Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A True NJ Classic The Bendix Diner

New Jersey is famlously known for its' diners. Almost every town has one, each more flashier than the other. However there is one original that exists - the Bendix Diner in Hasbrouck Heights ,New Jersey, a stone's throw from Manhattan. This diner has even been in a few movies along with being in "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" .Yet it;s the owners and the food that make it truly amazing.

It is Chris Dukakis and his mom Eva that make the Bendix a friendly home away from home. They provide all diners with friendly talk along with great homemade food. There's no need for fancy menus that other NJ diners have. They cook the basics which is just fine. The soups never change , Anyday of the week you can get fresh homemade chicken , split pea or black bean soup. Chris also features Greek specialties like moussaka along with American staples such as meat loaf and pot roast. TheBendix is know for it's hot sandwiches.Their grilled cheese is inspired,resembling more of a croquet Monsieur ,delicately grilled a golden hue and perfectly crunchy .They also have excellent BLTs that are just towers of bacon,lettuce and tomatoes while the egg sandwiches are just heaven.All of them can be served with a delicious side of homemade plank fries.These are cut with the skins still on them and are the perfect fry.The exterior is crispy while the inside is mealy and soft.Diners usually eat them first, that's how good they are.There are also fried corn fritters that are a mix of kernels and batter.End it with a home baked berry turnover that Chris baked himself. Jersey has huge variety of diners.However only a few are up to snuff.TheBendix is one of these.It is a classic with classically good food.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Simple But The Best Small Appliances

In this day and age there are so many fancy kitchen helpers that it's heard to keep track.These are appliances and tools that give us tasty  but gourmet dishes fit for any epicure. Yet  some of the best and most versatile are literally under our noses. They give us hot , and yummy foods and concoctions, as they;ve given our families much the same for decades.

Even though it's had bad rep lately crockpots are wonderful smaller appliances to have in any kitchens. They make some really flavorful and tender chilies.They're also good for cooking pot roasts, rendering the meat juicy and butter soft.Slow cookers are also good for giving home chefs such diversity from gumbos to applesauce. There are many kinds out there and they're all affordable (given the amount of times you'll be using them).Toaster ovens are another versatile small appliance. They can be used to brown rolls and croissants for breakfast to baking meat pies for lunch and dinner. They;re also great for make pizza bagels and pizza English muffins along with broiling smaller pieces of meats.

Before the food processor there was the blender. It is still a remarkable machine, and not just for smoothies. You can puree in it, blend, mix and even chop nuts. It;s great for making homemade soups and pestos as well as whipping up airy and light dips for parties. Another classic is the handheld mixer. This is the must have gold stand for bakers. It give batter a lightness, perfect for making angel food cakes. It can also be used for whipped homemade whipped cr4eam to accompany the cake as well as batters and dough for cookies, cupcakes and breads. Using a hand mixer also ensure shaving a light fluffy icing, the perfect foil to any cake or cupcake.

It is nice to have a fully stocked kitchen with impressive gear.Yet it's the classic appliances that give us hearty dishes and ethereal desserts.No home chef should be without them. They may be basic and no frills but they are vital to having successful food prep.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Picnics With A Worldly Flair

With the weather getting warmer, it's nice to head to the parks, the beach or even the backyard. Unfortunately ordinary picnic food can bring down  a sunny day.Liven up the plain with an international zing. It'll make a day out even more special.

The French are known for their outdoor piqueniques.A typical bring along may be a salad Nicoise, a tasty mix of spring greens, sliced hard boiled eggs and tuna. To round it out there are artichoke hearts,anchovies and tomatoes. It's served with a simple dressing and loaves of crusty french bread.If this is too messy, then think the French bread with slices of Gruyere or Brie layered with thinly sliced ham. Buy imported fizzy lemonade to round it out along with some strawberries  for dessert. You could also go Italian , with cold cuts such as mortadella or cappacola along with marinated peppers on Italian bread. Bring olives too along with cherry tomatoes for some snacking. Instead of soda think about a premixed tamarind and seltzer combo that's refreshing and different.

Of course nothing is as elegant as an English country outing. Here you can cater to your inner "Downton Abbey"both up and downstairs with hearty meat and cheese sandwiches (this is the country that invented them)Using crusty rolls or the traditional baps, flattened rolls. The English love beef and ham , especially thickly sliced along with hunky slabs of cheddar. Add pickles along with onions to complement the taste. What to drink? Ale would be good in the backyard however if you;re out settle for the spicy yet tasty ginger beer. You could also try picnic with a German flair .Have rye bread sandwiches with teawurst or lanjaeger slices along with a true potato salad, with vinegar sugar, along with bacon and onions.

Bring the world with you when you go out into it. There are some great picnic foods out there from all over the globe that are tasty and different. Add some international flair to your picnic basket. It;s a fun way of enjoying the fresh air and warm sunshine!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Crazy About Pies

Pie is one of those great desserts that should get more play. Now thanks to a new cookbook that features both sweet and savory one this all American treat is coming into its' own.It now can be made with any filling and every occasion.

