Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The 1,000th Entry!!!!!

Hey, everyone, this is my 1,000th entry of Foodie Pantry and it is a milestone! I do want to thank all my readers out there from all over the world. I look on Stat Counter every day to see where all of you are located. It takes my breath away knowing that someone from Australia wants my Langue du Chat recipe or a fellow foodie in Tuscon Arizona is reading my entry about Jersey diners. it;s nice to know people from almost all the continents (save the penguins in Antarctica) are following what I've been writing for the last three (!) years!

To be honest I've learned a lot too. What I love the most are the food histories. They always amaze me with how far back they go to. Who knew Neanderthals chowed down on corn and oats? The past has always fascinated me and food history is the most mind blowing of all the histories out there. What I also love is discovering foodie facts . I've learned so much about nutrition , writing this blog. I now can easily go to the supermarket and pick out the good stuff that;s high in vitamins and low in calories. It's opened my eyes to antioxidants and nutritional value. This is what I always feel I have to pass down to you the readers.

What's the future of Foodie Pantry? As long as there is food, there will be this blog.There are still so many dishes, products and cuisines that have to be explored and written about. There's always a whole slew of food trends waiting to be born with every season.Companies come up with new goodies all the time. I will never lack for subject matter.

Of course, this blog would not b e possible without you,. my loyal foodies who actually enjoy my postings. If there's something you want me to write about, please contact me here. let me know what your favorites are or if there's a recipe you'd like to share. It may be my pantry, foodies but its' door is open to everyone!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day,a time of barbecues and beach picnics.Before you chow down, remember those who have given up their lives so you can have this holiday. Better yet, sit down with family and friends or with coworkers and classmates and think about organizing food drives for our troops overseas. Get involved with organizations who send care packages over to our brave forces. Remember they signed up voluntarily. They're fighting in some of the most God forsaken places because they want to - not because they have to. Thanks them anyway you can from sending home baked cookies to donating proceeds from lemonade stands .

Have a good holiday. Always think about what this day stands for - and all the freedoms that our soldiers fought for from 1776 to the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Add Spark To Your Barbecue

Memorial Day is the official start of grilling season. It's a time when people go to the traditional for their parties and picnics. Yet the problem is that it's the same old burgers and dogs year after year. There is some variety when chicken or fish is add but that's it. Then there's the boring salads. This is the year to add some spark to your barbecue.

Instead of buying those frozen meat patties being passed off as burgers get fresh ground beef. You can make your own hamburgers and ratchet them up a few notches. Put a ball of garlic butter in the middle of each one for a tender, savory bite. You can also form the meat into smaller patties to create sliders. Supermarkets are selling slider buns so you dont'have to worry about finding the right roll for them. As for chicken, you can try pulled chicken sandwiches. Shred the meat after grilling and add barbecue sauce for tasty alternative to barbecued wings and legs. Try these meats over a pizza made on your grill. Companies such as Williams and Sonoma sell what's known as a pizza stone that can be put over a grill.

If you're tired of making time honored slaws and salads then mix them up a bit. Throw in a dollop of spicy horseradish to cole slaw for some bite and dash. Guaranteed guests will love it. As for potato salad nix the mayo and add oil and vinegar. Add grape tomatoes instead of celery and some finely chopped salami for an Italian spin. Macaroni salad doesn't have to be yawn inducing either. Mix it with Italian dressing and throw in some broccoli and cauliflower florets.

Barbecues can be a culinary treat if you add oomph to them! Don't settle for the traditional. Make it an out door gourmet dining time!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Squeeze Of Lime

Limes are one of the most wonderful fruits. They are incredibly versatile and add a certain flip to any dish , especially summer ones. You can zest up a cocktail with then, use them for grilling or make a tart, eye opening ice or pastry . They are a must have. Add them to your warm weather grocery list.

Like their cousins, the lemon and the orange, limes are from the Citrus family. Lime trees have leathery leaves and fragrant white flowers.The fruit is generally smaller than lemons and has a thinner rind. Like lemons, they are high in Vitamin C. but also Vitamin A and calcium. The British fend limes to their sailors during the 1800s to ward off scurvy. (hence the nickname "Limey").Limes are not only used for food. They are also the base and top notes in several colognes and perfumes. The first trees were grown in Southeast Asia and they still figure prominently in the cooking there. It was also grown in ancient Persia where it was known as limu. Crusaders brought them back to Europe with them where they flourished in Mediterranean countries.

