Thursday, January 31, 2013

ChicjPeas Versatile And Fun

Chickpeas are always a great addition to any dish. They can be tossed into a salad for texture and protein or added to a stewed Moroccan style lamb or chicken for extra flavor. They are also good on their own a tasty snack whether dried with sea salt or right out of the can and sprinkled with some olive oil and parsley.All in all they're not just good for you but also great for varying your diet.

They were the subject of A City Kitchen article. in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Dave Tanis wrote about and explored this humble little legume's impact. It is primarily known for being the only ingredient in hummus. It's also  a main part of pasta e fagioli, adding a creaminess to this classic Italian soup while the French make a zesty salad with them. Chick peas also known as garbanzos in Spain make up most of the tapas snack dishes. They are a big part of Middle eastern cuisine where they originated in Turkey

Mr Tanis gives his readers and us good recipes . He does recommend using the fresh or dried ones as opposed to the canned variety.The taste is a lot better and definitely adds to whatever dish they're in. He offers a spicy Spanish soup with the Iberian sausage , chorizo and greens.He also recommends them in a the traditional Indian masala where you can use the black kind. Chickpeas can also be used in North African cuisine too and work well with the spices that are used.

Chickpeas are a wonderful and versatile ingredient. You can use them any way you want. They're one of the best legumes to use for any cuisine, whether for a homey pasta e fagioli or an exotic masal or tapas.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Sweetness Of New Orleans

New Orleans has always been known for it's amazing mix of Cajun and Creole cuisine.The city rocks,and bubbles with theism,ells of blackened fish and fried chicken.What most people don't know is that this true American gem has a sweet side.Yup,Narleans has some of the best cakes and sweets in the United States.There are some delicious treats coming out of The Big Easy. The city's sweet side was the main article in today's New York Times Dining section.Julia Moskinhad the awesome task of reporting about some. Of the city's sweet history as well as sampling cakes and other treats.It was more than fate that made the city a sweet city.Many sugar plantations were located right outside New Orleans and the sugar was then shipped from there to the world.This probably led to the world's first candy sellers, the pralinieres, women who stood on street corners, selling pralines, a creamy mix of pecans and brown sugar. Later immigrants, such, as the Sicilians brought the cool treats of gelatonand granita which led to the city's passion for shaved ice. New Orleans is primarily known as for it's King Cake , a buttery ,flaky layer cake decorated with the Mardi Gras colors of gold, green and purple.It is sold between Epiphany and Mardi Gras and has a baby doll, representing the baby Jesus hidden inside. the one who finds the figure has to buy the next King cake. there is also the doberge cake, another sweet layered confection first created in the 1930's. This is filled with a creamy custard and has an icing.of course The city is known for beignets, those fluffy dough balls fried and then Dusted with powdered sugar. New Orleans has always been known as a culinary town. Now, it's also known as a sweet city, thanks to it's sweet treats. it is full of goodness and sugar.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Magic Mushrooms

Is there such a thing as a superfood? Yes, and it comes in the form of the mushroom.This humble mushroom can help you conquer life threatening diseases along with improving your quality of life. Too good to be true? No adding mushrooms to your life is definitely beneficial and tasty too. These fungi are chock full of health benefits. the Japanese versions, such as the maita and shiitake contain tumor suppressors.Others , such as the oyster help alleviate HIV symptoms.A lot of mushrooms help with lowering diabetes and weight.There is a caveatbthoigh. because the flesh is absorbent, they tend to pick up minerals and pesticides.Try to buy the organic version at all times. Can you grow them at home? You can but they won't be as successful a crop as your regular garden veggies.Do not try foraging unless you're an export. Most wild varieties are highly poisonous. There are so many different types of mushrooms that finding yummy recipe won't be much of a problem.Mushroom risotto is easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. You can use any kind however porcini are the best. Portobellos are one of the most versatile and tastiest(and , it is true, they do take like steak) Try them stove grilled or oven baked.You can even julienne them and toss into a fresh spinach salad. If you want a more exotic dish try stir frying shiitake or maita mushrooms with water chestnuts, Ginger and bean sprouts.Want simple? then try the old fashioned bread crumb stuffed white caps, bursting with flavored crumbs, chopped mushroom stems and parsley. Improve your diet by adding the many varieties of mushroom. This super food is super tasty. try it in a creamy risotto or grilled like steak. Any way you serve it, it 's good for you.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Drink,Drink Drink

