Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Holiday Jewels Of The Table

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

After The Holiday

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving From The Pantry

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The NY Times Second Thanksgiving Issue

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgivukkah A Rare Feast

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Easier Holiday Route

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

For Your Litle Chefs Picture Cook

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicks Who Brew

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Your Thanksgiving Guide

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tofutti's Pizza Treats

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cider The Perfect Fall Drink

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Swimming In Seaweed

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Whole Wheat Treats

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Risotto Cakes A Spin On The Classic

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

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

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sriracha Madness

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Turkey ABCs

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Food Network At Twenty

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hale and Healthy Hot Meals

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hot And Herbal Natural Teas

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Po Boy Guide

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time For Spaetzle

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chefs Gone Wild

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Elegance of Petit Fours

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Junior's Home Cooking At Your House

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cold Weather Charity

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Time For Chestnuts

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

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

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

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