Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Best Cookie Cookbook Ever!

Esther Brody has the reputation of being an excellent baker. This was obvious in her book about brownies squares and bars that I reviewed yesterday. Now there's another one of her recipe books , this time The 250 Best Cookie Recipes.This has come right in time for school as well. Not only are these treats just right  for an after school snack or weekend birthday  party, they're excellent for bake sales too.

Ms. Brody's book published by Robert Rose Publishers. is full of good tips to ensure the perfect batch. She lists all go wrongs and have suggestions for what to do.Novice cookie bakers should read this section thoroughly.She also has a section on the right prep and the right equipment. So many home bakers just grab whatever sheet which is wrong. A thin sheet could wind up with cookies with burned bottoms. There is also a whole page about mixing which is the key ingredient in creating the best textured , best tasting batch.There are also hints on storing cookies to make sure they retain their crispiness  as well as how to melt chocolate, toast nuts and make cinnamon sugar.

Her recipes are fantastically diverse. There is one for fortune cookies, a fun favor for any Chinese themed party. I like the traditional shortbread ones.Ms. Brody gives the original one along with a spicy one,  a whipped one and one that includes peanut butter and jelly. There are biscotti and lady fingers that would be perfect gracing a Sunday afternoon tea. Ms. Brody  also includes cookie cups  an elegant way to end a dinner. These are just edible crusts that can hold everything form mousse to pudding to fresh fruit and cream. Of course there are the classics as well including oatmeal and refrigerator cookies as well as the must bake chocolate chips. She also has classic Christmas ones too as well as spins on them for some variety.

Cookie bakers rejoice at Ms Brody's newest book.This is chock full of good advice and good recipes. Using it will ensure you will bake the best batches ever!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hitting The Cookie Bars

Nothing beats a cookie bar as an after school snack. The best ones are the homemade one, full of yummy ingredients. Cookbook author , Esther Brody , has come up with a great books full of all sorts of bar and brownie recipes. There are all sorts for every one's tastes.

Ms. Brody 's 250 Best Brownies , Bars and Squares (Robert Rose Publishers) has a plethora of not only recipes but advice. This is an excellent book for novice bakers.Ms. Brody give explanations of why a cake could have holes or why it burned. This helps in creating the perfect bar and brownie. She also give good tips such as storing marshmallows in the freezer  as well as buying nuts and certain other ingredients in bulk. There are also suggestions for making a healthier treat such as subbing in all natural honey for refined white sugar.

Her recipes are varied and interesting. There are the traditional lemon bars and chocolate brownies. There there are the twists such as the pink lemonade bar that's made with pink lemonade concentrate.. There's also lemon blueberry and lemon cream cheese .She includes a scrumptious gingerbread bar recipe that just right for fall. The brownie recipes are perfect for chocolate lovers plus there's a whole slew of variations, Try the chocolate banana brownies for a different after school treat or make the pecan brownies for a lunchbox or brown bag surprise.Ms  Brody is as sweet as her creations., She includes a section on recipes from family and friends

Happiness is a good homemade brownie or cookie bar. Esther Brody gives us the means to make them in her latest cookbook,. Get 250 Best Brownies, Bars And Squares to make classic and new treats for the students (and graduates ) in your life

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Couscous Simple Yet Exotic

Couscous brings to mind the colorful world of North Africa. It is also a tasty alternative to rice and potatoes. However some home cooks are afraid to try it because they feel it needs exotic ingredients or is fancy equipment .That's far from the truth.It's  a dish that anyone can make and the ingredient is a simple one.

Joan Nathan demystified this classic in yesterday's New York Times Dining section..All couscous is just semolina and a little water. The equipment is nothing fancy or even electric - just a steamer and a strainer.Just put the semolina in a large bowl  spray it with water.It's then mixed gently with your fingers until tiny clumps form and steamed for fifteen to twenty minutes.. That's it. You can add some olive oil and salt to smooth it and they are recommended for a better couscous. Ms.Nathan includes a recipe that calls for Bob's Red Mill semolina which can be bought anywhere.

Couscous is perfect for the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashana which starts next weeks. Both Isreali and Moroccan Jews use it in holiday meals. The Israelis make it with lamb shanks and carmelized onions(again a recipe is included here)Like any North African couscous this also has dried fruit such as apricots, raisins figs and prunes. The Moroccan version involves a stew poured over it.It can also go well with grilled lamb shanks and fresh sliced plums and peaches for an American spin.

COuscous is an exotic fare however it's a simple dish to create. Serve it traditionally for the holiday or put an American spin on this side.It's a great way to vary any Rosh Hashana  or Labor Day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brown Bagging It

Many people still love a homemade lunch despite the proliferation of fast food joints and delis. There's something to be said about a lunch from home.It's usually healthier and definitely cheaper than anything bought from the company cafe. One of the best things about a brown bag lunch is that you can customize it to whatever you want it to be.