Limes are wonderful in summer cooking. Squeeze lime over grilled chicken or tuna for a lively bite. You can also use it to make cerviche since the acid "cooks" the fish. Lime dressing is a refreshing twist on vinaigrette and it gives a lift to ordinary veggies like tomatoes and broccoli. Limeade and mojitos are wonderful, tasty drinks at any gathering. You can also add lime to iced tea as a more interesting alternative to lemon. Every picnic deserves to be ended with Key Lime pie or tartlets.

There is nothing like a squeeze of lime to add zest to any summer meal. Buy several and use them for everything. They liven up drinks and meals, adding extra flavor to barbecues and picnics.They are a definite buy for warm weather cooking and drinking.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Masa Man

Tortillas and, especially corn, have been slowly introduced into mainstream America. However thanks to Mexican American Chingo Bling , tortillas are becoming cool. In fact they're a main event in his videos and music. He's introducing this south of the border standard along with classic food to the masses.

Senor BLing was featured in the New York Times Dining section yesterday. Dining regular, John T. Edge managed to catch up with this busy musician and culinary ambassador and get an interview. Mr Bling whose real name is Pedro Herrara is a Houston native has fun with his culinary roots. He made a video much like rapper 50 Cents' "Candy Shop" called "Taco Shop" in which he turned a girl into a taco filling. However he does have a lot of respect for the immigrantnworkers, such as his mom who used to make them to sell at his father's garage.

Tamales and tacos are a big part of Mexican life. It's how many immigrant women make their living. It's not uncommon to see them in parking lots, cooking tamales and masa or corn . Some can make fifty grand a month according to Mr Bling. This pays for a lot , including housing and necessities. It shouldn't be this way however being an independent tamale maker is a lot better and more satisfying than working at a mall restaurant. It may be illegal but it's part of survival.

Hopefully Senor Bling will be featured on more mainstream videos and more mainstream music shows. Even if you eat tamales and are well versed in Mexican food, he'll open your eyes. It's not just Taco Bell. Mexican food is heart and soul along with being hard work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good British Food

For those who are traveling to Britain , specifically London, you're in for a treat. There are a few go dd restaurants that serving very traditional food. In fact it;s a trip back into England's past when the meals were a combination of hearty and gourmet. Menus are reflecting a surprisingly glorious food Britannia past.

These restaurants were reviewed in today's New York Times Dining section. Lucky contributor , Sam Sifton, was able to go to Britain;s capital and sample a variety of delicious dishes . He went to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, St John Hotel and Barbecoa. The first and last are owned by famed cooks Heston Blumental and Jamie Oliver. Blumenthal is something of celebrity chef to begin with; his creativity is revered on both sides of the Atlantic. He bases his newest menu on old cookery books recipes.Think cozy meals cooked in "Cranford" as opposed to Cool Britannia treats.

The other two restaurants, one at the famed St John Hotel and Barbecoa are simple yet amazing. The first offers traditional British beans but this time they're blended with bacon. There are also sweetbreads with butter beans and wild garlic, said to be too good to be true. At Oliver's restaurant )also co owned by American Perry Lang), Barbecoa, the offerings are barbecue. This is perfect for Yanks hankering for a taste of home. There is also cornbread and pulled pork.

If you're going to London this summer , then stop into any of these restaurants. They're are a window into Britain's past and its' future. All in all it's a chance to try some of the best food the city has to offer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We Heart Missouri Food

Missourians are a brave tough crowd. From the pioneers who founded the state, to Harry Truman to the brave people who went through that devastating life shaking tornado,. They can make do with almost anything in any situation. The same goes for their food. They take risks with traditional dishes and create something bold and unique.. They are culinary warriors.

Missourians come from hardy immigrant stock. Their state is a mishmash of cultural finds from ribs to ravioli, from German to Chinese.. They have created a truly awe inspiring recipe book that puts their spin into time honored recipes. Take for example, St Louis. famed fried ravioli. Instead of served crispy and hot with a side o f marinara sauce for dipping. It's genius. They have put their on spin on classic Chinese cashew chicken renaming it Springfield. Here instead of marinating it in soy Missourians deep fry the chicken and then add the sauce. it's a tasty American spin on a traditional dish,.German food also plays an important part here thanks to many German immigrant settling the state in the 1840s; St. Louis offers as many different kinds of wurst s as Munich , Berlin or Hamburg does. Stollen is a popular Christmas and Easter cake here.

