Monday, December 31, 2012

Be Daring In The New Year

This is the time for resolutions.Most go for a better and heather dietOthers vow to give up certain foods.Why not be different and be daring?Make 2013 the year of trying new and interesting dishes . There are so many different foods and cuisines out there that's it's easy to explore.If you're tired of Chinese, then go for Thai or Malaysian. the food dissimilar but there are differences that give the cuisines zing. African cuisine is always an adventure and you can always get any recipes on line if you don't live near a major city.Arabian food itself is welcome change with it's rich lamb dishes and exotic couscous. Sometimes it's just a matter of changing up a recipe. Instead of the usual pizza, try one with shrimp or duck. Add a huge dash of hot pepper to your sauces for a spicy arrabiata.Switch from regular hamburgers to emu or bison for a leaner but tastier treat. try exotic grains or classic ones like quinoa or millet for a different mix up.Use more sauces if you don't already.Vary your veggies too for excitement. add asparagus and artichokes to your salads. Be fun and daring this New Year. See cooking and eating as new adventures. it'll heat up your kitchen and spice up your life!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Healthy Party Snacks

With New Year's around the corner , most people will be making a variety of different treats.Unfortunately the can be laden with calories ,salts and sweets. the answer is having tasty yet healthy party snacks. Crackers are always a good starter. instead of the buttery rich kind think the Swedish flat brods and Japanese rice crackers, You can top with chopped cucumber along with salmon. bruschetta is also healthy, because it uses simply tomatoes garlic and olive oil on thin slices of Italian bread. take away the cheese to strip it of calories. Hot hors d'ouevres can also be both tasty and healthy. try rice nests stuffed with anchovies and veggies.You can also fill then with tuna too. mini whole wheat pizzas are also a healthy treat too.You can use soy cheese which is much healthier along with toppings of chicken, and eggplants. if yours is a more Oriental theme then think spring rolls whack are light fun and crispy. let your guests feast on healthy but tasty fare.Mhake treat a that not only taste good but are good for them.It a nice way to indulge without the calories and fat.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Detox

After weeks of goodies and more treats to come it's nice to have a day or two of food detox.Putting a cap on your diet can 've a good and healthy thing. you get away from the rich and decadent holiday grub.Your body will feel better and so will you. Consider starting with simple meals. Have a breakfast of hot oatmeal mixed with sliced apples and cinnamon. another simple breakfast is scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast. As for lunch, kiss good bye to rhose lush holiday noon meals. simple turkey salad or even an avocado and tomato on whole wheat.Broth and crackers are another smart choice too. dinner can be grilled chicken or salmon with aside of asparagus or green beans. keep the drinks to a scant minimum as well. holiday snacking can be the worst. This is cookie season where those little fat bombs abound.Instead of reaching for a handful, reach for a handful of grapes. these are high in iron which help in preventing colds and flus. pineapple is another sweet treat that healthy.Salty snacks are also putinfull force too. stick with almonds which are the best along with walnuts. if you want salty and crunchy nix the chips. eat pretzels and even celery for crunch. take sometime out from the holiday richness. Have a day of detoxing from those holiday goodies,You 'll feel better.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Luxuries Caviar And Champagne

This is the time of year when snacking on  caviar and champagne seems completely normal. Why not?Christmas week and New Year's Eve and day are the perfect time for indulging in these rich treats. There's nothing like a nibble of caviar washed down with a bubbly based punch and cocktail.

Both these culinary gold standards were the topics of articles in yesterday's New York Times DIning section. Dave Tanis of City Kitchen  wrote about blini, those light and delectable Russian pancakes topped with caviar . Blinis(the plural) can be topped with anything from fruit to lox  however spreading caviar on them takes them to a whole new level.Like any pancake they are easy to make,using buckwheat flour  eggs and water. with the eggs being separated so the whites give them a fluffy texture. Caviar can be pricy however., Domestic can cost as much as $70 an ounce. Fo cheaper varieties try salmon or even trout roe(although even herring and lox would just as well) which are just as delicious and even lighter in taste

What would work well with this dish? A champagne cocktail,Robert Simonson., a newcomer to the Dining section revitalizes old fashoned champagne punch recipes. These were popular over a century ago during New York's Giulded Age (think Edith Wharton).A strawberry cobbler is a great twist on a fruity cocktail. It; just is a strawberry  along with a lemon wheel and simple syrup added to champagne.You can also try an Andean Dusk made with Peruvean grappa, Pisco .For something tamer (and something that will go with the caviar and blini) try a Champagne Julep. This is bourbon , simple syrup and champagne graced with mint leaves. You could also try the suggested Mayfair Delight which has the freshness of cucumber and lemon juices mixed with Cognac and fresh ginger along with agave nectar for sweetening.A caveat though, use a brut champagne. A sweet one will only turn the punch into soda pop.

Nothing beats a glam dish like caviar and champagne. Treat yourself to these lush foods. Now is the perfect time t indulge in them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Indulgent Truffles

This is the time of year for rich foods and wonderful treats. Truffles, those aromatic mushrooms definitely fall into that category. If you;re lucky to live in or near a big city such as New York  you can easily buy them. They are a lush addition to any dish.

The fungi were the subject of an extensive article in today's New York Times Dining section. The piece was written by newcomer Eugenia Bone.Truffles re usually found in the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy how lucky are my relatives who live there!).However they can also be found in the Pacific Northwest in such places as Oregon and also , surprisingly enough the Southern US where the Pecan truffle proliferates.They are still expensive, no matter where they 're grown, Truffles are hard to  raise, hence the exorbitant prices. They can go up to $350 an ounce.

Most good groceries and gourmet stores sell truffles, including the Piedmontese ones. However the smell and taste dissipate after a few days. This is due to  the mushroom being past its; prime.Also most buyers also have the trouble of buying the wrong ones. What they wanted for a particular dish  is mostly the wrong oneThere are about six different varieties of the plant.The Perigord and the Burgundy truffles are probably the most desired because of their respected flavors.Sometimes the truffles are packed with salt rice and flour, with the intention of their aroma getting absorbed by these mediums.It doesm;t work, The consumer winds up with an flavorless fungi surrounded by just rice ,salt, and flour.

Truffles are a decadent holiday treat. If you have extra cash buy yourself an ounce or two. Enjoy them anyway you can.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Feast Heartily And Joyously

Ti all my readers feast joyously today! Celebrate with egg nog or rum punch! Enjoy that cr own roast or turkey!Pray for those who need love and food!Happy Christmas to.all my foodies worldwide! Liz

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve And Sauce

Right now I'm in the middle of making a vegan Bolognese sauce. you read right. a vegan one with soy meat crumbles. I t will go with the already made ravioli and fennel salad. this is what I love about Christmas Eve, the fact that most of the world celebrates with centuries old family recipes. it laso means celebrating with special foods and sweets, usually deemed too special for everyday fare.It could be thirteen fishes in honor of Apostles or a prime rib to set off family gathering.All in in it's a time to celebrate one's faith and family .Food is the best way of doing this. Have a good holiday.Enjoy the joy as well as the foods of the season.Remember why we rejoice for our Lord's Birth. As for me, it's time to get back to the sauce.It's really a special meal for a special night.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Holiday Cooking Battle Zone

The next couple of weeks is going to be hard on any home cook. There are big holiday dinners  along with get togethers. Then there's dealing with everyone being at home and them expecting to be fed.It can wreck havoc even on the hardiest of home cooks. It pays to be prepared and to have some R & R for yourself too.

Cooking the Christmas meal can be daunting. It's the biggest holiday, outside of Easter, and there are so many expectations that come with it. How to get through it? Byy taking a deep breath. See the cooking as a marathon. Prepare by buying the food and having family and even friends aid in prepping. Another is sticking to tried and true recipes. This is not the time to try anything new on your tablemates. Play it safe with the dishes you know you excel in. Also have help later on for table cleaning and dish washing. This saves you the worry of dealing with a sinkful of pots and pans.

As for having smaller parties, again planning and list making are the keys to a problem free gathering. The best bet here isn't a sit down dinner but an antipasto buffet and trays of hot and cold hors d'ouevres. Many stores like Target and WalMart sell boxes of already made mini quiches and spinach puffs.These are a huge help for any busy cook.What about dealing with family staying over? Leftovers.That Christmas turkey can be turned into sandwiches for days.If you have any plain cake or pannetone , dip into egg and transform it into a new kind of French toast.Also have plenty of eggs for family brunches.Have them eat at eleven AM and they won't be hungry till seven.Also those antipasto meats and cheeses along with salads make excellent heroes. S is the season of heavy duty cooking time.You can get through it with relative ease. Just chill

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Cooking - Your Battle Plan

Christmas is only a few days away and it's time to put your battle plan for cooking into action. It's time to write out lists and check them twice to make sure your holiday dinner goes perfectly. Also no matter where you are in the world, you should be planning and plotting what you'll be doing from the first chore to washing dishes.Being completely prepared helps to create a smoother ,less stressful Christmas dinner.

By now you should have your turkey,ham or crown roast (or whatever you 're going to make on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day).For those serving fish on Christmas Eve , you can buy some fresh fish the day of cooking. Also make sure you have nut crackers for cracking crab legs or lobster.Root veggies should also have been bought already too. Make sure your spice rack is well stocked and you have what you want as far as dried herbs and condiments.Also double check to see if you have the right amount of pots and pans for cooking. Check to see if your oven and appliances are up to speed too.

Desserts are a little easier . By now you should have made your cookies and they should be all set to be baked or decorated.Cakes should be baked either tomorrow or Sunday for the big day. If you;re making cream pies, then do so either Christmas Eve Day or Christmas morning. If you;re settling on a simple ending of fruit and cheese , then you can buy those tomorrow. Both will keep. As for wine and champagne, again, you can buy tomorrow. Punches can be made the day of serving. They taste better when they're made an hour or two before serving.

Many hate holiday cooking because they feel it's too overwhelming. It doesn't have to be if you have a game plan.Be prepared. That's all it takes to have a wonderful Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Tamales

Christmas foods are always traditional no matter where you are in the world. It certainly is true in the Latin America  where centuries old dishes are brought out to every one's delight. In this case it's the tamale,  standard fare in any Western meal .It's made special with different ingredients and a lot of love.

