Saturday, February 28, 2015

Steak And Potatoes Please

Sometimes the best meals are the simplest. The most famed and desired is  the simple steak and potatoes. It's an easy meal to make and thanks to the different cuts of meat and variety of potato recipes can be served a variety of ways. One day it can reflect the gaucho cuisine of Argentina the next , an homage to French bistro dining.

What steak makes for a good dinner./you have a choie.Most people go for the filet mignon .as we all know it's top of the line There are several reasons for this.It's not as marbled with fat as other cuts and extremely tender,It's best served cooked rare to medium. The best cooking method for it is searing or grilling. If searing , then you can  added a medallion of herbed butter for more flavor.A less expensive cut is the flank steak or London Broil. This is a triangular piece that has a robust beefy flavor and is good hot or cold. They are tougher in texture so marinating is in order.Try a simple oil and vinegar one, with some rosemary sprigs added. You can also try a soy and ginger one too. or for something exciting cook it gaucho style with a yummy chimichurri sauce. It's a spin on salsa Verdi with cilantro,tequila and lime juice.This  Sometimes you just want a plain hamburger. Use chop meat instead of the usual premade patties. Add some minced onion for a truly flavorful ones or insert a small blob of butter or an ice cube for tender moist ones.

As for the potatoes, there's a dozen recipes you can choose from. A plain baked potato is always the best It doesn't interfere with the meat's great flavor and you can use it to sop up the juices. Just bake in foil and add some butter or sour cream afterwards. You could also try pomme frites, the French way of making fries. These are then fried twice , the second time with garlic butter infused with parsley. You can serve aioli with both them and the choice of meat. Scalloped style is a great way to go, especially if you have filet mignon.These are thinly sliced  potatoes (use a mandolin for this) and baked with a cheddar  cheese sauce,layered in a casserole dish.You can sprinkled paprika or breadcrumbs on top for color and crunch.. Red potatoes also compliment any meat, even chicken and turkey. They're also easy to make. First coat in oil, sea salt and rosemary before being set in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. One of the best recipes is mashed. Homemade mashed is excellent gracing a steak . Pour th e extra juice over the spuds and it is a classic meat and potatoes meal.

Nothing beats a good steak served with potatoes. It's simple yet filling., the perfect comfort dish for a cold night. Make it a variety of different ways. They're all good, they're all tasty.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fish On Fridays

Now that it's Lent in some Christian religions, the faithful are observing some of customs and rites of the season. One is forgoing meat on Fridays and opting for fish . Doing such  will introduce home chefs to different kinds of fish and ways to cook them. It's a step up ,leading to a healthier diet,

Tilapia is a hot fish right now, even though it's been eaten for centuries. Originally called Saint Peter's fish It is high in Omega 6 and a good source of protein along with having the lowest levels of  mercury for any fish.It can be grilled or baked and is easy to prepare. Try it as a taco filling with cucumber relish or baked with a side of couscous. Tilapia can even be turned into panko crusted fish sticks , with a side of fries, Both can be baked instead of deep frying. Another tasty fish is the traditional cod.This is the kind used in making the traditional English dish fish and chips. As unhealthy as the dish is, it is sheer heaven in taste when it has a thick crispy crust and deep fried. Use British beer in the batter for an authentic taste and have plenty  of malt vinegar for dousing. If you want something lighter, then try it sautéed  in an easy lemon sauce .Serve with a green salad and it makes for a nice , healthy dinner.

For more ambitious home chefs  there is boulliabaisse, the famed French  Provencale fish stew.It has clams, shrimp and fish  fillets cooked with different spices such as bouquet garni and saffron for half an hour , There is also the added prep of sautéing onions and pepper too for the mix as well Making the stew is worth all the labor because it's one of the most delicious seafood dishes out there.if you want exotic but without all the work there is Chilean sea bass.This toothy prehistoric looking fish has been a top player on the culinary scene for the past quarter century. It's tasty cooked filet style in a simple salt and pepper crust with a white wine sauce.It is also good pan seared with mushrooms in a Marsala wine sauce.Ofcourse there is tuna fish, the easy go to . This can be made into a simple salad Nicoise with fresh veggies and hard boiled eggs.It can also be used in a tuna and herbed rice salad as well. Always used the Italian imported one in oil as opposed to the American canned one in water.It's more flavorful and has a silkier texture.

You can observe Lenten Fridays with a traditional fish dinner,It;s a great way of introducing the family to seafood and different , fun recipes.They may want seafood all year round then, instead of just during Lent,

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Homemade To The Rescue

There's nothing like a homey baked dish at supper time. It could be a baked dish or homemade sausage. These are guaranteed to chase those mid winter chills and blues away.They're relatively easy to make for yourself or for  a weekend crowd..

David Tanis wrote about the rice  in his A City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Ties Food section. He basically raided his pantry to create a tasty winter dish , perfect on these cold evenings. He does use carnaroli rice instead of Arborio although you can use the last as well.The reason for the carnaroli is that it has a higher starch content and makes it ideal for turning into a bake. More flavor comes in the form of saffron, leeks and onions. Mr. Tanis  also adds thinly sliced winter  squash for texture and more favor, recommending kabocha or Hubbard. Since this is like baked mac , different cheeses are  added, this in  he forms of both Gruyere and ricoota. Fresh grated Parmesan is also thrown in  to give some spark and then the bake is poured in a buttered casserole dish. Since this is a riff on America's classic .Mr Tanis add a layer of bread crumbs to make it crunchy.It's baked for 25 minutes until browned.It's good on it's own  but you can add a green salad and a glass of any white wine to round it out.

Melissa Clark also gives us a home made comfort food in yesterday's  A Good Appetite column as well. It is green chorizo, a specialty of the Toluca region of Mexico. It is an easy sausage to make, great for novice home chefs., There's no meat grinder to deal with or sausages casings to figure out. It's a crumbly kind that can be served with veggies or even eggs as a super spicy huevos rancheros.Ms. Clark got the recipe from Chef Alex Stupak who makes the treat with serrano and poblano chilis, green chilis that will give the sausage a nice verdant hue.Unlike the rice bake, this is a bit time consuming , because the chilis as well as garlic have to be roasted for  six to twelve minutes before mixing. The recipe also comes with a caveat. Wear gloves when removing stems and seeds. These are potent and can cause skin irritations. Mix these and oregano, along with coriander and cumin seeds with the pork.Again wear gloves to avoid any rashes.It can be kept overnight in the fridge or stored in the freezer for a month  before cooking. Ms. Clark uses the sausage crumbles in a black bean stew.

