Saturday, January 31, 2015

Your Super Bowl Checklist

By now most Super Bowl party hosts have their menu raring and ready to go. However there's always that last niggling must have, Before you even marinate a wing or slice a bun stop and ask yourself. What have I missed?Is there anything I need to get or get more of?

One of the most popular items for the Big Game is the avocado. Millions of them are going to be used in making endless gallons of guacamole dip. Unfortunately these  little  alligator or gator pears  can be divas. The ripest ones should always go into making guac. These should be a deep forest green in color and slightly soft to the touch. However some hosts just quickly grab them , not testing for ripeness.That's why you should have a few extra ones in case there are still unripe ones. Cut them to see their firmness.If they're too hard then toss them back in the fridge and add to a mid week salad when they're a bit more mature..The same goes for  the other ingredient tomato. Have  extras on hand just in case there a re some rotten or not ripened ones. Also make sure you have enough for your guests. There's always a chance for a second bowl. The same goes for other dips as well. Get plenty of sour cream and Greek yogurt. Don't worry if you have extra. You can always use them in cooking or even baking. Hot snacks are another care altogether. Everyone loves any hot treat and some fans can wolf down those nibbles faster than a quarterback  running with a pigskin. .Have double boxes of mini pizzas, pigs in blankets, cheese puffs along with mini sliders and baby crab cakes. Also make sure you have plenty of condiments to go with all of them too.

For those barbecue lovers, check your inventory.There should be plenty of briquettes and wood to sustain you to the Jimmy Fallon show after the Super Bowl. Also you should have extra ribs and burgers just in case party crashers  show up or the meats wind up getting super grilled. Run out tonight if you don't have enough ingredients for marinades and rubs. It's twenty four hours before the event. There's still plenty of prep time left. Sides are another thought. Do you have enough cabbage to make cole slaw for thirty? What about those frozen ears of corn or cornbread for chili. Now is the time to do last minute food shopping.While your are your grocery, think about other inventory too. Is there enough soda and water to sustain a crowd? Do you have enough beer or wine? Get extra tableware too. Let's face it some people are fussy and want a new fork with every new plate of food. Stock up now  on those as well as on napkins and paper towels.Buy extra boxes of wet naps if you're serving ribs and wings. You don't want to spend Monday morning cleaning off greasy and sticky  fingerprints from everything in your house.

As with every party or gathering, just be prepared.Having extras around cuts down on hassles and shortages of a favorite food. Think about what you need and get It now. You want to spend Super Bowl Sunday watching the game, not last minute food or drink shopping.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Touchdown For Healthy Eating

Everyone goes wild during the Super Bowl weekend. There's tons of goodies , both savory and sweet to sample and munch on/ Unfortunately most are the wrong choices.The best bet is eating healthy. You'll feel as good as when your team wins.

Veggies are always a wise choice. Luckily every party usually has a crudité platter. Fill up on celery and carrots, because these are the most satisfying. Grape tomatoes are also a wise choice  too and fun to pop into your mouth. Instead of  immersing that stalk or floret in whatever dip offered just do a tiny scoop to get the flavor. Another way of eating healthy veggies is offering to bring the vegetable platter. That way you can also bring the dip and control what goes in it.. If you're hosting  then go for a Greek yogurt based dip. You can add minced onions to create a very healthy onion dip. For fire whip in cut up jalapenos and a few drops of hot sauce. One of the healthiest dips is guacamole. Load it with fresh onion and tomato  with a dash of lime juice. Serve with whole wheat chips or baked potato chips. Pretzels can also be dipped in these sauces too. Football fans love anything cheesy  however this isn't always a heart healthy choice.Try the low fat or even soy kind . Both can be had in several different flavors, from Monterey Jack to mozzarella.You can even make mini grilled cheese sandwiches or English  muffins pizzas with them.

One of the staples of any football party is wings. These are usually over fried , soaking in grease  and a soggy bread coating.Sometimes one wing is a whopping 800 calories thanks to all the battering and frying.. Aim for healthy here. Try oven baked  after a soak in a flavorful marinade. As for the dip, again use Greek yogurt for a better ,low fat and low calorie one. Sliders are another Super Bowl party must have.These are tasty and they do go down fast. Make them healthier by subbing in turkey or soy instead of beef. If you have to have beef sliders, then be judicious with toppings. Stick with veggies like a tomato and pickle slices. Stay away from the mayo and slather on mustard or ketchup. If you're making them then top either turkey or soy bacon and soy cheese .Another choice is grilled veggie sliders filled with eggplant and asparagus  along with sliced beefsteak tomatoes and onions.. Most parties end with a football shaped cake or themed cupcakes. Try a chocolate fondue instead , using dark chocolate for the dip and fun fruit chunks like pineapple  or , apples .Even chunks of low fat angel food cak can be dunked in . Spiced grapes are another nice ending. Roll wet grapes in cinnamon and nutmeg and let set in the fridge for half an hour.

Score a winning touchdown for your heart by eating healthy at this year's Super Bowl party You'll feel better too by sticking with low calories snacks and sweets. It's a win win situation.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

North Carolina's Women In Charge

The cooking industry has always been surprisingly male. Most of the great chefs have been men.It's been men who have run restaurants and alehouses throughout the centuries.Of course that changed with Fannie Farmer creating a cook book 150 years ago and a century later Julia Child as TV's first chef. Still  it's a man's world, well except in North Carolina.The whole farm to table movement is handled by and managed by women. Here they rule - and rule well.

It was the topic of an article written by New York Times Food regular , Kim Severson interviewed several women chefs s well as industry experts and farmers. The state  itself is an unusual one. Most of the population these days are Northern transplants, food savvy and used to more worldly fare.North Carolina is also a university state, drawing  student and staff populations from all over the world. They are  more open, maybe more sophisticated in their eating habits. These transplants want much more than just grits and fatback . Thanks to chefs such as Vivian Howard, who is the star of the PBs show"A Chef;s Life" , the restaurant fare is more hipster Brooklyn than the Old South.An el Bulli graduate Katie Button has opened up a tapas bar in the small Blue Ridge Mountain town of  Ashville.Another reason why is that there is not the amount of competition there as there is in New York, Los Angeles or even Boston or Chicago. A women chef has a better chance of opening up a successful restaurant there and maintaining its' success.

The same mentality  has extended to women farmers as well.They are the ones that supply the cuts of beef as well as grains. However there are some good old boys who have a problem with this. Jennifer Curtis who owns First hand Foods, a sustainable meat supplier, has encountered prejudice and misogynist attitudes..Men want to buy from men, especially if it's beef. There's sometimes a problem with other women too but it's not as bad. Mostly it's a sisterhood where they all rely on each other. After all these are the ones who are in charge of the pickle and bread companies, the orchards and pig farms. They need each  other to survive. In fact to help foster this attitude the state has the only female centric women's meat sellers conference.

A kitchen is a woman's place, but so is a restaurant and heading the farms.It is never more so seen than in North Carolina. women rule here as they till the land and nurture the state with good food.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chili Done Right

This is the weather for a big pot of chili.It's the perfect chill chaser along with being just a delicious meal.It can be made a variety of ways  but the bottom of line is that it should have some heat,  and there should be beans . Those are the essentials to create the perfect bowl.