It was the topic of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. The piece , written by newcomer, Fernanda Santos, explores this Latin.Tamales are a big part of Latinos holiday fare and also everyday fare.They truly are an American food, their origins dating well before Columbus where for centuries; before him various tribes were making different types of corn rolled baked in clay pots. The premise is easy .Tamales are a stuffed corn based roll, wrapped in parchment or corn husks and steamed. With practice anyone can make them.

Tamales vary fron country to country, Mexicans like theirs stuffed with pork or beef although chicken is also preferred too.Along the Mexican Gulf Coast, in Tabasco, the husks are filled with garfish. In Oaxaca ,it;s chicken with a spicy chocolate based mole sauce, Venezuela also has this tradition however they sweeten their fillings with raisins along with olives. The meat of choice there is pork. The Brazilians have something similar too filled with cheese and meat.Most beginners usually stick with a simple beef tamale and a tomato sauce made with cumin and chiles.

Tamales are a part of the Christmas feasting tables as any roast or ham, They can  be made in the traditional style or according to the region. They're a different and tasty way of celebrating a holiday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Whelks A Holiday Tradition

Whelks are normally not part of the greater holiday table. Yet they can be a  different addition to a meal, whether formal or informal. These sea snails can be eaten either with a delicate or hearty sauce and a great introduction to traditional holiday  seafood dishes .Seafood lovers will adore them ,Even those who are iffy  will come to appreciate their delicate briny taste and texture.

Whelks were the big topic of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. Florence Fabricant,a Dining regular contributed this piece , full of ideas and recipes. They're becoming popular again thanks to oyster farmers growing them for variety.  The sea snails are already a popular Christmas Eve dish with southern Italians. This is scungille, served always  as part of the thirteen fish dinner on that day. It's made with a peppery tomato sauce and then served with pasta., usually spaghetti.They come either big or small, however the larger whelks tend to be pinker in color and chewier.

What else can you make with whelks besides scungille. Since they are snails, they can be served with a garlic laced butter and parsley sauce as a starter. Ms. Fabricant also gives a whelk chowder recipe that's sort of reminiscent of New England clam chowder. Here the sea sails are mixed with bouquet garni along with potatoes and milk in a creamy soup, perfect for winter days, Whelks are big in England where they're simply boiled and eaten with bread and butter. However a better way would be with a garlicky butter sauce an crusty French or Italian bread for dipping.

Whelks are a holiday dish  that can be served a variety of ways. Try them as scungille in a peppery tomato sauce or with a delicate butter and parsley broth. You can also add them to a chowder or just have them plain with bread and butter, English style, Enjoy these treats from the sea any delicious way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mei Fun Holiday Fun

If you're looking for a different holiday fun  try mei fun those thin Chinese noodles from southern part of the country . They're a different spin on traditional pasta dinners so many serve at get togethers. What is also great is that it's easy to make  - which is perfect for a crowd. Whip it up and the sit down and enjoy with your guests.

Mei fun is made with super thin rice noodles similar to vermicelli.You can use vermicelli if there's no Oriental market nearby,.Instead of boiling , though they  are stir fried in a wok or skillet, usually with peanut or grape seed  oil.Singapore style requires curry, which is a nice spicy change. Most people like sliced chicken in theirs . Beef and pork are also popular too. If you want and have the time you can make two different meats. Fish also can be cooked into the noodles. For a fun ,lush dish combine shrimp and lobster chunks for a seafood mei fun.

Mei fun also requires veggies. Here you can vary them to suit tastes. Most mei funs, no matter what the main ingredient, usually add broccoli and snow peas. You can also add carrots along with celery . Water chestnuts are a neat, crunchy add and give the dish some texture. You can also toss in some spinach ribbons (spinach cut into thin strips) as well as julienned zucchini, Of course you can also make a vegetable mei fun for the vegans in your life too. You need to add eggs too for binding, because it's a little more concentrated than just a simple pasta dish. Some recipes also call for brown sugar or honey. What you add is up to your tastes.

Mei fun is a fun dish for any holiday party. It can be made either simply or elaborately , depending on how you decide to make it. Either way , the dish is a neat holiday party main meal that everyone will enjoy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rethinking Squash

Squash is everywhere this time of  year. You can get it in whole , in ripe globes and cubed in luscious cubes. It;s a perfect side to any meat. from ham to turkey to even seafood. It's also a rich in betacarotene and antioxidants which is a plus in this decadent season of rich nutrient empty foods  . best of all it's one of the most versatile to cook.

If you;re new to cooking squash  then start with the already  peeled cubes. This saves prep time as well as deseeding it and dealing with that mess.The best bet is cooking the cubes in boiling water. This usually just twenty minutes  or until the pieces are tender. If you want a creamy mash4ed side, add a half cup of either whole cream or for a lighter dish , milk along with two to three tablespoons of butter.You can also add margarine or vegan butter for a healthier twist. These cubes can also be baked. and then drizzled with melted butter and sea salt.

You can also use whole squash as a side  too. This requires either baking or even microwaving. The last is the easiest, especially if you're cooking a few other sides. One acorn squash can take up four and a half minutes., unstuffed.. Whole squash does take more prep time. It's just s matter of scooping  out the seeds and possible making slits in the gourd's flesh for better cooking. One you've done that you can think about what you want to do. Most just add some butter or olive oil along with just salt and freshly ground pepper.Rice is usually preferred, mostly a wild rice mixed with nuts and herbs.

Squash is a great holiday side. You can  use cubes or entire squashes  to create healthy tasty dishes . It's tasty and flavorful as well as being versatile.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Holiday Feast In Eight Hours

The holidays are a time of great feasting and partying. Tomorrow's New York Times Sunday magazine has a great party prep how to regarding a holiday dinner.Thanks to Times food gurus Mark Bittman and Sam Sifton , anyone can make a lush mea from appetizers to dessertsl in just eight hours.

This is a spoiler alert for tomorrow's Times however as soon as you get the paper tear it out or printit it. I like the variety of different flavors and foodsThere is lobster along with chicken liver on toast for lush holiday tastes and texture.To balance it ou there the the simple poached pears and the refreshing chopped herbs.Another simple yet delicious dish is the roast chicken with lemons. Both it and the lobster can be served with roasted root vegetables. these are winter veggies such as parsnips,potatoes, and carrots. There are celebrity asides too. Everyone from Joan Rivers to Marlo Thomas has suggestions about entertaining.Al Roker also has advice on eating at parties( eat nothing but vegetables,limit the good stuff such as pigs in blankets. Marcus Samuelssen ,the great chef, weighs in on how to pick a good cheese for a holiday table. he recommends both soft and hard to serve with figs and dates.There are also good holiday decorating tips as well as how toss when working with helpers. IF you're planning on a holiday feast ,use tomorrow's Sunday New York Times as your guide. It"s a great how to guide ,chock full of recipes and advice. Definitely cut it out and save, not just for this season but for many other holiday seasons ahead.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Genvieve's An Old Fashioned Candy Store

There's nothing like an old fashioned candy store, especially at the holidays' It's a travel back in time where treats were hand dipped and stirred  in copper kettles.This is the case of Genvieve's a sixty eight year old institution in Garfield, New Jersey. It has given the community some of the best local choclates for three generations.

Garfield, New Jersey is a gritty mill town on the local Passaic River with a long history.A place like Genvieve's stands out definitely. It is a sweet , old fashoned storefront decked out in curtains, much like what you see in old movies. The smell is reminiscent of an old fashioned candy store, redolent of freshly made chocolate,.What I like  about it is that there's a wide array of old fashioned candies such as chocolate covered cherries, flavored cremes and caramels.You can find the rare gems such as rum balls and brittle. There are also chocolate pops and holiday themed chocolate balls s. The candy doesn't disappoint.Genvieve's milk chocolate mini Santas are rich and creamy.They are what candy should taste like ,especially now at the holidays. it was smooth without the usual waxy taste most associated with mass produced chocolates.I would definitely try the cherries the next visit as both the milk and dark chocolate dipped pretzels. of course homemade brittle is always good too,andI 'm sure that Genvieve's uses fresh butter in making it's crunch. Garfield , New Jersey is an old fashioned town.Family businesses go back three and even four. Generations.Genvieve's is no different.For sixty eight years it has been producing some of the finest candy in the Southern Bergen county area.It is a true old fashioned gem ,producing those rare jewels homemade chocolates.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Good Holiday Choux

Holiday parties are nothing without fancy croquembouche or cheese puffs. However the key to both successful ones starts with a good choux paste. Don't panic though because of the name .It may sound fancy and French however the dough is simple to make.

It was the topic of David Tanis' A City Kitchen  in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.He has had experience in making the paste simply called pate a is made with a water , butter, flour and a few eggs.It's basically melting butter and water together  and then adding white flour followed b y a few eggs for color.It is then allowed to cool and put into a pastry bag. You can also use envelopes surprisingly, along with sandwich bags  for piping. If you're making cream puffs, then nix the bag,Use a tablespoon instead for a more rounded ,fuller puff.

What to stuff into a choux puff?Mr. Tanis recommends having them with a light sweetened cream  and then topped with confectioner's sugar.Another version required just pearlized sugar sprinkled on them before baking. However you can also fill them with a variety of puddings for a fun croquembuche.Choux puffs also make good hors d'ouevres. Have them cold with lobster or crab salad  or a tasty Gruyere . For cheese and even meat choux pieces  you can bake them in the oven again. Even though it was suggested you can also have dipping sauces too.

Choux puffs are a wonderful holiday addition to any table. Have them stuffed with salads,meat or cheese  for a tasty appetizer or with puddings and creams for a fancy dessert. They give a certain sophistication to any party or gathering

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


This is the time for a hearty wassail punch. It's an ancient British  custom that's  been around for centuries and influenced holiday punches around the world. What is it exactly and why is it so important to the Yuletide tradition?

This is  was the topic of an article in the New York Times Dining section today. The piece, written by Rosie Schaap tells of her Anglophile's addiction to this holiday punch. It's basically a fruit drink ,made with both hard an d soft cider along with Madeira for sweetness and ale for kick. Spices are added as they were hundreds of years ago.There are also spices such as cloves and allspice for bite. Some add orange or lemon peels for a refreshing citrussy taste and smell.

