there was something similar that happened in a Wendy's in central New Jersey. Both were the result of inadequate washing. So wash. You can use just regular tap water although there are vinegar based sprays you can also use for more cleanliness.

Misting and washing are good for your produce. They not only keep them fresh but help protect you from some nasty bugs. Don't be afraid to give your fruits and veggies a bath. There's nothing wrong with a good dousing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Almighty Meatball

meatballs are just a fun food. They add zip and flavor to just plain spaghetti and sauce. They're great on sandwiches and even better at parties. Another plus is that you can create you own. They're open to interpretation and can be made with any kind of meat.

The dish has been around for centuries, starting with peacock meat being ground and then molded int fried balls in ancient Rome. Go forward a few centuries and meatballs as we know them start making their debut. For centuries , Southern Italians have made them marble size however that all changed when the recipe came to the States. They grew and some home cooks as well as restaurants offer grapefruit sized ones with their pastas.Traditional recipes call for a combo of veal pork and beef combined with breadcrumbs Parmesan cheese and garlic. You can vary it though and have to with more of the meat of your liking. Another idea is to sub in chicken or turkey meat for healthier low fat ones. Use the leftover meatballs and sauce for a nice hot sub sandwich the next day.

A fun party dish is Swedish meatballs. This has been around since the 1750s when Swedes first made them. Again they can be made with beef or pork . As a party dish they can be made handball sized and served on their own. As a hearty family dish they can be made with brown gravy and served with a side of mashed potatoes and lingenberries. You can also try making the Greek version, keftedes for your next holiday gathering. These are sort of similar to Swedish however they have mint added. For an entirely different spin go Chinese. Shanghai style pork balls are great steamed or fried and can be served with a scallion soy sauce.

Meatballs mean fun eating. You can have them the traditional way with spaghetti in a tasty marinara sauce or as party food whether it's , Swedish , Greek or Shanghai style. Either way you'll enjoy a tasty combo of meats and spices in bite sized perfection.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ancestral Foodies

Ever wonder what some of your ancestors ate? Did some dishes make it through the millenniums or fall by the culinary wayside? Did the Age of Exploration or a great migration factor into diets? You many be surprised at how some dishes changed and some stayed the same.

The Romans tended to be the most formal of the ancients . They had a set breakfast, lunch and dinner that most follow today. Breakfast was bread in watered down wine while lunch was something we could easily recognize and eat today - leftovers along with bread fruit and cheese. Supper varied with the classes. The poor would just have fresh vegetables with olive oil. The rich could indulge in all sorts of treats. Up north the Vikings had their own hearty menu. It consisted of whale and horseflesh but also preserved veggies and fruits. The last is an important part of the modern diet, whether it's from Norway Sweden,. Finland, Iceland or Denmark. They evne had a variation of lutefisk, but it invloved the basking or Greenland shark.

Further East the Chinese had the same rice and meat diet that's popular today, They were the first to really cultivate and some of their foods go back to 5500 BCE. The Northern tribes used sorghum and millet as well in their cooking. Meat was added for special occasions. The Chinese have always been associated with tea and no wonder. They were drinking it as early as 3330 BCE. Since meat was a rarity, ancient Chinese cooked with tofu or bean curd - and their dishes were similar to what is served today. There also were fortunate to have a variety of fruits and veggies such as lemons, apricots and cucumbers in their diets.

Our ancestors were foodies in their own right. They passed down some dishes and foods that we still use today. We may live in the modern age but our culinary traditions are rooted firmly in the past.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hearty Bowlfuls

Now that the weather is once again becoming crisper and nippier, it's time for a good bowl. Not that kind that involves nine pins but bowls of thick, nutritious goodness. Any dish that you can scoop into a big one is perfect, be it chowder, gumbo or stew. They make you feel warm and cozy, the perfect comfort foods on frosty nights.