Missouri most famous city , St, Louis is known for its; ribs. it's a different style of cutting them ,mainly trimming away the brisket part or tips. These are usually slow cooked over a low heat to ensure a melt off the bone tenderness.Saucing the ribs with St Louis barbecue sauce is also needed to produce an authentic tasting treat. Since St Louis is a German town, beer is used in the sauce. This makes the meat butter soft and tasty. Horseradish and other piquant flavorings are also added to give the ribs some bite.

Missourians are a hardy race, forged from strong pioneer immigrant stock and buffered by their good food. They have contributed some unique and delicious food to America;s cookbook and table. The state is known as "The Show Me State" but it should be renamed "The Show Off State" for their strength and fortitude. - and good cooking.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just Simple Desserts

Put away those frostings and meringue topping .Summer is here and it's time to start paring down desserts. You no longer have to have rich tortes or trifles. This is the time of year for simple sweets - homemade cakes and crumbles that involve fresh fruit and cream. It's also a time to think easy - fridge cakes and 1-2-3 puddings.

If you do insist on baking or even buying cake think pound. A slice of any flavor of pound cake with fresh berries and Cool Whip is a nice touch to any summer birthday meal. Pound cake is relatively easy to make . The only real headache is heating up the oven for almost two hours on a hot day. However many markets sell freshly made ones from plain to chocolate chip to marble . You can easily buy one and then dress it up anyway you like. Cobblers and crumbles are also a snap to whip up and fun to make; especially if you have fresh picked berries or peaches to add to them.

If you want something fancier, look no further than fridge cakes and rice pudding. There are some quick refrigerator cakes to make that suit any occasion from shower to barbecue. The most famous one is the chocolate wafer with whipped topping This log is wonderful and you and do so many variations with it. Add mint flavoring to the cream before assembling. Or serving raspberries with it on the side. Another great recipe is the Nilla wafer cake that involves Nabisco;s Nilla wafers and vanilla pudding. This last has graced many a picnic table. Rice pudding is a simple summer dessert that can also be varied. You can add pistachios for an Indian vibe or almonds and lemon. Some go the traditional route with raisins and cinnamon.

Summer is here and it;s a time for simple desserts. Try a slice of pound cake or a parfait glass of rice pudding at your next gathering. They are a sweet light ending to nay barbecue or picnic.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Healthy Food , Healthy Foodie

Ever notice how hospital food is always bland? ( I did after spending seven hours in my local one due to some silly stress today).There's a reason why it's so salt free and tasteless - it's healthy or supposed to be for you. No matter what age we are - whether seven or seventy we're all supposed to eat (and eat slowly because gobbling and wolfing are bad for you) organic , free range meats and wholesome healthy veggies and fruits.

This would work if there weren't so many temptations out there. There's snacks and cookies,, loaded with sodium and sugar, There's soda , pure sugar pure vice but oh so good, especially with ice on a hot day, How can we give up burgers and fries ? Or ice cream? Or chocolate. We're hard wired to love what's bad for us whether it's fast cars, fast men (or women) or fast food. If it's sinful bring it on.

Luckily there are compromises. Try flavored seltzer when you want a tasty and carbonated drink. There; no sugar as with a cola or root beer but it does quench your thirst and it is perfect on a hot day. For sweets there are some fun fruits out there like the pluot. This apricot plum hybrid is wonderful whether in a picnic basket or a lunch box. It has a candy like taste but it's fresh , organic fruit. Eat chocolate but go for the dakr kind than for the milk or white. For fun snacks try cut up veggies with Greek yogurt. Want burgers? Go for the turkey or veggie kind. Less calories, less cholesterol and they're still patties.

Healthy food doesn't mean sacrificing what you love. It just means a compromise for a better lifestyle and diet. You can still have what you crave but make it good for you

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amazing Tuna

Tuna is one of those foods that can simple or elegant. You can put it in salads or have it as steaks. It's great mixed in tomato sauce or blended with mayo. This fish is so versatile you can use it six or seven times a week and each time it will still be fresh.

Tuna has been eaten for centuries, mostly in Mediterranean countries such as Italy Greece and Spain.It's from the Latin word thunnus .It is a salt water fish mostly swimming in the warmer waters around the Equator, It' s abundant in both the Pacific and Mediterranean and most commercial tuna in the US is harvested from California. Americans eat about3.6 pounds of it a year whether in steaks ,salads, sandwiches or just straight from the can with crackers.