This is the weather for homey dishes. They could be in the form of a sophisticated yet cozy rice bake or a spicy green chorizo, that can be used in a variety of dishes from stews to omelets. Both are delicious chill chasers to make the mid winter bearable.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vegan Dining Respun

Vegetarian dining is always often greeted with an upturned nose or a sneer. Many think it's a variety of tofu or veggie dishes done wrong. However in the last twenty to twenty five years meat and dairy free dining has taken on a more haute cuisine demeanor. A new generation of chefs is taking ordinary veggies to a whole new level of eating.

This is the case of chef Amanda Cohen , famed creator of the trendy lower East Side  restaurant Dirt Candy. She and the recently updated eatery were profiled in today's New York Times Wednesday Food section. The article was written by Food regular Jeff Gordonier  and it explored different aspects of vegetarian cooking, It is not the menu of deprivation with a stern lecture about saving  the    planet. Instead it's a celebration of all things green. CHef Cohen cooks with butter cream and eggs too, something most vegetarian chefs shun, (dishes at Dirt Candy can be prepared two ways, one with animal based ingredients and without them for the truly vegan). She also has her ingredients delivered to her  as she has  no time to visit Manhattan's many farmer's markets. They're not all organic but they are accessible and something her fans can recreate at home.

Vegetarianism has always been a North Star in Chef Cohen's life. she turned to it when she was a Toronto teenager(although she harbored a soft spot for oysters and breaded sweetbreads). Dirt Candy was created because she became tired of the usual , dull and depressing veggie platters most restaurants reserve for non meat eaters.At first she turned to the great chef Charlie Trotters' cookbook about vegetables for inspiration.It paid off. There is the portobello mousse, carrots that are pickled and jerked and then served with a Memphis barbecue.There is even a vegetable ice cream salad.Mr. Gordonier even includes a flavor bomb recipe from her. Its a frozen cube of cilantro,parsley , Thai basil along with spinach , garlic and peeled ginger. The greens are then blanched and then put into an ice bath.The greens are then pureed and poured into an ice cube tray. Use the frozen blocks in stir fry or just for reheated rice,It can even work well with any meat or seafood too.

Vegetarian cuisine has been turned up a notch thanks to innovative chefs like Amanda Cohen. Veggies are not only revered , they're reimagined into new dishes..It's achance to rethink the belief of only eating greens.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Little Help With Dinner

There' are days when you don't feel like going whole hog when making dinner,You had a busy day or it was spent doing strenuous chores. This is when home chefs need a little help with making dinner. Call  in classic aides such as Hamburger Helper  Underwood devilled meats and any canned soup to create a tasty meal that's full of flavor not full of work

Sometimes it is hard to whip up a nutritious meal from scratch.If you're too tired to cook then try Hamburger Helper. This is a quick way to have a hearty  hot dish that the kids will love.It just browning ground chuck or even soy crumbles in a skillet and adding sauce and pasta.There are recipes out there where you can make your own from scratch. They're slightly more labor intensive and if you have the energy go for it. If not then make the real deal.There are so many different types that you can make with chicken , beef or  tuna. Srve with a nice veggie loaded salad and you have a good weekday meal. Another quick dinner is pasta with jarred sauce. Yes, it's not as good as the homemade kind  but homemade sauce is labor intensive. It's easier and quicker just to unscrew a lid and pour premade sauce into a sauce pan. Have it with a broccoli salad and garlic bread to round it out.

A home chef's best friend is any of the Underwood devilled meats. These are wonderful to have around because they are so versatile. My favorite easy dinner go to a ham or chicken salad on toasted croissants. It's just taking one can of either the ham or chicken and blending it  well with two tablespoons of  mayo. Add a heavy dash of tarragon for the chicken and celery seed for the ham for extra flavor. This mix also makes a great cracker topper if you're in need of instant hors d'ouevres.Underwood also makes  roast beef and liverwurst versions too as well as a corned beef  one.You can use any of them to also fill wraps. Add some chopped veggies like broccoli , tomatoes and onions along with cheese to make a quick supper . A super easy hot meal is soup. Always have a few cans on hand for those nights when just opening a can is a chore. to make this simple meal special also have some Ritz crackers or better yet, warmed crusty rolls and butter as extras.

There are days when a home cooked hot dinner is just not feasible. Rely on aids such as Hamburger helper , devilled ham or canned soup. They'll help in creating an easy but filling meal your family will love.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Winter Fuels

Cold weather almost dictates that we eat more than we usually would just to provide the fuel to keep going during these frigid times.The problem is we reach for sugar and fat laden foods and drinks instead of going healthy. The best bet is reaching for the same fuels we do in the summer. The healthy stuff is always the best.

Most of us reach for a hot cocoa .  This is fine , comfort drink, perfect once in a while, after a day after shoveling. However it's loaded with sugar That  doubles if you pile on marshmallows and whipped cream on the cocoa   It is true that the winter dehydrates us (just look at how much  body and hand lotion you go through right now ) but don't just drink anything like it , soda or a sugary coffee drink.Think water or a healthy juice like the BAI 5 brand. Another choice is hot herbal tea.A good chamomile or peppermint work just as well as a soothing hot chocolate without all those extra calories. Any herbal tea is perfect to drink before bedtime. There's no caffeine to give you a second wind and most are blends that bring on feelings of peacefulness and restfulness. Choose these too when you go to your favorite coffee shop. Again they're not loaded with whipped cream or syrups  yet still warm you up. If you must have a sweetened drink, then add natural dark honey to it.

We tend to eat more in during these cold snaps too. Many pile on the calories , feeling the fatter you are the less you'll feel the cold. That's not true.Your body  deserves to be fed healthy foods no matter what the season.Take advantage of the cold weather to create homemade soups and stews. You can start off with any kind of stock from vegetable to chicken to beef and fish. Add an assortment of beans, veggies and whole wheat pasta or brown rice . A great chill chaser along with being  heart healthy is chili. It's chock full of so many good nutrients from proteins to all important vitamins and minerals. Another booster is Vitamin D foods. There tends to be more cloudy days now and we don't receive the amount of this all important vitamin. Choose rich in Omega 3 foods like salmon, mackerel and egg yolks to combat this.. Beta carotene is another needed nutrient and is found in yams, carrots and sweet potatoes. Bake sweet potato chips with olive oil and sea salt for a fun good for you snack. If you are craving a sweet then go for an oatmeal raisin cookie.These have fiber and are usually made with brown sugar and whole wheat flour instead of the usual bad white stuff.

Cold weather requires fuel. Feed your body with good for it drinks and foods to run properly. You'll feel better and ready to conquer those snowy days and icy blasts..

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Perfect Party Cookbook

Everyone loves a good party, whether it's a tailgater or an at home Oscar bash.Nothing beats fun appetizers and hors d'ouevres or simply elegant meals. with it comes witty conversation, good drinks and a chance to meet new people or reacquaint with old friends. Luckily there is a new cookbook and guide to help out with everything party from what to make to what to wear.