Crazy About Pies  (Sterling Publishers) was written by pie enthusiast Krystina Castella who elevates this simple dessert to trendy status. This is a great book. The pictures make you drool and there are all sorts of sweet and savory pie recipes. I love how she has pies for almost every holiday , such as Easter and Valentine;s Day along with Christmas and Halloween.They're not just for Thanksgiving.although she has some amazing recipes for pecan pie bars and an old fashioned pumpkin pie. There are also wedding and new baby pies. refreshing alternatives to the traditional cakes.Dinner pies are also mentioned and these includes one with macaroni filling as well as tamale [pie and the English classic , shepherd' s' pie.

I love this book for the sheer variety of recipes. There are sweet as well as savory empanadas along with my all time fave Cornish pasties.. Ms. Castella also includes recipes for brunch  pies, tasty little quiches  with suggestions for all sorts of yummy combos.This also includes a deep dish pear cheddar pie, perfect with a side of fruit salad. There are also fun holiday ones like the Halloween baked caramel apple one that is a crusted apple with the extra fun of caramel oozing out of it. The Christmas mint pie with the chocolate crust looks like a real show stopper and would be perfect for any family party.

Any homemade pie is a real treat. With Crazy About Pies, pie lovers can bake any sort, from sweet to savory, from fruit filled to cream filled. This cookbook is definitely a dream come true and a kitchen library must have.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Ginger A Different Kind of Zing

Spring brings a variety of tasty foods.There's lamb and asparagus along with baby artichokes. A lesser known one, yet still great in any dish is Spring ginger. This is a great addition to main meals to desserts to even a homemade ginger ale.It's an ingredient that reflects the freshness and zip of the season.

It was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. The writer, newcomer, Eugenia Bone explains why this Ginger is milder than regular Ginger as well as offering some interesting recipes. spring Ginger is actually the root in it's teenage phase so to speak.Ginger can be bought in five stages.What most grocery stores sell is the mature version, which is much hotter and more fiery.This is because the skin supplies the heat.The tougher the coating the stronger the taste .Young Ginger is entirely different.It has a mild heat and a blush like interior that is also juicy and plump.Chinatown in lower Manhattan sells it in its'markets.(however there are probably som other markets like Whole Foods that may have its well). Spring ginger can be as versatile as it's older self.It's juice can be used for pickling along with preparing fish crudo dishes.It can also be used in a chicken or beef story fry.Ms Bone also recommends using spring Ginger in dessertsThere is also a Ginger syrup ,great for mixing ith spirits such as vodka or on it's" own in a delicate home made Ginger ale.Be warned, however.Use Spring Ginger sparingly.It does cost around ten dollars for one root or knob.Some markets may even charge more.Since it is a fall product, it may be cheaper in the autumn.Right now the knobs are being imported from Ecuador.You may want to add regular or mature Ginger to your recipes to cut down on cost or to stretch out the baby or spring Ginger. Spring Ginger is out right now.If you're lucky to have it in your neighborhood, pick T's great,zingy addition to both savory and sweet it

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcoming The Flexitarian

Nowadays , so many people subscribe to some kind of diet.It's either vegetarianism, low fat, no red meat , no fruits, the raw food movement or whatever else is cropping up on the horizon, Some foodies say they're of one belief while incorporating aspects of another diet into their life styles. To be honest the best way is to be flexible. Try to make each meal suited to your nutritional needs  but each meal has to be good tasting.

That's more or less the premise in a new column in today's New York Times Dining section. The great Mark Bittman has introduced  something called The Flexitarian. He states  that people can create a better diet for themselves, without any drastic shopping and eating choices. Build up to a better diet one step at a time. Add more veggies if you're strictly a meat eater or vice versa if you eat more greens (although this doesn't apply to vegans and vegetarians -protein can be found in other products such as  tofu).The key is to make your dishes tasty. You want ot eat healthy because it's a treat for your palate.

Mr. Bittman offers some very good advice as well as recipes. He has a recipe for a decadent pasta and clams however makes it with smaller amounts of ingredients. That way his guests(and himself) won't feel so bloated.. He suggests serving it with a vegetable and a salad. It's a way of enjoying one of the best known pasta dishes along with getting a dose of necessary greens. You could pair it with his simple chopped salad. Here he elevates a simple diet plate to new heights simply by salting the veggies and then rinsing them. Brining simply pickles the  cukes, carrots, cabbage and beets. After they';re rinsed , then serve with a simple dressing. He also adds a flavorful spin on those health must haves  fruit smoothies. These had the added zing of fresh ginger for punch but also for antioxidants and vitamins.