Julia Moskin tackled the subject in today's Cooking Lab column in The New York Times Food section. It is one of the oldest dishes in North America, first made by the Aztecs long before the Spanish invaded Mexico. Their version had several variations that included lobsters fish and even frogs! They also included a well rounded blend of chilies, from red, yellow and green along to ones that were pickled, smoked and dried. The dish entered the US , namely Texas  by way of Mexican cowboys who brought it to cattle ranches along the Rio Grande River.They were used to eating tough longhorn meat that had been softened by water and made palatable with different chili peppers.This was the original carne con chili or carne con chili Colorado, so named because of the dark red color {or Colorado in Spanish }of the beans.This is the forebear of our modern Texas style one.The German immigrants who settled later on in the Longhorn State contributed to the recipe too. They added dried , powdered chilies to the dish which was surprisingly similar to their goulash. William Gebhardt   ground the peppers into a fine  powder which could be easily added to the blend.

A good basic chili recipe should have a good dash of cumin. Coriander should also be added, although many home chefs omit it.This came from the  Spanish families from the Canary Islands  who were paid by the  Spanish crown to settle the area in the 1700s. Their contribution was spices along with herbs and garlic, hallmarks of TexMex cuisine and chili.Traditional recipes call for unsweetened chocolate  as well as Mexican beer. For fire there is sliced  jalapenos along with chili powder made ancho and pasilla with .Ms. Moskin recommends four to seven fresh ones but adding them depends on you and your tastes. Masa harina is also added for thickening. The meat should be a beef chuck roast or steak however you can sub in more beans or soy meats such as soy beef crumbles for a healthier chili. Remember that the best ones have to sit for a day or two for the best flavor. Ms. Moskin suggests using fritos or tortillas but polenta is always good with it as is rice.

Chili is one of the best cold weather dishes It's a comfort food that warms you both literally and figuratively . Make a bowl of it in the traditional style or your way. It's bound to be good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day Gourmet

Snow days offer home chefs a lot of free time.These free hours can be spent trying out new recipes, perfecting favorite dishes or experimenting with new gadgets. They're also good because they provide you with a captive audience, family , neighbors and roomies, to test out and critique those new creations.

One of the biggest deals about a day off is having an actual breakfast with the family. No one is going anywhere so there's not that mad dash to eat and run. This is a great time to try out new egg dishes or perfect your breakfast crepe recipe. Instead of the usual fare you can whip up that new recipe for stuffed French toast as opposed to the regular kind. Add a cup of ham and chives to that waffle mix to create a bed for sunny side up eggs. Try those hoecakes in bacon grease or  spicy Mexican hot cocoa.A snow day is always a good time to try out those new gadgets you received for Christmas or picked up at the January white sales.There's no rush and you can sit down and read the appliances instruction  as well as browse through the recipe book before the family wakes up. Another good thing about a snow day is that it lets you prep things early on such as crepe batter and diced veggies and then you can go back to bed to sleep for an hour or two.

Most home chefs , both big and little, love to take the time to bake. It's a great day for fresh from the oven cupcakes and cookies (especially for the rest of the family  after  hours of shoveling or sledding). This is the day to finally give that complicated croissant dough a test because it's all about time and patience.Those spare hours are also needed if you're making and baking bread.Free time can also be helpful in perfecting your merengue recipe or experimenting with even baked Alaska. New ingredients  such as whole wheat can be tested out and what better than serving a whole wheat pizza  to a crew hungry from a day spent outdoors. Some home chefs can also  use a snow day to try out party recipes and tweak them before the actual event.Also it's fun to play , and try new ideas or put spins and twists on everyday recipes.The family can be introduced to panko breadcrumbs coating veggies or chicken wings. Instead of a cup of chicken noodle soup home chefs can offer their brood the more elaborately made apple squash soup.Croque monsieurs can be a more lively supper than just a ham and cheese.Better yet. Get out that brand new fondue pot and give it a test run with some Gruyere and baguette slices.

A snow day is a day that can be spent in the kitchen. Use the time to test and try out different ingredients and ideas. It will be a day off well spent.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Blizzard Basics

Most of New York , New Jersey and even Connecticut are going through Lola, the mega blizzard of 2015. The last few days have been crazy at our local supermarkets as everyone prepares for this behemoth of a storm. Surprisingly a lot of people don't; know how to shop for one.They figure a day in eating snacks and baking slice and bake cookies but its' much more than that. Multi purpose and versatile basics need to be bought .

Bread , milk and eggs are always the three items that always go first. People tend to gravitate towards these, and they are versatile. After all these are the three ingredients needed to make French toast,- a great breakfast after an hour of shoveling. However they're all versatile on their own. Bread can be used to make sandwiches and grilled cheeses but it can also be used as a layer for strata that egg based casserole. Stale bread can be cubed and fried to make croutons .If you feel ambitious you can even make homemade stuffing with it. Eggs can be used for everything from soups to even sauces. Hard boiled eggs make a good snack and provide much needed protein to combat an unshovelled driveway. Milk again is another multiuse food. Use it for real old fashioned hot cocoa but also try it to make delicious cream soups  as well as in batters for both sweet and savory dishes. Add lemon juice to it to create buttermilk if you want buttermilk pancakes or buttermilk dressing.

Other blizzard must haves are pancake  and waffle mix, especially if you have kids.It's an instant breakfast and can feed a lot. Also there's nothing like starting off  a snowy day with fresh , homemade waffles. Pasta should already be in your pantry . Again this is a versatile staple that can be made with tomato sauce , Oriental sauces and veggies or just plain and buttered for a simple evening supper.Boullion cubes are another must. Everyone loves a good homemade soup, whether it has a beef, chicken or veggie base. There's also so much to make from a simple stock. If you're not that ambitious then get a variety of canned soups to accommodate everyone's tastes.Have the freezer stocked too (and if the blizzard knocks your electricity out, just remember it's winter. Store stuff in your car  or shed). Margarine and butter should be on the ready as is olive oil.Another should have are ingredients for stews. Stews are easy to make, and filling. They can also be reheated for two days of eating. Make dumplings for even heartier fare. Water should also be a stock up however  you ca n boil snow for drinking water if need be.Just makes sure it's fresh  fallen and white.

don't be phased by Lola. Instead be prepared foodwise for a few days indoors and away from the supermarket.Yoiu can get through this, well fed with good , homemade and nutritious food.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fun Weekend Breakfasts

Weekends are the days  to be savored, especially mornings. It's the time when  the family is together in a leisurely way  and it's a time to enjoy a meal together. Why not make those breakfasts fun. There's so many fun breakfast dishes out there that the whole family can enjoy from eggs to waffles, from pancakes to hot drinks,

Egg dishes are always a breakfast must have. Most families usually go for the easy to make scrambles. These are fun and kids love them however you can remake them into something extraordinary. Try a spinach or pepper scramble. Add three cups of spinach  for every two eggs. If you want a cheesy version sprinkle in some Parmesan or cheddar. For a pepper or a confetti scramble add a cup or two of diced red and green peppers for every two eggs. You can also add ham, Italian sausage or the spicy Spanish chorizo  to liven them up too. Strata is another great breakfast dish.Think of it as a morning casserole made with eggs bread, cream and whatever else you want in it. This is great for bigger families or if the relatives are visiting.Huevos rancheros is another eggy treat , spicy  with the addition of salsa.Avocado chunks cool it off. You can also make breakfast tacos, filling them with bacon sausage eggs and cheddar.Egg sandwiches are always a treat. Try pretzel rolls or croissants instead of the usual English muffins or biscuits. For meats, try proscutto or Black Forest ham sliced wafer thin instead of the usual sausage patty or bacon slices.

