Monday, September 30, 2013

Your Fall Harvest Cornucopia

This is one of the most productive times of the years.Farms all over  the Northern Hemisphere (and even the Southern thanks to it being summer there). are bursting with delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of this to create tasty and heart healthy meals and desserts.

Fall is the time of good desserts with fresh picked fruits. All varieties of apples are ripe for the picking right now. You can make a tasty pie using the Granny Smith kind or a microwaved baked apple using a Macintosh. This is also the time to try new recipes and new techniques. Think about making apple butter  or dried apples for eating later on. You could just go basic with just  a simple apple or one dipped in caramel for dessert. Pears are also in full force now too. Nothing says elegant than a pear tartin or baked pears . Both fruits are also excellent in salads. They give crunch and sweetness, making an ordinary mixed bowl of greens into something special.

Besides fruits. fall veggies are also sharing the spotlight,. Cabbages are starting to come into their own and you can create both hot and cold dishes with them. Make stuffed cabbage rolls, with wild rice , ground beef and tomato sauce. For a pure vegetarian dinner nix the meat and add either beans or crumbled soy.Pumpkin is in abundance too.. Yes they make nice decorations however they're just as good in a soup as is their cousin, the squash. Both are high in nutrients and flavor. Kale is another popular autumn green, It is one of the most versatile, going from salad to soup to chips. It's also easy to store too.Simply put in your fridge's crisper and use it whenever you're ready.

Head to your local farms for some good healthy produce. This is the season for a true cornocopia of fruits and vegetables. Incorporate  them in your diet now for both good eating and healthy eating!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Get Stuffed!

As any foodie will tell you there's nothing like sinking one's teeth into something gooey and feeling that savory or sweet filling squish out.It's kind of like a surprise ,with a spurt of texture and flavor added.Luckily there's variety of foods,from salty to sugary to satisfy that stuffed food craving. There are plenty of savory foods to choose from,from calzones to grilled cheeses. calzones, that Sicilian classic is literally translated from the Italian words big sock.That's what it is big sock of pizza dough stuffed with a combo of creamy ricotta and mozzarella.Sometimes ham or sausage is added.Bite into a fresh from the oven one and it's this explosion of pure flavor oozing into your mouth.A Monte Cristo sandwich is kind of like this.It's a batter dipped super sandwich stuffed with turkey ham and Swiss cheese.It's then dipped in a batter and deep fried.You can do variations of this with stuffing and just turkey along with a layer of cranberry sauce.Of course for healthier fare there are stuffed peppers along with stuffed cabbage and tomatoes.These can be stuffed. With healthy brown rice and quinoa or more decadently with sauteed hamburger meat and bread crumbs. There are some sweet stuffed treats out there as well. Turnovers are always a fun dessert or snack.These are easy to make at home thanks to pre made phyllo dough.Fillings can be anything from apple to cherry to blueberry.You can also have a creamy dark chocolate filling which is just pure decadence. Cream puffs ,that long forgotten but again easy to make dessert are another stuffed treat.They can have a simple vanilla pudding inside or a variety of creams.Try the easy Chantilly style which is just whipped cream with the addition of vanilla extract.You can also stuff them with a rich chocolate ganache.Fritters, are another fun surprise filled treat.Try them with apples or bananas and a dusting of powdered sugar. Everyone loves a surprise.There's nothing like a stuffed treat ,savory or sweet to embody that notion.Try a calzone or a cream puff for a fun burst of oozy gooey flavor!

Friday, September 27, 2013

From Seed To Table

There is already a farm to table movement happening in restaurants across the country.Imagine it going a step further with chefs taking a vested interest as well as having a say about the seeds sown.It may sound a bit extreme but it's taking hold.Doing such though can add totime honored recipes . Yet , will the seed to table movement catch on?

The idea was debated and discussed in Wednesday's New York Times Dining section. Dining regular Jeff Gordonier explored it, writing about how it will change the way chefs will cook and create. What this means is that not only will fruits and vegetables be better tasting but so will grains. Chefs may ask growers to experiment, creating not only strawberries that may taste better or even veggie hybrids but also richer, more flavorful grains..It also means more nutrients will be added to these , creating super foods. A  simple salad won't be simple.It will be chock full of  vitamins. Even that complimentary basket of bread won't be just an appetite whetter, it will be chock full of all sorts of good for your nutrients.

Are all chefs behind this? The answer is yes. Even chefs Sam Kass and Bill Yosses from the White House are for this movement. International chefs from Spain(always a forefront in anything culinary) to France to even South America approve of the seed to table idea. New York cooks, including the famed baker  David Bouley, is behind it. For him it would be a bonus, Imagine what his famed breads would taste like if they had been made with tastier flour. For all chefs it would create not only more healthful dishes from appetizers to desserts but also more flavorful ones.New hybrids would allow chefs too to create new dishes or spins on classic ones.