Everyone thinks summer is the season for hydration. Yet , it's now ,winter, that we need to amp up our liquid intake. Get out the bottles, get out the cups. It's time to increase how much we drink. It's not only good for us, but good for our throats. Since this is cold and flu season as well, it's good to have a fridge full of not only water but juices too. Think about having a bottle of water with you to cool a scratchy throat as well as even one with you when you shovel snow.Have water with you in the office or classroom. Every interior in the Northern Hemisphere is bone dry thanks to heating. this results in more parched throats.When you're home think about juicing . fresh juice is not only good for thirst but also helps in warding off flus and colds. Teas are another good cold weather drink. You can make your own using everything from lemon rinds to sliced Ginger root. These help in warding off the usual maladies of the season but also provide the body with powerful antioxidants and vitamins.Of course you can use regular bagged tea, preferably with lemon. this is better than coffee, especially on the office. If you're drinking a decaf tea, you won,t go through spurts and energy crashes. A nice, herbal tea will help keep you on a steady path and also feel better. Surprisingly it's winter that the most dehydrating season. tackle it with fresh fruit juice or home made tea. Even a bottle of water is helpful.Get hydrated this winter.

Eat Your Winter Veggies

Even though there's snow on the ground, and nip in the air you still can enjoy fresh veggies. There are plenty of healthy greens to munch on despite that it's winter .This is the time to enjoy all those greens and roots. January is the time for cabbages.Both the regular kind and the rarer Savoy are out in full force right now. make tasty stuffed cabbage rolls using shredded turkey or chicken. You can also try rice too as well as sautéed onions. Savoy cabbage is used in Piedmontese dishes from Northwestern Italy. One favorite is pescoi, a cabbage leaf stuffed with butter and uncooked polenta. after frying till done the rolls are tightly packed in a vinegar water marinade inside a casserole dish. these can be served as a side however they're mostly used as a main dish. Leeks and turnips are also big right now. leeks are versatile. They're great in soups or as sides. Again they are a staple in Piedmontese winter dishes. there's nothing like leeks on toast , a popular dish from Torino 's suburbs. Place a scoop of cooked leeks on buttered toast Sprinkle liberal amounts of Parmesan cheese and bake in a toaster oven. This is a great way of introducing the kids to them.Turnips are another winter classic.They can be mashed With carrots or stuffed into Cornish pasties. they are also good in root veggie bakes which make a satisfying side to any Sunday roast. Even though it's winter you still can get quality veggies. what's out there is so versatile.Enjoy them now

Friday, January 25, 2013

Slow Cooked Sweetness

Usually slow cookers are reserved for stews or even Swedish meatballs.However that's all changing thanks to a recipe book dedicated to slow cooked desserts.You can make all ousts of gooey goodies with it,from puddings to bars to even shortbread. The author , Jonnie Downing has written an interesting book regarding after dinner treats and a slow cooker.There are sorts of recipes in this latest offering from Ulysses Press.Anybody can make these neat desserts.There are creamy flans and fruit filled compotes along with easy box cakes and homemade puddings.The instructions are eassy and there are dozens of recipes to go through.The author,Jonnie Dowing and her daughter Elizabeth are the authors of a website devoted to everything crock pot. The book offers great hints too if you're planning on crock pot desserts.Also you can use other containers inside the slow cooker to make baking easier.Ms.Downing recommends ramekins,spring form pans, trivets, and pans.These are great for puddings , flans and souffles along with the last for breads.She also offers tips and hints to create a better dish,especially when it comes to using freshly grated spices and fresh fruits. If you're big into crackpot cooking, then this is the book for you.It has every kind of dessert from compotes to cakes,along with pies and puddings. It's perfect for those who don't have the time for baking yet want to have a fancy home cooked sweet.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

That New Orleans Influence

New Orleans has always had a persuasive influence in cooking. Cajun has been an American standard since the Eighties. even Emeril and other Louisiana chefs are super stars on the American culinary scene.Now that the town is hosting the Super Bowl , it s time to celebrate the spicy and flavorful cooking. It was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. the piece, written by Suzanne Lenzer, tells about how to create a heavily New Orleans party platter. Instead of the usual hot wings it's chowchow,the N'Arlins favorite of pickled green tomatoes, cabbage and cauliflower. it's a more ambitious menu than your typical game day but it will be more memorable too. Some of the recipes are involved but they are tasty .You can try to make the chowchow the day or even a few days before since it is a relish. Roast pork dip may take bait longer than typical pulled pork but bit is well worth it.This takes three to fours hours to cook and prepare but once you've done it you can put some aside for the spicy boudin balls ,another Louisiana fave. New Orleans will be hopping on Super Bowl Sunday . make your kitchen just as lively by cooking up some NOLA faves. it'll make for some jumping

