Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Healthiest Time To Eat

Warm weather brings a multitude of great things.Days that stretch well into the evening hours! Sunny afternoons spend on a sandy beach.Gardens rife with multicolored blooms.One of the best aspects is healthier eating.The summer brings about some of the best harvests of the year.Enjoy this the most because it's so beneficial. Warm ,sun filled days give us sweet ,wholesome berries.Start buying or go to the farms to pick them yourself.Strawberries and blueberries abound as do the first wave of raspberries( this last actually has two harvest seasons, one now and the second in September, early October)"Use these as sweeteners in cereals and oatmeal as well as in teas , and ades .They can be pulverized and turned into a syrup.You can add a bit of dark honey of you want them a bit more palatable.Later on in the season you can enjoy peaches and plums. Instead of relying on ice cream or frozen yogurt for cooling treat, think about one of them, chilled nicely in the fridge.Any fruit goes well in a salad and even adds another layer of texture and flavor. Another idea is making fresh fruit chutneys or salsas to be served with whole wheat tortilla chips. Just as the season brings about many fruits, it also showers us with veggies and tons of them.Tomatoes are the most planted and the most eaten.Nothing beats a fresh picked, sun warmed one dusted with the tiniest pinch of seasalt. Tomatoes are also versatile.They are great in a raw primavera sauce or just being a part of a kabob.Think about tomato pan bagna , a Provencale sandwich that features olive oil drenched tomatoes and sliced raw onion on a whole wheat baguette.The entire sandwich is Saran wrapped and compressed under heavy bricks so that the bread sops up the juices and oils.Green peppers are another warm weather must eat.These are good sliced raw or stuffed with lean beef and chopped mushrooms.As the season becomes summer , eggplant will be ready to be picked. Make the heart healthy and drool worthy dish ratatouille.This mélange of it along with onions and tomatoes is one of the tastiest summer dishes.It can be the centerpiece of any outdoor gathering or just a simple weekend supper. This is the season to start eating right.Take advantage of nature's bounty and change your diet.It's Mother Nature's way of gently pushing us to a better lifestyle.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Rainbow Of Spices

Indian food is a variety of so many different colors and tastes.It reflects this mysterious, ancient country with it's exotics recipes and amazing ingredients.It is also a fun cuisine to cook,from it's" appetizers to desserts. There's a new cookbook put there showcasing these, and they are the perfect dishes to welcome in the summer. The cookbook is Spices And Seasons,Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors (Hippocrene Books,New York)written by Rinku Bhattacharya.This is her second book and she has written for newspapers and appeared on television.I love this book, not just because I love Indian food but because Ms. Bhattacharya also explains and show how to make your own arsenal of Indian spices.These are vital in creating the right flavor and can be made for a few pennies.Not only that she lists the health benefits of them as well. Another plus is that she uses farm fresh vegetables from the far den.With spices, such as turmeric and cardamon ,mixed with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants she creates dishes that are not only flavorful but also better than any tonic or medicine.These recipes are also the direct opposite of Indian take out which is usually sodden with cream and butter.Most of her recipes don't have these, opting for a tiny bit of ghee or clarified butter.Even the dessert recipes such as the Ginger and cardamon cookies and the frozen treat, raspberry mufti are far from being rich. The other recipes are drool worthy.This is not all curry, although there are recipes for it.There is also chutney ones and many focus on dal, the creamy lentil dish that's made a variety of ways.You could try lentils with cabbage or slow simmered for a tasty dinner.Ms. Bhattacharya includes some great recipes for these warm days.Tofu is put on skewers with tomatoes and onions.There's a long list of salads to choose from ,such as a black ,bean corn and stone fruit one and an essential Indian one that have cucumbers and tomatoes drenched in spices and dusted with crushed peanuts.Eggplants and potatoes are curried with tomatoes to create a light summer dinner.There recipes for winter too,fiery pilafs that contain chickpeas and mushrooms.Another is a chicken orzo spiced one ,fragrant with cinnamon, cardamon and saffron.A different kind of holiday dish is the Surprise The Guests Pink Chicken Biryani, chicken cooked with a tomato rich tika sauce. Breads are a must at an Indian table and there are several recipes to choose from naan to parathas.There's even a version of crostini which is perfect for dipping into the curries or dal's. Spices And Seasons, Simple , Sustainable Indian Flavors, is a great cookbook for any Indian food lover like myself. it also is a great book for a home chef wanting to try cooking of the Subcontinent too. The recipes are flavorful and healthy, a perfect combination for modern eating.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Waking Up Brunch

Sometimes brunch can be a sleepy affair.It's the same old omelets, French toast and eggs Benedict.Once in a while a delicate salad or quiche is thrown into spike it up a little.Yet it still remains the same - a sedate meal for both the mind and the palate.However it's time to give this weekend tradition a well deserved jolt. Melissa Clark got the chance to do this and garner some interesting recipes from some of Manhattan's best chefs.New York City is notorious for its brunches . In fact the town probably invented them but as with every meal ,dishes can become boring .Chefs stuck on the shift resentfully whip up the same over used recipes.Luckily that's all changing.Cooks are tapping into their creative vein and inventing new recipes that are sure to be favorites.The ingredients are all the same, eggs,bread, and sausages along with fruit but they're being reconstructed. Instead of a frittata, eggs are now being whipped into a silky terrine ,more like a savory bread pudding.The reasonably priced restaurant El Rey Coffee Bar and Luncheonette. Chef April Bloomfield will still serve a variety of egg dishes at her place, the Breslin. She gives brunch goers, eggs poached with curried lentils and and yogurt or fried with cotechino sausage and beans.There are even baked eggs, flavored with tomato and chorizo. These new dishes will bring in new diners too,looking for something different as well as keeping regulars happy.For most restaurants brunch is the most lucrative meal of the week.Many who can't afford the restaurants dinners will usually try the cheaper Sunday brunch menu.Brunch is also cost effective too.It has given rise to nose to tail cooking.Every part of the animal is used in these new recipes. At the famed Hearth restaurant, the chef serves a slab of pork blade steak, that works well with breakfast menu but not with a lunch or dinner one.Also fruits and vegetables never go to waste.Danny Amend of the Brooklyn hotspot Marco's reconfigured grapefruit slices as a savory salad,drizzled with olive oil and seasalt,served with chorizo sausages.The fruit would maybe be used as decoration otherwise and in this recipe, the entire fruit is being used.As for the booze that always accompanies brunch,that too has been reconfigured.The new star of the city cooking scene,Wylie Dufresne serves popcorn seasoned with Bloody Mary spices, such as Tabasco at his restaurant, Alders. Brunch is no longer a snooze affair in New York restaurants.New recipes are waking up brunch lovers. It's eggs and sausage but with a spark .