It was the subject of Mark Bittman's Flexitarian column in today's New York Times Wednesday Dining section. Mr. Bittman , himself, loves a good homemade lunch and offers many suggestions,He believes that a good one should be built. The ingredients should be like building block. Always have a well stocked pantry with the vitals like olive oil ,vinegar and soy sauce. It could also include tuna and sardines as well as bread. You can have grains, beans, tomato sauce , a pan of roasted veggies and possibly a roasted chicken too.These last are great to make a variety of microwavable dishes for a hot and satisfying lunch.

Mr. Bittman has also included different recipes as well along with basic key recipes and sauces. Anyone can make these. His key ones include a basic tomato sauce, roasted vegetables and a well seasoned pot of beans. These combined together would make a hearty soup or even a pasta sauce.The basic sauces include a vinaigrette  a sesame dipping sauce along with a tahini , pico di gallo and raw onion chutney.The other recipes include a  microwaved mixed rice served with the roasted veggies,'an escabeche salad made with greens , chicken or beef and a vinaigrette and lastly a  cold sesame noodles with crunchy vegetables.

A brown bag lunch can mean a fun and healthy one. Using the basics given anyone can create a hot or cold midday meal that can carry you through the afternoon. They're surprisingly simple and always delicious.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Building A Better Tomato

The summer spoils us.It gives our gardens fresh fruit and veggies that are bursting with flavor.Then when fall comes we're stuck with the tasteless varieties from our supermarkets. That's all about to change thanks to genetic engineering.

It was an article in today's New York Times Science section and the author,, Kenneth Chan wrote about this new phenomenon and what scientists are doing to give us a better tomato, amongst other improved produce. The analysis shows that the people who were tasters all wanted a sweeter variety.This is what makes us crave tomatoes, that sweet tangy flavor.Geneticists also are tweaking the compounds that make the flavor,. Luckily,  it still means a low calorie tomato despite the amount of sugars involved. There will be hits and misses as more and more varieties will be dissected so to speak, It is expensive to break down a tomato's molecular being.

Other fruits and vegetables will be under the microscope as well.Strawberries and blueberries will also be improved to give us consumers that just picked from the woods taste.The blueberries have been known to be crispy with almost the texture of apples.This would be the perfect kind for pies or even compotes. because blueberries have a tendency to get super mushy when cooked. I'm hoping that there are plans on making a creamier fleshed avocado or a sweeter, less bitter grapefruit. If there is tremendous success with this, then other  genus  will also be tweaked and improved as well.

Can science build a better tomato? Yes and it will be sweeter and just  as tasty as our garden grown sun kissed ones. It's just the first step in trying to eat healthier.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Sweetness Of Crab Cakes

It's good to keep hold of summer favorites as the season slips away from us.One of them is the simple crab cake. This is a wonderful treat, perfect for either a weekend lunch or even an outdoor dinner. It reminds us of all those waterside shacks that serve crab cakes with a side of freshly made slaw. Biting into one is kind of like holding on to warm sunny beach days.

Crab cakes are pretty easy to make. You can use fresh or canned  lump crab meat to start.Remember to check for cartilage because this can render your cake overly  chewy. Some recipes called for dried bread, others call for Saltines,What you use is your decision however the crackers will produce a lighter and crispier texture.If you want the traditional Baltimore or Maryland kind then mix in the Japanese panko breadcrumbs. Again they will give your cakes a lighter ,airier kind of texture. All recipes call for the famed Old Bay Seasoning. This is a blend  of various spices and red pepper flakes.Most of it you can replicate yourself, especially with the addition of celery salt, bay leaf, cardamon, ginger and black pepper (along with cloves, allspice and ginger).Crab cakes also  require one egg for binding.You can use an egg substitute  for a healthier recipe if you want.

.The most important step is mounding them into patties. Too much crab meat  and they could fall apart .Too little and they'll crisp up when frying. Try not to pack them too tightly.Think hamburger with a width of 1 inch wide.Crab cakes  can be made in various sizes however remember that the smaller ones don't require the amount of  frying time as their bigger counterparts. The frying itself also is varied. Some chefs swear by canola oil. Others prefer vegetable oil.For a richer flavor try cooking them in butter or the healthier olive oil. All recipes use a primed skillet. Serve them either on a hamburger bun or just with a side of a oil and vinegar cole slaw.Have both ketchup and hot sauce on the table along with a tartar sauce to bring out their flavor.