The book is Confessions Of A Serial Entertainer ( Gibb Smith Publishers)and it's a novel approach to party giving.Written by Steven Stolman who is more known for his interior and women's clothing designs ,it is a witty and fun romp through some of the best party food recipes ever. I absolutely LOVE this book and recommend every home chef go out and buy it.(it would also make a nice housewarming or bridal shower gift)There is some great advice about how to dress when going to and throwing parties. There are also tips about what to bring as well along with when it's appropriate to trot out the family silverware. Mostly this is a party and dinner book and Mr. Stolman's recipes reflect this. He has them grouped according to events, from tail gate party to seders. with easy to make dishes . Mr Stolman is not a chef but he does like to create and cook.The ingredients are easy to get and the dishes, from breakfast rings to cheese puffs are easy to execute.

The recipes are simple and fun .Any home chef can recreate them. I love the easy as pie Mater's Mess spread, a mix of cream cheese and other ingredients. A dap of it on any kind of cracker or Melba toast is a great hors d'ouevre. along with being a great picnic spread. some of the dishes a e old school like Dr Nagy's Pate This is .a homemade  foie gras that would be nice for a fancy at home cocktail party.The dips too belong in a more glamorous era where drinks were mixed in silver shakers and there was a waft of Chanel Number 5 in the air.The book is not all fun snacks. There are dinners for the boss and seders that have traditional dishes such as  rib roast and a choice of kugels. The most interesting are the winter dishes There is a savory bread pudding made with whole wheat bread and tomatoes. Broccoli is pureed into a creamy mash, perfect with any roast. summer is also  included in the Al fresco section with an easy to construct  paella  and a shrimp salad.Mr. Stolman also includes dessert recipes like a flourless chocolate cake along with one bowl gingerbread cake.

If you re a party giver , then COnfessions Of A Serial Entertainer is for you.It is chock full of great recipes guaranteed to make any home gathering a stand out event. It is a worthy addition to any home chef's library.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Slow Cooking Gourmet Style

Crockpot cooking usually suggests a hominess that's full of pot luck dinners and Saturday night get togethers. However you can take slow cooking to a new level with more sophisticated recipes and  more complex ingredients. It's not just chili and Swedish meatballs anymore. It's sophisticated fare worthy of any dinner party.

It was the subject of an article in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. Sam Sifton experimented with it  and different recipes (and to be honest you can also adapt Melissa Clark's tangine recipe from her A Good Appetite piece for this as well). Slow cookers can be temperamental dishes cooked in it may start off well with good intentions but six or seven hours later you get mush at best, goo at worst.As Mr. Sifton found out the hard way, just chucking ingredients in it and cooking for six to seven hours is not a good idea. The best amount of time is five to seven hours tops. even four hours will produce a better result.Also prepping is a good idea too. There is a debate about braising any meat used to give it some color. Mr. Sifton recommends it. Another hint is not to use too much liquid which will make the  recipe soupy. Be sparing with it.

Mr. Sifton gives two recipes. One is a Vietnamese style slow cooked pork tacos,. This is a riff on CorinneTrang recipe for wok fried rib tips.He uses a pork shoulder that has been marinated in  a mix of hoisin and fish sauces.There is also a tablespoon of sriracha sauce for heat along with fresh garlic and ginger.The pork is first precooked in a five minute saute to give it color. It is then put into the slow cooker after a scant amount  of the hoisin sauce is poured into the slow cooker's bottom.It is cooked for five to seven hours until the meat is so tender it can be shredded with a fork. Mr Sifton adds a green cabbage slaw that's chock full of other veggies as a filler to go with the pork. He also includes a cake recipe. Baking in a slow cooker is tricky at best . The batter doesn't always cook through which leaves a raw middle not to mention burnt edges.Mr. Sifton got the recipe from Momufuko's great pastry chef, Christina Tosi. It is a buttermilk one that also has the addition of brown sugar.It should be cooked for four to six hours and the result is a dense kind , sort of like a pound cake with caramel edging.

Slow cooking recipes can be sophisticated and fun. It can even cook elegant cakes  along with delicious dishes, worthy of any gourmand. It just takes patience and some prep time to create perfectly cooked meals.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Puerto Rico A Farm To Table Paradise

Puerto Rico is a lush island, with a heritage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Surprisingly it's only now that island chefs are using this bounty. It  is a rich one, teeming with all sorts of varieties. Luckily there is a fresh food movement there that is using this chef's treasure trove.

Regular contributor , Jeff Gordonier , wrote about this in yesterday's New York Times Wednesday Food section. Mr. Gordomier was lucky enough to leave a cold New York  and visit Vieques, Puerto Rico a tiny island directly east of the main one. Vieques is known mostly for the US Navy's bombing ground and an off the beaten path vacation spot. However it is also the home of  el Blok,  a laid back beach hotel and farm to table restaurant. The 'owner Jose Enrique is also  a leader of a loosely knit band of  Puerto Rican cooks, activists and farmers  who came to the same idea that these islands are chock full of fresh fruits and veggies along with endless herbs .Many restaurants  such as Parcela Gastropub, Marmalade and the eatery with Mr. Enrique's name are pushing this tote bag to table thinking. This shouldn't be a new movement yet it is, thanks to the US's involvement in Puerto Rico' s farming industry . Thanks to Operation Bootstrap in the Post war 1940;s island farming was shut down and industry was encouraged..It did create a much needed middle class however it also meant a seismic shift away from the agrarian heritage that influenced Puerto Rican cuisine. Everything now was coming from farms in California and Ohio, as opposed to the gardens just in the neighborhood. Veggies and fruits were expensive too and did not always arrive fresh

Luckily this is all changing, as the world rediscovers locovore dining. El Departmento de la Comida was born four and a half years ago.Local organic produce are now being brought in from private pinprick gardens and farms to a warehouse in the main city.where it is resold to local restaurants and cafes.. Many may be surprised to learn that the island can yield up broccoli, carrots, okra and zucchini along with tarragon and dill. Puerto Rico is also known for coffee, in fact most of Europe drank coffee that came from the island's coffee farms. A new generation of chefs is discovering Puerto Rico's rich green bounty  and they are changing the oft dull and trite dishes such as tostones and mofungo. Fresh butterflied  snapper is on the menu at Mr. enriques where diners are often seated next to the fisherman who caught it. Oysters , normally not associated with island cuisine are now hot thanks to this movement Pork chops are drizzled in fresh sugar cane juice while dessert could be a ball of fresh made guava ice made with just picked fruit.It's different and much healthier than the usual fried fare sometimes associated with Puerto Rican cuisine.

