Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Foodie Resolutions

Most New Year's resolution revolve around quitting vices and improving our lives.One of the best is modifying our diets.The benefits are legion and unlike smoking or drinking. Is surprisingly easy to do.It does take a will.Yet it also takes a way too and that way is just being a smirk eater and shopper. One of the easiest ways of amending your diet is just reading labels.Be aware of what is put into your food.Check not only how much calories and fat but also the percentages of vitamins and minerals that are in it.Also be familiar with natural and man made ingredients.The more the company uses whole grains and less preservatives ,the better the product.Another way to healthier living is buying organic.Most super markets now have extensive organically grown fruits and veggies .Start buying these and freely incorporate them into your daily diet.Choose whole grains breads and even flour.Seven grain breads actually taste better than just plain old white bread.Switch to these for sandwiches and morning toast.The same for rice.Nix the white kind and start giving your family brown wild rice.Again it's more flavorful and you and your family will actually like the switch. One of the biggest New Year's resolutions is forgoing snacks,both sweet and salty.Unfortunately this is broken by mid January.You don't have to give up snacking if you eat healthy.You can still have nibbles ,not just rich ones.Instead of potato chips ,try whole grain pretzels.Another idea is baked potato chips ,made without all that grease and oil.For dips sub in plain Greek yogurt and onion flakes for a healthy dip.Hummus is another great snack.It's high in protein and Vitamin B.Serve it with crudités or fresh made pita chips.Sweets are always on the must give up list.Instead of candy ,then re discover fruit.Enjoy oranges and tangerines right now and berries when summer comes.This is the year to discover the monk fruit which creates a natural sugar.You can buy it at any grocery and use it to sweeten teas and coffees.As for that bane of any diet, soda, get rid of it and sub in flavored seltzers. You have the bubble and taste but without all that sugary badness. Resolve to eat better in the new year.It's easier than you think , especially when you rediscover all the good basics like fruit and veggies.You'll not only rejoice but your body will too!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Your Healthiest Party Ever

new Year's Eve parties are rarely known for their healthy and low calorie foods and drinks.Yet you can be a concerned host and actually serve nibbles and shots that are good for your guests.These are not only beneficial for the waistline but also for the psyche too.None will wake unfeeling either bloated or even hung over. As I've always stated a party is defined by its' foods.Party foods should be fun and full of flavor.They don't have to have empty calories and fat.One of the easiest dips to make is salsa.It's also chockfull of vitamins and minerals.Start with tomatoes and onions.You can add corn or scallions for some thing different.Some add mangoes too.Serve with whole wheat tortilla chips.Dips can also be healthier by subbing in plain Greek yogurt for sour cream.Kabobs ,always a party fave can be made with grilled chicken or shrimp. Add peppers and eggplant for variety. Asian style appetizers are always a good choice.Start with shredded chicken and fill with carrots,Ginger and carrots. Use regular lettuce for the exteriors .This can be served hot because it just takes five minutes to cook and create.A variation of lettuce cups which is just putting scoops of the chicken mix into whole lettuce leaves.Mini pizzas are also good.Try whole wheat pita as a base and fresh tomatoes instead of sauce. Drinking and toasting are a New Year's tradition.Yet too much can cause tremendous damage.What you can do is sub in the non alcoholic ciders and champagnes(yes they do exist). if not think about spritzers.This is taking any wine and combining it with seltzer. Red wine on it's own is chock full of antioxidants. You can make it less alcoholic by loading it with ice and letting the ice melt.Another idea is drink liquor.It's low in calories.Surprisingly most martinis are also low in calories as are gin and tonics.For safety ,add just a hint of gin and go heavy on the tonic.For beer drinkers have lite beers handy.However the healthiest and sanest drink for the New Year's is a flute of flavored seltzer with a twist of lemon. Also have black coffee ready for those driving home in the early hours. A New Year's party should have special food and special drink.Start it off right with healthy food and drink.It'll be a great way of starting the new year right.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Holiday Trip To Greece

Holiday fare is always special.There are always traditional foods and drinks to sample and savor.One of the oldest inEurope, and perhaps the world is Greece.It is millennia old and full of interesting ingredients as well as stories.Both Christmas and New Year's are no different. Christmas in the Greek Orthodoxy comes after a forty day fasting period.The dishes are well thought out and celebratory.Since eggs and dairy were forbidden during the fast Christmas Eve dishes are loaded with eggs and dairy.One is Sesame Baklava ,redolent with honey and sesame seeds.Meat include pork and the ever present lamb.The last has been used in feasts and dinners since antiquity.With it comes Christ's bread or Christopsomo.It's sort of like fruitcake with the added boost of red wine and brandy.Spice cookies or melomakarona share the spotlight too.This is an orange cinnamon cookies that are soaked in a honey based syrup after baking.The Northern Greeks have contributed stuffed cabbage to the dinner table as well. Christmas is surprisingly a minor holiday in the Greek calendar.New Year's Dayr or the Feast of St Basil is the star.Here young men dive into icy waters in his name to retrieve a gold crucifix that Orthodox priests have previously tossed into either bay ,ocean or river.There is the traditional cake with his name.A coin is baked into it and it brings good luck to the one who finds it.Greek shortbreads or kourapiedes are made too.Nuts and fresh fruit are also put out on the table too, symbolizing hope for a prosperous new year.Pork is also served ,usually roasted for the meal of the day. Greece is a country long on holiday traditions as well as foods.They celebrate with gusto as they create time honored dishes.They make both Christmas and New Year's memorable with aromas and flavors.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Party Treats

With New Year's beckoning and holiday open houses happening ,it's time to look into fun party nibbles.These are the kind that everyone loves (or will love).After all nothing defines a party more than its'food.Keep guests sated with hors d'ouevres that rock the house and satisfy your guests. There are two great recipes to try , thanks to the Christmas issue of the New York Times Dining section.Melissa Clark offers a Southern classic grits while David Tanis gives us a spin on blinis.Ms. Clark gets her recipe from chef Kyle Knall at New York's Mayville Restaurant.This is a supremely easy recipe.The only labor intensive step is cooking the grits for an hour to an hour and a half.Afterwards fry them in grape seed oil.The golden squares are topped with shredded ham slices and bourbon mayo.The mayo is a quick recipe,with homemade mayo.Dijon mustard and lemon juice is added for more flavor.To continue the theme, you could serve bourbon shots with the squares. David Tanis of the City Kitchen column offers a more traditional fare in the shape of blinis.Inspired by ano D Eartha Kitt song "Mink Schmink" that has a line about chicken blintzes.Mr.Tanis fills them with roasted chicken along with rich Chanterelle mushrooms.Along with the golden fungi,leeks are also used to impart more flavor.Creme fraiche is also added.On it's own this filler would be elegant over toasted brioche as a kind of luxe chicken ala king.The blinis can be made in advance but you could also make them with crepe batter too.Mr.Tanis adds a dollop of more creme fraiche and mushrooms on top of the blinis.He recommends them with a glass of celebratory champagne but a good white wine will do too. Good food means a good party.Have an update of a Southern classic or a Russian favorite for your holiday party.If you're a busy host or hostess ,serve both.They are delicious treats your guests will truly love.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Le Saison Pour Chocolat

This is the week for sweets.No matter where you are in the world right now candies rule .France ,the center of good food and good wine is no different.The French delight in all things chocolate and The Christmas season is no exception. Elaine Sciolino got the chance to write about this in yesterday's special Christmas New York Times Dining edition.She sampled some of France's best cocoas.The all time best is from a town outside of Grenoble inVoiron.Chocolatier,Stephane Bonnat has created premium chocolates by checking the beans first for insects and then mold.They are then cleaned and roasted on an toque roasting machine.There are several other processes before the beans are turned into edible silk.Since the area is also known for the acid green liqueur chartreuse, there are chocolates filled with them.There are also bars such as le Madagascar which has a sublet flavor and the Cote d'Ivoire,which has a perfumed light flavor in the mouth.There is also one that celebrates Peru's contribution to the industry. Monsieur Bonnat has competition in the unlikely famed chef, Alain Ducasse. Chef Ducasse is known more his famed restaurant.As he does with his signature dishes he goes overboard with his chocolate making.He does it from scratch,much the same way chocolatiers did a century ago?Unfortunately the reviews have not been favorable.The best and actually most affordable is Vahlrona.It comes from Lyons in the south of France.It is smooth and silky ,perfect for eating on it's own or added as a luxe ingredient.Surprisingly the family who owned it sold it to French industrial giant Groupe Soparind Bongrain. Anything chocolate is a staple right now.The French have taken this holiday classic and turned it into a high art.Vive le chocolate!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Food Filled Christmas

Have a very merry Christmas filled with good food and tasty treats. Remember to give to those less fortunate than you. Most of all celebrate with those Eat well eat wisely

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Very Foodie Christmas

For all my readers around the world have a very merry Christmas. This is the time to indulge not only in your favorite recipes but also in old family ones as well.This is the night of the thirteen fish if you're from Naples and if you come from Germany ,springele cookies.If you're in England. Leave ale and mince pies out for Father Christmas.In America Santa Claus will get stuffed tonight on all sorts of yummy home baked cookies. For all my foodie's out there enjoy this night with your family. celebrate the birth of Jesus with a special meal and a special prayer.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Your Christmas Dinner List

The big holiday meal is only less than two days away.By now you should have everything.Or do you?Here is acheck list of what you should have.If you run short,the stores are open tomorrow which allows you to fill any gaps. Yes ,you probably have the roast and hopefully you have the sides too.If you're making stuffing then check to see how much bread you have.You don't want to run short with it.Another thing to check is alternativesides.Thanks to the host of allergies people have these days.Another idea is to make sure your most finicky eaters also have a good variety to choose from.Keep extra cans of green beans ,beets and even potatoes on the side.Flour may be in short supply too, thanks to holiday baking.You'll need it to thicken gravies and make roux.Check to see if you have enough butter and olive oil too.These figure heavily in food prep and you certainly don't want to run out of them during crucial cooking time.Aluminium foil and Saran wrap should also be on hand for storing leftovers or making doggie bags. The little things count too.If you're planning on a hot hors d'ouevres ,make sure there's enough for everyone.Figure two tidbits per person.Antepastos should also be plentiful.Favorites such as salame and olives will go quick.Have a back up supply on the ready to support that need.The end of the meal should be just as planned.Have different teas in the background to suit your guests' tastes.There should also be caf and decaf coffee too as well as honey and stevia for those who prefer more natural sweeteners.Liquor cabinets should also be filled and make sure you have enough wine for everyone. For the kids you can have soda but also have fruit juice and sparkling water too.Dinner should end with mints and toothpicks.Have a dish of both with extras waiting on the side. Don't let your masterpiece of a holiday dinner be ruined by shortages.Take stock of what yup have.If you've forgotten or don't have enough you have time to run out and get it.Be prepared.Be well stocked for your Christmas meal.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tangerine Time