Wassail is a relatively easy have fun with.All you need is a punch bowl and some creativity.It is nice to have the alcoholic version however you can also make a tee totaler's one using apple juice and soft or non alcoholic cider. Wassail calls for whole sliced apples too . You can use any kind really however the honey crisp are the best Some also call for pineapple however that's your decision as is the decision  for eggs added too. Some other punches, usually cream based do call for this last t give it body however it can birder into egg nog territory.

Wassail is a fun tradition . Try it however you want , whether traditional or with twists. It's a fun way to bring in the holidays.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Theme Parties

Holiday parties can be exciting. You can spend time in Mexico, Italy, possibly even Israel or China/ How can this be ? By hosting a food themed party. This is always fun and it 's a bit different than the usual holiday party fare.

First of all pick a cuisine that you know your guests will like. This is not the time to spring something too exotic on unwitting guests. Usually Mexican or Italian is always a good bet because they're both popular and tasty.Also it's relatively easy to cook any of the dishes. People love tacos and tortillas and you can make them with a variety of meats from chicken to beef. You can also throw a spin into it by adding fish or pork too. End with Mexican hot cocoa with a dash of Kahlua. Italian food can be  great too. Think of having a sophisticated Roman meal complete with the tasty stracciatella soup and a fritto misto, a tempura like mixed of cod fish and different vegetables.

Of course you can also have an Israeli Hanukkah too.These are not just latke but also foods that reflect the Middle East influence, There are lamb kabobs or shishlik which can be easily grilled inside or outside, along with hummus served on pita bread. You can finish with the traditional jelly doughnuts or sufganiyot. Chinese food is another exotic cuisine that's party friendly. Instead of the traditional egg rolls try pork and shrimp dumplings or crab rangoon for appetizers.Sesame chicken on skewers is also good too.You can also set up hot pots , literally Chinese fondue for guests to share and mingle.

Holiday themed parties are a fun way to celebrate.It;s also a neat way of introducing guests to exotic dishes and fun cuisines.Think of it as a night of travel and culinary adventure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Bring Alongs

This is the time of year when most guests are required to bring some kind of dish to a party or pot luck dinner. The big question is what to bring - hot or cold - sweet or savory?What goes best at a tree trimming party or at a church supper? There are so many choices. It is easy to choose.

Most cooks and bakers  usually go with their strengths. This makes sense because they know exactly how it should be and can make or bake it practically blindfolded. If you're new to the game. then stick with something simple.A salad can make a nice bring along dish. Try something fun like an avocado and celery mix for something different. If you want try a chef salad with different cheeses and meats.Another easy cold dish is an antipasto platter . You can add everything from prosciutto wrapped around bread sticks to artichoke hearts. Bring along small bottles of a simple oregano or rosemary dressing to pour over the different foods.

for hot dishes ,nothing beats a casserole. These can be anything and everything from an elaborate three or tier lasagna, complete with sausage, hard boiled eggs and ham, Baked mac is another good casserole dish that can have layers of bacon added for extra flavor. Chili is another good bring along . It;s easy to make and can go with anything from rice to cornbread.It's also fun to eat. For sides think candied yams or the classic French green bean bake.Both are pretty simple to make and then reheat. If the hostess is serving a roast think about making stuffing as a nice treat.Remember to get an estimate of how many people will be there and adjust your recipes accordingly.You may have to make two or three dishes of the same recipe to fit the needs of the crowd.

Holiday bring alongs can be fun. They're a great way of showing off your talent as a cook, They're also a great way of trying new recipes and enjoying new dishes,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Foodie s Day Off

sorry everyone for not posting. sadly I could not get out of bed, due to something I ate. Everything will be back to normal tomorrow.In the meantime get ready for the holidays. shop Smart Mart

Friday, December 7, 2012

Your Party Check List

Anyone planning a holiday party right now should have a check list. Good hosts and hostesses should have their pantries and fridges well stocked along with having actual lists to check twice.yet many don;t know what to get or to stock up on, especially novice party givers. What should be bought already? What should be snapped up last minute? Here's a guide to let you know what you should have and should buy in the weeks to come.

Any short list should have frozen hors d'ouevres. Mini quiches should be bought already as tiny taquitos and puffs. This saves you from going out last minute to get them. The second thing should be alcohol along with canned fruit juice for punches.Stock up on the last when your local store puts them on sale. As time get closer to your do, then think about getting the meats and cheeses . You can easily freeze wings along with sliders This is also the time to get anything jarred or canned like gherkins and olives for antipasto platters.

The day before or of the party think about getting all the fresh ingredients.This is the time to buy all the fresh veggies for salads and any meats for grilling. (although if you have a freezer you can store the meats there beforehand for a few days).You can also make any dips the day too because the main ingredient , sour cream does have a short shelf life. If you're not baking cookies, then buy cookies and cakes that day too.Get any sweet beforehand and it could be stale within a day or two.

Holiday party  time is here and with it comes a list of what to buy for the big wingding. Keep a list of what you have bought and need to buy. Stagger trips to the grocery market to ensure that you're not overwhelmed. It makes for easier planning and prepping.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas

The New York Times always has the best columns on gift giving.Go to their Thursday Style section and get neat ideas on clothing and makeup. Check out their Sunday Style section for  everything from jewelry to stationery . The same holds true for yesterday's Wednesday's Dining section. They offer great ideas from gadgets to cookbooks. There are suggestions from all the Dining contributors for any kind of foodie, from the creative to the gourmand,

You can never go wrong with a book or even a cooking magazine. The Dining section has some excellent ideas. Julia Moskin recommends the new ChopChop which is the perfect gift for any young chef.It comes quarterly and is only $14.95 a subscription. For those who like autobiographies try Marcus Samuelsens's novel Yes Chef. There is also the rare poetry book on food entitled.The Hungry Ear. Give any of these with a great snack, Red Kite's Candy Company toffee crunch and salted caramels (again recommended by Julia Moskin) or the lush panettone made by the top designer Giorgio Armani(!)

Gadgets and food are always appreciated.Jane Black offers up a sleek retro style toaster that not only toasts but also defrosts too. There is also a bagel setting that keeps the inside warm but maintains the crusty exterior, A suribachi, a Japanese version of a mortar and pestle is also suggested by A City Table's Dave Tanis. This is good for making everything from ground basil to garlic paste. Foods such as smoked okra or smokra is mentioned and actually would make a nice hostess gift as Jennifer Steinhauser suggests. There are also cherries and ginger (not together) that would be great presents as well.

Leave it to The New York Times Dining section to come up with some great gift ideas. Check out the Times website for the whole list. You'll get so many ideas for those foodies in your life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A New Flip On Latkes

Hanukkah is the time for traditional recipes such as latkes. These potato pancakes have been associatd with the Festival of Lights for well over a century. Yet there is a whole new generation that want this standard but want it with a twist. Luckily , like any recipe it can be tweaked and updated.

Revamped potato pancakes were the subject of Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column in today's New York Times Dining section. She changes them to be not only hip but tasty as well. Most traditional latke recipes calls for a crisply fried potato pancake that is topped with either applesauce or sour cream.Sometimes it's a combo of the two together. However she zings some different ingredients in it. There is Swiss chard along with celery root parsnip shreds added to create an earthier fritter.

As for toppings Ms Clark decides to switch  it up a bit. She does recommend sour cream but also a small slice of lox for a burst of flavor. There is also a topping made with beets, yogurt and garlic. This is made with the low cal  but sinfully thick Greek yogurt  for a nice thick creaminess. The beets are mixed with garlic and walnuts  along with dill and horseradish. It can also be used as a dip for raw veggies too. If the beets are too much then just add the garlic and olive oil along with the yogurt. This to is Israeli style and makes for a smoother topping.

Latkes are a true tradtion that has been enjoyed for generations. Spark it up by subbing in different root veggies to add some zest. Then add an unusual topping or stick with the usual sour cream or applesauce for extra flavor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Salads

Even though it's December you can still have a nice salad.It's a great alternatie to the usual hot soup or sandiwch fare most are eating.Besides there's nothing like a refreshing cool dish to revive you after a morning of X-mas shopping or after a  night of heavy eating.A homemade salad is a great perk during this season.

Salads can be made with a variety of different ingredients or just one. This is the season for cabbages and they can be shredded into a tasty main dish, If you want to make it more substantial, then added shredded cooked chicken along with water chestnuts .This is also the season for avocadoes.Use them, not in guacamole but a simple , refreshingsalad  where they're cubed and dressed with a vinaigrette.Another winter favorite, celery  can also be treated the same way as can be fennel. You can also mix these two for a tasty salad. Mixed salads are also good, Add some canned veggies such as corn niblets, string beans and beets.

What kind of dressing goes well with a cold weather salad? You can always go with a mayo based one.You many want to rethink that though if you feel heay and bloated after all those holiday buffets.A simple dressing is always the best because it brings out the veggie's sharp, earthy  flavors
have simple mixes of just olive oil blend with a red wine or apple cider vinegar.Toss in a small pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.You can add some dried Rosemary or oregano if you want more taste. Even though it's the holidays , you can still indulge in a cool light salad.It's great antedate to all those hot , heavy holiday meals. Having greens now makes perfect sense, and a perfect alternative during these crazy days.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fun Holiday Snacks

The Christmas party goer does not live on drinks alone. There are also nibbles and bites that keep them happy and dancing throughout the season. It could be something as small as a handful of nuts or dried beans or a plate of hot appetizers. Whatever you serve , it will always be the right treat to go with the champagne or egg nog.

There's nothing like a handful of nuts to go with any holiday drink. Most hosts and hostesses have served smoked almonds for decades. These are still good and healthy but you can switch it up a bit. Try flavored pecans or walnuts. Pour a mix of melted butter and different spices over them and roast for five to ten minutes.Edamame is another fun party bite. These can already be bought dried or can be served steamed with a side of soy -ginger sauce. You can also  do the same thing with green peas. Sprinkle frozen peas with oil and sea salt and bake for an hour.Add some cayenne pepper for some punch and heat.