The locovore movement is helping this bounteous island, known as the rich port to discover its' fruits and vegetables. The cuisine is going back to its agrarian roots where fresh veggies and fruits made up the menu.It's a refreshing embrace to the past and the future too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nutrition Lessons From Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar, This solemn day of reflection and prayer beings the forty day period of Lent. For most , such as the Catholics and Greek Orthodox , it means days of fasting and giving up certain foods. To be honest it 's a great way of paring down one's daily diet to a healthy one.

Usually Catholics abstain from meat  today and some abstain from eating meat on Lenten Fridays as they once did before the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. It's a good way of weaning away from being a full on carnivore. Doing it cold turkey is not always the best. That usually results in meat eating frenzy similar to a great white going through a school of tuna. Having a day away from chicken , beef or pork is a chance to discover different vegetable dishes., The observant are allowed to have seafood and this is a good time to explore tilapia and salmon as substitutes. Some Catholics also give up a favorite food such as cake or ice cream for the forty days,Again this is a good way to wean off all the unhealthy stuff and look into healthier snacks such as fruit and yogurt.

The Greek Orthodox are the strictest with two hundred fast days  in the year. The fasts are varied but it's basically giving up all meat, sugar, dairy and even olive oil. It is truly a cleansing diet with the body being purged of all fats , sugars and even chemicals,Breads are allowed as are tofu and beans..Seafood is allowed but it has limitations too. Only shellfish, octopus and squid can be eaten. There is a week long period where dairy is allowed so there can be milk, ice cream and cheeses as well as yogurts.Any fast is a good one because it introduces you to different vegetables and ways in which to prepare them. It 's a time to try steamed veggies or various t bean dishes like chili. The more you avoid addictive sugars and fats the less likely you'll be craving them later on.

The Lenten period is a time for prayer and reflection along with fasting. This may be the beginning of healthy eating. Abstain from all those sinful foods and not only will your faith be stronger but your body will be too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras Fun!

It is Mardi Gras, the last day of feasting and fun before Lent. All sorts of  delicious customs abound and they do revolve around food and revelry. Enjoy them  while the day lasts.

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday in French  is the period before Lent, primarily the season's first holy day , Ash Wednesday. It's celebrated all over the world, primarily in Christian countries. In England and Ireland, it is called Shrovetide/Pancakes are made during this time, with shrive meaning absolve.It was a time when housewives cleaned the house of butter and milk, forbidden food during Lent. This resulted in pancakes, a part of an older tradition, take from the Slavs. They believed the period between winter and Spring was a fight between the two seasons' gods. To bring forth the sun, imitations of it were made in the form of golden yellow pancakes. The first made one was placed in a window to lure the Spring gods. These discs are just fun to make, and who doesn't like a short stack for dinner. For fun try making them coin size to resemble the coins thrown at one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebration , the one down in New Orleans.Of course the best sweet from there is the King Cake.They first are made at the beginning of Mardi Gras , January 6th , or Epiphany. These are buttery Danishes braided and then decorated with gold, green and purple icing and sugar. Little trinkets are baked in them. It could be a bean, a ring or a baby.

Continental Europe also celebrates the day with flair.The Germans make a kind of doughnut known as Fastnacht krapfen or Berliner. These doughnuts are wonderful yeasty treats dipped in granulated sugar. The Portuguese have something similar with malasada /Many Portuguese went to both Rhode Island and Hawaii where the treats are filled with custard and chocolate along with ,haupia, a coconut milk based custard and guava. The southern hemisphere  also rocks the day. Brazil reinvented the holiday with wild dancing and revelry. There is eating too, namely grilled meats on sticks and bolos, meat pies. Feijoada a spicy stew, is also made with beef and pork with the addition of chopped chorizos  or spicy sausage added in along with bacon and beans, It's served over rice. another dish good with rice is the creamy shrimp saute called bobo/ This Carnivale favorite also has African roots too as seen in the addition of the cassava root. Tomatoes and palm oils are also included to give the dish its' smooth creaminess. everything is washed down with a lime and rum dish known as Caipirinha,

Mardi Gras is a time meant for good feasting and good partying No matter where you are in the world, it's carnival.Enjoy the treats of the day!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chili Chasers

This is the weather for hot food both temperature and taste wise. There's nothing  like a fiery  dish, full of exotic flavors to warm you from head to toe. It'll keep you toasty ,perfect for battling all these Arctic temps.

Chilis will give any dish fire and heat.Cooking with them is fun but it does come with a few caveats. The spiciness comes with the seeds where it's at its strongest. You may ant to handle the peppers wearing rubber gloves to avoid any major skin irritationsa. add them to a rich chili, full of different beans and tomatoes.The recipe is flexible. You can add beef for a hearty dish  while chicken and turkey give you a lighter one. Soy crumbles can be tossed in for a healthier vegan version.For a blood boiling heat add two tablespoons of fresh jalapenos along with two heaping tablespoons of chili powder. . To temper the fieriness serve it with mild side dishes like polenta, rice or even cornbread. You can also add a layer of just plain Saltines or tortilla chips. Chilis are not just relegated to the dish with the same name. Make a hot chili salsa for just chips or add a layer of sautéed and chopped jalapenos on hamburgers and hot dogs as a five alarm relish.

Indian curries can be both delicious and spicy.These are also perfect chill chasers and sunny bright pick me ups on bleak winter days .They're also loaded with health benefits, thanks to the addition of both turmeric and cumin, Like chili , curry recipes can be flexible. A chicken curry is always good but so is one with chickpeas and cauliflower. Most of the dishes are braises which  means that the ingredients are seared at a high hear first and then covered with liquid in a pot. It's an easy cook. For a real six alarm stunner try phall. This is a  super fiery dish that has twelve (yes twelve!) chilis added along with an ounce of fresh ginger and two tablespoons of chili powder. Garam masala is also added. This is a mix of lack and white peppercorns,  cloves, cinnamon and mace, with the addition of cardamom , bay leaf and caraway.If it's too not then cut back on the chilis and only use six.Another dish, vindaloo a popular dish from the eastern province of Goa, and is a dish of pork marinated in wines, vinegar and spices.It was originally from the Potuguese carne de vinha d'alhos. and can be also made with chicken or beef. marinated in cayenne and fresh ginger . Serve with basmati or jasmine rice to cool off.

The weather outside is frightful however a fiery chili or curry inside can be delightful. Make either to ward off those chills and freezing temps You'll feel all warm and sunny inside.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Treat Your Heart Well

 We know how to treat our sweethearts on Valentine's Day bit do we really know how to treat our own sweet hearts? A good gift is healthy but fun eating, that delivers a Cupid's arrow of both nutrition and flavor straight to us.You can not only eat something yummy  but also one that's packed with benefits.