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Poetry Of Cheese

There's nothing like a hunk of a good cheese.Just ask the cheesemongers who try to sell it. It's hard to sell the taste of it yet this is what those sellers do. Tnere's nothing like creative writing to sell a product.. The lyrical cheese mongers were the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section.The piece, written by Dining regular Jeff Gordonier, tell how mostly Manhattan sellers go to great iambic lengths to sell their from ages.Some descriptions are succinct such is the case withHarlem's Fairway.The cheeses can be labelled anywhere from "bland and forgettable" to "strong and Gooshy" to Creamy and Dreamy. This aids in not only in garnering new customers but also steers buyers into making the right choices. Most of the cheese mongers though go beyond that. Some compare them to rock stars , others even offer comparisons to our president.It first started with Steve Jenkins, again of Fairway, who first started cheesy prose thirty years ago. Now, it's practically normal. each cheese store has it's own writing style, ranging from punchy to sarcastic. there is a reason for this Most cheese stores hire out of work artists, writers , and musicians. writing descriptions is a creative outlet for them and a great way to continue their creativity. Cheese is an easy sell on it's own.However there 's nothing like a little poetry to push a new brand and type. bring on the kind words .There's nothing like an ode to cheese.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Trade Blues For Ginger

This is the time of year when the winter blues set in. How to beat them? Use an ancient Chinese ingredient.Ginger.It's a great way of raising your morale and pleasing your taste buds. Best of all you can buy it any local grocery store. Ginger has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It helps with digestion as well as nausea and suprreses skin and ovarian cancer.Ginger also protects the body from colds and viruses so it pays to get it during this particularly nasty flu season. if you're new to Ginger buying consider getting a smaller root to at least try. You can work you way up to the larger ones as you become more acclimated to the taste. the root should have a light brown skin,and no spots.If the coating looks too wrinkly, then it's been there a while. Ignore it and go on to a fresher looking one. Once you have the root, then you can experiment with it. Try a soothing tea.Slice up three or four pieces (size doesn't matter but the more you have the more flavorful your drink will be).Some add honey and/or lemon for taste.It's just better on it's own.You can also mince Ginger into any of your stir fries for an authentic Chinese touch.The bits will soften up and become chewy. Another variation is making your own sauce using the steamed Ginger and water.Add some sesame oil for body and even scallions for more bite. It goes well with chicken and fish. Ginger is a definite morale booster.Buy the root today to perk up your life and palate.Try it as a tea or in foods for a definite boost to your immune system.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Four More Years Of Good Eating

It'll be four more years of good and healthy eating with Michelle Obama in the White House. Our First Lady is one of the chief fighters against childhood obesity and better nutrition.We may even see some reforms thanks to her. in the meantime here are some of her tips and how she makes sure the First Daughters eat well. Mrs. Obama is a firm believer in veggies and fruits.She has even created a working garden on the White House grounds. kids today should be weaned away from some fast food places .It's always fun to have a hamburger however try to make it a rare treat.Get the little ones hooked on chicken and fish more. The meat is actually tastier than red meat and there's more to do with it.You can also get them to experiment with soy products too.As for snacks ,think pretzels dipped in mustards or veggies in dressing.Let them go shopping with you so that they can be acclimated with what to buy for your meals. Sugary drinks and sweets are two other enemies that Mrs. Obama wants to suppress.Too many parents easily acquiesce to buying colas and over processed juices. Instead try flavored seltzer or just water.Another good idea is buying a juicer. This let's the kids customize their juices along with drinking healthy.You don't have to worry about them adding extra sugar or even poisons such as arsenic sometimes found in apple juice. For fun nibbles sub in blueberries and strawberries instead of chocolate pieces and lollipops.If they do clamor for cookies ,get them natural based brands such as Nature's Own. We are lucky to have a First Lady who cares about what our children eat.Hopefully through her advice and cheering on ,there will be an end to this problem?There will be a healthier America in our future ,thanks to her.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Goodness Of German Sausage

There's nothing like good German sausage on rye bread for a winter's meal.There's so many different types though it's hard to choose. You can try the slightly spicy but smooth teewurst or the tasty knackwurst along with several other kinds too.Each is yummy in it's own right and perfect for lunch or dinner.