One of the best things about December is that it's tangerine season.There's nothing that beats this sweet citrus and it's" sweet tangy taste.It's also versatile too - adding a new spin to traditional winter dishes. Tangerines are one of the oldest fruits in the world.They originated from China and Japan around three thousand years ago ,a deviation from the Mandarin orange.The name actually comes from the North Africa,Tangiers Morroco.They were first shipped there in 1841 to Europe .First called tangiera they were then known as tangerines.The fruit is the perfect cold weather deterrent to colds and flus.They are rich in Vitamin C but also beta carotene and Vitamin A. tangerines should only be stored in the fridge for seven days.A ripe one will feel heavy and have a loose skin. Tangerines are not only good on their own but also in dishes.The juice is an excellent addition to a homemade vinaigrette.You can also add the wedges to any salad.A refreshing spin is a grilled chicken salad with tangerine wedges and almonds.It's also yummy in a spicy shrimp jambalaya.You could also use the juice for wok fried Chinese beef.It's a wonderful marinade for pork chops and even pork roast.Ofcourse it can be used in desserts.Tangerines can be used to make refreshing sorbets.If you're ambitious you could also try making tangerine marmalade ,perfect for family brunches or breakfasts.Tangerines also lend some exoticism to cookies and scones too. This is tangerine season .Pick up a few and enjoy them as a sweet ,healthy snack or in a tasty dish.They are not just good but good for you.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ice Cream For Dessert

Ice cream is not one of those desserts that goes with Christmas or even in winter.Yet it's a nice change from the traditional baked goods.A simple scoop can offset an elegant roast dinner while a sundae can be a treat at the children's table.There's also a bigger choice of ice creams and even sorbets to choose from than there are with cakes and cookies. Ice cream can be made elegant simply by how it's served. A single serving is truly something served in a elegant glass bowl.One idea that is a perfect foil for after Goose or hams vanilla is ice cream served with a drizzle of brandy.For a refreshing change try peppermint, which is sold right now or a simple chocolate chip mint.You can also try a Neapolitan ,strawberry,vanilla and chocolate ice-cream molded into a stria effect.Tortone ,a Southern Italian treat, ice cream with a chocolate shell .This can be bought at any supermarket or can be made at home.Take scoops of your favorite then pour hard shell chocolate sauce over it.Affogato is another hip frozen dessert.Roll ice cream balls in ground almonds and cocoa powder.Serve in a cup of steaming espresso.If you feel that any ice cream maybe too heavy after an elaborate meal, then go for lighter fare.Try gelato or a refreshing lemon or orange sorbet to cleanse your palate. Frozen desserts are also a fun departure from the usual cookies and cakes.Friendly's ,the king of ice cream treats , have their famed Jubilee roll.This is type of buche de Noel.A cylinder of chocolate ice cream is covered with chocolate chip ice cream covered in fudge along with almonds and candy chips.You can make something similar at home.One looks like a giant ice cream sandwich ,made with ice cream and those famed chocolate wafers as a base.For a fun family party.You can take any pre made crust and fill it with ice cream and then a layer of whipped cream.One treat is a chocolate crust filled with a coffee ice-cream.Cover first with a layer of fudge sauce and decorative spritzes of ReddiWhip.You could also fill the crust with the kinds that have crushed candy in them.Top with more of the same crushed candy.Another neat idea is having the kids make their own ice cream sandwiches,using crushed candy canes and ribbon candy as decoration. Ice cream for Christmas? Why not? It's a refreshing departure from the tradition Holiday desserts.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dynasty Of Duck

If you want an elegant spin on your holiday meals then try duck.It is a notch up from chicken and turkey and makes for an elegant platter.It may be more labor intensive but the result is a tasty ,tender meal with a burnished,crispy skin.It will be the dinner family and friends will talk about all year long. David Tanis had decided to tackle the bird in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.His A City kitchen gives a primer on how to cook stand what sections are the juiciest.Many people are daunted by duck.After all it's the most complicated of poultry to roast.Some people slow spit roast it.This takes five hours but does give a bird a crackling skin with tender meat.The problem is staying outdoors with it during this weather.Forget Chinese style.Yes it gives you a magazine worthy bird but the cooking process involves everything from air drying ,steaming and then work frying. The best way is using an oven.French chefs and home cooks twice roast it.This means initially cooked until the breast is medium rare.It's then carved from the body and set aside.The duck is then returned to the oven so that legs are crisped before eating.Mr.Tanis prefers just oven roasting the whole bird.Sinced the bird has a high fat content ,it will smoke.Mr.Tanis also recommends dismantling any smoke alarms because they will go off.Also keep the oven fan on too.This draws the smoke out of the kitchen.Roast it for only two hours at about 350 degrees .he seasons his with orange zest and Ginger ,a more sophisticated spin on duck a l' orange.You could also just season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper too.Serve with simple dishes like mashed squash or Brussels sprouts. Try a roasted duck for an eye catching holiday meal.It is more elegant than the usual chicken or turkey.Duck is a tasty change that ' s also memorable too.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Spin On A Neapolitan Feast

The Neapolitans have a very set and traditional Christmas Eve meal.It is a centuries old fish dinner featuring twelve different kinds of seafood.Anyone can recreate this on Christmas Eve.In fact a few new twists can be thrown in to liven it up. Melissa Clark covered this in her A Good Appetite in today's New York Times Wednesday Dining section.She uses traditional squid, but instead of it being the breaded calamari ,it is a fried squid with a tangy Thai sauce.instead of serving it with tomato sauce ,Ms Clark has it with Asian fish sauce and fiery bits of jalapeno peppers. Some families do serve an entire fish but it's usually cod or as it's called baccala. She also suggests aa big fish because it's easier to debone.Choices include sea bass or Atlantic char.Mussels are also usua Ly served and Ms Clark gives them a more Provencale spin with garlic and butter. For different twists Ms Clark whips up drool worthy potato chips topped with a lemon infused sour cream and caviar. this would male an excellent appetizer, even for a holiday party.Another good horsd'ouevre is a hot crab and oyster dip on bruschetta.This is a tasty meld of the two seafoods mixed with jalapeño and a variety of cheeses.The fish can even be served as a side dish with an anchovy mustard vinaigrette over arugula and radicchio.Anchovies are blended with Dijon mustard and garlic to create a unique and savory dressing. Nothing is more traditional than the feast of fishes.There can be centuries old recipes but there can also be new ones.It's a great way of preserving one's culture while showcasing some awesome seafood.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Healthy Holiday Treats

This is the season to indulge in all sorts of goodies. There's plates of cookies to munch on and candies to nibble.They may taste good but they are  lethal. A steady diet of sugar , white flour and refined sugar is not healthy. Instead, treat yourself and your family to healthier sweets. They're not only delicious but good for you. Best of all you can eat as much as you like and not worry about the side effects.

Who doesn't love holiday cookies this time of year? The problem is that they taste so yummy that anybody can over eat. Meringues cookies are light and are made with a minimum of sugar and flour. Egg whites power these, creating a sweet indulgence without the many calories. Another baked treat is a fig and flax thumbprint cookie(this from the Eating Well site)/It is made with the healthier  and less processed brown sugar and always good for you flax seeds.Another good idea is nixing the white flour and subbing in whole wheat  flour for your recipes. You can still make chocolate chips or sugar cookies with it. Another healthy choice is the simple but traditional oatmeal cookie,Use whole oats for more chewiness along with raisins or dried cranberries for added flavor..

Homemade candy is always a fun Christmas or New Year's treat.Fudge heads the list however it's a fat bomb waiting to happen. Try a lighter version made with almond butter, cocoa and honey,This is an easy no cook kind that can be made in minutes. It just takes some mixing and then a quick stay in the fridge to harden. You can also make peanut butter cups using all natural peanut butter and dark chocolate along with coconut flour and stevia, a natural sugar substitute.Truffles, the perfect indulgence for anytime can also be turned from decadent to healthy.Start with coconut milk and coconut powder.From there you can add mashed banana, apple sauce or pumpkin along with cocoa powder and stevia. Put into th e freezer until solid and that's it. You can dust them with extra cocoa powder for more flavor.

It's the holidays. Treat yourself with homemade goodies. They're not only tasty but made with healthy ingredients. You can eat well on all levels thanks to these good for you treats!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Your Holiday Roast Guide

Roasts are the crown jewels of any holiday feast. They are not only delicious if cooked right but also picture perfect.They add a combination of grace and coziness to any table. The best part is that they're not as scary to make as some people think. Any  roast from goose to ham is pretty easy to cook, starting from prep time to carving..

The New York Times Sunday magazine devoted their entire cooking section  yesterday to these culinary diamonds.The Sunday Times Food editor, Sam Sifton gives his advice and recommendations on the classics. There is the traditional ham , turkey and goose along with the lesser known choices of beef rib roast and crown roast of pork. .These are great suggestions not only for Christmas but for also New Year's Day and especially for an open house. There will be enough meat to go around for that  and the leftovers can easily be made into sandwiches.Another plus are nuggets of useful information that appear in sidebars all over the article.One in particular is what sort of drink to serve with the meat you're serving.

What is great about this guide is that the details are meticulously laid out. If some prep, such as preparing a crown rib roast is too difficult, then , Mr Sifton suggests go to the butcher and have it done there.Two other suggestions are to  get a good meat thermometer and also heavily season the different meats for  optimum flavor. His recommendations for hams calls for a sweet -savory crust of brown sugar and mustard to offset the meat's saltiness. The beef rib roast has a simple rub of just salt , pepper and surprisingly flour/ he also provides the sides that go well with each dish too. Goose should have roasted potatoes and caramelized onions while turkey should have cornbread stuffing and hashed Brussels sprouts.

Holiday meals should have great roasts as their centerpieces.These gems are surprisingly easy to make and heavenly to eat. Choose from these classics and create a memorable meal both for Christmas and the New Year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snow Day Bake Day

A snow days stops everything, including school and work. Even though kids now have X-Boxes and Wii they can still become bored. For parents there's only so much telecommuting they can do too. A day off is a great way to reconnect especially over baking. It's a good time to try new recipes and put in some holiday cookie baking as well.