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nouvelle Jewish Cuisine

Can traditional dishes and ingredients be turned into haute cuisine?Yes,.and it's happening with the richly historical Jewish cuisine.Foods that great grandparents brought from Eastern Europe are now being reconstructed into artesenal dishes .They may be all fancied up but their core remains the same : homey ingredients being made into earthy, flavorful main meals and desserts. It was explored in today's New York Times Dining section.Dining regular ,Julia Moskin, wrote about this as she also visited some famous New York Jewish delis.Many young cooks are embracing schmaltz and liver ,turning them into hipsters must haves.Gefilte fish restaurants along with bagel shops ,are becoming on trend again. Yet these are not your great granddad's white fish and bagels.The fish is being made into chowder while the bagel makers are employing traditional baking methods to produce artesenal products.The results are delicious foods that embrace past centuries of Jewish cuisines.Smoked whitefish ,a staple in many homes ,is now being paired with creme fraiche and capers in a salad.Trout is also added to it ,to giving the variation of a chill. Salade Nicoise more oomph.Bagels are being and rolled and boiled before baking, giving us a crunchier, much more flavorful bagel.Onion ones have chopped onions as well as scallions put into the dough as opposed to having them sprinkled on the roll's surface. This renewed interest in Kosher cuisine is actually saving some dishes such as babka and borscht from extinction first.Babka, a sweet chocolate laced bread , is being reconfigured into bread pudding.A new generation is starting to appreciate it's, rich cocoa flavor and density.All beef hot-dogs and pastrami are also getting a revival as well.With this, comes a renewed interest in famed family owned eateries.The very well known Russ And Daughters is popular again .The restaurant is now owned by the fourth generation of the family.Where Joel Russ first had his pushcart of smoked herring, his great grandkids, John Russ Tepper and Niki Russ Federmanare running the deli he built there in 1904. Homemade soda, a hallmark of any Jewish restaurant, is remade into a ginger soda with hints of lemon and lime.Matzoh is roasted with butter and salt for a crackly yet creamy treat.Jewish bakeries are also cropping up again and with them comes sinful butter cookies and strudel,yeast raised coffee cakes and sour breads.Pumpernickel bread is being baked in the traditional method , first wrapped in a thin layer of dough before hitting the oven. The cuisine of the Eastern European Jews has always been a rich and flavorful one. Thanks to some clever modern twists it's also trendy too. Foods once long forgotten or simply ignored are finding their way back to tables. they represent both the past and future of Kosher cooking and baking.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mommy 's Foods, Baby's Poisons

Who knew honey is pure poison to babies under one year? This writer didn't and I was shocked that food in some cases could be poisonous. We know about peanuts but there are some other surprises that are hard to swallow, literally.It seems one man's treat could be another's poison, deadlier than even hemlock. As far as honey , it is true poison to children less than a year old.It creates infant botulism , a type of stomach complaint that is different from the botulism adults get from canned food, namely mushrooms.This is when a baby swallows the spores that are within the sweetener.They then activate in the gut and produce botulinum toxin.The child loses muscle tone ,allowing with having a problem swallowing.Even when honey is used mixed with other ingredients, it is still not safe.Wait until your child is about eighteen months before introducing him or her to honey. Sadly enough dark corn syrup falls into this category too.Light corn syrup is fine however and can even be used as a laxative for constipated infants. Surprisingly there are several other foods that are also not baby friendly.Low fat or skim milk is one of them.While giving this to an older child is fine, feeding it to any of the diaper set is a taboo.Babies need as much fat as allowed.Whole milk provides this.It also has the nutrients need for bone and brain growth.Foods dangerous to a child's trachea are problem.Well meaning godparents and grandparents along with lackadaisical baby sitters may think it's cute or OK to give the little one pretzel nuggets or Crackerjack but these are dangerous. Even adults could choke on them.Sub in healthy treats like apple or pear slices or zwieback.Remember that soft sticky foods like marshmallows and gummy bears are also dangers too. Little ones could get these lodged in their throats too. Keep these well out of reach if you have them for your older kids. What works for Mommy may not work for baby. keep this in mind if you're expecting a little foodie to be or you're just babysitting.Those little bellies are developing. treat them with the utmost care.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Remember Our Troops

With Memorial Day today we think about soldiers and wars past.Unfortunately there are still conflicts and still soldiers and their families who need a good meal along with a good ear for listening. We have to honor them now while we can, whether through small or large gestures. If you know a service man or woman, invite them over while they're on leave or just returned from a tour of duty. Cook and bake their favorites. They'll appreciate both the food and the company.Offer to take a newly returned vet 's children for the night so that the vet and spouse can have a romantic dinner alone.Gift them with gift cards to their favorite restaurants. Some communities do have place for veterans of all ages to hang out. Volunteer at them by either cooking or even holding classes on nutrition. You could also ask your local VA hospital if you could help out and treat the elderly servicemen to fresh produce either from your yard or the local farmer's market. Hopefully this will be the century that will not see any more conflict.Right now though we should be focusing on our newly returned vets.Repay them with good nutritious food and a good solid support.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rib Ticklers

Barbecue happiness is a tasty rack of ribs slathered with a tangy sauce or fiery rub.Dogs and burgers can't compete with them.Done right ,they're almost as soft as butter and just as flavorful as any roast.Many home chefs are intimidated by grilling ribs.Yet they're pretty easy to work with and they require little tending while on the grill. The first step is deciding what kind of rib you want for your barbecue.Pork is the tastier of the two but it comes with warnings.Any pork cut has to be cooked thoroughly ,Eaters can wind up with trichinosis or even swine flu surprisingly.Despite this, pork ribs are still popular and many home barbecuers would get them before buying the beef ones.If planning a barbecue, figure five to six ribs per person.Beef ribs are the bigger of the two and a person can probably finish off two at a dinner.These kinds of ribs do require more work.The cuts have a thin ,gummy,membrane that has to be pulled away.You can do this ,by simply inserting a knife point or even a screwdriver between the meat and the membrane.A butcher can do this as well. It will make for a more tender, juicier rib.Beef ribs also have more calories and more grams of fat.If you're having a big party , it"s more cost effective to have the pork ones.Beef ribs are great for a small barbecue with just family and a few friends. Either one can be slathered with sauce or rubbed with a spicy jerk.You can buy both or make them on your own.One of the best sauces is made with Dr. Pepper.The soda is a fun summer drink on it's own however also is great blended into a homemade sauce.One recipe calls for the drink to be mixed with orange juice ,honey, cider vinegar and cayenne pepper.If this is a bit too sweet, then go with a traditional sauce.!Most of them do contain sugar however notvas much as the Dr.Pepper one.Most contain a good amount of ketchup and cider vinegar.Liquid smoke is often added for an even smokier flavor. Finely minced and onion are also added.If you want a more teriyaki styled one, then use a mix of saki, soy sauce and cut scallions.A dry rub is another good way to infuse flavor.Most rubs give a nod to the Jamaican jerks.These are super spicy ,packed with chili powder ,and two or three kinds of ground peppercorns.Most ribs have some brown sugar added and this works well on both pork and beef.As for cooking both , use wood chips and not charcoal briqueetes.Try either apple, hickory or pecan for more flavor. Ribs are the ideal barbecue meat. Prepped and cooked right, they are pure heaven.This is the best of the grill,get them and enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day Ades

