Thursday, May 31, 2012

From Fan To Chef

How many times has any foodie gone to a restaurant and fallen madly in love with a certain dish. Then the dish is recreated at home, to be enjoyed at many a meal or party. Sometimes an extraordinary dish inspires a foodie so much th at he or she then becomes a chef.

This was the topic of yesterday’s article by Francis Lam in yesterday’s New York Times Dining section. Many foodies are so entranced by a certain dish that it fuels the desire not only to be a professional cook but also to open a restaurant. Most of these newly christened chefs are world travelers and have been inspired by the exotic cuisines of Thailand and Mexico. They have the money and the means to open up an eatery that reflects their culinary journeys. It’s also a great way of opening up American palates these foreign dishes.

Do these traditional dishes work in the hands of novice cooks Yes. Most ethnic dishes are better made by those who have no ties to the culture. They’re not influenced or shadowed by family recipes. There’s no “This is how we’ve made it for centuries”. Chefs cook straight from the source which is usually a native cook ironically using his or her own family recipe. When it’s passed to a stranger , the recipe is tweaked and made better by little improvements. These newly minted chefs know what their fellow countrymen like to eat and these recipes are reworked to appeal to American tastes.

A good dish always creates a million fans, It’s rare that it creates a chef. Yet this is what’s happening . Foodie fans don’t become groupies - they become cooks .


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Perfect Summer Meal

The summer calls for good food , perfect for indoor or al fresco dining. Today's New York Dining section  celebrates that in both its' City Kitchen and A Good Appetite sections. The result is a sunny paella followed by the unusual yet refreshing rhubarb and caramel ice cream. These are the perfect dishes for a simple Sunday night meal or a cozy Saturday get together.

David Tanis, author of the weekly column  City Kitchen, give readers the chance to make a yummy shrimp paella.It's actually considered a picnic food in Spain where it's made over an open fire.It is meant to be unstirred and uncovered, basically the perfect no fuss no muss summer dish. The most important and perhaps the most labor intensive step is the first, making the sofrito. This is a mix of chopped pepper and chorizo, Spanish sausage sauteed in olive oil. Then the rice and other ingredients are added. Mr. Tanis explains it's a  simple 10 10 10 cooking process. 10 minutes over a high flame, then 10 minutes over a medium then 10 minutes resting covered with a clean towel.  His paella is a briny mix of shrimp and fava mixed in with garlic saffron and a spicy version of paprika known as pimenton.

To counter balance this is Melissa Clark's rhubarb caramel ice cream .This sweet concoction would be the perfect end to the paella dinner. Her recipe appears in A Good Appetite and it is a rich frozen custard made with whole milk and four egg yolks. She adds rhubarb , stewing it to a melting softness in sugar. By doing this Ms. Clark renders the fruit to a chewiness that won't freeze into tooth breaking chunks later on. A rich home made caramel is also added made only with sugar. If the entire ice cream sounds way too sweet, sour cream is added to give it the right amount of tartness to set off the sweet. It is made in a regular ice cream maker with the rhubarb and caramel being added lastly.

A perfect summer meal includes a tasty out door dish followed by  something cool and exotic. These two dishes , the paella and rhubarb caramel ice cream fit the bill nicely. They are what a warm weather party or dinner need.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Floating Into Summer

This is the time of year when both thirsts and temps run high. What can satisfy someone on a hot summer's evening? What's the perfect mix of cool and flavor? An ice cream soda, that's what.

An ice cream soda is just a fun treat - and it's wonderful escape during a hot day or night. It's been around since the 1890's when Dr Robert green made the first one in Philadelphia PA.It was originally made with cream until he ran out and then ice cream was subbed in. The classic float involves one or two scoops of vanilla or chocolate , seltzer and some chocolate syrup. Most old fashioned ice cream parlors then gild the lily with a spritz of whipped cream and a cherry on top (or sprinkles) . You can make this or add a twist with flavored seltzer such as black cherry or wild berry. Ice cream can be any kind , from the traditional three of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry or  the newer flavors such as cookies and cream or Rocky Road.Soda can be the usual seltzer or any cola. Root beer is the best choice  , especially with vanilla ice cream.

Of course there are some that will moan about the calories and the sugar. Any ice cream soda should have some fizz . Keep the seltzer but sub in either slow churned ice cream (such as Edy's or Turkey Hill). You'll still have the creaminess that's associated with the treatbut not as much sugar or fat than if you made it with Coke or Pepsi and regular ice cream,.Another idea is try a sorbet or sherbet. This makes for a low calories , fizzy cool drink. It's also a refreshing way to enjoy sorbet, especially the fruit flavored kinds. You can also add some sliced fruit to these such as peaches or strawberries or toss in a few blueberries blackberries.

An ice cream soda is a great way to beat the heat. It's sweet and fun along with being cool. Make one today to get a blast of something cold and refreshing!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Tributes

Today is Memorial Day  - remember our troops and soldiers from wars past. They sacrificed their lives so that all of us can have this beautiful Spring day to lounge by the pool or beach, enjoy our barbecues and picnics.