Chowders are wonderful for any November lunch or dinner. Although it really isn't the season for seafood you can still make a hearty clam or shrimp one using frozen seafood.(although there are some fish stores that do sell freshly caught clams during this time). Corn chowder is another great chill chaser.It is easy to make along with being hearty and filling. You can add some thickly diced potato chunks along with bacon to make it rib sticking and more flavorful. Gumbos are another bowlful of substance and taste. Although they're a little more involved than chowders you can still create an easy one . Again seafood is the traditional way to go however there are also chicken varieties too that have just as much fire and punch.

The most traditional bowl dish is stew.Thanks to the crock pot, stews can be made early in the day and served piping hot at dinner time. The most traditional is lamb stew which can be slow cooked with a hint of sweetness for a North African vibe or with potato chunks and parsley for a more traditional Irish meal. Of course there is also beef stew along with chicken stew. Both call for creativity. For the beef you can add anything from ordinary ketchup to red wine to amp up the taste. For the chicken, think about a splash or white wine to eggplant to a dash of oregano. Serve both with regular or Midwestern dumplings instead of bread or rolls..

This is the season for warm hearty bowlfuls. They can come in the form of chowders, gumbos or stews . All are different yet all have the same goal, to drive away that November chill.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nut Time

This is the season for nuts.What's great about any one of them is that they're so versatile. You can have them in salads, sides or desserts. They're also good on their own, freshly cracked and right from the shell. No matter how you have them , nuts offer an earthiness, perfect for the fall and especially the Thanksgiving table.

This was the subject of Melissa Clark's article in yesterday's A Good Appetite column in The New York Times Dining section. In it, she explores one of the autumn's table's most loved and wanted food. Right now is th e time for three favored nuts, the walnut, the pecan and the chestnut. Walnuts are usually eaten alone (although they give salads a ice crunch) . You can buy them shelled or unshelled , although only four percent of th e nuts are actually sold in their shells. They can be kept up to a year. Ms. Clark gives a great relish recipe that has walnuts mixing with the tangy sweet tastes of pomegranate and orange.

The other nut featured is that Southern classic the pecan. These are plentiful this time of year thanks to that Thanksgiving Day standard pecan pie. Pecans on their own are fantastic, buttery and chewy. In the pie, they 're just heavenly, complimenting the praline type filling .The recipe featured is not pie but couscous, a different spin for sure. Chestnuts have always been a popular treat in November. They're usually eaten for All Soul's Day through out Catholic Europe. They should be scored with an X on top to let them steam out and roasted or toasted over an open fire. Ms Clark offers her dad's way which is slitting them around their circumference and then microwaving for forty seconds. I would prefer mine plain however she makes them as a filling for a tart or in stuffing.

Nuts are always vital to a fall table. No matter what type they are, they add flavor and crunch to both dimmer and dessert. They're also good on their own a s a toasty. tasty snack in front of a roaring fire.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There's An App For That

Cooking especially holiday cooking can be stressful. First timers and seasoned cooks alike, can run into all types of disasters, especially when trying out a new recipe or cooking method. Not to worry, though. There's an app for whatever culinary problem you may have.

This was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. The piece, written by regular, Julia Moskin, tells of this modern day convenience. Having several cooking apps on your tablet is necessary these days and especially now with Thanksgiving Hanukkah and Christmas just around the corner. After all IPads and their ilk can go with you everywhere , in particular, to the grocery store. The recipe of choice is at your anything down. However for cooks who like tweaking recipes, there's also an app for that too , allowing for amounts to be changed or for ingredients to be added or deleted.

As with any app, cooking ones are plentiful. You could download Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals or Baking With Dorie. The apps are cheaper than a cookbook, with prices starting from free to $7.99/ Some, such as the Geometry of Pasta even have animation while the Cooking With Dorie has videos so bakers can learn the basic techniques.. However be warned with Cooking apps with video how tos can eat up a lot of memory so be careful with what you're downloading. Browse through them to decide what best suits your need. There is a free Thanksgiving dinner app that can easily work for Christmas and even Easter. If you're re into baking then just download one or two of those themed apps.