Parties can also have bigger nibbles. Bruschetta and crostini are always good and they go well with every thing from champagne to wine. Bruschetta is just Italian bread thinly sliced and topped with a chopped tomato and oil mix.  Crostini is just the same thing, except the bread is toasted and drizzled with olive oil, With both you cna have fun by adding meat such as salame or mortadella or even crumbled Italian sausage and some grated Parmesan or shredded mozzarella. Mini quiches are also great right now as are hot phyllo puffs. The last can be labor intensive. You can always buy a few boxes of them already made.

Parties always require some knd of nibble to offset the various drinks and punches. You can go big or go small, dpending on the amount of people you have. You can even mix it up, with havign just nibbles and bigger bites together for a really fun time.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Treats In Your MailBox

Your mailbox should be swamped right now with all sorts of holiday food catalogs. The treats are amazing  and would make wonderful gifts. However you can also use them to furbish your holiday dinner and party tables. There;s literally everything from nuts to tortes. An elegant party meal can be created just by a few taps on the phone or I Pad(along with speedy deliveries from UPS).

One of the best catalogs to order from is Figi's This is  one of the gold standards of catalogs and has everything to supply a meal. For a holiday cocktail party order their cheese spreads which come in a wide variety of flavors. There are also a few packages that have crackers and pretzels in them too,There are also cheese logs and tortes which would look great on any coffee table .They also have sausage logs too, perfect for slicing up. For main meals you can't beat Chicago Steakl or Omaha Steaks.These have smoked turkeys, hams and fish  as well as a good variety of steak cuts.Omaha steaks also has sides ,from yams to stuffing.

You'll never have to worry about ordering desserts on line. There are a huge amount of sites that offer homemade cookies , pies and tortes.>Mrs Fields is always a good one to start with, especially if you;re looking for a nice cookie platter.For fancier treats such as petit fours think of Figi's again.They have the traditional and carrot cake. For macarons think of a candy company. Atlantic City's famed Fralinger's Candy Company offers these French treats alongside of their famed candies.For a little healthier, try Edible Arrangements for chocolate drenched fruits.These alwso make wonderful centerpieces too for your holiday dessert table.

A lush holiday table is just a tap away. You cna have your whole party or dinner delivered to your doorstep with no fuss and no muss.It's easy and a present to yourself

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hot And Heavy Heintz

Heintz Ketchup is one of America's classic condiments.It goes well with everything, tempering the saltniess of French fires or adding dash to everyday scrambled eggs. However it's about to heat up, this time with the addition of jalapeno. The classic revs up with the addition of this fiery pepper.

Heinz has come up with the cool addition of jalapeno. This is a new twist on one of the world's oldest sauces. In th e past the company has brought colored ketchup to the table (literally) to appeal to kids . A flavored ketchup is something new. Artesanal ketchups have delved into the other flavors such as plum and pineapple however a mainstream corporation like Heintz has seemed reluctant to expand. It does pay off. The taste is kicky with a nice bite.There is still a sweetness but also a heat that's refreshing.The spiciness lingers as well however it's not scalding as with other hot sauces.

The ketchup is going to be versatile. It added to fries , giving them a pleasant fire. It will go well with steaks and burgers too. However it's the recipes that call for ketchup that will definitely benefit. It will definitely punch up deviled eggs, giving them a much need burst of fire. It will also make for an interesting French dressing adding spark to that usually bland topping. Add some maple syrup and liquid smoke to it for an interesting spin on barbecue sauce for pork, chicken and even fish  .

Heintz ketchup is an American classic.However updating it with jalapeno is a clever and tasty idea. This flavor is one to last - much like the original. Try it as a new spin with traditional dishes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sandy's Restaurant Toll

Even though Sandy happened a month ago, her effects are still being felt/ That also applies to retaurants through the area. Some can bounce back, most can not. Financially it has impacted the area worse than when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast seven years ago.

This was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Regular contributor Jeff Gordonier wrote about the devastation that hit some of the boroughs (and as I know the Jersey shore and Raritan Bay as well.) Brooklyn classic , the pizzeria Totonnos was devastated.When is it coming back? That's really for the insurance companies to deal with -sadly enough.Another city classic, the clam house Randazzo is history as well.The onwers will have to deal with rebuilding as well as dealing with loss , especially during the lucrative holiday party season.

Of course Coney Island also took a bad hit. The original Nathan's is history as well however it will be coming back. It will take a while, There is sand to deal with along with severe structural damage . Salt water , ever corrosive , destroyed wires and sockets. Insurance companies are also as devastating to deal with too. Many are chintzy with pay outs .One of my favorite places, Shoal Harbor  of Port Monmouth, New Jersey  had its' interior destroyed .unfortunately The owners have decided not to redo and re openpossibly because of all the complications that come with rebuilding.This is sad because this homey , fun place had the best lobster and Manhattan clam chowder. Hopefully they will change their minds.

Superstorm Sandy destroyed the area and some of our best restaurants. Hopefully most of them will come back. They may have been knocked down,but they are resilient. You can't hurt a classic,.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rebaked Beans

What better to open up the holiday season than with baked beans. Nothing beats them as a side to a good ham and even better with a pork roast. There's a new old way to cook them - in the ground. Yup, that's right , you can bake them in a deep pit for a tastier treat.

This was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. The article written by John Willoughby,a sometimes contributor to the Wednesday section. He interviews master baked bean maker and chef Chris Schlesinger who is a bit of an innovator in other areas too. He first introduced live fire grilling to New York restaurants via his own his own. HE also is an expert in pit roasting cuts of meat too. Baking beans then was a no brainer. Like slow cooked meat, slow cooked beans are a wonderful blend of tangy and smoky , sweet and tart all at once. It's a slow melding of beans, maple syrup smoked pork along with mustard and comes from the Abenaki Indians of Maine where there are still bean bakes. These rival clambakes as far as with food, flavor and fun

For those ambitious enough to build a baked bean pit, keep in mind that is is labor intensive.You will need to dig a whole a little wider than the bean pot  There does need to be a pot to contain the beans and other ingredients (I imagine nothing fancy).There has to be six inches between the top of the pot and top of the hole.The fire has to be built with cord wood and then add about ten softball sized rocks to maintain the heat. You have to wrap the beans and other ingredients in foil before burying them . the beans have to be cooked for six hours but the taste is worth it however.

Baked beans are always a holiday treat. Baking them in the ground is a new old way of doing such It may be labor intensive but worth it

Monday, November 26, 2012

Soy Or Real? What's A Good Cheese?

What cheese is better for you? Soy or real? There's always the big question, especially now with the holidays coming and you want to make fun but healthy dishes. What's the pluses and minuses of each?

Soy cheese is very popular right now. Many use it for a variety of different dishes. It comes in different styles like mozzarella and pepper jack It  is healthier for you than regular cheese with being lower in calories. Any soy product is rich in isoflavonenes which help in promoting good cholesterol and good heart health. The problem is that soy cheese can dry out and lack the rich buttery taste and feel of real cheese. It's good for those weigh watchers who are watching their caloric intake - especially for the holidays. Yes, it is versatile.It can be on pizza or mixed with macaroni, but  the taste isn;t quite as decadent as the real thing.

Of course real cheese is always preferred.There's something wonderful about the rich buttery taste and always creamy texture. The problem is that it is high in calories as well as cholesterol. You can't gobble it down as much as as you could with soy cheese. Don't go overboard with it . It is better to cook with than soy cheese, creating a nicely browned crust on French onion soup and pizza. Soy cooked can leave a chalky aftertaste as well. However  the real deal can get rubbery if left out cold.

Each cheese ,has its' pluses and minuses. Go with whatever works best for you, your lifestyle and tastes. If you're a health nut go with soy, if you want flavor and taste , then stick with real cheese.Just go easy with it,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Leftover Fun

Leftovers can be boring.That's just a fact and even more so wirh Thanksgiving one. How do you make turkey exciting once more ot add zing to leftover cranberry sauce? By being creative and making that extra food sing. There are many ways to do such.

There's always so much meat left over with any holiday meal. Luckily turkey is versatile and can be turned into everything from curry to sandwiches.An unusual way of having the last is cutting tow slices of stuffing into squares and heating it up with turkey and gravy .It's a take on an open faced sandwich. Another is adding egg noodles to the gravy for another spin.

Sides can be redone for a tastier dish. Cut up those leftover Brussels sprouts and sprinkle with hot pepper for a different kind of hot salad. Mashed white or sweet potatoes can be dipped into beaten egg and breadcrumbs and fried into tasty puffs. Serve the first with ketchup and the second with a tangy maple dip. Leftover mashed potoates can also be used as a cover for a turkey pot pie too, done differently like shepherd's pie. for thsi last also toss in the last peas, carrots and even lima beans.

 Holiday leftovers can be exciting if you just put a different spin on them. Add spice or serve in another way for some fun. You soon; will have an empty refrigerator again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Perfect Petite Gift

What do you do when the holiday gift giving and baking season starts? Buy Petite Treats cookbooks for yourslef and your friends. This is a delightful mini book chock full of delicious tiny sweets for not just the holidays but for everyday fun. It has everything from the original piecaken to whiskey mini cupcakes. There are dozen of neat recipes that are great to make.

The authors. Morgan Greenseth and Christy Beaver are the writers of both this book and another baking book,Mini Pies (both books are published by Ulysses Press and are $ 15.00)']\They are also the chief bakers behind Seattle's hip Mini Empire Bakery and have created these tiny yummy gems in their bakery. They are also the inventors of scookies, a cross between a scone and a cookie along with the piecaken a mini tart baked inside a cupcake. These look like fun to make along with the mini doughnuts and tiraminiscule, an elf's version of the classic tiramisu

What I like most about this book is that it's mostly vegan. Butter and shortening are replaced by vegan versions that anyone can easily pick up at Whole Foods>I like th efact that they have a non dairy butter cream.Another fun aspect of the recipes is that both Baker Greenseth and Baker Beaver use interesting ingredients such as whiskey and bacon for their whiskey maple bacon cupcakes and apple cider vinegar in almost every treat. They also put different twists on traditional recipes such as strawberry eclairs and a chocolate lava cake made with wine(along with a citrus flavored cannoli). Get Petite Treats this holiday season.It will not only give you ideas for your own mini treats but also makes a great gift for any baker .It's a little book but packs big punch.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Wishes

To all my Americans readers at home and abroad a very Happy Thanksgiving. remember to eat wisely and to give thanks for having food on your table.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thanksgiving Read

Once again The New York Times Dining  section devotes another issue to Thanksgiving. It's a fun read for tonight and even tomorrow. There's a variety of reminisces and recipes to follow along with an almost Scroogelike (sorry fellow author  Dickens)rant against turkey and for spaghetti carbonera.

