Friday, August 31, 2012

You Still Can Grill

Even though it's the Labor Day weekend,  it's still grilling season and still summer. What's even better is that some of the early harvests of raspberries and apples can figure into a lot of recipes. Another aspect of continued barbecuing is like holding onto the hot weather and vacation.Students from Pre-K to college seniors would love to chow down on  an outdoor cooked meal.

September is the season for raspberries and apples. Both can  be used in summery recipes along with giving dishes their flavorful tastes. Raspberries are usually made into jam however you can crush them and mix them into a salad dressing. They add a nice fruity taste especially to a grilled chicken salad. Just blend  the pureed fruit into a simple vinaigrette. Raspberries can also be used in a barbecue sauce to impart sweetness as well.Most recipes call for a raspberry jam but you can use freshly crushed ones in your marinade. Apples are starting to appear too and they're good  grilled  as well. Served them with pork or on their own with vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce.

Grilling can be extended well into October. There's nothing as comforting  as a hot dog or a cheeseburger to a kid starting school.It's a nice way of prolonging those summery days of just having fun. You can even have a welcome back barbecue by inviting school mates over for for not only  sandwiches but also for an evening filled with  s'mores . Invite parents too and if you're friendly with them, ask them to bring some of their favorite salads or easy desserts. For those parents who now have an empty house thanks to the kids going off to college., think of a romantic barbecue. Try  a salmon or sliced duck along with grilled veggies for a sophisticated meal under the stars. Uncork a chilled bottle of sparkling wine and enjoy good food and blessed quiet.

It may be Labor Day but you still have two more months of grilling . Take advantage of it by  putting the fruits of the season on the fire. Don't put away that grill!It's wayyyyy too early!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fig Time

This is the time of year, late August and early September, when figs are abundant. Trees are laden with the ripe, juicy fruits , just waiting for tempting dishes. The best part about figs is that they are versatile . They can be served as a dessert or with main meals.

Melissa Clark explored various fig recipes in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.Her column, A Good Appetite covered all aspects of the fruit. She grows them in her Brooklyn  backyard where she has easy access..Mostly  Southern Italians and Sicilians  raise them, with figs being indigenous to the lush warm landscape. However a lot of urban New Yorkers are discovering the figs trees. charms. They take well to the city landscape, enjoying ambient heat from the brick buildings(the urban heat island effect ) and the buildings protect them from the elements. Come winter, they just need to be wrapped in burlap to protect them from the elements.

Figs are good on their own and most like them accompany a good ripe cheese for dessert. However figs can be made into delicate cookies or cooked into kabobs. Ms. Clark's offers us both. There is a recipe for financiers , a merengue like cookie with a fig sliced baked in the middle. These would be nice as a Sunday dinner dessert with vin Santo,/ She also gives us a tasty lamb and fig shish kabobs that have been doused with honey and rosemary.This is a more Middle Eastern nod thanks to the addition of mint and lamb. Figs are also a Middle Eastern staple too and any recipe from there could work with figs.

Figs are a late summer treat that can be made a variety of ways.Try them in a dessert or as part of the meal. Their lush , sweet flavor is good any way and a nice introduction to the fall harvest.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Delicacy Of Sea Salt

Sea salt is now one of the most ubiquitous food items on the table nowadays.It went from being a gourmet prize to an almost everyday must. Many don't know that it was started in France and there are a dozen variations there. It is still considered gourmet there despite its' commonality.

Fleur de sel was the subject of an article in today's New York Times  Dining section. It was a dispatch  from Elaine Sciolino and her Letters From Paris column. She is lucky to rent a summer house on the Ile de Re, an island of the western coast of France. She was able to visit a salt farm where the Bay of Biscay's lush waters feed clay pools and create amazing salts.Seawater collects in ponds and breezes dry them. This is the seasoning that chefs the world over clamor for it.Ile de Re is one of the most used and most fragrant sel in the world.

The salt is created by the air drying the ponds. Fleur e sel is a mineral rich salt full of potassium, magnesium, iron an zinc an the taste is far from reflecting them.It has a sweet  flavor and an aroma like violets. It's harvested slushlike  and placed in wheelbarrows for extra drying. Most salt ponds are coated over with an icelike crust of salt. Salicorne or sea asparagus ,an edible green sea plant also grows along the ponds as well and is harvested too. It's also sold in French fish markets and greengrocers. Most slats are sol in cooperatives to be bought fresh. Some "rebels" sell their own privately mixing the salt with hot peppers for a neat spin. The salt is good for anything but also for crusting baked fish.It leaves behin a sweet, tender flesh.

Sea salt, despite its' popularity is still a gourmet item.It's a delightful gift from the sea that should be savored and enjoyed. Fleur de sel is what it is a true flower of the sea.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Healthy Care Packages

This is the  time of year when kids start going back to college.  That means  eating at all different hours and non stop snacking. It also means gaining weight and unhealthy diets. What to do? Plan for sending good and healthy care packages.