Your baking pantry should  already have flour (brown or whole wheat is preferred however you can use white) sugar or honey and various extras. If you're making your annual batch for Christmas, also have confectioner's sugar and extra butter or margarine for icing along with sprinkles, natural dyes, nuts  , raisins and chocolate chips. Of course of the kids (and you ) want easy and instant gratification then buy the logs of cookie dough. These slice and bakes are easy to make and decorate. They're also fun to eat and you can make a ton of them without sweating. A snow day  also a great time to make cupcakes and cakes,perfect rewards for shoveling the driveway.

A snow day can also mean a bread day. One of the easiest to make is a simple French or Italian bread. Unlike regular white bread , it just requires yeast ,flour water and a pinch of salt, Of course a homemade sandwich loaf won't go amiss either , This is made with butter and honey to give it volume and texture. Fresh bread is a great accompaniment to  any soup or stew and makes excellent toast for breakfast.Batter breads are another easy and fun choice with good results.Try a banana bread or walnut loaf to bring around smiles.Another fun option is making pizza. Kids will love making it especially when they can get creative with toppings.

A snow day means the family will be together. To combat those snowy day blahs, try baking. The process is always fun and the results are always tasty.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Nothing beats any kind ofretzel ,especially during this time of year.They're a holiday party staple as well as being a chill chaser ,eaten hot on the street.everyone thinks New York City owns this salty treat think again as competitor from Philly arrives on the foodie scene. It was the subject of an article in Wednesday's New York Daily News Now Foxus,Regular contributor,Jeannette Settembre wrote about Peltzer's Pretzels a new Brooklyn must go.Owner Leon Pelzer Kirkland and his wife,Barella, bring their version of the German classic to New York.This ISA different kind ,one that's twisted in to a knot with less salt.Philly pretzels are more about flavor than they are about size.Also they are free of those large sodium chunks everyone in the Metro area loves. what's sort of sad is that this city institution is losing some of its'street cred.City bakers are putting different spins on this centuries old recipe(the first pretzels were made in Bavarian monasteries by Priests.They were given to good children as a reward for learning their prayers)Baker Maury Ruben has created an equal Ly buttery and salty Croisszel ,a hybrid of the treat and a croissant.The average vendor sold pretzel is made en masse by J and J Snack Foods and given out to the 400 street carts.the only he comes from Pelzer's .They can bring this classic street food back to its'former glory. Is New York ready for some Philly style pretzels?Hopefully yes.If they take off ,New Yorkers may be seeing more of them on Manhattan's streets.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Your Holiday Drink Guide

This is the time of year to indulge in fancy drinks.Nothing beats them , especially at festive parties and dinners. Any beverage can run from the traditional to the novel. The ingredients can be as typical as rum nad whiskey or unusual as  sweet potatoes and apple slices.

Yesterday's New York Times Dining section ran its' annual holiday drinks issue.This is a keeper because it can inspire  those at home bartenders to try new. Cocktails as well as understanding old ones.Some of America's best mixologists contributed their best and most popular recipes.Not only that but Dining regulars Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper give us their fave mixed drink recipes.Theirs are actually fun and fruity.Try the slushie like Red Rooster from Ms.Steinhauser.Freeze a blend of vodka ,cranberry and tangerine juices the day before.The result is a cool on so many levels semi frozen treat with a kick.There is a classic Campari drink ,the ultimate in drinking chic.There's also a Christmas spritz made with Prosecco and pomegranate juice.Another version is one with Prosecco and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. America's bartenders also have weighed in.Chicago's famed Blackbird restaurant gives us Sweet Potato Dream.Bartender Lynn House bases this unusual drink on her mother's holiday pie recipe.It is a mix of sweet potatoes ,rum and egg with a dash of maple syrup.The result is a custard like heady dessert.Another Chi-town eatery,Sable Kitchen And Bar gives us their version of traditional mulled wine.Mixologists ,Mike Ryan uses his mother's Bavarian heritage to create a perfect mix of Drambuie, red wine and whiskey along with bitters .It is called The Giving Tree and would be the perfect mate to a Christmas roast pork or ham.New York City gives us the Mott and Mulberry.NY bartender,Leo Robitschek of NoMad whips together Honey crisp apples, rye whiskey and the cinnamon laced liqueur Luxardo Amaro Albano.It 's a kicky version of a hot cider drink. The holidays call for fun drinks.Some are traditional,reminiscent of centuries old punches ,others are new with unusual ingredients.Save the Times Dining drinks issue and make them.They're sure toe the life of your party!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Party Nibbles

Nothing defines a party better than the food served at it.If you have good food then you'll have a good get together.The problem is that most holiday party fare is the same old same old.Now is the time to try new recipes to ensure you have satisfied guests as well as a reputation for being a hip host or hostess. Both Melissa Clark and David Tanis addressed this in their individual columns in today's New York Times Dining section.Ms Clark explores a new twist on cheese and crackers in her A Good Appetite column.She reconfigured the classic duo as a savory tart, sweetened by apples.The crust is chewy ,similar to a pizza crust ,thanks to the blend of whole wheat and corn flours.The topping is a vibrant blue cheese but you can sub another stinky cheese like Liederkrantz fromGermany or Tuma from Northern Italy (personally I'd rather have a Brie).Add on sliced apples of any variety and bake.This is best made a couple of hours before the party begins so that the pie is warm for guests. David Tanis of A City Kitchen goes another route.He offers sandwiches made from fresh from the oven biscuits and ham.This is a Southern spin on the traditional party sandwich.He makes buttermilk biscuits from a mentor's recipe,Jo Rooney.She advised Mr.Tanis not to double the recipe but to make two separate batches .That way there's a constant flow of biscuits and if you're making them for the party, they will always be fresh.As for ham, Mr.Tanis recommends curing pork tenderloins in a home made brine. However you can also buy the Spanish jambon or prosciutto.A dab of spiced mustard is recommended for more flavor.I would also make pulled pork and spread it on the biscuits in little smears too or make a ham salad ,using minced ham, celery and mayonnaise. Parties are always judged by their food.Be innovative and creative. With these two different and diverse recipes you will have a memorable one.They will be instant classics and much clamored for at the next big do.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Low Cal Holidays

Can anyone lose weight during this time of year? Surprisingly yes.Best of all you don;t have to compromise taste. There are still goodies that are both good and well as tasty. Not only that they provided much needed boosts of both vitamins and minerals.

Holiday eating means tasty nibbles. One good one is kale chips. This dark leafy veggie is rich in
 Vitamins A, C, and K along with being heart healthy.It's also easy to make. After washing tear off  the leaves and arrange on an oiled cooking sheet.  Sprinkle with more olive oil and sea salt. Bake for ten minutes at 350 degree Farenheit. You can do the same for vitamin rich Brussels sprouts too. Another yummy and low cal treat is bruschetta made from pita bread and fresh crushed tomatoes. if you or your guests are big on dips, don't despair You can create one using Greek yogurt  and various herbs such as rosemary  and oregano. Another delicious fat free party dish  are whole wheat tortilla chips with a fresh made salsa. Make it colorful by adding minced red and green peppers.

Holiday meals can be equally lower in fat too. Buy leaner cuts pork and beef For the last , instead of a flour and fat rich gravy  think about au jus. This tastes just as good as a richer one but its better for you.Fish is both low calorie and delicious. Try  grilled salmon with lime instead of the traditional ham or turkey with stuffing (Turkey on its' own is a healthy choice).  Plain baked potatoes are also less calories than scalloped style ones. Wilted spinach with olive oil and pine nuts makes an interesting and heart healthy side. You can still have sweet potatoes but nix the brown sugar and marshmallows' Instead just roast them and serve with either soft spread margarine or olive oil.

You don't have to gain weight during this holiday season. Make it a healthier low calorie one with heart healthy and low fat dishes. You'll still eat well but without all those added pounds.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Grogs And Nogs

Holiday parties call for hearty ,traditional drinks .Nothing fills the bill than both grogs and egg nogs. These crowd pleasers will satisfy any body, and go great with nibbles and even desserts. These are also simple to make up and can be whipped up as the gathering is just starting.

Grog is an old traditional beverage, going back to 1740 when British  sailors mixed weak beer and rum. it later evolved into a punch that can be served both hot or cold and made with  lemon juice, lime juice and cinnamon and sugar. Rum is the main ingredient. A modern recipe can be made with dark rum, brown sugar and orange along with lime juice to cut the sweetness. Hot water is added to heat the drink up. This may not be to everyone's taste so think about making a cold , punch like one. This is when club soda is subbed in for the water and grapefruit juice for lime. Three different rums are added to the mix to liven it up and give the grog a richer, more layered taste.

Egg nog is about one of  the most traditional Christmas drinks that can be served.It's a descendant of posset, a medieval drink made from hot milk.It hit its' stride in the 1700s  when it was called Egg flip so named because the drink was tossed from cup to cup to be mixed. The modern name comes from egg grog which got mangled into egg nog.It is an easy recipe, made with rum, cream  along with raw eggs and nut megs. Many people have qualms about using uncooked eggs and if you feel that way then cook them.Cook  them in a small saucepan with sugar   and a of slat over the  lowest possible heat . Slowly whisk in the milk . This should take 25 to 30 minutes and then strain through a cheese cloth to get rid of any cooked egg bits. Add the rum and cream.of course you could also get the store bought version (which is pasteurized) and add your own rum for any easy party drink.It can be served with savory foods but is best with plain butter cookies or cake.

This holiday season, liven up any party with nog ,grog or both. They are traditional drinks that fit in well with any modern get together. Try them for some serious good fun and flavor.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Tasty Tree Trimming Party

Tree trimming parties are always fun get togethers.It's a chance to not only spread some joy decorating your Douglas fir , it's also a time to set out some tasty party food. Since this is not a formal Christmas party, you can easily make comfort food that everyone can enjoy.Even some of the decorations can be a part of the party fare too!

One of the best tree trimming get together dishes is chili.It's easily made and easily eaten. You can  make all sorts of varieties  from vegan to beef.Also the heat can be varied from a pleasantly mild one that's more tomato sauce based to a fiery jalapeno one. Serve with either squares of fresh made or store bought cornbread or with rice or polenta. Individual meat loaves are another good choice. These can be made in muffin tins and served with Tater Tots, or mashed potatoes. Have plenty of gravy on hand  too. Many tree trimming parties have pizza as the main course. Try mini homemade ones with different toppings that your helpers can pick out for their own pies .