Most of you are too busy to read this but enjoy the day and get rested for tomorrow. Have a good holiday wherever you are in the world.Now go on line and read The Dining Section.(or the paper version if you have it). Laugh at what some writers have to say along with cutting out good recipes to try on the weekend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holiday Antipasto

Holiday meals should always start with a good antipasto. The word means before pasta in Italian however it could come before any meal, whether Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham. The problem is  there are so many different dishes. What goes well with a full meal? What happens if your guests get stuffed on them and not the main meal? There are some easy solutions.

A true antipasto usually consists of cold cuts and cheeses along with the dressed vegetables. You can have all of this  if you serve small amounts. Most first courses have a wide array of meats from prosciutto to mortadella, Instead of having five or six varieties of cold cuts have one or two such as a salami and maybe a thinly sliced ham. Have a green and black olives along with thin,crunchy bread sticks..A nice touch is artichoke hearts as well along with some peppers.

If you're having a bigger crowd, then think about serving a bigger antipasto. Many cooks offer up a plate of easily made devilled eggs along with stuffed celery. At this point you can also serve more meats and even tuna if you want (although some diners my question this with their turkey).You can also take chicken and turkey livers and make a pate .Put different kinds of breads on the table along with crackers for simple sandwiches. Cruets of oil and vinegar can also be added, to be poured onto the meats or any raw veggies you may have set out for guests.

A holiday antipasto is a nice way to introduce the Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham. You can make it either as simple or elaborate as you want, depending on your dinner and guests. Try different plates for fun and variety.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dinner Delegation

Too many cooks spoil the broth so the old saying goes. The same applies to holiday broths as well as dinners too. There have been endless fights, some of them even downright bloody, thanks to a few too many knives.left out. What to do to avoid all all out war? Delegate.

If friends and family ask to help, take it. However try to have a meeting where dishes and chores are delegated. Don''t be cowed by anyone wanting to make the main dish. This is your kitchen, your meal. You have control. Start with yourself. Decide what you can make and if you have the room to make extra dishes. The next is picking your kitchen team. You're going to need your own sous chef to help with cutting, slicing and dicing.Also decides who helps set the table and who helps with the clean up.,

The next step is delegating the dishes that people with bring. If two people have the same specialty dish, ask one to either vary theirs or maybe bring another dish.If there is still a stalemate, then give in. People can always bring extra stuffing or gravy home with themif there's extra grub.Also let your crew make what they make best. Thanksgiving is not the time for anyone to experiment with new dishes or exotic ingredients. Stick with easy basics that guests will enjoy., especially the younger ones.  Also take into consideration food restrictions, beliefs and allergies. Tailor your menu as to what guests , especially little ones can eat. Make it a rule that everything will have  basic ingredient. Nothing too wild or exotic.,

Too many cooks can spoil the broth . Yet if you delegate properly , you can have a tasty and easy Thanksgiving dinner. It's just a matter of assigning who makes what or who brings what

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Guest At The Table

With the holidays coming there's always going to be guests at the table. The problem that they may not be totally attune with the way you and your family eat. The way to solve it is to tailor the meal along with explaining your traditions to others.

It's fun when relatives , especially kids, bring roomies or the future spouse home for the holidays.It's also neat when your or the spouse invite your friends and workmates over too.The problem is what happens when they don't like turkey? For vegans try tofurkey, with a mushroom gravy. For some, who are experiencing turkey for the first time, make a pork roast or even roast beef if they're not fond of the traditional bird. As for sides, ask ahead of time what people like or want. You also suggest that  they  bring their own  or give your their recipes .This makes them feel at home and expands your family's tastes as well.
Desserts can be a hassle as well.Most European based cultures thrive on big finishes, full of pies and cakes. For others, such as some Asian cultures there is a different type of sweet, usually a rice cake with some kind of filling. The best way to handle a multinational table is have a healthy mix of both fruits and cakes. Tangerines are big right now along with apples.Place small bowls of them on the table  as well as bowls of nuts too. This is a  , crunchy and a neat way  to end the dinner. For kids chocolate reigns supreme and you can hand out chocolate turkeys to them as a dessert or a fun favor.

Having guests over shouldn't crimp your holiday cooking style. You can tailor your menu so that everyone is happy with the food. Be open and consider it as a holiday adventure.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving Checklist

With The Times Dining section offering Thanksgiving help and tips, it's time to think of the holiday checklist . Despite it being less than a week away , there may be some items big or small that need to be picked up. It's pays to have an actual checklist though, so you know exactly what you have or need to buy.

Of course you have the turkey. Most already have even bought it before Hurricane Sandy struck . However what about those vegans that are in your life? What alternative do you have for them? You can get tofurkey slices or an actual tofurkey loaf.These can go well with mushroom gravy and stuffing. On that note for vegans, have a ready can or packet of brown or mushroom gravy for them. Sides are another think about. Do you have three or four standard ones or introduce new ones for everyone's tastes. Stock up on cans on veggies because you never know if one kind will be popular and get gobbled up. You can always open another can if you run out of the original.

Stock up on basics too. You';ll need flour for thickening your gravy. Any left over can be used for holiday baking a few weeks later. Sugar also is a must to keep. It';s not only used for cooking and baking but for sweetening all those after dinner teas and coffees. Eggs also should be bought.Not only are they used in most dishes like stuffing and breads  but also are needed in those big family breakfasts days after. The most basic staple, bread should also be bought in two or three loaves. You;ll need that amount if you have guests over for a few days. They can be used for sandwiches and of course morning toast.

It's time to get out the checklist  and see what you need to get. Start with a list and think about your needs for the holiday weekend. A well stocked kitchen, after all is an efficient one, and one you need.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Putting Chocolate In Thanksgiving

Chocolate is not your usual Thanksgiving ingredient, unless you count those foil wrapped chocolate turkeys kids receive. However it adds punch to some very sedate traditional desserts.The pies and cakes are no longer boring. They're fun.

The dash of chocolate was Melissa Clark's subject to yesterday's A Good Appetite  in yesterday's Dining section of The New York Times. She decides to create some fun desserts that are part Thanksgiving, part celebration. What is so different is that she takes traditional pies like pecan and adds  chocolate and coconut, It makes this decadent dish even more decadent, with a taste like a candy bar. She also adds bourbon which is standard in Southern pecan pie recipes and rich Dutch chocolate along plus the flaked coconut for chew.

There are other ideas too. Ms. Clark creates a rich custard using rum and bitter dark chocolate .To tie it in to the day she adds rum soaked dried cranberries.For a more G rated version add orange juice or zest so the kids can appreciate it as well.She adds a chocolate souffle cake to the menu as well. She jazzes it up with creme fraiche and for a really big surprise candied cinnamon scented butternut squash.If that's a bit too wild add some salted pecans or walnuts to offset the sweetness.

Chocolate on Thanksgiving? Yes, it does work. The sweet adds richness and fun to traditional yet staid desserts. It livens up a turkey day like nothing else

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Times Turkey Day Guide

With Thanksgiving only a week away, cooks , both experienced chefs and novices panic about cooking for a group. Not only that , but how to you put a spin on one of life's most traditional meals. Luckily the Times Wednesday's Dining section comes to the rescue. It has every kind of help and idea to get anyone through next Thursday's annual feast.

Everyone weighs in , in this week 's section. The great chef, Jacques Pepin gives advice as well as his memories of the holiday There is a deconstructed pumpkin pie (and yes it can be torn apart and rebuilt for a hipper crowd).There is wine advice from Eric Asimov along with how to condiment recipes.

Save this issue if you want as a guide or even a crutch for Thanksgiving. The recipes for the condiments, from Melissa Clark and Julia Moskin are definitely worth cutting out and saving/The squash recipe is also a good one. Steamed turkey is another recipe that's worth saving because it's an alternative to a completely roasted one. There are also a variety of steps for different preps that are very helpful as well. These are worth saving too for also Christmas or New Year's turkeys.

Thanksgiving ushers in a season of cooking. Use this week's Times Dining section as your guide. You;ll not only feel better but cook better too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Special Diets

Sometimes foodies wind up eating too many good things which lead to a host of problems. Stomach problems abound and the nasty side effects (too vile to even mention here). That's when a trip to the doctor ensues and wiith it special diets. What's a foodie to do? Abide with it but also have fun with it.

At one time or another most will have to modify their eating habits to better suit their health. What that mens is goodbye to fruity cocktails and crunchy snacks. Soda is also taboo in some diets and that puts a huge crimp in everyday drinking habits. However , most diets do allow for iced tea which is easy to switch to along with fruit drinks  such as apple and cranberry. Some doctors will presribe Gatorade which has not only flavor but also the bonus of far as snacks, think pretzels  and even puffed rice as opposed to potato chips and Doritos.

Meals change too. Instead of those hot dogs and pastrami sandwiches you may want to switch to grilled or even boiled meats . The last may sound gross however you can always it up and mix with mayo to create a salad. Certain egg dishes can be allowed like poached or shirred. These are simply boiled eggs and can be served in fancy egg cups to jazz them up.Served with toast triangles or even squares.Some veggies may be forbidden as are salads.Try to sub in with your doctors suggestions. If you are allowed , then try to grill or sauté them. They'll taste better. Also vary them if you have a choice. A new diet doesn't necessarily mean a bland and unexciting one. It can be just as good and as fun as your old one.The benefit. : feeling better and eating better

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Cookie For A Veteran

Veteran's day was yesterday however it shouldn;t be for just one day. We should honor them year round.There are so many ways to do so, especially food wise Foodies unite and honor those who have fought for your freedom.