It may be in its' infancy but the seed to table movement will be picking up steam.It will add a different dimension to old and well used recipes.It will definitely usher in a new age of restaurant cooking.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Redoing The Classics

Both ratatouille and cutlets are standard, almost classic home recipes. They've been made the same way since their invention. However both New York Times Dining culinary writers, Melissa Clark and David Tanis have put new spins on these recipes. They're a tastier and somewhat better alternative to the traditional ways of making them.

Melissa Clark totally remakes the French Provencale classic,ratatouille. Usually the melange of eggplant, tomatoes and onions are first sauteed and then  cooked  stew like in a garlicky olive oil until they're soft and tender.This is time consuming . Another quicker, and somewhat zippier method is roasting the veggies on  a medium fire  until they were well charred and tender.Italian or French bread is them sliced and also grilled until it's lightly charred and toasted.After the eggplants, peppers and tomatoes are cut into bite sized pieces and then put into a bowl. Olive oil , basil , thyme and lemon juice is poured over them and then mixed.Goat cheese is spread on the bread and piled high with this new version of ratatouille.

In his City Kitchen David Tanis, tries a more traditional, yet still innovative way of making cutlets.He tries it out with pork, but you can make them with turkey, chicken or the more used veal.Instead of using ready made breadcrumbs which can be dryer in texture, he takes day old French bread and makes crumbs from it. It creates a better texture and a better flavor as well.He suggests using olive oil for frying but you can also use butter and even a good lard . The trick to a flavorful cutlet is seasoning before and after frying and serve hot .

Ratatouille and cutlets alone or even together are great meal choices. Improve them with these new methods. of cooking. It[s a neat spin on traditional techniques.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jersey's Best Dogs

Everything tastes better in New Jersey. That applies to our hot dogs as well. In New York , they;re just plain boiled  , sometimes served with a small blob of sauerkraut and that's it. Go across the Hudson and it's an entirely different affair. They;re plumper,t astier and best of all served with everything under the sun.'

Robert Seistsma got to experience an entire variety of Jersey style dogs at different stands throughout northern and central parts of the state (including a quick run across the Delaware to Pennsylvania) Most Jersey dogs are deep-fried ,giving that extra crunch and extra flavor.To be honest they taste better fried than boiled and it does bring out the flavor more.The Garden State dogs are a mix of both pork and beef too.There are different names for them as well such as The Ripper which is slit hot dog with a sweet mustard relish and The Texas Weiner, a hot dog with cumin free chili loaded on top.There is also the Italian Hot Dog which is really three dogs in hollowed out pizza bread.These are layered with potatoes, peppers and onions. Mr.Seistsma discovered a variety of dogs .All are tasty .At one stop in the westernmost Jersey town,Buttzville, he ate a deep fried ball park frank,lovingly garnished with mustard ,chopped raw onions and spear pickles.This would be usual in itself ,but diners had the choice of either birch beer or buttermilk to go with it. The jersey Shore ,known for its'quick food bites is also represented here too.Max's Famous HotDogs of Long Branch was also visited.Their hot dogs are huge and fat ,split down the middle.These can be eaten with bacon , or filled with cheese or chili, true meaty chili. The famed WindMill is also mentioned ,and they are know for their crisp tasty foot longs.The Wind Mill also has a deck where you can enjoy the dogs with an ocean view.Not known for any view however Newark is known for creating the Italian hot dog.This is not for the faint hearted It,s a sausage stuffed inside a loaf of Sicilian pizza bread.Elizabeth's Tommy 's Italian Sausage. and Dogs has an even more decadent one, stuffed with three deep fried dogs ,along with fried potatoes ,onions and peppers. If you want super dogs then come to Jersey.The Garden State has the plumpest and tastiest franks loaded with all sorts of great toppings.Stop at any of these stands mentioned here or any others and enjoy e dog of a lifetime!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall's Fruity Desserts

This is one of the best times of the year for baking .The weather is  blissfully cooler and perfect for making  all sorts of desserts.It's also the time for a variety of fruits such as apples and pears. Combine the two and you have a yummy array of delicious treats. There are enough recipes where you can create a different sweets every day.

Apples are the most popular fall fruit and they 're also the most used in desserts. The most commonly baked apple dish is pie of course, Everyone loves a home baked one but you can also vary it by making a pomme tartin, a French version of the American recipe.This is a layer of  sliced apples on a decadent buttery crust. You can also make it with pears or with another fall fruit, the fig as well. Baked apples are a tasty and quick treat. These can go adult with a sauce of red wine and butter or kid  with the apples being stuffed with caramel and nuts.This is also the season for an old fashioned apple cake.It can be baked as a regular old fashioned scratch cake or a crumb topped coffee cake.