If this is too much, then go the nibble route.Even the popcorn that will be strung on the branches can be a part of the munching. Make a good amount for garlands and a good amount for everyone else too. Sprinkle on Parmesan or hot pepper flakes along with the usual butter and sea salt. For something more substantial think chicken wings or nuggets.If you feel ambitious then you can easily make baked  fried chicken for everyone . Have dipping sauces such as a tangy teriyaki to a creamy ranch to suit everyone's tastes.Of course, finish up with mugs of  hot cocoa or flavored coffee and some holiday cookies and treats. If you feel up to it bake them, if not any store or bakery has very pretty trays you can buy.,

Nothing beats a tree trimming party.It's a chance to have fun and catch up with friends and family. Make it even more so with tasty savory and sweet dishes. These will keep your helpers happy and as festive as a string of lights !

Friday, December 6, 2013

Elegant Holiday Plating

Nothing offsets a meal more than how it's plated. It elevates the dish, giving it a rarefied status. Even the most ordinary of foods looks like pure gold whenthey're presented in an elegant fashion.Plating is a great idea for holiday parties and dinners,giving guests a special "wow" factor.

It was the subject and also a pictorial in Wednesday's New York Times Dining section.Dining regular , Jeff Gordnier ,  had presented an interesting representation from various New York and its' boroughs restaurants. Perhaps the classiest is Elm in the trendy Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Chef Paul Liebrandt makes squab lollipops surrounded by small dabs of greens.It's refreshing and puts diners in mind of Spring and Summer. This is a great idea for holiday hors d' oeuvres with  maybe lamb pops surrounded by thimblefuls of collard greens or salsa verde.WD-50 chef, the famed Wylie Dufresne layers literally curds and whey over duck slices to create a unique dish.

Any home chef could copy these ideas. Instead of just a heap of mashed potatoes think three small rounded teaspoons with a drizzle of gravy  accompanying slices of beef. Filet mignon can be made even more elegant with a line of anchovy paste or caviar drawn on top. Salad can be served  as a decoration with a halved grape tomato surrounded by a small wreath of baby greens. Of course you can also go old school with plating as Chef Joey Campanero of The Little Owl did . He serves a pork chop upon a bed of dandelion greens It's  given a homey feel with a pool of gravy underneath and a heaping side of whipped spuds. Doing this showcases the pork chop but also gives it a more homey , inviting feel to it.

Not only must holiday dishes be tasty ,they should also be presented in an interesting and elegant fashion.Plating can do this. Create a beautiful meal . Use your  food as the colorful ingredients to make a masterpiece .

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Treats With Zing

The holidays bring out the the candy maker in all of us. Nothing beats homemade truffles or bark. What's neat now is that candy makers have a whole range of ingredients to use, both classic and novel.Hand wrought goodies now take on a special zing and zest which makes them memorable!

Melissa Clark explored this in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Wednesday Dining section. However these aren't her recipes but readers' ones that have been sent.They're both unusual and tasty perfect presents for any foodie.One reader, Tom Flagon contributes  his chocolate bark. It's a sophisticated turn on the tradition which has either nuts, crushed peppermint candy or pretzels.His has a bursts of color with pomegranate seeds while buried within the dark chocolate is the zing of candied ginger. Ms. Clark recommends eating it right after giving because the seeds will"weep" causing moisture to come in and ruin the chocolate. if you want you can sub in more traditional raisins or even sour cherries for bite.

There is a spin on the classic but oh so sweet praline recipe. This one comes from Elizabeth Choinski from the heart of praline country, Oxford Mississippi, Hers has the usual butter and pecan but also the smokier spices of  ginger,cinnamon and cloves.They still have a creaminess but also an aromatic quality too. I would also vary it by nixing the spices and adding freshly ground white or black pepper for some flavor burst . Cory Balazowich of North Canton, Ohio gives is his cranberry cordial recipe. This is a take on the cherry cordial.The cranberries give it a nice tartness which works well with its' other ingredients of vodka and the lemon or orange zest. Serve it with vanilla ice cream  for a lush holiday dessert.

Nothing beats homemade holiday candies and sweets . Amp them up a bit by combining unusual and classic ingredients to create one of a kind treats. It's an exciting and fun departure from traditional fare.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Times Holiday Gift Guide

Gift giving for your favorite foodie (or yourself) can either be an easy or a hard ordeal.Today's New York Times Dining sectron solves that. Their gift giving guide is extensive with some really neat and practical ideas for everyone. Luckily there are so many different gadgets and treats out there that any foodie can be easily pleased on Christmas Day.

Cookbooks and cooking magazines are always appreciated gifts. One cool cookbook is Balaboosta(which means perfect housewife in Yiddish) and is from the restaurant of the same name.It has recipes for sufganiyot,Israeli doughnuts and shakshuka, eggs poached in tomato sauce and chili peppers. A subscription to the biannual Gather Journal and the quadri annual Modern Farmer can show cooks how to cook field to table  for more natural eating. Foodies  can rejoice at the gifts of food such as Sicilian Anchovy and Caper spread from nudo italia. This is perfect for spreading on filet mignon or roasted peppers. Chocolate buffs will go made for Chocolate Treasures that are filled with everything from Sichuan peppers to raspberry and passionfruit.

Practical kitchen gear and gadgets are also mentioned in this extensive gift guide. Open classic and beautiful gift is a wooden salad bowl from Holland Bowl Mill of Holland , Michigan. This simple bowl comes in  red oak, cherry  walnut and beech woods.Miyako Cereamics kitchen knives are perfect for those home cooks who love to  dice and pare. For true luxury, think about giving your favorite chef or even yourself the French made Atelier de Cuivre cookware.These are copper pots with silver plated interiors and cast iron handles. Gadget lovers will swoon over Quirky's Pluck  a truly innovative kitchen gizmo that helps separate yolks from whites.Crate and Barrel's cocktail spoons are the perfect present for those hosts with the mosts.

The New York Times Dining section gift giving guide is an excellent map for navigating shopping  for your favorite foodie. You can find anything , form food to cookbooks, from gagets to classic cookware in it. Have it  it with you whether you're in the mall or at your laptop.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Your Holiday Liquor Cabinet

Even though it's early December it's never too soon to stock up on holiday libations. We tend to focus on the foods of the season as opposed to the drinks which means it's a quick run to the local liquor store on the night of any holiday celebration . Be ready and fully stocked for your gatherings .

By now most hosts and hostesses have a good idea of what type of get together they'll be having. If
it's a formal sit down dinner with the boss and coworkers then think about getting a case of good wine.It's always impressive to have a bottle of one of the best to offset  a good roast or capon. Think about buying the organic kind whether it be white or red. They're made with grapes that haven't been sprayed with any pesticides or chemicals. They also contain no allergy causing sulphides either.If you're serving one particular meat such as beef or pork, you may want to have a variety of different reds to suit your guests tastes.

Of course nothing beats an at home  cocktail party, complete with a variety of different mixed drinks. . Go out and buy the staples  the usual, whiskey, ryes  and gins along with some of the flavored vodkas. For this last you can try a taste test to see what  vodka flavor works (there are so many of them these days with flavors running from cotton candy to blueberry). If you're planning on making punch or egg nog then stock up on a few bottles of rum. Also if you have a few wine drinkers in the crowd then buy  a mix of Cabernets and Merlots . If there's any toasting to be done then get that crate of champagne. Also some people may just prefer it or a sparkling wine as opposed to any mixed cocktail so have a few extra single bottles somewhere so that you don't run out.,

It's time to start shopping - for alcohol. Before the parties and dinners start make sure your wine cellar orliquor cabinet is fully stocked. Nothing ruins a gathering more than running out of the bubbly or closing the bar.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Add Spice To A Cold Night

There's a nip in the air nowadays. It leaves us shivering and wanting something hot.Why not bring heat to the dinner table in the form of different spicy dishes?They could be classics revved up or exotic fare peppered with different blends of spices. It makes for an interesting and delicious chill chaser.

One of the most classic spicy dishes is chili. This can be tailored to everyone's tastes. You can create a mild one with just some cumin and cayenne pepper. For more fire , add spicy sausages and jalapeno chilis.Ancho chilis can also spike it to another level.  Another way of creating a tongue toasting dish is  creating the chili the night before and letting the fire from all the spices kick in.Make a huge batch  and then freeze some for easy future meals during the busy Christmas season. Another spicy dish that can be made in huge amounts and frozen is arrabiata or translated "angry" sauce. This is a classic Southern Italian one that goes great with any kind of pasta from penne to angel hair. Its'  heat comes from the addition of crushed red pepper flakes to any tomato sauce. You can also add the pepper to meatballs too for more bite.

Indian food is know for its' variety of spices and dinners.Curry is always a crowd pleaser and can be made with traditional blends  of cayenne, curry spice itself along with cinnamon and paprika.For true flavor try dahl. This is a mixture of fresh ginger, jalapeno and lentils mixed with tomatoes and served with naan bread.Another cuisine known for its' heat is the Chinese Sichuan. Located in the center of the country, the region is famous for its' varieties of fiery peppercorns. Try making spicy dumplings spiked with them or better yet a peppery chicken or beef dish.The cuisine is big in chilis too and these figure prominently in a boiled beef with hot sauce.This last is so hot that the recipe does come with a warning.

As the temps drop ,it's time to create dishes that warm the heart and body. Try a fiery chili or a spicy Sichuan dumpling to shake off that cold. It's and fun and tasty way to get toasty.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Holiday Jewels Of The Table

There will be plenty of good food to gobble this holiday. Yet it's  bound to be the wrong food thanks to the large amounts of sugar , fats and salt. However luckily there are other treats that are not only delicious but also good for you.They add to any dinner or party, and are very versatile.

Brussels sprouts is one of those nutritious and healthy treats  Despite it's emerald  green color, it's rich in fiber and betacarotene. They are also low in calories too, which means you can eat a s much as you like. A perfect side dish are boiled sprouts with soft spread margarine and a sprinkle of Parmesan  cheese.For party fare think Brussels sprouts chips.  The work is a little labor intensive ( you have to peel all the leaves off each one) and then drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Bake in a hot 275degree toaster oven for about ten minutes. Serve plain or with a hot but healthy srisacha sauce,

Sweet potatoes are true gems as well. Their bright orange color is a festive part of any table and they can certainly liven up any meal. The best way to serve these super foods (they are loaded to the skins with beta carotene) is baked . It can either be done either in the oven or toaster oven, depending on how you like them.They can also be mashed and served instead of regular potatoes. Serve with margarine or  plain Greek yogurt. Sweet potatoes can be sliced into chips and baked. Again serve with an onion infused Greek yogurt for  fun hors d' oeuvres.Kale is another fun  and beta carotene  rich veggie. Saute it with olive oil and garlic for a different and earthy tasting  treat with either ham or roast beef. Like the Brussels sprout, it can be baked into heart healthy chips . Just add some olive  oil and garlic salt to enhance the flavor.