Germany has anywhere from 1200 to 1500 sausages. Yes, you read that right. There are over one thousand fresh and sliced/spreading sausages.Most of them are classified in the wurst category are usually made of pork, veal or beef. These tend to be regional and with thousands of varieties.Most American know frankfurters. This is where the American hot dog derives them. They're great grilled at tailgaters but also good lightly fried with sauerkraut and potatoes.bratwurst is also an American favorite from the Germans.These are a tad longer than the regular frankfurter and always eaten with potato salad and hot mustard. Another treat is the knackwurst, a plump .Cook it and you'll hear where it's name comes from, Knack means to pop in German and that's what it;s skin does crackles, pops and explodes, exposing tender meat.

There are some other sausages that are also heavenly.Neophytes and even connoisseurs should try  teewurst.This is more of a creamy, smooth spread in a casing. Just tear off the little tie and squeeze onto crackers or dark bread. It's made of raw pork and bacon smoked over beechwood.It's name comes from it being served at tea time. For a richer, chewier one, try landjaeger, This is similar to our beef jerky,It's a dried beef or pork sausage mixed with red wine, lard and spices.Sugar is even added for more taste.Hikers still love it because it's great to bring along on a country walk.

If you're craving good and flavorful food then try German sausage. They 're rich in both variety and flavor. You'll find a favorite and fall for it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Holding Onto Tradition:Vietnamese Cooking

For those who love bot the exotic and traditional Vietnamese cooking hits the mark. It has the flavors of Southeast Asia  combined with century old recipes.Best of all it can be made at home thanks to a new cookbook. For those who love  Vietnamese, it;s time to make it at home instead of searching for the rare restaurant featuring it.

The cookbook is Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan,the famed San Francisco chef who has a string of six restaurants around the city. The book has come out from Ten Speed Press and an interview with him was in the Wednesday's New York Times Dining section. He is a devoted father and cook ,making his famed dishes for his three kids at their apartment above his one restaurant,Out The Door.They are the dishes that are also in the book and easy to make for American audiences.

The Phan family came to the US two years  after the fall of Saigon in 1977 when Mr Phan himself was only sixteen. He and his mother who still cooks for the family make the  wonderful dishes that they brought with them. One is a mix of tomatoes, chard and squid over rice. Most Vietnamese dishes are either steamed,braised or stir fried dishes.He makes his kids  the traditional steamed chicken with lily buds and dried shiitake mushrooms. His wife is his sous chef helping him cut and dice, His mother cuts up persimmons and peeled longan fruit for dessert. Despite it all his three kids still want American fare every now and then despite being surrounded by their  father's masterpieces,

If you love the exotic and traditional then buy Mr. Phan's book. If you're a fan of his restaurants, then definitely purchase it .You can bring the flavor and the fun home with you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Immersion Blender Dangerous But Fun

Want to have some absolute bloody fun in the kitchen? Get an immersion blender.It's that kitchen instrument that Dan Akroyd ,uproarious as Julia Child onSaturday Night Live used in "The French Chef" parody that turned deliciously gory.However it's now almost required in some of the world's top restaurants and also gourmet home kitchens. It was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.The writer,Alexandra Jacob not only explained what this kitchen whiz does but tried it too.Like the old SNL skit it did not end well. it's basically a hand held blender with exposed blades.The button on it goes from gentle to wicked in seconds.For any inexperienced cook this can be both messy and scary.For experienced cooks it can create some extraordinary masterpieces.It 's sometimes called SmartStick Blender however it was Swiss Inventor Roget Perrinjaquet who created this in the late Fifties.It was a mix of a long beater with blades. It does take some learning to use it.Many new owners wind up in the ER with sliced fingers and coming home with stitches.Some of the more less confident usually exchange them for the safer and easier to use traditional blenders.However ,most Ers usually report more incidents with knives and even the more popular mandoline.If you don't know what you're doing with any sharp or potentially dangerous kitchenware, then there will be blood .Read the instructions.Study the machine.Look at the blogs featuring them.Then use it. A Batmix is a fun yet potentially scary introduction to whipping and beating free handedly.Use it with prudence if you're uneasy with it.Like any kit hen instrument it can be an excellent addition or a vicious one.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Time For Blood Oranges

