Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bulgarian Cooking A Hybrid Cuisine

Bulgaria is one of those countries that's off the beaten path on European tours. However it's an interesting place with an even interesting cuisine. Mix Greek and Slavic tastes and flavors with a pinch of exotic and it comes out Bulgarian. From salads to sweets, it 's a interesting array of dishes.

Bulgaria lies between Greece ,Serbia, Romania and Turkey. These countries , surely have had a hand in creating the national cuisine. There were native people there from the very beginning as well ans their recips have been passed down in various meat dishes and cheese.It's famed for its' rich salads  which accompany every meal.They even have a special Easter salad for their Bulgarian Orthodox Easter which features sliced boiled eggs. There is even one whimsically named Snow White because most of the ingredients are white.They also eat a lot of yogurt,first enjoying it as far back as 3,000 years ago. Cheese also plays an important part in the Bulgarian lifestyle. There are many varieties

Thanks to a strong Turkish and Greek influence kabobs are a big part of Bulgarian cuisine. Lamb ones figure prominently in dinners and street fare.Meatballs also make up some dishes whether as a main dish or an addition to soup. The Bulgarians love cold cuts and their spicy salame,lukanka is one of the most popular.It is a blend of pork and beef with a good dose of black pepper, cumin and salt. There is also sujuk which is a milder version but has a slight kick thanks to red pepper. fish is also popular and it's either baked in flaky pastry or grilled.

Bulgarian cooking represents the hybrid dishes of its' more dominent neighbors. However it blends the tastes of its' own people to create a cuisine that is both interesting and bold.

Monday Buglarian breads and sweets

Friday, March 30, 2012

Healthier Holidays

The Spring holidays are almost here and with it comes a wealth of food.While the dishes are traditional ,they're not always healthy. A better alternative is keeping centuries old dishes but creating them with a more nutritious twist Passover and Easter both demand big meals. Passover is usually celebrated with a roasted brisket the first night and maybe chicken the next . Instead, try just chicken and then celebrate with vegetarian fare. take advantage of Spring vegetables by roasting a variety. There can still be the standard haroset and bitter herbs. Easter as well is celebrated with either a ham or a lamb.Think healthier with chicken or even turkey.Both go well with the veggie of the season asparagus.Also a side dish of roasted veggies is a nice alternative to stuffing or potato salad. sweets also play an important part ,especially in Easter. Cookies, cake and candy are great but they'll leave both kids and adults hyper.Instead get a token chocolate bunny for the kids and have fresh fruit bunnies and chicks. StSick eyes ,feet and beaks (which can be picked up at any craft store) and stick them on nectarines . Cut out little bunny ears and again put on plums or peaches. Fill Easter eggs with grapes , sunflower seeds or just fun stickers.Passover called for dense flour less cakes however think light with fruit trays or fruit kabobs.Even freshly made fruit sorbets can be a nice ending to any holiday meal. The holidays call for food.Instead of creating calorie rich dishes,think light and healthy.The meal can still reflect tradition but can also can reflect healthier fare.Eating light can be the start of a new tradition.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Revamping A Classic Restaurant

Can anyone improve on a classic restaurant? Can a classic be revamped to fit the current times? Those are the questions facing the famed Clinton years Maloney and Porcelli. With any luck it can and appeal to its' faithful and its' new clientele.

The restaurant's comeback was the main feature in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.Dining section regular Jeff Gordinier wrote about Maloney and Porcelli's return to the world of Manhattan eateries.Its' owners are creating a new persona for the restaurant, This includes everything from new lighting to music, It is keeping its' signature dishes  , fried herb versions of Tater Tots to a roaming martini cart.

The restaurant, famed during the last two decades is also famous for its' tableside cooking.The chef makes the fame Bronson Pinchot (yes, it's probably named for that actor who played Balki in the sitcom Perfect Strangers).It's a revved up steak au poivre dish .It's not only cooking but also entertainment for the diners. Of course Maloney and Porcelli will bring back its' classic dish of  crunchy pork shank. This was a dream to behold and taste. It is a crispy ,crackly  and gigantic enough to make it one of the restaurant's best loved dishes.

Maloeny and Porcelli  will probably delight its old customers and fans.Its' approach to cooking is novel enough and entertaining. Not only that- it is revamped.That alone will bring in the curious.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Spring Hit Onion Tart

Nothing heralds Spring like a good quiche or savory tart. One that fits the bill in an onion one, chock full of flavor.It's perfect for an Easter brunch and also perfect for a light dinner.It's also easy to make and great served as leftovers.

This treat was the subject of Dave Tanis' City Kitchen in today's New York Times Dining section. Mr/. Tanis gives the recipe for a Spring favorite that is rich with onions and also fromage blanche along with creme fraiche and bacon. It's sort of like an Alsatian pizza, made with scraps of dough left over from baking day., The Germans make something similar called zweibelkugen or onion cake, however theirs is more eggy and quiche like.

The tart is easy to make. Again it's based on the same premise as pizza . Mr. Tanis offers his variation with ricotta and picheline olives for a vegetarian version. He also adds a sprinkle of caraway seeds for a  nice aromatic touch. I would probably add more onion  and even some tomatoes for a little zing, Another variant could be ham or smoked French sausage. The crust would be the same,perhaps brushed with a little butter for color and flavor.