Maybe the best way to eat  - and to live is by being flexible. Don't give up tasty food. Just make it healthy. On the same principle, eat what's good for you but get out of the boring diet rut Add some zing and zest to it . You can actually have it all , from flavor to nutrients the best way of eating for anyone- not just foodies.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Indian Food Explained

Indian food is one of the most delicious and tastiest cuisines out there. It is full of different flavors and colors along with being rich with good for you ingredients.Bet of all cooking Indian cuisine broadens any home cokk';s range along with being introduced to new spices and herbs.

For those who want to try their hand at it, there is a cookbook out  with all sorts of great recipes. It is  called Easy Indian Cooking(Robert Rose Publishing) by Suneeta Vaswani. Ms. Vaswani gives some of her own dishes to the book along with ones from north and south India as well as ones given by friends and family. She also includes a very comprehensive guide to Indian spices. These are explained in full detail, what they look like and how they taste. Ms. Vaswani includes  a section on cooking techniques such as braising and tempering spices to achieve their full flavor.

I love this book because it has all sorts of recipe sin it. There is an entire section on Indian street food along with ones dedicated to meats and veggies. One of the first ones I want to try is the pureed lentils. These are cooked with a variety of sweet and savory spices from cinnamon to cumin. Another must cook is a lamb roti, which is redolent with clove chilis and cilantro. Ms. Vaswani also offers recipes for lassi, the yogurt based drink that is the perfect foil for some of the hotter dishes. She also has some interesting dessert recipes, some of them a nod to the British influence in Indian cooking.

Indian cooking is a feast for both the palate and the eye. Easy Indian Cooking can easily bring it to the table with simple recipes. It's the best of exotic yet healthy cuisine, perfect for family get togehters or parties

Monday, April 22, 2013

Plotting Your Summer Garden

There's nothing like fresh veggies and fruits.especially If they're organic and from lovingly tended gardens. The problem is that most stores don't offer this.This is why a backyard garden and even mini orchard pays off. You get fresh ,chemical free produce at any time that you want it.Growing and gardening are also fun hobbies too, connecting you with nature.

The first thing to do is plot your garden. Ask yourself what you want to plant. If your family loves pasta and salsa, then think about growing tomatoes. There are all sorts and they're relatively fuss free to raise. If you want something simple, then think radishes, They're the first veggies that kids grow because they're easy to tend to and sprout quickly. Carrots are too, however they grow the best in sandy soil.Another snap to grow is lettuce . It can even be cultivated in containers for those that want the simplicity of a patio garden.

If you;re planning on growing squash and melon, then start clearing out your garden. These require a lot of space , Melon requires a warm soil about seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining an even temperature is easy, Use a permeable black tarp to keep the plants toasty during cool late nights and early mornings.It's also important to have good irrigation as well. Squash requires a lot of ground as well, however they are a bit easier to grow than their vined cousins,the pumpkin. As with trees. if you;re think of planting any fruit trees, then get saplings, They;re easier to tend to than planting by seed. Apple and peach trees.give you fruit as soon as they reach puberty.which is the second year. Strawberries and blueberries yield quickly and they basically easy to care for.

This is the time of year to start thinking about your organic garden. Choose the veggies and fruits you know your family will like.Also keep in mind about their facility to grow.. This will give you the best garden and the best produce to enjoy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dandelions And Other Blooms For YourTable

Spring is the time when garden become riotous with color. The blooms are so pretty that we instantly pick them , either pressing them in books or making lovely bouquets. Yet flowers can also be used for dinner or dessert as well. They make a fascinating and colorful addition to any main meal, along with cakes and cupcakes. Best of all some have the same properties as fruits and veggies, giving you a much  needed dose of antioxidants and vitamins.

Dandelions are every forager's go to . Nothing quite says Spring like a dandelion salad. You can serve the greens by themselves(make sure they're well washed if you picked them from your yard) or with a medley of Spring greens. The spiky yellow tops , or dent de lions from whence the flower's name comes from can be dipped into a batter and fried. These can b made sweet or savory. Another flower , perfect for salads - and  brightening up omelets is the nasturtium,Their flavor is peppery and slightly sweet. Calendulas can be used to sub in for saffron when making risotto Milanese or paella.

Of course flower, whether the petals or whole look enchanting on cakes and cupcakes. You could even add a cup full of petals to the batter Violets or roses are perfect in a delicate white or yellow cake. Nothing says beautiful like multicolored petals decorating the cake's exterior. The new May issue of In Style Magazine has a cake recipe that is covered with edible flower petals. It's simply beautiful and probably enhances the flavor of the plain cake.  You can also use petals as a surprise filling for teacakes. These would be the show stopper at any bridal shower.

It's Spring and that means the gardens are in bloom. You can always go the traditional route and place your flowers in a vase. However be daring and experimental.Use those blooms to perk up a salad or in fritters. Try them as a new spice or simply to make a cake or cupcake breathtaking. It's the season for tasting flowers and trying new recipes with them.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Make Your Brownies And Blondies Healthy

Nothing beats a homemade brownie or blondie , especially as an after school treat with a glass of cold milk (or soy or rice)> Yet these treats are loaded in bad stuff from refined sugar to refined flour. This can bring on everything from plaque to fat. How to avoid this and  still enjoy these classic treats? Make them healthier.