Pears, figs, cranberries and grapes are other fall fruits that are great in desserts. Like the apple,the pear is the most versatile. It can be poached in wine for an elegant dessert or baked in a tartin for a more rustic one,You can also make pear strudel or have it oozing out of turnovers. Figs are another nice variation. These can be poached in honey or made into a cake with ground almonds. Grapes surprisingly can be made into a cake as well. Another fall standard, the cranberry  can be just as versatile. It can grace cheesecakes as well adding zing to oatmeal cookies You can also make a fluffy yet tangy mousse with cranberries too.

This is th eseason to get out the pots and pans and start using the fruits of the season. There are all sorts of delicious recipes to make with apples and pears figs and cranberries along with grapes. Try  a new on eof a family recipe to create a sweet treat for these crisp autumn days.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hearty Fall Breakfasts

There's a nip in the mornings now.Gone is that balmy tropical air and he high temps.It's time to put away the summery breakfasts of just fruit or maybe a roll.It's time to bring back the heartier breakfasts.There 's nothing like a good ribsticking meal to start off a chilly autumn day. One of the best breakfasts is a traditional one.You can have bacon and eggs which is decadent and tasty.You can vary it by making a breakfast sandwich.Just add either scrambled egg or even a cheese omelet on an English muffin. finish it off with a couple of slices of pork roll or breakfast ham.If you're worried about the high levels of cholesterol, then swap the whole eggs for Egg Beaters and switch thereat to either turkey bacon or soy sausage.Even. The English muffin can be switched to a whole wheat kind.Another breakfast to warm you up is eggs with hash.The last you can make your own or buy the canned variety.For a fancier weekend brunch make the always elegant Eggs Benedict ,complete with a rich Hollandaise sauce. of course nothing beats a stack of pancakes for a hearty first meal.You can either go decadent or healthy.For decadent , think about adding chocolate chips and serve with whipped cream.For healthy go with any fruit, whether it be apples or bananas.IYou can also add flax seeds as well or almonds.Pancakes and waffles can be made with whole wheat flour too to make it healthier.You can also nix the maple syrup and try a dark honey.French toasts always Makes any breakfast special.Again you can make it heart healthy by topping ith with fruit.You can also "stuff" it with cream cheese or marscapone cheese along with adding any flavor jam or jelly. Now that it's fall ,start thinking of starting the day with hearty breakfasts.It's a great way to meet a chilly day .It's also a good way to start the work or school day too.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A New Season , A New Diet

What better time of year to change your diet than autumn. You can  rid yourself of the excesses of summer and gear up for the gorging of the holiday season. right now you can take advantage of what the farms  have to offer. There are many heart healthy foods out there  that are going to be fresh picked.It's also a good time to tweak your diet  and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Fall means bounty and luckily there are a number of veggies out there that are ripe for the picking .  Kale and squash are reappearing in big numbers right  now. The first is one of the most versatile greens ever.It can be made into everything from a snack to soup to  salad. One of the most popular is kale chips - a simple recipe that just requires baking leaves until they are crisp and crunchy. Kale can also go into soups as well. Try it instead of spinach in an Italian wedding soup. Supermarkets are almost overstocked with squash. You can enjoy an acorn one, brimming with olive oil and garlic or a butternut one, cut into cubes or mashed.

Pears and grapes , other heart healthy and also cholesterol lowering fruits, are also gracing markets. You can just eat a pear plain but also try it baked. Add some low fat Greek yogurt sweetened with dark honey as a side. Black grapes are big right now as well. These can be added to sauces to give them sweetness as well as to salads. Black grapes or deep purple ones are perfect for making fresh grape juice as well as homemade jams (without all those preservatives.) Of course we all know that seasonal standard , the apple is big. There are so many varieties  to chose from, from Gala to Granny Smith.. These can easily be added to a salad to give it zing or baked with some cinnamon and wine for a simple but elegant dessert.

Fall gives us the perfect opportunity to eat healthy and change our diets. The bounty out there is rich and varied, ripe for trying out good for you recipes. Give any of these fall standards a chance and you'll not only eat well but be well too.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall Barbecues

Although this weekend heralds in Autumn 2013 , you can still eat like it's summer. There will still be warm and even moderately warm days when you can still barbecue. You can  cook outside even when there's a  chill in the air .In fact it's better  thanks to the cooling temps. Fall also  lets you experiment too with the produce of the season as well.

Thanks to Indian summer days you can still have your faves. There's nothing like hot dogs or hamburgers after a good football game. They'd be even good for an football get together. Now that most of the broiling days are over with you can also experiment  with slow cooking meats such as lamb or whole roasted birds. It;s also the time to try out different techniques too. You can try pulled pork or beef too. This is also the time to try barbecuing a whole turkey.It can be done and once perfected a nice spin for when Thanksgiving comes along.