These three jeweled toned veggies are the perfect foils to any holiday feast or gathering. Serve them as traditional sides or unusual party snacks. They're not only healthy but fun too!

Friday, November 29, 2013

After The Holiday

The feasting should be over with.It's time to start thinking about light eating.Eating right will not only get rid of the holiday bloat but will make you fee better too.There's e en a way to enjoy lighter versions of Hanukah fare. Both were the subject of Melissa Clark's and David Tanis' columns in Wednesday's New York Times .Ms. clark's A Good Appetite features the Hanukkah favorite.brisket.Instead of serving it as a roast and ready for a sandwich,she tries different way - soup.She blends it with a healthy mix of carrots ,celery and leeks.Crisper kale is sprinkled onto for more color and nutrients.Barley and olive oil are also tossed in,.She also recommends trimming the fat from its well.It can even be made and then frozen for later on.It makes for a healthy dinner for the upcoming busy shopping days ahead.It's also a nice way to get away from turkey too. David Tanis goes other route in his City Kitchen column.He offers a miso glazed sea bass,again with a side of mustard greens.This is a nice alternative to any heavier meats and fall veggies.It's filling yet not so high in calories that you feel logy and stuffed afterwards. it's made with both red and white miso.Each have different flavors.Red miso is nuttier and deeper in flavor while the white version is lighter.You can also used miso to coat vegetables as well as in soups.Miso soups an excellent alternative to any of the heavier.cream based pot ages being ,made during these cold days. These are definitely the days to eat lighter and healthier.There's another holiday coming up and one that sparkles with rich foods.Try a brisket soup or miso glazed sea bass for a more nutritious change of pace.They're not only tasty but good for you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving From The Pantry

There are many things I am truly grateful for.Family  friends and Foodie Pantry's readers.These are the wheels that keep me going, the  combined forces behind who I am and what this blog is all about. To them  I write a big  thank you. I don't t do that often enough and for that I feel ashamed.

Family and friends are our spiritual sustenance. Without them our souls and hearts would shrivel and we would constantly feel undernourished. They are our bread and water, our comfort food , our favorite desserts.

On this day of giving thanks and counting our blessings. count family as friends as those many blessings as you would be thankful for a hot meal at night .

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The NY Times Second Thanksgiving Issue

The New York Times Wednesday Dining section has put out a second week of holiday tips and recipes.While last week was devoted to more traditional recipes, this week's has a personal and international flavor. what's great is that there are some recipes for the day after as well.After all Thanksgiving may just be for one day but the leftovers are for a few. There are some really good ideas in this issue.Surprisingly there is pastrami thrown into the mix.True, this is not a traditional but just as delicious as any wing or leg.Danny Bowen of Mission Chinese Food gives it anAsian zing.He adds Asian fish sauce to the traditional corned beef that is used.A pickled mustard condiment that has a whole cornucopia of veggies along with chilis . it would make for a nice supper when watching those games afterwards.There is also potato nik ,contributed by Mark Bittman.This is a kind of giant latke(perfect for Hanukkah which also shares the holiday spotlight).It's made more like a corn bread and a wedge would go well with some gravy and turkey slices.For those leftovers ,try WD-50's chef Wylie DuFresnes's turkey hash.This is a mix of leftover bird with potatoes and onion .Chef DuFresne suggests eggs sunny side up but is also a good pairing with scrambled ones too. More traditional yet some what sophisticated fare is also represented too. There is a French pumpkin soup by famed Lutece chef ,Andre Soltner.This is a better addition of pumpkin to the table than pie,in my opinion.It is a nice mix of the gourd with another autumn veggie, the turnip.White wine along with carrots and onions are also added to this cream enhanced potage.It would be best serving before the main dish and just as filling as any appetizer.Pastry chef,Claudia Fleming, of Gramercy Tavern,contributes an apple crumb crostata.This is more of a galette style dessert than traditional deep dish pie.It has a nice brown sugar and cinnamon topping.Another traditional dish is chef Suzanne Goin's turkey infused stock ,which can be made into everything from turkey chili to soup or risotto. Again ,save this week's New York Times Dining section.Try some of the rcipes tomorrow or over the weekend.All are tasty and are culinary riffs on the two holidays,Thanksgiving and Hannukah.Enjoy them .They're tasty variations to the usual fare.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgivukkah A Rare Feast

It's a rare mash up of two major and beloved holidays, Thanksgiving and Hannukah. Both have a long history and both are centered around food.The dishes are distinct ,reflecting each heritage.Yet ,surprisingly dishes can be influenced by both traditions ,creating a rare but tasty feast. Thanksgivikkah ,as the mash ip is known is a true rarity.The last was back in 1888 while the next one won't be for 7,999 years .This is one time holiday when liberties can be taken with both Thanksgiving and Hannukah recipes.The most traditional is latkes, fried potato pancakes,to celebrate the miracle of oil in the temple. Regular ones are being subbed in by that Thanksgiving Day staple , the sweet potato.They 're made the same way and are nice alternative. Since the spuds have a sweet taste, they could easily be served for dessert, with creme fraiche as opposed to sour cream. since fried food is a traditional idea, then deep fry the bird instead of roasting.It makes for crunchier legs and wings.Just remember to inject the bird with some kind of liquid .You can try a Cajun oil one or a richer beer and butter one.Either way it should leave the meat moist and tender while the skin remains crackly. What's Thanksgiving without stuffing and pies? Thanks to the Festival of Lights ,both can have new twists.Challah bread can be used for a different and more richer flavor for stuffing.You can still add chestnuts along with raisins or sage if you want to keep some classic flavor. Apple, pumpkin and pecan pie are always classic however don't think of them as pie fillings but as SufGaniyot ,the traditional raspberry filled doughnuts.It's a different spin but just as good.A Jewish American standard rugelach can be filled with the same pecans as the doughnuts.Of course no matter how or what you eat, end the meal with dreidls and chocolate gelt. Thanksgivikkah is truly a once in a lifetime event.Celebrate with a mix of traditional foods and flavors.Enjoy every dish ,from fried turkey with challah stuffing to sweet potato latkes and pumpkin stuffed sufaniyot.

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Easier Holiday Route

Thanksgiving is a time when home chefs and foodies can show off their cooking and baking skills.That's great for those who know their way around a kitchen .What about those not so spatula savvy ? They can still make a good and delicious meal but without all the drama and fuss.

The turkey is always the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving meal. Yet if there's only going to be two or three people, why fuss with the whole bird and whatever else that goes with it.Yesterday's New York Sunday Times Magazine food section had a great idea.Cook turkey breasts and don't be saddled with the hassle of  thawing out, brining and that long  worrisome roast.Sam Sifton who the article also suggest just a simple side of Brussel sprouts. You could do this or just pick just one side such as sweet potatoes or rice . |Another way is going the instant cooking route.Try Stovetop Stuffing instead of the real thing or Betty Crocker's Potato Au Gratin. Their flavors are pretty good and they're easy alternatives for those who are all thumbs.

Desserts can go the same way too.If you;re not good with baking then think store bought. Many stores such as the A & P as well as Stop & Shop have excellent in house baked pies. Stop &Shop has them in various sizes which are great if you;re hosting a large crowd. You can also get two or three different flavors for variety too. Marie Callender's has tasty pies with a just from the  oven flavor too.The company carries all the holiday flavors such as apple and pecan along with pumpkin. If you're still craving home made them go with the easy galette.It's kind of like a sweet pizza with fruit. Make the dough the night before and just bake for an hour .Serve with whipped cream or ice cream for added decadence.

Even  the most inept of cooks can come with a tasty Thanksgiving dinner,Just go the easy route and avoid any headaches. Keep it simple and enjoy a no fuss, no worry good meal.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

For Your Litle Chefs Picture Cook

Gift giving time is around the corner and finding the right one for your baby cooks can be hard. Cookbooks are always fun, however sometimes reading the instructions may   be daunting. Not to worry. There is a great cookbook for kids with just all pictures and very little instructions. If they can look at it, they can create some great main meal, snacks and even drinks.

Katie Shelly has given us Picture Cook, See Make Eat (Ulysses Press) a wonderful how to  cookbook for beginning chefs. It's not the old fashioned kiddie cookbook with adult recipes made simple.To be honest this is even a good housewarming gift for adults who are completely clueless in the kitchen This has pictures vividly showing  how tos on how to mince garlic and cube eggplants along with slicing avocado es and chopping onions. There is even a legend on the differences between high  and low heats.Pictures of the ingredients are at the bottom of each page. Parents can definitely learn fromfrom the book too and even assist in making some of the dishes(relegate them to the chopping and turning on the oven)

The dishes are perfect for turning the younger set onto international cooking. Yes, there are fun recipes for tacos and chocolate cake along with egg creams and pancakes.However super sophisticated rigatoni and mushrooms along with hummus are also here along with the amazingly chic but easy to make affogato and pavlova .Chinese and Indian food are also represented in elaborate fried rice and chana masala.Comfort food abounds and kids will love the banana bread recipe along with the one for mashed potatoes and succotash. A budding chef will be heaven with all the recipes and could literally make every meal from an early morning breakfast to a heavenly dessert. He or she can also impress friends with whipping up  cool snacks dips and drinks too.

The holidays will be here within the week. For any baby foodie Picture Cook, See, Make.Eat. is the perfect gift. It will not only get them excited about food but will get them in the kitchen and cooking. What other gift can offer that?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicks Who Brew

The brewery was always a man’s domain . They were the ones who grew harvested brewed the hops and eventually drank the finished product. Women who did both of the last two were looked down upon. Yet that’s all changing. There’s a whole new generation of ladies who lager, bringing new spins and tastes on the classic stouts and ales.