 A tasty and fresh from the oven onion tart is a nice way  to usher in Spring. It's the perfect to have at a holiday brunch or even for an evening meal

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Healthy Teen Treats

Nowadays teens have so many options food wise. However they will be what they are -teenagers who go for everything and anything unhealthy How do parents get them to eat the proper food? Make all those veggies and fruits fun. They can still have great flavor but this time it comes with a lot of hidden antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

All kids love crunch, They go made for anything that makes some kind of noise.Potato sticks and chips fit that description perfectly. The one problem - they're not good,thanks to all that salt, fat and starch.Think about making the healthier Brussels sprouts and/or kale chips. These are easy to make and they can be flavored with sea salt or fiery cayenne pepper for some jolt.Popcorn is another "safe" snack however researchers have found that  the air popped kind is the best because it doesn't have a coating of transfat laced product that most kernels have.Pretzels are good but instead of the regular kind think of serving whole wheat. The same for tortilla chips. Some brands offer whole wheat and with salsa, it makes the ideal snack.

What about meals? Teens have certain tastes as well, rooted in childhood favorites. Easy enough too. Think about changing over to whole wheat spaghetti and turkey meat balls instead of the regular " white "kind with beef meatballs.Pizza can be made as well with whole wheat flour. Sub in veggies as opposed to cheese for something different or even grilled chicken mixed with a rich tomato sauce. Mexican food is one of the healthiest cuisines and a teen favorite. Chicken or fish tacos are fun and easy to make.Just nix the sour cream and go easy on the guacamole.Add more of a choice of veggies like pepper strips or for something different asparagus spears. They get a fun meal but with more vitamins and antioxidants added.

Teens can eat fun and healthy at the same time.Introduce healthy foods in fun ways and they'll forget about the junk. Seriously. They will.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cutting Cold Cuts

We all love sandwiches - who doesn't? They're easy to  make,  easy to eat and easy to tote around with us.Yet how we make them and what we put in them may harm us. There's nothing like a sandwich - but make it not just tasty but nutritious.

The first thing  sandwich makers reach for are the cold cuts.Bologna and ham may be tasty but they're full of nitrates and calories.The same thing for any other meat from mortadella to chicken..The best bet is to grill the meat fresh such as with chicken or use what's left over from last night's roast. The healthiest filler iss either turkey or chicken.  Even fresh ham is a better alternative than what's in those packets. If the meat is too dry, moistne with a little mayo. You can flavor it if you want too with tarragon or celery seeds.

A lot of people don't realize that veggies and eggs make excellent sandwich fillers.Everyone loves a tomato sandwich and there is nothing like a few sliced ones on whole wheat bread. You can also make a bruschetta style tomato mix with olive oil and onions added and slather it on regular bread instread of Italian or French. Another treat is avocado slices .Since these are rich in calories think about having them between a toasted pita. If you don't have eggs for breakfast then it's OK to have  them occasionally in a sandwich. Think about mixing them with tomatoes or peppers for a healthy alternative to cold cuts. Tuna fish is also a good filler, Instead of the usual tuna salad, try it mixed with some onions or celery for more flavor

You can cut cold cuts out out of sandwich making. There are other choices that are better for you. They're just as tasty but don't all those scary additives. They're what makes a good and nutritious lunch.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Italian Soups

Italy is known for its' variety of pastas and wines. Yet one of its' most varied dishes is its' soups. There are all sorts from treasured family recipes to decadent rich ones, befitting a Roman banquet. Each province or area has its' own and each is equally as flavorful and good.

Most people know pasta e fagiole, .It's a flavorful bean and pasta soup that have been made by families and restaurants. The recipe changes from one to another but the initial flavor and creamy texture is still the same.The basic ingredients are olive oil, canneloni beans, garlic  onion and either fresh tomatoes or canned. Meat such as prosciutto can be added as well for more flavor. A similar and often popular soup is minestrone.Again this is a recipe that varies from family to family and from restaurant to restaurant,. Again it reflects the bounty of the land , Sardinia style has chickpeas which are abundant on the island. Veronese style has potatoes and lentils added for creaminess and taste.

Lesser known soups is Jota from the Northeastern corner of Trente Aldige.It is a Triestano soup made with sauerkraut and beans and reflects the province's Austrian influence. Another is an onion soup from Milan that's involves layering bread and sauteed onions.This , supa di Scigol is a great way of getting rid of leftover Taleggo or Brie cheese and old bread. More popular isstracciatella or rags  soup made with eggs and spinach. This is sort of similar to panne pesto or pompiest  from the Piedmonte region except that the shredded spinach leaves are used instead of breadcrumbs. Many restaurants serve it and the other spinach soup Italian wedding which also has tiny meatballs and chicken chunks in it.

Italy's soups are as different and as varied as their pastas. They reflect family traditions as well as the particular region's bounty. All are good. All are the components in good Italian cooking.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Snapping Up Red Snapper

If you're looking for a tasty fish dish either for Lent or just for a diet consider red snapper.This is a tasty and versatile fish that can be served a variety of ways. It's considered the premium of fish and after one taste you'll see why.