Nothing beats a dreary Day than a sweet piece of citrus.January is the time of and for oranges.This includes the very juicy blood orange.This lovely globe is not only healthy but also very tasty too. It was the star of Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column in today's New York Times Dining section. blood oranges are always a good fruit choice because they 're so versatile. You can add the wedges to a salad or try it with black bass and roasted fennel as Ms. Clark suggests.She also recommends a yummy looking upside down cake with them .It includes the orange rind along with cornmeal for a denser texture.You can also make a rich tasting juice with them as they do in Rome. Blood oranges originated in Italy in the ash rich soil of Sicily.There are several kinds.The Italians love the Tarocco with it's sweet berry like taste.Unfortunately it's a hard sell here. Americans like Moros because of their rich, red color. They're used in both restaurants and bars,adding to dinners and fancy cocktails. these are the best for juicing.They produce an almost cranberry hue , unlike regular oranges which give their juice a carrot like color. Some Moros as well as other blood oranges are grown in the Italian like climate of California.Other blood oranges are coming from Texas and Arizona. This is the time to chase those winter blues away.Have a blood orange to do that.It's sweet, rich taste will surely make you smile.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Snow Fun A Day Off Cooking And Baking

This is January and that means there will be snow days.With parts of the country under as much as two to three feet of snow,there will be more kids off with nothing to do.Well, if you're home with them ,then you can introduce them to cooking and baking.It's a chance to let them find their inner chef as well as learning about health. And nutrition. Start with simple dishes.Rice or mashed potatoes.These are easy as pie to whip up and also you and the kids can create variations.Add some garlic and/ or herbs for extra flavor.Another fun dish is a Dagwood sandwich or a hero Subway style.Kids can add healthy pre sliced tomatoes and peppers along with turkey or chicken slices(or last night's leftovers ).You can also have your Tweens and teens help in making more sophisticated dinners such as spaghetti or even risotto. As far as baking what better to bake on a snowy day than a pizza.Use whole wheat instead of white flour.Of course use tomatoes ,but try fresh ,organic ones instead of annex sauce although that one is good for you too. let them have fun with toppings.If they want to add pineapple or even barbecue sauce, let them(however don't throw those two together).Also baking wholesome oatmeal raisin cookies is a fun way to pass the time. you can also make a yummy chocolate chip too with brown sugar and walnuts. A snow day can also be a learning factor too.Show your kids how to cook and bake.It's better than them trooping in slush all day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Flu Foods

Everyone is suffering from the flu these days.It goes after everyone from celebrities to your grocery clerk.The problem is that it can take away your appetite.This means a lack of nourishment which means trouble. Doctors and nutritionists suggest plenty of fluids and this is true. kids should have either juice or Pedialite. Adults should think about a soothing cup of herbal tea too.Try peppermint or chamomile to sooth cramps and anything else that goes with it. Even Coke , Pepsi or Ginger ale with ice also helps, especially if you have nausea.Take small sips. foods should be simple yet nourishing, Broth is good, Espcially if you addq beaten egg for protein. You can also add rice for nutrition too. when you feel like having more solid foods, think buttered noodles along with a simple grilled chicke. Don 't have any gassy veggies.Think mashed potatoes or even mashed squash as a simple yet tasty side. don't go for any lush desserts .Again bland is better.Think simple butter cookies like Lorna Doones or better yet Graham crackers and again with tea. keep eating and drinking if you catch the flu. get plenty of rest but also food as well. it'll help you bounce back.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stuffed Mushrooms Versatile And Fun

If you want that special side that easily made, then think about stuffed mushrooms. You can make them in a few minutes and either microwave , fry or even grill them. Different ingredients can be added as well to vary them. They are one of the most versatile foods to create and cook,

The basic recipe calls for white cap mushrooms. These are the pure white ones and the best to get are the organic. Each container will have all sizes . Save the big and medium ones for stuffing. The smaller ones, caps and all can be used for stuffing. The mushrooms should be lightly washed and left to drain on paper towels. At this point you can decide if you want to make them in the oven or the microwave. The oven will take forty minutes while the microwave will only take eight minutes. The baked stuffed mushroom will have a cunchier topping while the nuked version will moister and softer.Grilled versions will take about forty five minutes over open coals.

The stuffing is chopped stems,namely the white parts along with the more finely minced smaller caps. Add a cup and a half of breadrcrumbs , usually the regular kind and plain flavored. Mix in with salt, pepper and oregano along with two finely minced garlic cloves. Some will add in tham and salami along with Parmesan cheese.Moisten with light olive oil and firmly stuff the caps. Seafood lovers love theirs with flake crabmeat bound with cream cheese along with breadcrumbs. Dot with butter .You can also try pine nuts for crunch or Japanese pangko crumbs. try stuffed mushrooms.They re easy and tasty as bb

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cinnamon RollsTasty Morning Treats

Nothing beats a cinnamon roll in the morning or as a snack. There's something about the combo of a yeasty bread with the zing of cinnamon and sugar. Even better when they're fresh from the oven .Their recipe is also versatile because you can add extras to make them special or different.