Eat crab cakes and savor what's left of the glorious  summer. Having them is like a day at the beach for your palate. It's a  fun romp in the sea with all its' briny goodness.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Surplus Harvest? No Problem

Mid August produces so much fruits and veggies. Between the garden and the farmer's markets, we;re over inundated with tomatoes and plums, corn and berries. No problem . Surplus is always a plus. You can turn any harvest, no matter how big - into something tasty .

Right now tomatoes are literally falling off the vine. Probably every backyard farmer has a bumper crop of them right now , with the question of what to do. One of the easiest and most traditional ways is turning them into a sauce. The best part of this is that sauce can be frozen and used as we ease into fall. We can still taste summer in a bowl of pasta  even on a chilly autumn day .Corn is another veggie in abundance right now. Scrape off the kernels off and you can make either creamed corn or a yummy corn chowder (which can also be frozen). Zucchini  can be be stuffed or  sliced and fried in a tempura batter for a tasty poolside appetizer.

Fruits are also at their high season. There are still some strawberries around and we're also getting into the second raspberry season. Easily toss these into salads for color and a different flavor.If you're good at jam making, then try jams. Not only are they tasty but make nice holiday gifts later on.Peaches and nectarines can be pureed and made into a base for a fresh fruity sorbet or ice cream, The same with plums although you could also turn them into a jam as well,. Any fruit can also be juiced to make a healthy drink as well with the mash being used for compost or a base for different dessert dishes.

Don't [panic when you have too many fruits or veggies. They can easily be turned into a variety of dishes and drinks.It's always easy to use up any surplus harvest.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Time For Figs

Late summer brings a lot of fruit harvests. Right now it's the season for figs. Unlike peaches, and strawberries these can be an acquired taste, However fresh picked figs can be delicious as well as versatile. They can be used for meals as well as for desserts.

Dave Tanis had a field day with them and wrote about his  experiences in his Wednesday's City Kitchen's column in the  New York Times Dining section. Figs can a tough fruit to grasp. many are put off by their sweet earthy taste or many seeds.Unlike other summer fruit figs can go both sweet or savory according to Mr. Tanis. The best ones are from backyards. Store bought  ones tend to be under ripe which results in a hard green fig with a tendency to rot quickly. You can put them on a towel covered try to soften and ripen but this is iffy. Some will improve with age, some won't. It's a gamble but one well worth it.

Mr. Tanis gives us some great recipes. Imagine sun ripened figs with creamy goat cheese and salty prosciutto. This is a perfect Sunday evening dinner after a day at the beach or lake. You can also make an awesome vinaigrette with them or better yet encase them in a buttery crostata. Mr. Tanis prefers sliced figs  topping an almond cake which would make a nice summery dessert. Another suggestion is serving them with either creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

If you want a different kind of   summer fruit veer towards figs .They are good paired with almost everything from wafer thin cured ham to scoops of ice cream. Try them for their earthy sweetness and tender but juicy flesh,.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Good Rub

Mostly everyone has spent the last two or three months grilling meats.They also have been soaking those cuts and chops in marinades,thinking that they've doing the meat a favor. They aren't The best treatment for any cut is a good dry or semi dry rub. This is what brings out the flavor of the meat, whether it be beef, poultry  fish or lamb.

It was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section., The piece cowritten by Dining's latest regulars, John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger tells of the minuses of marinades and the pluses of a dry rub. A rub is infinitely better. It brings out the flavor of the meat better along with letting the rub's melange of flavors shine through.A marinade simply doesn't do this .It imparts a kind of washed out flavor. You may taste some of what's left over but it won;t be the robust zing as with the other . The two writers/chefs recommend adding the rub after the grilling for a better , sharper more focused taste

Both Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Schelsinger give very good recipes for meats and even vegetables.They use both traditional and nontraditional ingredients. Baby back ribs have a rub composed of dry roasted peanuts along with chili powder. It is actually a semi dry because again the unconventional orange juice and traditional hoisin sauce are also included into the mix. There is a chicken with a deconstructed pesto where the chicken is grilled first then tossed They also offer a simple lamb kebab with traditional Greek flavorings. What is different is the added twist of tomatoes with a simple salt and pepper rub and then a  toss into curry and minced golden raisins after a yogurt bath.

Put away those marinades. Think rubs, especially a rub after the meat's already been grilled. It means a tastier barbecue and a more flavorful and memorable taste

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Circles of Food

Humans are most attached to round food. Think about it. We grew up loving meatballs and maltballs. Gumballs were always a favorite as were  the somewhat healthier melon balls. Now there are some bakers and chefs who are cashing in on that love.