I was inspired by reading Melissa Clark';s Good Appetite Column in Wednesday's New York Times Dining section. Her blondies are richly decadent, with a buttery chocolate bottom topped off by an even richer top loaded with bananas and rum (think Bananas Foster) I would sub in whole wheat flour for the refined white one along with using only one whole egg instead of the requisite two
You do have to add butter and sugar but try unsalted and use Stevia instead of brown sugar.(although the taste may not be as rich , thanks to omitting the last).

Brownies can go from sinful to healthy too. Usually most brownie recipes call for rich cocoa , cups of melted butter and refined white sugar. These create just decadent treats however they can be high in calories and cholesterol. Brownies can be made healthy. For one thing you can sub in carob for chocolate. It has the same flavor more or less as real chocolate. You can add nuts such as almonds to get the same nutty flavor along with walnuts and pecans. Honey can be used for a healthy sweetener along with whole wheat flour or spelt flour.

Brownies and blondies are great after school treats as well as being tasty desserts. Make them not only good tasting but good for you by subbing in healthy ingredients. They're still sinful but not as much  as the originals

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Labriola Pretzel Rolls The Best Roll Ever

There's nothing as tasty as a pretzel roll. As the character , "Max" on the hit CBS TV show "Two Broke Girls"says about them"Are they a pretzel? Are they a roll? No matter what they, are they're the bomb!" She is right! They combine the best of both  just with butter or as a sandwich.

I had the good fortune of trying Labriola Pretzel Rolls , a Chicago area favorite. These are pure heaven , especially when they've been toasted for five minutes in a toaster oven. They have the  crunchy, crackly dark exterior of a pretzel and that special pretzel taste .Inside is a melting chewy inside,that is sweet and yeasty. Even though you can use them as slider rolls, the best way is eat them is hot out of the oven , split open and slathered with butter. They were also good, used as sandwiches too.

The owner of the company, Rich Labriola is considered Illinois ' top baker . He combines Italian, German and French baking styles mixed with his own. I would love to visit his Neopolitan pizzeria and bakery in Oak Brook, Illinois(another reason to visit the relatives in Glen Ellen)just to indulge in his famed pizzas and cakes. Luckily, for us fans, the pretzel rolls are  sold  in CostCo's all over the country right now . I would buy them almost weekly and serve them with sliced knockwurst and sauerkraut.  They could also be used  as  the base for my family favorite zuppa montana, They would be perfect cooked in a chicken broth and covered with Swiss cheese.However I still love them hot, and split open, dripping with melting butter.

If you're in Illinois, Northern Indiana or Michigan, then go to your grocery and buy these amazing rolls.Hopefully Rich Labriola will make these gems a nationwide treat. They are too good to be hidden from the rest of America.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Juiced Up

Fresh pressed juice is part of the modern diet. Let's face it ,it is good for you and devoid of all that sugar badness other drinks haves.What's even better is that more and more juice companies are spraining up , offering wholesome tastiness along with a daily dosage of antioxidants and vitamins. New juice companies were the subject of an article in today's New York Times Dining section.Written by Dining regular,Jeff Gordonier,it delves into the new industry of pure and wholesome juices.There have always been juice companies, such as Dole,DelMonte and Tropicana, however these and others tend to produce a product,laden with sugar and water, not unlike sodas.The newer breeds stick to cold pressing which means every drop of juice is pressed out leaving an almost dry pulp.They even have all their nutrients thanks to the method that there is no heat involved in the making .(however rotor blades used in the process do heat up, tending to also heat up the juice). The new brands are varied and many.There is Blue Print which is coming out of Queens, a borough usually not known for it's health foods.The web site gives you the blueprint for starting your own juice cleanse.Some are strictly vegetables while others are fruit.Blue Print even offers the famed lemon juice and cayenne blend, made tolerable with the addition of agave.For manhattanites .there is the chain Organic Avenue which also offers up kale and spinach enriched drinks along with carrot and a natural Ginger ale mix that includes lemon.La,capital of celebrity juice cleanses has the ever trendy Juice Served Here which offers cleanse and baked items.Most of these juice bars and companies have nothing but good organic veggies and fruits, pressed into good for you concoctions. Juices and juice cleanses are a great way of improving your diet and health.You can make your own if you're lucky to have a juicer.If not ,try the new breed of what's out there.They will be a gift to your palate and body.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making The Classics Healthy

The classic dishes are always the best. There's nothing like fried chicken and greens or English muffin pizzas, However most of these delicious meals and treats can be high in all sorts of bad things from refined flours to fats to salts to heaven only knows what else.Yet our faves can be redeemed by subbing in healthy ingredients and cooking techniques.