Of course waffles always rule the breakfast table. Nothing beats fresh homemade ones> Scratch ones are easy to make.It's just flour and , baking powder mixed with sugar salt and separated eggs. / Most people usually drown them in syrup and butter. For a different spin , use honey and lemon butter or top them with a banana mash  and Nutella. You can also make waffle sandwiches with whatever stuffing you like. Kids love pancakes and these are also easy to whip up in just minutes.. Try the Swabian German kratzete which are scrambled pancakes. Make the pancakes as you normally would and as the dough cooks up  start cutting up the cakes until they resemble crumbles. Cook until crispy. Most  like them with raisins and powdered sugar but they taste just as good with syrup . Traditional pancake lovers will want theirs with blueberries, coconut or chocolate chip. You can also make whole wheat pancakes too.It pays to buy the pancake forms if you have little kids. There's nothing like eating bunny or giraffe cakes. Drinks could be spiced hot cocoa or a hot tea punch.Flavored coffees are fun for the adults ad older kids. Try orange or cranberry  sparklers, a mix of juice and seltzer served in a tall glass full of ice.

Weekend  breakfasts can be fun. Vary the recipes for more excitement to the morning meal. There's nothing like family bonding over new dishes.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Home Baking Amp It Up!

Everybody bakes in January. It's a great way  of relieving those winter doldrums along with providing yummy treats to the family.However brownies and snickerdoodles can get boring , being made with the same old recipes time after time. It's time to amp up those treats! Make them a little more livelier,a  more sophisticated for a different kind of dessert or snack.

Melissa Clark realized this and wrote about zesting up her family's recipe for lemon bars in Wednesday's New York Times Food A Good Appetite section. Lemon bars are nice, easy to make and again a quiet way to end a dinner. They're also a bake sale staple , made by countless moms and tween bakers.. However Ms. Clark gives them a sophisticated turn by creating the filling with olive oil add to the traditional eggs, lemon and sugar.It not only adds flavor but makes the curds glossy and silky.Lemon zest is also added to both it and the crust. For the top there is always confectioners sugar sprinkled on but she adds flaky sea salt. It's an interesting mix of tangy and sweet, silky and salty.Home bakers do have to get a good olive oil.preferably something with fruity undertones to compliment the lemon The sea salt should be flaky. It melts perfectly with the sugar upon biting  whereas a more granulated sea salt may not perfectly mesh.

Other baked treats that you can zing up are brownies and cupcakes. Try turning  them into mole flavor by adding ancho chli powder or a drop or two of hot sauce (for this I'd heartily recommend Tabanero's Hot Sauce because it has agave in it and no vinegar)You can also make chocolate cake  this way too.Add just a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar on top .Icing would be too much however you can whip up a  frosting with it. Again add just a tiny amount. Alcohol is another good add in. Of course there are rum cakes, They've been made for centuries. However bakers , both professional and home, are tossing in other spirits to liven up their baking treats. Gin and tonic, that English classic, can be turned into a tasty sweet dessert thanks to adding a good dash of gin and a cup of tonic to the batter .It gives the cake an earthy , green flavor while the added tonic gives the cake's texture a bubbly airy consistency. Stout is also an add, favored by hipsters these days.Again this works best with chocolate because of the drink's dark notes and robust flavor (it would completely overpower vanilla).

Baking is a good pastime during snowy days . However it can be boring.Liven it up with a dash of the unexpected, whether it be olive oil or stout. Those lemon bars and cupcakes will have a life of their own!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Good For You Cookbook

The new year is full of resolutions . One of th e most common is to eat well and healthier, Unfortunately that means sacrificing taste and favorite foods. However there's a new book out there to help dieters and the diet conscious enjoy healthy meals and even healthy sweets and snacks.

Good Food For A Healthy Heart is one of the most comprehensive cookbooks out there for create a varied, flavor packed diet.The editors at Good Housekeeping and Hearst have compiled a recipe book that are low everything from low sodium to low cholesterol.. what I love about it are the many tips given about what foods should be eaten as well as their values.Another plus is that all the recipes , even the desserts are under 500 calories each. The editors encourage using herbs and spices instead of salt for flavoring, along with whole grains and lean meats. One of the plusses is the breakfast section. These are not light ,some are downright hearty.There is a yummy one that involves homemade granola made into a parfait with vanilla low fat yogurt. Since this book is also geared in creating healthy kids, there are several smoothie recipes, perfect not just for breakfast but for an afternoon snack.Parents will enjoy the brunch worthy quiches and frittata, made with spinach Swiss chard and cremini mushrooms.

The cookbook has excellent main and side dishes that can be combined to create tasty dinners.All meats are represented and they are made in ways that are both delicious and good for you.Pork is made with caraway and brow sugar. That Italian classic braciole is also in the book,spiced with garlic and parsley, amped up with a grape tomato salsa.There's even that Southern fat bomb chicken fried steak made healthier from canola oil and whole wheat flour.For lovers of the exotic Good Housekeeping  throws in a chicken tandoori with a variety of antioxidant boosting spices, from coriander to paprika to cumin vegan recipes abound too, adding lentils and other good veggies to the diet.. Ah yes and those desserts.There's a homemade strawberry ice cream  made wit Greek yogurt. Blueberries are added to a tiramisu instead of chocolate There are even made over brownies and my fave merengue. the last spiked with lemon.Jam crumble bars are easy to make ad would be a great afterschool snack.

Good Food For A Healthy Heart should be the go to cookbook for healthy eating.It's full of tantalizing recipes and ideas. Get it now for some good and heart healthy eating

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kimchi Homey And Exotic In One Dish

Kimchi is a Korean classic and staple.It's also making its' way into America kitchens too.It's relatively easy to make and it can be used as an ingredient and as a side. Best of all you don't need an ancient recipe to make your own You don't even have to bury it in your back yard as once dictated.It's as simple to make as salad or pickles.

David Tanis explored this in today's A City Kitchen in the New York Times Wednesday Food section,Kim chi is Korean soul food, (no pun intended).Once made it can be used as a side with Korean barbecue or with steamed rice.It can also be added to ramyun noodle soup.There is even a soup, called jigae or chigae  that has the pickled cabbage as the main ingredient along with pork belly. Kimchi is also used in making the shrimp laced noodle cakes, giving them a tart kick.True Yankee foods can also be livened up with it. Ladle it instead of chili on hot dogs.Trya big dollop with pork chops instead of the usual sauerkraut.It can even be used in a paella as Chef Russ Moore did in his restaurant Camino in Oakland CA. He is half Koran and uses his mother's recipes to create interesting fusion dishes.

Kimchi is made from various veggies/ No one recipe is the definitive one. Mr. Tanis gives us one that has mustard greens and bean sprouts. The  must add in are Korean anchovy sauce,gochugaru , Korean red pepper flakes and red pepper paste or gochujang.sugar is also added to temper the taste. You can make an instant one which only takes five minutes or traditional one which is now stored in the fridge for a few months. Some purists do bury their kimchi in the ground. Many believe that doing so give it extra flavor however there is some called a kimchi fridge.It sort of looks like a wine cooler or mini fridge and can store two or three containers along with wine or beer too. (when not storing kimchi it can be used to chill and store.alcohol). Now is the time to make kimchi, winter cabbages are the best to use as a base. You can even try Savoy and Chinese cabbages together along with adding cabbages, mushrooms and even onions.