It was the topic of an article written by Nicole Lyn Pesce in the New York Daily News Now Focus section on Wednesday. Women brewers are becoming a part of the new beer making world.Micro breweries are being run by women and their influence is being seen and tasted in the new varieties. This is nothing new, as Ms, Pesce points out. Ancient Egyptians and Sumerian ladies first brewed drinks for their men while women in Colonial America made suds from corn and wheat harvested by their men. However the industry become male dominated during the Industrial Revolution and has remained that way until now. There are now 1,000 female brewers who belong to the Pink Boots Society for female brewers.

Female brewers are probably more creative than their male counterparts.Women do seek variety and sweeter flavors.Lost Coast Brewery, owned by Barbara Groom and Wendy Pound have created several with raspberry and chocolate brewed in .Their Indica India Pale Ale has a citrus tang to it which is a refreshing alternative to the usual earthy flavor. Although some women brewers such as Laurie Spitz scoff at these “ flavors”. She is a founder of The Moustache Brewing Company and prefers her brews with a hearty flavor of stout, burnt, rich, like the best coffees. Actually the fruit flavored brews really aren’t necessary. Women who may not like the taste of dark beer may be attracted to the almost java like taste of the traditional English brew.

The beer industry has changed thanks to microbreweries and artesanal beers. It is even changing more with more women creating new flavors and owning their own breweries. It ’may be a guy‘s business but its’getting a decidedly feminine slant.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Your Thanksgiving Guide

Cooking a Thanksgiving meal can be daunting even for the most experienced of cooks. After all , unlike Christmas and Easter  where it's the presents or the treats that are under scrutiny, it's the food. The dishes must not only be perfect but true to tradition as well.Luckily there's the Times Dining Thanksgiving guide.It's chock full of recipes and suggestions.(and hopefully not on your recycle pile right now).

Dining greats Melissa Clark and Julia Moskin helm this special edition. Their ideas and hints are truly helpful and also aid in taking the stress out of cooking and baking. Theirs is a practical, don't worry mantra that all cooks , whether old pros or novices should adopt.Every part of the meal is covered from what to drink to the variety of sides to the riffs on pies. They offer a recipe on make ahead gravy which is helpful because it's one less worry on Thanksgiving. Both  dispel fears about cooking the stuffing inside the turkey(it won't give your family salmonella if you do such )There are also classics such as mashed potatoes , elevated with a breadcrumb crust as well as them in an au gratin style dish.

Ms. Moskin and Ms Clark also give spins on classic dishes as well. Cranberry relish gets a fiery kick with the addition of cayenne pepper. Cranberry jelly is zinged up with Grand Marnier, port wine  and juniper berries. Squash, long a Thanksgiving favorite is made exotic with the addition of the Greek tahini sauce  drizzled on top. Yams, another staple, is turned into a sophisticated side thanks to maple syrup, creme fraiche and chipotles. Pies, the must have Thanksgiving dessert classic, becomes totally gourmet with the addition of various liqueurs to the recipes.Apples are not only added toa buttery crust but also , cranberries ginger and rum. The last is used to cut the pie's sweetness. The chocolate pecan pie has bourbon while the pumpkin pie rocks with brandy.

Use the Times Dining Section Thanksgiving Guide for a perfect and tasty holiday meal. There are some great tips and excellent recipes to create the best turley and sides ever. It'll have your family and guests talking about how well you cooked it for months' afterwards/

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tofutti's Pizza Treats

Nothing beats a pizza oozing with cheese.Yet it can be too much for any pizza lover's cholesterol or diet. Luckily Tofutti comes to the rescue with their latest creation:Pizza Pizzazz. It stills give you that great taste without all the worry.In fact it's a pretty healthy and pretty fun dinner.

Tofutti is a Cranford New Jersey based company that specializes in dairy free and tofu based cheeses and frozen treats. They are famously known for their Tofutti Cuties, little dairy free frozen tofu sandwiches that are actually better tasting than their dairy counterparts.Now the company comes out with two new pizzas, the classic original and the four cheese. They're easy to make. Just pop in the toaster oven for twenty to twenty five minutes and out comes  an ooey gooey treat. What's great about Pizza Pizzazz is that it has zero cholesterol. Those who have to worry about that their cholesterol can put those concerns on hold with this. Tofutti also puts a generous layer of tomato sauce between the cheese and crust toogiveing it an extra boost of healthiness.

I tried both the classic original and the four cheese varieties. What I love is that Toffuti puts a generous amount of the soy cheese along with the "real cheese" flavor. You could serve both to pizza lovers and fool them with the flavor. The slices were generous, and one box contains three portions.Since the servings are oblongs you could also slice them into bars or small squares for party appetizers.Another plus is that you can add extras such as soy pepperoni or olives for extra kick.

Pizza lovers rejoice. There is a better and healthier alternative to cheese pizza.It's Tofutti's Pizza Pizzazz and it's  great!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cider The Perfect Fall Drink

Cider is the perfect drink for this chill autumn weather .Whether it's the sweet or hard variety it has zip and zing, making it perfect for a dinner time treat or a holiday punch. Enjoy it with a whole slew of foods ,from hors d' oeuvres to a hearty beef or pork meal. It brings sparkle and zest to any meal.

Cider is one of the oldest drinks in the world, first fermented by the ancient Britons, The Romans enjoyed their drink of pressed crab apples and it soon spread throughout the Empire.Hard cider is still popular and treasured in Normandy where they've taken cider making to a high art.The drink was used in wassailing , as an offering with bread to protect apple orchards'from blight.Apple cider today  ranges from dry to sweet in taste and its' coloring ranges from light orange to yellow.Sweet ciders are usually locally made, coming from New England states such as Vermont and New Hampshire. The best hard cider comes from England and France although some are American made.

Sweet or non alcoholic cider is a great accompaniment for  Thanksgiving dinner. It can be shared by both adults and kids alike and has the right amount of zip .It's not as potent as any alcohol drink and healthier than soda.It also brings out the different flavors of the meal , from the turkey to  the stuffing and potatoes.Serve it mulled or warm with orange slices and cloves for a tree trimming party in a few weeks. Hard cider makes a nice alternative to champagne at parties. It does have more of a kick to it and it does go down easy.Be careful with it because a few glasses can knock you silly. Still a tall flute of it makes a wonderful drink with Camenbert rounds or cheese puffs at parties,

Cider, whether it's sweet or hard is a great drink for the autumn.,It goes well t any party or gathering, with its' tangy apple flavor. Serve it  for some zest and zing .

Monday, November 18, 2013

Swimming In Seaweed

Seaweed isn't usually on the top of everyone's grocery list.Yet, it is not only tasty but high in nutrition.It's also a perfect departure from everyday ingredients too. even holiday parties and meals can be made more interesting just by adding it to the menu.

This veggie from the sea is a good addition to any diet , especially now in the cooler months. Eat a gram of it and get your daily dose of iodine. Seaweed is also high in Vitamin C and the arame kind is rich in potassium..It is also loaded with Vitamin B12 and taurine.Calorie wise it's only 30 per helping which makes it a nice alternative to land lettuce.It also helps in burning calories as well, perfect for those wanting to fit into those slinky holiday party dresses and pants.Seaweed has a slightly fishy, slightly briny and slightly leafy flavor.It becomes addictive once you get used to it. Start off the with dried  and salted chips to become acclimated with it.

Any kind of seaweed is highly versatile. The most used is the nori variety, which makes for the outer layer of all sushi.However you can also use the nori in a seafood risotto dish .Another way is in a light miso soup where  it adds both color and flavor.Seaweed makes for interesting salads. You can just serve it with a rice wine vinaigrette or add cucumber and grape tomatoes for a refreshing change of pace.Another super salad is mixing the different types with kale . This will give you not only a tasty lunch or side but a dish packed with Vitamin C and loaded with potassium too.

Add seaweed not just to add color and punch but also for its' nutritional value. It;s a great way of getting all those vitamins and and a good helping of  minerals too . Get away from the land lettuce and discover what the sea can give us.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Whole Wheat Treats

This is the start of the season for all kinds of treats, from jelly doughnuts to cookies. Unfortunately it also means an abundance of white flour and refined sugar. Ditch those and try something healthier. Think about using whole wheat flour and  different kinds of all natural sweeteners.They will still be yummy delights  but they won't be overloaded with the bad stuff. Everyone will be happy , from you to your little sweet tooths.

,find a good whole wheat flour. One of the best is the King Arthur brand.The company also produces a white flour as well and both are sold on the same grocery  shelf.Another excellent brand is Bob's Red Mill. You can also buy it at your local grocery or at Amazon.com. As for the sweetening, go with  dark honey, molasses or brown sugar. Eggs , surprisingly can be replaced with ground flax seeds which act like binders as well.Just remember that one tablespoon of flax seeds plus three tablespoons of water equals one egg.However if you still want to use eggs , then use organic ones.As for milk if you want to sub in soy almond or rice go ahead or again go  for the organic type.

Baking all naturally ' mean you have to give up family favorites. You can still start Hanukkah with sufganiyot, the traditional holiday jelly doughnut. According to tradition they do have to be fried in oil, however you can sub in healthier ingredients from also adding brown sugar to making a fresh apple mash for the inside. Cookie lovers can still have their faves , from sugar cookies to chocolate chips to oatmeal.For holiday decorating you can use natural food coloring such as beet juice to color the dough or arrange nuts, raisins or cranberries in fancy patterns on the surface before baking. Whole wheat based cupcakes are another treat too.  You can also make a frosting that subs in brown sugar or  for white and confectioners.With this though it's best to use a thicker binder such as an all natural cream cheese.

Holiday treats can be both yummy and healthy.It's easy if you sub in all natural flours and sweeteners  for the refined stuff. It;s a great and wholesome way to celebrate the upcoming festivities.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Risotto Cakes A Spin On The Classic

Risotto is always a good dish to make. Arborio rice goes well with almost any ingredient from tomato to saffron.As versatile as it is ,it becomes even more so with twisting it into a new idea. Risotto cakes are a different way of serving this Northern Italian classic. They can be made into holiday hors d'ouevres or a light lunch or supper.

Dsvid Tanis wrote about these gems in his A CIty Kitchen column in Wednesday;s New York Times Dining section. He adds the earthy fall flavor of butternut squash for both taste and body. Cheeses such as the Northern Italian classic Fontina and Parmesan are also added for binding.It is then lightly fried in oil after a thin coating of just flour and egg. Mr. Tanis also suggests bread crumbs which give the cakes more of a crunch. For this , try ground up French or Italian bread for added flavor.

