Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hot Breads For Cool Weather

There are many good things about fall.One of them is that the cool weather gets everyone in the mood for baking.One of the best products is a simple loaf of bread.Unlike cakes and cookies, it's versatile.A loaf can be used for everything from sandwiches to French toast.Also nothing beats an evening snack of fresh baked bread with butter and honey on it.Another plus of baking bread.The aroma.It's welcoming and warm chasing away the chill of a fall day. Many home chefs shy away from bread baking.They feel that it can be too labor intensive or express worries about working with yeast.Have no qualms.Bread dough is relative easy to create. The mixing is more or less the same as mixing up cake batter.Ingredients are simple as well.They are just yeast, flour and salt blended with milk, melted butter and salt.The only tricky ingredient is yeast because this is what makes the bread rise.If you leave the well kneaded dough covered with a towel in a warm place ( usually your stove top)and let it set for an hour you should have the beginnings of a very tasty and airy loaf.keep in mind however that different flours work differently when it's being mixed and kneaded.Rye and whole wheat flours will behave differently than white.The first can be very sticky when you begin to roll it out while the second, whole wheat usually requires half a cup less than your regular one.Once you start ,then 's there is no stopping.Bread recipes are versatile.You can try a whole wheat one week while the next you can experiment with raisin bread.If you feel really confident then you can make the Classic baguette.This requires two packets of yeast plus honey but no dairy at all in it,This is what gives regular bread it's cake like texture, while the lack of it gives the loaf it's traditional crustiness and chewiness. I can't say iterate this enough.There's so much you can do with bread recipes. One of the heartiest and perfect for tailgating picnics is sausage bread.This is a relatively easy recipe to replicate.Use an Italian bread recipe and already browned beef or pork sausage.Serve with a bowl of homemade tomato sauce for a fun appetizer or snack. Tomatoes can also be added to the dough , namely in juice form.Oregano and rosemary are also added for some zing.People who have made this type, add cheese to the finished loaf, to create a kind of pizza.One of fall's favorite loaves is cinnamon bread.Everyone loves this type, especially when it's gently toasted and slathered with butter.It's basically rolled put like a jelly roll, then generously dusted with the cinnamon and sugar mix(you can also add chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts to the mix or vary the spices with the addition of nutmeg).The finished loaf is then put into a generously buttered pan.As you become more proficient ,you may want to experiment with sourdough.This does require a starter .most bakers are given it from other bakers, however if you're not that lucky, don't worry.You can make your own.It's just a simple mix of flour and water ,left to stand for a few days.It creates what is known as wild yeast, which gives sourdough it's snappy flavor. Fall is the perfect time to bake a variety of yummy breads.There's nothing like warming up with a hot cup of tea and a large slice of bread slathered with butter, jam or honey. Fire up the ovens and get kneading!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Get Squashed

We are getting into squash season.Many home chefs are actually flummoxed by it. They wonder what to do with it?Stuffed?Mashed? Pair it with wild rice or marshmallows? The recipes for it and it's cousin are versatile.There are so many that tout its earthy sweetsness and satiny texture.Best of all they make fo great leftovers. There are several different types of squash.There is the summer one like zucchini that are fresh and green tasting.Winter squash have a denser flesh and sweeter flavor.Thue most popular are the pumpkin along with acorn and butternut varieties but there is also the buttercup and spaghetti types too.One of the easiest and most satisfying is soup.Use butternut along with chicken broth and heavy cream to make a rich , hearty potage.Since it is sweet tasting you may want to use garlic, onions and an olio of spices to cut it.you could also try fresh Ginger for heat and spices such has cloves and cinnamon, as Martha Stewart did. You can also try soup with pumpkin.Piedmontese pumpkin soup is simple, with all the emphasis on the pumpkin.It has vegetable broth mixed with it along with a fresh onion.It is then mashed with rice, butter and cream mixed in.This kind is the easiest to freeze as well.Make up a double batch so you can have a ready meal on a night when you don't feel like cooking.Of course mashed squash is an excellent side.Butternut makes for the creamiest and the most flavorful.It takes only eight to ten minutes to cook.Cut the squash in pieces and then place in a shallow microwavable pan.Mash with a potato masher. You can add butter or even milk for a creamy texture and taste. Squash is also great baked into breads.Again butternut work s the best although you can also use pumpkin too.A squash tea bread is a nice loaf to bake, especially for a fall Sunday brunch.It is loaded with a variety of spices such as allspice and cloves as well as Ginger and cinnamon.What is great about this is that you can use any left over bread as French toast .You can also use this veggie in muffins.Again home chefs can make this super healthy with the addition of raisins and whole-wheat flour.Serve with huge dollops of cream cheese for a tasty after school treat or as a nice breakfast alternative to corn or bran muffins.Surprisingly both pumpkins and squash can also be an ingredient in cookies.Of course, as with anything with it, there is a lot of heavy spicing a Ong with raisins.There are even squash chocolate chip snaps.Because squash is fibrous and watery , expect the cookies to be cakey and chewy.Candy can also be made from it as well.It's a neat way of combining healthy with wicked ,just to get the kids to eat veggies. This is the height of the squash and pumpkin season.Try these versatile gourds in everything from soup to candy.It a great way to vary the family's diet as well as making it healthy one too.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Discovering Malaysian Dishes

Fall is the time of year to discover and sample new flavors.One should be Malaysian cuisine, especially if you're tired of Chinese and Japanese. this is a different kind of Asian cooking, a mélange of East blending with West. Malaysia is located next to Thailand along with Singapore and near the Philipines.The main culinary influences are Filipino,Indian and Thai with lesser influences from the Britain,Portuguese and Dutch.The last was probably due to the sailors and missionaries who visited and settled the area.Two of the most used ingredients are chili peppers, in particular, bird's eye chili, an extremely hot variety.Another ingredient is a shrimp paste called belacan.It's pressed into a block and sun dried.It's an acquired smell and taste.Belmican can be ground and used with other spices such as garlic, shallots, Ginger and onions , to create rempah.It can also be blended with lime juice and shallots for a wet paste and condiments too.Coconuts are another key ingredient in Malaysian cooking. it's usually used as flakes or toasted and then ground into a powder called kerisik.Coconut fronds and sugar made from the coconut flower are also used in meal prep.All these ingredients make Malaysian cuisine a funky marriage of very sweet and very salty tastes.You can try an afternoon kuih, a meal of bite sized goodies.This is probably taken from the British high tea.Tidbits are a combo of small cakes and sweets.Imagine Alice In Wonderland's tea party with an Asian vibe.Fanciful cakes share plates with curry puffs, small pies filled with chicken / and or potatoes.Dishes of rice pudding are served along side of small rounds topped with shrimp paste. If you want something more substantial then think about trying Ayam goring ,a spicy fried chicken, zested with turmeric and other spices.Another dish, also involving fried chicken, a ram masak me rah,are braised in a spicy tomato and pea sauce.Curry is also big in Malaysian cooking. Gulai is a curried stew, that can be made from chicken but also beef or mutton.It can also be created with seafood and fish.Exotic veggies such as cassava are added with turmeric used for color and taste.The Chinese influence is strong as seen in its' ketupat.These are boiled rice dumplings cooked in palm frond pouches.Itis served for the Muslim holiday of Eid and is stuffed with curried beef.Many foodies are familiar with the Thai version of satay.It's a kind of kabob and cooked over an open grill it's super tasty and super fun to eat.It can be made from chicken or beef, first marinated and highly spiced.Desserts are heavily infused with coconut, both the flesh and the milk.Aikskrim potong is a kind of Popsicle made with coconut and condensed milk.Those two ingredients are also key in coconut candies, a kind of divinity fudge made for special occasions and holidays.Bean paste and curd are also used, sweetened and made in to puddings. Maylasian food is a different and exciting change of pace from the usual Asian fare.Try it to experience a new range of combined flavors and exotic dishes.It's a fun and fiery way to welcome in the fall.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Apples Sweet And Savory