With the first official weekend of summer unfolding, it's time to make refreshing and zesty fruit ades. A cold homemade drink is the perfect treat after grueling lawn work or just for a lazy Sunday in the chaise lounge.Best of all they're easy to make. there's no extra sweat. Lemonade practically screams summer.It is one of the simplest drinks to make! It also allows for variety to the recipes as well.A basic lemonade recipe calls for six or seven lemons , along with a cup of granulated sugar and six cups cold water.For juicing you can you the lemon juicer attachment on your juicer to get as much liquid as you can.Another method for complete extraction is zapping your lemons for ten seconds in the microwave.The process breaks down the pulp ,giving more for a fuller richer ade.If you're not happy using all that refined sugar try coconut water or even honey. If you opt for the second you can emulsify the mix for thirty seconds in a b Enders.You can also use monk fruit sugar or stevia.Start out with three or four packets and add more if the ade is too tart. You can also make the fun pink lemonade by adding strawberries.For a naughty adult version add beer to create a shandy or vodka for a thirst quencher with kick. Lime ade is another warm weather cooler. The simplest recipe is six to seven ones ,some grated lemon zest , a scant cup of granulated sugar and three cups of water?Use Persian limes which are bigger( think lemon size)and are much easier to squeeze than the regular key limes.However if your grocery doesn't carry them ,then use the smaller ones but double the amount(twelve or thirteen will do it). Again use the microwave or juicer for obtaining the most juice. You can add natural sweeteners too. A lesser known but just as invigorating is peach ade.This requires a bit more work than the other too.Put three large peaches including their skins with a third of a cup of both lemon juice and granulated sugar and purée in a blender.Also add a cup of orange juice,blend and serve in tall glasses over cracked ice.Raspberries can also be made into a tasty summer drink.Use three cups of raspberry cooked into purée with a cup of sugar. mix well with three to four cups of water and serve chilled. Nothing beats a frosty home made drink on a warm day. It's a great way to cool down and relax. m Make a pitcher today, kick off the flip-flops and just chill .

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pub Grub Renaissance

American bar food has always been either salty , greasy or both.However there is a sea change happening.Those nibbles guaranteed to make patrons drink more,now make them want to eat more.They are little plates of gourmet treats and innovative snacks. Customers may head in wanting a drink but upon seeing these snacks, may just rather nosh instead. Jeff Gordonier explored this in his article in yesterday's New York Times Di ing section.Tasty bar food is nothing new. new.The jApanese have izakayas, Spain has it's famed tapas and even England has it's gastro pubs.Americans bars are picking up on this trend now as well.The gourmet plates do bring in customers who are looking for more than a simple beer or wine cooler.They also bring in revenu.Bar food is no longer gratis .There has to be a fee because of the ingredients and labor involved in making them.Some are only $12 to $15 a small plate such spiced nuts.The lounge at Manhattan's famed Bernardin offers the ultra luxe $45 for croque Monsiuers brimming with caviar.Bar food usually reflects the restaurants ethnic slant .A hungry bar hopper can literally go on a global bar food tour in New York City. Norwegian hangouts Aquavit and Torst feature snacks with a Scandinavian slant while Spanish restaurants such as La Vara or El Cornado feature Iberian tapas.If you want to savor pub grub head to Shakespeare or if you want Korean,then Hanjan.Sampling a restaurants bar menus os actually an ingenious idea.It shows how good the food is and creates a pull to come back and try the lunch and dinner menus. One restaurant is completely devoted to bar snacks.It's owner ,the innovative and soon to be culinary superstar,Wylie Dufresne serves snacky plates of chicken wings dusted with a powder that tastes like Caesar salad dressing and onion rings that pay an homage to French onion soup.Other chefs such as Mark Forgione ,with a restaurant of the same name has found a way to use up his potato peelings.They are converted into long, spiral versions of potato chips.These come with a super sized bowl of smoked onion remoulade.Variations of deviled eggs are popping up too .They have twists such as a sprinkle of chicharron and jalapenos. There are also takes on chicken and waffles ,hotdogs and subs. Pub grub has now gone beyond the usual nuts and pretzels.Chefs are recreating tasty snacks that do more than just bring on thirst.They awaken the taste buds,and create a tasty companion to great cocktails,beers and wines.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cool Drinks For Hot Days

Steamy weather calls for ice cold drinks.Nothing beats a fruity, flavorful libation, savored slowly as the summer sun sets.Stick with classic cocktails or try something new.As long as it chills you beat the heat, that's all that matters. Summer drink season was definitely on the minds of the editors at the Wednesday Dining section of The New York Times.The issue is dedicated almost entirely to all sorts of tasty liquid treats.Contributors from Rosie Schaap to Florence Fabricant and The Pour"s Eric Asimov guide readers through the easy alleyways of warm weather cocktails and aperitifs.Rosie Schaap has a whole liquor cabinet of fun to make drinks.There is a rule however if there are more than three ingredients ,then save the drink for fall.A true hot weather drink should be easy to make and uncomplicated in flavor.She suggests tequila and watermelon.Watermelon is the epitome of summer fruit and together Is a great party drink.The fruit is pureed and then added to an ice filled glass.After it the liquor along with a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lime.A pin a colada, that perennial poolside libation, is also included.This is simple concoction .Golden rum and pineapple juice along with Coco Lopez is blended together to create heaven.If you want to be truly decadent ,add whipped cream and pineapple slices to this. Summer drinking also means festive punches and sophisticated wines.Maria Newman contributes a trio of punches,suitable for any grown up soirée.What makes a good warm weather punch? According to the author of the book! Punch David Woodrich ,it's fruit, spice and spirits like rum, gin and even white wine.The recipes included are easy to follow and don't call for wild ingredients.For a Sunday shower or birthday party try the delightfully refreshing and aptly named Brunch Punch.This is a heavy dose of grapefruit juice mixed with vermouth,Campari, and gin.Florence Fabricant adds to the issue with her maraschino based drinks.Summer would be nothing without a chilled glass of wine.Eric Asimov gives some excellent suggestions such as Italian .French and Spanish sparklers.Try the star of Spain"s Basque region,Txakolina or Northern Italy's fruity Lambruscos.For sheer summery sophistication ,chill a bottle of Beaujolais from surise, surprise, the trendy East End of Long Island. Summer is a time of easy living and fun, relaxing drinks.Chill bottle of wine or create a tasty cocktail and sit back.Enjoy the sunset or pool with a glass of something marvelous and coo Ing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dining For One

everyone has this notion that eating alone cam be boring and sad.Yet what could be better than creating fun meals for yourself or trying out a new recipe or cuisine.You can make a dish without any scrunched noses or rolled eyes Making a luxurious breakfast for one seems too much or too decadent yet it's a great way of just treating yourself to a nice start to the day?Try eggs Benedict. you could sub in a a croissant for anEnglish muffin or buy a two pack of them.HOllandaise sauce is easy to make if you just get a packet.Another lush idea is a croissant smothered with rich jam ,such as the ones from Bon Maman.Lunches for one can also be fun.This is thectime to try new sandwiches.Try a cheddar and ham Croque Monsieur or a Dagwood loaded with a variety of meats.,cheeses and relishes.If you want healthy then make yourself a healthy green tossed one with bean sprouts, sunflower seeds and all sorts of organic veggies.Since this is your dish,add whatever you like as well as experimenting with new ingredients?Toss in a few pearl onions or crumble goat cheese onto the top. Dinner for one can be a heady ride into the culinary unknown.TRy a new cooking method. If you've been frying everything ,stop.Do a healthier sauté instead.Add a splash of brandy or wine to liven up a steak or chicken breast.Cook with sea salt instead of regular sa,t.Anothervidea is trying home grown for one. think home mashed potatoes or turnips.You can also try different pasta sauces or pastas themselves.Experiment with new ingredients to come up with fun sauces.Make a pepper sauce instead of one using tomatoes.Try a roasted garlic one over meat or spinach ravioli.Desserts can also be fun hot fudge sauce is easy to whip up and you can add a tablespoon of cognac or chocolate liquor to jazz it up.Melt caramel and toss in apple slices,or make a caramel baked apple for one.You could also make a Banana Foster ,an easy mix of butter and brown sugar over bananas. Eating for one can be adventuresome and delicious.There's no shame in eating for one.It's a great time to try something fun and new.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Real Chocolate Bar