Rememeber them when they come home. Celebrate them with healthy homecomings, full of the good foods America is known for. Offer to buy them a beer at your local bar. Buy their kids ice cream or ices. They are the ones that make this country safe  - and great.

Most of all  - honor them as they have honored the USA with their time and service!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Healthy Picnics Fun Picnics

A picnic is a time of just having fun and relaxing on the beach or in the park. Its a time when people usually indulge in healthy outdoor activites like volleyball,baseball or even Frisbee chasing. However most people usually don't think healthy when they have a picnic.They bring fun food but not good for you food.

Sandwiches are a big part of any outdoor dining. They're easy to make and easy to tote. Yet  most picnickers load them up with nitrate laden cold cuts and mayo. Think light when you make a sandwich. Start with slices of whole wheat bread or even pita, followed by a low cal mayo. Add leftover cold chicken or turkey along with veggies.Nix the baloney and other cured meats. These aren't that great for you and besides will leave you feeling  thirsty and bloated afterwards.Another option is getting an already roasted chicken that can be served cold. It's better than fried and everyone can still munch on a leg or wing if they want to .

Sides are another important must in any successful outdoor meal.People usually opt for the easy way out and bring potato chips. This can be done but opt for the more healthier ones that have been fried in olive oil or baked. Popcorn can be fun to bring along.It's also neat to toss out to the the birds too. Picnics should have  a good salad. Opt for ones that are made with veggies and olive oil as opposed to ones like macaroni salads which has too much mayo and pasta  in them. One good one is a refreshing fiesta corn. Use a can of niblets along with freshly chopped red and green peppers, onions and celery. Toss with a vinaigrette and sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper over it. A celery salad made the same way is also very good along with being light in calories.

Picnics are meant to be healthy outings full of good food. Don't spoil that by adding unhealthy cold cuts and fatty sides. Serve good, nutritious fare that's perfect for a day out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Food As Art

Foodies and art rarely go together  unless the art museum has a really good cafeteria such as Manhattan;s Metropolitan Art or MOMA. However food has been the subject of many a composition from cave paintings to 21st Century performance artists. Every artist has incorporated one type of food or another n their works.

If you're lucky enough to travel this summer, stop in to see a few museums. Take a good look at the some of the ones featuring feasting. Some of the ancient Romans and Greeks were much taken by the parties and celebrations around them. You can see how these influenced banquets throughout the ages. (you'll also get hungry for olives, bread and wine,make sure there's a good salumeria or deli near the museum so you can also feast afterwards).The Renaissance brought us the start of the most beautiful still lifes . They reflected the food trades of the time, such as baking, and cheese making along with butchery and wine making.

The Impressionism's work will also inspire traveling foodies to have their own picnics. Georges Seurat along with Edouard Manet depicted family as well as  racy  outings in 19th Century France. They also depicted food not as nourishment but as sensual treats.Fruit never looked riper, bursting with juice. The loaves of crusty  bread never looked crisper or yeastier.Modern artists sometimes try to make a statement with their food. Many cities have smaller, more outre galleries where  artists work in bacon(!) butter and everything in between. Performance artists will also chuck everything from chocolate sauce to spaghetti on live models. These take a bit of getting used to and if you;re not comfortable go the more traditional route.. Stick to the museums or even the smaller libraries or historical societies.New York's is featuring two centuries of beer manufacturing.This features some interesting posters and advertisements regarding brewing.

Art and food are both important in our lives. There is no nourishment for the body and sou with either. This summer discover that on your travels. The connection will both enlighten and feed you .

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Hot Drink For A Hot Time

The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the summer party season.Drinks abound during this time .However they're usually watered down with club soda or just chilled white wine.It's time to think outside the usual bottle.It's time to add some punch - literally. This was the topic of yesterday's Pour column in the Dining section of Wednesday's New York Times. Eric Asimov wrote about changing up the usual summer drinks. He mentions some unusual choices yet they do fit in perfectly with those barbecued steaks and salads. A summer punch is always a fun extra to any party.It's rarely served during the colder months ,being the star of many a holiday party.Yet it's refreshing and unique when served during a hot weather gathering.Mr. Asimov uses the punch from the restaurant Prime Meats.It's called Too Hot To Hoot.It mixes the richness of a good bourbon with elderberry tea along with Angostura bitters and fresh strawberries and limes.It's a tasty fun drink that would go well with any grilled meat. Of course other drinks are also spotlighted and also work well for those who don't want a cup of punch.Mr.Asimov recommends a glass of chilled Chianti .This popular classic is usually associated with pasta however it's the perfect foil for a juicy grilled steak. There are other red wines that go well with burgers and ribs such as barbera , dolcetto and Valpolicetto.Roses and white wines,Summer standards are also good but try the lesser Pinot grigio such as Elena Walch, Alois Lageder of the Northeastern Italian vineyards.Another choice is a rose champagne such as Cerdon Bugey from theRenardat Fache. it's perfect go along with chicken stays or grilled salmon. The holiday season is upon us and with it a time to celebrate.Enjoy the warm summer nights with punch or champagne.?Look at the warm weather moon with a glass of Pinot Grigio or Chianti! it's the season to enjoy good drinks and good grilled Led or barbecued food!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Make Your Own Mayo - Artresanal Style

Mayonnaise is one of the mainstays of summer food preparation, Unfortunately the store bought kind does nothing for sandwiches, salads and even crudites. The answer is making your own - which surprisingly easy. What's even better is that it will make any dish taste better  - and even elevate the simplest dish to gourmet quality.