Dips are always a neat way of enjoying a  snack Imagine a big bowl of one and munchies as your and your sweetie enjoy a romantic movie..One of the most .  flavorful and easiest to make is guacamole. Avocados are especially heart healthy being loaded with potassium and also lutein for the eyes .Add mashed tomatoes, chopped onions and a tablespoon of olive oil for a superfood dip that's extra smooth and creamy.Salsa is another treat and it can be made both sweet and savory.  For a tasty sweet one take  a mix if strawberries , oranges along with pineapple chunks and mangoes  and coarsely chop. Add some stevia to sweeten and a squirt of lemon juice to keep the fruit fresh to finish it off. Serve with cinnamon tortilla chips which are tortillas rebaked with a brushing of bitter and a dusting of cinnamon and brown sugar on top. Savory salsa can be made a variety of ways with everything from fiber rich black beans to tomatoes to one just made with onions and scallions. Pretzels can be a fun snack especially when they're served with homemade honey mustard. Use a good mustard like Colmans and dark wildflower honey. The last is bursting with antioxidants and enzymes.

Romantic meals can also be good for  both your heart and sweetheart. Spaghetti (remember Lady and the Tramp) can be enjoyed with a good wine and candleight. Try a whole wheat pasta as opposed to a white flour based for the sauce, again tomatoes are full of phytonutrients such as folate and lycoprene. For fun make a primavera sauce, This is a quick saute of not only tomatoes in olive oil and garlic but also , broccoli, cauliflower and onions,Indian  food is also good for the heart. Curries are chock full of the spice cumin. Not only is it delicious and addictive but its' also  rich in iron and antioxidants.You can also make masoor dal, a lentil paste that's loaded with turmeric and can be served with naan bread. This is a superfood meal if there ever was one.Lentils can aid in controlling diabetes along with helping dieters to lose weight,Tumeric is a spice, like cumin that can reduce the risk of certain cancers like colon and breast as well as fighting arthritis and Alzheimer's disease. Of course nothing beats a grilled salmon dinner  and again served with gilled veggies is a meal that's good for both the heart and the brain.end with rich deep  dark chocolate or better yet strawberries dipped in chocolate.

Treat both your sweet heart and your heart good today. Give both tasty foods that are rich in flavor and nutrients, Both will appreciate it.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lucky Foods For Friday The 13th

Today may be the case to avoid ladders and broken mirrors, but you can follow food superstitions to to have a lucky day . There are a few revolving around Friday the 13th, some are different, some rooted in truth.NIbble your way to good fortune by following them.

Most lucky foods are associated with New Year's however they're easily transferable to today's date..If you want to keep your money or make more then eat lentils, In Italy ,as in other countries  the beans resemble gold coins  so a meal made of them will bring good luck. On their own they're good for your health.They lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.Another bean is the black eyed pea.It's usually considered a good luck food to have on New Year's Day but you can have them any day,cooke din lard or butter.Eat them anyway for the fiber content and for a dose of potassium.
 Besides being downright delicious they're also good for your heart.The Spanish munch on grapes usually twelve on New Year's Eve but you can also have a handful of them on any Friday the 13th. Any kind of grape is a good snack, rich in iron and reservatol, an important phytonutrient that can lengthen one's life.

There are other food superstitions too, mostly coming out of lore.Never gift someone with a knife , let them pay for it, even if it's with a single penny. Bread usually considered wholesome and good has a dark side Slice it open to see if it has a lot of holes, If  there are  air bubbles, look out, those are portents of bad times ahead. To prevent this slice open a garlic clove to ward off the evil juju (along with scaring off vampires). Spilling salt can also bring about bad luck. To prevent this grab a pinch and sprinkle over your left shoulder. If you want a date for tomorrow night, then give the person you like oranges. They supposedly can make that person fall in love with you.Conversely never pour that person a cup of tea with the milk going first That will curse them and they will never get married. Better off giving them a cup of cappuccino. Bubbles in coffee means that money is coming.The more bubbles the more moolah, something to think about when you're at Starbucks.

Superstition is a funny thing. Many believe in it, especially when it involves food or drink. Do what you want on this day Friday the 13th to make your day lucky.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Home Grown Choclate Bars

Imagine if you could just walk outside and pick a chocolate bar from a tree. That childhood dream  is sort of coming true  for artisanal candy makers. It seems some chocoholics are going the extra mile to make their own bars. This is a new trend and certainly exciting. Whenever you want customized candy you can have it. It's not quite that  chocolate bar  from a chocolate bar  tree but almost.

Kim Severson got to interview the chocolatiers in yesterday's New York Times Food section. It was the Chocolate Issue where almost every article was cocoa centric. Making your own candy is nothing new however chocolate candy making is. It's attracting a number of different people, from parents wanting to give their allergy plagued children treats that haven't been made in factories where there are dairy or nuts to artesans who have experimented with creating other complicated foodstuffs from scratch.It is expensive. Chocolate  making usually costs about $500 to start and the ingredients, namely cocoa  beans, can be hard to find.Candy makers also need an electric Indian wet grinder. This is usually employed for grinding spices and looks sort of like a small food processor.This too is expensive but does get the job done.Then there's getting the actual cocoa beans . These too can be pricey as well. One chocolate maker, Jeffrey Hoffmeister of Seattle went one step further and bought coca orchids that later produce the bean.

The process itself is relatively easy The hulls are cracked and blown off with a simple blow dryer. This leaves the nibs which are then roasted..Raw cacao beans are roasted, similar to coffee beans. At this point, according to Ms. Severson they smell more like peanut butter.They  and sugar put into the wet grinder where they're ground to a paste. This is a 24 hour process ending in a silky batter that is then poured into molds and left to harden.Some coco meisters add their own spin.Scott Witherow who started making his own bars and then expanded to a candy shop, gave his a Southern spin by subbing in brown sugar for white. He also elevated the oft hated white chocolate to another level with the addition of buttermilk.Some chocolate makers add bacon , whole peppercorns and other unusual  ingredients to make the bars different . However  it's the taste of the pure  just made  chocolate that's heavenly and should be appreciated.

Artesenal chocolate is heavenly. It is fresh made,without any preservatives marring the flavor. If you love chocolate and are adventurous, you can make it yourself. Imagine a worldl full of custom made chocolate bars , right from your kitchen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The NYT's Food's Chocolate Issue

Chocoholics should rejoice. The New York Times Food section  published  chocolate issued their first ever Chocolate issue today. This is an homage to the food of the Aztecs as well as sweet lovers everywhere.It's chock full of great recipes and ideas for Valentine's Day gifts. Any are perfect for making this Saturday special.