It's hard to monitor your student when he or she are miles away. You can always tell them to eat healthy and instill good eating habits when they're at home. However that all changes when they get their first nip of  freedom. What you can do is either bring or send healthy and tasty dishes that make up for all that junk. Iif you're a two or three hour drive away from the campus you can always visit with a cooler of premade frozen dinners. Most dorms have some kind of kitchen or microwave where they can cook or live in a regular apartment or house with a kitchen. You can easily premake whole wheat pastas with healthy , fresh made sauce. These are always tasty and appreciated. Also think about making dinners  that feature salmon or chicken. Bring brown rice dishes as well or bring boxes of it for the kids to cook fresh.

If your collegiate is farther than three hours then send a care package. The most traditional care packages contain homemade cookies along with cakes and breads. If you want these to be healthy then consider baking with whole wheat or gluten free flour.A good recipe is oatmeal raisin cookies made with whole wheat flour and brown sugar. You can also add good for you cranberries and walnuts. Of course  the more appreciated are chocolate chip cookies. These can easily be made with all natural ingredients. Think about sending whole wheat breads and cakes too for  alternative treats. A slice of  zucchini or banana bread  is a great snack for the morning or during an evening study session. Care packages also can contain dry  or jarred ingredients. You can pack whole wheat pastas, all natural jams and sauces along with homemade granola mixes too

Even though you;re not there you can still make sure your kids eat healthy. Send them care packages not only packed with love but with nutritious snacks and treats. Your dorm student will have fun food and a good diet.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Campfire Cooking

There's nothing like an end of season camp fire , especially on the beach. I recently experienced this for this first time and it was amazing. There's something about sitting around a roaring fire , sharing grub and stories. Not only that but there's a lot of fun food that can be cooked over an open lame.

Unlike a barbecue, campfire cooking is actually safer for you. It's just fire and wood along with hot stones. Food is not near any carcinogenic fluids, Usually the fire is ignited with a match or sometimes just a spark from two rocks. Before you build one however there are rules to follow. Try to build one about eight feet away from any foliage otherwise there could the the threat of a forest fire. The beach is ideal for this. Another important act is building some kind of barrier between you and the pit. This saves anyone  from falling in later on. As for kindling, use whatevers' around, sticks, branches, etc. You can start it with a match or cigarette lighter - or the very old school way with thwo rocks banged together

For food think simple.The only utensils you need are more sticks or tin foil. There's nothing like cooking hot dogs over a flame and letting them get blistered. You can also try bratwursts or any kind of sausage as well, Potatoes can also be roasted .Wrap them in  tin foil with butter and herbs and cook for a few minutes. For this you would need fireproof tongs(Or you could cook on the embers) Of course save room for the classic toasted marshmallow. Again these are easy  to toast. Get the sticks again place one or two puffs on them and toast. If you want have the Graham crackers and chocolate on the ready (although s'mores can be messy).

Nothing beats an end of season campfire.It's a fun way of communing with nature  and people. It also is a neat way to cook summer favorite foods under a brilliant and starry night sky,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Big Summer Blow Out

This is the time for those bigger summer blowouts, the once last chance to really party before the fall season arrives. What kind of party to throw? That's up to you but make sure it's full of fun and food. Try buffets if you' ve spent the summer just grilling or have an old fashioned fancy picnic with real china and elegant food. There's a lot of different types to try.

Most people usually throw an end of season barbecue. This is the easiest to have and within most cooks comforts zones. However you can mix it up a bit by adding some bratwurst and bauenwurst to the mix. These tasty German sausages go well on hot dog buns or just eaten by themselves with a good potato salad.Another shake up is trying ostrich, or emu burgers .You could also throw a luau with a whole roast pig along with fun tropical kabobs of pork, pineapple and cherries. For any of these make sure you get a definite head count so you're not under or over with supplies.

Of course you can also try something elegant and Old World. Having an entire pasta dinner out under the trees on a starry night is a great way of ending the season. First have a traditional antipasto of cold cuts cheeses and pickled veggies. Then serve just simple rotelli or penne with a fresh veggie sauce. Finish with an easy to assemble tiramisu or fruit and wine salad. Another idea is an elegant picnic and if you want have guest s come dressed up. You can serve cold roast chickens and turkeys along with roasts and hams on a carving board. Serve cucumber salads along with ones made from spring greens . Place buckets of iced champagne in  set up corners along with plastic flutes  for niche dining. it's a neat way to have a blow out but in a very courtly manner.

No matter how you do it just celebrate the end of a fun season. You can do it with a wild style or a regal manner. Anyway just have a blast with good foods and good friends.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Cooling Gazpacho

There ' s nothing like a cooling gazpacho during these dog days of August. It ' s refreshing change from sandwiches and anything grilled.Even better is you can make it any time of the day without working up a sweat.It's great to make right now with fresh tomatoes. The recipe was the subject of Wednesday's City Kitchen column in the New York Times Dining section.David Tanis gives us a good recipe for all those lush vine ripened tomatoes gracing gardens and farmers markets right now.This gazpacho is a rich mélange of those ruby red tomatoes along with garlic and sherry added for nip.It also has cayenne for more bite.ALl the seeds and skins should be removed for a smoother texture and it should be refrigerated for fifteen minutes before serving. The piece de resistance ,though is the topping, a yummy mix of diced bell peppers,Vidalia onions and avocado on a garlic rubbed slice of ciambatta or Italian bread. The veggies are diced into a relish and then with the avocado layered on the slices.It's sort of like the bread topping bouillabaisse .If you want to switch it up some ,nix the bread and relish and just put a scoop of either cream fraiche or even sour cream. If both of these are too much, then just have with simple toasted French bread that's been dipped in olive oil. Gazpacho is an excellent dish on a hot August day.It's different as well as cooling.make it with some vine ripened tomatoes today for a summer lunch or dinner treat.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