Red snapper is usually found in the Gulf of Mexico and figures in Caribbean cooking as well as Latin American where it;''s called parga.However they have also been found as north as the Massachusetts coastline.Red snapper gets its' name from its' color alight red however the fish's back is a darker shade than the body. Dieters love it because one grilled fillet is only 250 to 275 calories.It's one of the most flavorful fishes and is delicious prepared any way.It's also an easy fish for novices to make

Most people like to grill red snapper. It is just great with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or lime. However it is also good with tomato sauce  over pasta. Fillets can also be pan seared or roasted as well.Blackened red snapper is an alternative where the fish is coated with herbs and black pepper and flavored with thyme, along with onion and garlic powder. This is the perfect dinner with dirty rice  and home made cheddar biscuits. The fish can also be made into a tasty stew with onions,okra and fresh tomatoes

Red snapper is a wonderful fish for a meal. Choose to have it either grilled with a squeeze of lemon or over pasta. Its a versatile meat that  can be easily made. It's also one of the tastiest too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jeweled Treat For The New Year

The Persian New Year is a start to the colorful world of Spring. The Iranians celebrate with bright decorations,fabrics and even food. Their dishes reflect the country's exotic past full of jewels and spices. It also refects a season full of different hues and aromas.

One dish, Persian Jeweled rice was the  subject of David Tanis' City Kitchen yesterday. It's Persian name javaher polow , literally translated to jeweled rice is a rainbow of tastes and colors. Fruit and nuts blend with basmati rice  to create a party dish that's perfect for any celebration.It would even go well even at Thanksgiving or Easter  - or even perfect at a shower or an engagement party.It's easy to make and is the perfect side dish

Jeweled rice consists of the traditional Middle Eastern staple Basmati rice.It.s first par boiled and then put into a liberally buttered pot to create a crispy, buttery bottom,.On top of it is them layered chopped dried fruits such as apricots and cherries along with raisins and barberries or goji berries (cranberries will do if you don;t have any of the last). A variety of spices is also added , giving it a fully Middle Eastern flair. Nuts such as pistachios and almonds are  then scattered to form a crunchy top. The entire dish is baked over a low heat for thirty minutes. Add the toasted nuts and serve upside down.Mr Tanis usually also has a free range baked chicken accompanying his jeweled rice.

Jeweled rice is a lovely way of welcoming in the Spring season. Have it to celebrate the New Year or even  to celebrate Easter. It's colorful and fragrant. . It's much like the time of year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gadget Crazy

All foodies , chefs and home cooks love anything that makes cooking prep fun, It creates a fun atmosphere and makes the time go by quickly. It also brings about a deeper love of cooking - no matter what's involved. From the egg timer to the food processor gadgets have captured our hearts and kitchens.

That was the subject of William Grimes' article in the Dining section of The New York Times. He interviews famous chefs along with those in the culinary arts. Some like the famed chef Sarah Moulton have bought gadgets that seem almost too dangerous as her pressure cooker. Afraid to use it Ms.Moulton has relegated it to her  closet.Sometimes the gadget is too complicated to use as was the case with Julia Collin Davison, the executive food editor of America;s test Kitchen book section, Ms Davison bought a salmon poacher that's just too hard to employ.

Sometimes  the gadget is too exotic as was the polenta maker that Christopher Koetke , the vice president of Chicago's Kendall College culinary arts department. It looked too intriguing, had to be bought and now is collecting dust. The same can be said for for handmade knives that Mr Koetke bought on his trips to Japan. Jack Bishop, an editorial director , also of America's Test Kitchen also knows the feeling of buyer's regret.He bought authentic Mexican molcajetes and French escargot tongs without ever trying them.

Gadgets seduce us , especially the kitchen ones.Some we'll use. Some we won't. For the ones we never use, at least they're on hand.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crossing Cruciferous Veggies

By now everyone should know what cruciferous vegetables are.Well , hopefully, because they are crucial to good health and a good diet. Not only that they're the most common and delicious. Best of all cruciferous veggies are also versatile too.

Cruciferous veggies include cabbage,cauliflower, cress, bok choi and broccoli. The name Cruciferous comes from the New Latin meaning cross. All cruciferous vegetables get the name from the shape of their flowers which are cross shaped.The veggies  are high in vitamin C and soluble fibers along with containing phytochemicals that reduce the risk of cancer. These types of greens can have a variety of tastes from the mild sweetness of cabbage to the sharp eye watering bite of wasabi and radishes. Another good aspect of them is that there are twenty five types which can be made a variety of ways.

What to do with cruciferous vegetables? A cook or chef can literally make anything with them. Watercress is part of this family  and it can be made into delicate tea sandwiches using whole wheat bread and homemade mayo. Cabbage is good stuffed or in soups as well as shredded in a tangy salad. Cauliflower is great as a dipper for healthy dips or in a turmeric laced soup. Use bok choi for stir fries or for chow meins. Put a few radishes in a salad for color and use wasabi as an eye opening jolt to sushi.Even mustard seeds , another cruciferous veggie can be used in flavoring  for any dish.

Incorporate more of these healthy veggies into your diet. They'll not only make life better but varied. Try all the different types in a slew of recipes. They're tasty and good!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Junking Junk Food

Are those  chips and Cheez Doodles the same as cigarettes? Is cola like crack? Most definitely.Food can be an addiction , as bad as any serious one. The worst addictions are the junk foods.They're made so tasty  any cupcake or corn chip is hard to resist.Yet they can be as deadly as any other bad habit.