Recipes abound as well as ideas for what to drink with it.One of the  most elaborate is Melissa Clark's  chocolate icebox cake. This is the labor intensive version of the one made with the store bought wafers and Cool Whip. If you have time make this but it does require a lot of work The chocolate wafers are made from scratch using Dutch process cocoa while the cream has not only a splash of bourbon mixed with dark brown sugar and maple syrup. This is hard work enough but then Ms. CLark shapes the cookies and whipped cream into a heart shape and drizzles melted dark chocolate over the whole cake . For those looking for something easier she does include a rich chocolate pound cake topped off with an ooey gooey streusel made with cocoa powder , buttery crumbs and chocolate chips..It's also sprinkled before the batter is poured  which means a nice surprise on the bottom. She rounds it out with a pot de crème served with crème fraiche. For lighter , yet still richly decadent treat try Martha Rose Shulman's Dark Chocolate Mint Sorbet. This is a healthy treat without dairy and eggs.It's a mix of mild honey cooked with sugar and then added to dark chocolate. Mint tea  and peppermint extract give it that refreshing kick.

Then there's the age old question: what wine goes well with chocolate?Eric Asimov discusses that in his weekly Pour column. He experimented with solid chocolate bars,pairing milk, dark and extra dark with different wines. The milk kind surprisingly works well with a variety of different vintages.Mr. Asimov tried it with Malmsey ,a sweet wine, better suited to a Jane Austen novel.It worked well with the candy with both bringing out the others' different notes. Madiera and port are also good, being better paired with the darker chocolates. The reason these work is that they're fortified wines ,
wines that has neutral spirits , basically a water addition, add mid fermentation to slow down the alcohol conversion. Another option is the sweet Hungarian wine Tokaji Aszu which is un fortified. The grapes have been injected with botrytis, the famed noble rot which gives the wine a flavor of mixed oranges and apricots. The Chocolate issue also has some neat gift suggestions as well as an article on artisanal home made chocolates (more on that tomorrow)Any one, from the rich chocolate spreads to the special Brazilian bonbons would make a wonderful gift.

It's really chocolate that makes the world go round, not love. That was obvious in today's New York Times Food section. It is full of yummy recipes and ideas for making Valentine's Day that much sweeter!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Almonds Healthy, Versatile And Fun

Yummy   foods are just that  but usually  bad for you . Healthy foods are good for you but taste like cardboard. However there is a happy medium in the humble almonds. It makes a great nibble but also an interesting addition to meals from breakfast to dinner. Best of all it has so many benefits for almost every inch of your body.

Almonds are one of the oldest nuts around. They are a cousin of a peach , surprisingly and the wild form is highly poisonous, being filled with prussic acid or cyanide.The name comes from the old French almande which derives from the Greek amygdala The Greek name  is also used to described the almonds shaped portion of the brain amygdala. Remnants were found in Jordan as early as 3000, BCE  during the Bronze Age. They are grown throughout Europe and as far north as Iceland. California has the largest almond production in North America. They are eaten the world over from cookies in Italy and China to salted street snacks in Iran. They are also one of the most nutritionally dense foods in the world., being super rich in Vitamin E. They're chock full  of the various Vitamin Bs too and are saturated in five minerals: magnesium, copper, calcium, manganese and potassium.It is lethal to those who have allergies and American almonds are first pasteurized to prevent salmonella. The nut is also made into a milk which is a great alternative to soy and also as a butter similar to peanut butter.

ALmonds can be used in almost every meal. Add some slivered ones to oatmeal or cereal for crunch and flavor. Spiced almonds are always a fun snack to make for yourself or for friends.Toss almonds with cayenne pepper and cumin for a savory nibble with heat. For a sweet crunch sub in cinnamon and stevia or stevia and cocoa powder. You can also first bathe them in a sweet syrup of honey and water first to make the seasonings stick. Almonds are downright yummy in salads. Try an Oriental style one, chock full of  chicken strips, mandarin orange slices and almonds. Another idea is combining almonds , cranberries and blue cheese together with Romaine lettuce and a sweet carrot ginger dressing. Ground almonds are a great low calorie crust for chicken ,fish and even pork One of the most classic dishes is stringbean almondine. This French classic is easy to make  with sauting the nuts and green beans in butter.Almonds are big in Spain and it's evident in their desserts.Try a Mallorcan almond cake, a mix of ground almonds eggs lemon and sugar.It is then baked and served with almond ice cream. Hoemmade almond cookies are also a nice dessert as is the exotic almond pudding which can be made with bananas or peaches.

If you want a tasty and healthy food then eat almonds. They can be a part of your breakfast lunch or dinner. They're a great snack ,plain r spiced and are an elegant ingredient in desserts. Their versatility is boundless, perfect for hoe chefs who want to expand their expertise with healthy ingredients


Monday, February 9, 2015

Crepes Celeste A Taste Of France

Food court food is just that , your usual mix of tacos, burgers and pizza.If you're lucky there is more exotic fare like teriyaki or spaghetti. Luckily there's an upstart in the group, Crepes Celeste. It a breath of fresh French air for the palate.

Crepes Celeste brings French crepes to the masses.Forty years ago most malls and downtowns had A Magic Pan Restaurant This chain was great. They offered all sorts of lunch, dinner and dessert crepes. along with Salad Nicoise. They continued until 2005 when they were bought out by a company called Lettuce Entertain You,,They disappeared  and anything even vaguely Gallic disapeared from the landscape. Crepes, both savory and sweet were now hard to find. Luckily Celeste's came in and brought two favorites, crepes and macarons. The creators combined American flavors with artisanal French city and country cooking,For crepe lovers this is a dream come true. There are fresh veggies that can be combined with meats and cheeses.Celeste's even offers a breakfast crepe that you can order at any time.There are also turkey crepes as well along with one based on a roast beef sandwich.There is even one with a Mexican twist to it and one with pesto. The sweet crepes feature the classic Parisian street crepe with sugar and butter topped with a squeeze of lemon.There is also a clever Gallic homage to  s'mores, full of marshmallows, dark chocolate and Graham cracker crumbs.

I have tried both their ham and cheese along with the vegetable one. Both have made me their number one fan. The crepes are made fresh, right in front of the diner, They are the traditional  crepes of Brittany in northwestern France where the dish orginated. They are the perfect bed for the ingredients.I tried their ham and cheese, good and the vegetarian even better. I love this last. A smear of creamy ricotta is slathered on the crepe , then fresh sauted  veggies, such as eggplant, onions and tomatoes isthen laid on top. The crepe is then deftly folded into thirds so that the filling is safely tucked inside. A decorative blob of more ricotta is put on top (the ham had a curl of extra ham on it) with a squiggle of cooked pepper. The flavors are so perfect together, the cheese's creaminess mixes with the tang of all the veggies cooked together. The accompanying slad of just romaine and shredded carrot was also perfect, especially with the sublime French dressing. This week I am adding one of the dessert crepes for dessert.