Again just because it's fall doesn't  mean you have to give up your salads and slaws. For a transitional spin think about adding those  autumn standards, apples and pears to your salads. A tasty salad, is arugula, apples slices and walnuts with a sweet berry dressing.Another delicious one isa blend of pears , blue cheese and pecans with baby spinach. Kale is again starting to be seen again. A plain kale salad always a good side to beef or pork ribs. You can also try it  in a healthy slaw blended with cabbage.

Don't put away the grill and the picnic table because it;s fall. You still have two more months of great grilling and outdoor eating . Enjoy it with the cooler temps and still bright sunny days,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Romesco A Versatile Sauce

Not many sauces have versatility . Tomato sauce usually just goes well with pasta or rice. Bechamel can go with one dish , not another. Mushroom sauce can go with red meat but not dark. The classic Spanish  Romesco is not that It can liven up any piece of seafood  or vegetable.It's a great sauce for those who crave something different on their foods..

Melissa Clark wrote about it and experimented with it in her A Good Appetite Column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.In a way this Catalan dish is not really a sauce  but more of a condiment  such as a chutney or ketchup. The ingredients are pure Spain, from the sweet Spanish peppers to the almonds. It usually graces fish dishes such as tuna  grilled shrimp or grilled lobster however it can also be used to enhance potatoes and even green beans.The true Spanish way is to  slather it on sliced  green onion slices called calcots. Ms. Clark uses it to highlight the flavor of raw broccoli.

Romesco is an easy side to make, much easier than ketchup or even a simple mayonnaise.The main part is broiling red bell peppers and garlic until they're charred. Add a charred tomato as well along with the paprika to color it. The binders are simple : honey and breadcrumbs. This gives the Romesco a nice thick consistency (think hummus) .You can vary it so that the texture isn't so thick and try variations/ Ms. Clark uses a pomegranate honey but a  regular dark or light one can do the trick as well.As for the breadcrumbs some Catalan chefs sub in sweet almond biscuits for extra sweetness.

Romesco sauce is a great way to livening  any vegetable or even piece of fish .Put it as a side for crudites or as a spread for late summer caught fish.It's a nice variation to the basic condiment,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vegan For The Day

Is it possible to go meatless for a day? It most certainly is. Even the most carnivorous of foodies can and should embrace a day devoted to just fruits and veggies.Some of you may balk at this however it is easy, especially using the produce of the season. Anyone can create three tasty meals that are big on benefits and flavor.

Mark Bittman wrote about this in his The Flexitarian column in today's New York Times Dining section.This he the best time to experiment or even give vegan ism a little hug, simply because of the bounty that''s produced right now. Explore the farmer's markets and take stock of what they have to offer. Also have a well stocked pantry with good healthy grains, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as oils and vinegars. These help vary the dishes so you,re not stuck cooking the same thing over and over again on your vegan days.

Mr. Bittman's recipes are varied. There is one for each meal and even dessert. He even creates a carrot candy , slow baked carrot slices that have the chewiness of banana chips. (these may be a regular addition to you diet once they're tried.) Breakfast is a simple hoecakes with a melange of fruit. He adds pineapple to an apple and pear mix but you can just stick with the apples and add cinnamon. Lunch is a filling bow ties pasta supplemented with bulgar and heightened with olives and tomatoes along with arugula.Dinner is a hearty chickpea and fennel ratatouille This is the same as regular Provencale stew but with those additions. You can end any meal with his broiled melon in balsamic vinegar.

Going vegan even for one day is easy. Vary your menu and cook up tasty yet healthy meals along with snacks and desserts.It's not only a simple but a step in the right direction to eating better.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Building A Better Chicken

Is there a way to give chicken meat the same posh quality as Kobe beef? Yes! There is a movement amongst New York chefs to improve the life of poultry fated for the table.It means better treatment, resulting in more flavorful cuts and dishes. Soon chicken will be regarded as not common and every day  but richer in texture and taste.

Jeff Gordonier, usually a regular contributor to the New York Times Wednesday  Dining section , wrote a piece for the Times that made page one.It is  about a new movement  called from table to farm to table again and involves a certain breed of chicken.These are the heritage breed from Gascony in Southern France. The red feathered beauties are getting scraps from such high class restaurants as Per Se, Daniel, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern and David Burke Townhouse. These  are better than what some people eat. There are baguette scraps soaked in milk along with salad leftovers. It is a rich dinner resulting in better tasting birds.The scraps from the restaurants are designed for the birds fated for their tables.