Tuna has several different recipes. It's now chic to throw it on the backyard grill. Tuna steak can be cooked a variety of ways and you can even make it rare. Most chefs marinate it to emphasize its' briny flavor. Canned tuna is great too. Bumblebee, that American kitchen standard, has even the yummy Italian style where the fish is preserved in oil and not water and also flavors such as lemon pepper and basil tomato. The flavored tunas are great in salads and make a neat twist on the traditional French Nicoise.

Tuna is a versatile fish that you can have as a tasty grilled steak or a salad. It always good to keep some on hand because it stretches a menu. It also adds variety to every day meals. Always plan on having it for summer dining.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Very Low Calorie Diet

Ever think that eating cake and pizza could lose you a few pounds? Or diving into a whole plate of brownies could actually be good for your waistline? It is if you pantomime eating it. That's right. Do what you did when you were little and make believe you're eating.

This strange concept was the subject of an article by Henry Alford in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Mr. Alford got himself to believe that he was actually snacking, He used utensils or his fingers imagining cutting into a tortilla or cake and then began to chew and even swallow. He tricked his body into thinking he was eating the actual thing. The best part of it - at then end of this experiment he actually lost weight - ten pounds to be exact. It seems that a recent Carnegie-Mellon study showed that people who repeatedly pretended to eat their favorite foods actually satisfied the craving for them. It started off with M&M's and then Mr. Alford took it a step further.

Is this a good idea? Actually the author also tried imagining eating high calorie treats when he was eating low calorie ones. he also conducted the test during trips to culinary rich countries such as France and Germany where many a diet was destroyed.I have a better idea. Why not let yourself have a small version of what you desire every now and then. It's a break from eating healthy foods and something to look forward to once in a while. Have that cream puff but once a month or every two months . Enjoy that overloaded bacon cheeseburger and fries but once a season.Don't deprive yourself of the things you love. Just cut down on them.

Dieters will do and try anything to shed pounds. Sometimes the best bet is just moderation. Don't go overboard every day with favorite foods. Stave off them. That's how you really lose the weight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recipe Wars

It's happened to all of us. We've gone surfing for one simple recipe and wound up with a million . The question is what's good and what's not. ? What reviews should we trust? That's the problem in our quick info age. There are just too many recipes and reviews to follow. How do we figure out what recipe is for us?

That was the interesting topic of the great Julia Moskin in her article in today's Dining section of The New York Times. So many of us (includng myself for this blog) use the Internet to search recipes as opposed to doing it the old fashioned way cracking open a good and well informed cookbook. Luckily the newest search engine, Bing, has a special recipe section that will take users straight to what they're looking for. However once you're there, you'll still be at sea. Type in chocolate chip cookie recipe, for example and you'll get a million recipes. Which ones are good? Is it someone's gourmet one from the Food Channel ? Or Aunt Edna's out in North Dakota? Whose croissant recipe do you trust? Jeanne Marie's in Paris or Rachel Rays'? The next question is how to decipher the many that are out there.

Many home cooks look for what's known as "rich snippets". That means the recipe should have not only an exact cooking time but also nutritional facts attached to it. There should also be yield and the author mentioned either at the beginning or the end. The numbe of stars next to it should be also considered however take into consideration that one chef's tasty is another's ick. Also it pays to check not just the first two pages of the search but subsequent ones. Sometimes the third and fourth pages weld a better or easier version .

What web recipes are good and what aren't? The best advice is to look for fully detailed ones. Also take into consideration the number of stars and even good reviews that follow it. Best of all , first make the recipe and taste it yourself. If it's a winner , then stick with it, if it's horrible, then it's back to the search engine and your quest for good recipes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Salmon Are Running

Salmon is one of the most versatile fish out there. It can be used in every kind of dish from breakfast to dinner. It can start off as a canapes or be the body of the main meal. It's also elegant ,giving even the simplest spread classiness. Home cooks to professional chefs can't go wrong with this fish.

Salmon and its' cousin the trout, are unusual fish in the sense that they are both fresh and salt water fish. They are spawned and hatched in rivers and streams and swim out to the ocean to live. They once again swim back to sweet water areas to spawn and repeat the life cycle. Salmon is considered an "oily" fish high in the much needed Omega 3s. They're also high in Vitamin D as well. Their pink color comes from eating high in carotenoids krill and smaller fish. Salmon either come from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans although the Pacific variety is the more preferred.