It is apple season.There are baskets of them gracing the fruit sections of every supermarket.Orchards are rife with them.What's great about them is that they're versatile in both sweet and surprisingly savory dishes.Another plus is that there are so many different varieties that you can use any one of them in different recipes. Sweet apple recipes abound.One of the easiest and most fun is candy or caramel apples.It does require patience to enrobe them in that sugary goo.However they are fun to eat ,especially if you use the super tart Granny Smith kind.You can add some chopped peanuts or flaked coconut for crunch.Another beloved recipe is for apple fritters.These are purely decadent, especially when a splash of apple cider or apple brand is tossed into the batter.However they're good on their own, with just a dusting of powdered sugar.The best apples for this are Cortland,Golden Delicious or Mutsu.For a pie or tart with bite use Granny Smith in place of the other.Serve the finished pie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or to bring out the fruit's earthy sweetness, try a slice of sharp cheddar.One of the easiest apple recipes is apple sauce.This is simply simmered cubed cooking apples with sugar and a scant amount of water.It not only makes for a great dessert but also a relatively healthy snack and even breakfast.Speaking of the first meal, apples are wonderful in pancakes.They're definitely perfect for a Sunday brunch or just a hearty mid week treat.Try the Dutch apple one that"s baked and can be served for the morning meal or as a nice dessert with whipped cream and cinnamon. Apples are a treat in savory dishes as well.Apple slices are the stars in the famed Waldorf Salad.This blend of savory and sweet also has raisins and celery for flavor and crunch.You can also add leftover chicken or turkey to make it more of a main dish than a side.Another tasty apple based salad is one with walnuts and blue cheese.You can also do a salad with only a variety of different kinds from Fuji to Braymore, Mix with romaine and an apple cider based vinaigrette.The Germans have always known that apples go well with pork (and aid in the digestion too).Jazz up those boring pork chops with a mix of butter sautéed apples mixed with onions.You can also make a caramel sauce using brown sugar and peppercorns cooked together.Top the meat with heaping spoonfuls of it.Home chefs can also top a loin of pork with a spicy apple topping.Tenderloins can also benefit from this fruit as can pork loins.Try a stuffing made with Fujis and raisins.Beef dishes can also have the added zing of the fall harvest.Experiment with an apple infused beef stew.It's the perfect ,meal for fall, with the taste of apples and spices, cooked to perfection in a Dutch oven.You can also try beef fillets with apples as well.The two work well with each other, and bring out the other's rich flavors. Apples are in abundance right now.Try them in any meal, from breakfast to dinner or in a lunchtime salad.They're not only tasty but versatile.Try a recipe or two with your harvest.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New York Times Cooking App My New Love

After writing about the New York Times cooking app I can't keep my hands off it.It's everything a foodie and a food writer loves.There's recipes galore along with how tos about - well almost everything.There's one for creme fraiche, another for homemade barbecue sauce and even butter.This app site will probably change the way we think about recipes as well as rethinking the need for the old fashioned recipe book, full of pages. What is so great about the app is that you can customize it.There are vegan recipes for those who have eschewed meat.For fans of the Times Dining writers such as David Tanis and Julia Moskin, there are sections called recipe boxes of just their recipes.The site also has categories, with some good recipes about how to roast a Thanksgiving turkey and easy summer ones. chowder lovers will rejoice at the variety of chowder recipes from a buttery lobster one to the classic Manhattan clam.home chefs who love to experiment with regional cooking will also rejoice in the different American cuisines.There is everything from Tex Mex to a cornucopia of Southern fried chicken recipes.the holidays are covered .There are even recipes when you're home sick, from ginseng tea to a surprisingly spicy take on chicken soup. How is this different from the other cooking apps out there?Well, for one thing it is The New York Times, and the second is home chefs are receiving a kind of master class.Other cooking apps rely on everyday recipes along with people's home recipes.What may be tasty for one isn't always tasty for another.The pictures accompanying the dishes aren"t always the best either.(ok, most of the Times cooking app pics have been photographed by some of the best photogs in the business).The Times app also has a more concise grouping of dishes. There are problems with the apps as well.From the reviews I've read, most of the cooking apps crash and that's not good.Another problem is that some are just plain goofy.I mean the marijuana.cookbook app?????Really??The Times app does have a few shortcomings.It should have a section where home chefs can write a grocery list ,along a map to finding places in your area where you can find exotic ingredients.It could stand with a meal planning or party planning section but that's a minor complaint. If you haven't already go to The Times Cooking app or site.You'll get a slew of ideas for cooking and baking.They will inspire any home chef, from novice to the experienced to make a delicious top quality dish.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NYT Dining The Cooking Issue

Today's New York Times Dining issue is the perfect guide for any level of home chef.It is the cooking issue and it has almost nothing but recipes as well as technique how toss .This is also a great refresher for those who spent the summer wiling away too much time grilling and taking out.It is a good one to really study for home cooking skills. The issue coincides with the new Cooking app (Ipad only) and website from the New York Times.It has thousands of recipes from years past.It's pretty neat because you start the site having you recipe box and then fill it with recipes and ideas suited to your tastes and skill levels.The section has former chefs like the great Craig Claiborne (whose recipes I instantly put into my recipe box) to Mark Bittman and Melissa Clark.Anyone can benefit from this as will families.Sam Sifton,the Dining section's main editor, has an easy meal anyone can make.It's just the great Craig Claiborne's smothered chicken recipe with a side of buttered green beans.It has the Southern technique that calls for covering the chicken pieces with an weighted inverted dinner plate.This presses the chicken skin into the pan and creates a seared piece.There are other good nuggets of advice laced throughout the issue.Florence Fabricant and Mark Bittman both show how a home chef should go shopping along with balancing cooking time to multitasking.For bakers there is sound advice from Martha Rose Schulman who gives pointers as how to create a perfect tart and how to freeze the dough. One of the best articles is an entire page devoted to many different sorts of technique.This page is a keeper, especially for novices.There are simple ones such as trimming meat along with clarifying butter and chiffonading basil (roll up the leaves and then chop into ribbons).There are practical techniques such as cutting eggplant for the perfect Parmesan or fried slices.There's also a how to on how to shock vegetables, which is plunging steamed veggies into a waiting ice bath.This is done to firm and brighten them for plating.There are methods on how to deglaze along with prepping ribs and poaching fish.The page is chock full of different cutting ,slicing and dicing methods that you can use for every meal.Beginnners can even use it to practice some of the more complicated techniques such as making a roux , butterflying any piece of meat or one of the diciest, deveining shrimp. Home chefs should rejoice at the new app and this Dining issue welcoming it.There are some great recipes from some great chefs.This is not only a way of expanding your repertoire but also improving it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cuckoo For Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is the latest diet craze and let's face it, everything craze.People are ingesting it faster than they"re drinking, well, coconut water.What are the benefits?what are the uses? can it be incorporated in our diets on a daily basis?Or is just another Internet fad. The stuff comes from the edible kernel or meat of the matured coconut.Unlike other oils it doesn't turn bad for two years.There is a variation known as virgin coconut oil or VCO.It can be produced from fresh meat , milk or even the residue.It requires removing the meat or white flaky part from the shell and washing it before pressing.Many health organizations warn against it because it is has high levels of saturated fats and create high blood pressure levels. Oil lovers claim it has benefits,from reversing the effects of Alzheimer's Disease to improving both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.It also helps boost metabolism and corrects any thyroid problems.Many believers also use it to lose weight.Coconut oil can help improve bones and teeth.Used as a topical cream, it improves hair luster and skin tone.Home chefs can buy it anywhere from Target to WalMart to Walgreen.You can also get it at the Vitamin Shoppe and Amazon.com..If you buy it, please keep in mind that it changes texture at 76 degrees Farenheit.It can go from solid to liquid in a snap.However storing it in the fridge will only turn it into a hard to use solid.It's best stored in a pantry or cupboard. What can yup do with it food wise?Many health conscious home chefs use it intend of butter and oil.It does have a slight flavor of coconut but not that it's like eating a Mounds Bar.The virgin coconut oil has a more pronounced flavor and aroma, which makes it perfect for dessert recipes.Most Indian dishes call for coconut oil and it is great in curry dishes.It can also be used in some Caribbean dishes too such as tropical quinoa pilaf or coconut roasted sweet potatoes.The oil is used for stir frying and sauteing and is a neat addition to scrambled or poached eggs.The oil can be used to fry chicken but also rub it on a whole chicken. For a crispier skin.Bakers swear that it creates a better and even sweeter chocolate chip cookie.It does not produce a think crispy texture however.The cookie's texture will be denser and chewier.It can also be used incase and brownies recipes too as well as breads, muffins and scones..Waffles and pancakes can be made with this and you can serve them with the coconut oil drizzled On top as well. Coconut oil could be here to stay or it could just be a fad.Try it and see for yourself.It is versatile for any meal or dessert. It 's an interesting addition to any pantry.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Eatt Like A Caveman