It was the subject of an article in today's New York Daily News (yes, we're taking a temporary break from the  New York Times for today). The piece written by Sheila McClear explains why we're so hard wired to fall for round morsels. It stems from our hunter gatherer days millennia ago. We gathered round berries for food and associated them with something tasty and filling.It has carried with us through the centuries explaining our love of any morsel small and circular.The craze started in the 1800's with the invention of the melon baller and is ever growing and evolving. Some of the latest are the tiny balls of ice cream Dippin Dots and Utz Cheese Balls both created in 1987 and 1990 respectively.

New York food shops are also cashing in our our love. The Doughnuttery in Manhattan's Chelsea Market creates tiny doughnuts, (think Munchkins with holes). These bite size beauties have names like Paris Time which combines macaron flavors like pistachio, lavender and vanilla along with Mistletoe which blends together the holiday flavors of gingerbread, cranberry and sage,  West villages Sugar and Plumm gives us the Danish pancake like dumplings ebelskivers. The little gems can be savory, filled with ham and Gruyere or sweet  with a caramel apple filling.

Little round treats are here to stay. There are several new innovations that will make us love them even more. They're just bite sized bursts of fun and goodness.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

College Prep 101

In the next few weeks millions of kids will be returning to college life. They could be dorm students or commuters there for the day. The one thing they have in common? Bad nutrition. Everyone knows that the college years are the years where kids plump out. However there are way to avoid the freshmen fifteen and the all night binges.

Any college kid should hopefully know that a diet rich in veggies and fruits is the best one for them. However it 's not always easy  especially when they're cooking on their own or grabbing a bite between class and work. Fast food tends to reign supreme sadly enough. However if they choose wisely they can avoid those fat bombs and extra calories. Go for chicken on a plain or whole wheat roll. If the eatery   offers veggie and turkey burgers, then choose them instead. Salads should be a lunch time must have. It's a chance for to scarf down those greens, including tomatoes and cucumbers too.

Snacks also play an important part in a college kid's life. Most vending machines only offer bags of chips and candy bars. Some do offer power bars and lower calorie treats such as popcorn and pretzels.If it's possible head to the cafeterias.Nowadays they offer veggie and fruit plates that are not only healthy but tasty too. Have a plate of carrots and peppers or strawberries and grapes for a quick energy booster. As for beverages, STAY away from any sodas, iced teas  or cold coffee drinks. Stick to spring water or unsweetened ice tea to quench a student's thirst.

Eating healthier means a better outlook and not surprisingly better grades. It also mean keeping off the pounds and avoiding the start of unhealthy habits.Eat right during the college years. Like a degree, it'll be beneficial in years to come.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Carapelli Olive Oil Earthy Goodness

Olive oil is in high demand now. It serves as both a dressing to all those fresh picked veggies along with an excellent base for a barbecue  marinade. The trick is choosing one that can handle both jobs. Carapelli Olive Oil is up to the task.It can be used in almost any summer recipe.

Its' company is one of the oldest importers in the States first coming from Florence in 1893. Carapelli comes in four types from extra virgin to organic  All are cold pressed. Unlike other olive oils, it has a peppery aftertaste with somewhat of a bite. It can be a bit strong for those who aren't used to an oil with attitude. If that's the case, then temper it with lemon which seems to cut down on the taste.

Carapelli is great for hearty salads. Think of it in a tomato and garlic one or one made from nothing but  artichoke hearts. Try  it with more bolder tasting greens like arugula or endives. Carapelli olive oil would be the perfect marinade base for beef ribs and chops. Add it to a mix of minced garlic, along with the stronger herbs of oregano and rosemary.It can also be used a a marinade with fish , but with this I would only do a soak of just the olive oil with an equal amount of lemon juice (fish tends to be oily so I wouldn't use too much of the oil.

There's nothing like a good olive oil for summer salads and grilling. Try Carapelli for both of these . It's a great addition to summer cooking.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Festival Foraging

For now until the next few weeks there will be all sorts of festivals and street fairs. These are fun but can wreak havoc on our diets. The trick is to maneuver through these  and try to pick the healthiest food.There are some good for you treats hidden amongst all that fried and sugary fare.

Some festivals are ethnic ones. German have early versions of Octoberfest or even a few Somerfests while Italians have variations of San Gennaro and late summer fairs. Both groups have tasty foods  that you can just eat and eat. For the German fairs , it;s hard to find diet foods however you can cut down on some. Most serve bratwurst or even hot dogs. Try to eat these without the large rolls that accompany them. Stick with sauerkraut and red cabbage instead of potato salad. For the Italian festivals, try any chicken or seafood dish. A few offer a grilled garlic chicken with tomato sauce which is healthy along with clams with lemon. Steer clear of the pasta and fried dessert zeppolis.