Salmon can be made different ways. It can be baked, roasted or grilled. Most groceries or fish stores sell salmon steaks or cutlets which are perfect for the oven or the barbecue. You can marinade the meat to get rid of the "fishy" taste, although salmon has a wonderful mild sweet flavor. You can also turn it into a salad with chopped celery and onion. Salmon is also good as a spread for finger sandwiches . Just add mayo to even a can of salmon and it makes a wonderful paste.

Salmon is a great , versatile fish for summer meals. It can be made into everything from sandwiches to cutlets.Try it for just a simple dinner or for a fun party.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trial Runs

This is the season for all sorts of gatherings parties , showers, even weddings and plain old barbecues. This is also the time to cook for all these events including nuptials. The problem is will recipes be easy to make and most importantly will they be tasty? It's best to try and test recipes on yourself and family first.

Appetizers and main courses should definitely have a trial run before first presenting them to guests.There's always some interesting recipes for burgers or steaks in the Spring magazines right now. They sound tasty, and different especially when some magazine chef decides to throw in a new ingredient like sliced mango or Thai fish paste. However be warned.What may have worked in a test kitchen may not work in yours. The magazine pictures look downright delicious but in reality the recipe may be one big horrendous mess. Before you try it out on friends and cowos rker,test anything on your real critics - family. They'll be the first to tell you if it's a no or a go.

One of a host's worst nightmares is people hating the entire meal. This happens if a chef doesn't take into consideration what people like. You can make new dishes however do a test run first. Try a recipe several different ways, tweaking it along until you have a result you know will please your guests.A roast chicken could be good just plain but you can give it oomph by adding a lemon rub during one trial run and then adding rosemary for more flavor during the next. The best bet is perfecting what you're going to serve until you think your company will be satisfied with it.

There's nothing wrong with a trial run first when you're planning a party. This helps in creating delicious dishes and desserts that your guests will sure to like. This ensures that your gathering will be a successful one.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Imitation Is The Best Flattery

You love Pizza Hut's breadsticks. You go mad for On The Border and Taco;s Bell's fajita. The dogs at your local wiener hut send you into paroxysms of ecstasy. The problems eating all this stuff can be expensive and fattening. What should you do? Copy them. You can recreate your favorite dishes and evne snacks It;s easy, cheaper and fun

For making simple pizzas and even breadsticks you can use Pillsbury pizza and breadstick dough. Boboli has its' own dough along with a ton of recipes you can try. Also your local pizzeria can sell you raw dough. Once you have it you can use fresh tomatoes or pizza suace bought form your favorite grocery. As for tacos and burritos. Old El Paso has some great products. Another plus for making Mexican at home is that the vegetables are fresher and cleaner. There have been too many reports of salmonella in recent years, stemming from unclean lettuce , onions and tomatoes.

Creating your own quarter pounders and chili dogs is easy too. All it takes is making the patties by hand, and then grilling them. You can create your own special sauce, namely by mixing ketchup and mayonnaise. Then add the sliced onion lettuce and tomatoes. With this you can customize it. Hot dogs are the same. You can even open a can of chili for chili dogs but you can also load on sauerkraut along with cooked onions and peppers. Instead of ordinary mustard you can treat yourself to a gourmet one.

You can have your favorite eating out foods not only for a fraction of the cost but also for a better taste.It's easy and fun to recreate restaurant foods.Best of all you can make them as often as you like.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Lure of Tandoor

Indian food is one of the most prevalent cuisines nowadays and with good reason. It is one of the most diverse and tastiest. Flavors range from searingly hot or honey sweet. There are curries , and chutneys along with biryanis. The most popular is tandoor cooking- heating up meats and vegetables and baking breads with the use of a tandoor oven.This way of cooking has become so popular even Americans are getting into cooking it at home.

This was the subject of an intensive article by Steven Raichlin in The New York Times Dining section on Wednesday. There was an interview with the top and perhaps only tandoor oven maker , Ron Levy. Mr Levy had come upon this occupation by accident. He was recreating ancient Cretian amphoras when he was asked to create a tandoor. All he had to do was skip the glaze taper the vessel's mouth more and get rid of the bottom. Mr Levy has done very well since the start in 1986. Top restaurants around the world have used his tandoor ovens.