Where can you get any kind of chocolate,from hot and whipped to heavenly cocoa filled croissants to to a river of molten dark liquid cacao? At Max Brenners ,across between a confectioner's and an updated chocolate house.Just walking into the dessert shop/ chocolatiers is pure heaven.The air is filled with the sweet, seductive smell of chocolate.Free samples abound and it's hard not to hate this place.It's hard not to leave too.There's a plethora of and dipped and handmade treats. The bonbons are in almost every flavor chocolate can marry.Hot Mexican peppers are added to bite size melt aways, a nod to chocolate's Mayan heritage. There are sea salt and lavender.Go and savor their crunchy sweet chocolate candy that's completely addictive.Max Brenner also sells home made marsh mallows ,macaroons along with croissants and cookies , all perfect with a steamy hot cocoa. speaking of which the hot cococa is truly one of the best tasted.I ordered mine with marshmallows ,but there is a plain one along with a spiced Mexican version and an Italian panna cotta influenced one.Mine camevwith a double head of mini marshmallows. Also get a shot of eresso with syrup, however that's more of an afternoon pick me up.They also have sweet waffles with a variety of toppings.For a real treat try, Max 's Brenner's chocolate fondue a fun way to spend an afternoon.Also every order is served with a carton of milk chocolate for drinking.How yummy os that? Max Brenner's is where chocoholics come to die.Every kind of chocolate or chocolate infused treat is there.Go visit one in your neighborhood for the ultimate cocoa famtasy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Maryland Cuisine ,From Surf To Turf

Maryland is a state that offers all sorts of vatieties.There is the sleek cosmopolitan feel of Baltimore, the romantic, historic feel of the Chesapeake Bay area, the laid back, summer fun of Ocean City.The cuisine of the Old Line State is just as diverse.There are so many dishes from the land and sea,making for a rich ,exciting buffet of tasty dishes. It's no great wonder that Chesapeake mean bay of shellfish in Algonquin. The Chesapeake has always been known for it's delectable crab dishes.Blue crab abound in the many inlets.Of course the most famous dish involving the shredded crab along with the famed Old Bay seasoning, a mix of celery salt ,black and red peppers,cardamon, mustard and clove.It's actually an easy recipe ,with the addition of eggs and breadcrumbs..Blue crabs can be also served breaded and fried while still in their shells. The state is also known for soup and salad featuring the marine animal..However crabs aren't the only stars of Maryland cuisine.Oysters figure prominently as well.Many seafood restaurants pride themselves on their deep fried oyster fritters along with a savory oyster pie made with them as well as a variety of vegetables..Meats play an important part of the state culinary history.There is Maryland style pit beef which is a brisket cooked in a below ground pit or hole.Vinegar is added as the only flavoring .It's sliced thin and served on a roll with horseradish ,sliced raw onion and mayo.Since Maryland is really a Southern state there are also ham and biscuits.The ham is corned and stuffed with kale,cabbage and onions while the biscuits are made with a dough that's been mallet beaten for twenty to thirty minutes. The state is also known for some famous desserts.Many think of Lord and Lady Baltimore cakes,because of their names. Lady Baltimore actually originated in turn of the Twentieth, Century Baltimore and evolved from the lady cakes of the day.What is more reflective is the Smith Island Cake.This was brought from England when the state was a colony.It is a ten layer vanilla cake with chocolate icing.The size and richness suited the hearty appetites of the fishermen from the area.Peaches are in another popular state recipe,a peach pot pie,full of the ripe fruit,brown sugar and Madeira wine.A less decadent is the Dover cake a simple pound cake,flavored with nutmeg and rose brandy.Huckleberry pudding is also a nice end, which is a flour based pudding loaded with the sweet berries.Most of the desserts represent Maryland's rich English and Colonial heritage and many of the desserts could be straight out of a Jane Austen novel. Maryland is a state full of diversity.There's the sophisticated city of Baltimore for elegant dining and desserts and the bay and ocean front towns, with tasty seafood and hearty cakes.Each dish shows the many facets of this state ,ripe with history and nature.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Gourmet Foraging

Your local woodlands could become the next supermarket.There are many different kinds of edible, fungi, flowers and even weeds that can be made into both hot and cold dishes.What you may consider a pest or decoration could be an invaluable ingredient.Be on the lookout for these greens.They will definitely add to your table. Melissa Clark of The New York Times Dining section decided to try some of these wild gems,first using sorrel as a fresh alternative to garlic in a sauce for scallops.She grew them on her deck but you can find them in the wild as well.These are tart and pungent, sort of like scallions. However sorrel can be used both as an herb and a veggie.Try it to add color and bite.It works well in a salad too.Ms Clark suggests first trying it with bitter radicchio and arugula for an eye opening combo.It can also be the main ingredient in a salmon sauce.If you want something milder then try basswood leaves.These are actually leaves from the tree of the same name that grow surprisingly and abundantly in many urban areas.The basswood leaves are best eaten raw because they shrink so much during cooking.You can use them in salads but also in place of lettuce on sandwiches.The flavor is very sweet and would be good in a Waldorf or grilled chicken salad. Many people opt for dandelions this time of year.These can be made a variety of ways.The flowers can be dipped in batter and fried while the leaves can be made into salads or omelets.Remember that they make a good substitute for any dish calling for spinach.Wild mustard is another forager's dream.It can be used in place of any of the cabbages since it's part of the brassica family..The one problem is that they can be very buggy.Wash them carefully and then rinse extensively..Some home chefs soak them in soapy water for a good half hour to remove everything. Blanche them to remove the initial bitter taste and serve with butter You could also use them in a mushroom tart for color and flavor or fried with potatoes for a forager's version of the English classic bubble and squeak. Your woods are a veritable grocery store during this time of year.Go out into them and huntvdown some delicious greens.Try a salad or side dish with them and enjoy their fresh ,woodsy flavor.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Red Velvet Overload?