Street fairs offer some of these foods and then some. A new trend is a stick full of deep fried potato chips. Steer clear of these and head for cups of veggie salad or hummus. Even a shish kabob with half meat and half peppers and onions is healthier treat.Don;t go by any booth that advertise deep frying anyone. These are lethal (and could also cause discomfort later). Street fairs also have stands that serve up cotton candy and candy apples. Yes, these are fun but are the ultimate sugar rush.Try to find a stand that specializes in chocolate dipped fruit.If anything you get the benefit of bananas, pineapples and strawberries.

Festivals and street fairs are fun for any foodie. They offer tasty treats but  be careful with what you eat. Stick with what's good nutritionally  as well as what tastes good. You'll enjoy it more.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Little Cupcakes Big Flavor

Just when you thought the cupcake craze was over Baked By Melissa comes in and gives us a new spin on these cakes. She has created quarter sized (!) bites that would be perfect for a doll's tea party.They're fun , tasty and best of all a sweet treat without the guilt.

The idea was started by Melissa (no last name provided ) in 2008 when this amateur baker got fired from her advertising job. She gave the newly found cupcake fad a different spin. Instead of making imitations of the  famed Magnolia Bakery or trying to duplicate Hostess, she took it a step further. Mini cupcakes can be eaten without  guilt .Her cakes ar e no bigger than a man's thumbnail, yet they are just as delicious as a regular sized one.They have the same rich ingredients  as their bigger counterparts .The minis are  great for just satisfying  that need for sweet after a meal/.The cost is a bit pricey though, a dollar for one(although the cost goes down when you buy six or more)

I love Baked By Melissa,. I get to try all my favorites without feeling guilty . There's a dollop of cake and a dollop of icing. Their tie dyed is the best. This is a multi colored little cake with a vanilla icing. Their chocolate ones are also good, as moist as any Hostess or Little Debbie. Baked By Melissa also has chocolate mint,red velvet and peanut butter. Some are filled while others have a teeny squirt of filling. They can even be chocolate coated if you want more indulgence. Baked By Melissa also can customized to suit anyone's tastes.

The cupcake craze may be waning however Baked By Melissa is bringing it back. These mini treats are a  great way of getting a treat without the guilt. Try one, try five, They're just as tasty as their bigger counterpart

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Steak And Salsa A Good Pairing

Nothing beats a good barbecued steak. Done the right way it can be heaven. Nothing also beats a good side, however but  by now we're all tired of  the usual slaws and sides.Why not a salsa, one with a fruit base as something different  and fresh.

Melissa Clark of The New York Times Dining section tackled this just yesterday in her A Good Appetite column. She takes a flank steak, which is a great piece to grill and gives it an unusual rub. Hers is one of orange juice mixed with chili powder and oregano. This gives the meat a charred  spicy exterior and a sweet juiciness on the inside. It should be marinated a full 24 hours so it can fully soak up the chili powder. Ms. Clark recommends using a New Mexico kind,It has a deep fruity undertone that will work well with the juice.

The salsa that is served with it also has fruit. Pineapple chunks are mixed with  the red hot jalapenos along with tomatillos.Onions are also added for another layer of sweetness. Each is individually grilled and then mixed together. The fruit caramelizes and this sweetness is a perfect foil for the state. You can also serve sliced avocados or a simple corn or even a potato salad as well. If you want to vary the fruit then try mango cut into chunks.

This is the season for throwing  a few steaks on the grill.Try a fiery fruity rub to bring out that meaty flavor. Pair it with the same kind of salsa and you have a dream meal. There's nothing like a good cut , graced with a heaping of heat and sweet.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Peak Of The Season

Mid August is the time for the bounty of the summer season. This is when everything is ripe and tasty, perfect for a meal and dessert. Take advantage of this at your local farm or farmer's market. You can create some healthy and delicious dishes, full of fresh flavor.

Dave Tanis certainly did in this week;s A City Kitchen column in the Wednesday New York Times' Dining section. he has come up with some really interesting recipes that utilize the best of summer from tomatoes to berries. I like his one for eggplant. Usually most cooks either make it Chinese or Italian style which can drown out its sweet flavor. Mr. Tanis opts for a soup. He chars the eggplant first and adds the Middle Eastern spice mix za'atar for a whiff of the exotic. It's then  blend smooth  . Another recipe is for a corn blini made rich with the kernels stewed in butter with the
addition of creme fraiche.

Mr. Tanis also provides readers with a tomato salad, Sure, these are common this time of year but he gives his a Provencale twist. They are drizzled with a garlicky olive vinaigrette. He also adds the other ingredients  native to the cuisine. capers and anchovies. Peppers are also mentioned and they are stuffed with Frnch bread crotons and creamy feta cheese along with a melange of herbs. For dessert Mr. Tanis takes the berries of the season and teams them with a coconut milk panna cotta to round off the meal.