There's Still Time for Fruit

Even though August is winding down, we still have plenty of harvests around , especially with fruit. There's nothing like using them in great , home made dishes whether a tart or even a clafoutis style pancake,It's a nice way of  enjoying summer's bounty.

Both Melissa Clark and Florence Fabricant gave us good recipes and ideas in yesterday's New YorkTimes Dining section. Ms. Clark  created a sort of clafoutis style pancake made surpisingly of corn and blackberries in her A Good Appetite Column. This recipe is actually lifted form a 1966 Times recipe made by Dasvid Eyre and is named for him.It involves putting corn along with corn meal in a large skillet sied griddle cake. She tops it with fresh blackberries along with sugar. You can easily make this even without the fruit or try others such as cherries or apples along with peaches, The berries are cooked in a simple syrup and then added on top of the pancake.

For Dining regular Florence Fabricant, a tart using a stone or pitted fruit is a nice summery treat. With this she employs peaches, plums, nectarines and even figs, She quarters these and sticks them  in a simple buttery crust. It is a tedious job  artfully placing the quarters in a flower like pattern. Then comes the equally tedious buttering to get a nice carmelization on top of the fruit. Ms. Fabricant reinvents this as pouring mellted butter over the fruit and then sprinkled sugar to help in the glazing process.It gives the entire tart a nice shiny coating and emphasizes the fruit. She  suggests serving it with creme fraiche to cut the sugariness.

Take advantage of the fruits that we still have. They're perfect for topping tarts and pancakes, giving each a burst of added flavor. Use them now, while we still have them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kick Up The Grill With Indian Spices

By now everyone must be sick of barbecuing. It's the same thing dinner after dinner or party after party. meats are either  spritzed with lemon or lime or slathered with an overly sweet sauce. Yet barbecue can be revived with new spices and new cooking methods.

Reviving a tired barbecue menu was the subject of the New York Times Dining section article today.The piece, coauthored by John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger tells how any griller can make an end of season grilling exotic and tasty. Tne Indians have a certain way of dealing with enhnacing their food. Since there are so many different spices, how each one will be used is carefully thought out. For most newbies to this kind of cuisine it's best to start with the basic spices. According to the authors start with whole ones and grind them fresh. The aromatic oils within them start to act and are at their most powerful.There are also two methods to further bring out their flavors , roasting and letting them sit in oil. Both let the spices' flavors blooms and give optimum flavor.

What spices can liven up a mid summer grill? Chili and curry work wonders, especially curry which is just a great flavor. There's nothing like curried chicken or shrimp but you can also try a curried pork chop too for a different spin. Turmeric is another spice that would go well with any meat.Another plus is that it's good for you and can stave off cancer.It has a very mellow flavor, and would work well rubbed on chicken legs and wings and then have them crisped over the fire.What is great about these spices is that they can be combined to create a variety of flavors for any kind of meat., whether beef, poultry or fish.

Grilling can be boring if it's been done for the past two months. However a new injection of Indian spices can turn an ordinary rack of ribs or chicken into something special. It gives new life to tired barbecue.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Easing Into Good Eating

Summer is widning down and with it some bad eating habits. Let's face it, all of us are guilty of either over indulging on goodies or just eating fast foods because we were too lazy to cook in hot weather. However with cooler weather comes better eating habits.With fall and schools comes nutrition.

Even though summer does provide us with a bounty of good , nutritious fruit and vegetables, we have a tendnecy to eat junk. Let's face it who can resist Boardwalk cotton candy and candy apples along with deep fried pickles and Oreos. We love drive in fare and drive through meals.A transition can be made even during a late August vacation. Pack fun fruits that are great nibbles . Think cherries and blueberries. Some blackberry bushes are still producing . Arrange a berry picking outing and then make a tasty dessert using them and honey.If the weather is still boiling and you;re all craving ice cream, think ice instead. It's less calorie and non dairy which means it's healthier for you

 You can start reforming meal time now as well. Try bringing salads instead of the usual fried fare when you're at the beach or on trips. Make them just as fun as a burger or dog by adding garbanzo beans, olives and/or croutons. Also try having a lunch of just crudites and a fun low cal dip such as ranch or a simple vinaigrette. Dinner can be just as healthy. Chop up egg plants, tomatoes and onions for a healthy and tasty ratatouille. Serve with toasted pita instead of the usual French or Italian bread. Consider a simple grilling of chicken with lemon and olive oil or rubbed with healthy spices such as turmeric. Even just a plain steak with a baked potato is a light meal if you don;t add sauce to the steak and a ton of butter and sour cream to the potato.Finish with fresh fruit or a berry parfait made with Cool Whip.