Homemade mayo was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. The piece written by Melissa Clark for her The Weekly Good Appetite column, shows how to make a good mayo almost akin to the ones sold at Empire Mayonnaise , Brooklyn's first and the country's only artesanal mayo store. Mayo is easy to make.,It's basically a whisked blend of egg yolk, lemon juice,kosher salt and Dijon mustard. The most important ingredient is oil and it can be olive oil for a richer , creamier blend or safflower and canola oils for a smoother, lighter mayo. Since the mix is an emulsion it can be tricky to stir with  the oil and yolk often separating.Slowly whisk in  a few drops of water to prevent this from happening.

Homemade mayo can be varied in taste. Some home chefs add hot pepper flakes which adds zing to sandwiches and potato salads. Ms. Clark tosses in minced anchovies which imparts a deep briny. flavor. For another variation add lime instead of lemon and maybe some fresh ground pepper.She also makes one with bacon bits added which would go well with a hearty potato salad.For this last omit the mustard and throw in some chile for some fire. She also recommends switching oils such as walnut  for the safflower or canola. This would well with veggies but also giving a roast beef or London broil sandwich  extra oomph! You can also make a garlic aioli perfect for any Mediterranean or Provence themed barbecue.

Homemade mayo is the best thing to happen to summer cooking since the barbecue grill. Take the step and make it. It'll make even the most blandest salad or sandwich something special

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Little Cheating

Every now and then even the most health conscious foodie falls off the healthy grub wagon. Let's face it , unlike other addictions bad food is all around us.It exists in stores  at parties , even within in our grasps. It's hard to keep a healthy diet - however sometimes a little cheating can actually help.

Salt and sugar are the worst temptations. They're everywhere. However once in a while some fries or milk chocolate can satisfy. If you're planning on a salty treat, then just have a handful or share with someone.There are all natural chips such as The Good Earth olive oil fried potato chips or Food Should Taste Good chips and crackers. These are all natural as are the Back To Nature brand cheese crackers which also have unbleached flour and no preservatives. Barbecues are big this time of year and there's all sorts of stuff being offered. Stick with a few nibbles to satisfy yourself  and then make a beeline for the vegetable platter. Fill up on the healthier option of tomatoes, broccoli florets and cauliflower bits.

Sweets are always a factor in cheating. Let's face it , it's hard to resist cookies or cupcakes.It's the time of year too for ice cream in any form. The best bet is have a mini cupcake than a larger one and nibble a few cookies to satisfy that sweet tooth. You can also try the Back To Nature brand which has a wide variety of the kinds of cookies people love. As for ice cream, a kid size cone or cup will do nicely. You still get the taste but not all the calories or fat that would go with the  adult sized one.Another alternative is trying an Italian or plain ice ,sherbet or sorbet which has no dairy in it. These are water based so you don't have that fat. You can also freeze fruit like grapes or peach slices and have them as a different frozen treat.

Cheating on a healthy diet is OK every now and then. Satisfy that salt or sugar craving and then go back to what's good for you. Temptation is fine. Just sate it and then go back to eating better.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Flaky Tart A Sweet Shore Treat

Usually the Jersey shore is known for its' homemade candy treats. However some good bakeries are popping up, offering sweet treats that's the case with The Flaky Tart Bakery in the Atlantic Highlands.It's not just fudge and chocolate anymore but fudge cakes and chocolate cookies..

The Flaky Tart is located in the Atlantic Highlands one of the first towns on the Atlantic(actually the town is behind the Sandy Hook peninsula where the Raritan Bay meets the Nevasink River). It's one of those places that offers both savory and sweet treats. The chef,Marie Jackson was actually an accountant first but later studied at the James Beard school. She has everything from ham and Gruyere croissants to coconut meringues topped with chocolate ganache.There are also breakfast frittatas and roasted coffee sent in from nearby Leonardo. The Flaky Tart also offers scones and muffins, each tender and moist, Their croissants  and pain chocolat are even better than what Parisian bakeries offer and have huge fan followings.

I became familiar with The Flaky Tart's goods at a recent charity event I attended at the Jersey shore. After stuffing myself with the most amazing hors d'ouevres and seafood.I wondered if I even had room for dessert. Upon seeing their cupcakes I rethought my decision.The Flaky Tart's red velvet cupcake was one of the best.It was so incredibly tender with the right amount of buttery icing. There were also chocolate and vanilla cupcakes too . However the plate sized chocolate chip cookies which were also favors were the best. Again they were buttery , crunchy and chewy with decadent dark chocolate chips laced through them. I plan on visiting the bakery to try their other sweets as well.