Kimchi may be a Korean standard but it's soon to  an American one too. It's a tasty blend of spices and veggies , perfect for noodle dishes and soups. Create your own blend of this side.It'll add and expand your culinary experience

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Your Kitchen Your Pharmacy

Sadly most of us will either get a virus or a cold before the winter ends. we'll be running to the doctor or pharmacy to pick up all sorts of pills and potions. However you can easily look to your kitchen to find remedies. There are some good recipes and ingredients to get you those sick days.

Stomach viruses are in full force right now. These are the worst, leaving their hosts nauseous and weak. One of the best ways to deal with it is fresh ginger tea. Ginger is wonderful for soothing any stomach ailment from flu to indigestion. I always recommend having a few ginger roots in the fridge. For the tea cut the root into sizeable pieces in a cup or mug . Pour boiling water over them and let steep for  few minutes. Drink hot. If the flavor is too strong , add some honey to temper it.. Another must have is rice. This calms the stomach too.Make it plain or for more flavor add a cube of veggie,chicken or beef boullion. Probably in  a day or two you'll be feeing more puckish, . This is the time to reintroduce your stomach to food agian.Mashed potatoes and pasta should be the first foods. These are bland and can be livened up with butter and a little salt and pepper. You can then work your way up to chicken and turkey sandwiches made with dry toast.

Colds and fevers are other nasty winter woes.Again look to your kitchen for relief. Citrus is a big help.Home made lime, lemon or orange ade is always good and  when chilled feels wonderful on a raspy throat freeze the juice in Popsicle molds for all natural treats. Lemon and even orange in  hot tea is the perfect soother. You can go another route  and add cayenne pepper to blow out those clogged nostrils (sorry for that gross mental picture). The heat helps to loosen mucus (again sorry for the eww factor)and makes it easier for breathing. Don't buy the whole peppers, get it in the dried powder form at your local GNC. Be very very prudent with how much you put in.Too much and you can have a fireball in your throat. A small pinch can work nicely. You can also add it to chili or taco fillings too. Of course nothing beats a steaming bowl of fresh made chicken soup. it's both medicinal and a comfort food. Add superfoods like kale,carrots and onions to make it more healthier.

Your kitchen is better than a drugstore. Most herbs and spices have medicinal qualities that can get your through this cold and flu season.Use them. They are your arsenal in this war of gems.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Celebrating Dr.King's Legacy

We celebrate Dr. King's legacy today with service acts. It should be do ne all year long in small and big ways.There are so many in which foodies can to help the community and make people's diets better and  more nutritious.It's not about spreading the good, it's about spreading the good food.

Again I can not emphasize the importance of volunteering at a soup kitchen especially throughout the year.Many tend to only remember the homeless and destitute  during the winter months and holidays. Poverty is 24/7  as is need. Contribute as much as you can when you can.Also volunteering at nursing homes, along with helping to arrange parties to break the boredom is always needed. If you're a restaurant owner ask if you  can  donate any leftover foods such as soups and salads. emphasize to your staff how great it would be  if all of you worked at the local soup kitchen. Even bakeries can help by donating overage. It's a sin to waste day old rolls and cakes when they'd be a big plus adding to lunches and dinners.

Home gardeners and farmers can also contribute. Depending on how the summer goes  donate any bumper crops you may have  . Tomatoes are always appreciated  because they can be turned into everything from salad to sauce. Onions and garlic are also welcomed because they ,too , are versatile as well can be kept for a substantial amount of time. Even herbs can be donated. They are perfect for seasoning sauces and meats. Vegetables can also be used in creating soups which can be made in the summer and then frozen for the fall and winter. Any garden produce can be donated via Ample Harvest ( to food pantries in your area. This organization is great because it allows home farmers to contribute as well as providing fresh fruit and veggies to families in  need.

Dr. King envisioned a world where everyone could reach out and help each other. Continue that dream by helping your community. It could be a Sunday morning at a soup kitchen.It could be donating your garden's bounty . As long as it's reaching out to give your community nutritious ingredients and healthy meals.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ardente Gourmet Stirrer A Cook's Best Friend

Cooking any meal is an elaborate process for both professional and home chefs alike. Home chefs though have it the roughest. They have to prepare everything from sauces to salads by themselves. This is hard, especially when two dishes require a lot of attention. However they may have a new best friend - the Ardente Gouremt Stirrrer. This helps in preparing sauces and soups , giving cooks a little relief during those hairy cooking moments.

This is a neat invention. It has a battery powered stirring mechanism that fits  perfectly over any large stockpot.A long rod connects the plastic paddles to this , allowing it to churn up the ingredients. There are two sizes of paddles included, one for lighter sauces and soups, a bigger and wider pair to  help stir polenta and chunkier  sauce.Home chefs needn't worry  about the whole thing spinning out of orbit and drenching them and their kitchens in tomato sauce or polenta . There are side handles  that allow the top to stay firmly in place. It was recently invented by John Ardent as a tribute to his mother, Angela Ardente. Mrs. Ardente was an excellent cook , however her meals were lavish and labor intensive. She either was stirring three pots at once or employing John to help her out. With this , home chefs can let the Gourmet Stirrer do all the work while they prep other dishes or take a breather.It sells on Amazon at $55.00 plus shipping and  need batteries , four C cell batteries in order to operate.

This is a great invention for any home chef.(and I wish Ardente would come up with an extensive cookbook for it)It's purpose is to aid in cooking sauce and polenta (not together). For a polenta lover like me, this is a godsend because I always make a sauce to go with it. My attention is divided between two pots and one always suffers, namely the corn meal. Polenta is a tricky dish to begin with. Stir it too long and it becomes runny, not enough and you have uncooked lumps of cornmeal . The Gourmet Stirrer gives me a perfect dish every time with a perfectly creamy mash that's just right in texture and consistency. Many other people use this device for cooking mashed potatoes  as well as stirring thick chowders and chilis. Surprisingly it also has a following amongst home candy makers. The constantly turning paddles help the syrups and pastes from sticking to the pot's bottom  and sides .It also helps in create a smooth , satiny consistency  which is crucial in making a perfect praline or fudge. Besides candy, you can also use it for making grits and different cheese dishes too.

Every home chef should have an Ardente Gourmet Stirrer .It is a big help , especially  when there are multiple dishes to tend to. It's really is a home chef's best friend.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tabanero The Perfect Hot Sauce

January 22nd is National Hot Sauce day - perfect for trying out the zingy , lip tingling Tabanero Hot Sauce. This is a great new sauce that can  liven up everything from your wings  to even your cupcake frosting. It's a great plus to any game day menu or Mexican themed party. All it takes is a few drops.

Tabanero is the real deal as far as hot sauces are concerned. One big plus is that's it's all natural , using Mexican based ingredients. The peppers come from the area of Tabasco in the  sun drenched Yucatan Peninsula. Agave syrup is also added to give it a sweetness that other sauces don't possess. The best part is that slightly sour aftertaste  thanks to the elimination of vinegar in the recipe.Veggies such as good for you carrots and onions are also added for that kick of antioxidants.Also, unlike most hot sauces, there is also grapefruit seed extract too  with its many benefits, Another plus in Tabanero's flavor is no preservatives (although the grapefruit seed extract does have preservative properties). This is like a tabasco sauce you'd make at home or buy during a trip to Mexico.The ingredients mellow after a while but that adds to the flavor.Thanks to the agave it's also versatile. It can be added to almost everything from huevos rancheros to a mole cupcakes.