Like fashion and technology food has trends.Foodie's and even gourmets go mad for the latest tidbit.This is happening with red velvet cake.Has it peaked? Are we ready to move on to something new or fall back on good old chocolate and vanilla? It was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Kim Severson questioned and researched this.Red velvet cake is a Southern specialty,originally made by adding vinegar to scratch chocolate cake.Even this theory is debatable.Velvet cakes came about in the 1800s.Almond flour, cocoa or cornstarch were added to soften the protein in flour and make finer crumbed cakes also known as velvets.This led to mahogany cake which is a blended batter of buttermilk, vinegar and cocoa.It also is the recipe for devils food cake.Adding the highly acidic and volatile vinegar could be the reason for the brownish red color.However it could also come from the added brown sugar once called red sugar.Another is that it also is just a chocolate cake with red food coloring added.Many believe that cake mix magnate John Adams and his wife ,Betty, created it for mass consumption in the Forties trying the cake at the famed Waldorf Astoria in New York City.After September 11th, people wanted comfort food and childhood favorites to deal with the sadness and fear .Red velvet cake filled that need and then it and it's, variations,from Pop Tarts to even fried chicken coating proliferated. Ms. Severson includes two recipes.One involves using red beets for the coloring.The other calls for two tablespoons of red food coloring.To be honest I would go with the more natural recipe.The beets are pureed and add more nutrients to a decadent recipe.If you want icing , go for a light fluffy one.The first one with the article is called ermine icing, a buttercream that has a white roux as a base.It requires some cooking, namely heating up the milk and flour together on a saucepan.It has to cool overnight and have a Saran wrap covering to prevent a skin from forming.You could make the ubiquitous cream cheese one that all red velvets had.This came about from the carrot cake craze of the 1970,s.One is also included and is easier to make than the ermine one.The cake can also be just dusted with plain confectioner's sugar.This is a nice way of letting the deep ,rich chocolate flavors shine through.You could also serve it plain with a homemade cream cheese ice cream( check the Web for the recipe). Red velvet cake is classic ,as well as being a trend.Hiptsers and foodie's may become tired of it but it will still be around.Enjoy it, not for that reason.Enjoy it because it is a delicious chocolate cake, perfect for dessert,even better for a snack.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Make The Perfect Steak

Every steak lover wants the steakhouse version of their favorite meat - even at home.They are usually disappointed however and wonder why their cut is does not have a oozy pink interior and seared brown crust.However that's about to change.Anyone can create the perfect steak.It simply takes a pan, some salt and the right cut of beef. Julia Moskin has solved this in her extensive article in Wednesday's Dining section in today's issue of The New York Times.Even she ,with her experience and know how, had trouble creating the perfect steak.Later with advice and experimentation ,she gave her family a dish worth of any Manhattan chop house.The first step is getting advice from a butcher and a second or third generation one at that too.They know meat and what cuts work .Suggestions are looking for a cut that is marbled, that is laced with creamy veins of fat.Try to buy the USDA Prime.The types to look for are a New York or Kansas City strip.You could also buy flat iron,chuck and boneless rib eye.You could also try skirt ,flank and hanger,They will be naturally chewier than the other cuts but tender when sliced with the meat's grain.Another component in creating the perfect steak is having the perfect pan.Always use a cast iron one.It has depth and is perfect for quick pan frying. The last component in creating a mouth watering steak is the preparation.Raw steaks should be patted dry with paper towels.Afterwards line a plate with more paper towels.Place meat on top of them to dry further.Now place a heavy skillet on a medium flame, lightly sprinkling table salt (not sea) on the pan's surface.Resist the urge to add butter or olive oil.Doing this won't add to the meat's flavor or improve the cooking.By now your skillet should be smoking hot .Cook steak till sizzling for one minute.Using tongs, flip it over , moving it around the pan so both sides are evenly salted.Keep cooking and flipping every thirty seconds.NOw is the time to add an extra pinch of salt along with pepper.Stop cooking when the meat has contracted in size and has developed a nice brown crust.The meat's texture should be springy not mushy.You can insert a meat thermometer if you want.Now transfer the steak to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil for five extra minutes.You can serve the cuts in thickly sliced pieces or whole.Remember when slicing to cut away from you body.If you have a flank steak cut with the grain. Surprisigly it doesn't take much to create a perfect chop house steak. You just need only two or three ingredient,starting with right cut of meat.If you have that then you've on the path to creating a memorable steak dinner.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chengdu China's Gastronomy Treasure

when you hear about the center of gastronomy you would normally think of Italy or France.Yet there's another capital, and it's Chengdu in the Szechuan region of central China.The best food in China, and perhaps Asia , is found there.The area famous for it's fiery peppercorns' is also known it's variety of gourmet dishes both hot and mild.Eating in Chengdu is like dining in Lyons or Milan.The food is amazing with interesting fillips and dashes. Chengdu is located smack in the center of China's most central Provence.Szechuan cooking hit the US almost forty years ago,adding zest to the Americanized versions of Mandarin and Cantonese cooking.Fire and heat came into fashion and Americans were now buying woks and cookbooks,imitating the spicy dishes .UNESCO declared it the city of gastronomy in 2011. Townspeople brag about it and rave about the dishes.Typical Szechuan cuisine can be most spicy and sweet.Tea smoked duck is a mild ,and addictively sweet dish made up the foul smoked over tea leaves and camphor twigs.It's an elaborate process that involves rubbing the body inside and out with camphor leaves,Sichuan peppers, Chinese rice wine.After this, it 's quickly blanched in hot water to tighten the skin and both towel and air dried..It's then smoked in a wok, with black tea leaves and deep fried to a mouth watering crispiness.Another drool worthy dish Kung pao chicken is also from there.It's a spicy stir fry that has chicken mixed with peanuts and chopped chili peppers.However the most important ingredient are the fiery Szechuan peppercorns that give it it's tongue numbing hotness. Chengdu also has garlicky dishes featuring all sorts of meats and veggies.Hot pot is a favorite and made by every family.It has meat ,along with leafy vegetables and dumplings.Fish and mushrooms are sometimes added as well.A dipping sauce is also served for the solid ingredients .Hot pot is more of a winter dish and the recipe varies from family to family.Twice cooked pork is another treat involving pork bellies.It involves a long cooking process where the pork bellies are first simmered with spices and jujubes.This last is not the famed movie candy but a Chinese date of the same name.It is then wok fried in a small amount of oil with napa or celery, cabbage, bell peppers or scallions.To add to this fieriness is water cooked meat and veggies.It's a kind of boiled dish and then fried with oil and peppers along with dried chilis. To some food snobs France and Italy are the gastronomic centers of the world. Yet there is also another famed area,Chengdu,China.It has given the world interesting and mouth watering dishes, worthy of any picky food critic.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Belgian Cuisine A True Variety