Cinnamon rolls are one of the easiest baked goods to make. You can use a regular yeast base recipe or even just get crescent rolls and fill them up with plain cinnamon and sugar. Before doing this mix brush each triangle with melted butter and then roll up There was a recipe in Wednesday's new York Times dining section where Melissa Clark made her own , making the icing more butterscotch in taste. You could do this and also use it as a filling too, making it like the Cinnabon ones.

Cinnamon rolls can have variations too. You can add raisins as well as a variety  of nuts.Most bakers add walnuts for crunch and texture but also try milder tasting almonds to balance out the flavor. Again use whole nuts or grind them in a food processor. You can mix them in with the cinnamon and sugar and cinnamon too. Size can also vary, You can make huge ones that are perfect to split or tiny ones that are perfect for brunches or even afternoon teas.

Cinnamon rolls are wonderful bites of flavor and sweetness. You can easily make them using  premade dough or from scratch,Either way they are a great treat with coffee or tea.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Spice of Sri Lanka Cooking

Sri Lanka conjures up bright colors and fiery spices.The same is true for their foods. They are hot yet sweet, flavorful yet full of regular ingredients. A dish from this tropical island is the perfect antidote for a cold day's dinner.

Dave Tanis tried Sri Lankan food in his City Kitchen  column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. His recipe is the tasty and flavorful coconut chicken curry with cashews. This is a meal to make either for guests or simply for a regular weekday. it;s also the perfect chill chaser with turmeric and cayenne to give it heat. Sri Lankan food is similar to Southern Indian food  and the dish is laced with the spicy coriander and, cardamon and ginger.> Cashews are added for crunch and  they work well with the chicken , Tanis uses.

Sri Lankan food is pretty easy to make, especially if you're familiar with cooking  southern Indian food. it is highly spiced, perfect to go with the tea the island is known for (remember  that Sri Lanka was formerly known as  Ceylon and was a huge tea colony under British rule)Cashews are also a hallmark of the cuisine and the Portuguese who also ruled the island in the 1600's. Coconut milk is also used in the dish. Rice is usually served.with it but if you want you can also serve roti to scoop up the sauce and meat.

There's nothing like a fragrant hot meal from an exotic country to liven up a winter's table. Try this dish to give color and flavor to your dinner or party. It's like a culinary vacation for your palate.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Relearning Your Microwave

Everyone thinks that a microwave is just used for reheating  leftovers and popping popcorn every now and then. Surprisingly enough however it can be used to make first cooked quality meals. No matter what brand you have you can learn  to create high quality dinners and desserts that would make your oven envious,Another plus you can do it in half the time.

Relearning your microwave was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. The piece was written by Sophie Brickman and has some good advice as well as recipes. It is also  healthy with no fat and just a swipe of oil .A microwave can be used for a variety of different techniques.At its' lowest levels it can be used for a dehydrator.At the highest settings you can steam and fry. Clean up is also minimal at this level which makes microwave perfect if you're cooking for company.

Ms. Brickman decided to try both beef jerky and dried apples You usually have to use the lowest setting for this and a lot of patience, Most microwaves have the lowest setting of 700 watts however you;ll have to do some math  if you have a more powerful machine.(and you can also check the recipe book that comes with your microwave for conversions)Brickman
also tried a black cod with scallions and ginger, This was perfect with fully flavored fish and tender flesh. You can try it with salmon too and tuna,
Your microwave doesn't have to just reheat and pop popcorn. It can be used to make delicious gourmet restaurant type food. best of it , the food is fresh and tender, not day old and tough,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fridge Hoarding

We're all guilty of it - fridge hoarding. We have cartons of unknown this and conainters of heaven only knows what. We mean to throw it out, but we never do. As much as we hate to admit it , we have become food hoarders and that's not healthy.

A lot of those containers come from restaurants . Let's face it  we're a country of diners who love to nosh at any eatery , from chains to family owned places. Unfortunately all those restaurants give us oversized portions and we bring them home. A week later it's an unidentified mass of glop that could have mold spots on it. Try  to eat leftovers a day or two after you;ve eaten out or better yet, split them with your friends or family(A better solution is ordering children's portions). If you've brought home steak or chicken wheat you can do is turn it into a sandwich the next day , or chop them up and serve with fresh pasta  or rice.If you;ve had food for more than a week , then it's time to introduce it to the garbage (Or use it as compost)

Sometimes we just buy too much on our trips to the grocery store , Let's face it eveyrthing looks good and it's so easy to toss stuff into our carts. Luckily veggies can either be turned into salads or cooked . The problem is that certain veggies can rot faster than others which creates some interesting odors. This in turns smells up the entire refrigerator.The same is true for fruit too Most should be kept for two weeks at best. Surprisingly bananas are are their best when their skin is black. Yet if it smells , then toss it. Another rule is if the rind is dried out as with citrus, then use it as mulch as  you can  do with bad veggies.