Tandoor oven cooking is versatile. The oven can be heated up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit and can both bake and cook. The savory naan, bread, India's and Afghanistan's staple can be baked in it, usually on the walls until its;light and puffy. The oven also can produce deliciously cooked chicken and lamb thanks to the meat being smoked during the process. Vegetables can also be cooked and Mr Levy's tandoor can produce some deliciously cooked and smoked portobello mushrooms.

Tandoor cooking is irresistible. It is tasty , combining both regular roasting and smoking. The result is a tasty, addictive blend of flavors that is both exotic and thrilling.

My apologies for the column not appearing yesterday, Blogspot was undergoing some technical difficulties

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dragon Fruit -The Hot New Fruit

Just when you thought there were no new foods to try, the exotic and sultry dragon fruit comes along. This Asian staple is suddenly hitting US kitchens and restaurants with a vengeance. It's in drinks, desserts and even liquors. It is the new "it" fruit to try and people are loving this unusual Vietnamese treat.

It was the subject of a lengthy article in today's New York Times Dining regular, Jeff Gordinier. Dragon fruit or pitaya or pitahaya is a hot pink colored bulb with green curly sprouts coming out of it. Its' pulp is a creamy white speckled with tiny black seeds. The taste is mild , almost bland with a taste that could be interpreted as a mild strawberry, litchi, pear or melon. On its' own the dragon fruit is bland however it enhances the flavors of other fruits. It is easily blended all sorts of dishes. At home chefs trying it for the f rst time could mix it into a compote or add it to jam. The fruit is high in antioxidants along with Vitamins A and C. The dragon fruit plant is in the cactus family and can only grow in warm climates and strangely enough can only be pollinated at night.

The fruit is becoming the hottest addition to all sorts of products. Celestial Seasonings Teas, has created a brew that incorporates it. The Pom juice company has made a blend of it with pomegranate juice for its' light pom juices. There is even a creme liquor made with it and called appropriately (and cool enough) Dragon's Kiss. Skye Vodka has already introduced a dragon fruit flavored vodka and there;'s a Sumatra dragon fruit version of Bai, a drink made with the unroasted fruit of coffee plants. there will be others jumping upon this exotic bandwagon as well.

Dragon fruit is becoming one of the hottest flavors right now. It seems to be in everything from tea to vodka. This exotic beauty with the magical name is now becoming a household favorite.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Lushest Ice Cream Ever!

This is the season for ice craem, and especially ice cream on a stick.Usually most people will reach for their favorite Good Humor bar and be satisfied with the eclair or the toasted almond kikinds. Hold on. There' a new bar in town andi it's beyond tasty. It's lush . It's decadent. It's magnum. It's amazing.

I was a sucker fo the Magnum ads. They showed this creamy vanilla bar coated not only with this rich Dove like chocolate but also a layer of caramel underneath. I had to try them .They sounded and looked like frozen decadence. Magnum Ice Pops were expensive (although luckily there was a store coupon for it and I got over a dollar off) and the box only has three gold wrapped bars in it. However the price is worth it THis is the most decadent iced cream ever coated wih a crunchy thick layer of chocolate and gooey caramel. The sucker was history in five minutes flat. It was that good.

Magnum comes in four different flavors, I had the double caramel, but there is also double chocolate , white, dark and almond crunch Magnum is new to the States. It was started in 1989 by Unilever in Holland and spread throughout Europe and Asia.There are some yummy flavored Magnum bars beign sold all over th e world. ( the US was the last to acquire them)In Britain , they have one with honey and cinnamon. Australia has a peppermint flavore along with ones that have a cool Sixties theme. Karl Lagerfeld has even directed a Magnum commercial starring Rachel Bilson in France.

I'm sure Magnum will catch on here. The ice cream bar is one of the best in a long time. It's rich .It's decadent. It's the perfect ice cream treat on a hot summer's night.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ocean Spray Sparklers

If you thought cranberry juice was boring, think again. Ocean Spray has come up with a great new idea , combining it's most popular juices with carbonated water. They're great tasting and and perfect for the warm weather ahead. I can see these in every cooler and at every pool. They really are refreshing and tasty!

Ocean Spray's funny TV ads lured me into trying their newest creation (Not only do they make juice ,they also make energy drinks and four different flavors of oatmeal too - all cranberry themed).I love cranberry juice whether plain or spiked with vodka to create a Cape Codder. This was a perfect storm of tasty berry and fizz. The combination works well together and has the right amount of tart and pop.