As much as we loved fried food, we know that frying is bad for us. The grease used for frying is usually bad for our cholesterol (especially if it's corn oil).Try baking instead. Baked "fried" chicken  has all the flavor and crunch if its' deep fried cousin. The crunch comes in the form of corn flakes and you can also add flax seeds for additional flavor and texture. As for the greens, stick with them, but you can saute them in olive oil and garlic for a tasty side or bake too. Burgers can also be baked or roasted in an oven.This eliminates the fat and grease.

What about those faves that everyone likes - English muffin pizzas? For one, use the whole wheat version instead of the regular kind. Also use a low fat mozzarella along with healthy toppings. Think broccoli and onions as opposed to sausage and pepperoni. An extra dollop of pizza sauce is also good because even processed tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants. You can also do the same with homemade pizza crust, using brown flour instead of white. Baked mac and cheese can be made healthier with using spelt or whole wheat macaroni and low fat cheddar. Use skim milk instead of whole, nix the bacon and add a topping of flax or pumpkin seeds for crunch.

Classic comfort food is always tasty yet it's not always healthy. Change that by using healthier cooking techniques or ingredients. You can still have enjoyable food but now it's good for you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Treats From Trader Joe's

Some supermarkets are just chock full of good food and yummy treats. Trader Joe's is one of those .it has a wide variety of different foods both healthy and decadent.It not only  makes grocery shopping but also menu planning fun. Going there can set the wheels in motion for a truly tasty and gourmet meal.

Trader Joe's started in the late 1950's in Southern California and named for its' founder Joe Coulombe. Originally called Pronto the store's name was changed to Trader's Joe's He sold it early on to Theo Albrecht of the small but boutique grocery chain Aldi. What makes the grocery different is that it  only carries about 4,000 items, mostly in house.Trader Joe's features a wide variety of different ethnic themed foods from Mexican to Italian to French to Italian.Like any other supermarket it has a good frozen and fresh produce departments too.

What is so great  about Trader';s Joe's is that they have healthy foods along with snacks. Of course they also have the sinfully rich desserts such as their buttery tea cookies and home made tarts. For lesser calories and still great taste opt for the mini angel  food cakes that are just delicious with fruit and whipped cream. For those who are concerned with health , try the fiery hot kale chips . These are air dried so they're not fried and are chock full of vitamins and anti oxidants.Another fun snack is the dried strong beans which are a crunchy blend of salty and sweet. There are also excellent whole wheat pastas as well as whole grain breads and cereals too.

Trader Joe's is just a great place to shop. You can buy tasty and original there. planning a unique menu , If you haven't shopped there in a while ,go, It's a fun place not only to buy food but get ideas for interesting meals and parties.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Artichoke Season

Springs brings a lot of fresh veggies but none more versatile than the artichoke. It can be served a variety of ways whether it's an adult or baby. Artichokes are delicious in any dish  fancy or plain.

One of the most delicate and elegant ways of serving them is simply with a lemon and oil dressing. Using adult chokes, boil and simmer for twenty minutes in hot water. Mix half a cup of oil with two to three tablespoons of fresh squeezed  lemon juice along with fresh ground sea salt and pepper.Dip the leaves in this mix and enjoy. Another way is the Southern Italian stuffed artichoke. Some make this with a mix of breadcrumbs, sausage and cheese. but a lighter way is without the meat. Use plain breadcrumbs an d grated Parmesan along with parsley garlic and olive oil. After pressing this mixture between the leaves ,simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until the heart is tender.NOTE all artichokes leaves must be trimmed to get rid of the sharp edges before cooking and eating.

Baby artichokes are also a Spring favorite right now. They are a huge staple in Roman cuisine during the months of April and May.,They are easy to prepare. Just snap off the darker green exterior leaves, exposing the tender lighter green ones. Trim the stem and cut lengthwise.You serve them as they do in the Eternal City, with lemon and extra virgin olive oil over a bed of arugula. Sprinkle shaved curls of Parmesan over them. Another way is steaming them and them drizzling melted butter. Baby chokes can also have a dash of hot pepper flakes for bite or fried, using a buttermilk and seasoned flour.

Take advatage of the plethora of artichokes this season. The larger ones  make delicate appetizers while the baby ones  are  delcious additions to salads. Whichever you use , artichokes are just a great plus to any Spring table.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tasty Little Bites

There's nothing as fun as a bite sized morsel.Whether savory or sweet they 're delicious bursts of flavor that come the size of half dollars. Best of all, thanks to a new cookbook, they 're easy to make. Home cooks can whip up any of these great recipes in just  a simple cupcake or even muffin pan.

Hollis Wilder wrote Savory Bites:Meals You Can Make In Your Cupcake Pan (Stewart, Tabori and Chang Publishers) a cookbook where the main method is creating mini bites in your cupcake pan. I love this book and the unique technique of cooking it uses. There are all sorts of fun recipes from eggs to fish. Any one recipe would make excellent hors d' oeuvres however they also would be a part of a fun breakfast, lunch or dinner. Best of all it gets the kids to eat good food,  in an exciting new form. It also reconfigures classics such as grilled cheese and pastas into fun easy to eat cups.