Bake sales are always a great way to help anyone.From school kids to church groups, a sale featuring homemade goodies is always a great way to raise money and awareness. You can even make patriotic flag or eagle cookies too, to remind people of why this event is happening. Patriotic cupcakes are also fun, especially if you ice them in the specific colors of our military forces. Candies such as fudge or chocolate dipped pretzel rods can also be on the venue. Set up coffee and hot water for tea urns along with tables and chairs for those who want to eat their treats right away.

Care packages have always fed our troops from the Revolutionary War to our current ones. You can easily make homemade cookies to remind the troops of home but also include gum and candy bars for a quick sugar burst. Sending healthy snacks like sunflower or pumpkin seeds along with fruit leathers can be better. You can have a variety of the last in different flavors. Add some batteries and cologne for some fun. Another idea is helping out at veteran's home whether in the kitchen or just bringing in coffee and cake for our retired servicemen.

Veteran's Day should be extended  to everyday and not just November 11th. Honor them with a bake sale or just hanging out at the veteran's home with some coffee and cake. The old saying of "an army travels on its' stomach "is true. Add to it  with your own spin/

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Night Off

sorry dear readers, there was an emergency today which actually righted itself. we 'll be back Monday with the same food and drink advice.enjoy Veteran's Day. help them and our serving military anyway you can.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Volunteer Meals

Hurricane Sandy has taught us that volunteer work matters a lot. Helping out anywhere is a plus. If you can cook, that's more of a plus . Fire stations and even senior citizen center kitchens always need an extra hand. Even clean up is most appreciated too.

Most volunteers  usually just help set up food tables and ladle out food .However if you can pitch in with food prep do so. Most firehouses have their own chefs with their own favorite recipes. Some will accept another cook with new dishes. You can make dishes at home and bring them in. Lasagna, baked ziti and any casserole is easily made and transported. Also bringing in hot dogs and hamburgers along with turkey and veggie burgers are another good idea,, if local businesses haven't already donated them. You can make potato salad or baked beans if that's the case.

If your oven is working, then think about baking cookies and muffins for volunteers. Although they may not be nutritionally good, they;re still a rush of much needed sugar for energy. Slice and bake chocolate chips are the easiest to bake en masse. They;re also the easiest to transport too. You can also make slice and bake sugar cookies too. Muffins, whether big or small are great too/ These can be eaten for breakfast too with a hot cup of coffee. You can also vary the recipes for  the large and the mini. Try blueberry or chocolate chip  along with corn and cranberry as well. These , too, can be easily brought to any firehouse or center.

Volunteerism is needed during these tough times. Any way you can, contribute your cooking and baking skills.They will be much appreciated and much needed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Eating Normally In Abnormal Times

It is hard to maintain a balanced diet when you're more worried about survival. How can you concentrate on eating right let alone eating when dealing with a hurricane' afterath and the trauma it brings?Yet that is what has to be done, Eating normally is the first step to living normally.

This is easily said. When families are dealing more with recovery then eating anything takes a backseat.Luckily there are shelters and Red Cross set ups that do dole out warm and tasty food. It pays to have hot meals three times a day because it does give a boost to both the body and spirit. If you;re still living in a hotel or motel, go to your favorite restaurant, diner or fast food joint. Order your favorite. Worry about the calories later. You need comfort food - which is like a security blanket.

Snacks play an importsnt part in eating normal. There's something soothing about munching on your favorite cookies or crackers. Get yourself a sleeve of cookies or a bag of chips. Luckily even drug store chains like CVS and WalGreens as a huge array of goodies to eat,If you have a regular store in your area, then pick up some bananas or apples. Fruit is a good snack, full of vitamins and minerals, needed for energy, Nix the ice cream.It still isn;t really safe to eat yet. Try boxed chocolate milk instead.

It's hard to eat right during these impossible times. Yet eating normal is the first step toward s living's a step in the right direction - a step towards home.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fridge Reorganizing

Having the power out has taught many people one thing: don't overstock the refrigerator. You  wind up throwing out things you'd forgotten you've bought (as in my case).The best thing to have is a balanced fridge, one with essentials - not frills.

What are fridge basics? Eggs, milk and juice , the last is important if you have kids. Another basic is butter or if you're more health conscious margarine. Some people feel that bread should be kept cool, however thats' an individual taste.Another must are the condiments,mayo, ketchup and mustard. Mats, whether uncooked or cold cuts are always a good basic to have, however don't overbuy. If the power goes out , the first thing will go is the chicken or the roast beef.

What about the freezer? Ice cream, although considered a frill is always a good thing to have. The problem is that most people like a variety and some people like to have two or three containers. Stick with one ,finish and then go on to  another . Frozen foods are basics too however don;t overstock. These are the first  foods to go bad if there's a power outage. Have one or two , if you;lre really not into them but need them as a quick meal fix. Another idea is only have a few homemade frozen meals, not huge platters  of lasagna or ziti You may forget about these even and it could later lead to a mystery dish.

Fridges are nothing more than cold storage. Don't turn them into full pantries, full of junk. Be prudent when you food shop. Don;t stuff your refrigerator. Keep it on a diet.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Good Hot Meal

These days it's hard to have a hot meal, especially if you're still weathering Hurricane Sandy and her after effects. yet whatever the meal, a good solid plate of something hot is beneficial. It helps in  creating more normalcy in a disrupted routine.It also helps to gather your family and friends around just to give thanks and enjoy conversation.

Breakfast is always the most important meal and a good one means a good day ahead. Even having a hot breakfast sandwich at McDonald's is still a hot breakfast, complete with orange juice and fruit. The kids will love it . Most motel rooms have microwaves and you can always microwave eggs and bacon in it as well.Your best bet is a nearby diner. There you can get everything from oatmeal to omelets along with pancakes -a kid favorite .You can also get fresh squeezed juice there and bran muffins. too

Lunch is another matter. Most people will usually settle for a sandwich.If you can settle for burgers which are considered a hot and fun along with a salad, then you've got something good to food places are a good place especially if you have picky eaters in your caravan.You can also consider again the diner or bringing in microwaveable meals.Dinner too can be found in your frozen food section(that is if your supermarket is open)Another idea is trying local pizzerias and Chinese takeout. You can eat healthy in both, along with just eating old fashioned pizza and fried rice, comfort foods much needed in these times.

A good hot meal means everything to those who are displaced.Whether it be  breakfast,lunch or dinner, it means the world to those who are now living in motels,hotel, and even shelter. It;s a way of being at home even though you're not.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Motel Eating

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy I am now lodged in a motel a mile from my house. It has heat (a blessing) and TV(even more of a blessing). However the kitchen is lacking though I'm not complaining. Yet there is a problem with eating right in situations like this.

Most of the stores in my area have been closed now for a few days. That poses a problem for anything fresh from meats to fruits to vegetables. If you're in that situation think about canned. There are enough varieties of food that can be got form a simple tin.Most motels and hotels have microwaves in them,. Buy a few containers (trust me you'll use them later at home) and heat up a veggie or beef  barley soup. Having a hot meal also gives a sense of normalcy if you have kids. Sitting them down to dinner or lunch, even at a motel table brings it home for them.

As for snacking -if it makes you and your family happy then go for it. Usually drugstores like CVS Walgreen's and Rite Aid have the best and still a wide variety of snacks. Crackers are OK  as are pretzels. Any kind of small cracker like goldfish or CVS/ cheddar stars are fun. There are also fruit chews that may cause th e kids to bounce off the walls, but at least they're eating (because of enormous upheavals, kids  may lose their appetites and just swear off food all together)A lot of hotels and motels do have juice bars or juice machines. Keep them away from soda and iced coffee drinks.Boxed milk, whether plain or chocolate flavored ,is a better bet.

These are rough times for all of here in the tri state area. It's hard to have a normal diet, especially when you have to move to a motel or deal with closed groceries or supermarkets. Bear up.Just go with the flow and just eat to survive no matter what you eat.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Treats Adult Style

Today is Halloween. a time usually reserved for all those sugary sweet. Treats. melisa Clark wrote about it today in her column A Good Appetite. instead of Mars Bars and M&M s she create decadent ,sophisticated treats for the adult palate. She has some amazing recipes. One is a home made caramels but with a twist .They have bourbon. And a crushed pepper in them for bite. These would be a good after dinner treat with a strong, black coffee.Other treats include a bark with a goat cheese. There's also a licorice themed treat based on the Brazilian bonboniere.this requires melting licorice coffee and dark chocolate together. Balls are formed and then rolled or dipped into chocolate sprinkles and jimmies. I imagine these would be great gracing a small bowl of coffee ice cream. Halloween is a wonderful time for treats, both sweet and savory .Try these as a solution to both. They're a wonderful combo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Short Pantry

I'm writing this a mile from my home. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy we have noWiFi so I'm writing this in a Dunkin Donuts on Rte 46 . it is packed because there is no electricity in our area and people meed a good cup of coffee to survive. I have gas so I. Can get coffee , tea and hot cocoa any time. As for my readers outside the East Coast ,Just bear with me for the next few days.I do not know what will happen.I 'll try to write as much as I can.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Eating Safety Tips

Now that Sandy is in our midst, it's time to think about beating safely.There are so many factors to consider.Hopefully this will only be until Wednesday .Until then here are some tips. Water is one of your most vital essentials during this time.Make sure everyone, including animal companions have at least one gallon of water per each day.This can be used for coffee and tea as well.If you run out and there,s a problem either boil it or put an eyedropper full of bleach to decontaminate it. Juice and even Gatorade are good energy boosters.Have boxed milk for kids and toddlers in case the stores are flooded out for a few days. As for food every fridge should have the basics right now.Make sure you have eggs and milk along with bread.If anything you can always make French toast even if you just have oil to fry it.Any kind of block cheese is good as well.One, it keeps, and two it's a good source of protein. It's also versatile because you can have it hot or cold.Fruit and some veggies will keep.Have pears ,apples and plums around because these can be kept for a few days without rotting. They're also a good source of natural sugar, excellent for an energy boost. For all my readers stuck in this cataclysmic event ,please don't panic .It will get better.If you're lucky to be at home ride it out with the above hurricane essentials.Stay safe.Stay dry,Stay well fed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Cuisine

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, most of the East Coast will experience hurricane cuisine  tinned food and bottled water mixed with whatever is in the freezer. Anyone can get creative with whatever is in their kitchen, providing they have gas and/or electricity.It's also a time to take out the grill again if need be.