August provides us with one of the biggest vegetable and fruit bounties of the year. Stock up on these gems and create dishes that play up their fresh taste.Use this amazing harvest for some of the best of summer dining.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Giving Grace

Before every meal we should be thanking the forces that be and grateful for our full tables.Saying grace though  is hard. What to say . especially at a multireligious holiday table can cause problems. However there's a new book out this month that solves that dilemma. Thanks to Bless This Food,  every group, from Muslim to Orthodox, from Christian to Wiccan can offer prayers of thanksgiving.

I normally wouldn't review a book like this but I was so impressed with it , that I felt it has to be given its' due. This surprisingly slim book was written and compiled by Adrian Butash and  published by New World Library  out of Novato, California.Mr Btash has even gotten two Pulitzer Prize winners to contribute.Every section of this book is interesting. I like the different ways of saying grace in all languages including American Sign Language. The introduction shows us how the world's religions say thanks for a bountiful table along with the customs involved.

One would think a book about saying grace would be solely religious. Mr. Butash includes William Shakespeare and Robert Burns along with the indigenous chief Tecumsah Gandhi is also quoted as  is St Francis .Everyone is given an equal amount of credit. The prayers are not only to thank our respective Gods but also to be grateful for breaking bread with friends as well as  for the bountiful crops that supply us. Even the non religious or nature worshippers are mentioned in Wiccan  prayers and indigenous  blessings from North American and Mexican tribes.

Bless This Food is the perfect gift for any foodie, regardless of their beliefs. It is a thoughtful and interesting compilation of different graces.It should be within reach of any table anywhere in the world.

Monday, August 12, 2013

K S S Keep Salads Simple

This is the season for salads. It's a great time to take advantage of all the bountiful harvests out there. The best part of any summer salad is its' easiness . Don't overthink them. Keep them simple and tasty.It means less time in the kitchen and more time at the patio table.

Sometimes just one ingredient can make an entire salad.Take tomatoes or celery for example. A great accompaniment to any barbecued meat is a tomato salad. All you need are three or four vine ripes , sliced and mixed with a simple olive oil and lemon dressing. Mince up a garlic clove and add some oregano along with salt and pepper for flavoring..A chilled tomato salad is  even good spooned on slice s of Italian or French bread. Celery salad is one of the easiest to make as well. Chop up seven or eight stalks,  and again, just mix with  a dressing of only olive oil , lemon, salt and pepper.

Even a classic garden salad is a breeze to whip up.Use  iceberg lettuce and any kind of tomato along with a homemade French dressing.This last is just taking half a cup of mayo with three to four tablespoons of ketchup.Stir tiogether until well blended and then pour over salad. If you want something with a more exotic flavor add some tuna in olive oil along with some pitted black olives  to your salad. This makes a nice simple salad Nicoise without all the other ingredients. You can also try adding in canned salmon, chicken, or turkey to any kind of greens from arugula to baby spinach  to a field mix.

Now is the time for simple dishes that are tasty and cool. An easily made salad with one or two ingredients is all you need . It's a great way to eat both delicious and healthy during these steamy days.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cold, Frosty Drinks

Right now we're in the midge dais of August.It is hot and sticky.We're hot and sticky.The best relief comes from a cool slushy drink.There's nothing like some cold. And sweet to male our temps drop. A home made version of a Slushie or Slurpee is always a good way to go.There are slush cups you can buy and then fill with the include plastic ice cubs to create frosty drink.This works well with soda usually and some fruit juices? Another way is to use ice cubes and a blender.This is actually the more preferred way and you can have a refreshing frozen treat in no time.Think about turning a home made lemon ade into a looser version of Italian ice by combining it with the ice.You can also make a tasty grape or cranberry one too or a combo of flavors.For purists juice your own ,and have a totally healthy ice. With organic strawberries and blueberries.Sweeten with dark honey ad some mint. of course you can give these icy treats a naught side as well.Try making a pin a co Ada.Add some rum to pineapple juice along with cream of coconut or coconut milk.Pour into a blender with ten ors ice cubes and blend .You can also try a banana daiquiri or any frozen Magarita (this last would be perfect. With home made guar and chips out on the ppatio)Whiskey and bourbon, believe it or not,also make tasty and heady drinks .These can be frozen on the fridge instead of having been blended with ice.Bourbon that warm weather must have of the South can also be incorporated into a frosty slush.Add equal parts lemon and orange juice to it, along with strong black tea to temper it. Yes ,the days are unbearably hot.Cool off with a homemade frozen slushie.You'll feel cooler and ready to deal with the dogs days of August.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Exotic Side Of Atlantic City