This is the season for any type of cooking disaster or problem. Invest in a few informative cooking apps to help you avert any snag. It'll make for smoother time in the kitchen along with tasty holiday dishes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Good Rub

A good rub is essential to any pork or beef rib. I brings out the flavor of th e meat along with imparting a crunchy , crisp coating. A rub also holds in the juices, making the meat moist and melt in your mouth yummy.You can buy rubs or better yet make your own. They're easy to create and store.

One of the best recipes is the Kansas City rub. This town knows ribs ; it lives by them so what the local chefs put on them has to be special . Their rub recipe is a blend of spicy and sweet.It's a mix of paprika , and brown sugar with chili and cayenne thown in for added heat. Onion powder along with garlic is also mixed in for extra flavor. Memphis, another town , known for its' excellent ribs has its' own variety of rub . It employs dried mustard and basil along with the requisite garlic and onion powders for zest and zing. Chicago,a city known both for its' amazing food and meats also has a rub recipe. Theirs is simliar to the other two but also has parsley added for a different, earthier flavor.

The Caribbean islands are known for their rubs too. These can be put on everything from chicken wings to even turkey, from steaks to ribs. A popular one is made with granulated garlic along with brown sugar and a different herb this time - thyme. It also has chili powder and sea salt for added crunch and extra taste.One island, Jamaica, is really the king of rubs. The island produces so many recipes, it's hard to choose which one is the best. Jerk a spicy dish and one of the most popular starts off with a rub that includes white sugar, and native spices such as cinnamon,. cloves and allspice. Of course there is chili powder and garlic to give it heat. Remember that most rubs last up to four to six months in storage. You can make them now and use them even in the Spring. They'll still be good.

Add a good homemade rub to your next batch of ribs for some fire and crunch. It'll turn ordinary ones into a special meal. Make any recipe or create your own for a unique flavor!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Much Ado About Food Trends

Trends rule our lives. Women gear their calendars by what's hot in the spring and fall. Techies of both sexes get excited over the latest I -something. Even foodies go completely gaga over what the experts and trendistas tell us to put into our mouths.The question is: is a food trend all the fuss?

I recently found this out when I tried macarons for the first time. Recently writing about them made me curious. When I spied them in one of my favorite New Jersey bakeries I had to get them. I wanted something sweet for a dessert later that evening. It was either them or home style oatmeal cookies. Of course the macarons won out. Let me preface by saying that this particular bakery is one of my favorites. I love their cupcakes . They're even better than the ones that are found in Magnolia Bakery . Their cookies are wonderful. I had anticipated that their stab into the newest sweet trend would be too. They were not what I thought they were going to be.. The chocolate ones were a bit gooey and reminded me of a brownie. The vanilla was better, redolent of almonds with a non traditional butter cream filling. So this is what all the fuss was about.

Maybe I 'm not used to them . I thought my first macarons were going to be heavenly. They were more leaden than what I imagined. Maybe another bakery would do them differently., create a lighter, crisper shell with a sinful filling.However that's the problem with food trends. There's so much hype about them . What's good? What isn't? It's kind of like the fuss about fashion.Platform shoes may look wonderful but in reality they hurt the calves and make walking cumbersome. The hype overwhelms and sugar coats the actual product sometimes.

What to do about foodie trends that make you scratch your head? Like any other trend, ride it out. In the end it's all about what makes you happy - not others.Listen to your taste buds - not the style makers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marriage of Good Tastes

When foods taste good they really taste good. Combine them with another delicious dish and - BOOM! - it's tremendous ! Both sides meld together to create something tasty. This is a perfect marriage - unlike some recent celebrity ones that didn't last.

Burgers on their own are great. However pair that delicious beefy taste with pizza toppings and you have something special. It's the combination of tangy, herb rich tomato sauce, soft, gooey cheese and a good quarter pounder all sandwiched between a bun. With it , there's no need for sides. A pizza burger is just flavorful on its' own. The same can be said of chili fries and chili dogs. Chili is tasty just as a main dish however over crispy fries or dogs, sheer bliss. It's a perfect melding of tastes and textures.Another good combo is chicken and pasta. Any chicken , whether breaded or grilled, is a great solo act however paired with spaghetti or linguine makes a filling and delicious dinner.