Easing into a healthier diet for the fall is easy. It just means getting away from those fun but bad for your foods and returning to good foods. It doesn't take much but a sublte change every day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Good German Brown Bread

The Germans are known for their passion for baking. They make the decadently luscious Black Forest cake along with melt in your mouth cookies and pretzels. They should be commended on their breads which come in a variety of whole grains and standard white. These are pure heaven whether eaten with butter or with cold cuts like liverwurst.

I recently had the chance to enjoy a well baked German loaf of brown bread at the famed annual Volkfest in North Bergen , New Jersey.  The Old German Bakery of nearby Hoboken set up a booth and their wares were irresistible.Not only did I get a bag  full of tasty home made pretzels but also an unusual triangular dark bread . It was from Germany  and full of wholesome grains. Dark breads are a German tradition and there are several kinds. The best known is pumpernickel however there are also dark ryes that are good with any Teutomic cold cuts. The bakery is owned by a couple from the country and their goods and also ingredients are flown in from Germnay.

My bread was superb. I sliced it in thin slices and slathered the first pieces with butter..The mix of sweet butter with the salty, malty  graininess was just inspiring. After trying it I instantly decided that this would be the perfect base for any German cold cuts. I bought Boars Head liverwurst and with the dark bread - an excellent pairing. Dark bread bring out the rich flavor of deli meats. The liverwurst actually tasted sweeteand it was even creamy next to the slice;s rough texture.I would have loved to have tried it with that deli rarity - teawurst. Tomorrow it may grace bologna or ham along with a slathering of mustard.

Nothing beats a good loaf of German brown bread. Every slice is a wonderful mix of healthy and tasty. It can go with just ordinary butter or a delicious slice of German cold cuts.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Creating The Perfect Party

How many of us have attended parties where the food was lousy and the drinks barely potable? If yes is the answer consider it a learning experience.It can show you how to throw a perfect one with delicious food and yummy drinks. learn from other people's mistakes. Also take into some advice as well.

Party food should be diverse. I've attended everything from showers to birthday bashes where eating choices were limited. Vary the menu. If you're serving sandwiches, try to have a wide range of meat and cheese fillings. Also take into consideration there many be vegans or vegetarians at your table. Have  something to suit their tastes.Also don't think serving just one salad with these is going to cut it. Try different salads  and not just the usual tossed, macaroni or potato. Look on the Internet or in your cookbook for new recipes to add a fresh spin. Also consider having bowls of fresh veggies along with dips. These make a fun and exciting sides.

Another must do is having a table of both hot and cold dishes. This makes the party  or gathering much more interesting. Yes ,you still can have three bean salad along with wraps but add something hot like ratatouille or sliders for an interesting twist. Many people love to bring casseroles. Nix this by suggesting moussaka or a baked mac made with three cheeses. A hot pasta dish may be too much yet a lasagna  would be perfect at any party. It's not only hot , but can be made interesting by switching the ingredients. Sub in chicken or turkey for the usual beef and maybe try a creamy bechamel sauce  instead of the typical tomato one.

A good party should have good food. Remember that wen you start planning your get together. Don;t fall into a rut and serve boring grub. Liven up your menu means livening up your do.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Slush Fun

Almost everyone loves a good Slurpee or Slushee. Those mushy half frozen drinks are good on hot summer days. The only problem is that they can be too sweet or too much. The solution is making them at home which is now easy. Get a Slushy Magic and your favorite drink.

I admit I caved in for this one. I'm a huge fan of those Icee or Slushie drinks at Target . They're cool and fun along with being tasty. Unfortunately the snack bar doesn't always sell cola which I crave at times. I thought why not get something that can give you the same effect. I bought Slushy Magicand can have my frozen drink whenver I want to , It works under the premise of snowflake science. In other words , the special cubes (read little plastic bags full of salt water) transform any liquid into hundred of ice crystals. It;s easier than using a blender and ice cubes.Well it claims to be.

The kit comes with a large cup that looks like a cocktail shaker and a lid with a tiny hole in it (this is for Slushies made with soda and it lets out the gases)It also comes with a long spoon /straw as well. I froze the cubes overnight and tried it  with one of my carbonated Ice waters. These are flavored and no calorie.I thought it would make a perfect Slushie. The problem is that it takes finesse to create the perfect frozen drink. After putting in both the cubes and drink, you put the lid on the shaker and  well shake. Little did I know there would be a slight leak and my  Ice water got all over the place. After rescrewing the cap on and vigorously shaking I did get some slush - not much. I guess it takes practice.

There's nothing like a Slushie on these hot days. With Slushie Magic you can have any flavor you want. Just practice and get the perfect  cold treat .