I love the taste.It's different than other commercially made which are just too fiery and sour. To be honest I'm not one to put any hot sauce in my chile or taco fillings. That's all going to change now. It is lip tingling , true, but I like the cushion of the agave's sweetness to counter the habanero's sharp bite. A few drops is definitely going into the chicken fillings I make for my tacos. It's also going to be added to my hamburgers for zing and even to  my Sloppy Joe mix. Tabanero can also be used as a spicy marinade for chicken and turkey. Definitely use it as a marinade and a dip for those Super Bowl Party wings as well as a great addition to those Bloody Marys(or better yet a Bloody Mary Punch).Since it has the sweetness of the agave it can be used in desserts too. Make fiery s'mores with them or add a few drops to a chocolate cake or frosting for a Mexican mole style dessert.A teaspoon can give an eye opening lift to chocolate fondue or homemade fudge sauce. Add a dash to your chocolate ice cream recipe for a zesty cold treat.

Celebrate National Hot Sauce day with a dash or Tabanero Hot Sauce.It is far different from other hot sauces. It's fiery and sweet, zingy and fun. Use it for your chile or for your wings, or better yet hot fudge sundae.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Frito Misto, Bollito Misto

The Northern Italians know how to do an antipasto platter right.There is the crunchy and fun frito misto , literally  assorted fried things and the earthy and hearty bollito misto, or assorted boiled things, Both are great served together or separate, perfect for all sorts of parties and cozy winter evening gatherings.

Luckily for all fried food lovers,, David Tanis wrote about frito misto in  yesterday's New York Times Foof section. He chose the Venetia style which is mostly all seafood,t's a surprisingly light fare, similar to Japanese tempura. You do need an electric fryer with a thermostat which can regulate temperatures . A regular one without a gauge can also be used ,however be care that the oil doesn't get overly hot and smokes.  When you make any frito misto, try to make it like an assembly line, with cleaning or washing first, them coating   all the morsels followed by frying. As for the batter, many  home chefs prefer a seasoned flour instead of a batter, however it's up to you.Mr. Tanis prefers a two step coating process. The first is a mix of flour , pumped up with white wine for flavor and seltzer for bubble. The seafood pieces are them dredged in a mix of  just flour, salt and pepper.. They are then fried for two  or three minutes until crunchy and golden. You can also use veggies such as broccoli,, mushrooms, cauliflowers and when they're in season, squash blossoms. The last is wonderful as fritto misto  and can be fried in butter instead of oil.

For a more earthier assortment , there is bollito misto This is a popular dish amongst the Piedmontese, Lombards and Emilio Romanese. It  closely resembles the French pot au feu. It's a great way of using tougher cuts of meat, with the cooking process rendering the meat's texture almost buttery. Beef and veal are always cooked together  as are whole hens and capons. Cooking time is two to three  hours over a low simmering flame. The meats are then thinly sliced and served with mostarda,candied fruit in  mustard sauce, salsa verde, a green parsley  sauce, chutney and / or horseradish. For a quicker recipe just poach the meats . The water should be flavored with the addition of salt and a handful of peppercorns along with two or three bay leaves. The broth can be repurposed as a the base for zuppa montagna,the savory bread pudding popular in the Piedmontese Alps.Serve the bollito misto with  thinly sliced and buttered Italian bread.

Both hot antipastos are perfect for cozy winter get togethers. Whether fried or boiled, they are tasty and fun, a different spin on a classic dish. Make it either fried , boiled or both for a yummy meal with friends or family.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Prime Rib Return Of A Classic

Many classic foods are making big comebacks, thanks to younger chefs and home chefs discovering them .This is the case with prime rib.It's starting to be seen both  in restaurants and dining rooms. Once, relegated to fancy affairs it's becoming a part of the American diet again.

Jeff Gordonier explored this in today 's New York Times Wednesday Food section  Once the star of Sunday roasts, it's been associated with weddings and bar mitzvahs. This is the year for it to come back into its own.Prime rib is already being seen in some of Manhattan's best restaurants such as Cherche Midi. The cut itself is stunning, a true roast with a photogenic and seductive look. It has a ruby red eye in its' center surrounded by a tender melt in your mouth meat. The exterior is a crisp rind of fat and salt, the perfect crust.There is also the plus of gnawing the bone, satisfying any Paleo urges.The meat should be aged 120 days before cooking so it has , as Mr. Gordonier puts it"a beautiful blue cheese funk about it."Prime rib is   usually served with Yorkshire pudding, as it has for centuries in Britain. This is the forebear of our popover, and started as a runny batter  to collect the cut's juices.

Both are easy to make. If  you have a fireplace you can roast the meat the original way.It does require a hook that will hold the string wrapped around the meat.You're going to have to check antique shops or even Etsy for meat hooks. They may have a comeback thanks to the cut  but stores like Williams and Sonoma and Sur la Table have yet to pick up on this trend . You can cook prime rib in an oven  usually for two hours  after an initial browning of 15 minutes at 500 degrees Farenheit Many chefs like to marinade the meat.The Lafayette Restaurant in New York preps the meat with packing it with salt , a necessary along with cracked peppercorns and herbs.Some, like, Washington DC chef Nate Anda of Partisan coats his in fennel pollen and red pepper is then  cooked for eigh hours in a sous vide, followed by searing. It's then sliced in wafer thin pink slices and served on flat breads.FOr home chefs just use fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to seal in the juices and to give it a nice salty crust. Yorkshire pudding is baked afterwards, using the prime ribs' dripping. It's just a simple blend of flour, whole milk and kosher salt. A teaspoon of the meat's rendered fat or even melted butter is added to the batter for more flavor.The puddings only take 10 to 12 at 400 degrees Farenheit/ minutes to bake in a muffin tin. Serve with only horseradish cream.

Prime rib is an elegant cut, a throwback to our beef eating days. Make it and Yorkshire pudding for a truly flavorful experience  appealing to any and every meat lover's tastes. It's downright delicious and as you'll soon find out , addictive

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Resolving Those Resolutions

It's already two weeks into the New Year and some diets have probably been ditched.It is hard to stick to a regime where favorite foods are forbidden and have been replaced by bland greens and cardboard crackers. Don't despair. Any dieter can combine tasty and healthy to create satisfying meals and snacks.

Most people nix chocolate from their diets. This is one of the hardest foods to cut out as we all know.
Luckily it doesn;t have to be given up. Instead of going for milk chocolate treats opt for the dark chocolate instead. A dark chocolate bar can be just as rich an even more sinful. It also is chock full of antioxidants along with being good for your heart and brain. You can even cheat a bit and have a dark chocolate drenched Mallowmar or Pinwheel. Treat yourself to the Lu company Petit Ecolier in the dark chocolate variety. This is a sizeable square of dark chocolate topping a crisp buttery cracker. Ice cream is another treat that's always a struggle with dieters.Instead of pints of rich Turkey Hill or Hagen Daz try Weight Watcher's or Skinny Cow. This last has an amazing array of cones and sandwiches. Their cones are truly delicious and have a variety of different flavors mixed with a chocolate syrup topping. The best part - they're only 150 calories with 90 fat calories. Fruit bars are also yummy and low on fat. Try Stop & Shop's chocolate dipped ones One is just 90 calories with 30 fat calories.