The Jersey shore isn't only known for it's homemade chococlates and fudge.There are some good bakeries ,like the Flaky Tart that offer sweet treats. They're the perfect spot for a sweet after a day at the beach.,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rare Birds

For those who think turkey is the most exotic bird on their menu,  it;s time to discover game birds. These are wonderful and also very flavorful alternatives to the usual poultry choices. They can be roasted or baked . They can even be made into burgers and wings.
If you‘re having qualms about cooking wild birds., then start with the tame duck or even Cornish game hen. Duck is easy to make, and delicious roasted. It can just be served with a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper or glazed a l’orange style. You can also try your hand at Peking duck or even grilled, duck. The meat is a little fattier than regular chicken and turkey and might come off as oily or greasy. Another choice is Cornish game hen which are basically a miniature chicken. They can be infused with lemon and rosemary or be glazed with a fruit based glaze for a lovely lacquered look. These too can be roasted and served with a wild rice or some new potatoes.

For the more adventurous there are pheasant, partridge and grouse. The first can be bought at specialty stores in the US where the second is more popular in the UK, primarily England and Scotland.Pheasant and partridge have a taste similar to both chicken and turkey, with partridge being the gamier of the two. Grouse tastes like them but it can be dry and stringy.Most chefs recommend basting it in butter to give the mear  a juicier, richer flavor. Any of these can be  either roasted grilled or slow cooked.  They can also be cut up and make into stews or even bits for grilling. Most chefs, both home and professional serve two or three of them roasted , with sidess uch as rice pilaf or possibly egg noodles in a creamy sauce. You can also have them with root veggies , similar to an English countryside dinner.

Try a different type of bird if you're tired of the usual chicken or turkey. A game bird suits the bill nicely and provides you with  an interesting taste. They're far from being just being ordinary - they're a different breed worth trying.,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Outdoor Pastas

Pastas are usually thought of as winter dishes. However they can also be served as outdoor summery ones and a complement to grilled meats and veggies. Any pasta can be turned into a tasty warm weather dish, perfect for hot days ahead.

Most people only associate elbow macaroni with summer dishes. This is true, yet it's not the only pasta that can be served beside the outdoor grill. Orzo can also make a great base for outdoor salads. Add some artichoke hearts along with broccoli and grape tomatoes for a tasty side to barbecued lamb or beef kabobs.You can also add sliced salami to it for a hearty brunch main dish. Another good salad base is tubettini  which are the  small tubes used mostly for soups. You can easily make them for a tasty salad involving olive oil , sundrued tomato and grilled chicken breasts Tortellini, another favorite used in soups can also be made into a salad, using tomatoes , pine nuts and mushrooms.

More traditional pastas can also be used as a base for meats and veggies. Try spaghetti or angel hair with freshly grilled zucchini slices along with tomatoes and mushrooms. Add a hot sauce made out of olive oil, butter and garlic on top.Angel hair pasta is the perfect foil for freshly grilled chicken or even fish . Add a sauce of alia olio and then top with sun dried tomatoes. You can also wilt spinach and /or broccoli rabe and again add it to any pasta from cavatelli to  penne. Try this dish next to some superbly grilled steak or chops.

Pasta at an outdoor grill doesn't  have to be soggy  with mayo. It can be a tasty salad with veggies or a hot side , perfect with grilled chicken, fish or beef. Any kind from orzo to spaghetti, from tubettini to angel hair can be turned into a tasty and different outdoor dish.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rock Stars And Rocking Food

Usually concerts were not known for their food. It was probably the arena stuff, hot pretzels and watered down soda at exorbitant prices. Outdoor concerts were even worse. Over grilled hamburgers, and greased corn dogs. That's all changing.The food is now the star and it shines - brightly.

This was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. The article, written by Dining regular Jeff Gordinier, tells of actual gourmet delights that outshine the star attraction.Also concert promoters know that most music fans are also diehard foodies and they're advertising star chefs like the famed Marcus Samuelssen, April Bloomfield and Tom Collichio., If a restaurant is participating, it too becomes the main draw. Musicians and singers also release that sometimes they're secondary. After all, as Darrell Hall of Hall and Oates fame reasons, eating and music are one of one of a logical blend. Food and music have been together since our early days of sitting around the communal fire.

What kinds of foods are rocking these concerts? There are some spectacular dishes, that's for sure.At the Googamooga concert series stands feature  dirty duck dogs, hot dogs with a gourmet blend of duck meat and spices. Do or Dine has a fois gras doughnut which is a jelly doughnut with a savory snap of goose liver.vVinegar Hill House offers the more traditional soft shell crab on a potato roll. Thr Grub Crawl is offering the native food of Los Angeles, Brooklyn and New Orleans. Even the outre Lollapalooza festival is offering the high class truffle oil popcorn and lobster corn dogs for their dinign fare..

Rock concerts are being upstaged by chefs and their creations.It's no longer who had the best guitar riff but who made the best fois gras doughnut. Food, not  music, shines bright at these concerts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Canning Made Easy

Canning has always caused shudders amongst home cooks. There's always the fear of making the bad batch of preserves or pickles. However don't be afraid. Canning is actually one of the easiest kitchen procedures. Better yet is the result- yummy jams and sides you can enjoy all year round.