Can eating like our ancestors be good for us?Can we survive on the same grub that our distant Neanderthal Cousins chowed down on.Many think so and are thriving on the new Paleo diet and lifestyle.It is a healthier way to eat and to even live by.The question is can we give up all that good stuff that was invented between then and now. The Paleo Diet is one of the hottest diets out today.It's name come from Paleolithic as in the Paleolithic Era.this was the prehistory era of hunter- gatherers,with tools of crude axes to hack meat into manageable pieces as well as arrows and fire.The Paleo Diet consists of shellfish, meat poultry, eggs along with veggies, fruit ,roots and berries.No grains are allowed as are any nut or legume.It does encourage eating more veggies and fruits, always a good ng.There are no sugar and salts as well.Yet the Paleo Diet does have flaws.There are absolutely no grains which provide much needed fiber as well too much meat and eggs.Dairy is off the list and again this can be troublesome on so many levels.We need milk for calcium as well as for it playing an important part in weight loss.Critics also point out that the meat and fish eaten are not the same as our ancestors ate.It was not killed in the wild. The closest approximation is buying everything free range to avoid additives ,chemicals and hormones.The same can apply to the produce too.Modern day hunter gatherers have to buy all organic or grow it themselves.Another minus or plus is that you can eat when you like, and eat as little or as many different foods.This works for a single person, but not for a family. What are some of the dishes on the Paleo Diet?you can start your day with a bowl of berries, namely blueberries and raspberries jazzed up with plums and soaked almonds.The almonds get creamy overnight soaked in water so it's got this nice cream feeling.Cloves and raw coca give it zing.You can make pancakes on this diet ,thanks to using almond flour.This last luckily doesn't a bag of nuts and your food processors.You can buy small sacks of Bobs Red Mill Almond Flour at your local grocery or Amazon.Here's a question, can you serve them wiTh maple syrup because it is technically sap.You can also have eggs in olive oil as another starter.Lunch can be a salad.Add any roasted meat from pork to chicken to beef.Salad dressing can be used because it's just olive oil mixed with well fermented grapes or apples (vinegar).Spices are allowed so flavoring can be everything from cracked pepper to oregano.If you want a sweet dressing then add strawberries or blueberries.Dinner can be a stew made of meats and vegetables or roasted meat with different veggie sides.You can try a free tangle salmon flavored with lemon and thyme and a side of steamed broccoli. Another idea is an herbed roast chicken with baked potato planks. Snacks can be carrots sticks with red pepper infused olive oil.You can also try celery sticks too.One of the hardest plates to replace is dessert.After all cavemen did not binge on ice cream or bliss out on Oreos. You can make flan using eggs and coconut milk.Sweeten and flavor with lemon and honey.There are even grain free brownies that combine dates, walnuts and cocoa powder.You can also use plantains as a binder for another brownie treat. Ice cream can also be created using almond milk, fruit purees and honey. The Paleo diet may start out as a fad but it can easily grow into a lifestyle.It's eliminating modern , processed food and getting down to the prehistoric basics.It's a start in the right direction even if it is a step backwards.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Meals In A Snap

Fall Saturdays are the busiest days.There's the last of the summer garden to clear out or soccer games to go to.A day could be spent antiquing or repairing the house.Then comes dinner and everyone wants a hot or at least hearty meal.It's easy to get take out, yet you want something more for yourself and your family.The quickest idea - meals in a snap. One of the best ways to stock up for Saturday is food shop that morning or buy this and that during the week.One of the easiest dinners is a barbecue.The temps will still be mild, in fact, pleasurable.You can fire up the grill and make simple hamburgers and hot dogs.These are also good to make when the kids bring home friends or new college room mates.Whip up a potato salad as well as a three bean one the night before and voilà- you have your sides.Also homemade heroes are another fun choice.Get a variety of cold cuts ,fillers such as peppers and tomatoes along with different condiments so that everyone can have their preferennces.If you have the grill out, then you may want to bring the dinner up a notch.Nothing beats the taste of open air cooked pork or lamb chops.Again serve these with a salad, a more exotic kind of couscous mixed with different spices and golden raisins.Toss in some almonds for crunch.Roasted veggies are always good too and surprisingly filling.Try eggplant, tomatoes and onions .Serve with flavored rice Dessert could be honey covered roasted apples, pears or late season peaches.Serve with ice cream or caramel sauce. One of the best inventions for Sarurday night suppers is the crockpot,Make the meal in the morning and have it hot and ready by the time everyone is home and hungry.Try a spicy chili to satisfy those hungry appetites.You can make beef, tofu or turkey one, and also vary the beans you put in it.Again have fun with spooking it.Nothing beats a dish with heat. Especially on cool early autumn evening.Serve with ready made cornbread or even biscuits. Nothing beats a nice hot stew.Start with chicken or beef,add carrots and onions and top with homemade dumplings.If there are leftovers( I would be doubtful about those), save for the week, when cooking dinner is hectic.A crochet cam also be good for making Swedish meatballs, a treat for everyone.One of the easiest Saturday suppers to create is pasta.If you don't have time to make a sauce, use a pre made one or toss the hot spaghetti with a mix of sliced tomatoes, garlic ,olive oil and oragano.The pasta's heat will cook the other in to a kind of primavera sauce.You can also fry pasta, such as ravioli and serve with already heated already made sauce.Another hot and quick idea is the open faced sandwich with gravy.Buy already sliced London broil or turkey from your deli counter, arrange on kaiser rolls and ladle on pre made gravy .Serve with a simple tossed salad for a satisfying meal.Finish with store bought pound cake or just apples and caramel. Saturday is the busiest day of the fall season.If means having a limited amount of times to cook a hearty and hot meal.It can be done - in a snap. the rsult- a dinner that is tasty and satisfying.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Hot And Cold Of Fall Picnics