The first step in breaking the addicting is knowledge. Start reading every package and bottles calorie breakdown and ingredients. Become familiar with additives and the individual components of a snack or take out dish. If it's too "plastic" or questionable, then stop eating it. Also slowly switch over to better snacks.After chips it could be whole grain pretzels and then eventually kale or Brussels sprout chips. These last two are easy to make and fun to eat.As far as foods, don't think burgers and fries, wean into a grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat with a side of salad. Replace soda with unsweetened ice tea or flavored seltzer.

Desserts and sweets are the hardest to give up. Let's face it  - who can not resist a chocolate chip cookie or red velvet cupcake? The problem is that these are too irresistible and bad for you. Sub in fruit chunks like melon for a sweet snack or dessert or try a tasty handful of hulled organic strawberries or blueberries.For the last two you can top them with a small squirt of whipped cream for a festive effect. As for carry along snacks , nothing beats a pear ,apple or banana, They're not messy to eat while the cores and peels are environmentally good unlike all those plastic and paper wrappings.. They're also good to carry around too as a mid morning , or even mid afternoon snack.

Junking junk food is  an easy and good thing to do. It's slowly getting rid of th e bad and replacing it with food that is not only beneficial but also tasty. The transition may be a bit hard but definitely worth the effort.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Treat From Soda Bread To Trifle

It;s the perfect day to write about Irish treats, There are so many from traditional soda bread to Guinness cakes with all sorts of good stuff in between, They're the perfect end to any St Paddy's  Day festivities and even better with a tall cup of Irish s coffee.The Irish have a variety of different enders , all incorporating the local produce.

Irish soda bread is by far the most famous and enjoyed.It's was an 19th Century creation that's chock full of raisins and dusted with granulated sugar.It can be sliced and toasted , slathered with sweet Irish butter for a quick supper or as a simple meal ender. Trifle is another tasty treat. This is home made or store bought cake layered with fruit,sherry or Madeira.It's sweetness is a nice contrast of a typical meal of lamb and new potatoes. Apples play an important part in the country's dessert menus. There are many recipes for simple apple cakes that probably are also seen at many a country tea as well.A truly decadent treat is the Guiness cake , made with the dark stout and usually chocolate. This is an uber rich end ,perfect with a cup of  strong and creamy Irish coffee.

Whiskey factors in heavily in the Irish diet and it's not a surprise when there are cakes that feature it as a main ingredient. A simple whiskey cake is sort of like a yellow cake but with more punchnamelt.There is usually half a cup of whiskey thrown in along with brown sugar along with cloves. The finished product has a kind of  slight butterscotch taste There are also ones with with coffee added as well as bitter chocolate. Also whiskey cakes as with any cake recipe vary from family from family. One might add Jamison's while another uses a stronger version. Currents can be subbed in for raisins  and the ratios can vary too/

If you can , treat yourself to something more than corned beef and cabbage today. Have an Irish dessert whether that be soda bread or apple cake or better yet a large slice of whiskey laced cake! Slainte!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Healthy Yummy Snacks

It's hard to get kids to snack healthy. It's even hard to get adults to do the same, especially with the snacks aisles bulging with all sorts of "goodies". What to do? Make your own yummy, healthy snacks. Surprisingly it's easy to do  - and fun. It also introduces anyone of any age to healthy eating.

Everyone love crunch and   flavor . That's probably why pretzels and potato chips have always been so popular. With healthy eating there  still can be crunch along with flavor. Kale chips are a good example of this. There is a delicate crunch  to baked leaves as well as delicious flavor that is addictive. This staple is easy to make . Wash kale leaves  and separate them from the main vein . Lightly grease a cookie sheet and place  leaves on it. Sprinkle or mist   leaves with more olive oil and sea salt and bake for 10 minutes in a 420 degree oven.  You can also do the same with Brussels sprouts as well, baking the leaves  but bake them at 320 degrees instead of the 420. For variation add some cayenne pepper, or turmeric for heat or just freshly ground pepper.Another fun idea is taking  cooked lentils or any legume and mashing them into healthy dips.Serve with whole wheat crackers or fresh veggies.
What about sweets? Yes there is fruit,preferably organic to feed kids and adults.Try out   fruit kabobs.Take a skewer and put different bits on it. Try a grape pineapple melon combo or a cut plum, apple slice and strawberry. Intersperse blueberries amongthe skewers for some color and a jolt of antioxidants. Another idea is making all natural fruit Popsicles. Take the mash from your juicer and pour into individual Popsicle molds. You can also puree berries and other fruit such as pineapple and melon too and do the same thing.

There's nothing like good healthy snacking - and that starts in your kitchen.Make these all natural good for you treats for family and friends. They'll quickly forget that processed stuff and love  veggie and fruit nibbles.

My thanks to Joanne Drum for the kale  chip recipe.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who's Writing Your Cookbook?

Who writes cookbooks?  Chefs ? Celebrities? Well yes, if you believe the cover however you can't judge a book even one about cooking by its' cover. There's a lucrative little business out there, all you freelance writers and foodies.It';s called ghostwriting  recipe books,

This was the subject of Julia Moskin's article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. it seems all those celebrity and chef books were not really written by Gwyneth and Bobby.  They might have given the researcher the recipes but the rest of the book, including the research was done by a nondescript hack looking to make a few bucks.Most of the kitchen stars do give their "helpers" credit as did Daniel Bouulud , the great baker who credited his collaborator. Ms Moskin herself was a former ghost writer on many cookbooks. To be honest it is hard compiling a slew of recipes that include everything from appetizers to desserts. It also has to have anecdotes as well to make it salable.