Is the meat truly better? According to the many chefs involved in the project the answer is yes. The chicken tastes like what it should taste like, gamier, more flavorful and chewier than those raised in  slaughterhouses. The birds raised this way are exactly like what our great grandparents ate without any artificial additives and hormones.It's healthier as well.It's also more expensive A dish featuring homemade chicken sausage at Gramercy Tavern is 22 dollars . Another restaurant featuring chicken meat from an average butcher would cost less. The chefs are hoping this idea will influence other cooks across the country and bring back a more old fashioned, smaller farm raised meat industry.

If this is successful, then  expect better chickens gracing our restaurant tables. It's a good step away from the usual hormone and steroid injected poultry  most of us have been eating.The table to farm to table is the start of better eating in this country.Let's hope it catches on.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mom Approved Snacks

Kids will always love snacks .It's especially evident during the school year when they're on thier own. Activities or just hanging out can increase their appetites and cause them to munch. Sometimes they wind up going for the wrong foods. It's best to get them right on track . After all a healthy diet  means a healthy kid.

Younger ones, tweens and teens love salty snacks. Chips are always first on the list and if they have to have them, then think the baked kind (Lays makes these) or even Pringles. For a healthy dip try  just plain Greek yogurt. Add minced onions and scallions to make it a fancier one. Another good idea is chips and homemade tomato salsa. You can  slice up  tomatoes and onions along with minced peppers for the last. Serve with whole wheat tortilla chips. or even home made pita chips. Kids love anything snack sized. Have chilled baby veggies and a wholesome olive oil based dip waiting for them when they come home from school or sports.

The little (and not so little ones) love sweets too. Instead of candy and cookies, serve fruit chunks with a side of  , again, Greek yogurt.If you still can't get them to eat fruit, then think apple slices with a caramel dip. This is not the healthiest but if it gets them to eat something good for them then go for it.Juice pops, made with fresh squeezed juice is a nice cooler on those Indian Summer days.You can also add seltzer to the juice to create an all natural soda pop. If they do want cookies, then look for all natural ones like Nature's Path. There are no additives and the ingredients are all organic.

Snacks are a part of any kid's life. Have healthy ones within reach to ensure better eating habits. It' makes for sensible eating any time of day or night,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Tribute To Boardwalk Foods

By now everyone knows what has happened to the famed Seaside Heights, NJ boardwalk.A terrible fire destroyed most of it and the many food stands on it. Thanks to this boardwalk and others up and down our coast an entire cuisine has sprung up. It's an interesting  and always fun mish mosh of savory and sweet.Anyone who has grow  up here can attest to that.

The boardwalk started in 1868 in the furthest southernmost  Garden State point, Cape May. It was first a place to stroll and take in the sea air. Other towns such as Atlantic City, in 1870 Point Pleasant and Asbury Park along with Wildwood followed suit. It was only a matter of time before food stands dotted them. The early ones were probably nothing elaborate with a few clam or oyster sellers or men who sold ears of boiled corn., The Great Depression of the 1930's brought burger and hot dog stands, Atlantic City was known for its' famed pork roll sandwiches instead. Pizza and fries were added later on and still are beach time faves.

Of course nothing beats Jersey Shore candy. Atlantic City was the first , making the tasty treat in the late 1800's.Fralinger's the famed candy store, often seen in the HBO hit "Boardwalk Empire" made it then and still makes it now in a variety of flavors. Of course they and their competitor, James' Candy  are known for their molasses paddles as well as those heavenly chews - haystacks. The boardwalk is also famous for those addictive candy and caramel apples as well as big puffs of cotton candy. There are also stands that feature frozen custard and chocolate covered bananas. Pennsylvania Dutch import  the funnel cake as well as those fried dough blobs zeppolis are another boardwalk standard.

There is nothing as good and decadent as boardwalk cuisine. Hopefully Seaside Heights will serve the same tasty bounty as they have done for decades.It's what they're all about .It's what the Jersey shore is all about too.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Two End Of Season Faves

The summer season is winding down yet there is still time to enjoy grilling and a garden bounty. This was evident in both Dave Tanis' A City  Kitchen and Cathy Barrow's  piece in  Wednesday's New York Times'Dining section. Both food writers offer ways to still enjoy the warm weather and the culinary gifts it brings.

Mr. Tanis writes about grilling lamb which is perfect for this time of year. September is a great month for cooking outdoors. It's not  as hot or humid as July and August are.It's cooler  and that means you don;t mind cooking over an open flame. Leg of lamb is perfect for this because it does require a longer grilling period.It does take half an hour for the meat to be prop-erly roasted, Mr Tanis gives it more flavor with an orange juice based marinade and then serves it with couscous and a dried apricot salad.

What would go well with this is Cathy Barrow's article on preserved tomatoes. This is a great recipe for those with extra bumper crops of the fruit. The dish would be good now or even  gracing a Thanksgiving or Christmas table as well.She prefers working with the Brandywine variety as well as the Rutgers genus.The recipe is simple Just add them along with store bought lemon juice and kosher salt. Then it's just cooking and jarring them as you would preserves.