Hoarding isn;t just keeping all those ol birthday cards and soda bottles. It sometimes can mean hoarding food too . If you;ve had it for more than a week or two, then get rid of it. Nothing beats a clean fridge.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Versatile Mashed Potato

Nothing is as staple as the mashed potato. It is a great plate filler, helping to absorb gravy as well introduce picky eaters to veggies. It;s also one of the easiest sides to make . You can make it by using real spuds or flakes. Either way they're versatile.

Plain mashed is great . Of course they taste the best with any kind of roast beef, turkey or chicken gravy. This is one of the richest way of eating it .You can mix in  some  low calorie sour cream along with herbs as a nice extra to grilled chicken or even fish. Adding roasting garlic is another plus and goes well with steak or pork.Even left over mashed potatoes can be tasty . Form balls, then dip them in beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Fry up the potato ball  in oil or butter and serve with ketchup as a fun alternative to French  fries.

Mashed potatoes are also a great ingredient in leftovers.Cooks from Paula Deene to locals make excellent pancakes with leftover mash .Add flour, and  eggs to day old potatoes and fry in bacon grease as well s adding bacon as decoaration. These go great with eggs sunnyside up and some ham slices.The English add cabbage to make the famed bubble and squeak which is a crispy kind of skillet cake while others add Parmesan cheese.You can also add mashed spuds to crab and fish cakes along to chicken croquettes to give them body.Regular dessert cakes also benefit from a cup of mashed potatoes.They give them a wonderful consistency that plain flour doesn't .

Mashed potatoes aren't boring as most people think. in fact they're versatile and fun to cook with . Use them in everything from skillet cakes to desserts for something delicious.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Appetizer Only Please

Sometimes a full restaurant dinner can be too much. There's so much to slog thourgh that you either waste it or have to take it home. This can leave you feeling too stuffed , more ready for bed than a night out. The best bet is getting appetizers. There's always a wide variety and always more than a few tasty choices.

Most restaurants, big  and small have large lists of appetizers. Some offere everything  from soup to mini versions of their more popular entrees. This is great if you just want to  sample or just prefer something simple before a movie or club. Appetizer lists though have great foods that are just plain fun. Chinese restaurants have beef and chicken on sticks which are fun along with dumplings , either boiled or fried. Italian restaurants  feature garlic knots, pizza dough twisted into knobs that run from marble to plum size These are served with a bowl of hot pizza sauce and do the trick as well as any slice of pizza.

Many chain restaurants along with diners thrive on appetizers. Their offerings cater to large groups of people and different taste. Some places like The Outback have the Bloomin' Onion which can serve anywhere from one to four people. Ohters like TGIF offer the tantazlizing trio of babyback ribs , chicken and shrimp along with chips with different kinds of dips. Diners also also great appetizers from the shareable nachos  to the fried platter. This last consists of fried mozzarealla sticks, chicken wings and shrooms, stuffed and fried mushroom caps.Sliders, those mini burgers are also on many a menu now and make more sense to eat than a huge burger. Instead of a whole meal think about appetizers. They're more fun to eat than the regular meal and easier to finish. Go small the next time in a favorite eating place.

Friday, January 4, 2013

January Is Kitchen Sale Times

January has always been the month for white sales. Sheets, pillowcases and towels were marked down to unbelievable prices. The same is now true with appliances and gadgets.If you feel like you need new gear or just over worked your blenders and toaster ovens over the holidays, then treat yourself to new ones this month.

Many stores from Targets to Kohl's are having major sales right now, especially on pots and pans sets. This is the time to buy them, especially with the great discounts happening. Some of the better brands such as LeCreuset can be bought with tremendous sales pricing right now. Kitchen Aid , always a chef's must have is also being offered at good pricing. A crock pot can be had at only twenty bucks and this is a steal at Target  , especially if you're big into slow cooking. Other must haves to pick up are electric griddles, rotisseries and grills. Any of these also make great shower or housewarming gifts too so stock up if you're going to have a few of these to attend.