Is cookbook ghostwriting for everyone?Like any ghostwriting it can be frustrating and demanding. Some chefs can be divas as the author will attest to, as in the case of the Mexican chef. he had wanted Ms. Moskin to write about poultry  - with out any details. Then there was the barbecue maven who just sent the Wikipedia link for chicken no other details either,Sadly enough ghostwriting pay is low for recipe books with most writers receiving a flat fee and no residuals. However if a writer is a foodie and vice versa it is a good entryway into the publishing world.

Everyone thinks that celebrities and chefs are homey by penning their own cookbooks. Think again. There's probably a ghost writer behind them , tweaking their recipes and making their forays into the publishing world palatable

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Good Irish Coffee

Saint Paddy''s Day is just around the corner and luckily for all the drinkers out there it falls on a Saturday this year. It's not just corned beef and cabbage but plenty of booze. There will be whiskey and beer flowing throughout the larger cities and smaller towns of both Ireland and America.However there is one classy and classic drink - Irish coffee that will be ending a few meals that night.

Patrick Farrell wrote about this treat in today's New York Times Dining section. Irish coffee itself is somehing of a throw back to the Madmen era where creamy after dinner drinks were all the rage. It's also not an Irish import but an Irish American creation that first started in San Francisco although there are tales of it being first made Limerick Ireland, Basically it's just Irish whiskey (any brand will do ) along with sugar , a dash of vanilla extract  and heavy cream. The first ingredients are all mixed the second is added as a finishing touch. The coffee is then sipped through the cream so it;s an interesting blend of flavors.

What makes a good Irish coffee? That's what Mr.Farrell, a fourth generation Irishman  himself, tries to find out. After listening to his dad's stories about being served all sorts of variations(including one that was more of a sundae with Reddi Whip ,a cherry  and sprinkles and another that had any other liquor added.) he creates the best version. His choice of whiskey comes from his father, - Jamisons, although he prefers Bushmills Powers which lends more oomph. As for coffee a full bodied bean works the best to compete with the alcohol.Cream has to be a whipped heavy cream - none of this aerosol stuff. The coffee should also be served in a tall narrow ceramic cup - not glass where fingers could get burned.Leave any decorations such as green sprinkles or sugar off it. Slowly sip the coffee through the cream and enjoy the heady combo of flavors

Nothing beats a good hot Irish coffee after some corned beef and cabbage. It's a nice civilized way of honoring the day, Make a few cups and enjoy this treat to end the festivities.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Treat Yourself To Whole Wheat

Whole wheat has always had a "crunchy granola" reputation. People usually associate it with aging hippies or health nuts. However its; one of the best tasting and best for you kinds of breads out there. Nowadays whole wheat has also expanded into crackers and even bagels. It's easy to forego anything white when you have nutritionally better brown and wholesome.

Two hundred years ago whole wheat was the only bread around. For centuries bakers baked bread with flour that the bran, endosperm and germ before milling came about . The bran is the hard outer coating or husk, it contains vital nutrients such as dietary fibers and essential fatty oils.  The endosperm part of the plant is reproductive part that is ground into white flour( barley endosperm is responsible for beer production). Germ is the embryo part of the wheat plant and it's often used in making cereals. All three are high in calcium , iron and fiber and the mineral selenium known for its' different properties. Whole wheat does have a drawback - a short shelf life. It doesn't last as long as white bread and can get moldier and staler quicker than the other.

Whole wheat is not just relegated to bread. There are all sorts of yummy treats to try . It's  also a good idea to get off white floured products from an early age. Whole wheat bagels are popular and are a healthier alternative to regular ones. Pastas as well as "going brown." Many companies including stores are offering whole wheat spaghetti and vermacelli along with a variety of other kinds. Are there whole wheat cookies?Surprisingly yes! There is even a Nestle's Tollhouse recipe for crunchy  chocolate chip cookies. There are also variations involving different kinds of nuts and dried cranberries. However whole wheat cookies do have sugar(albeit brown or molasses)  can be fattening so be careful. Unfortunately there are no  national brands. Most whole wheat cookies come form individual bakeries and bakers at farmer's market.

Whole wheat is a treat. It's also better for you than processed white;s also tasty no matter what way you have it. Try if for your morning toast or evening pasta.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eat Healthy It's Easy

Is it hard to give up the all that bad food? Yes!!! Who doesn't loved fried chicken wings, washed down with fries and a big Pepsi?Or a bacon cheeseburger? Or home made  chocolate chip cookies and shortbread? After all they''re tastier than all that healthy stuff, right? Maybe not. Fruits and veggies can be just as tantalizing and as yummy.

I recently had to change my own eating habits. I am a foodie, loving every aspect of food from crunchy fried snacks to icing drenched cupcakes. However I had to give up all that white flour, dairy,processed meats for healthier and just picked fare. I thought for sure I am going to hate this. My second thought how can I create healthy meals? Surprisingly both are easy. I have always loved fruit and veggies and sadly got away from them. I love the fresh field taste of kale and spinach. I'm now in love with lentils sprinkled with a good dose of tumeric. Even water - something I've just avoided is now my drink of choice along with freshly made juice. I still drink tea but eschew hot cocoa and coffee. Do I miss all that junk? Not really. I consider it poison to my system and I wish others would too.