Easy canning and its' suggestions were the topic of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. Cathy Barrow explored this subject and even offered suggestions. It's not that scary. As long as the seal is air tight and no bacteria gets under the seal,the preserves and eventually the eater is fine. Another problem is getting the right utensils. Not so. Regular tongs girded by a rubber band can act as the pincers that lift the jars out of the water. You don't need any special pots. A stock or lobster pot can do the job nicely.

There is the fear of botulism and that is an ever present concern when it comes to canning. As with any cooking procedure, just use common sense and be careful. Keep in mind that the sugar and vinegar always used are natural preservatives and inhibit any bacterial growth.. Check your seals as well to make sure they're sturdy and unbroken after canning. As for sterilizing the jars,a quick run through the dishwasher should do it.. Also get into the habit of labeling and dating preserves and pickles. This way you can tell when you made them and if you have to throw them out after a year.

Canning is a fun and actually safe way to preserve your favorite fruits and veggies. The procedure is easy and safe.Try it to enjoy homemade treats you can have all year round.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rain Date

Sometimes the perfect barbecue days turns into a scene from Wuthering Heights. Dark clouds scud against the sky. rain comes down in buckets.The temps drop turning Spring's sunny warmth into a Late Winter chill.There goes the outdoor barbecue?Or does it? You can still have a barbecue but indoors. Luckily all meats can be grilled inside. Hot dogs and kabobs can easily be grilled over an open gas flame or on an indoor grill.The same can be done with ribs and hamburgers.In fact they probably won't be charred.You can control the heat addend up with tender ,juicy cuts. As far as the buns, toast them in your toaster oven or on the indoor grill.You can even butter them forvmore flavor. grilling veggies is just as easy. You can also steam them too which is much much more healthier than the harmful and really unhealthy grilling.What about the delicious taste of grilled corn on the cob? Grill indoors or even microwave for more tender kernels. What about after dinner when everyone wants s'mores? You can still make them indoors using your microwave. You can also still toast marshmallows instead .Again use your burners and skewers, preferably metal .You'll still get that crunchy ,crisp outer coating that makes a s'more yummy.You can also warm the Graham crackers too in the microwave or toaster oven for an even better sweet. Fruit kabobs are are party staple. You can still make them ,using your grill or even griddle.Warm up some Cool Whip for dipping or chocolate. Don't worry if your barbecue is rained on.You can easily bring it inside and still have tasty and fun food!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tea From Trees

The best tea shop is in you yard or nearby forest. Surprisingly you don't need traditional tea leaves to brew a soothing cup. Your backyard maple or cherry can give you a tasty as well as healthy brew. Brewing from tree back is nothing new, It has been done for centuries mostly by indigenous American tribes. Their teas were not  only for soothing  and warming up a troubledsoul butalso for healing one too.
Any tree will give you tea. However some trees need to be avoided like poison sumac, yew and of course, hemlock. Any other is OKand can produce some flavorful brewing. For some trees like the wild cherry and maple, go for the inner bark which is more tender and flavorful.Cherry tree bark tea is good for sore throats and just for keeping the vocal chords lubed.It's also good for lowering blood pressure as well. Even the white pine, usually known for ornamentation has an inner bark that makes a sweet , sugary tea. It's also easy to peel which makes it excellent for preparing.Even a tree's needles such as the pine and spruce also make excellent teas as well. These are even rich in Vitamin C and can be subbed in for citrus of need be.

How do you get the bark and then brew the tea? First take a knife or sharp bladed scissor (this last is for the smaller, younger branches) and cut as much as you think you'll need to brew tea. DON"T take any branches laying on the ground ,These are probably the older ones and have no flavor.  One branch, half an inch wide and six feet long will yield one cup worth of bark.Back at the kitchen  it's time to start brewing. Use one quart of water for one cup of bark.Boil for twenty minutes and leave to steep until the brew gets dark. You can sweeten  your cup with honey or raw sugar along with lemon if you want.

It's amazing what your tree can give you. Shade , fruit and even tea. Brew some freshly cut bark tree today . You'll be surprised at how tasty it is.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Treats For Mom

Tomorrow is Mother's Day the day tocelebate the lady who used to bake your favorite cookies and make you endless casseroles of baked mac and cheese.It's time to celebrate her with some gourmet goodies or just plain homemade ones, Even  simple pancakes spelling out MOM can be a treasured gift.

For foodie moms nothing beats really good chocolate. You can always get her a box of Godiva which has all sorts of sweet indulgent treats. The company sells some wonderful truffles, full of tasty creams and ganaches.You can also buy bars from them to to be scraped over Mom's favorite ice creams or cake.Hannah Krause is another good chocolatier  and a throwback to a more simpler time. They sells boxes of classics such as coconut cremes and caramels. Another treat are flavored coffees and teas. Wrap these with a few good romances or mysteries for some comfy reading.

What about homemade gifts? Nothing beats breakfast in bed. Make it healthy with buckwheat  pancakes and pure Vermont maple syrup (none of this artificial stuff with corn  syrup in it). You can have the pancakesspellout mom or makethem into flower shapes with banana centers. A rich decadent treat is Eggs Benedict and the best part is that they can be eaten any time of day.You could vary them by having spinach or crab meat instead of the usual Canadian bacon. Also  the base doesn't have to be an English muffin.Try a croissant, brioche potaot brioche brioche of a nest of olive oil fried shredded potatoes instead.