There are other risotto cake recipes out there as well.Sandra Lee gives a pretty simple one that would make for great Christmas party appetizers. Hers are a simple blend of  leftover rice, Parmesan cheese and roasted garlic.They're shaped into walnut sized balls  and then fried.Risotto cakes can also be stuffed.You can try a smoky mozzarella or even a minced portobello stuffing. For parties you can try a marinella sauce Ora saffron infused mayo based one.Another party trick is wrapped a thin piece of prosciutto around them to serve to guests. Risotto cakes are a great way of using left over arborio rice.They also make for a delicious light lunch or supper or a perfect party appetizer. Try them this way to appreciate risotto even more.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sriracha Madness

It seems sriracha is the latest craze.In fact it's so popular  there's even a shortage. What to do ? Make it yourself. It's a pretty easy recipe that can be replicated in time for a fun holiday party or better yet a spicy dinner on a cold fall night. It'll add to anything and give ordinary dishes zing.

It was the topic of an article in yesterday's New York Daily News Now Focus section. The piece written by Jeannette Settembre explains the reasons for the shortage.One is the many fans that the sauce has attracted and the other is because fumes from the Irwindale California  factory is leaving residents in the are with irritated eyes and throats.The sauce is basically ketchup's more exotic ,definitely more fiery cousin. It can be put on everything from omelets and noodles to steaks and chicken for kick. It's a definite must at tailgate parties where it would elevate burgers and dogs to the next level of flavor.

Sriracha sauce, unlike ketchup, ispretty easy to make.It's a mix of two kinds of peppers, namely red hot peppers and Thai chili peppers along with tomato paste  and fish sauce. Sugar is added to temper the hear and to give it tang , rice wine vinegar. Canola oil is added to give it smoothness along with water. The entire mix , including garlic is put into a blender and pureed. It can be served with the traditional Thai omelet or as hai tod, with mussels and oysters.However you can also add it to meat loaf and hamburger along with chicken wings.Steaks and stir fry can also benefit from it as well.

Sriracha sauce is one of the hottest flavors out right now. if you can't get it , the sauce is a snap to make. Whip of a batch and let it add zing and zest to your favorite dishes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Turkey ABCs

With Thanksgiving two weeks away it's time to talk turkey. Literally.Many people , even experienced home chefs, are flummoxed when it comes to this bird. Questions and fears abound. It's time to take it easy. Turkey is a simple bird to prepare and roast.

Melissa Clark gave a simple how to on turkey in a huge  article in today's New York Times Dining section. The best piece of advice that she gave: buy a smaller bird. Instead of wrestling with a twenty-five pounder, go for the twelve or thirteen pound turkey. Buy extra turkey pieces whether all light or all dark ,if you feel you don't have enough. Another good idea is dry brining the bird as opposed to wet brining. All this involves is just rubbing salt and pepper all over it. Also prepping it with just oil and not glancing in the  oven every half hours is also recommended. This makes for crispy skin that's as crunchy as a potato chip.

Ms. Clark also suggests spatchcocking the bird.This may sound complicated but all it is is removing the backbone before cooking.This gives for a  juicier bird with an even more golden skin. Any butcher can remove the bone for you, however it can be done at home using very sharp poultry shears. Spatchcocking allows the cook to spread the bird flat in the roasting pan and cook for a quicker time than one with a backbone.Another must is having a meat thermometer on the ready.The internal temperature must be 165 F .Also home cooks have to realize ,that unlike chicken, a roast  turkey will have pink spots. This is normal, the meat isn't raw as it would be in the other.

Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey shouldn't;t be daunting .It should be as easy as roasting chicken. Follow the above recommendations and it'll be fine. You'll have a glistening golden bird with an amazing flavor and , crispy , crackling skin.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Food Network At Twenty

It';s hard to believe that the cable channel, The Food Network is two decades old.Thanks to it. we can now get recipes every hour of the day and also get informed about various foods. Yet is it a helpful station ? Can it compete with public television that also offer us good shows about cooking?

The Food Network started twenty years ago as the TV Food Network and was a division of the famed CNN network..The original chefs who signed on back then was the very well known Jacques Pepin, along with Donna Hanover and Emeril Lagasse. A few years later cooking greats Mario Batali and Bobby Flay joined them. The show expanded its' format with the quirky Alton Brown who not only guided viewers through recipes but also offered them fun facts. (think Bill Nye in the kitchen) along with that Japanese classic and cult favorite Iron Chef,

The channel also explored contests such as The Next Food Network Star  which launched the meteor like career of Guy Fieri and Aarti Sequeria. Some of the shows have been entertaining. For all her problems, Paula Deene did know how to cook a good Southern dish and introduced a lot of Yankees to the joys of butter and grits..We got to explore the reality show drama of Duff and his amazing cakes long with Rachel Ray and her wealth of recipes and tips. Giada DeLaurentis , exuding both glamor and homey cucina charm showed us how to make biscotti and homemade pasta. All of these are fun yet they don;t have the same gravitas along with wry irony as the two PBS series that features Lidia Bastianich and Chris Kimball. These teach you much more than some of the Food Network offerings.It is a cooking lesson without all the folderol.

As long as there are fans, there will always be a need for the Food Network. It will provide entertainmnet for foodies . Will they learn something though? Possibly but will it make an impression as did the public television cooking shows have done?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hale and Healthy Hot Meals

This is the time of year when a hot meal is much wanted. There's nothing like it to chase away the chills and shiver a cold month brings. Yet a dinner or lunch should not only be hot , it should also be nutritious  too. Fill it with rich ingredients bursting with good for you antioxidants and vitamins.It'll not only warm you up but keep you healthy during the season ahead.

Any meal filled with vegetables is a good one, A perfect lunch or even weekend dinner is vegetable or minestrone soup. You can fill it with not only beans which are beneficial, but also cabbage, tomatoes corns and potatoes.Add some whole wheat elbow macaroni or orzo  for a more satisfying meal. It'll go well with hot homemade whole wheat biscuits or rolls. Another tasty lunch or dinner meal that's also has the same healthy impact is chili. You can make it a vegan style with plenty of kidney and red beans along with black or even lean beef. For oomph throw in some hot peppers which are considered a super food.

If you want a full hot and healthy meal, then think traditional. Nothing beats  whole wheat
spaghetti with homemade sauce. Make the sauce with heart healthy garlic and herbs for more zing. Another idea is stuffed cabbage. Cabbage is high In Vitamin C and  the leaves can hold everything from brown rice and lean beef or  chopped portobello mushrooms. and peppers.Portobellos are a great main dish on their own. They can be grilled indoor like steak or even be turned into burgers. Another way is stuffing them with spinach and cheese.Of course nothing beat that cold weather fave, baked mac and cheese. You can create a healthy version just by using whole wheat macaroni,  and reduced fat cheddar. Try a layer  of broccoli  florets or red pepper strips instead of bacon,if your family still insists on bacon then sub in the turkey one instead.

Nothing beats a hot meal on  chilly day. Whip up something hale and healthy to warm up tummies either for lunch or a nighttime dinner.It' will not only be tasty but nutritious too.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hot And Herbal Natural Teas

November practically screams for a good hot cup of tea. This is when the weather gets nippy and we greet both mornings and evenings with frost on the ground and a bite in the air. What better than to start or finish the day with a healthy mug of herbal tea? It's  soothing and comforting , the liquid version of a security blanket.

Herbal teas have been around for millennia. The ancient Egyptians first came up with a flavorful tisane called kerkades. This was hibiscus sepal brew that's still made today in some countries. The Jamaicans still make this but add ginger , sugar and rum, usually for the Christmas holidays. The Chinese were and still are the masters of herbal tea brewing.They use it for medicinal reasons,but you can just use it to just melt away  the day's cares .Most home brewers use  a mix of herbs and fruit. Other just rely on already made teas from such companies as Celestial Seasonings. These are good  and have a wide variety of flavors, from chamomile to peppermint. However you have a wider range with a home made herbal brew.

If you want to go truly natural, then try blending your own . Home brewers stick with the tried and true such as ginger and chamomile. Fresh  made ginger tea is not only good for waking up in the morning,it's a great drink for  after a full meal. Take a fresh ginger root and either cut the knobs  into small chunks or thin slices.Put these in your  mug and pour boiling water over the pieces  letting it steep for a few minutes, Chamomile is just as easy , Dry the flowers and put about two teaspoons into a cup or mug. Steep for a minute or two. You can also make citrus based teas too, using either lemon, orange or lime peels mixed with your favorite green or black tea. For any herbal tea, don't add refined sugar. Dark or wildflower honey is your best and healthiest sweetener.

Herbal tea is the nice  accompaniment either on a chilly morning or during a frosty night. Brew up a cup and enjoy its' all natural flavor. It's not only soothing but good for you too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Po Boy Guide

NOLA or New Orleans Louisiana  has given the world some of the best foods. One truly outstanding one is the po boy , a huge French bread filled with anything and everything, including gator. It is truly tasty and completely filling sandwich and one that can be created to suit anyone's tastes.Luckily there's a new cookbook out to guide those po boy fans.

Southern Po Boy Cookbook (Ulysses's Press) is a great and interesting compilation of po boy recipes..The book was written by New Orleans born foodie Todd-Michael St. Pierre who has written other cookbooks about the delicious cuisine of the Crescent City. His take on po boys is varied and best of all , any body including a young chef can make any one of the recipes. Mr. St.Pierre uses true Cajun/Creole ingredients such as alligator(!) and the famed and flavorful boudin sausage. he also has spins on the other NOLA sandwich , the muffaletta as well. There is a nod to pain perdu or French toast with the entire po boy bread dipped in egg and fried  and stuffed with powdered sugar, jam and Canadian bacon.

Of course New Orleans also has an international population and Mr. St Pierre honors that in the recipes too. He has come up with The Mexican, a Cajun take on a taco, complete with beans, sour cream and chicken. The Germans are also given an homage to Germany with a po boy stuffed with bratwurst, Gouda cheese , sauerkraut and mustard For truly exotic, there are sandwiches that salute China and Thailand.The Beijing  has pork chops cooked in soy sauce and black rice vinegar while The Bangkok fills a po boy loaf with squid and Thai chili. Of course it;s not a true po boy without Cajun mustard which gives the sandwich zing., There's also a spin on the traditional Cuban pork sandwich renamed The Havana by Mr. St Pierre.

For po boy New Orleans lovers or sandwich buffs  , The Southern Po Boy Cookbook is for them.It is chock full of tasty and truly truly filling sandwiches.It caters to traditional Cajun and Creole as well as international flavors. The book is definitely one to own , perfect for those who love a good hearty dish .