Usually a freezer can keep its 'temps until the second day without power. Don't keep opening it otherwise you'll lose the food inside. Instead concentration what's in the refrigerator part. If you're lucky you 'll have eggs. Paired with almost anything, from meats to cheese to veggies, you can create a nice omelet that the family can enjoy. Cheeses can be melted and made into a Welsh rarebit or fondue.Again bread can be dipped into this as well as boiled potatoes. You can also use the extra veggies along with tinned tuna  or any meat as a hearty salad.

What happens when the freezer goes? Again try to be creative.TV dinners may be hard to cook because they may require the microwave. You can cook some in your oven if you do have a gas stove. For some of the other frozen foods, you;re going to have to get creative and possibly drag out the grill. Frozen burgers can be thawed and cooked , if you have a gas grill. If you have an electric try to use a neighbor's hibachi of there is one. Freezers also keep all that extra sauce you made with your tomato harvest. Thaw it out and make either soup or sauce.Ice cream melted down can be mixed with milk for a malted.

Hurricane cuisine can be much like the phenomena itself, wild daring , outrageous. Yet out of that can come substantial and, yes, even nutritious food, Don't fear it. work with it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Peanut Butter And Pickles

Peanut butter is great on its' own .It'a phenomenal with chocolate and even bananas. With pickles? Surprisingly yes. More an dmore people are going for a pickle and peanut butter combo.

This crazy combo was a feature of Wednesday's New York Times DIning section. Dwight Garner, who seems new to The Times experimented with it in the DeGustibus column,It actually has been around for generations, wit h Mr. Garner's father eating it durng his law school days. Even Southern grannies have made this for lunches and snacks .If it's still gross imagine as a sophisticated version of PB & J.

How the sandiwch is made is important  Mr. Garner suggests Clausen's or any pickle that has a slight sweetness. (I would suggest the sugary gherkins) to itl Bread and butter pickles work just fine as well. It should be crunchy and hold up to the creaminess of the peanut butter. As for the peanut butter itself, stay away from crunchy and try a classic like Smuckers.Also put it all on a good white breadsuch as Arnold's.

Peanut butter is good. So are pickles. Together they create an interesting treat.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reclaiming Quiche

Quiche is one of those foods that goes through waves of popularity. It was hot from t he Sixties to the Eighties and then fell out of favor. Some restaurants serve it still as do grocery stories, however' the recipe is so far from the original, that's it not really quiche. That's about to change. Some new recipes are emerging that restore the dish back to all its' Gallic glory.

It was the topic of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. City Kitchen by Dave Tanis. Mr. Tanis explores true quiches, those light , eggy pies with even lighter and crispy crusts, These are the closest f not the exact of what French groceries sell as well as what is made in homes. What makes them lighter is what they're baked in. Most Americans bake kitchens in deep dish pie plates. Don't!This ruins the texture. Bake any quiche in a shallow dish with a removable bottom.This ensures a creamy filling with a slightly unctuous or oild texture.

Mr. Tanis gives some good recipes Of course he includes the classic quiche Lorraine,..However instead of the usual ham he suggests bacon along with Gruyere instead of the usual Swiss.There is also a tasty crab meat one that;s seasoned with fresh tarragon and chives. The trio is rounded out by a quiche with herbs and goat cheese.It has scallions and thyme along with parsley. There is a double surprise of lemon zest and the goat cheese placed at the quiche's bottom. These are great for not only Sunday brunches but for a Saturday night dinner too.

Qucihes made right are wonderful. Use these recipes with the proper baking equipment to create a true Gallic tarte salee or savory quiche. It's like tasting the best that France has to offer

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Most Perfect Dumplings

New York City is known for it's big Chinese community. The community has given the city some of the best recipes and dishes from Beijing duck to dumplings. It's the last that making waves again. Dumplings are becoming hot again  -although they never went out of style.There are some new variations as well as traditional dumplings too.

New York Times Dining regular, Jeff Gordonier has  the lucky assignment of tasting and rating some of New York''s best dumplings.He has found traditional ones in Queens' Flushing where there is the second largest Chinese population in the world. Here dumplings are made the old fashioned way but with a spin - lamb is used. The ingredient, more suited to Mongolian tables, are a big draw at Mission Chinese Food on Manhattan's Lower East side. These were so popular that the restaurant;s chef and recipe's creator, Danny Bowien has made close to 1,000 on some days.

The dumpling takes on a funky New York neighborhood twist too. Mr . Gordonier was also fortunate to try the pretzel dumpling which has a funky inside and a chewy pretzel like outside. The inside can be made of a tasty pork a d scallion or a variation on chicken parm. There are also fillings such as pad Thai, cheesesteak and barbecued pork. Another restaurant, the trendy Brooklyn Red Farm creates dumplings that look like small golden crabs,complete with black sesame seed eyes. Dumplings are easy to make at home as well and you can try these with any number of ingredients.

Dumplings are definitely hot right now however there was never a time when they weren't popular. Go to Manhattan to sample these tasty treats. If not make them yourself, whether with the traditional or new trendy ones. Either way ,it makes for some good eating.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Salmon- Is It Good Or Bad?

We all hear the plus side of eating salmon.Yet, surprisingly there is a down side to this healthy fish.It can be bad for you at times. What's the up side of this tasty dish?What's the bad side? Are there many benefits  - or just one or two?

Salmon is one of the most popular fishes to eat. Everyone love;s the rich flavor and the meaty flesh, which is more textured that most fish.It's also very versatile too. Salmon can be used as a main dish or added to a salmon.You can grill, char or broil it.The plus side of it it's good for strengthening your muscles as well as tissues. It is chock full of Omega-3 which will lower your cholesterol.It also is responsible for preventing the  eye disease macular degeneration. Eating salmon will improve skin tone as well as making your hair shiny.The fish is full of the necessary Vitamin D, which helps in preventing breast and prostrate cancers.

Yet  salmon, especially farmed can have a dark side. Fish raised in a contained environment can absorb PCBs,dioxins, dieldrin and toxaphene, Dieldrin is a banned pesticide that is easily soaked up by the fish .Why a pesticide is in a contained area  is puzzling, however it is there. Toxaphene again is another pesticide that still persists in the environment. Both it and dieldrin can cause liver, and kidney cancer. However the risks for these are small in comparison to the benefits. The best bet is getting wild salmon which costs a little more than the farmed but is trouble free.

Is salmon good or bad for you? Mostly it's good. The risks from chemicals are small and practically non existent if you buy the wild variety. It's a good food, excellent for your health as well as being just downright delicious. Don't stop eating it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chelsea's Hip Bakeries

Chelsea is now one of New York City's hottest and hippest neighborhood. This is where you cool restaurants and shops along with the celebs and stars that shop there. The area also boasts a wide array of bakeries as well. Two of the most famous is Billy's and Blossoms.. These provide both tourists and locals with a wide array of cakes, cookies, and that still trendy treat, the cupcakes.

Billy's Bakery located on Ninth Ave , between 21st and 22nd Street, It also has locations in again the still popular Tribeca as well as The Plaza Food Hall near midtown. The bakery supposed was started by two friends however there is also the understory that the bakery was started by the famed Magnolia's bakery's workers who stole that bakery's most famous recipes. Whatever is the real story, the cakes and cookies are heavenly . Their mini cheesecakes are packed with flavor. The chocolate one is full of dense rich, crumbs while the texture is super creamy. The cakes all have a homemade from the Fifties taste and look. The cookie sandwiches. filled with homemade butter cream are to die for and a local favorite.

A few doors down is Blossom, a bakery with a twist. All their products are made without butter , eggs and milk. It's a division of the famed Blossom Vegan Restaurant (which is right across the street from the bakery)Unlike Billy';s they offer savory treats such as the Breton version of the croissant Koiugn Amann- a fine feat to pull off because regular ones are laced with butter.Their cakes are varied, as are their cupcakes. The vanilla ones are the best,It's a dense old fashioned cake made with a buttery blob of icing on top. The chocolate ones are intense and really don't need the frosting. However the best is Blossom's biscotti. These are not the traditional cylinder shaped ones but large spread out almond cookies that resemble oatmeal cookies. These are a mix of almond and crunch  = sheer perfect in every  bite.

Whether you love in trendy Chelsea or just visiting stop by either Billy's or Blossom for a cupcake and a coffee. Both have different world views and recipes yet a common thread  to make the best baked goods. Their goal has been met . Go to either or both for a satisfying bite of sweetness.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Coleridge And A Proper Tea

Tomorrow is Samuel Taylor Coleridge's birthday (as well as being Trafalgar Day)/ The early romantic poet, , best known for Kubla Khan and The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Like any writer, he probably appreciated sustenance (and opium) during his writing sessions/. He was born in Devon,a shire known for it's luscious cream teas. Anyone can recreate them, to experience a true English writer's afternoon - or evening snack.

What makes a good English tea? Good English tea.Typhoo is the best, coming from the United Kingdom,itself .It's a deep rich  tea that has a lovely aftertaste.Twinings is very good too You can try the traditional flavors such as Assam or Earl Grey. Lady Grey is also good ,however because it has orange over tone' its'best plain or with sugar. The others go well with a splash of milk in them. You must never several cream at an English tea. It's just not allowed. If you do want a twist or modernize the tradition, then use fruit teas for a different spin. They're refreshing both hot or cold (which only works during a summer high tea)

As for food, if you're having a tea for one you can create a small plate of sandwiches for yourself .These go well if you;re creating epic poems as Coleridge did or just blogging. You can create cucumber or watercress sandwiches with cukes and cress. Layer these on lightly buttered spices of small bread. Another filling is a meat one that can be made with a mix of devilled ham or chicken and mayo. For a tea party make these sandwiches along with jam filled ones and perhaps petit fours or colorful macaroons.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, like his fellow romantic poets, William Wordsworth and William Blake appreciated a good tea. Any modern writer or Anglophile  would appreciate a hot cup of tea accompanied by delicious sandwiches and sweets. It's  a great respite to have from writing

Friday, October 19, 2012

Caribbean Greens

The Caribbean is known for lush islands, sparkling azure waters and pearly white beaches. What many people don't know is that the area is also known for producing vital fruits and vegetables. along with spices. If you want to vary your diet , add a dash of Caribbean green to it.