Celeste Crepes brings back the return of Gallic fare to the malls .It is a breath of l'air fraiche to a landscape  full of burgers and tacos. Try one and enjoy the sophisticated simplicity of it

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bai Drinks A Burst Of Flavor And Health

For soda drinkers like myself it is hard to wean off the sweet stuff. Pepsis addictive, don't even get me started on the allure of Dr. Pepper. Yet they are not healthy, being one of the causes of obesity in the US. Luckily for everyone, including myself, there is Bai, an antioxidant  beverage  that in both juice and carbonated form.

One of the best things about this company is that it is creating jobs and revenue for the people of  Indonesia. The people there  help in creating the drink ,made with th e antioxidant rich coffeefruit, the fruit surrounding the coffee bean(don't worry there's no caffeine in them).It was first made in Princeton New Jersey by the company founder. Ben Weiss.Mr Weiss had a twenty year history in the beverage industry so it was natural to create his own drink, an antioxidant infusion that anyone , from kids to grandparents would enjoy.,  The drink's name BAI is Chinese  for pure which it is(Bai also is an acronym for botanical antioxidant infusions }. Sweetening comes from erythritol, a natural plant based low calorie sweetener derived from plant lichens . It has been around for over 160 years first made by British chemist John Stenhouse. There is also the addition of white tea to give it a slightly caffeinated kick.The drinks are only five calories each and the Bai Bubbles are sold in generous 12 ounce cans.

I love the Bai Bubbles. I first tried their Gimbi Pink Grapefruit and was instantly hooked. The astringent taste is intoxicating, reminiscent of Pellegrino 's Grapefruit sparkling water.There is definitely grapefruit juice in it and it's far from being sour .Their Peru Pineapple is another tasty thirst quencher, incredibly refreshing  and tropical - perfect to drink on this cold winter days  inspiring dreams about warm sunny islands .I also like Bai's Indonesia Nashi pear flavor too. There are very few pear drinks out there and this on is unique. It is like the fruit but carbonated. It even has that earthy aftertaste pears are known for. I will definitely be bringing the Bai BUbblers with me to the beach this summer. My next try is the Bai5. The Brasilia Blueberry ,Tanzania Lemonade Tea and Limu Lemon are on my radar.These drinks are the perfect transitions to drinking healthy , especially if you're addicted to sugary  sweet cola and iced tea fat bombs.

Bai infused drinks are th eperfect antidote for all those sugary colas and teas. switch over to them today and enjoy their refreshing  sparkly taste.They;re a treat for your taste buds and your palate.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bespoke Polenta

Polenta is one of those must have winter dishes.It is hearty yet creamy and satiny.For affectionadoes of the mash , there is the trend of  milled kind made from heirloom breeds of corn.The taste is amazing as is the texture .This new  bespoke kind elevates the simple dish to a new level of flavor.

Martha Rose Shulman wrote about it in the Food section of Wednesday's New York Times. She used Anson Mills, a company  that specialize in artisanal grains, from corn to Carolina rice. This site is awe inspiring (and I will be writing about them in the future)The polenta is milled from an almost extinct brand of  corn called Carolina Gourdseed white,It is not the Quaker Oats cornmeal many of us have grown up with , it is far more superior and maybe purer  in flavor . Anson Mills isn't the only company that sells bespoke polenta. An internet search found Cayuga Pure Organics  which also features organic corn mash. It is cheaper by a few dollars than the Anson Mills.kind.Other all natural polentas are offered up by Bob's Red Mill,along with Frieda's and Melissa's.These are more affordable and can be ordered directly from the company.

Bespoke polenta should shine on its' own. Don't pair it with sauces or stews that will overpower the sweet corn flavor,Ms.Shulman pairs her with a simple marinara sauce  highlighted with wild mushrooms. I would have gone with just the mushrooms, namely porcini. in a red wine based gravy Another way to go is just mixing in butter and maybe a little cream to bring out the corn flavor. The only seasoning would be from sea salt and freshly ground pepper.You can also go the extra mile by then baking the polenta  into  squares  and use as a bed for asparagus or a light sauce of crushed tomatoes sautéed in garlic and oil. You could also try it with chicken breasts in a white wine sauce for  a  more sophisticated take For another level of sophistication  try bespoke polenta with lightly braised veal shanks.

Heirloom corn always tastes great, Imagine ii in polenta  for a new level of flavor. It takes this simple dish to  another plateau .

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Making The Perfect Wonton

The Chinese New Year is coming up in another week or so .It's the perfect time to embrace Chinese cooking and the various dishes. One of them is wontons. Done right, these dumplings are heavenly, , especially if they're filled with a good mix of spices,meat and veggies.

David Tanis wrote about as well as gave a recipe for them in his A City Kitchen in yesterday's wednesday's New York Times Food section.Dumplings or wontons are relatively easy to make. The wrapping is the key ingredient and it's simple. Combine itwo cups of  flour and 3/4 cup of just boiled  water with a pinch of salt.. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cut the dough into about thirty or forty smaller balls and then roll out. For larger wontons cut about ten to twenty pieces. Use a pasta maker if you have one. Also if you're stacking the wrappers, dust them with conrstarch first so they don't stick to each other.wrappers can be kept in the freezer for a few days. They can be dyed, using beet, carrot or spinach juice.These last can be made with taking the veggies and simmering a half cup of each in four cups of water for two hours. The entire filling and cooking process takes about seven minutes to execute. The wontons only take four minutes to thoroughly cook up if they are boiled.

The stuffing is the best part as Mr Tanis declares.He combines sea scallops and shrimp with scallions.Ginger and chili peppers give them kick and bite.If you want more of a veggie taste then omit one of the seafoods and sub in shredded cabbage or carrots.Home chefs can also try a pork and shrimp filling too. This is six ounces of cooked shrimp mixed with half a cup  of chopped cooked pork (never use raw pork for dumplings, because there is always the threat of trichonosis ) To soften the two strong flavors, add mushrooms, onions and scallions. Wontons can be wonderfully vegetarian too. You can add mashed cooked tofu, onions, bean curd, along with cabbage and bok choy, Flavoring is up to you  and if you can stand heat. Mr, Tanis adds a tablespoon of chili along with a tablespoon of grated ginger. Decrease these amounts if you want a milder taste. He also incudes a dipping sauce that is made from rice vinegar, spicy sesame oil and scallions.You can also just make a great sauce from scallions and soy  together or even duck sauce, a mix of peach or apricot jam, white vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil along with ginger and water.