The summer may be winding down but that doesn;t mean you have to forgo your faves. Use the grill and thecooling temps to make delicious lamb dishes. Serve with fresh made tomato preserves for an extra boost.Voila - you can still have your wamr weather treats and eat them too!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Truffles From Le Marche

Late summer is truffle time in Italy. It is a harbinger of fall and the rich ,hearty dishes that grace Northern Italian tables.This fungi , the diamonds of the culinary world, can be added to almost any dish.They impart a rich ,almost smokey flavor and glam up everything from eggs to pasta. They were the topic of an article in yesterday's New York Dining section.The author,Helene Cooper, was lucky enough to travel there and participate in a truffle hunt.However, she didn't visit the truffle capital,Piemonte but the Marche region on the Adriatic(just south of Venice). here Ms. Cooper found some of the best.Usually the mushroom is traditionally found throughout southern France and of course,northwestern Italy. TheMarche grows tartufo Nero or the black truffle.They're a little less expensive than the white ones.They were a favorite of some of Italy's most famous people.Lucrezia Borgia tried them when she passed through thevtown famous for them,Acqualagna.Pope Julius ii as well as the infamous IlDuce,Benito Mussolini were also affectionados of the black truffle. Tartuffo Nero can be made several different ways, both fancy and simple.Ms Cooper got to sample a frittata made. With them.Truffle sauce was added to the eggs and then were decorated with truffle shavings.There was also crostini tartuffo, ,slices of grilled bread spread with truffle sauce.There was also turkey scallopini with a truffle sauce as well. Truffles are a foodie's luxury. if you can visit the Marche region to enjoy them.They truly are the diamonds of the food world.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Foodies Giving Back

How can foodies give back on today,Patriot;s Day and for the rest of the season.There are several ways  actually. There's a lot we can do to help others in need.To be honest it actually is fun and feels less like an obligation.

Home farmers and gardeners can help by giving their bumper crops to the local food pantry. So many families need fresh fruit and veggies , especially if they have kids. If you have extra tomatoes or lettuce don;t think twice about donating them. If your fruit tree has more than enough for you, then send the extra over.Do it with family, friends and neighbors for a bigger yield and more variety too.If you;re good at canning and cooking, then send over homemade jam  along with home cooked sauce . These will be greatly appreciated,

If your church or local community pantry allows home made baked goods then definitely bake for them.If you want , make two or three loaves along with your own. Bake large cookies  or even a few batches of muffins or cup cakes. Doing this not only makes you feel good but also hones your baking skills as well. (along with your decorating skills). If you know of a needy child that wants a birthday party, then donate your time and effort to bake a birthday cake .along with festive treats.

Foodies can  conribute and help others in the best way we can - with food. We can nourish the body with healthy fruits and vegetables. We can nourish the soul with that good gesture. We can be open as our gardens and as warm as our ovens,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Soothing Teas

The lazy, hazy days of summer are waning and with it comes the craziness of fall. There's school and clubs along with busy social schedules.Nothing says calm like a soothing cup of tea.Better yet if it's herbal and not full of nerve jangling caffeine.

Some of the best brews are the homemade ones. Ginger tea is not only great for de-stressing but also for any butterflies in the stomach. Take one ginger root and slice off the knobs or the entire root.Slice the last thinly or for a more full bodied tea, cut into chunks. Sweeten with dark honey.Another home grown soother is mint tea. You can use either spearmint or peppermint from the garden. Take a few long stalks and steep them in boiling water for about five  minutes.  This will give you a light green colored drink.Again sweeten with dark honey or agave if you want,

Other herbal teas are just as soothing and you can easily get them at your store.Chamomile is relaxing and good for a nervous stomach. Have a cup or two after a stressful day or even a heavy meal to help with digestion.Rose hip tea  is another good choice .You can get these pods from your back yard rose bush or buy them dried and in bags. They are not only the perfect way to wind down but also are loaded with Vitamin C. Several companies like Bigelow and Celestial Seasonings have herbal mixes .Some help with digestion while others are guaranteed to lull you into drowsiness.

If the new school and social season has got you spinning the it;s time for a soothing cup of herbal tea. make it yourself or use a teabag full of different herbs.Either way it's a great way of calming down and enjoying a tranquil night.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Cronut Craze

Just when you thought the macaron craze was hot, here comes the cronut.This is one of those new pastry hybrids,part doughnut, part croissant. it is not only tasty , it's one of the hottest new treats out there.It;s taking the country and even the world by storm.