We maybe heading towards fall but we can still enjoy a picnic.The best part? It can be cold or hot or a combo of both.You can enjoy sandwiches and hot soup or finish off a hearty sandwich with a dessert of hot cocoa.It's the best of both worlds. A cold food picnic is easy to create - in the summer.What about those crisp autumn days.A cold ham sandwich isn't going to cut it.Make it hearty.Buy a loaf of unsliced bread and cut thick slices of it. Use a hearty whole grain or whole wheat.Try ham, with tangy mustard or a low fat cheddar.( also for the ham , buy a low salt kind).Picnickers can even add apple or pear slices for some zing.Another idea is roasting or buying an already roasted chicken or even turkey breast and bring it on your outing.Whip up a tarragon mayo as a dip for it or to slather on bread.If you don't care about cholesterol and fat, then think fried chicken ,You can bring cornbread or biscuits along with honey butter.As for salads, take advantage of the late season tomatoes .Cut them into wedges and drizzle olive oil along with shredded basil over them.Another tasty green side is a broccoli salad.You can also take advantage of apple season with salad made of different kinnds of them ,from Fuji to Granny Smith ,along with Romaine lettuce and walnuts.As for dessert stick to the simple with shortbread or homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. Again your picnic could also end with sliced apples an pears dipped into honey sweetened Greek yogurt. Thanks to portable grills and burners you can also have a hot picnic as well.The easiest to bring is a portable hibachi .This allows you to make hot dogs and hamburgers as well as grilled chicken for your fall picnic.Nothing beats a hot sandwich.To keep that early autumn chill at bay bring along sauces made from sriracha and chili.You can even add cayenne pepper to just plain ketchup for some kick.A portable grill is a plus.Coleman makes one that is easy to tote and even easier to heat up.Think about open air pan inis or even croque monsieur made with slices of leftover ham and Emmental cheese.These are hearty and hot, perfect for warming up chilly picnickers.Portable burners are also perfect, especially for warming up soup.Bring mugs along and slices of buttered bread to end it? Another idea is outdoor fondu.or even Welsh rarebit.Melt strong cheddar and dip slices of French and Italian bread into along with slices of apples and pears.End the meal with hot cocoa or hot coffee.You can also relax, swaddled in blankets ,enjoying a hot smoothing herbal tea. the fall season is here, with beautiful scenery and crisp weather.Take advantage of it with a hot or cold picnic.It's a great way of enjoying the weather and a meal alfresco.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Spins On The New Year

Rosh Hashanah starts this Wednesday, and with it comes the tradition arrays of both sweet and savory foods?Both add great symbolism to the meal.Yet there's no law or rule that says the both can be combined.New traditions can be made by varying centuries old recipes to create new ones.They will still adhere to tradition , but will also add a twist to the holiday table. Both Melissa Clark and Joan Nathan decided to do this in separate articles in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. Mr. Clark takes her A Good Appetite column to show a usual holiday favorite ,roast chicken, and gives it both a spicy and sweet flavor.It is always served at this meal, usually smeared on challah bread and apple slices.Ms Clark will do this but will also add it to a marinade for the poultry. The marinade also has orange juice for more flavor and sweetness but zings in red pepper flakes for an untraditional spin.Mustard is also added as well.A traditional side is tzimmes ,a baked vegetable dish that features carrots or sweet potatoes that have been coated with orange juice and then tossed with dried fruit,Her take is throw the veggies in with the chicken to marinate and then cook all together.She also adds onions too,a vegetable not normally associated with Rosh Hashanah. Another Dining writer, regular' Joan Nathan, goes to a far country, Uzbekistan, for an interesting dish that could could work at any event.It is a rice dish ,similar to pilaf and called plov.The dish is actually a national dish here in this country once part of the famed Silk Road.It has all the components of a holiday dinner,with beef and carrots. Plov calls for a pound and a half of medium grained rice and Ms. Nathan recommends Kukoho Rose variety, usually used for sushi.(although some may want to use brown rice) for a better dish.Barberries are added in, a nod to the area's Middle Eastern roots.Barberries are always added to rice dishes in the Uzbek region.They give the plov a sharp tang that cuts the carrots' sweetness.Cayenne and cumin are added ,a touch of exoticism and a nod to the Spice Route.For Rosh Hashanah pomegranate seeds are tossed over the finished dish.It is not exclusively made just for this holiday,It can be made for birthdays and engagements too. Home chefs can use traditional Rosh Hashanah dishes to bring in the New Year.They can also mix it up by trying these dishes and breathe new life into their holidays.The dishes have a touch of sweetness and something more

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rock N Roll Desserts

pastry chefs are usually ported as neurotic maestros ,fretting over a sweating eclair or creating an ethereal ganache.However there's a new kind emerging, laid back with punk rock cool.With this come desserts with the same vibe.Edgy.Out there.Yet they're just as tasty as any elaborate confection, The New York Times Dining section featured one of these unique beacons in a piece written by Dining regular contributor,Jeff Gordonier.Mr. Gordonier interviewed Brooks Headley pastry chef at the very elegant, and staid Del Posto Ristorante in Manhattan.Del Posto is known for it's owners and chef, Lidia, Bastianich and her son and Mario Batale.Chef Bastianich wanted a pastry chef who was more in her step with restyle of cooking, creating simple dishes that only enhance an ingredient's flavor and look.It has to be pared down which meshed perfectly with Chef Headley's philosophy and esthetic.His work can be out there.He even has a dessert book out soon featuring his creations. One interesting one is a surprise homage to Bugs Bunny with sliced purple, yellow and orange carrots that are candied and sit ,snuggled between a Zagat bar and a roll of Life Savers.It's from the cartoon where the famed rabbit buys carrots out of a vending machine.The book,due out in October, called Fancy Desserts also features a tribute to the outré band Dead Kennedy's .The recipe with it? Sugared Green Strawberries With Toasted Fennel Cakes with mint gelato.He specializes ,though, on the old school relationship of ice cream and cake together.His cakes often have a savory aspect.There could be pecorino cheese or polenta as an ingredient along with peas, olive oil and carrots paired with a savory gelato, redolent with basil, parsley , celery ,olive oil, corn and cashews.He focus on the taste, not on the exterior , if it looks pretty on a plate.It should be all about the flavor. Unlike other pastry chefs, the Baltimore raised Chef Headley has another talent.He creates out of this world veggie burgers.In fact his pop up stand, is called The Superiority Burger.He is not bragging.The burger has a following.It is an homage to the Clean Slate sandwich in the Saltie cookbook(based on the famed hipster Williamsburg hangout and restaurant Saltie).At his heart , Chef Headley is both an artist and a rocker,He has been in several bands while working at different restaurants.He never went to culinary school.It was just necessity. That he began working at the Washington DC eatery Galileo when he couldn't get any gigs.He had no background save for his time helping his Italian mother put in her Baltimore kitchen.His mentor and Galileo's chef,Laura Aleman Weber became his inspiration.Her passion for cooking matched his for music.They were kindred spirits.He then went to the West Coast, working at the famed Camanile, under the tutelage of another female chef,Nancy Silverton.He learned by being inquisitive and observing how they worked with temperatures and textures.However his endings aren't fluffy and French.He created a chocolate gelato with two cocas, it's flavor mimicking a Fudgesicles.In fact the recipe he gives to Dining is a homemade ice cream sandwich, with butter fried white bread and Cherry Garcia ice-cream.It's an Ametican spin on the great Sicilian dessert of a brioche topped with gelato. American cuisine is undergoing several changes.It's going back to it's basics.Even the desserts are becoming simple again.Dessert Chef Headley realizes this and creates them, but with a pun rocks Ish spin on those sweet endings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Punch Up Your Dishes