The recipes are varied and easy to execute. There's everything from Greek to Mexican to Spanish. Some have a French influence, full of rich savory cream and herbs. The cookbook is broken down into categories such as breakfast, meats, veggies and fish. The vegetable bites would make excellent sides. There is a chilled terrine of roasted vegetables that would go well with chicken or beef kabobs.It is a colorful mix of eggplant , tomatoes and peppers. Another tasty bite is the mushroom cakes with  Mornay sauce.My favorite is the pasta and rice recipes, turning ordinary ingredients into flavorful cups .

Savory Bites is a fun and easy cookbook, full of mouth watering recipes. These are fun bites that can be easily whipped up in just a cupcake tin. After this you'll never want to make cupcakes again!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Whole ChickenThe Sum Of Its' Parts

Buying an entire chicken is always a home cook's as well as a chef's dream. There's so much to do with it. Of course there is the baked or roasted method. However there's also taking it apart and using the various pieces in more dishes. This strecthes your buy and allows the family to enjoy more of the bird.

Melissa Clark made this obvious in her column A Good Appetite in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. There are many advantages to buying an entire bird than just buying it in pieces.  Cutting it yourself, you can have slice it into eighths or tenths, depending on what you want it for.This helps in creating an all over moist dish  because breasts cook faster than any other part. if they are thicker pieces then they can cook up at the same temperature.

Buying an entire bird also has other benefits. The gizzards, along with the neck and bones can be simmered into a savory stock, perfect for soups and gravies.Saute the liver in rosemary infused olive oil as Ms Clark and her mother did and enjoy a kind of foie gras snack.The body can also be cut up into a tasty curry too as well as she suggests (along with a dry white Riesling or Champagne). However you can also make it into a saffrony risotto or a chicken stew with dumplings.

An  entire chicken lends itself to a variety of different recipes and ideas. Make it anyway you want, utilizing all of it. You cna make one meal out of it or several. That's up to you.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Izakaya New From Japan

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better than ramen and sushi a new Japanese sensation hits the states. Fun and trendy izakaya bars are now opening up throughout the US. These are great places to get a sampling of true Japanese food and drink. They;re also meeting places too, replacing American sports bars for entertainment and quick nibbles.

Izakaya bars are the topic of Julia Moskin's latest piece for today's New York Times Dining section. These are meccas for entertaining in Japan and are sort of similar to local sports bars and maybe chain restaurants here in the States. They serve all sorts of different nibbles similar to tapas bars in Spain along with a variety of beers and alcoholic beverages. Izakaya bars are just a great Saturday night place to go  to where friends can catch up over good food. New Yorkers are only getting into them now and discovering just how much fun they can be.

The principle of the izakaya plate is similar to the bento box. Different types are compartmentalized into four categories:raw pickled, fried and simmered. It starts off, though with crunchy and salty edamame and ice cold beer.Then sake and sochu, a highly addictive distilled drink made from either, sweet potatoes, barley or sugar cane, There is usually raw veggies followed by octopus marinated in wasabi,There can also be squid along with skewered meats The end is something called ozachike which is supposed to ward off hangovers. This is a mound of rice covered in tea or dashi, milk with a morsel of fish and seaweed on top.

Izakayas are a great place to enjoy good Japanese food and drink, If you;re lucky to have them in your neighborhood go to one. It'll be a fun night of enjoying different flavors and textures along with good company and conversation.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A New Jersey Classic Bahr's

The Jersey Shore is a pretty tough area. It has survived superstorms and pirates, beach erosion and overbuilding. One restaurant that reflects that solidity is Bahr's a classic must eat at in the Atlantic Highlands.it has been around for decades with generations of the same family serving classic seafood dishes and ones that reflect the family's heritage.

Bahr's Restaurant started back in 1917 when founders John Bahrs and his wife Florence  served simple meals to fishermen. John was familiar with the sea, being the son of a tall ship captain and he knew how the fresh sea ar could increase a seaman's appetite. They started out with their famous clam chowder along with stews and the catch of the day. Their were also breakfasts consisting of fried eels, scrambled eggs and buckwheat pancakes. As the decades progressed, the menu got bigger, Shrimp, lobster and clams were added as were sandwiches , ham and chicken. An out door stand, called Moby's was built on the other side of the parking lot , which attracts a younger crowd yearning for a quick hot dog or just a fresh boiled lobster and fries.