Desserts have always been the result of pairings. Look at chocolate fondue.It's the perfect blend of molten chocolate, with cake, marshmallows and fruits. Chocolate is also a brilliant foil for everything from pound cake to bacon nowadays.A chocolate ganache can go well with crispy tuile cookies or as a topping to a rich buttery pound cake. Caramel is another excellent go with. Apples and caramel are great together but the sweet can be used as a topping for ice cream , plain cakes and even puddings. Even caramel and chocolate together make a neat and fun couple.

Some marriages work, some go the wayside. When two stand out dishes are united, they create a new one that's even more tastier. It's a union that will stand the test of time and last forever.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Salisbury Steak - Simple But Hearty

Fall and especially November demand hearty dinners that stick to our ribs. What better than a Salisbury steak along with gravy and mashed potatoes. It's a meal that's easy to make plus the whole family will enjoy it. Salisbury steak is what every November dinner should be - satisfying and filling.

The dish was actually the creation of a Nineteenth Century doctor, James H. Salisbury who preached regularly about the benefits of chopped lean beef. He advocated eating a ground patty three types of day to prevent certain illnesses. In 1897 he came up with his "cure all' , ground meat suffused with eggs, breadcrumbs, onions and spices, pounded into patties and then fried. This could be served with other foods or strictly on it's own . In a way the Salisbury steak was a precursor of the hamburger although the Germans already had something along those lines.

Salisbury steak is one of the easiest meals to make. The original recipe hasn't changed since Dr. Salisbury invented it. It takes one to one and a half pounds of ground beef along with breadcrumbs,egg and onion soup. Mix these together and fry in a skillet. The sauce is easy. You can have just brown gravy premade or make up the one that usually goes with the dish. This consists of ketchup, water Worcester sauce and mustard along with flour and the onion soup. You can also spice up the recipe with chopped mushrooms and then serve with a mushroom gravy. A perfect side is homemade mashed potatoes but Salisbury steak also goes well with buttered egg noodles too.

Treat your family to Salibury steak for a good hearty meal. It's perfect during these chilly nights. It's simple , and fast to make , yet oh so good.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Macarons Dans Manhattan

New York City has always embraced the latest trends. From fashion to cars to food, the Big Apple takes a bite out of anything cutting edge. The same is true for sweets. Macarons, the latest import from France, is becoming the darling of society. They are now found everywhere, from the heart of the city to the boroughs.

The sweet Gallic treat was the subject of an article written in yesterday's New York Times Dining section,. in the $25 And Under column by Ligaya Mishan. A few words of clarification first. Macarons are not macaroons ,those drops of coconut that can be cookie or softball sized depending on the baker. Macarons are more delicate, being almond flavor in taste . They are usually filled with some sort of ganache or creme.also come in a variety of colors from Easter egg pastels to psychedelic brights. Ms. Mishan was able to test the best and the worst and came up with eight good macaron bakers in the New York City area. Here are some of them.

The most famous is Laduree on the Upper East Side. Theirs is obviously the best because this is a French patisserie with roots in France. The bakery was founded in 1862 in Paris and is also known for its' cakes and homemade chocolates. It is also credited with creating the macaron sandwich in the early 1900's. Now it creates sighs of pleasure from any enthusiast who bites into the eggshell like crust and chewy center. Another one to visit La Maison du Chocolat, again located on the Upper East Side. This is the perfect one for chocolate lovers.All their macarons are filled with chocolate ganache infused with pistachio, coffee and salted caramel. Other patisseries mentioned are Almondine in the trendy Park Slope section of Brooklyn and Little Oven at Long Island City, right across the East River. I am going to try La Maison du Macaron in Chelsea, a favorite neighborhood of mine. Theirs are supposedly sweeter than the average treat however they offer a variety of flavors including , fig, vanilla, Calvados and champagne.

If you're in Manhattan this holiday season, stop for that latest loved treat, the macaron. Experience a plate of them with strong coffee after a day of holiday shopping or just sight seeing. They are parfait -vraiment - during a crisp fall day in new York City.