One of the hardest foods to give up is the hamburger.Who can't resist a juicy patty , sometimes smothered in cheese and bacon?  Again, no need for tears.Dieters can have their burgers and eat them too.Turkey burgers are  much leaner and higher in Vitamin B 6. You can still have bacon but switch over to the turkey version,It has a high amount of ever needed zinc to it. As for cheese go for the soy kind. which tastes like the real thing. Another dieting no no and temptation is fried chicken. The best alternative is the baked version. it does take much longer to make(think forty five minutes in the oven) but it has fewer health risks.It does still have the flavorful crunchy coating and tender juicy meat inside. Serve with a mayo less cole slaw for a fun weekend meal.Many dieters miss big breakfasts full of three egg omelets and French toast. They can still have these, but with healthy twists. Use egg whites instead of whole eggs, along with more veggies than ham or bacon. Nix the cheeses too.The egg whites also make a great coating for French toast too. Instead of the usual white bread use whole grain for a healthier slice.Top with dark honey to mix it up and a small pat of butter.

Diets are always hard , especially if it means giving up much loved favorites. Turn these into healthy good for you meals.  It'sll make sticking to that resolution easier.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Easy Winter Meals

Winter brings a lot of hard work. There's shoveling the front walk, winterizing the shrubs and  doing whatever else that involves ice and snow. After all that work you need a good dinner but not the work attached with it. There are some easy dinners out there to at fill all a winter's meal requirements.

One of the easiest and most filling dishes is zuppa di montagna. This classic Piedmontese dish is just stale Italian  bread or breadsticks (my favorite) layered in a casserole dish. Swiss cheese slices are layered over them and then hot broth is ladled over the entire dish. . Cook in a 325 degree oven for around half an hour. Microwaving it adds to the simplicity. It can be made in just five to six minutes. for variation add a layer of parboiled (think two minutes in a hot bath ) Savoy cabbage leaves. Another easy dish is spaghetti. I just discovered the ease and tastiness of microwaved spaghetti. This is so simple to make .It's micro boiling pasta for only ten minutes and then serving with a ready made sauce. If you do want a quick primavera, then saute sliced plum tomatoes in olive oil and garlic. You can also add onions, broccoli and cauliflower for a more Spring like taste.Try your microwaved pasta with peas and pine nuts for a lighter dinner.

Even more substantial dishes can be easily made. Nothing beats sliced roast beef or turkey with hot gravy.What you can do is buy the meats already sliced  along with jarred gravy at your local supermarket. Use Stove Top Stuffing as a base  for the two, and you have a hot filling meal. Microwave some green beans, corn and succotash to complete it. Chili is another easy dish, made easier in either a huge stock pot or crock pot. It's just a simple blend of sauteed chop meat and onions along with canned beans and  canned whole tomatoes.The heat is up to you. Add as much pepper as you want to combat that winter chill. Tacos are another easy and fun meal. All you need to do is just cook the meat part. The fixings are usually pre sliced and you can even buy already made guacamole.The same goes for burritos and soft tacos.

Cold weather brings about hard work. Think about making easy meals  that are also filling and hot.It's a nice way to end a day full of snow shoveling.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Girls NIght In

It's Saturday night and you know what that means - a round of drinks, yummy food and even yummier dishing . However the bar and restaurant scene can be a bit too noisy - and you never know who's sitting a booth or table away. That's when it's time to bring the party home for a girl's night in.

Of course there will be drinks (but as the hostess be aware that you'll be to blame if there's any drinking and driving. Set a designated driver before hand or just let them sleep over if they've had too much). Theme the drinks with what you'll be serving. Margeritas are always served with Mexican food but you can also make mojitos too.Chili is the easiest dish to make and serve, perfect for a frosty Saturday night.A more fun idea is to serve tacos or fajitas. This way those on a diet can make them the way they want to , without the sour cream and cheese. Have different toppings as well as a choice of meats and veggies too. A different dessert to serve is chocolate mole cake. This is a typical chocolate cake made with trimoline sugar filled with a mole ganache. Mole is a sauce made from different spices, peppers and unsweetened chocolate. You could even make chocolate  mole cupcakes with a Kahlua icing. Another idea is having a Hawaiian night  with roast pork and pineapple sliders or shrimp kabobs.Serve a big platter of Huli Huli chicken wings . These are wings that have been brushed with a marinade of pineapple juice . white wine, chicken broth along with ketchup and ginger. Worcester and soy sauces balance out the sweetness , tempering it with a savory flavor.With this have frosty pina coladas , complete with those little umbrellas.

A girl's night can easily be classy, sophisticated and French. Think about making dinner crepes.These can be bought in your local supermarket like Stop & Shop or the A&P however they're easy enough to make at home. There are only six ingredients, all purpose flour, eggs milk , water salt and butter for cooking. Crepe batter works best when it is chilled for exactly one hour. The fillings can be as simple as a Provencale ratatouille or as complex as a beef burgundy from Burgundy. Spinach and mushroom crepes are wonderful, especially served with a Gruyere or cheddar sauce. Have the crepes with an appropriate wine or if you haven't celebrated the New Year together, a good bottle of French champagne. If you want, you can save the crepes for dessert, turning them into a magnificent Crepes Suzette or a simple Parisian street crepe with lemon, butter and powdered sugar. Serve a French bistro style dinner first . This could be the delicious steak Diane, small filets of beef in a rich cognac sauce or tasty and diet friendly Salad Nicoise, , loaded with tuna, , hard boiled eggs,garlic and capers. Of course , a  girls night in could be a simple wine and cheese party. Have everyone bring their favorites or set out a cheese table, that also has fruit, cold cuts, sliced French bread and crackers

Nothing beats an evening full of eating and catting. Have a fun girls's night in at home. Make sure there's plenty of good food and drinks to go with all that good gossip..

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Night Fun Dinners

Friday nights should be full of fun; They're the end of a hard work or school week. There should be a celebration of sorts, namely in the form of some kind of equally as fun supper.Forget the meat loaf and sensible sides. Live a little , from starters to dessert.

For decades families have celebrated Friday night with pizza. They're still doing so.Nothing beats a fresh from the oven pie, rich with tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella cheese. There are still pizzerias that make home deliveries  however home chefs can also make their own. Many pizzerias will sell just plain dough to be baked at home.If you're adventurous  you can definitely create a fun version using everyone's favorite toppings. There's nothing wrong with a chicken pepperoni mix or onions and steak. Seafood lovers can put crab and shrimp on theirs to create a pizza de frutti e mare. Vegetarians can use soy mozzarella  as well as fun veggies such as onions , broccoli and peppers. Even edaname or soy beans can be sprinkled on top. You can also make mini pizzas as starters as well as inside out ones. This last is made by  putting a spoonful of tomato sauce and olive oil  along with a  ball of mozzarella on a rolled out piece of dough . Cover with another piece of pizza dough and bake until golden.For an entirely different spin try spring rolls. They can be bought or made and be stuffed with all sorts of fun fillers. Try baby shrimp and cabbage together  or  minced pork and red peppers. Have dishes of soy , duck and hoisin sauce  on the ready for dipping.

If you've had a staid Friday night dinner then go wild with dessert. Chocolate fondue is a great ender, plus it brings the family together as everyone go for some communal dipping. Have bowls filled with  cut up strawberries and bananas for something healthy and for something wicked think marshmallows, along with  cubed brownies and pound cake.You can also try a caramel fondue by melting caramel  and dipping in apple slices and even pretzel rods.Even though it's January , ice box cakes can still rule.A favorite and easy one to make the night before is the chocolate log, made with chocolate wafers and Cool Whip. Banana pudding cake is another neat Friday night dessert. Again this is simple to construct ,especially when you use instant vanilla pudding.Make Jello stained dessert squares for a party like ending. This involves first making three or four different flavors of Jello in Pyrex pans,  then cutting them in cubes and then mixing them in a blend of unflavored gelatin and condensed milk.The result are confetti colored squares of glistening jewel like squares. If this is too much for you, then stick with the tried and true sundae bar. Have two or three kinds of ice cream with different toppings and syrups along with Reddi whip.