What about cooking? Again there are some great all natural recipes that are tasty. Those lentils, that I previously hated are good cooked with brown rice. I also enjoy them reheated in the microwave with olive oil and again tumeric. Salads are easy to make and also fun. This is one dish where there is so many varieties  that the dish never grows old or stale. I can add grilled chicken or fish, create a tasty vinaigrette with the addition of crushed blueberries or blackberries, mix in different veggies every night. As far as with cooked dishes. there is turkey meat loaf, or turkey meat balls with whole wheat pasta. As for something to drink with it, I have my new Juiceman juicer.I can create more flavor combos than there are bottled drinks out there. Dessert is fruit. There's nothing like pineapple, blackberries or blueberries as a nice ender. Snacks are whole wheat Triscuits or even a scoop or Peanut butter (anjd sometimes cheating with Cheerios)

Eating healthy is not as scary or as boring as people think. Fruits and veggies are better tasting than than all those cupcakes and chips. Water is just as refreshing as any soda or sweetened tea. It's easy to change habits when there's a whole cornucopia of good things out there.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Amazing Lentil Bean

Lentils have always gotten a bad rap. They're not as cool as garbanzo or mainstream as kidney and pinto.Yet they're one of the healthiest and surprisingly tastiest beans out there. They're also as versatile as their bean cousins and can be made into several different dishes. Try them anyway and be hooked.

Lentils have been around for millenia , feeding only the poor in times when they couldn't afford meat. In fact for most of history , the rich have scoffed at these nutritional wonders.Its' name come from the Latin word lens culinaris esculenta and our modern word lens comes from it because of the lentil''s convex shape. The bean was found both in archaeological sites dating back 8000 years and pharaohs tombs from 6000BCE. Lentils also figured  in Bible stories as well.\, especially the one where Jacob feeds Esau a a meal of bread and lentils. Lentils are from the pulse family and originated mostly like in India and Pakistan where it's still referred to as daal or dal (which is also the name for a spicy lentil soup).It comes in in red, green and yellow and there are two lentil peas to every pod.Lentils are high in proteins, folic acid and Vitamin B along with fiber and two essential amino acids,methionine and cysteine.

There are many recipes for lentils, the most common being lentil soup. This is a an easy to make bean soup that's chock full of good veggies and herbs. It's a good homey dish for a Saturday night supper.If you want to make something more exotic, then try South Indian sambar which is a tasty and spicy curry.It not only has lentils but also pumpkin and chicken for added flavor along with curries and dried chilis. Another lentil dish from the Subcontinent is Indian spiced rice that incorporates basmati rice, the legumes and a dash of cinnamon.Lentils can also be made into a hummus too.If your family has qualms there are some good lentil meat loaf recipes out there that can be subbed in for the more exotic fare.

Lentils are a great legume .Not only do they taste yummy but they have a lot of good stuff going for them. Have them in a spicy traditional dish or create your own to enjoy their rich nutty flavor.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Juiced Up

Nothing beats a glass of freshly made juice. It's not only delicious but good for you.It's full of vitamins and antioxidants and devoid of preservatives. Best of all you can get your daily requirement of both fruits and veggies in just one serving.

I just came into juicing thanks to buying the Juiceman juicer yesterday. Excitedly, after I purchased it I went into my local grocery store and went wild in the produce section. I bought kale, carrots and a  a ton of strawberries and blueberries.Assembling the machine took some doing and time but once I had all the parts in place there was no stopping me. I made a strawberry blueberry combo with a touch of kale and carrot.It was really delicious and fresh tasting. Even better was freezing the leftover mash to make an all natural Italian ice.Some of the nutritional value does go a day later however this is the healthiest and best dessert I've ever had.I plan on filling up my Popsicle molds with future fruit mashes  for a better tasting, less sugar riddled frozen fruit bar.

There was an accompanying recipe book that is amazing too. There are so many recipes to try from berry and apple blends  to fresh  citrus squeezes. Juiceman comes with a special citrus squeezer and pit displacer , I would love to make my own limeade and lemonade as well as trying the different  fruit and veggie combos the book suggested. Juiceman 's website also has recipes too and again there are a few that look tasty enough to try. They also suggest using the leftover veggie mash for sauces and the leftover fruit pulp for puddings and cakes along with different desserts.(although I think turning it into a healthy ice is a juicer's best bet)!

For all those health conscious foodies out there, get a juicer.It will be the best thing that happened to your health and your body! Your diet will be much improved by adding all natural juice combos to it. Better yet, you'll just love creating your own blends and mixes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Odd Bedfellows

Mushroom and barley? OK, Prunes and pork - maybe not so usual. These combos made yesterday's new York Times Dining section's columns A Good Appetite and City Kitchen respectively. To some they're not unusual , to rather staid foodies, they're worth trying.

Melissa Clark did not put her mushroom and barley into the usual. soup. Instead she skewed them into a salad, adding celery and celery root too. The mushrooms were not the typical soup kind but a mix of cremini , oyster and hedgehog  cut into bite sized pieces.They were also browned and crispy adding crunch  to the mix. Ms,Clark cooked the barley as she would have pasta so that it wouldn't clump and ruin the salad. A homemade scallion vinaigrette that had celery leaves added was poured over it for a light refreshing onion-y taste.