Nowadays Bahr's is the perfect restaurant when visiting the start of the Jersey shore. Located directly behind Sandy Hook , it offers beautiful views of the Navasink River along with the ocean on the other side of the Sandy Hook peninsula. The food is a mix of seafood and classic German (perhaps a nod to the areas famed but defunct Hofbrau Haus). Their broiled lobster is heavenly, meaty and cooked to perfection. There is also  several varieties of shrimp and tilapia dishes along with their famed giant crab cakes and shrimp platters. Bahr's also features the German specialties of potato pancakes , bratwurst and knockwurst along with traditional sauerbraten and weinerschintzel. These are only served from December to June.Every meal starts off with flaky buttermilk biscuits and butter- a pure bonus to go with the amazing dishes.

The jersey Shore will last and survive. The same is true for one of its' gems- Bahrs. It is a great place for both the views and its delicious platters. Make sure you visit it during your next trip to the northenr Jersey shore. The restaurant  truly is a treat.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Your Own Organic Pantry

Everyone should have organic foods in their diet. What better than to grown your own and know you're getting 100 per cent pesticide free veggies and herbs. For those of you who say no , you can't, you have a brown thumb, then think again, There's a new book out there to help you garden and eat better.

Gardening For Geeks (Adams Media Publishers) is one of the best gardening/recipe books out there. Written by Garden Nerd author, Christy Wilhelmi, it not only give you exact plans for a regular sized backyard organic garden but for  a smaller sized city one too.There are also plans for mini greenhouses and solar drying stands for drying  your produce She carefully goes over everything from the types of veggies and herbs to what you can do with them. Every problem from too much sun to aphid attacks are also discussed. There are also chapters on how to grow from seed and how to grow younger plants purchased from a nursery,

The best part is the recipe section. This is a true vegan recipe book, using fresh from the garden veggies in a variety of different ways.There are garlicky greens made with kale, collard greens and a melange of stems from beet to Swiss chard). There are kale chips given a spike with apple cider along with roasted radishes. Ms. Wilhelmi also adds a how to can tomatoes, perfect for bumper crops Add the pesto recipe given and you have a great organic pasta sauce.

Eating organic and eating healthy should be every one's goals. Start in your own backyard with a garden. Thanks to Gardening for Geeks, it's not only easy but fun too.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Sunday Full Of Food

 Foodies  should rejoice. The New York Times Sunday Magazine is another issue dedicated to food and cooking. However it's not exactly a typical magazine chock full of recipes and tips. There are some interesting and thoughtful articles dedicated to food around the world.

Spoiler alert - don't read if you want to be surprised tomorrow morning.

The magazine section is a gamut of all sorts of contributions. One that stood out is the piece written by Times food writer Mark Bittman. He researched the new wave of American fast food - vegan and actually healthy. There are some upcoming fast food joints that are going to be offering tasty and quick meals. There is going to be a vegan cheese burgers made with soy and served on a bed of kale at Veggie Grill. This chain is going to rival Burger King and Mickety D's for flavor, price and outweigh it in nutrition and healthiness.Mr Bittman also  explores an all natural version of Applebee's called LYFE(with this Mr.Bittman also offers healthy recipes for bean burgers, sweet potato fries and shakes)

Other interesting and foodie centered articles revolve around the Black Forest village of  Bairersbronn, written by Nicholas Kulish.It stands out because its'restaurant in the Hotel Bareiss has the rarefied distinction of earning seven Michilin stars. It reflects the Nouvelle German cuisine that is way different that the usual heavy comfort food fare of the region.Although traditional Black Forest food is pure heaven this restaurant creates a lighter, airier fare. Another article worth reading is the one by Marnie Hanel that deals with meat sharing in Portland, Oregon. People go in and share whole carcasses of cows and pigs  to get the ultimate in farm directly to the table dining.

Tomorrow's Sunday Times Magazine is a definite must read. Pick it up and enjoy the variety of thoughtful and provocative pieces that will make any foodie drool. It's on the same high entertainment level as their crossword puzzle!

Friday, April 5, 2013

BabyArtichoke Season

Spring brings a number of good foods, from fresh asparagus to baby greens. One of the best and tastiest is the tiny but tasty baby  artichoke.They are the most versatile too , Any cook, novice or experienced can prepare them in a variety of ways and have great success with them. They're easy and fun to make, adding much needed freshness to a winter weary diet.

Dave Tanis of The New York Times Dining section's A City Kitchen column extolled them in his most recent article.Baby artichokes are in season right now  and instead of eating the entire globe you can polish off several of them. One of Mr. Tanis' favorite way is Italian style. Serve a platter of raw ones with lemon juice and olive oil sprinkled with shavings of Parmesan cheese.Keep in mind that before any cooking the artichokes must be peeled of their dark green exteriors. Then  trim the stem ends with a paring knife.

Baby artichokes can also be steamed or boiled as well. It's only a eight minute cook and then you  serve them with melted butter or olive oil along with equal sprinklings of sea salt and pepper.Another method is frying them after a  buttermilk bath and a  quick dip in seasoned breadcrumbs. Mr. Tanis then  serves them with gremolata, of chopped parsley,garlic and lemon zest. You can just eat these plain or well or even try them with a fresh made aioli sauce drizzled on top.