Celebrate TGIF with Friday fun dinners and desserts. You and especially the kids will appreciate a visit to a  culinary party. It's the end of the week. Have fun!!!!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Leeks The Green Of Winter

Winter brings the dull colors of nature, from grey skies to stark black trees.The foods seems that way too.Bland looking soups.Washed out veggies.Luckily we have the leek to add a spark of bright green to our culinary landscape.Their flavor and look brightens up any winter kitchen. David Tanis knows this and featured them as an article in yesterday's New York Times Food section.Leeks are a wonderful addition to any diet.They have a slightly onion like flavor that goes well in everything from soups to salads to even sandwiches.However , unlike other veggies, they are temperamental.Creating the perfect leek dish starts in the green grocers or supermarket.Choose the right leek.For stockpots choose one that's fat and about two feet long.Soups require ones that are smaller.The famed French dish leeks vinaigrette called For small or medium leeks.Remember though, the really small ones otherwise known as baby leeks can taste a bit grassy,Leeks require a bit of snip and trim before cooking.Trim the scraggly looking root, leaving a tiny bit of the bottom still intact.Always peel away the tough outermost layer.Peel away until you see the spring green colored tender center.If you have medium sized leeks, then divide the white part from the green by cutting straight across.This makes cooking them easier because the denser white part takes much longer to cook up. Soup leeks need to be cut thinly and crosswise.Large pieces need to be cut to bite size manageable pieces. All leeks need to be set in a lukewarm bath before doing anything.This gets rid of the grit and sand that they are raised in. Leek dishes are wonderful.There are some pointers to remember , though, before,cooking.Simmer your leeks in well salted water.Don't let them boil and not for a long time.the texture should be tender and silky, and not mushy and stringy.However if you cook them too long, you'll have to deal with a chewy,tough stalk. Never ever refrigerate cooked leeks.They can be kept at room temperature.If you're making them vinaigrette style,give them a dressing with jolts of vinegar and mustard.Even add some capers or anchovies.Bread crumbs are great over them too.Mr. Tanis gives his bright green leek soup.The leeks are pureed for this as is the spinach that adds to the color.Garlic and cayenne give it bite and flavor. A blob of creme fraiche adds coolness to it.One of my favorite leek recipes is a family recipe from Piedmont.It is leeks on toast, a gem of a recipe from my m Great aunt,Albertina. Cooked leeks are heaped on generously buttered toast and then an ample sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.They are then placed in a toaster oven for ten minutes until cheese is melted. Leeks are a wonderful addition to the winter diet.They are versatile and just downright delicious.Have them on toast or enjoy them in a springy, bold salad. Aujourd'hui je sues Charlie!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Good Hot Broth

With the temps reaching staggering record breaking lows, it's time to reach for a bowl or cup of hot , steamy broth. It's not only great for warming up, it's perfect for revitalizing . Any broth is chock full of  vitamins and nutrients and can be customized to suit any one's tastes. It can be eaten as a light soup or substantial snack.

It was the subject of an article by New York Food section great, Julia Moskin in today's Food Issue. Broth is the perfect meal for January ,It's a light clear respite from the last of the holiday food plus being a great meal for dieters. Broth is also getting its' due thanks to the Paleo Diet. One recommended dish is the Bone Broth, basically the same chicken or beef stock chefs and home chefs have been using for millennia.Like other trendy foods of late it has a foot in the mystical past as well as one foot in the now of good for you nutritional foods such as yogurt and quinoa.Broth can also have some medicinal qualities as well.The author of Nourishing  Broth, Sally Fallon Morell, has found out that broth served as a kind of medicine for centuries, settling both nerves and stomach problems. The ancient Jewish physician, Maimonides proclaimed that chicken soup was an excellent soup and medication. Caribbean islanders have cow foot soup for breakfast to aid ailments and provide fortification for the day. Stock actually does have health benefits.It aids in reducing inflammation as well as digestive problems.

The best stock or broth is made with a lot of bones. The French tend to delineate theirs. There is everything from light veal to dark veal and raw chicken to roasted chicken. Home chefs don't have to be that fussy,In fact a mixed broth of chicken and beef tastes delicious. Broth making is an arduous affair that can take an entire day and night to make, First is the roasting process. Ms. Moskin uses a recipe borrowed from Mario Canora, a chef at Manhattan's Brodo Restaurant. Chef Canora is know for his tasting sampler of different ones. He recommends using beef shanks and oxtails brushed with a tomato paste and slow roasting them for half an hour to forty five minutes. They are then transported to a 12 quart stock pot and are completely immersed in cold water and  apple cider vinegar.Chopped onions along with herbs such as flat leaf parsley and oregano are also added. Shitake mushrooms are also thrown in for earthiness. It's up to the home chef however to add what they like , as far as extra veggies and spices. Simmer overnight for three hours. If you're using knucklebones , then it has to be overnight for about nine or fifteen hours.. The newly made broth can be used immediately or frozen for later use.

Broth is the perfect meal for these freezing temps. A cup of fresh made is a good light lunch ,packed with nutrition and taste. Have a bowl or cup of your own making and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cold Temps Hot Cheeses

Cheese is one of those foods that's enjoyed all year round.It's especially good in the winter, when it's heated up.The taste becomes more intense and almost buttery in flavor. It's texture is a perfect meld of creaminess and crustiness. The best part is that it requires minimum ingredients and preparations.

One of the easiest is a simple grilled cheese. Like French toast , every home chef has his or her own way of making it. One way is just placing a slice of any cheese on plain white bread and baking for five to ten minutes in a toaster oven. The best bread for this is Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread.It has a nice sweet, homebaked taste that works well with the cheese's sharpness. You can vary both. A grilled rye topped with Swiss is nice variation. Italian bread dripping with mozzarella makes for a nice lunch.Serve with a cup of heated pizza sauce for more flavor. The diner classic The Happy Waitress is the ultimate grilled cheese. This is an open faced sandwich first layered with two layers of  bacon slices and  a generous amount of fresh sliced tomatoes.The extra baking really crisps up the baking and the three flavors together are just perfect. You can also go the French route by making the bistro favorite croquet monsieur. Gruyere cheese and wafer thin ham is placed upon slices of white bread and fried in butter. You can add sauce but it also tastes great without it too.

Fondue is the ultimate winter cheese dish. This does require a fondue pot (now on sale during the January white sales) but you can also use a sauce pan as well.The  best cheeses for it are a mix of Swiss and Gruyere but you can cook all of one or the other.White wine is added along with a dash of cherry brandy or kirsch . The bread used is almost always a stale baguette  cut into cubes.Boiled potatoes and cubed apples are also dipped into the sauce. Another tasty dish is also Swiss, raclette .This is a cow's milk, sort of resembling mozzarella in look and texture(it can be bought in the US  at Trader Joe's). It has a mild flavor  and is very soft.It is cooked on a special raclette grill that sort is like a large waffle maker. The cheese is placed on it and diners can scrape the cheese off with bread,potatoes or gherkins. In fact raclette comes from the French word racler to scrape.This is a party dish and is great for a  small dinner party of four or six.