Belgian cuisine is often overlooked.It's not as suave and sophisticated as French or as internationally known as Italian or German.However it has provided the world with two favorite dishes as well as a cornucopia of land and sea dishes.It employs almost every ingredient from both bounties. What's the favorite standby that Beligans have given the world?There's actually two ,the French fry and the waffle.Fries have been made since the potato's introduction to Europe.They were first written about in 1680 and they originated around the area of the Meuse River in the central part of the country ( at this point Belgium didn't exist.It was a manufactured country thanks to the Napoleonic Wars).They are served in a cone ,with a side of mayo, or curry ketchup, or both.They're sometimes served with a frikandel ,a minced meat hot dog and recent addition to Belgian street fare.Waffles ,another world beloved treat,that comes from the Dutch or Fleming side of the country.Americans were first introduced to them at the Seattle World's Fair of 1962 and the New York World's Fair of 1964.They are a waffle served with whipped cream and strawberries but can also be served with ice cream and a bitter chocolate sauce.They're usually eaten as a dessert or snack.They are different from the American kind because they are made with egg whites or yeast to give them a lighter, crispier texture as well as a lighter taste. The Belgians love mussels or moules, as they're called figure prominently in their cuisine.They are usually steamed with onions and celery along with white wine and served with frites or fries.They are a wonderful fragrant dish ,briny with the taste of fresh caught mussels.Waterzooie is another hearty dish.This is a stew made with chicken or fish, eggs, cream and vegetables.It's associated with the historic city of Ghent.Another popular dish is carbonade flamande,a Belgian beef stew similar to the French Bouef Bourguinon, but made with a dark ,earthy beer instead of red wine.Served with bread or fries along with mustard.The French influence is also felt in boudin,a sausage made with a fine blend of meat, blood and breadcrumbs.It's usually eaten with potatoes and various vegetables. Dessert could be anything from rice pudding to lush Belgian chocolates to crisp cinnamon laced shortbread cookies and sugar drenched doughnuts. Belgian cuisine is varied and flavorful. It has the best of the sea and the land. It also has given the worlds it's favorite treats, waffles and fries.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Gourmet Goodies For Mother's Day

Tomorrow is the day when all mothers across the US should expect to be served with a special meal.It could be breakfast, brunch , lunch or dinner.Most kids (and hubbies) wind up making the same old stuff.Don't !!!A unique lady deserves something unique.It's time to put a dash of gourmet in those Mother's Day meals. Most moms wake up to a breakfast of pancakes ,a few pieces of bacon and a somewhat scrambled egg.Instead of the ordinary make it special.Start the morning off with crepes or blintzes stuffed with fresh cut fruit and if you can clotted cream( you can also try fresh whipped cream which is a snap to make ).Eggs deserve a decadent turn with Eggs Benedict.You can make it even easier by buying a packet of Hollandaise sauce mix.For variety, sub in spinach or crab meat for the Canadian bacon.If you're going more for a brunch vibe, start off with a mimosa.This is simple blend of champagne and orange juice. Then think a delicate omelet with minced ham or crumbled bacon added.As a dessert try a waffle cake made with two or three waffles,layered together with a tart apricot or nectarine conserve .Add a puff of whip cream and some fresh flowers on top.Another treat is an assortment of bagels or croissants with different spreads from a savory herbed butter to a berry infused cream cheese . Both lunch and dinner can be just as fancy and even exotic.Since the weather is gorgeous and balmy, think barbecue.However don't make it a dad- centric one with steaks and burgers.(unless mom is a true carnivore). Think chicken or shrimp on skewers intermingled with pepper and onion chunks along with grape or cherry tomatoes.Serve with a spiced rice or couscous..Seared chicken breast or tuna are other choices.Make a coconut marinade for the poultry and for the fish , a mix of fresh orange juice soy sauce and garlic.Another idea is a salad of grilled vegetables. Start with a base of spinach or Spring greens, then add grilled asparagus, eggplant, onions , corn niblets and tomatoes.Add a light vinaigrette as a dressing. Of course nothing beats a cheese platter with a variety of savory cheeses and crackers. Mix Brie with blue ,along with slices of cheddar and pepper Jack. Have extras like grape tomatoes and gherkins too to nibble on.Pasta is an another easy meal to fix.Try a light sauce,with chicken and lemon or a medley of veggies and garlic infused olive oil instead of the usual heavy tomato sauces. Mother's Day should be full of special treats .Make mom a gourmet meal she 'll be proud of and enjoy .Wow her with the best foods and dishes available.

Friday, May 9, 2014

salt And Pepper And Sweet

Salt and pepper has always been used to bring out the flavor in savory foods.Now there's a new spin on these traditional seasonings.More and more sweets, from frostings to candies, are using them to add zing and zest .It's a neat twist on this age old duo. Black pepper is showing up in some of the most common recipes.Melissa Clark,the New York Times food writer, refashioned traditional buttercream filling with fresh ground pepper.her recipe in Wednesday's A Good Appetite column shakes up the flavor and give a usually cloying recipe some bite.(although the cake recipe too is different thanks to adding hot water to the cocoa to give it a smooth flavor).You can also use black and white ground peppercorns in frosting too for a surprise taste.They're usually added in what's called a boiled icing,which is more of a glossy true icing ,similar to what you see on Hostess cupcakes.There 's also a pound cake made with coarsely ground black pepper,although you could add white as well.Candy gets the spice too.Even Jelly Belly has a black pepper flavor and there are even black pepper lollipops. Salt is somehow the more acceptable since all cake recipes and some cookie ones always call for a pinch of it.It accentuates the other flavors, however it hasn't been the star ingredient.All that is changing.Sea salt is a chief ingredient in all things caramel, expertly bringing out the candy's sweet buttery flavor.Like pepper it's making it's way into frostings as well.A sea salt caramel one would go well over a plain vanilla or chocolate cake, or as a cupcake topper.If you plan on the last think about adding a tiny sprinkle of lavender infused fleur de sel for more sophistication.There was always salt water taffy however there's actually very little salt in it. Instead you can make variations of peanut brittle and toffee with liberal sprinklings of any sea salt.Homemade caramels can also get the added fun of any one as well?Just remember that different salts have slightly different flavors. try the English Malden brand for a lighter, taste.For an earthier richer salt, go for the black Hawaiian one. Salt and pepper are not just for the main meal anymore.They're becoming vital ingredients in desserts and candies.Sprinkle them into your traditional recipes for a different spin.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spins On Squid

Squid or calamari is one of those foods that people either love or hate.The way it's cooked is probably the cause of this polarization.Yet if done right the meat can be rich in a briny sense and also tender.Most calamari recipes recipes call for overcooking.It's time to change that way of thinking and cooking. David Tanis explored this in his A City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.He gives hints as well as recipes for this sustainable seafood.The best squid to buy are ones that have pinkish purple skin that's agleam to it.Also the eyes should be bright.You can buy it already cleaned and ready to cook. This means the fish has been gutted ,scraped and rinsed and divided into bodies or tubes and tentacles.What is great about it is that it can hold up to any seasoning or spicing.It can be good mildly seasoned or doused with a myriad of flavorings.Mr Tanis gives the recipe for a Chinese style crisp fried squid with five spices.This is a more sophisticated version of calamari with a batter liberally laced with the five spice mix.You can make this at home using,fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon and Szechuan pepper.After fringe in just vegetable oil for two minutes, sprinkle cilantro and diced Serrano chiles over them.Serve with lime . Mr Tanis also recommend roasting them.Squid retains it's tenderness when cooked quickly and this another good way to do it.His recipe is Spanish style ,fired with chorizo and pimenton.Roast ,not on a grill, but in hot oven.It and the fragrant gravy that the combination makes is good spooned over baby spinach and Yukon Gold potatoes.Another way of cooking the seafood is braising.However it has to be cooked for an entire hourvto return to that soft ,slightly chewy tenderness.This would be a better winter dish with tomatoes and leeks.However you could try a spin on bouillabaisse by adding the braised squid.The best bet for the warm weather is a quick method.Another idea, not mentioned is out door grilling and then serving the squid with a lemon butter sauce. squid done well is heaven.The key is a short cooking time for a tender, tasty fish.Your opinion of it being gummy, tough calamari will change upon trying it these three ways.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Green Eating Parisian Style