Treat Mom with some good foodie tastes. They can be store bought all tied with a fancy ribbon. They can be homemade , straight from the kitchen, Whatever she gets your mom will know they're with love from you,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Healthy Foraging

Your nearby woods or park is really nothing more than a big health food store. The produce there not only is loaded with healthy greens and fungi but it yours free for the  picking. You can pick up everything  form omelet ingredients to sides for lunch or dinner . Your local woods are amazing foodwise .

Before you go, pick up a book on foraging. Even though there are plenty of healthy plants out there, there are a few poisonous ones. Once you get acquainted with the fauna then you can start picking,.Ramps and stinging nettles are some of the healthy greens readily available Ramps are a sort of wild leek and are high in Vitamins A and C along with the mineral selenium. Since they have a taste between a garlic and an onion you can use them in a fresh made tomato sauce. You can also make a good side with them,with olive oil and hot pepper. Stinging nettles are wonderful in reducing calcifications and long with relieving joint pain. A recent recipe in the New York Times Dining (Melissa Clark's Good Appetite column)made it as part of a pasta sauce.Stinging nettles lose their sting when they're boiled.

What about mushrooms? Most people freak out when they hear about eating wild mushrooms because so many have died from eating the wrong ones. One consult a foraging book and if you;re still not sure then join a mushroom club. Experts there can guide you to the right ones. Wild mushrooms such as morelles and porcinis along with chanterelles are truly excellent in any kind of risotto and pasta. You can even make ravioli  stuffing with them. The mushrooms are known for their proteins and can easily be subbed in for animal ones.They also have glutamic acid which is essential for strengthening the immune system. Mushrooms have estrogen blockers which can prevent both breast and prostrate cancer.

The forest is truly a health food store bursting with good and tasty foods. Go out there and enjoy not only the fresh air and sunshine but freshly picked treats. It's a great way of communing with nature and keeping yourself healthy!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Healthy Food , Tasty Food

As I've been almost everyone from reader to friends to family healthy eating doesn't have to be blah.In fact it can be downright delicious. It's just a matter of knowing what to eat. Good for you food can be just as yummy as the bad for you kind. The best part is that it comes with some very good benefits.

This is what the author Peter Kaminsky is trying to stress in his latest book"Culinary Intelligence" published by Knopf.  He was featured in yesterday's New York Times Dining section yesterday in an article by the section's regular contributor, Jeff Gordenier. Mr. Kaminsky was a former food critic writing for New York magazine's Underground Gourmet. unfortunately gourmand dining took its'toll on his health He had  blimped up to 205 pounds and was borderline diabetic . A change in habits and a serious drive to eat better changed him around. he still indulges in foods such as bacon and sausages but in very small quantities.

He out his theories into practice during a trip to Manhattan's famed Eataly food emporium , He tells readers as well as Mr Gordinier who trailed along to avoid processed ingredients. he nixes white flour, sugar and potatoes as most nutritionists suggest. However he does not ban dark chocolate , bacon butter and Italian sausage. Mr. Kaminsky recommends eat them sparingly and in small quantities. Eataly provided him with some other choices he thoroughly endorsed such as anchovies chickpeas , capers, plain yogurt olive oil and roasted almonds. These are perfect ingredients and some such as the chickpeas and almonds are just good as snacks,. He also recommends porcini mushrooms, olives and spelt pasta.. The best bet is looking for brown - whole wheat , more naturally made foods.

Eating right  and eating tasty is what we all want for ourselves Mr. Kaminksy's book makes it easy. Healthy foods don't have to be bland tasting .They  can be just as flavorful and fun as the bad for you goodies.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Salute To Craig Claiborne

Craig Claiborne changed the way people ate and cooked. He introduced New Yorkers to good food and interesting restaurants Thanks to him millions of people discovered the lure of ethnic cuisines and got away from their bland American diets. It was only fifty years ago that Mr. Claiborne changed American tastes and palates,but it could have been the dark ages of American cooking.

The Dining section of The New York Times celebrated this amazing powerhouse today. The famed Pete Wells along with the even more famous chef Jacques Pepin contributed pieces as well as a humorous one by Bryan Miller. These are fond reminiscences of a larger than life man. Surprisingly Mr.Claiborne was not born in New York (although one might think so. ) He was raised in Sunflower , Mississippi a  town known more for its' jazz and blues than for gourmet cooking, Using the GI Bill, he was able to go to a hotel school in Lausanne , Switzerland . He then landed in New York City and was inspired by the famed food critic MFK Fisher. His contributions led to the birth of The Times Food section.

He was the first man to write extensive food reviews for The Times. thanks to him, multitudes of newspapers across the country started adding their own food critics and recipe sections. Mr . Claiborne may be credited with giving birth to the cult of celebrity chef. Mr Pepin was one of these early ones and also developed a long friendship with Mr. Claiborne. Not only that, the French chef had his recipes featured in the Times  , introducing readers to the joys of Gallic flavor. Mr. Claiborne also was responsible for the careers of the great Marcella Hazan for Italian cooking,Diana Kennedy for Mexican and Virginia Lee for Chinese. However he also extolled the virtue of the home chef, probably influenced by the great Southern dishes he grew up on in his mother's boarding house.