The second pairing that Dave Tanis of City Kitchen created, prunes and pork may seem odd however it's part of some French and German provincial dishes. In fact the dish featured was French , porc aux pruneaux .It's just simply  a pork roast with red wine doused prunes. This is a cozy kind of bistro dish that also has berries and peppercorns that Mr. Tanis  added for spice and sweet. While the meat is roasting the prunes are simmering with port or even Madeira along with butter and shallots.It's a simple enough  dish yet perfect for a Saturday night dinner party.

Mushroom and barley salad? A bistro like creation featuring pork and prunes?.At first glance they may not go, however they are perfect complements to each other's tastes and textures.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Homemade Hostess Treats

Now with the Hostess company bankrupt  there's going to be a gap in where to get these treats. Fans could swiitchc over to other brands - but they lose the taste. Another idea is to make them yourself. They, along with some other snacks, are pretty easy to recreate.In fact the taste could even be better.Another plus is that there are no preservatives.

This was the topic of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. The nostalgic piece , written by Jennifer Steinhauer, tells about how anyone can create the classic squiggle cupcake or  Twinkie. She also throws in Oreos and Fritos(don't worry, they 're not going anywhere) All the treats are relatively easy to make, maybe just the stuffing of both the Twinkies and  cupcakes could be a bit troublesome for the novice baker.People may be surprised at what the sweets actually are. Twinkies is nothing more than a  sponge cake with a marshmallow fluff  filling and the cupcakes are just regular chocolate piped with the same fluff.The tastes are more or less similar however the textures aren't quite as springy as the original.bakers have to watch how they copy  the treats.  Give Hostess credit for this,

Ms. Steinhauer also recreates the classic Oreo and Frito corn chips. Recreating the Oreos  was a bit hard to make and they had to be redone a few times. She had trouble with both the  rich brown coloring as well as the taste. Roll the dough in cocoa powder for extra color and add some coffee to it for the slightly bitter taste. For the Fritos corn chips., she just fried squares of cornmeal in veggie oil. Her Super Bowl guests liked them but preferred the original. She did get some advice from the companies kitchens on how to create all the treats. However people will always prefer the real deal.

Give Hostess, along with Nabisco and Frito Lay credit. They took easy and simple recipes and turned them into billion dollar treats. Fans,m however can recreate these fun treats on their own.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All Natural Drinks

The US is a country dependant on soda.Since Coke was invented 125 years ago people have been guzzling any sweet drink with their lunch and dinners, along with snacks and even breakfasts!Even two year olds crave any sweet liquid, from apple juice to malteds.This results in all sorts of horrors from tooth decay to diabetes . What to do ? Make your own.

The first step is to get a good juicer , or blender. The first can be used to create all sorts of fresh juice and mixed all natural drinks. I have one student who makes his own all natural, healthy drinks using all organic fruits and veggies. It pays off .he seems healthier and automatically turns to his own creations as opposed to anything factory made. Blenders also help in creating homemade juices as well as smoothies. The second step is catering to yourself or your family. Yes they love sweet sugary drinks however don'tgive in by adding white sugar! Add in all natural sweeteners like cinnamon and ginger.

Another drink idea to consider is a home carbonation system, This is not only healthier than buying those weekly bottles and six packs of soda,it's also cheaper. You can buy chargers that allow you to turn ordinary tap water into sparkling drinks.Add homemade orange juice and it's an all natural Orangina. Put in plums and  it's kind of like Dr.Pepper. It can also be served with just a slice of lime or lemon.Homemade natural teas (which can be bought even at the grocery store) are also a good sub in for sugary drinks. try as lemon or a refreshing mint or something exotic with different spices.

A sweet drink is always tasty. However  an all natural one is not only delicious, it ;s also good for you. The best bet is making your own, whether it's juice, tea or even a kitchen made soda.! Even just one  glass is not only yummy but healthy too.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Start "THem Off Right Healthy & Easy Eating

Any parent knows how to feed their kids. Theytry to give them the best available for the first few years.They want to get th e best baby foods and toddler grub and then follow that intot heir school years.Yet something happens, Those happy ,healthy little ones are growing into morbidly obese kids with all sort of adult health problems. WHy is this happening? Maybe it's not enough really good food.

No matter what we give kids , they still want the fun stuff. Luckily fast food places such as Wendy's and Mc Donalds are offering healthy and even fun choices with thier kiddie meals. They are giving kids the choice between fries and apple slices along milk or soda. Unfortunately most kids usually reach for the fries and soda .Mc Donald's also offers a similar menu with fat free chocolate milk. Still both introduce kids to grilled meats and fried foods  which are not a good. What's your best bet? Limit the fast food places to when they get good grades (It worked for our First Lady and her brother) .Make at home dinners fun too whether with a toy on their plate or a free pass to whatever.

Getting kids to eat healthy at home  is easy.Introduce them to flax seeds that super food that will reduce all sorts fo health risks. They may like the slightly nutty taste because it'll remind. them of peanut butter. Sprinkle the ground flax seed on veggies and even pasta. Use it as a topping for ice cream or mixed with syrup for a kind of nocciola (or Nutella)  taste. Another introduction is the juicer. Let them create their own homemade smoothies and juices for better immunity. Have them go with you when you buy it so they have a say.Once you buy the juicer everyone agrees upon then let them pick out  the orgnaic fruits and veggies that they want. As with treats, keep kids away from candy with fresh fruits and homemade whole wheat treats. Tell them that anything made with white isn't right and that brown is better.