France has long held the tradition of being the arbiter of fine dining and new trends.Could it be that it could also be going semi vegan too? A Parisian standby ,L'Arpege is eschewing animal based dishes and going green.More and more vegetables are showing up , prepared in interesting new methods. New York Times food critic, the great Pete Wells, explored the restaurant and wrote about it in his Critic On The Road column in today's Wednesday 's Dining section.L'Arpege's chef,Alain Passard has created a unique , but probably soon to be copied, green tasting menu.Since this is France, there was nothing Spartan about the way the veggies were served.Turnips came out, quartered and buttered, accompanied by rhubarb. Vol au vents , usually filled with mashed chicken or pastry creme, now hold vivid carrots and peas surrounded by a milky white onion sauce.The taste is fresh and a jolt ,it seems, to the taste buds. There was a green garlic soup decorated with ham infused clouds of whipped cream.Ravioli is served too, but not the dense meaty kind in opaque pasta sacs.Instead translucent wrappers held a medley of Chef Passard's own grown veggies in a clear vegetable consomme.Mesclun and radishes were drizzled with a hazelnut infused vinaigrette for a nuttier, earthier taste. Is cooking green the start of a trend?It could be that Chef Passard is perhaps becoming bored with cooking his signature quartered meat and fish dishes.L'Arpege had been known for serving both lamb and lobster expertly cut into manageable pieces.These are successful.It could be that he is embracing another aspect of nouvelle cuisine.Another chef, Dan Barber, who has researched the other chef's career for his book about Passard"entitled "The Third Plate"suggests this.He's bucking from the unexpected ,giving him an enviable freedom that fellow cook masters would love to have.Another theory is that he is trying to bring people's attention s to a greener way of eating.Melissa Clark has a tasty bowl dish in her section today as well .It is filled with nothing but quinoa and spring vegetables,sic as artichokes,onions and peas.It makes for healthier eating and a weaning away of meat centered dishes.It could also be that vegetable dishes have been ignored for so long with no interesting and palate blowing recipes. Even the best restaurants, here and abroad ,have simply turned them into uninspired sides. Chef Alain Passard is creating a new trend with turning ordinary vegetables Bles in works of culinary art.Let's hope it inspires other chefs pick up on it.Green eating is healthy eating .Serving it in fancy and innovAtive ways will bring more diners and home chefs into healthier living.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Good Old Southern Picnic

Now that the weather is warmer, it's time to think about picnics. One of the best cuisines suited to this is Southern style cooking.There is so much that would go well in a picnic basket.The foods and drinks are rich in flavor and texture and are perfect for enjoying under a shady tree. expect to nap in the soft grass afterwards. Fried chicken is a Southern staple as well as a picnic one.You can make the coating with any kind of crumb or batter. An old fashioned buttermilk batter is always the best.Some cooks add paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper for bite.Panko crumbs, usually used in tempura, can also be used for a lighter, crunchier crust.Fresh roasted ham is another good meat to bring to a Southern style outing can be sliced into thick rounds and sandwiched between homemade biscuits.You could also make a ham salad by cubing it and adding mayo along with celery to it.Macaroni and potato salads make good sides.Forget the low calorie dressings.This is the South where calorie rich foods abound.You can make simple mayo dressing with the addition of oil and vinegar.Cole slaw can be made this way as well.If you're a tad more ambitious ,then try making bread and butter pickles as an extra treat.Another idea is deep fried pickles.Use the left over chicken batter for these as well as the oil or fat. What caps off a good Southern picnic?A good Southern dessert.Pecan pie is always good and it's easy to make.For an even easier sweet ending ,try an icebox cake.You can use Nabisco's Nilla wafers and vanilla pudding or mix it up with chocolate wafers and chocolate pudding. Another yummy treat is a strawberry or peach shortcAke.Use those buttermilk biscuits,split them in half and ladle on sliced fresh fruit.Finish with either Cool Whip or fresh whipped cream (which you can bring along in a cooler)Banana pudding is another nice bring along dessert and a cinch to make.What to drink on this jaunt? Sweet Southern tea.This is not the instant kind but one using actual tea bags.The best ones would be Orange Pekoe or Earl Grey.These are full bodied brews that would lose their taste when ice is added.For a true Dixie touch serve in mason jars. A true Southern picnic is.perfect for this time of year.Settle under your favorite tree with a plate of fried chicken and potato salad.Finish with a sweet treat and sweet tea.Lie back under the warm May sun and savor true Mason Dixon picnic flavors.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Foodiie Mom Gifts

What do you get a foodie mom? yummy.There's a wide cornucopia of foodstuffs and gadgets that would make great Mother's Day presents.You can get them online or at your favorite stores. Nothing beats a favorite food or a much longed for appliance.She'll not only appreciate it she"ll probably love your ,her little foodie ,more. Jams and conserves are always a nice treat.Bonne Maman which can be found in any grocery has an excellent choice of jams such as plum and red current along with the more unusual fig and apricot.Pair a couple of them a box of buttery ,crusty croissants from Au Bon Pain and you have a great breakfast treat.Foodie moms love the unusual and adventurous.Spices from around the world make a neat gift.There are several spice houses out there,from Penzey's to the Spice house that you can choose from.You can also visit Indian,Chinese and Caribbean grocery stores , not only to buy seasonings but get advice and recipes which feature the spices .A nice box of chocolates can never go amiss.Yes,there is Godiva and Perugina there are also some more artisanal brands out there.Think about cocoa with sea salt or ancho peppers added.Donna and Company, a New Jersey based company incorporates olive oil and blood orange along with balsamic vinegar in their treats. If Mom is more into creating then eating then think gadgets.These are fun and help to alleviate any prep headaches. Two of the best companies for gadgets are Sur La Table and Quirky. Sur La Table has interesting shaped dishes for making frittatas along with brightly colored garlic peelers.It also sells ceramic pot minders and a bamboo spreader.Sur la Table has excellent whisk and knife sets as well.Quirky is another great site that has gadgets invented by the average person.These tools were made to fill a need? One of the best is Stem.This is a spritzer that can be inserted onto any lemon or lime and fresh juice can be spritzes on salads or in dishes.Pluck is another neat gadget. This is a fun yolk and white separator along with the Venti a salad bowl with a colander under eat.Quirky"s gifts are all relatively in expensive.If Mom's blender or microwave is acting funky then Mother's Day is the perfect time for a new one.K Mart, Target and even Lowe's has good prices on all of these other appliances.Sears is another good choice for any large kitchen appliance. A foodie mom will appreciate any food or kitchen oriented gift.Whether it's a box of ancho spiked chocolates or a funky egg separator, she's sure to love it.Getting her a present that reflects her passions always mother approved.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Derby Cuisine Kentucky's Best