Atlantic City has always been known for it's 'gambling and Jersey shore foods.After all it was the birthplace of the famed pork roll sandwich and salt water taffy.Now it's also being recognized as a sort of capital of Vietnamese cooking.There are now a growing group of Vietnamese restaurants that are becoming visitor favorites. It was an article in Wednesday's New York Times ODining section and was written by Robert Sietsema.The piece features one of Southeast Asia's tastiest dishes ,a soup called pho.THis is a broth with a melange of meats and spices?The broth is beef and star anise are the main overtones.There's also chicken along with scallions and garlic.This is served with noodles and is the perfect alternative to all that boardwalk fare.Some restaurants feature the foods from the Mekong Delta , the southern part of the country and one is hu tie ,a pork broth that also has seafood in it. Atlantic City does have a large Vietnamese population due to the gambling industry.They've hired many immigrants in their casinos so there is a need for this kind of restaurant.Like all Asian owned eateries they are big on family and many cater to those who love home cooking.No overly fancy or rich casino meals here. The stars are some home cooked mealsThere is Tom ram man ,a juicy shrimp grilled in a caramel sauce and cooked in a traditional clay pot along with boa xao luc lac ,This is cubes of beefsteak coated with black pepper and served wrapped radicchio and lettuce.People new to the cuisine could try Bo hue ,a spicy beef soup along with rice noodles. If you're going to Atlantic City fpr a vacation do stop and try any of the Vietnamese restaurants that dot the city.They are refreshing departure from the usual fried clams and pork rolls.Enjoy simple home cooked els after a night of too glamgambling

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Exotic Turn On Rice

Rice is one of those easy summer dishes,It can be used as a hot dish with sauteed zucchini or as a salad with chopped onions and pepper strips. However, for a real twist use the Indian basmati rice. This is a perfect side and ingredient to any summer meal.

Dave Tanis praised it in his weekly column A City Kitchen in yesterday;s New York Times Dining section. Basmati rice has a sweet flavor and a delicate texture , different from the ordinary boiled in a minute kind.It is also a staple of Indian cooking and offsets the fiery flavors of that cuisine. Basmati rice also goes well with summer corn, which is  popular on the subcontinent.It can grace a pilaf or a puleo, giving it more sweetness and color.Mr. Tanis decided to combine the two into an interesting pilaf.

He makes this as a vegan recipe.It has the saffron and turmeric for color along with coriander and cumin for bite and heat. Since this is meatless , he adds cashews for crunch and protein as well as raisins for sweetness and chewiness.. He serves this withthe side dish  raita.This is a fiery mix of jalapeno and yogurt along with mustard seeds. Vegetable oil and mint are used to give the dip its' smoothness and coolness. As Mr. Tanis did, the two dishes can be served with a plate of fresh from the farm tomatoes. You could add some grilled chicken or even shrimp to the rice if you want it to be more substantial.

Basmati rice is a nice sub for the regular one. Add some farm fresh corn to it for added sweetness along withthe usual  fiery Indian spices.It's an easy summer dish with the taste of the exotic

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Know Your Veggie's Age

is there such a thing as an old tomato?Or a young zucchini.Yes.A veggie's age and when you use it cam definitely affect the dish it's in.To maximize any vegetable's flavor and nutritional potential ,understand how old it is and how it's age can. And will make a difference. Knowing your veggie's age was the main article in today's New York Times Dining section.It was part of Melissa Clark's. A Good Appetite and it was full of good advice.After all many don't know when a tomTo is at its best for sauce making or when. Is a good time to batter coat it and then fry it.An older tomato is the best for any sauces or even making ketchup.A straight off the vine one that's still firm and green is perfect for frying. This is known as micro seasonality ,finding the ripest during season.Both chefs and home cooks are using this to optimize any veggie's flavor and cooking potential. it does take a bit of knowledge and just basic sense to use this method.Fpr example cilantro is better as a garnish. When it.s just shoots,Mature leaves are best flavoring dishes while the flowers are best in noodle dishes.Most cooks ,amateur or pro ,know that the best zucchini flavor is when it's young .The texture too is at it's best then as well,being soft and tender.As they get older the zucchini gets tougher and the seeds grow.The only thing to do with it is stuff it either with breadcrumbs or a mix of ground beef.Even fruit has micro seasons.Use the ripe berries for nibbling ,while the younger green ones are just right for pickling. Knowing your veggie's age can help in making. Tasty dishes.Understanding when to use them and in what dishes is vital to creating the best dish for that particular veggie.It will be the difference between a good dish and a mediocre one.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Return Of The Classics

It's a super treat when childhood classics come back. There's nothing like having a Yodel or a Twinkie with a big glass of milk - no matter how old you are.  We re like Proust with his madeleines.Our first  foodie loves will always be our eternal ones.