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Julia's Floating Island

Is there nothing more elegant than an ile flottante or floating island dessert?it's a delicate combination of a sweet liquidy custard dotted with meringue puffs. When  it's Julia Child's recipe it's even more special  with a certain Gallic twist to it. It's not only classic but delicious too.
Madame Child's recipe was the subject of A Good Appetite's column in yesterday's New York Times. Melissa Clark gives an homage to her childhood favorite that her parents, huge Julia Child affectionadoess made. As a child it was one of her favorite desserts. An ile flottante is a syrupy kind of custard dotted with mergingue puffs, hence the name floating island.It is the perfect dessert to make not only to impress people (]it's up there with Cherries Jubilee)  but also to finish off a nice roast with the trimmings.You can make it during any time of can end a summer soiree as easily as in a holiday meal.

Since it is a Julia Child recipe , it is a labor intensive one.Floating island requires meringues to be mad which are not always easy. It's a two day prep with a cooling process of one day. The custard for it can be too sweet so Ms. Clark  added apricots to give it the appropriate tartness.It does require one half cup of sugar to balance out the milk and four egg yolks used..You can make it without the fruit or add another kind such as blueberries or cherries. You can also leave it plain as well. However since the meringue is also super sweet , the dessert should have some bite.

Julia Child' s legacy continues to new generations of chefs and home cooks. Her desserts are as elegant now as they were during the Fifties  and Sixties. Iles flottante is evidence of that  of what she gave us   delicate French cooking made for American tastes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday , Julia!

Today would have been Julia Child's one hundredth birthday.She changed American cooking for the better ,offering Americans the chance to improve and widen their tastes and culinary skills.It's only fitting that today's New York Times Dining section honors her.

There are two great articles paying homage to one of the world's best chefs since Auguste Escoffier. One is by Times regular Julia Moskin who was named after Ms. Childs.Ms/ Moskin not only gives us her best recipes such as the buttery and fruity dessert clafoutis but also the robust and flavorful coulis de tomates a la provencale.but also her memories of her parents creating Ms Childs. recipes. This former OSS agent gave everyone around the US the chance to expand their culinary wings. (including my mom who made her spinach torte, stuffed with fresh spinach , bacon and mushrooms in a melt in your mouth buttery crust).Even today a whole new generation is enjoying her rich , recipes that say the heck with diet and health recipes, bring on the eggs , butter and alcohol.

The second article is a lovely memoire from the great French-American chef Jacques Pepin. Monsieur Pepin gives us how he met Ms Childs.It was the early Sixties thanks to Helen McCully who reviewed Ms, Childs cookbook for House Beautiful. "She had called the great chef "that really tall woman with the really terrible voice."Yet she and Chef Pepin had a long lasting beautiful relationship that even saw them on a PBS cooking show together. They even cooked together as friends, making delicious but surprisingly simple meals at Ms. Childs' house in Boston.They had an excellent rapport , especailly between two chefs.

Julia Child got Americans thinking about good cuisine again. Not since this country's Golden Age of the Late 1800's has food been so revered. She changed that - allowing us to appreciate good cooking and good food. Happy Centennial Birthday , Julia!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Treat Anchovies

Not many fish translate into a summer dish,Usually it's just salmon and shrimp  and possibly cod. Yet there is one kind that goes well with  everything from grilled steak to a fresh salad.It's the anchovy, that silvery, shimmery fish  with its' sweet briny flavor.It adds to both hot and cold dishes  , making it an excellent choice year round.

Anchovies are a staple in Mediterranean cooking from the Riviera to the Italian Piedmonte. In Piedmont they;re mostly a main ingredient in winter dishes namely the delightful hot sauce bagna calda. however one Piedmontese winter dish can easily be translated into a summer one. It is filet mignon with anchovies. For the winter it's the meat cooked in a skillet with butter and then the anchovies are added to the drippings. This is them poured over the beef as a sauce The summer version can be  filet mignon grilled over wood and then with eith, theer a warm or cold sauce , the anchovies are then poured over it. The taste is still the same, a union of sweet tender meat and flavorful fish that is palate blowing.

Of course anchovies also shine in a nice salad. You can create the Provencale classic, salad Nicoise with them and tuna. It's a hearty  and healthy mix where you can improvise  by adding all sorts of veggies along with hard boiled eggs. Peppers and anchovies are another great mix, and a favorite in Torinese cafes. Char green peppers and serve cold, mixed with anchovies ,olive oil and garlic. Anchovies can also be added to just a regular salad to give it more oomph too. The only caveat is don;t mix it with a "heavy" dressings such as Russian , French or Thousand Island.Only have it with a vinaigrette made from olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Anchovies can easily be used either winter or summer. They're great in warm weather dishes from the grill to the salad bowl. Try them for a tasty surprise!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Step Away From The Grill

By now everyone has had at least one cookout or has been invited to one. As much as we all love barbecued meats and even veggies, we  are putting ourselves at risk by eating them. Surprisingly many don't know the dangers of that charred hot dog or well done hamburger. There are alternatives however that can be subbed in.

Grilling requires two ingredients - flame and meat. The flame or what causes charcoal briquettes to ignite and smolder come from lighter fluid which is a petro chemical. Petro chemicals can be carcinegenic on any level. Cosmetics, lotions , and even baby products are made with them. Lighter fluid is another scary byproduct that has serious  consequences if used frequently..When it heats up and converts to smoke it engulfs the meat with cancerous particles. Of course the meat doesn't help . The juice drips down onto the briquette and reacts with what's known as PAH or polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons. This can. lead to colon and rectal cancers later on.