Sometimes food just screams to be embellished.Soups that need zing ,pasta dishes that need zest.Adding just a pinch of that or a sliver of this is all it takes to elevate your meal or even snack to the next level.It's an easy, fun and creative way to punch up any food. One of the most accepting foods is soup.A simple broth can be turned into a special potage by adding pasta or veggies.I recently brought home a simple onion soup from a local and favorite diner.It was just a plain beef broth with onion pieces.To turn it into more of the French classic,I add a generous slice of French bread covered with two slabs of Emmentaler cheese.Three minutes in the microwave and I had a tasty bistro classic.The bread and cheese added so much oomph to it.One of my favorite culinary canvasses is vegetable broth. Cook up plain rice in it for a more flavorful side.Top with a big blob of good French butter for a quick late night snack or a light supper before going to a party.Another idea is adding beaten egg and bread crumbs to make the Piedmontese specialty pane pesto or breadcrumb soup.Sub in shredded spinach for the eggs for the Roman favorite stratichella soup.You can also use any broth, whether that, beef or chicken when soaking bread for stuffing.Also canned soups can have the same kind of zinging up.Toss in oregano or Rosemary to tomato soup along with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.You can also add orzo or smaller sized pasta as well.Even canned pea soup can be made zestier with easily made bread crumbs and a tablespoon or two of minced ham. Even standards like pizza can be zzzuzzhed up.Take a plain pizza and add minced garlic or sliced scallions.Open a can of chicken chunks .Scatter the pieces before naming to create a yummy alternative.You can also take Italian cold cuts and diced them for a topping for pre made or home made pie.Some seafood lovers add crab or shrimp to theirs for extra zing.Mashed potatoes, whether homemade or packaged, can also be spiced up.True, there are instant mashed potatoes that already have garlic and cheese added.However you can also add Parmesan cheese to give it some depth or flesh it with beef or ham bits.Want an eye opener.Add dried chili flakes to that mound for some fun unexpected heat.Those veggie sides can also be punched up with the addition of pepperoncino or almonds for a more elegant almondine dish.Make a garlic or lemon spiked butter and dab onto green beans or broccoli.Squash can be made earthy with the addition of cinnamon or nutmeg and a maple butter or creme fraiche topping.Even raw veggies like tomatoes can be tasty, with an olive oil and garlic bath.Serve with generous slices of Italian bread for extra pep. A simple corn dish can be turned into something sublime with the addition of creme fraiches,fresh ground pepper and French sea salt.A diced green pepper can also be added to corn for zesty side inshore served cold for an unusual salad. There are some foods that donned jazzing up.That's why we haves spices and herbs to do it along with other fun add INS like butter and cream.Experiment with those hokum dishes.They'll be transformed into fun ,exciting dishes inn time.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Don't Push The Pumpkin

It's only September and already we're inundated with everything pumpkin and pumpkin spice.From pasta sauce to muffins from coffee to even candies, we're being gagged with the flavor of October and November. Hate to say it but it's still September,still summer.We should still be enjoying the flavors of fresh fruit and veggies not holiday spices. Instead of rushing Halloween and Thanksgiving we should be slowing down and enjoying all the tastes of late summer.It"s the second raspberry season. How come Starbucks or even Dunkin Donuts don't have raspberry iced teas?Some gardens are still yielding tomatoes.Instead of pumpkin and I seriously hope it's not laden with pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon and nutmeg) why not sauce made with September plum tomatoes.If you want a more autumnal flavor, then roast them on the grill with olive oil and Rosemary,,following by puréeing into a sauce.Apple season is also just beginning.Focus on them.They're versatile, being good as a chutney with any roast loin of pork, or in pies and tarts.Dunkin Donuts does have an iced cider drink,Sadly it's also doused with a hearty dose of cinnamon.Leave it be and it will be fine.Just because we're heading into fall doesn't mean we have to over spice everything.What next?Cat and baby food? Pumpkin spice bones for Rover? American businesses tend to rush any season.It's done to bring in money.That's why we have our stores awash in bathing suits in cold, rainy April,school stuff in the middle of vacations season and candy corn melting on store shelves during the dog days of summer.the problem is that with the foodstuffs, unlike clothing and decorations they do get stale.We also get sick of those tastes long before the actual holiday arrives.After all two months of too much spice can be cloying and irritating. Protest this.Use social media.Tell all these coffee shops and supermarkets to delay serving these autumn flavors until late October or early November.If it gets any more out of hand you"ll be drinking Christmas hot cocoa during your July vacation at the beach. We are heading towards fall however we,re far from Halloween and Thanksgiving.Let's enjoy those late summer flavors while we can.Taste the raspberries and tomatoes. Enjoy the taste of sun ripened foods.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fig Season

One of the best harvests right now is the fig ones.These plump beauties are versatile,they can be perfect as an appetizer or wonderful as a dessert.It's the time to use them at the height of their short season. Figs come from the Middle East and Western Asia,however it's the Romans who brought fig growing to a high art.Roman writer, Cato the Elder listed several varieties in his De Agri Cultura,one of the world's first cookbooks in part.the fruit is one of the healthiest fruits you can eatThey are rich in potassium,They are also loaded with calcium and magnesium as well and are a good fruit to eat for anyone suffering from high blood pressure.Dieters should make figs part of their daily regime because they can aid in losing weight.It's due to the fiber.Surprisingly enough they're also helpful in decreasing the risk of macular degeneration ,an eye problem, afflicting the elderly..Even the leaves have tremendous benefits.They can reduce triglycerides as well as lowering insulin.There are several different types, usually identified by their colors.there are the Black Missions, which have blackish purple skin and a pink exterior.There are the green Kadota and Calimyrna while the Brown Turkey is adept eggplant purple .The Adriatic , which provides the filling for the ever popular Fig Newtons are light green with a tan interior.right now your stores or farmer's markets are selling the European figs.For dried figs, remember.to look for ones that are mold free and pleasant smelling.They 'll stay good all year round while the just picked ones last only two days in the fridge. Most people think figs are only good for filling bar cookies.However they 're much more than that.David Tanis of The New York Times Dining recommends them in a ricotta and phyllo dough tart.He also adds honey and almonds, a nodd to their exotic past.Of course ripe figs are perfect foils to salty prosciutto as an appetizer or even light meal.You can even pair them with pecorino cheese again in a salty. And sweet combination.Another fun idea is using it and dried salame as topping on foccaccio..You can also wrapped them in cured or dried meats as tasty appetizers for a late summer barbecue.Figs can be added to salads too, to give them a pop of color and earthy sweetness.They can be added to Moroccan tangines or as a glaze for lamb chops or chicken.Try them roasted with the chicken as well.Figs can also add a touch of the exotic to desserts too.Oven roast them and serve with ricotta and vanilla ice-cream.They can top a gâteau di riz or a baked rice pudding.They would be great in a tart tatin or better yet enrobed in dark chocolate.You can also go the traditional route and bake them into bars.Homemade Fig Newtons are relatively easy to make.It requires dried Calmyra figs cooked with water ,sugar and apple juice.The cookie wrap is a buttery one made with eight tablespoons of butter.Assembly is easy,Think jelly roll and then cut into inch or two inch cookies.These are not only a nice snack, they're also a great dessert too. Take advantage of the fig harvest right now.They're healthy and sweet ,along with being versatile.Try them in a salad or exotic dish, or better yet, in homemade cookies.They won't disappoint, not with their flavor and benefits.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reinventing BritIsh Cuisine