With this Hostess is making a big comeback. We have Apollo Global Management and Metropolous and Company to thank for this. They bought Hostess after the company liquidated in 2012. Granted you can find Twinkie recipes as well as the squiggle cupcake  one up and down the Internet. Twinkies are nothing more than pound cake fingers injected with a butter cream type filling. The cupcake is your basic devils' food with a marshmallow middle. The problem is baking is time consuming  and who can eat a dozen Twinkies or squiggle cupcakes? (well, we all could but that would be lethal)

My childhood favorite, the Keebler Fudge Sandwiches are completely gone . I have looked for them, even for recipes but there are none.A Canadian company,Dares' makes something sort of similar .I have yet to try these but some fudge fans claim they're sort of alike in taste.Luckily other childhood must haves , such as Yodels and Ring Dings along with those plain but tasty Yankee Doodles. are making a return. No matter how old you are there's nothing like having these as a snack or a cure for a bad day.

Hostess and Drake fans rejoice. Your faves are coming back with a vengeance. Pick up a package and enjoy them with a big glass of milk.

Friday, August 2, 2013

That Amazing Ear Of Corn

Now is the time when farm stands and farmer's markets are well stocked with ears of corn. These are wonderful and versatile additions to any summer table. Corn  can be made into almost everything , from salads  to desserts even. Every August tables hould have this multi purpose veggies in some form.

Fresh picked corn on the cob is one of the best warm weather pleasures.  Have it slathered with a lemon or herb butter  to bring out its' sweetness. It can be easily steamed in the microwave or over the stove, boiled in large pot. However the easiest and best way to bring out its' flavor is to grill over an open . You can or  add some red pepper flakes to bring it some bite try a mix of olive oil and rosemary for a mellower , different flavor,instead of butter If you feel that eating corn on the cob may be too messy, simply slice off the niblets   and serve them  warm. You can add a cream for a variation of creamed corn. Take this idea a step further and turn it into an ice cream.  The flavor is both sweet and smoky  and a neat way of ending that summer barbecue.

Of course you can also take the niblets and turn them into a salsa, salad or even relish for a tasty salsa, Mix grilled niblets with charred tomatoes and jabaneros,  Corn salad is also a alternative to potato salad or cole slaw ., One way of making it is with black and red beans along with crunchy onion and pepper bits. Since corn has such a strong taste , simply serve with a red wine vinegar based vinaigrette. Even better is a relish. Try one with both red and green peppers this time along with such spices as turmeric and celery seeds. Making relish does require canning skills so if you're not experienced with this process, then stick to a corn salad as a side.

A few ears of corn are a possibility of dishes waiting to happen.Have them just plain and delicious , roasted on the grill. If you want variety then use them in any sides for a more interesting barbecue  or  in ice cream for a truly uniquedessert . This is the season for these golden spikes ,. Enjoy when they're  sweet and sunshine yellow, ready for eating.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Classics With A Twist

The two most favorite summer treats, a shrimp cocktail and ice cream have just been reinvented. Some new ingredients are added to give them zip and zest, perfect for the hot days ahead. It's great way of rediscovering two classic hot weather dishes.

They are Mexican seafood cocktail and corn ice cream. Actually they;d make a nice summer evening dinner and dessert together. Both are the main points of Dave Tanis' A City Kitchen and Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Mr. Tanis offers a spicy and yet cool alternative to the traditional shrimp cocktail, often an August staple in many a beach front restaurant. He adds a spicy mix of grilled tomatoes and jabaneros with layering of not just shrimp but also crab, clams, mussels, and squid, The fish is layered like a parfait with the salsa to create a briny yet fiery twist on the classic shrimp cocktail.It's graced with a squeeze of lime along with chopped onions and serrano chilies.

What would be a good end to this? Melissa's Clark's corn ice cream. This is a spin on the classic recipe with Ms. Clark using fours ears of fresh cooked corn as the main ingredient. The niblets are first cooked and then pureed. The strained kernels are  then added to a mix of  heavy cream, sour cream and some lemon verbena Corn ice cream isn't really new . It's popular in Mexico as it is in The Philippines where it's more of a liquid poured over shaved ice.This ice cream has a very silky , velevety texture, perfect with fresh fruits such as peaches or blackberries (as Ms. Clark suggests). Stick with fresh fruits as a topping however.  Sea salt caramel or chocolate sauce may overshadow the delicate taste

A shrimp cocktail and ice cream are a perfect summer lunch or Sunday dinner combo. Add a twist to both with   the addition of shellfish and squid  for the first and fresh sweet August corn to the second. It's a great way to add zing to these classic recipes/..