What to do for all those grilled meat lovers? There are alternatives such as a chimney starter. This method doesn't rely on harmful petrochemicals but instead on newspaper lighted over coals. You can also just use newspaper as well. Also  drizzling olive oil or vegetable oil on the papers before lighting makes for an adequate enough flame.You can also use wood chips too or even splintered firewood. Experiment with  different woods such as hickory or maple along with apple to give your meats a truly delicious flavor without the fear of illness.

Grilling is the all American past time. Yet it can be dangerous and hazardous to your health. Try to cut down on outdoor cooking or switch to the healthier wood version. You'll be doing your body a favor.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Charley's Cheesesteaks

Mall food is just that  - mall food. It's usually a slice of pizza or a burger which are not that filling. Enter Charley's Cheese steaks - a tasty and filling alternative to all that food cour drek. Having a satisfying hot sandwich is the perfect antidote to those post shopping hunger pangs.

Thanks to a misguided turn into Philadelphia Pennsylvania, the founder and creator , Charley (no last name supplied) tried the city's most famous food the cheese steak and fell instantly in love. he took it back to his native Columbus Ohio and started a sub shack on OSU's campus.It was a success and franchising soon followed.Now Charley's cheesecake is all over the world.offering all sorts of variations on the great sandwich, including chicken and breakfast versions with bacon and eggs..Charley's is also known for its' homemade lemonade and ice teas too .

I tried it for the first time last night and enjoyed the veggie lover's one.This is sans cheese steak but loaded with three kinds of cheese ranging from Swiss to provolone. Every sandwich, with meat or not has  quick grilled onions.It was savory and filling with added peppers and mushrooms. Two people can share a sandwich , thanks to its' generous size.I would love to try the original which has steak , onions and provolone cheese..There is also one with bacon added along with bleu cheese. I had their cup of fries. These were tasty and super crunchy.

Head to Charley's Cheese steaks for a tasty alternative to mall food. There's nothing as satisfying as a sub chick full of steak  , onion and cheese. It's a great pick me up after a day of heavy duty shopping.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Sip Of Italy

This time of years calls for evenings sitting on the deck or in the yard cocktail in hand. What better than an Italian based drink . You can close your eyes and pretend you're on a yacht of the Sardinian coast or a cafe on Rome's Via Veneto.

You can create a taste of Italy with the liqueurs Aperol and Cynar. The New York Times Wednesday's Pour column, writer Jennifer Steinhauer has fun recreating cocktails that are perfect just for sipping by oneself or enjoying with friends.Aperol is a slightly bitter creation but goes down easy aperitif.It was first made in  Padua, Italy in 1919 and is a mix of orange rind, spice and just a hit of rhubarb.It goes well poured over ice but can also be mixed with seltzer for some fizz,There's also a cool and fizzy cocktail made with it, Prosecco, the Northern Italian sparkling wine along with soda water and an orange slice. Think of having this outside, late on a summer evening.

Cynar is another Italian standard, similar to both Aperol and Campari. It has long been a standard here and goes in and out of favor. It is a sweet drink made surprisingly from has the vegetables' sweet taste and , like it makes any food eaten with it sweeter tasting. To be honest it's a harder sell than Aperol, probably because of its' make up.  Who wants to drink liquified and fermented artichokes?Yet  you can create tasty drinks with this classic from the Don Draper era (it was created by Campari in 1952))The simplest is pairing it with seltzer however it can be mixed with bourbon or rum and other bitters such as Angostura or celery.

When it just gets too hot and muggy , settle down with an cooling cocktail. Add Italy's 's best either with Aperol or Cynar. It's a taste of the Mediterranean without all that travel hassle.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Truffles American Style

Truffles have always been a European treat.Legendary here and the dream of may gourmets and foodies alike , this fungi was imported at exorbitant prices. However that's all changing. It's now being cultivated in North America- with hopefully lower prices.

Dining section newcomer, Nick Czap explored this new territory on the American eating scene in yesterday's New York Times. He found that truffles are not only being grown in Italy's Piemonte  but now in Oregon.The state is home to four kinds of the delicious fungi: the Oregon black truffle, the Oregon winter white, the Oregon spring white and the rare Oregon brown truffle. The black truffle variety emits an aroma of pineapple and dark chocolate combined, while the white and brown have a more pungent smell , a mix of sulphur and ripe cheeses. While Europeans have been hunting truffles for centuries, Oregon's quest is relatively new starting with the great chef ,James Beard , promoting it, as late as 1977

There is also a unique difference between American and Italian harvesting techniques. Truffles have long been sniffed and snuffled out by dogs and pigs.(Italian law mandates that only dogs can now sniff out the mushroom). The US uses search  rescue dogs, from papillons to Labs along with Newfoundlands and Beaucerons to  to find the delicacy. Any canine can be trained to be a truffle dog. He or she just has to withstand the conditions which are sometimes cold and always damp.