It was only a mere quarter century ago that British food got sneered and ridiculed.Then something amazing happened.Homegrown chefs started to make the cuisine interesting.Gone was the green goop known as mushy peas and oil soaked logs known as fish and chips.Britain introduced the world to farm to table along with a return to artesanal foods made without preservatives and chemicals. This , along with two new British authored cookbooks, was the center of Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite on Wedmesday.She reviewed and recommended two chefs' books.Yottam Ottolenghi just released Plenty More(Ten Speed Publishers) is about English cooking as well as Caribbean ,Indian Japanese and Thai cooking.His recipe for scrambled eggs is an eye opener.It is zinged with cumin and Chiles, along with tomatoes.He also has an exotic and bracing salad of three ingredients not always thrown together.Broccoli shares a bowl with edamame and coconut spiced with curry leaves, mustard and lime.I can see this as a side to roast or barbecue pork or chicken.Another plus about Chef Ottolenghi's cookbooks is that it is vegan(although it's not marketed as such).He has a following, thanks to his other books on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking.This book is bound to have another set of groupies. The other chef, Diana Henry, has a more traditional cookbook.Hers is A Change Of Appetite (Mitchell Press)which features more down to earth recipes.While Chef Ottolenghi's recipes are for impressing the dinner or brunch crowd. Chef Henry's is more for a cozy Sunday afternoon supper.Hers is more farm to table with fish ,seasonal vegetables along with whole grains.There is a touch of the exotic ,with some of the recipes having Harissa and borage along with dried limes and togarashi peppers.Her recipes celebrate her loves, fresh unprocessed seasonal foods.Ms. Clark enthusiastically tries and loves Chef's Henry's butterflied leg of lamb with Persian mint syrup along with garlic crab and fragrant lentos.Her eggs are spiced, semi hard with a warm runny center.Her cake recipes are made with the healthy spelt flour and juicy cherries.This is a great book for the holidays, the perfect gift for any home chef interested in the farm to table cuisine. British cooking is leading the world in culinary innovation.Thanks to these chefs, Chef Ottolenghi and Chef Henry, kitchens are producing not only exciting fare but healthy too.It's a brand new spin on a cuisine ,once maligned and now loved.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Paying It Forward Foodwise

Even though today is a sad one, it can be used to fulfill a life purpose.Anyone can give back simply by donating time or food to food pantries in their areas or helping out military families.Doing such is not only a great way of giving back but also of getting in touch with the greater community.You get out of your circle and embrace the bigger one. The last of the summer harvest is always a great gift to Amy food pantry.Tomatoes are much needed and they can be used in sandwiches or in a homemade sauce.Another is zucchini.These can be stuffed or sliced,definitely making up a solidly nutritious meal.Even fresh cut herbs have their place, being used for extra flavoring in sauce or breads.For those who are lucky to have fruit trees, think about donating any overage.Nothing is better than fresh fruit and it's a better alternative to candies and pasties.It's also versatile enough to go into breakfasts or snacks.Bakery owners can easily give slightly stale leftovers. Day old rolls and breads can still be used. Sandwich shops can donate any sub's that hadn't sold at lunch time.Also diners can contribute making hot meals to go so families can relax with a hot and nutritious turkey or beef dinner. Another way of giving back is recognizing service families. Think about giving their kids special birthday parties at your local veterans posts. Host a pinata party with the added fun of make your own tacos or a cupcake decorating station.Another fun idea is apple picking where you can organize groups. Throw in a fun picnic with healthy sandwiches and sides. For couple just returning volunteer to babysit so the couple can enjoy a night to themselves. You can also make them a romantic home cooked dinner with little extras like fresh baked biscuits or homemade barbecue. Also think of donating time to veterans hospitals too. Help them celebrate their birthdays in a big way with good food and good stories plus a big cake. This day is one of sadness. It will always be known for it.Yet it can also be a day of giving back. Donate your time skill or overage to make it a bit better for all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alaska The NEw Culinary Frontier

Saying Alaska is known for its culinary innovations is like saying it's known for its beaches.Yet this rugged state is starting to be recognized for delicate cuisine and innovative dishes.What is even more interesting is that most of the ingredients are locally grown. The chef who is changing this is Alaskan native , MArian Beck and the restaurant was her the Saltry.Julia Moskin was granted an interview with Chef Beck at the restaurant located on the wildly beautiful Kachemak Bay, across the water from Homer.The nearest town is Anchorage, located 220 miles to the northeast.This is not usually an area for gourmet restaurants however Chef Beck is from the area.She is shattering the concept of Alaskan cuisine being nothing more than salmon burgers and corned beef.Her list of ingredients are salmon halibut and cod, all fresh caught by herself as well as fresh picked rhubarb that grows during the area's short summer season. luckily Homer does have a farmers market and here she can buy other cooking staples.There are big leafed vegetables such as kale as well as multicolored root vegetables, cabbage and broccoli(basically what we call fall or winter veggies in these parts).There are also mushrooms and for fruit raspberries and huckleberries.She can also get Thai dumplings and Japanese noodles, along with halibut poke ,thanks to a surprisingly Hawaiian population.Her garden yields edible flowers, herbs and salad greens. She no longer cooks at it but hires chefs who can live up to her legacy. Chef Beck's restaurant maybe in a rustic area but her dishes were certainly not.She took the smaller. Sweeter halibut and turns them into seared filets.Their broth is a herbed affair, punched up with salsa verde.Risotto ,flecked with root vegetables is the side.Chef Adam Walker is the current chef at Saltry.He is following in Chef Beck's footsteps, using the local fish as the stars of the menu.Halibut is the star, it being the go to food for the population up there.It is a treat when it is air dried and then slathered in butter or dipped in seal oil.There is also the pickled salmon,another recipe from the Beck family.It is made from a local strain of China Poot.The flesh is a deep reddish orange.There are also vegetable nori rolls, a nod to the elder Beck's trips to Japan when he was the chairman of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.While most of Saltry's desserts have locally grown fruits, the restaurant's crown dessert is a mile high chocolate cheesecake with imported European chocolate. Thanks to both Chef Marian Beck and Adam Walker, Alaskan cuisine is turning into a foodie must have.Gone are the salmon burgers and in their place, interesting ,locavore cuisine.It is changing ,being red hot in a cold climate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Good Healthy. Start

With the mornings turning cooler, it's vital to have a hearty yet healthy breakfast.This sets the tone for the rest of the day,A good breakfast mean better concentration at school or at work along with not having the need for an 11 AM snack.The quandary is what constitutes a good breakfast? Most people agree that a good breakfast starts with eggs and bacon.That is true ,flavor wise however health wise, it's not that great.The meal is high not only in calories, but in cholesterol.Add buttered toast and it goes up.You can make it better for you by creating a tofu scramble.This is relatively easy to make.Take tofu cubes and crumble.You can add turmeric or cumin to give it that yellow eggy color .Add mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach for more nutrition as well as flavor.You can serve it with turkey bacon or the even healthier soy bacon.People balk at this last but it really is good and tastes like the real thing.You could also serve it with some breakfast sausages or patties. As for the side of toast and jam, nix the white bread and definitely go for the whole wheat .Serve with margarine and a fruit confit.This last is a tad more healthier thanks to the small amount of sugar being used.Frog Hollow Farms of Brentwood CA has excellent confits.They can be made at homeas well especially with pears and apples. Another rib sticking day starter is a stack of pancakes.We all love them,dripping with syrup and melted butter.Again this is the perfect fall breakfast but it can be tweaked for less calories and more benefits.Start with the pancakes themselves.First of all use buckwheat or whole wheat flour.As far as the liquid use soy, rice or almond milk instead of regular.You can also use buttermilk for zing.Skip the recipe need for melted butter and use canola oil.Also have aside of berries or cooked apples as opposed to the maple syrup and butter.French toast is another great breakfast yet it is rich.This usually fried dish can be baked instead of fried.Also use whole wheat bread or even a baguette would work.You do need eggs however for any kind of French toast however you can just use the whites.For sweetening it's brown sugar,which is much better than the refined white.For flavoring think nutmeg and cinnamon with a pecan topping.As for a cup of hot something, think a Droste hot cocoa where you can add the sugar or just a coffee with almond milk and stevia added.Herbal teas are soothing go withs, and perfect. For any intensely flavored breakfasts. A hot breakfast is the best way to start off a cool late summer morning.Make it not only a hearty one bit a healthy one too.It'll be good for you soul and body too.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Your Own French Bistro