I've also tried their blueberry pomegranate. It has the same amount of fizz which is fun but a little less flavor . I think it's because the two fruits are overpowering on their own. Combining them is like having two strong personalities live together. It has a sweet but not definite taste. Another problem is the can. Sparklers come in these tube like energy drink holders . I wouldn't mind that they come in plastic bottles like Pepsi or Coke in the future.

Ocean Spray has scored another winning product with their new sparklers. Add it to all your summer parties and waterside respites this summer. It's truly a treat.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Treats

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate mom and all she's cooked for us as well as cleaning , chauffeuring and a ton of other stuff.In return make her something special. You don't have to go all gourmet.Just a few extra touches and you can have a fancy brunch, lunch or dinner.

For breakfast and brunch try sprucing up the old favorites. Instead of just French toast, try making the stuffed version. Spread both sides with cream cheese and a strawberry or raspberry jam , then assemble. You can also make a healthier version using whole wheat bread and then drizzle warm maple syrup on top. Eggs can have some flair too. Instead of the usual omelet try the crispier Italian frittata. Use Parmesan cheese for bite along with some sun dried tomatoes and basil. You can also fry up some pancetta with it and serve with toasted Italian bread.

A late lunch or early supper is always nice too. Salads are a great Spring treat and you can have fun creating an over the top one. A chef salad is easy to make along with being tasty. Use rolls of sliced turkey, ham and roast beef along with American and Swiss cheese. Pour just a simple vinaigrette over it and served with out of the oven breadsticks. Another delicious salad is Nicoise which has tuna added. You can also add some broccoli florets along with grape tomatoes and black or green olives. Again just a simple vinaigrette is your best choice of dressing/

Mother's Day shouldn't mean a disaster in mom's kitchen. You can create tasty and yet surprisingly simple dishes for mom on her day. It doesn't take a lot , just a lot of love.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Secret Ingredients

Every chef and baker has an arsenal f secret ingredients. These are what makes dishes snap and sweets pop. They add more than just flavor, they bring out the other flavors as well. What are they though? Some special culinary fairy dust or potion that's just sprinkled in? No. They're just everyday foodstuffs that manage to give extra fillip to dishes.

Sometimes the sneaked in stuff is good for you. That was the premise of a cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld, Jerry's wife. She managed to sneak healthy greens into brownies and cookies making them not only tasty but finally nutritional as well. This idea is great for moms of picky eaters. For more a more grown up version you can sneak healthier greens along with veggies in a nice grilled chicken or Cobb salad. Sometimes it's not to make a food better for you but better tasting. Melissa Clark of the Times Dining section swears by anchovies. Slip one into saucepan and you have a better than ever dish. the anchovy fillet melts and then creates a more improved taste for the dish.

if you don't want to experiment whole hog as it were you can start off with spices. tarragon is a wonderful addition to eggs or any chicken salad. It rescues the dish from the chicken's sometimes blandness, giving it a spark. Celery seed is a flavor enhancer too. Just sprinkle some in to any pork dish and it creates a wonderful and fresh taste. Cumin is also good in a dry rub mix for steaks and chops. it gives an exotic air to ordinary barbecued meat. You could also add spices to baked goodas a swell. Some bakers add saffron to yellow cake recipes to give the cake color and taste. Candied ginger is great not only in muffins and cookies but also amps up butter cream icicng.

Secret ingredients are what makes recipes pop. They give dishes that special taste that makes them unique. Add a little something here and there to your next meal for surprising yet fun results!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Subway Eating

Mention subway eating to the average person and they'll instantly tell you about their favorite hero. However in NewYork subway dining is entirely different.It's actually eating on a real subway.Real eating with a tray and utensils. It's not just a bagel or a smoothie.It's fine dining during rush hour.

This was the subject of a New York Times Dining section article by newcomer, Melina Ryzik. The idea was brilliantly created byDaniel Castano and Michael J. Cirino. They had a subway train outfitted with dining trays and even a waiter. Guests were invited by email and were given scant info. The dinner was super luxurious for underground dining. There was a soup of puree ramps over morels garlic and prosciutto along with foie gras and a port wine jelly. The main was too classy for a subway:filet mignon mashed potatoes and pickled asparagus tips.

Dessert was also served and it was just as elegant as the preceding courses. It was panna cotta with a raspberry coulis and a warmed St Andre cheese. However these were not the finishing touches. DIners were also treated to a readng from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and sprigs of lavender on their dining trays. Unfortunately there were no alcoholic beverages so diners couldn't get a flute of champagne while taking the L train.