Craig Claiborne was definitely one of the pillars of today's Times Dining section. He brought real and exotic cooking first to New Yorkers and then to the world. He is up there with Escoffier when it comes to food.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Rare Find A Healthy Potato Chip!

Is there such a thing as a healthy potato chip? Surprisingly yes! It seems like a health nut
s dream come and it is! There is a company out there that makes yummy yet good for you munchies.

Who is this miracle company? It is Good Health Natural Foods and they make a variety of tasty all natural snacks. They're also responsible for making all natural soaps and body washes - totally unusual for a food company. The company is dedicated to creating healthy treats from their base in Greensboro, North Carolina They started with Veggie Stix which are like French fries  and progressed to olive oil potato chips and polenta corn chips.They also have a baked hummus chip Humbles which is one of the first around. All of their products are low in saturated fat and have no artificial ingredients.I found the chips at my local Walgreens but they can also be bought at

How do those healthy chips taste? I bought the rosemary ones  and they are amazing! It's like eating new potatoes fresh from the oven! They are crispy and flavorful without that usual potato chip oiliness, The rosemary and sea salt are nice additions, because herbs are rarely used in making chips and the usual one is laden with just regular salt. I can't wait to try their polenta corn chips as well as their half naked organic popcorn and pizza flavored Veggie Stix Good Health Natural Foods also have apple chips for those with a sweet tooth as well as peanut butter stuffed pretzels , Humbles and whole grained crackers.

For those health addict lusting for a good snack, try Good Health Natural  Foods olive oil potato chips. These are just right for watching a  movie or a nice accompaniment with juice on a hike. Either way they are a refreshing change from the usual salt and oil laden ones!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Winging It

What do you do when there's a mish mosh of ingredients in the house? Improvise? Sometimes the wildest mixes lend them selves in creating the tastiest dishes.A box of rice and some sliced veggies along with leftover meat can create a satisfying lunch or dinner.

When you're foraging for stuff to make for a meal start at the base. This is usually any kind of pasta rice or even bread. You can always make a yummy dish just by using spaghetti. or even Rice Roni . Bread can serve as a base for hot sandwiches such as  grilled cheese or even a savory bread pudding.It have a box of whole wheat pasta along with brown rice an brown bread available.The next is have some fresh veggies for impromptu sauces  Sliced peppers and tomatoes along with cauliflower and broccoli make for some nice sauces or add ins. Try thinking outside the salad bowl when whipping up salads. Use potatoes for texture and flavor or . try a hot broccoli rabe salad with orzo.

Any kind of meats will do for winging it in the kitchen. You can use a wide variety from hot dogs to meat balls to leftovers. Hot dogs can be cut up and added as a tasty addition to baked mac and cheese. Meatballs make a good hot sub even better.Leftover roast beef and chicken can be sliced up for anything from pizza toppings to hot and cold sandwiches. Even canned meats like Spam or tuna can be added into everything . Try a croque Monsieur with Spam or use the tuna for melts or the more elegant Nicoise salad.You can get very creative with any meat  and use it in a variety of tasty ways.

Winging it with whatever you find can be fun .It brings out  your creative side as a cook while testing your cooking skills. If you find yourself with odd ingredients, don't despair. There 's bound to be a good dish waiting to be made.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Big Food Day!

Today is both Cinco de Mayo and The Kentucky Derby, Depending on where you are or your tastes , you're either celebrating with  tacos or  mint juleps. Both demand a party or better yet combine the food for more fun.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican 1868 victory over the occupied French army. It's not to be confused with Mexican Independence day which is September 5th, Still Americans ring out all sorts of Mexican goodies with a passion. Parties being held today  will probably have all sorts of tacos, including dessert ones stuffed with ice cream, fruit and syrup along with tostados and guacamole. These are easy to make and a fun way to celebrate.A simple dish are just corn chips and ta tasty homemade salsa. This is easy to make. Just cut up tomatoes onion and peppers, add some hot pepper and garlic salt .

The Kentucky derby is another fun food fest. Mostly it reflects the states long history of hard scrabble settlers and cooking. One is burgoo, an easy stew that is made with any meat and vegetable.Try it with beef or pork and a side of cornbread.Another is barbecue which is a sauce laden shredded pork. This is sweet and tangy , usually piled high on a soft roll and served with chips and a Coke. Special to Louisville are the Benedictine made with cream cheese and cucumber and dyed green, Another is the Hot Brown a hot turkey and ham sandwich which is smothered with Mornay sauce.

What better way to celebrate two fun events  than with good food. Take your pick or enjoy both. Cinco de Mayo and The Kentucky Derby have both interesting culinary traditions. All are tasty and fun.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wendy's Fresh Side

Just when you thought the fast food chain Wendy's seemed happy to settle, it shakes things up. It has recently added some new sides. These are innovative and a far cry from what its' competitors are offering. They're a new spin on fast food.