This is the season for all sorts of good veggies. The baby artichokes ranks right up there. Try them now for a refreshing taste .

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Tastes

It is officially Spring.Unfortunately due to the chilly temps and delayed crops we're not getting a full taste of it. Not t worry .There are some veggies that just scream verdant and offer  a refreshing blast of green. Also add a taste of spring to usually wintry by rethinking them into deliciously light dishes.

This was Dave Tanis' methodology in yesterday's A City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.The first step is a kind of cheating and using the veggies flown in from warmer climates such as California. The Golden State is flying in artichokes and asparagus right now and it pays to take advantage of them. Serve the artichokes with a dipping sauce of lemon and olive oil.Asparagus can be roasted or broiled with a topping of melted butter, hard boiled eggs and Parmesan cheese.

Of course there's another way and that's lightening up your dishes.Instead of a beef roast,  try it sliced with a salad rich with spring-y herbs. Instead of that dense ,rich  side of mashed potatoes, create a warm potato salad as Mr. Tanis suggests.Spike it with red capers and red wine vinegar.Also lean towards greener veggies such as avocados,celery , watercress and scallions. These along with radishes and yellow beets can give your palate that breath of fresh air  that only warm weather produce can give.

The temps may still be chilly yet  that's no reason to not celebrate Spring. Use fresh herbs and green veggies to give your meals that warm weather zing. Even better lighten up those heavy winter meals by reconfiguring them into refreshing salads or even soups.It'll give your dinners that boost it needs.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Quirky For Your Kitchen

Ever wish you had more help in your kitchen? If the answer is yes, then check into Quirky Inventions. This is a site where you can find some cool and helpful gadgets and inventions to help make cooking and eating easier. The best part, all the stuff is invented by everyday people like the guy next door or the mom charge of the class bake sale.

Quirky is basically a site for inventors. Started by Ben Kaufman in 2009, the site gives inventors a chance to showcase their ideas for only ten dollars an idea (the second is free thanks to a coupon). Other Quirky members (it's free to join) vote on these and also give their input on products through the various processes from color choice to price range. If you have an  unique idea, especially for cooking then submit it along with a drawing(or not but it helps) to Quirky.if it gets picked it will not only be sold on the site but also to big stores like Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond and even Williams and Somona.

What I like is wide range of finished products. They have cool kitchen gadgets like The Stem, This is a spritzer that is inserted directly into a lemon or lime and the juice is then misted out. I love this and have used this in making salads. Another fun product is The Slice, an ergonomically designed pizza cutter that creates clean slices without all the mess and cheese strings. Quirky even offers the neat and  new  Portion, a hybrid of a regular spoon and measuring spoons set that can help with cooking and baking. There are some cool barbecue implements as well that will make any BBQ chef not only hip but also good at cooking and serving those kabobs and steaks.

Go wild with the Quirky Kitchen gadgets. They are not only interesting but fun to use. If you don;t see what you want, then invent it. You never know.It may be the next million dollar idea that foodies will gobble up.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Jersey Eating

New Jersey is known for it's diners and dives. Yet it is also known for its'  fresh produce and artesanal foods. If you don't know where to get all of Jersey's best, then check out the April issue of New Jersey Monthly (on line too) It gives a comprehensive guide to where to go and what to buy and eat.

New Jersey Monthly, as with other state centered magazines, always dedicate tow issue to local produce along with a state wide guide to every county's best restaurants. The Garden State was just that and in some areas still is. NJM has one article on where to find the best farms and markets. One mentioned is Dearborn Farms,an all inclusive stand on Route 35 in Holmdel. This is one of my all time favorites places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables along with fresh made breads and cake. Another market mentioned is the famed Delicious Orchards which is one of the state's oldest. This is a great place to visit, especially after a day at the beach. It has acres of orchards along with the original store in which to find everything from fresh picked fruit to home made cold and hot cider.(along with cider doughnuts too!)

The magazine gives a special nod as well to some of the artesanal food businesses. One is the Cherry Grove Farm and Creamery. It's rare that the state is associated with a creamery. Usually other states like New York and Wisconsin are known for their rich dairy farms and products. This one, located in Lawrenceville, relies on its' cows to give the main ingredient for hand wrought cheeses.freshly laid eggs can be bought in Beach Plum Farm in West Cape May, another artesanal industry, along with fresh cherry  tomatoes and greens.Want bigger eggs?NJM features the state's only ostrich farm, located in the western NJ towns of Lafayette and Hardyston. Todd Applebaum,originally a Northern NJan owns and operates and provides both the meat and live birds to restaurants and zoos

If you're a Garden Stater or just visiting ,pick up the April issue of New Jersey monthly. Discover the treats the state has to give.It's not just diners , full of mammoth entrees but gourmet and organic dining. It's fresh food raised right.