New York pastry chef, Domique Ansel, came up with this ingenious idea. He took croissant dough and shaped it like a is fried in grapeseed oil.The original ones are filled with a pastry cream, possibly Chantilly covered in sugar and then glazed.Chef Ansel gives his cronuts different flavors every month, August had coconut , while this month, September  features raspberry.The price is a very steep five dollars per pastry and there is even a pre order list. Other bakeries from Singapore to Berlin have copied Monsieur Ansel''s recipe adding different twists. There is a Little Italy bakery that stuffs them with cannoli filling and decorates them with candied orange and lemon twists/

One of my local bakeries, Janella's of Maywood NJ sells them and , of course,I had to try a couple. They are just as big as Chef Ansel's and have a type of Chantilly creme in the middle  as well as decorating the top. The dough was spongy , reminiscent of a St. Joseph's Day cream puff There was an ample amount of cream too but not that it would squish out all over the place.I liked it.It was tasty, and not as greasy as I thought it would be. I would love to try the one with the cannoli cream. Maybe Janella's will branch out possibly with this or maybe with a dark chocolate filled one.I'm sure Dunkin Donuts will come up with their version soon enough .

Cronuts are here to stay. They are a tasty and different addition to the pastry world. If you haven't then try them. Once eaten,  they will be a must have in your life

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Simple Saturday Dinner

Saturday should be a day  to relax yet it's hard to do, especially now in September.There's soccer games to watch or late summer gardening or a day of  just simple chores to do  . The idea of an elaborate supper to end it is tiring.Cooking is yet another  chore  You can try take out  but that can be greasy and fattening.A better choice is just a simple meal that just consists of very few ingredients.

Sometimes the best suppers are ones with very little thought or choices. Think about getting a baguette and spreading cheese on it.You can get a Boursin or cheddar spread  for those or a nice creamy Brie. .If you don't have bread then use crackers. For more sustenance slice up tomatoes and serve them  sprinkled with salt. You can also just put olive oil and shredded basil leaves on them.Layer this on the sliced bread instead of the  cheese .Another idea is taking thinly sliced ham and putting it with the cheese for a kind of gourmet sandwich.

Salads work well too for a Saturday night meal. Make it heartier with whatever meat you have leftover from the previous week. Sliced cold London Broil works well in a simple green salad.Add some tomatoes and sliced peppers and a quick vinaigrette. You can do the same with chicken or ham , but used a fruit infused vinegar to make the dressing. Doing this will emphasize the meat's flavor. Soup is another easy supper choice. Start with bouillon cubes, tomatoes peppers and precut onions and carrots (you can get this in your store's salad section) then  throw in any kind of bean. Simmer and stir for a few minutes and serve with either crusty bread or crackers.

The best thing about a busy Saturday is winding down with a simple supper. It doesn't have to be elaborate.It does have to be good and that's   easy to do . All it takes is just basic  recipes to create an effortless meal.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Steamy Side of Fish

Everyone loves fish however most prefer it batter dipped and fried. Either that or in a rich sauce that masks the flavor. Yet there is healthier and much more flavorful alternative - steamed. Easting any fish this way is not only good for you but also good for your palate. It gives you the full flavor without all the extra melange of flavors.

It was the subject of Dave Tanis' A City Kitchen in Wednesday's New York Times. He  is a big proponent of steaming. It is , after all better for you,  and also much more easier to cook than any other method. It is also less labor intensive. You can get any sort of fish and treat each the same way. It's dabbed with ginger and flavored with such aromatics  as scallions , minced garlic and cilantro.The pan juices are really the only sauce necessary . It would be good to serve with just rice ans again, steamed veggies.

Using a steamer is pretty easy stuff.Just be wary of it .Steam is hotter than just boiling water and it can create some serious burns.However a steamer  really is a kitchen must have. Any major store like Target or Kohl's has them and they are versatile, Cooking fish in one is one of the simplest methods. You can put the entire herbed fish in it or cut it up into boneless fillets or steaks. Steaming will only take a few minutes to thoroughly cook up.

Steamed fish is a great dinner suggestion.It is the best way to capture the full body of whatever kind you choose.It is also an easy way to prepare it , without any fuss or muss.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Smoking Hot Eggplant

Eggplant can be a hard sell. Some don't like its' oily flavor after it has been fried. Others are turned off by its' bitter aftertaste. Yet, done right eggplant can be addictive. The flesh can be sweet and creamy .Eating it this way  can convert even the most adamant of eggplant haters.

Melissa Clark knows this and explored it in her weekly New York Times Dining column , A Good Appetite yesterday. She has come up with the best recipe for eggplant  a creamy dip.Instead of making it part of the main meal she turns it into an appetizer, right in time for fall get togethers and even tail gating parties.This is not baba ghanoush, she claims, this is different because it doesn;t have the usual tahini added..,She combinesthe eggplant instead with a mellow Greek yogurt and olive oil,  then spices it  with garlic and spikes it  with freshly squeezed lemon juice.She recommends adding more olive oil to the dip as well as crunchy pomegranate seeds and mint for color and flavor.