Baked mac, sweet potatoes and chili cheese fries are what you might get at a diner. However the chain is now offering them as part of their new side menu. This is a  fresh start from the usual burger barn fare however Wendy's has always been a little cutting edge , more so than McDonald's and Burger King in its' food choices. It offered side salads before a few others did.It was the first to sprinkle the healthier sea salt on its' fries.Wendy's also gave a variety of sauces with their chicken nuggets  which was another first too when most were just giving customers only  ketchup with theirs.

The new sides are great , especially when paired with other sides. The baked mac is creamy and especially cheesy with shredded cheddar sprinkled on top. Add Wendy's side Caesar salad and it's a filling meal, perfect for an easy and quick dinner. Their sweet potato is a meal in itself, being the sized of the chain;s baked potato. It comes with a cup of a butter and brown sugar mix. and is nicely baked. It's perfect on its' own along with the chili cheese fries. Of course these are the perfect burger go with however , paired with a frosty float, are a great and satisfying snack (however a bit unhealthy thanks to all that red meat and cheese on top - treat yourself to them once in a great while!)

Wendy's is always on the cutting edge of offering interesting food. Their new sides are testimony to this. They are novel for fast food chains usually offering the same dull burgers and fries.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Flip On Pancakes

Pancakes are supposed to be the bland foils for butter and maple syrup. They should take a back step and let the other two flavors shine. However in one recipe this breakfast staple becomes the star.It even is moved to the dessert tray thanks to a punch of taste.

The flavorful flapjacks was the subjects of yesterday's A Good Appetite column in the New York Times Dining section. Melissa Clark, the author, experimented with her usual pancake recipe. Her quest for something different actually started with her having a jar of rhubarb compote. She had paired it with the everyday recipe, yet it just didn't make the fruit's flavor pop. She then tried adding other ingredients which helped it immensely.

The extra oomph came from Greek yogurt and honey along with lemon zest and extra butter. This created a cake like quality to the texture along with a rich flavor. She then added poppy seeds for crunch and a hint of extra flavor too. Before serving she smeared more Greek yogurt and the rhubarb compote on them.It worked. These pancakes also would make an elegant dessert for dinner , almost like a thick crepe Suzette. In fact omit the poppy seeds and you could sub these in for that famed French sweet. Another variation  is adding lemon curd and layering the pancakes for a different kind of tea sandwich too.

Pancakes needn't be so boring. Add some Greek yogurt as well as melted butter to enrich the batter. It will give a new kind of flapjack, perfect for breakfast, even better as a new kind of dessert.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

True Tacos

Tacos have become a vital part of the American culinary landscape for a long time. People love them because of their ease and taste.Kids love  them because they're just fun. This classic started off as other classics, as part of a regular diet.

The dish, as we know,started in Southern California, in San Bernardino, an hour east of Los Angeles. Its' history and evolution was the main topic of an article in today's New York Times' Wednesday Dining section. The piece, expertly investigated and researched by Times regular, Julia Moskin, tells how they were first made in Mitla, a Mexican cafe that has been around since 1937.Here, the tortillas were and still are fried golden yellow and stuffed with spicy beef and blanketed with iceberg lettuce. It's really a Cal Mex creation. There are other Mexican American combos  such as bacon wrapped hot dogs wrapped in bollito rolls along with breakfast tacos (stuffed with Tater Tots) and Mexican hamburgers, pressed into a burrito (filled with pork rinds and beans).

Mitla is also known for inspiring the birth of that American classic fast food Taco Bell. It was in 1962 that entrepreneur Glenn Bell, was to cash in on the fast food craze. Jealous of his fellow Southern Californians, the Kroc Brothers of McDonalds fame. He had a stand across from Mitla and would watch the restaurants take out window garner long lines,Bell got the recipe from the cooks and the rest is history. He then went on to create one of the world's favorite dinners and also introduced the taco to the world.I'm glad he did.

The taco is a relatively healthy staple the wold loves, Thanks to CalMex cuisine it is a tasty reminder of the best of hybrid cultures. It is here to stay , in  so many variations.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Food That Does Taste Good

It is hard to find a snack that's both tasty and healthy.However , the company Food Should Taste Better does just that.Ithas. Created tasty hybrid of chip and cracker that is simply delicious.Not only that it has made snack that leaves you feeling guilt free after a few nibbles. Food Should Taste Good is relatively new in the world of snacks.Its creator Pete Lescoe came up with this healthy alternative to potato chips in 2006. These have no trans fats or artificial flavorings.Every flavor is made with all natural ingredients to produce a healthy and flavorful snack. They can be good with dips but also can be used in cassaroles or crumbling over a salad. I recently bought their olive flavor.This was a tasty mix of black and green olives as well as the Greek Kalamata.There was also a hint of garlic salt as well.These would be perfect with a cream cheese garlic dip or even A tapas spread. Food Should Taste Good also comes in a wide range of flavors from the sweet chocolate and kernel corn to hemp and white cheddar. The web site has a slew of great recipes that incorporate the chips into dishes as well as tasty spreads to try with them. Food Should Taste Good is a revolutionary snack treat.It combines good ingredients and taste.It now is one of the most wholesome snacks on the market.