Kentucky is known worldwide for it's derby which is being held today.However it's dishes also stand out as any thorough bred.They are rich in both flavor and tradition.The ingredients run from the tradition Kentucky brewed bourbon to seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. Kentucky cuisine is mix of German and Southern cooking.One section of it is across the Ohio River from the heavily Teutonic Cincinnati .There is goetta a kind of haggis that German immigrants brought to the frontier; it is a mix of oats and ground meat.Thyme along with bay leaf and Rosemary flavor it. Goetta is made in loaves and the slices are fried ,similar to the Pennsylvania scrapple.Syrups and jams are served with it however now most Kentuckians enjoy goetta burgers and dogs throughout the day.Sausage and beer are also family favorites.Southern cooking dominates the southern part of the state so dishes tendvto reflect mostly ham and biscuits.Cities such as Louisville and Lexington contributed some dishes like the famed Hot Brown and Benedictine sandwiches?The Hot Brown was invented at Louisville's famed Brown Hotel.This is a hot turkey sandwich with the addition of bacon and Mornay sauce.Benedictine is a cream cheese mixed with cucumber and served at another great Louisville hotel, the Benedict.It was probably used in tea sandwiches at the hotel teas at first but then became a state standard.Rolled oysters are another treat from this landlocked state.Developed by the Mazzoni family in their Louisville restaurant, it's three plump Gulf oysters dipped in batter and deepfied to golden perfection. A Kentucky is also known it's barbecue and other down home recipes. Most people like the open pit kind where. Chicken beef, and even mutton are roasted.Their barbecue sauces have a bite thanks to a heavy splash of vinegar.Barbecue is served with typical picnic fare such as onions, pickles cole slaw and potato salad. The state also was a frontier two hundred years ago and it's not uncommon to have a venison, possum or turtle dish.Burgoo, a variation of Brunswick stew is also made.This is a kind of thick potage made with any kind of meat ,from mutton to squirrel ,along with a melange of veggies such as corn,okra ,beans and potatoes.It is usually thickened with cornmeal or potato starch but sometimes wheat or oats arcaded.Any Kentucky meal should end in derby pie ,a walnut and chocolate confection laced with the state's signature liquer ,bourbon.This also figures in bourbon balls a scrumptious marriage of crushed cookies, Pecans and a good dose of their liquid gold.(or fire, depending upon your view). Celebrate Kentucky Derby Day with true Kentuck cuisine. Make a Hot Brown sandwich and follow up with a rich Derby pie. Enjoy a tangy mutton barbecue with a good swig of bourbon. this is the way Ketuckians party and party well.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Easy Peasy Spices

Spice really is the variety of life and also offers new spins on classic and traditional dishes.Blending different ones increases the variety and makes any lunch, dinner and even barbecue exciting.The best part is that you can use common ,available and affordable ones to create unique and exotic flavors. Mark Bittman wrote about this in his online column in The New York Dining section online.These are so easy to make and the only complicated step is toasting them in either a regular or toaster oven.They,represent the Middle East,China,the Caribbean,India, and even France. One ,za'aatar is becoming the mix of choice (as mentioned the other day in the Dining section and this blog). It's a mix of dried sumac berries, toasted cumin, and sesame seeds along with dried thyme and oregano.Dried sumac,unlike it's" American cousin is nonpoisonous and can be bought in Greek or Arab groceries.It has a tart, sour lemon taste but works well when mixed with other herbs.It can be used on kabobs and even lamb chops too. You can also use it in pilafs and on eggplant too.Another exotic blend is Ras El Hanous from North Africa. It is a mix of coriander and cumin seeds ,toasted and then added to cinnamon, Ginger, turmeric and pepper. Again, it is best on lamb but you can also add to rice or bulgur.For subtle spicing, try the Indian Garam Masala which is cardamon pods, cinnamon stick ground with whole cloves and nutmeg pieces. Cumin and fennel seeds arevalso added to . Caribbean spices or jerk are the most popular, most known and the most versatile for a fiery jerk rub.Its sweetness comes from ground allspice berries along with nutmeg.Thyme balances out the flavor.The fire and heat comes from equal pinches of cayenne and paprika along with Ginger, garlic and sugar tone it down somewhat.Jerk is wonderful on any meat from tilapia to beef to even goat.The French have quatre epices or four spices.This is a mix of black and white peppercorns, allspice berries and cloves.More spices are also thrown in.These are cloves,z Ginger and nutmeg.On the other side of the globe is China and Japan.Seaweed is added to the nori seaweed.These are sheets of seaweed that have been crumbled with salt and cayenne pepper.Remember for any of these blends you can use an old coffee grinder or for purists, buy a good mortar and pestle.Also keep in mind that ground spices are intense, use them in pinches when you start blending. Spice blends add zing and zest to any dish,whether it be just chicken breasts or pilaf.Make a fun blend to bring the flavors of the world to your table.Let their colors and tastes enliven any dish.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A New Treat Scuffins

Can two traditional baked items be combined into a yummy new hybrid?The answer is yes and it's the scuffin.It's an interesting blend of scone and muffin , perfect for breakfast or for wowing people at a home brunch. Frog Hollow Farm of Brentwood ,California has come up with this treat.It was by necessity, thanks to the farm having an overabundance of fruit that is too ripe or cosmetically imperfect.Purée was made from this and it was incorporated into many of the farm's baked goods. One of the best pairings was the purée with the scone muffin marriage.This is a unique blend of flavor and texture.The scuffin's exterior is crumby like that of a scone with the shape of a muffin.Flax seed is added for both color and flavor.This, by far, is one of the best fruit filled treats I've tasted.I had the apricot filled ones and fell instantly in love.The best part of it is the deep well of purée.This is no thin vein of fruit, this is a good ,gooey dollop of refreshingly tart apricot.Usually most fruit added to any baked product is cloyingly sweet but not Frog's Hollow"s. The treat can also be bought with nectarine and peach fillings too.Scuffins can be served cold but try them toasted for two minutes in a 350 degree heated toaster oven.This really brings out the flavors. Scuffins would make a nice Mother 's Day gift(especially for a lux breakfast in bed).Their website, www.frog has other treats as well.Again the farm is not afraid of unusual parings,such as the olive oil brownies.These are the traditional sweet but with the added boost of olive oil and no gluten. They also have European favorites such as the bacci di dam a from my great grandparents Provence of ,Piedmonte Italy.These are definitely on my to buy radar since I haven't had them since my last trip to the Val Susa decades ago.Frog Hollow is primarily a fruit farm and there are all sorts of great fruit gifts as well.Try the fruit of the month California style.You can also order just apricots or kumquats, all organic and fresh picked. Frog Hollow Farms also have on site manufactured marmalades and purees which would be fantastic filling homemade crepes. Scuffins are a must have hybrid.They are a delicious blend of the best baked goods and fruit purees of Frog Hollow Farm.Order them now to enjoy a yummy breakfast or brunch treat!