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time For Spaetzle

November is the time to cook hot homemade meals and appreciate classic foods. The German favorite spaetzle falls into both categories.It is a great dish to make on these chilly nights, and a classic to be served on its' own or with a traditional meat dish.Spaetzles are also relatively easy to make as well, and once learned, become an instant family favorite.

Melissa Clark wrote about them as well as tried out a rye one in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Normally spaetzles are made from   just the simple blend of flour, eggs, water and salt. Ms. Clark cuts the amount of white flour used , replacing it with rye. Her recommendations involve pouring the batter into a colander , or a spaetzle maker.This last is a great device to have because it sits on top of the pot in which to boils the little noodles.It leaves the cook's hands free to pour the batter through the holes.

Some prefer just the boiled spaetzles as I do , with green beans and butter. This and having them with sauerkraut are my family's recipes. Ms. Clark prefers hers to be fried in butter cooked to a crisp. She also likes them with cheese on top along with cooking them up with Savoy cabbage and leeks. This a sweeter version of spaetzles mitt  sauerkraut. I would cook these  little treats without the leeks and maybe just a common cabbage instead of the Savoy (which can be used for other tasty dishes). Also as a comfort food. I would just have them with butter or with a gravy laden goulash which is another good accompaniment.

Nothing beats a hot dish during these chilly days. Spaetzles are just that dish,creating a warm , comforting meal. They are the perfect meal for this nippy November weather,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chefs Gone Wild

What happens when chefs are taken out of their comfort zones and thrust into the wild? The result is interesting dishes with wild animals and foraged plants.it creates a new spin on the farm to table ideology.It's more of wilderness to mouth kind of idea. Will it make for a better cook? Possibly.It's a way of thinking on one's feet ,literally.

Julia Moskin explored this concept in an article in today's New York Times Dining section.Chefs from around the world meet in Hardeeville South Carolina, in areas very different from the controlled  and civilized atmospheres of their restaurants. It is a Scandanavian concept, first being done in Denmark,Called Cook It Raw , it has nothing to do with the raw food movement, Instead it let chefs not only hunt , kill and butcher wild game but also forage wild plants and gourds that also figure largely in the later dinners. They can chase after deer or  even alligators one day and look for wild mushrooms the next.

Does this make for a better chef?It may make for one that's highly creative.One chef, created a delicate dish out of a deer's heart, an animal he recently shot. Another group used a strain of Carolina Gold rice,a fluffy variety  that hasn't been tried since the 1920's.They were taught how to harvest, from threshing to pounding and polishing.. They're also made to use low tech methods such as cooking over an open fire and butchering anything they've caught. Some have even cut up alligators in the glaring lights of a truck.

WIll more chefs go on these ventures ? Probably,Cooking in the raw teaches them new skills as well as introduces them to new ingredients.It  could make for some wild recipes inthe world's most civilized and sophisticated eateries.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Elegance of Petit Fours

It's the start of the holiday baking season .For something different and elegant try making petit fours. Many bakers are daunted by the intricacy of them however there's a new cookbook out that will help.The Petit Four Cookbook can guide even the most novice of bakers through the difficult steps.The result, moist little cakes with beautiful designs and tasty fillings.

Brooke Coulson Nguyen the owner of Dragonfly Cakes Bakery wrote this amazing must have cookbook for Ulysses Press. What I  love is that Ms Ngueyn has petit fours for every holiday as well as just for teas. The cakes themselves are not only traditional vanilla and chocolate but also raspberry, gingerbread , lemon and carrot. Luckily, she includes creamy butter cream fillings as well as cream cheese and a salted caramel. There are recommendations on how to bake and create the perfect layers for the petit fours base as well as layering marzipan on top for body .

What puts most bakers off on petit fours is the elaborate decorating involved. For some it can be complicated and labor intensive. Baker Nguyen dispels this . The decorating process can be done in two days. One day is for the robing, dipping the cakes,  in the white or dark chocolate coating and the next is for the decorating. Putting them in the fridge helps to set the coating and makes a better canvas for decorating. The decorations are done artfully, being cut out with a paring knife or gum paste cutter.Also decorating tubes are also used to create fun and intricate designs.

The Petit Four Cookbook is the perfect guide for creating an elegant holiday dessert table. Use it to create pretty little treats for family and friends. It will result in an memorable and delicious holiday memory.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Junior's Home Cooking At Your House

Junior's Restaurant is one of New York's and Brooklyn's best known landmarks/ The restaurant started , over sixty years ago is famed for its' variety of creamy home made cheese cakes and home made comfort foods. Now it's come out with a cookbook, perfect for the restaurant's fans as well as those who appreciate a good old fashioned dish/

The aithors are Alan Rosen, the grandson of the founder Harry Rosen and the third generation of owners and Beth Allen who has written two other cookbooks on Juniors. Those solely concentrated on cheesecakes and desserts. This has the whole menu, from appetizers to breads, from main meals to salads and sweets. The dishes are varied from sophisticated Asian chicken salad to the comfort food homeyness of meat loaf and veal cutlet Parmigiana. What I love about this book is that it even has the recipes for holiday meals like roasted turkey and honey glazed hams. The sides are oozing with pure flavor and comfort, like the creamed spinach and mashed candy sweet potatoes.

Of course Junior's is known for its' cheesecake and treats. Mr.Rosen and Ms.Allen don;t disappoint here. There are truly delicious recipes for a cheesecake tart and Little Fellas, mini cheesecakes with a butter cream / cream cheese frosting. Cupcakes steal the show too, especially the recipes for gluten free peanut butter ones and s'mores, chocolate cupcakes with a marshmallow filling and frosting. Pies are another big deal.Junior's has Key Lime meringue , cherry crumb and chocolate cream. All three would make a nice ending to any holiday dinner. There is also a chocolate babka loaf, a wonderful addition to any weekend brunch.

Junior's Home Cooking is like bringing the famed eatery home. The recipes  are the restaurant's best dishes and desserts that anyone could easily make.It's great for fans and foodies.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cold Weather Charity

Now that November and the cold weather have arrived, it's time to start storing up for our local food drives , pantries  and soup kitchens. Those less fortunate deserve  a good hot meal  to ward off the chills as well as enjoy a holiday meal with all the trimmings.It's up to us to provide for those who can't as we did in earlier times.

One way of helping is by donating cans and packaged goods. Many of us overbuy and we always wind up with extra. Donate the surplus so others can enjoy a side of healthy veggies or beans. Check expiration dates to make sure cans haven't expired  though. Another way is shopping for both your family and any charitable organization at the same time. Some stores such as Stop & Shop and A&P will give discounts if you buy two or three cans. This also applies to certain breads and English muffins as well along with cold cuts. Buy fresh fruit too and donate it . Nothing  helps ward off colds and flus than a dose of apples ,oranges or bananas. The same with vegetables. Buy tomatoes not just for yourself but for your local soup kitchen too.

Another way of helping is volunteering. Of course there are the holiday soup kitchens but which is a good way of donating time. You can also go there on weekdays or any day off also. If you bake , then volunteer to make cookies or cupcakes. Also baking for the holidays is nice too.Bakers could even have a baking party where three or four get together and make a variety of treats to hand out. (You may want to check with your local pantries to check their policies) Other things like utensils, napkins , even tablecloths  can be bought at your dollar store and given too.

This is th eseason to give.You can donate food or time to  help others. They're greatly appreciate it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Time For Chestnuts

Today is All Saint's Day and tomorrow is All Soul's Day, two days of memorial in the Christian calendar. It surprisingly  is a food day  as well, with hot, roasted  chestnuts commemorating souls.Yet November is the time to usher in the chestnut season as well. It's a nutritious nut, with a lot of versatility to it.

Chestnuts have been around since BCE, growing mostly in Southern France , Italy, Spain ,Portugal and some parts of Greece. The ancient Greeks even won a battle by just storing up on them. Originally the ground chestnuts were used as a kind of cereal by ancient Romans and Greeks and its' ground flour was used in a variety of cakes and breads.it was also grown in the Orient, mostly in China, being employed more as a savory ingredient. It's a good source of Vitamin C and thiamin .Chestnuts are  mostly carbohydrates and has always been a great addition to any diet. The flavor is mild , perfect on it's own but also good candied..

For All Saint's and All Soul's Day, you can  roast chestnuts which is a very easy process. Slit the top with a cross so they don't burst. This allows steam to escape too. Roast over a low flame for about twenty minutes and then eat hot. The result is a delicious sweetmeat  with a hearty center and a light sweet, smoky taste. They're also good  as the classic dessert marron glacee. This is boiled chestnuts soaked in a simple vanilla syrup for a good half a day, .then baked in a low oven for forty five minutes.Chestnuts can also be pureed and mixed with sweet cream for an interesting tart or pie filling.

Commemorate All Saint's and All Soul's Days with roasted chestnuts. They are a traditional and tasty, redolent of smokiness and sweetness.They're a perfect fall dish for the season.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Amother Spooky Celebration

Halloween isn;t the only holiday that celebrates the spirits. Mexicans and Mexican -Americans are gearing up to honor their lost loved ones for Day of The Dead, Dias  des los Muertos which is November 2nd. Like this day, it centers around food, but instead of candy, more of the breads and favorites  of those gone.

Rachel Wharton wrote about it along with visiting a Mexican bakery for yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Guadalupana Bakery  in the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn specializes in baking the skull shaped loaves as well as the daily pan dulce or sweet breads. The owners Maria and Amador Rojas learned how to bake th e classics in their native Piaxtla Mexico.Mrs. Rojas shapes the breads, dusting them with pink sugar, filling them with raisins and cinnamon along with orange blossom water or almond extract.The pan de muerto as it's called is shaped like a smiling skull. Bunny shaped cake are made for little ones lost as well.

The holy day which falls on the Catholic calendar, All Saint's Day  celebrates the lost loved ones favorite foods. Along with the breads families also make tamales and moles along with tequila and even coffee brewed the way they liked it.Mexican bakeries also make the brightly colored sugar skulls too. Most  families bring the victuals to the cemetery to eat there although some urban ones set up an altar, an ofrenda, in their homes.The families then eat the treats on that day as a kind of communion with their ancestors.

Halloween is the time to celebrate the spookiness and the spirits along with the fun of the day. Day of the dead celebrates those lost but always remembered. It's done with  special  breads and candies , a sweet way to keep memories alives