The temps are falling.It's the perfect times for a hot , cheesy dish. You can choose the all American grilled cheese or the fun and sophisticated raclette. Any hot cheese plate is perfect for these frosty, chill days and nights.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hijacked By Google

For all my readers, Google has hijacked my account for no reason at all.I'm am writing g this on my phone which is impossible to type on.This may takes months and possibly even a decade to fix.I will try to give you quality entries although it will be extremely difficult.Please stand by. Liz

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winter Foods Cabbage Season

One of the brightest culinary spots in winter is cabbage.Its bright green leaves are a nice changefromall the canned veggies.Like those other winter foods, oranges and tangerines, it's full of Vitamin C and other good things.It can be eaten raw or cooked.Either way it's full of freshness and flavor. There are several different types of cold weather cabbage.they have smaller heads and are harder than the ones Grown in the summer.One of the most popular is the light green Danish Ballhead.This is mild tasting, perfecting for making sauerkraut and introducing kids to cabbage. creamy white Bentley is another winter variety.You can keep it for weeks without worrying that it will go bad.Most people know the January King, with it's flattened shape and deep purple marking on it's veins.A popular one in Northern Italy and my kitchen right now is the Savoy.It's cheerful yellow color is beckoning and it has an almost sugary taste.Any cabbage is chock full of beta carotene and Vitamins A and C.It's good to incorporate it in your diet now in the midst of cold and flu season.Cabbages also are full of iron and magnesium.It also becomes a pro biotic if fermented as in dishes like the traditional German sauerkraut and the Korean Kim chi. Cabbages are also easy for the novice home chef.They can made into salads and can be cooked into simple stir fries and braises. One of the best recipes is Cole slaw. this is a simple dish of shredded cabbage ,carrots and a mayo dressing.This is the most traditional, and the one everyone tends to make.Yet Cole slaw can be turned into something fun and zingy side dish, perfect with all those football party ribs and wings. Sub in oil and apple sider vinegar.Instead of carrots try wafer thin slices of Granny Smith apples(use a mandolin for this last), You could also create a Mexican influenced one with slivered jalapeño and garlic. cooked cabbage is wonderful.Wilting cabbage is easy.Take any kind ,cut into manageable pieces and then sauté in a blend of olive oil and butter( you can use margarine but it won't add to the veggies's flavor).Garlic and sea salt can be added for more flavoring. One of the best winter dishes is the Piedmontese pas coi.Translated from the dialect as not fish, (although the name could come from the shape or the way the cabbage leaves look kind of scaly after cooking and pickling).The leaves are first parboiled and then drained .This makes them more malleable to work with.Fill them with uncooked polenta and a small knovpb of butter.They are then rolled ,sort of like the Greek dolmades or grape leaves and tied with sturdy thread .They are they fried in olive oil until they turn brown. After this place them in a cassarole dish and purr a pickling brine over them.The brine is made from red wine vinegar and the herb savia.They're left to pickle for a few hours before eating. Cabbage is one of the best winter foods to eat.It's healthy and delicious, along with being veratile.Buy a head of it today for a tasty side whether cooked or made into a salad.It's a winter treat.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Winter Foods Part One - Citrus

To the uninformed , as well as those who don't often frequent their supermarket, winter can seem like a bleak time. There are no fresh fruits or vegetables.If you do want them, then you have to settle on either canned or preserved. Not true.There are plenty of them to enjoy and incorporate into New year's diets.Citrus fruits are popular right now. They're everything a summer fruit is, versatile, good for you and most importantly delicious.

This is the time of the year to get your citrus fix.Oranges are out in abundance right now.The most common is the Washington Navel.This bright globe originated in Brazil and now is grown in Southern California. This is a versatile orange.It is great to turn into  juice  which can be a refreshing beverage along with being the base of a great salad dressing.Any navel orange is a great snack too. It has a nice sweetness without it being too cloying. Another good orange is the blood orange. The flesh is a beautiful shade of ruby.It's grown mostly in Mediterranean climates to achieve that amazing jewel toned flesh.The juice makes for a tasty glaze, especially for salmon. Blood orange juice is also the main ingredient in Italian orange sodas (although you can make your own , using it and club soda). Seville oranges are also in supermarkets right now.They're most famously known for being turned into marmalade(which you can make yourself) and can also be known for twisting the classic lemon merengue pie into an orange one.

Tangerines are also out in force right now. These are wonderful carry along snacks for school or the gym because of their small size.They are  They usually come out around Thanksgiving but are still in stores in February.They should be deep orange in color and spotless. Brown spots are not a good sign, usually meaning an older fruit.They are great paired with chicken in a light salad and their juice makes for a good marinade.Tangerines are surprisingly good  with pork chops as well.A sunny, tropical sauce includes them and flaked coconut drizzled on the meat and then baked.Cole slaw also benefits from the sweet sunniness of tangerine juice..Use both it and the zest for a zingy side salad, perfect for the Super Bowl. Mandarin oranges are really tangerines and , again these are the perfect snack.For a real surprise use tangelos, a hybrid of the tangerine and grapefruit. They have a mild , sweet flavor, perfect for those who love a less intense tasting juice and are super juicy. Try the Mandarins with lamb or as a refreshing sparkler with seltzer.Tangelos  can be used to rub over chicken and even turkey  for an unexpected burst of flavor.

To say there is no fresh fruit to enjoy right now is a lie. Any fruit section in any supermarket right now is bursting with orange  globes of color and flavor. Enjoy them for a healthy and varied diet right now.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Food Trends Predictions And Hopes For 2015

Every new year brings predictions and hopes. The culinary world is no different. There are expectations and trends that will shape and polarize 2015. What will they be?Will they be successful or fizzle out? Just as with the world anything is possible.

One of the most talked about trends to be is the Nordic Diet. This is replacing 2014's Paleo diet which was the cave man diet, which has periods  of starvation along with feasting on meats and root vegetables. The Nordic Diet is a bit more kinder.It is basically the foods the Vikings ate over a thousand years ago with  the inception of canola oil or rapeseed oil, rapeseed being common in Scandanavia. Meats include everything from cod to moose, however free range chicken is also allowed on meat days. Foods should be foraged and moss along with edible barks and twigs are allowed. Root veggies such as carrots and turnips along with berries like strawberries and blueberries are extras. Another trend that will be welcomed, is the death of hipster artisanal foods. The hipster movement is dying and with it all those annoying trends like make your own bacon, pickles,Amish food and make anything in a mason jar.

2015 has a lot of exciting food trends.I'm excited about Brusselkale, a hybrid of two very good for you foods. Imagine kale in miniature with a peppery taste.There is also lollipop kale which will definitely be made into neat little appetizers. Pistachios are another hot trend in the making (obviously those Stephen Colbert commercials paid off for the National Pistachio Council).Right now you can buy them dipped in rich dark chocolate for a sweet and healthy snack. You'll be seeing them on pizzas as well as in guacamole and pesto sauces.Bitter foods are going to be another culinary must have. Think tart and earthy like broccoli rape or stout.Fermented foods are also going to be getting a shout out this 2015. Sauerkraut and yogurt will be bigger than usual although there is a reason for this. Both are probiotic which aids both in digestion and eliminating harmful bacteria.

This is only day one of the new year yet trends are forming and gelling. It should be an interesting 2015, with pistachios and sauerkraut vying with moose and berries.  What will your trend be this year?