Truffles have always been the domain of European gourmets. yet that is changing. With more foodies discovering the Oregon genuses, there will be more need for the home grown variety. It also means more American born dogs will turn into truffle hounds too - a good thing for truffle lovers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tons Of Tomatoes

August is the times for tomatoes. Nothing says summer more than a ripe red beauty bursting with juice and flavor. Not only are these good on their own with a sprinkle of sea salt, they amazing in a variety of recipes. Any kind from cherry to beefsteak is  the best ingredient in any summer meal!

Lush tomatoes were the subject of an article written by the Dining section's regular Melissa Clark in today's New York Times food section. She has many good recipes for what has turned out to be a bumper crop for Summer 2012. Thanks to perfect weather situations, from good temps to no flooding, these delicious gems are in abundance. You can have them anyway from the traditional pasta sauces to tasty salads.What's even better is that there are so many different kinds out there now  from the small  plump cherry to the hearty  beefsteaks.

Ms. Clark goes for the usual route with them  - salad - but with a twist. She offers up a Caesar salad full of cherry tomatoes. This also includes a nice mix of garlic  , anchovies and Parmesan along with romaine lettuce. It;s a wonderful blend of brininess from the anchovies to the tomatoes sugary sweetness. She also has a fig and tomato salad, with a sprinkling of blue cheese. It's an interesting combo, perfect for a summer barbecue. The best recipe, though, is her bread salad,. This is a favorite
,that she makes with country bread(I would use Italian and French though for more chewiness and flavor) She a;so adds Spanish sausage for crunch and a spice along with a Spanish onion. This would make just a nice dinner by itself.

It 's the season of tomatoes. Use them anyway you want. However they're heavenly in a good salad, where their flavor can shine!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Building A Better Cheese

There's a big experiment going on right now.It's trying to keep cheese tasty while subtracting calories. Can it be done? Can our grilled cheese  and cheese burgers be a combo of healthy and yummy? Scientists ate working on this.

The dilemma was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Science Times. The  article, written by Henry Fountain, delves into creating a better slice . The problem is sacrifice what makes cheese delicious, namely salt and fat will take away the rich  buttery flavor and moist texture. Fat gives the cheese not only its' flavor but also its' moisture. Without it it basically feels like you're enjoying an eraser. Salt , which enhances the cheese's flavor also controls moisture and bacterial activity.

The problem in creating a healthier fromage is creating one that is something the general public will literally eat up. A lot of cheese makers balk at the idea of making a cheddar or Swiss dietetic because it means no sales and a lousy tasting slice. Some are experimenting with low fat Camenberts and low salt Roquefort. The key is the process itself.  Cornell  University professor David M.Balbano is developing steps where the cheese is put through a centrifuge and the fats are spun out.This results in shreds that are then put back together in block form. The taste is pretty much the same as a regular cheese without all the calories

Can there be a tasty and healthy cheese . Scientists are working on it. In the meantime, enjoy the rich buttery taste of your favorite  - just eat less. of it

Monday, August 6, 2012

Simple Summer Cooking

No one likes to be slaving over a hot burner or dealing with cooking an entire meal during these hot days. Yet there's nothing like a home cooked meal no matter what the temperature is. What to do?. Just simplify your winter dishes.

Everyone loves a roasted chicken. It's a nice meal to come home to, especially if it;s surrounded by all the trimmings. You can roast the bird on a grill, using the beer can method or buying a specially designed stand for it. Add instant mashed potatoes and jarred gravy that can be easily heated up. For greens go for a sauteed broccoli rabe or spinach.Pot roast is another dish than can be simplified for summer.It can be roasted on the grill, and even spiced up with barbecue sauce. The cut can also be slow cooked in a crockpot too. Serve it with barbecued or easy baked potatoes and again a jarred or instant gravy.

There's nothing like a hot pasta to come home to. Pasta itself is easy to make,simply boil water add salt and toss in whatever kind you want. It's the sauce that's always labor intensive. However you can also simplify this by melting butter over the pasta and having it con burro style. Just sprinkle Parmesan and parsley to finish it.. Another easy sauce is alia e olio, a simple mix of olive oil and garlic. If you want it spicy  then add a dash  of hot pepper flakes over it before serving, You could also saute the above greens such as broccoli rabe or spinach for a quick and very healthy sauce.

There's not hing like a hot meal even when the temps are swiftly ascending. it can still be if you just simplify the cooking technique.It's easy fixing but hearty eating.\

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Too Hot To Eat

This is the e time of year when temps spike and the air is thick with humidity.It's also the time when our appetites decrease because of the excessive heat. We become everything from lethargic to just plain lazy.It's even a chore to eat yet we have to . The question is how do we stimulate a lagging appetite?

Always remember summer eating is light eating.Don't beat yourself up because you;re not eating thee square meals a day. Sometimes just a bowl of cold cereal along with a cup of coffee or tea makes the perfect breakfast as opposed to the  whole works, full of bacon toast and eggs. Even a piece of fruit such as a plum or a nectarine can kick off the day. These also make good snacks too because they're easy to carry around and easy to eat A bowl of mixed fruit is not only tempting but it can provide you with the required antioxidants and vitamins along with minerals.