The secret is how to cook it. Ms. Clark chars the eggplant until  the skin blackens and as she puts it, the flesh collapses in on itself.Use a wood or charcoal fire as opposed to a gas grill or gas oven, Doing such won;t sear it. The skin will turn to ash and the steady long time over the fire helps to slow cook the flesh.This process also allows the meat to absorb the smokey flavor of the skin, giving it a nice rich flavor. Then it's just peeling off the skin and pureeing the flesh until it's smooth. You can use the grill to make homemade pita, chips as Ms CLark did. These are the perfect mate to the dip.

Even the most averse eggplant hater will love this smokey dip. It's rich and creamy without being overpowering.It's a good introduction to eggplant and especially its' earthy ,sweet taste.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Autumn On The New York Food Scene

September in Manhattan means a lof of things It's the start of the opera and ballet season. Serious movies comes out as the stores are chock full of cool weather styles.its; also the season for new restaurants on this glistening island and its' boroughs.There are an entire menu of interesting just opened or will open soon eateries, perfect after a brisk autumn walk.cuisines.

The New York Times Wednesday Dining section is devoted to the restaurant scene, from interviews with chefs to write ups about the city's latest restaurants. There are some good one along with interesting ones being opened. The section also features some of the trends that are hitting New York as well. Trends include the rediscovery of lamb's neck popular at the trendy restaurants  Calliope and - not kidding - Cannibal. Specialty breads will also be making their debuts  and with them flavored butters  in such tastes as chicken and even seaweed.. Desserts will be more spiced and there will definitely be more Philippine and Thai eateries popping up.

The restaurants are varied and interesting in their cuisine. The Queens place. M. Wells Steakhouse is offering the unique bone in burger . This is a chop where the bone is pulled out right before eating. Eric Clapton is trading music for food as he helps his various partners the reopened French eatery Le Bilboquet. If you want fizzy instead of that,  chef Nahid Ahmed will open up 44 Acres where molecular gastronomy will provide diners with interesting takes on everyday ingredients.It'll be situated right next to his already established pub Malt and Mash. A Japanese beer garden will also open up by the name of Ivan Ramen. Macaroon lovers will thrill when Laduree, the famed french bakery from Paris, is expanding into kitchen and into the trendy neighborhood of SoHo. Hopefully they will have hearty cassoulets as well as crouque monsieurs and croque madames for the cold days ahead.

Manhattan becomes a magical city in the fall. Look to new food ideas and restaurants to add to that sparkle. It'll be a foodie's paradise when the leaves fall  and a nip comes into the air.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Keep That Summer Menu

It may be the start of the school year and the football season but it's still summer on the calendar. The weather is still hot and it's almost impossible to use an oven for baking or roasting.You can stick to easy dishes that are both cool and filling.

Don't put away the grill just yet. You have more than a month to make your faves.In fact you can even have your own back yard tail gate party. If you want, start taking advantage of the first apple harvests and make a  fruit chutney . This would go well with pork chops or even pork burgers.Treat the kids and their friends to burgers and hot dogs ,  especially after a grueling first week of school or after the first big game. There's still time to make all those salads too, like homemade macaroni, potato and cole slaw. Don;t think about making any elaborate veggie dishes either. Use the last of your garden harvest for grilling them with some olive oil and freshly picked rosemary.

Even though the kids would like fresh baked cookies and cupcakes for an after school snack or dessert, again convince  them that cool is better. They can still have their favorite snaps or chocolate chip cookies  but turn them into sandwiches. Have them roll these treats in sprinkles nuts or chocolate chips for added fun. You can also make all natural Popsicles or try frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. For a nice weekday dessert, think about an icebox cake or an ice cream pie which is easy to make. Take a ready made crust, then just add your favorite ice cream and top with fruit,, hot fudge, caramels and whipped cream.It's a nice tasty end that doesnt require a lot of work or a hot oven

Just because it's after Labor Day you have to put away the grill and all those yummy summer foods. The season has a few more weeks and with it , hot days. Don't start in on all those heavy fall foods. Keep it summery and light.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor And Food

As anyone knows it takes a lot of human and even animal labor to put food on our tables. Think of this as you either spend part of the dya grilling food shopping or just going for fries and a Coke.For those serving you if you can give them a tip, make it a lot more generous. Thank or think of those that toiled the fields , baked your bread and cooked your food. Take time to thank the busboys as well as those check out cashiers at your stores. Think of the farmers and migrant workers who picked your fruit and veggies and had to undergo a lot so you can have that plum or tomato

The food industry is a tough and hard one at times. On this Labor Day, consider this. It'll help in dealing with any late delivered meal or long line.