French food is amazing.It's flavorful and only has the best and freshest ingredients.It's also intimidating to many home chefs.Yet French cuisine isn't as hard to make as most people think.Bistro food is easy.It's what most Parisian restaurant s make, and it's simple enough for any Yank to cook. One of the easiest bistro foods to make the croque monsieur.This is nothing more than a grilled cheese sandwich fried in butter.It is usually made with white bread(you can also use rye too for an earthier flavor) along with Emmental or Gruyere cheese.Again it can be varied with Swiss cheese..What makes it so delicious is frying it in butter which is also spread on the bread before assembling the sandwich.Some croquen recipes recommend a béchamel sauce poured over it.This isna simple white sauce spoked with nutmeg and bay leaf.The sandwich doesn't need this.Another variation is a croque Madame, which is the addition of a poached egg on top(the shape reminded cooks of a ladies hat, hence the name)Serve your croques with a glass of sparkling hard cider,the perfect foil for this hearty sandwich.If you want a tad healthier then whip up simple ratatouille, a cooked mélange of tomatoes, eggplants and onions,It's cooked in olive oil with minced garlic.It can be used as a side but 's it's better as a main meal.Make sure you have a large, crusty baguette to sop up the juices. Some bistro dishes are a little more elaborate but still easy to create.Try a carbonade which is nothing more than a beef stew with the addition of beer and onions,Use a light or blonde beer, like a PIlsner .You want the beery taste but not the bitterness that a darker one will impart.it also requires a bouquet garni, ,a mix of dried herbs in a small cheesecloth pouch ( think a culinary potpourri)"The stew is usually ladled on thick slices of French bread but yip can also serve it on rice or better yet buttery egg noodles.For non meat eaters there is a cabbage casserole or gratin au Chou.The ingredients are the super tasty Savoy cabbage chopped and parboiled.This is then layered in a casserole dish with quick sauteed rice and tomatoes.Béchamel sauce and cheese is the spread on top.This is a great fall dish, perfect on a Sunday night after apple picking.For something easier, try steak au poivre.It is a nothing more than a simple filet mignon coated with with loosely cracker peppercorns and served with a cognac sauce,made from cognac, the meat's juices and cream.The traditional side dish is crispy shoestring potatoes French bistro food is easy to make and delicious to eat.Home chefs can easily make it.There's is nothing elaborate about it.It's simple food with good ingredients.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

President Butter Fantastique

Nothing beats the taste of a good butter.it should have a smooth tangy flavor and silky texture along with a deep yellow color, like new daffodils.Now imagine a French butter like that which is far superior to any good American one and you have President Beurre from France.This is the perfect butter.Truly. President Brand comes from the notable dairy cows of Normandy and is famously known for it's and Brie along with other soft cheeses.The company was started in 1967 by Andre Besnier who humorously named it that because there are prsidentsof this and that all over France.It could also be an homage to Charles De Gaulle governed the country at the time. The company is in the heart of the beautiful Loire region of France, not far from Norman dairy farms.The beurre or butter is made in true French style.It is churned with a slightly soured or cultured cream which gives it a deeper color than American butters.There is also mo added vegetable oils, sometimes seen in our butters.It also has less water too, making for a denser product.French butter has more fat, 82 per cent more than the American kind which can squeak by with only 80 per cent.President sells theirs in three styles.There are sticks used for baking and cooking.the sea salt one, perfect for slathering on baguettes and the spreadable , softer beurre sold in tubs.This last is perfect for both cooking and enhancing sandwiches. By far President is the best butter I have ever tasted.I love the sea salt spread the best with it's tang punctuated by the sharp briny bursts of the sea salt(which I also imagine comes from Normandy as well).It is good on bread but also on biscotti(this is how they're eaten in Piedmonte,the pairing of the beurre and anise flavor is amazing)This is the butter that would justify eating lobster (forget that cup of yellow stuff that restaurants serve with it)and bring out the flavor of a good filet mignon.It is hearty and earthy, and definitely would complement any piece of beef's flavor.I am also in love with their spreadable butter.It too has that rich tang, but with a more sweeter flavor than the sea salt one.This is perfect for any veggie dish.I can see it enhancing creamed spinach or steamed carrots.I would also add a table spoon or two into any cream soup.To be honest I would probably only use President for baking croissants,brioches or any fruit tat in.I think it's too good to waste on ordinary butter cookies and cakes.Even butter cream icing is not worthy of this fine spread.Butter lovers will understand this next confession: I just love eating plain and letting it just melt on my tongue. If you want a taste of heaven then buy President butter.It will enhance your meals tenfold. It's tang and richness add to everything from a simple slice of bread to the most expensive cut of beef.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chilee And Dips

You would think that chili's and dips wouldn't have anything to do with the late summer season.Yet they do.This is chili season when the peppers are coming into ripeness.As for the dips ,well you could use them in dips too, as they make their way into backpacks across the nation. Both David Tanis and Melissa Clark discussed this in their weekly columns in Wednesday s New York Times Dining section the other day.Mr.Tanis covered the peppers.These are ubiquitous in his old stomping ground of Santa Fe.The most famous and desirable are the Hatch peppers which come from the Hatch Valley.They're roasted to perfection while green.The process is done in a barrel , basically a perforated metal drum rigged to rotate over intense flames.The skins get blisters, the chilies themselves get cooked a bit.There is a sauce(but you can also use it as a dip).It starts off with a chicken broth base and you can make with rich with the addition of butter or healthy by using olive oil instead.Spices abound in it,from cumin to oregano.Mr Tanis serves it up with a breakfast quesadilla but it can also go in fajitas or tacos or as a condiment with any grilled meat from chicken to steak. Milder dips come from Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column.The reason is not chiles but her daughter.Unfortunately at the younger's Clark's school, her favorite sandwich , peanut butter and jelly is banned due to the abundance of nut allergies. Her mother goes with dips as an enticement to eat a healthy dip.Dips are a better lunch time meal than sandwiches?Kids like the idea of dipping and any dippable fits perfectly in little hands.This theory can also work for adult lunches too.The dip"s base should be a protein such as yogurt, beans tofu and cream cheese.Add ins can be cheddar and scallions in a cream cheese and mayo dip.There's also an avocado basil one made smooth with olive oil and Greek yogurt.This is actually a good receptor for the green chile sauce.Add a tablespoon or two for a spicy appetizer at a grown up dip.Serve either with warmed tortilla chips,Ms Clark throws in an edamame tofu one zinged up with Ginger and soy sauce.You can serve this with cucumbers or rice Crackers.Luckily dips can e made fresh or the night before and they also work as good after school snacks too. Chiles and dips actually work. With the last days of summer.It's the time for them as both head to the office or school.Combine them too, for an end of summer party.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall Foodies Guide Of Manhattan