This was the subject of an article in yesterday;s New York Times Home and Garden section.The piece, written by Michael Tortorello tells of East New York, a haven for Caribbean immigrants and the exotica that grows there. The islands have always been a source of botanical wonder, first entrancing Columbus during his visits to the various islands. Anyone can grow the native spices(save for the extremely hot Scotch Bonnet which is banned in some states) and they can be made into all sorts of tasty gumbos and dishes.However don't worry if you have a brown thumb,most average supermarkets sell them. You can try a fiery fish chowder with different herbs  or a jerk chicken,made with a spicy herb based rub .

Caribbean fruits and vegetables also are varied.There are plantains which can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.Mangoes, originally from India now thrive in the islands. These can be good anyway, from being in a sorbet to even grilled .There is also the custard fruit which has a creamy custardlike flesh. Then there is the cancer fighting soursop which can be  made into a tasty punch.For veggies there is the spinach like callaloo, a staple of many Jamaican dishes.Okra , an import from West Africa is another basic and can be made into a variety of dishes.

The Caribbean is full of delicious fruits, vegetables and spices. Add some to your menu for variety. It's a fun and healthy  way to experience the islands.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Intrigue Of Burmese Food

Myanmar, once known as Burma, has always been an intriguing place full of different colors and flavors.It's foods reflect this with the variety of tastes and flavors. The blend is unique with nods towards neighboring countries as well as the nation's history. The cuisine is a mix of fiery and sweet , vegetable and meat. The combinations are both interesting and endless.

Burmese cooking was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.The piece written by Dining regular, Julia Moskin tells about the range of tastes and flavors of Burmese cooking. Since Myanmar is between China and India, it is strongly influenced by them. There are the spices such as the Indian turmeric and okra mingling with the dried shrimp and tart veggies from the nearby Yunnan province. The Chinese influence also includes limes and peanuts in several recipes as well.

Ms. Moskin also got the chance to cook with one of the top experts on Burmese cooking,Naomi Duguid who has written cookbooks on several other cuisines She is also known for her Mexican cooking and making that popular. She introduced Ms, Moskin to thoke, the varied salad made up of several ingredients. Thoke is more a sauce than salad because of its' consistency. However there are several thoke recipes that call for bigger slices of tomatoes along with melons for a more salad  like dish. Even though the country is partly Muslim, they do make a ginger pork slider with lemon grass,ginger and garlic.

Burmese cuisine is as exotic and colorful as the country itself. It has its' own voice despite the Indian and Chinese influences.It is tasty and sweet , sharp and spice, a diversity of all sorts of flavors and taste.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Snail Lady

Snails surprisingly require as much work as cattle. Hard to believe those little escargots can be as troublesome yet  as tasty as any flock of chicken or herd of cattle. However they have a wrangler who makes them plump and delicious , perfect for satisfying the retro meal of escargot avec beurre.

The lady in question is Mary Stewart and she was interviewed in today's New York Times Dining section. Dining regular , Jeff Gordonier  conducted the interview on Stewart's snail farm,(yes, there is such a thing) north of Bakersfield, California. She has been raising and selling them to prime restaurants like Tertulia and Vinegar Hill House in New York and Moto in Chicago. The Walrus and The Carpenter in trendy Seattle also asks for her escargot. She is even trying to launch a snail caviar which are snail eggs. These are whitish pearls that have the same saltiness as roe but with a more earthy ,less briny flavor.

Escargot was the hit of the Sixties. Gourmands and hip foodies of the time always had it on their plates and on their radar. Nowadays this retro food is coming back  but without the traditional butter sauce (although it is a good introduction for those new to snails).Moto's chef, Richie, Farina pairs it with  wild mushrooms and edible flowers along with herbs and garlic arranged to be moss. It;s a stunning visual that serves the snails well. At Tertilia in New York's West Village the snails are paired with a risotto and Spanish ham or jamon Iberico..For novices with fresh snails, try them in a white wine sauce , infused with garlic and  au x fine herbes.

Mary Stewart is a unique woman., She has not only become a snail rancher but put escargot back on foodie;s menus again. Thanks to her, it;s now fun to eat snails.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Healthy Fall Party Foods

This is the time of year for all sorts of get togethers- from tailgating dos to Halloween parties. It's also time for harvests too, full of  healthy fruits and veggies . Combine the two to get fun and nutrition. You'd be surprised at what can come out of a healthy menu.

Tailgating parties are a must this time of year. However they;re usually a leftover from the summer barbecue. The menus revolves around barbecued everything . This may be good but a bit unhealthy . Try adding some veggies to those kabobs such as fall faves like Brussels sprouts or carrots. Beets are big right now and you can make a regular salad with sliced ones or a slaw full of shredded beets.This is a nice offset to those brats and dogs.If you're planning on an at home party then think about another seasonal favorite- artichokes, These can be stuffed with breadcrumbs or just have the leaves dipped in a vinaigrette  as a nice hors d'ouevre . Artichoke hearts are also a good topping on homemade pizza as well.

This is also the time for fruits as well.Of course every Halloween party planner is probably planning a bob for apples games. You can also vary it by having a bob for pears instead. Both are good in mini tarts or in regular sized ones too. Any get together would benefit from an old fashioned homemade pie too. Try a sweet potato one because this is also the season for them. These can als be made into pudding as well and served with a creme fraiche. You can also make a fudge with them or bake them into chips.Cranberries are another fall treat. These can be baked into cookies and muffins, and mixed with nuts , makes an interesting after dinner nibble.

This is the season for fun fall parties. Inject some healthiness in them by adding the fruits and vegetables of the season. They can not only be good for you too but also tasty in some great recipes!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Baking

This is the perfect time for cake baking. The weather is free of humidity.The air is cool and crisp and many bakers do appreciate a hot oven warming up a cold kitchen.It's time to get out the flour and sugar and start creating good old fashioned cakes.

One of the best cakes to make is a pound. It's the most versatile, going from bake sales to a finishing off a nice Sunday dinner.It's also good in the sense that it is a true scratch cake and doesn't come from a chemical laced mix.Pound cake is one of the earliest recipes having graced tables from Colonial times. You can stick with the basic recipe and make a simple vanilla one or vary it with spices or chocolate chips. Try baking one with a fall theme, by using apple cider. Glaze with caramel sauce to finish it. Sour cream pound cakes may be very dense and rich but they are tasty.

Coffee cakes are another fall treat that can be easily made. They too are wonderful for finishing a fall meal or perfect for a church gathering or bridal shower. Coffee cakes start with an almost yeasty bottom topped with luscious cinnamon laced crumbs. Aptly enough they're also called crumb cake too as well as streusel cakes.A crumb cake is one of the simplest cakes to make and always turns out right. You can also create different varieties as well , adding cocoa powder instead of cinnamon to the spice mix. Another idea is keeping the cinnamon but blending in cooked apples for a fruitier treat. Add sour cream too to the cake batter for again a rich and smoother cake .

It's the perfect time for baking now that the weather is cooler.Try a classic pound cake or delicious crumb to celebrate the season. Either one is perfect for an autumn get together or bake sale.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Times Food Issue

Attention all foodies!The Sunday magazine of the New York Times is completely dedicated to food! This is just a fun issue with all sorts of recipes and food related articles Spoiler alert! Some articles will be discussed.

I normally don''t write about any food issue the day before it hits the stands. However this was too good to keep to myself. The Sunday Times has some really good articles, especially the interview with America's Test Kitchen's Christopher Kimball. Alex Halberstadt goes beyond the Kimball's nerdy exterior and discovers a really interesting cook and writer with exciting recipes and ideas. There is also an article from Makr Bittman about California's Central Valley, the area where most of America's vegetables and fruits originate along with its' many problems.

There are also tons of really interesting recipes. Check out the twenty five ones just for bacon. There is even one for  bacon laced popcorn which would make an interesting appetizer. It's combined with everything from polenta to lentils and pasta. Christopher Kimball'contributed an  unusual vodka infuse pie crust while Bittman's article has some good fruit and vegetable based ones. Also check out the article with drink recipes from New York's lady bartenders.

Don't plan on going out tomorrow. Stay home and really savor the Sunday New York Times magazine. It's a chewy, yummy paean to food and drink.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Crepes

Fall's crisp weather demands warm tasty meals and snacks. What better than freshly made crepes filled with the harvests of the season? They're a nice surprise to come home to after a hard day of work or a great way to beginning a Sunday brunch.

The basic crepe recipe is easy. It's sort of like a pancake  with flour, water salt, oil and melted butter.Instead of pouring the batter thickly  as you would with a pancake, almost drizzle it onto a heated and oiled skillet(you can use a combo of oil and butter to cook the crepes). The batter must be ice cold, chilled in the fridge for a good hour or more before using. The fun part is filling them. Now you can use the last of the summer tomatoes , peppers and eggplants to make a yummy ratatouille . This makes for a tasty and healthy dinner. You can also make a savory potato, ham and cheese crepe using a sharp cheddar mixed with thinly sliced ham shreds and any kind of potato.

Since it's apple season, don't think twice about using apples for both a savory and sweet crepe. Try the cheese crepe with apples for a different kind of dinner.. Caramelized apple , made with maple syrup is a nice dessert , especially served with a side of vanilla ice cream,.You can also just apples and raisins sauteed with butter and brown sugar, and then filled a buckwheat crepe with it and serve with a cloud of whipped cream. You can saute pears too. These are cooked with butter, sugar and cinnamon and them spooned into a hot crepe. Instead of making pumpkin pie, try pumpkin crepes instead filled with  the cooked filling and topped with a sweet butter sauce.

Crepes in the fall - it;s not only a romantic idea but a tasty one. Try them savory or sweet. Either way they;re the perfect treat for a crisp autumn day.