Lunch and dinner can be tricky.Lunch is especially hard because it's during the hottest time of the day. Sometimes you don't feel like eating anything, preferring to snack. Don't fall  into this. Go for a salad along with an iced tea.You can make one yourself or buy a tasty one form any place even the fast food joints. Fill it with grilled chicken for protein along with a variety of veggies. Keep the portion small. Dinner can be just a s light with a miso soup. If you're up to it, try making an airy tempura of fresh veggies and your favorite meats. .It's a fun and crunchy way of teasing the appetite. Even finger sandwiches can be made for a summer dinner. They're these small delicate bites of various fillings on thin bread slices.

Summer weather can decrease the appetite yet don't let it. Eat light, eat healthy. You can survive the scorching temps and horrible humidity by having lighter than air meals

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pie Time, sugar lemon juice

August means a bumper crop of fresh fruits. Cherries, apples , peaches and blueberries abound which means they're always at hand. This cornucopia of  summer's bounty also means enough fruit for homemade pie filling. There's nothing like a homemade pie bursting with rich rip flavors.

This was the subject of an article by Cathy Barrow in the New York Times Dining section on Wednesday/. She cannot pick a better time for pie filling because this si the high season for fruits. What's great about pie filling is that you can make it for now or for baking during the holidays. Another plus is that it's super easy to make and you don't have to rely on those tinned versions that are full of chemicals. You can enjoy a pie that is all natural from the crust to the inside.

This recipe is for blueberry filling but it can be used for any kind of fruit. The ingredients are simple.They're a mix of conrstarch, sugar lemon juice and of course the fruit of choice. Ms Barrow also give the option of almond extract and Grand Marnier for extra zing however it's up to you to add what you want. It's a simple boiling and then like jam , poured into sterilized jars. These are again placed in boiling water  and sealed securely with sealing rings. The filling can keep up for nine months.Most however are used way before that expiration date.

There's nothing more delicious than a freshly baked pie. Adding to its' rich flavor is a homemade filling with fresh picked fruit. The taste is amazing  - a perfect salute to the bounty of the summer

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Good Marinade

This is the height of grilling season. Every cut of meat from steaks to burgers are going to be cooked over an open flame. Unfortunately most outdoor cooking can leave any meat dried out and flavorless. If that's the case then use a good homemade marinade.It will make it juicy and chock full of flavor.

This was the topic of Melissa Clarke's A Good Appetite Column in yesterday's New York Times Dining. She offers up a tasty blend of sweet and sour perfect for any kind of cut , but aimed at the flank. Usually this cut is dense and often dries out .It needs a good marinade to turn it into a memorable and delicious cut of beef.,Ms. Clark also offers hints on marinating, telling readers to marinate as long as possible to ensure a softer ,buttery texture.The best period of time is overnight.The meat will not be tough and chewy  otherwise,

The marinade itself is a  tasty blend of sweet, salty and hot.She adds chopped jalapenos and ginger for heat along with sriracha ,a Thai condiment made of garlic and chimi paste. Sweetness comes with light brown sugar blended  For  more flavor use garlic and scallions. Lime juice is thrown in for  color and zest. You can vary this if you want. Nix the jalapenos or ginger if you don't want the marinade too fiery or cut down on the scallions for less  bite. For more sweetness, add orange juice instead of lime and think about ginger crystals  as well.

A marinade can make even the dullest flank steak amazing. All it takes is a variety of different tastes and a good overnight bath. It leaves your grill with a tasty dish that;s good hot or cold.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Smorgasbord Revisited

Minnesota has always been known for its' rich Scandinavian heritage. It was here that multitudes of Norwegians and Swedish settled this wilderness.With them came an equally rich culinary history that went by the wayside. However thanks to many loyal chefs , the hearty fish and meat dishes of the past are coming back.

Julia Moskin wrote about the Scandinavian food comeback in today's New York Times Dining section.  For a long time newer immigrants stamped their cooking tradition on Minneapolis/St.Paul area. There were more tacos and bao rolls than lutefisk and glug.That's all changing. There's the reappearance of smorgas or open face sandwiches along with the fave kladdkaka or sticky chocolate cake,A new breed of chefs are also coming to the Twin Cities , bringing with them true recipes. One is Swedish American chef Paul Bergelund who cooks with the the three Scandinavian musts, butter bread and fish.Butter is a must in the cooking simply because it was considered gold to the early settlers who came from Norway and Sweden where it was also heavily taxed.

There is also an offshoot to this "Nouvelle Nordic" This involves cooking with the wild rice that is indigenous to northern Minnesota. It was eaten by the local tribes and now is braised in cream to create a luxurious porridge that could be served with either fish or beef. There's also a version of krydderfedt , a  traditional Danish  spread for toast made from rendered fat of various meats.It's now slathered on pickled lake perch.,Spices such as dill and coriander,long staples in both Scandinavian and Scandanavian American households are being twisted in various recipes to give them fire and kick.

The whole Nordic way of life and philosophy has always been deeply ingrained in Minnesotans. Now the traditional menu is also becoming a strong part of of their lives as well. It defines not only their palate but their sturdiness and steel strong sensibility