Celebrate the Year of the Goat with yummy homemade dumplings and sauces. They will be better than nay take out and customized to your tastes. Enjoy them boiled with a great just mixed dip.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Parmigiana Restored

Chicken Parm is a standard at  every pizzeria and sub shop.Surprisingly it was the height of elegance at restaurants back fifty years ago.It can still be elegant as well as comforting during these chilly nights.Best of all it can be made with any meat or vegetable.

Melissa Clark reclaimed this dish in her Good Appetite column in today's New York Times Food section.She delved into the dish's history which started in southern Italy sometime in the 18th Century Most  restaurants in Italy only serve the eggplant kind. The earliest recipe comes from an 1837 cookbook and it's not far from what is made today. There is fried eggplant covered with a tomato ragu and generously covered with Parmesan cheese.Other vegetables were also used, such as artichoke, fennel and zucchini. Meats were added much later on, thanks to Italian immigrants coming to America. Meatball, sausage and even shrimp were no being subbed in for the eggplant.Somewhere along the way the meats became breaded. According to the great chef, Lidia Bastianich the true Italian version has none of that . she had to learn how to make the dish from her first restaurant's chef who was Italian himself.

Making the perfect parmigiana is easy. There are a lot of steps and the prep and ingredients should be exact. The first step is breading. The coating should be crispy enough to hold up to the sauce which can sog the filling.The breading should be done in advance, as recommended by Lisa Bamonte whose family owns the great Brooklyn landmark Bamonte's Ristorante..It is a three step process of flouring , then dipping into an egg bath and them another  dip into bread crumbs.The tomato sauce is also crucial,it needs to be acidic ,You can use your frozen ones from your garden or a mix of paste and plum tomatoes.Cheese should be a mix of creamy mozzarella for sweetness and Parmesan for tang, however it should be real Parmesan bought from a salumeria,Personally I would just use only the Parmesan to make it as true  to the original recipe.The main ingredient can be varied.. There is a recipe for chicken veal and cauliflower, but if you want to try shrimp or artichoke, that's fine too. Ms. Clark also recommends a side of spaghetti or even garlic bread with it. It really depends how hungry you are. Garlic bread is great for sopping up the sauce however a small side of pasta can also do the trick.

A dish of Parmigiana is not only an elegant dish but also a homey one. Done right it is a perfect blend o f cheese,sauce veggies or meat.Make it the traditional way and enjoy this amazing blend of flavors and textures.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Easy Gluten Free Cooking

Anyone with gluten allergies knows how difficult it is to come up with meals or even to enjoy a home baked treat. However that's all going to change with a new cookbook Bob's Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook.There are all sorts of recipes from baked goods to even salads that will help improve lives and diets. They're also great for those who just want a healthier lifestyle without sacrificing variety and style.

The book was written by Dr  CamillaV. Saulsbury  and published by the food centric publisher, Robert Rose.Dr Saulsbury is a food instructor and a big fan of what's known as ancient grains. These are quinoa , amaranth , millet  teff and psyllium., These have been around for millennia, being cooked and eaten from the ancient Japanese to the  Aztecs. Many home chefs  shy away from these because they feel that the grains are hard to get or expensive. This is farther from the truth . These grains are easily accessible and easy to cook with (think polenta).Each grain is explained and there are instructions on how to cook them on their own(add some butter and spices and they make excellent sides) Dr. Saulsbury includes an extensive guide to these different grains along with one for spices and herbs. I like that she also has a how to guide for selecting free range and organic eggs as well as one defining the different types of milk from cow to almond and hemp.

The cookbook has a wide variety of international recipes. There are crepes made with both millet and sorghum flours,huevos rancheros with amaranth along with amaranth paella.Kids will love this book too. There are fun enchiladas and burgers plus a a yummy array of baked treats.. Chocolate chip cookies are made with an ancient grains combo of  millet, oats and chia seeds {yes, those chia seeds like those of a chia Pet) along with cocoa chia gelato that has a surprise ingredient , dates for solidness.The cookbook is excellent for those who want to eat healthier as well. Dr. Saulsbury puts all natural ingredients  as well as lean meats and fish in all of main meals.Chicken and salmon figure large in these  as well as tuna. Salads are a mix of brightly colored good for you veggies blended with all sorts of grains and spices.The sides are delicious as well and some like teff polenta can easily be made into the main dish.

Gluten free cooking doesn't have to be boring and bland. Bob's Red Mill Everyday  Gluten - Free Cookbook is testament to that with its' wide array of dishes and treats. They are not only healthy , but flavorful and exciting.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Great British Bake Off : Rule Britannia Sweets

Competitions are usually thought of as a solely American idea. After all we compete with each other on everything, from survival to dress design. However the British  are just as blood thirsty - yet in a very polite genteel way.Watch The Great British Bake Off on PBS and you'll see  that in action.

I loved the American version shown here during the summer of 2013. That was hosted by the funny and folksy Jeff Foxworthy, with the great British baker and judge Paul Hollywood and Mexican chef Marcella Valladolid. The British version, where the American  one stems from has Mr. Hollywood and Mary Berry, a very genteel lady who's kind of like the Margaret Thatcher of judging. Rounding out this are an English comedy duo.Mel Guidroyc and Sue Perkins. The last  two have a sharper repartee with the contestants than Foxworthy and at times it seems they're almost mocking the contestants.. The bakers  come from all over the UK which means a variety of different accents. Some are easy to understand, some you just scratch your head and ask :what did he or she just say ?"Like their American counterparts , they are passionate about baking, being experts in a variety of different categories.Thankfully the losers are gently let go despite the sometimes brutal and acerbic critiques. One truly refreshing aspect of this are the contestants' attitudes towards each other. Instead of being rivals, they are more like a caring and supportive team. That could just be the genteel British nature.

What I love about the show is the different English sweet and savory bakes. I thought that they and the American recipes were similar but no. Both Yankee and Brit versions of the show  are divided into three sections.There is the signature challenge, a bake using a tried and tested recipe that the amateurs bakers make for their friends and families. Then there is the technical bake which is one using the same ingredients and recipe provided by Hollywood and Ms Berry. This is perhaps the most grueling because the finished product has to be exact, a sometimes difficult trick, The last is the  showstopper a bake designed to impress the judges with both looks and taste. The recipes are completely different from what was on the CBS show.. There are lavish meat pies, filled with everything from haggis to prunes and pork to the quintessential meringues. There are also sponge cakes as well as baked puff pastry wrapped pears, unusual here in the States. I'd love to seefuture contestants conquer true American recipes like chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie and cornbread.Most of the English recipes are French influenced as well  and not as hearty, or as as rustic as ours. They look elegant in a Jane Austen tea party kind of way  and have definitely sparked my urge to make them at home.

The Great British Bake Off is on every Sunday at 4PM.EST.If you have time or are tired of football or ice skating watch this. It's interesting on so many levels,a truly well baked show