Subway dining was only an experiment at best. Maybe there will be more train banquets in the future. For now it's back to the real Subway sandwich on a dirty seat.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old Fashioned Farming Returns

In this fuel drenched era it's nice to have our farms rely on old fashioned power. Oxen are making a big comeback on many big acreages these days. It's not only a quaint, romantic way of farming , it's also cost efficient. Oxen run plows also make for better , more organic produce.

Oxen technology is the subject of an interesting article in today's New York Times Dining section . Newcomer, Tess Taylor, has delved into this new movement (although using oxen for farming goes back to almost caveman times). An ox is actually better for a farmer than any modern tractor. They don;t require expensive diesel fuel nor do they require new parts every now and then (there are vet bills to deal with from time to time)An ox is also lighter on the land and doesn't crush the soil, preserving microbial layers. Another plus is that they leave plenty of nitrogen rich fertilizer which makes for lush plants.

Where does a farmer get oxen? From that other old and reliable source : the local dairy. Male calves are sold off dairy farms for as low as $150 for one . There are literally hundreds of them born a year thanks to cows constantly being pregnant for milk. Before getting their oxen, farmers study and even intern at historical villages to learn how to plow with a yoked team.

Using oxen is cost efficient for farmers in these cost high days. If these noble animals can save them money , then farmers can lower their prices on their produce. Old fashioned plowing is not only good for the land, but also for the consumer too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tomato Guide

The warm weather is here and with it will come a dearth of tomatoes. These wonderful garden gems are perfect in every summer dish, from sandwiches to kabobs. Yet what kind of tomato goes with what dish ?There are several different varieties to choose from and add to your summer diet. Some work well as a main ingredient .Others carry on better as second strings. What to use and when?

Tomatoes are categorized roughly into sizes and shapes. What you buy in the grocery store are mostly called "globe". These are do all tomatoes. They can be sliced for sandwiches or used in a fresh pasta sauce. They can be quartered for salads or hollowed out to hold egg or tuna salad. Beefsteaks are the biggest and they're great sliced on their own or in a hamburger. However storebought beefsteaks are not the best tomato to buy. They have very thin skin which can be easily bruised. If you do want them then buy them off a roadside stand or farm where they have been fresh picked.

Smaller tomatoes are also tasty and can be used in a variety of dishes. Plum tomatoes are good just sliced and in salads but they're better off being made into sauce. They have thicker flesh.Their cousin, the grape tomato, a recent hybrid are excellent in salads or just as a great snack or appetizer . They can be spritzed with olive oil and then sprinkled with sea salt. Cherry tomatoes are one of the season's most versatile.Bigger and juicier than They can be used in all sorts of salads from mozzarella and Romaine to grilled kabobs . They are sweet and that adds to any dish .

Tomatoes are a great addition to the summer diet. Use the right ones to create yummy and nutritous dishes . There's a big variety out there for so many good recipes

Monday, May 2, 2011

Foraging Recipes

This is the season for foraging. May brings a lot of interesting wild edibles. It is an amazing bounty , full of interesting tastes . The problem is what to do with nature's groceries. What are they good with and how to prepare them? Surprisingly enough there are many good recipes that highlight their aroma,s textures and flavors.

Ramps are one of those interesting plants that can be used in quite a few dishes. I wrote about them a few weeks ago , thanks to New York Times Dining article about them. You can buy them at your local farmer's market however you can pick them fresh in the wild. These onion cousins are good flavoring a pasta sauce or better yet, served with buttered new potatoes alongside a baked chicken or lamb. Prickly lettuce and sour grass can go into a neat salad along with "civilized" greens like arugula and lettuce. Use baby leaves for a sweeter taste which is mild. Older prickly lettuce leaves can impart a bitter taste which can ruin the entire salad.

Wild mushrooms, that grandaddy of all foraged foods, are great with anything. These are called morels and are extremely versatile. They can be sliced and used as a topping over artisanal pizza or even tossed into an omelet. Morels are elegant as the main ingredient in a white wine sauce which can go over any meat as well as over rice or pasta. The Piedmontese fry them in butter and garlic and then use them as a side. You can also batter dip morels and serve them with dipping sauces.

Foraging is fun and can yield a huge bounty. There are amazing sauces and salads to create with them along with using them alongside standard ingredients. Try them any way you like. The taste will be delicious and add to the meal.