Trying to get kids  to eat can be a chore. Trying to get them eat better is even worse.Yet if you're show them good foods from the very start, they'll be more apt to pick what's right over what's wrong. .It'll make for a better lifestyle later on. They may not thank you for it now but they will when they're grown up and healthy.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Organic Gardening - Your Own Organic Stash

Now that it's March it's time to start thinking of gardening for your future spring summer and even fall dishes. By planting  foodies have free access to any kind of fruit or vegetable. Even better if they plant organically, they have all natural ingredients ready to pick. These are highly beneficial to one's diet and well being.  Plant organic. It's surprisingly easy.

First of all, decide what you're going to plant. Most veggies and fruits such as peas, turnips and onions need to planted within the next few weeks. If you're planting mid spring veggies such as cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce along with peppers and eggplants then you have time to map out plots that take advantage of sun and shade. w,  Another good idea for future organic farmers is prepping the soil. Since there still can be snow and torrential rains, it's best to feel and test the soil's texture.If the earth is wet and gooey, don't plant.If the ball of dirt is crumbly and falls apart when rubbed then do so .Again it depends on where you live. Southerners and Southern Californians are probably chomping at the bit to start gardens while Northerners still have to deal with frozen or drenched soil.

Another important aspect of organic gardening is what you put into the garden to get organic produce. Compost is a big help. Anything is good from  pet hair to grass cuttings. Of course even veggies and fruit are also excellent add ins.The biggest mistake gardeners make is not following through and using organic pesticides.  They wind up spraying deadly and toxic mixes instead of making their own. Plants in the deadly nightshade family make the best repellents. Try cutting up tomato leaves or potato skins combined with water make excellent sprays. Another is hot pepper and water or even just plain catnip (which also works as an ant repellent indoors too.). That kitchen staple garlic is another repellent Plant it and anise between rows of veggies to repel aphids and slugs.

 Organic foods start with organic gardens. Start an all natural one this spring for a season of good healthy produce.Eating healthier and eating better is worth all the work.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Flax Seed Wonder Food?

Everyone is always looking for the next wonder food. Is it a hybrid or enhanced fruit or veggie?Is it a new grain from a Third World nation? Surprisingly it's not any of these.It's flaxseed - ,a food or supplement that's been around for a few millennium.It's not only good but good tasting too.

Flaxseed was first grown in Mesopotamia and used widely in ancient cuisine.  Romans and Greeks added it into their foods and even back then had enriched diets. The French emperor, Charlemagne , passed laws for the every day  consumption of it. Flax was also used in the making of linen so it was doubly important  in  life.It was brought to this country and Canada in the 1700's. The latter is the top flax seed producer in the world  right now. Flax seeds' health benefits are still awesome.It is known to reduce the risk of certain cancers from colon to breast to prostrate.It also helps in reducing heart disease and diabetes along easing menopause symptoms.

Flax seed can be bought at any health food store, such as the GNC chain here in the States.It c is usually  bought already ground or in seed form. The ground form looks like saffron and has a slightly nutty taste.The seeds can be ground in any coffee grinder and stored in a dark cool place such as a pantry or even a fridge. This powdered form  can be baked into muffins and breads or blended into smoothies. Sprinkle some onto veggies for a lightly nutty flavor or mix a tablespoon of it  into chocolate syrup for a kind of hazelnut or nocciola taste. Try the seeds too in either as toppings or in salads

Flax seeds are the closest thing to a super food. Start using them in cooking and baking for healthier fare. They'll nt only improve the quality of life but also the quality of food.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Knives Are Out

Finding the right utensils can be a headache for anyone who cooks.  Home chefs and pros can agonize about getting the right knife or cutting board at a good price. There is the choice of a regular store or a specialty shop. However there is another choice - the restaurant supplier. This can be a blessing because everything is there and it's usually the best kind.

This was the subject of an article in yesterday's  New York Times Dining section. Contributor Jane Lear  wrote about the famed J.B. Prince Company a Manhattan based purveyor of all things culinary.This is great place (and website) for anyone wishing to stock up on items or starting either a kitchen or a restaurant. it has both old fashioned gear such as mandolines to new fangled microplanes.. The company was started in the mid 1970's by the Prince family. Judith Prince ,a German immigrant and her husband Lawrence, wanted to bring European quality cooking items from France, Germany and Switzerland. They turned their top floor into a warehouse and started a catalog business. They now have a store in the Park Slope section of New York City which attracts everyone from seasoned restaurant owners to culinary school grads..

J.B. Prince has everything from simple cookbooks to even ice carving tools. For those who like to collect recipes there are moleskin journals in which to write down family favorites. There are also a variety of molds for bakers and candy makers as well as the more unusual terrine molds used for making vegetable and meat terrines. The online cutlery section is also amazing , with a dizzying array of knives and turning forks JB Prince also carries poultry scissors and shears in all sizes  , perfect for cutting up various birds. The store also has a neat array of cool machines from the ordinary food processors to sprayers used for spraying chocolate,

JB Prince has a wide collection of all sorts of cooking items. They are a great destination place for any foodie, home cook or chef visiting New York City. If not check them out on line, It's not as great as visiting the store yet they still have everything and anything a cook could want.