Frill appliances are also going on sale right now too.If you wanted that cool Soda Stream, the aerator that carbonates regular water , scoop it up. Their  flavors are also being offered at discounts too at againlike stroes at Target and Kohl's.Those mini cake pop ovens  along with donut makers are also being sold at lower pricing too. Buy them now for some fun Valentine's Day baking later on. Keurig Coffee makers are being offered at lower pricing right now at some stores . Definitely take advantage of this if you're a big coffee maker,

January is a big sales month. Take advantage of these discounts if you need any appliance or just want a fun gadget. Pinching pennies is always good, better yet when thy're being saved on kitchen appliances.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Perfect Cup

There's nothing like a good cup of coffee, especially espresso.The problem is not many know how to make it at home. Most have to rely on their local barrista to give them the perfect cup. Yet with the right guidance that heavenly brew can be created.

It was the main article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Matt Raichtel, a Dining newcomer had the fun task of not 0only tasting but being shown how to make the right cup of espresso.There are classes called Camp Pull A  Shot that last for four days  for making every kind of cup from creamy lattes to adreleine boosting espresso. Students, who range from barristas to the average joe(pun intended) learn the basics. They sample different beans  along with understanding the mechanics of La Marzocco Liena t a variety of espresso machines, Then they get to try their hand at it. Mr Raichtel did pretty well with it.He did have help though thanks to top barrista, Tristan Walach or as he's also known as Ant.

What makes a good cup? Both the beans and the steamed milk help however knowing how to run the coffee machine properly helps the most. Without the right stream of water ,espresso can turn out to be watery. Even the best tasting beans can have their flavor destroyed.With practice, however anyone can make a good cup. Properly steamed milk also helps too,The sugars in the milk have to cook and that usually happens at 135 degrees F.It makes for a sweeter taste. More or less it all boils down to grinding the beans properly and running water through it for 25 seconds.

A good cup of espresso is always a treat.If you can make it at home, it' even better .It just takes some work to make a tasty treat.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Trends for The New Year

Every new year brings trends.Fashion, electronics and even animals become the latest must haves during a year. It's no different for foods. Certain dishes and items become the have to eats for all the latest hip foodies.Some have been around for ages. Some are new ideas or inventions.

2013 food trends are the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section.Julia Moskin, a Dining regular contributor and a hip foodie writes about what's going to be in our mouths and on our plates.Cuisines that are hot right now are at opposite ends of Europe. Foodies are re embracing Scandinavian, particularly Norse food with a passion that hasn;t been felt since the Sixties. Spanish modernism is hot right now Another trend is long aged meat.This is cured meat that has been drying for eight months.Smoked foods are also making a comeback too, but this time with veggies. You'll see a lot of smoke cauliflower on menus in 2013. Fermentation also comes back as does fried pig ears, popular in Spanish cultures

Sunflowers, usually reserved for festive Spring centerpieces are going to be a huge part of the American palate. Sunflower seeds will be mashed and pureed into pastes,The root of the flower or the choke is making appearances in everything from salads to desserts.Winter veggies such as kale ,radishes, turnips and fennel are also popular, this time though raw to get more out of them. Artesanal soft serve ice creams will be finishing those meals of raw veggies and chokes.There will even be trucks going around hipster neighborhoods selling salted pistachio caramel and guava horchata.

2013 will be like any year, full of fascinating trends. That includes some of the foods mentioned. They;re worth trying . Some may eve be so good they'll stay around until the next hew year

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Food List 2013

Everybody should take some culinary leaps  every now and then, That's going to be my resolution in the New Year.There's so much to sample and taste . Being a food writer, I feel that I should be broadening my horizons which I haven't been doing. There is a wide, wild world out there to taste and try .

Since writing about whelks a few weeks ago, I have been hankering to taste these briny sea snails. I would probably try  then in garlic butter, similar to escargot. Rediscovering scallops is another must eat. I love their chewy texture but also their silken taste. Why I haven't gone back to them is a good question. Another seafood treat (and I sense a theme here) is lobster ravioli from Savioli Ravioli in my neighboring town along with their  crab and shrimp ones. I'm also dying to try a whole wheat pizza  which is much better healthwise.

As for cuisines, Malaysia has always fascinated me and this is the year to try it. I like the fact that it's Asian but not the usual fare I go for. Another cuisine that I don;t have or cook enough of is Indian. It's one of the healthiest, especially with its' abundance of turmeric and lentils. Also there's nothing like a fresh made curry that's both delicious and warming on a winter's night. French cooking is one cuisine  that I'd like to try, especially with the wonderful sauces and delicate prepping techniques.

The New Year is full of food and promise. I plan on taking advantage of both as a cook and foodie. It's a new world  a pantry just waiting to be opened and  tasted