There is nothing like Manhattan in the fall.It's the start of the theater and opera season.It's a time to wear all those yummy clothes from oversized sweaters during the day to fancy sparkly evening duds for those parties?It's also the start of the foodie fall season as well.New restaurants and trends are coming faster than falling leaves.It's definitely going to be a unique few months. The New York Times Dining section covered it.All the contributors, from Eric Asimov to Florence Fabricant weighed in on everything from new wines to innovative techniques.One of the most interesting stories comes from Jeff Gordinier interviewing chef Enrique Olvera.Chef Olvera has been visiting other eateries , studying their methods for his highly anticipated restaurant Cosme.His won't be the typical Mexican menu, redolent woth tacos and bowls of nachos.He is creating his own spin using traditional , little heard of recipes while stealing from New York City's finest.His place may have the trendy buzzy vibe of Del Posto but with his own spin on traditional Mexican recipes.He even sampled many different guacamoles to see what he could do different.He found it, in the form of room temperature avocados. Doing this creates a tastier, more flavorful dip,The Dining section has also included his avocado taco recipe? This is a combo of buttery and hot, thanks to the addition of a generous portion of tomatillo. Of course there are other restaurants to try. Some even have the new addition of take out.This was Florence Fabricant's piece. New Yorkers and even visitors to the city can enjoy everything from fried chicken from the hot spot Le Bilboquet to the sinful chocolate velvet cake from the famed Four Seasons.There're even nibbles from Chef Gregory Zakarias from his famed Lamb Club.These are sesame rolls served with marscapone cheese.However it's the season for eating out too.One of the more fun ones is Birds and Bubbles on Forsythe Street.Chef Sarah Simmons combines that new culinary adage of serving champagne with fried chicken, a seriously perfect combo with both food and drink greatly complementing each other.Vegans will adore Dirt Candy, the trendy vegan hangout run by Amanda Cohen.Eric Asimov, who helms the issue's weekly The Pour column offers up some restaurantns with really good cocktails and wine lists.The Chinese restaurant Fung Tu not only has interesting dishes but interesting wines from Frnace and Italy.M.Wells Steakhouse has one of the most expensive ,ranging from retsina, to the pricy Laurent Tribut to go with their variety of steaks and chops. The fall season will soon be here.Enjoy it foodie wise with all the new eateries and dishes of the season.it's going to be a fun one, complete with new flavors and spins on classics.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happiness Is A Hahn's Crumbcake

Nothing beats a good old fashioned crumb cake. There's something about the marriage of buttery ,crunchy crumbs and a yeasty not so sweet cake.Hahn's Crumb Cakes of ,Farmingdale New York fills that need.This Long Island bakery is known for their delicious coffee cakes.They offer the traditional along with different variations.Best of all, crumb lovers ,they even sell a bucket of just crumbs.What bakery does that? Hahn's is located in Farmingdale, smack in the center of New York"s Long Island.It's a great stop not just for locals but for those going to and coming from the island's posh South Fork.It was started thirty years ago by Regina Hahn.She not only bakes crumb cakes but also brownies and a mocha cappuccino cake.As for the crumb cakes, Ms Hahn has given different twists to the classic cake.There are fruit kinds, with raspberry and apple, along with a chocolate one.Anyone of these would be great ending any holiday dinner or party, whether at home or at the office.The bakery goes one step further and offers a bucket, literally a small paint can, filled with rock sized crumbs.This alone would make a neat birthday or holiday gift for the extreme crumb cake lover.There is also the variety pack that has the traditional, raspberry and chocolate packaged together. I sampled the variety pack and now am a fan for life.Hahn's has created the perfect crumb cake.There is a perfect ratio of base to topping.The cake itself is a wonderful, moist, buttery yeasty kind that's not too sweet.The crumb topping is a nice mix of cinnamon and butter that doesn't over power the cake.The raspberry kind is laced with swirls of the fruit, but again, the raspberry is not overpowering.There's only a taste of it that meshes well with the other ingredients.Hahn's chocolate is the best.It's a dense, dark cocoa ,not cloying as most chocolate cakes are.The topping is the same as for the others,and it works here too.Of course I also got the bucket of crumbs.They"re great snacks ,bursting with nothing but cinnamon and butter.These would be great on plain vanilla ice cream for a different kind of dessert.They would even make a neat crumb parfait ,layering them with hot caramel sauce and ice cream. Hahn's is the perfect place for finding the best crumb cake.They are moist and flavorful, harking back to those home baked kind we all grew up loving.Try their classic ,fruit or chocolate for a true treat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Start A School Pantry

School is starting (and has started in most of the Midwest).All schools provide a lunch and some even supply a relatively nutritious breakfast.However what happens after school is not an easy A.Many kids come from families that can't afford even cold cuts and bread for a simple sandwich.There is a solution.Start a school food pantry. This is not a new idea.Many schools are looking into this.Kids have admitted to their mentors that their parents just can't afford to put food on the table.Even though unemployment rates have dropped somewhat, there are still adults throughout the US that have no income or were forced to get low paying jobs.Teachers have stepped up and contributed canned items as well as produce for those less fortunate.It's coming out of their meager salaries.Their students now have three square meals a day plus the healthy snack of fruit.This means better concentration when they're working on homework and reports.This is one of the best idea however it should not just be up to the educators.School officials as well as town councils should institute this in those needy schools within their district. Any school can start a food pantry.The school should also reach out to local churches and farms as well as groups such as The Elks and Unico along with local restaurants.Care packages can also be made up, with two or three cans of soup, cold cuts , milk ,a mix of vegetables and fruits along with bread and different mixes.Another idea is having school suppers where a hot meal is guaranteed.The suppers can also be open to teachers and school staff as well.It is a great way of introducing parents to their kids' educators.A group dinner is also a good way of families sitting down together and sharing.There could even be a Saturday lunch too, maybe even in the form of a picnic during the fall and also again in the Spring.Older kids can volunteer to help prepare or set up.There can even be a holiday food pantry, with holiday baskets made up of tins of veggies, cranberry sauce, along with stuffing mix and jarred gravy. Another idea is special birthday baskets for the kids whose parents are struggling to give a memorable day.These can be packed with cake mix and canned frosting.A small toy or book can be put into it as well. Hunger is our kids ' greatest enemy.Three meals not only contribute to a child's growth and health but also to their brain development and concentration.This means paying attention in class and focusing on what kids should be focusing on, lessons and playtimes, not hunger or foraging for food.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Foods Of Labor

Today being Labor Day, it's time to devote some of our thoughts to those who put food in our stores and on our restaurant tables.So many workers put in long hours and get nothing, including no benefits out of It. Their toil saves us a variety of chores involved in providing and even cooking foods. The next time you eat your veggies or even fruits, think of the pickers who provided you with them.Most are migrant workers whose quality of life is still the same as when John Steinbeck depicted them in the 1930"s classic The Grapes of Wrath." For as long as you can try buying from your local farmer's market or family farms.These should treat their workers a bit more decently than the big brands?Another group that's constantly abused are the restaurant workers from servers to cooks.All have to work long hours ,standing in front of hot stoves and hot pots.Waitstaff has to deal with everything from whiny, food throwing tots to rude, unappreciative customers.Make it up to them by being nice,and complimentary.Give them a little more when tipping.Make their work day as pleasant as pleasant as you would for your fellow coworker. Labor Day is a time when America honors its workers.The ones who work the hardest are mostly in the food trade.Honor them and the backbreaking work that they do.They are the ones that feed you.