Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Well Made Loaf

A well baked loaf of bread  is a real treat. There's this lightly buttery crust wrapped around yeasty sweet goodness.Unfortuntely there are few bakeries that make such loafs and forget going to your local supermarket. What most have are those bags of cottony loaves that are better off  feeding ducks at the local pond. If you want a heavenly slice- then you're going to have to bake it yourself.

Melissa Clark discovered this as she researched the subject for her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section.white bread is surprisingly easy to make, perfect for novice home bakers.The ingredients are simple, as they have been for centuries. Butter and milk are needed to insure a soft center. Sugar is required for creating a nicely browned crust .Always use white flour. This has the highest gluten content which is needed for rising. You can use a high protein flour for more of a chew,Ms Clark suggests but she also warns about using low protein pastry flour - this will not make the dough rise enough - or adding whole wheat flour to a white bread recipe. The whole wheat's strong earthiness will mask the original sweetness. Ms CLark also includes a raisin swirl recipe which has a tantalizing mix of  dry sherry ,  brown sugar and raisins.There are other recommendations using a blend of chopped nuts or even dulce de leche. With a swirled bread,it's best to use a thick jam.A runny one will ruin the dough and leave the whole loaf soggy.

.One of the most worrisome problems of bread making is leaving it to rise  Novice home bakers will  fret that it won't  reach the desired height or it's not good enough. The solution to this is to keep the dough in a warm room. Ms.Clark  does this by warming up her oven for fifteen minutes. The dough is then put on top of the stove top She has also used her down quilt to help, but in this weather, really not that necessary. A slow rise is OK too,Busy bakers can also let their dough rise overnight in the fridge. There are a lot of options once the dough has risen, It can be baked in a couple of classic loaves.The unbaked loaf can be tossed in the freezer and kept for up to three months, The dough could also be used for a swirl loaf however be wary of this.The filling has to be more jam like than syrupy other wise the bread will separate from the filling and create cracks.This can screw up the slicing, as slices will split into pieces.Another idea not listed is adding a cup of raisins to the dough for an even sprinkling of fruit.

Nothing beats a homemade loaf of bread.It's just pure heaven to bite into a warm chewy slice. Get baking to experience this fresh baked nirvana,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Northern Cuisine

There 's a new regional cuisine that's making itself known - it's the Northern style.This is a reflection and blend of Canadian and New England recipes and flavors. Unlike Southern cooking, there is a crispness and sharpness to it; ,a more primal feel like the rugged Northern landscape itself

Jeff Gordonier wrote about it in today's New York Times Food section.He interviewed the innovators of this interesting and varied  as well as trying the different dishes that make up the foods served from Canada and the New England corridor.It is not what people think, especially when it comes to  Bostonian cuisine. This is usually misrepresented, according to Boston chef , Matt Jennings, who is also with the group Northern Chefs Alliance.It's not just creamy chowders and the standard baked beans, He does put chowder on his menu but its' perked up with black Squid ink crackers. Even Boston brown bread which is served at every table is punched up with maple butter and the Korean soybean paste doenjang The wildness of the Great North is also represented throughout this vast region. Foods that the indigenous people first caught , through crude hinting and fishing, are turned into haute cuisine fancies.These are deer kidneys and cod collars- fish throats.along with   Canadian dwarf cornel berries-  a kind of cross between a lingonberries and cherries, and Labrador tea jelly made from a kind of  mountain rhododendron. These come from  nature and not a downtown  farmer's market. Foods are cooked over fires kindled from wood found on beaches or in forests.

 Many recipes reflect the micro local bounty.This is true at Boralia a Toronto restaurant, owned by husband and wife team Wayne Morris and Evelyn Wu who go foraging locally for their restaurant's ingredients.They even use variations of recipes that the French explorers brought with them back in t the early 1600's such as eclade , mussels blanketed in dried pine needles. Their updated version involves a pine  ash infused butter. Some restaurants will serve freshly shot moose, arctic hare and partridge at one restaurant Raymond's. This is not regulated meat, in fact some dishes come with a warning as to watch out for the buckshor or you'll wind up with chipped. teeth.Local seaweeds are  such as dulse, lavar kombu and sea lettuce are incorporated in both  main and side dishes.Some of the traditional European recipes like the ones served at the Montreal eatery Maison Publique rely on these wild ingredients to fuse the new world with the old.Their Spanish dish  boquerones usually made with anchovies is now made with capelin, a North Atlantic bait gives the dish a rawer , taste that reflects the roughness of this untamed country.

Northern cuisine is a cuisine of wind, rock and wood as some chefs have deemed it.It is a rugged blend of sean and leand ,Old world and New.It is the food of wildness but also the food of great sophistication..

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Nepali Cuisine Spice And Mountains

Many only know Nepal for Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain top, yet it's also a fascinating, ancient country/It lies between China and India, and there's no doubt of their influence on the cuisine. It is tradition mixed with the exotic, two cultures fused as one in an interesting blend of spices.

Nepal sits on the top of India so it's no surprise to see certain Indian dishes in the cuisine..Dal, a staple of New Dehli and Bombay is made here as well.It's a spicy but easily replicable soup of lentils and spices.It's served with bhat or cooked grains along with rice. Sometimes vegetable curry is also served with it for a more  satisfying meal. A more Nepalese dish is dhindo.This is a kind of polenta being cooking with clarified butter or ghee and water. Buckwheat can also be added to the mix for more nutrition, Aachar or a tomato pickle is often served . This is a  kind of ketchup , but with zesty zing of cumin and mustard. Timur, or Szechuan pepper is also added to give the sauce more kick. There is  the chutney, made super hot by adding chili peppers and ginger to a sweet mango and tamarind mix. Most of the people are vegetarian , due to Hinduism and Buddhaism so most meals have yogurt as the main dish.Those of Pahari background enjoy yak meat.

The Chinese influence is felt very strongly here. There are momo, Tibetan style dumplings with Nepali spices. They were originally filled with buffalo meat but now have chicken and vegetarian fillings.Fermented soy and bamboo shots are also used.The janajati or indigenous people are big on buffalo and pork while another group, the Magars eat nothing but pork. Along with different ethnic groups different locations have different dishes Thakali cuisine, located between the Himalayas and the lowlands are big on sheep. Their meat is air dried and then eaten. The Thakali also make a kind of blood sausage rhat is also dried. These are added to curries  or sautéed in ghee and sometimes dipped into timur-ko-chop, Szechuan pepper, salt and local herbs.Newars, the urbanized people of Katmandu have huge feasts  that feature fried tofu or even cottage cheese. Their festival foods would not be out of place in a restaurant featuring nose to tail cuisine either. They are big on fried liver and tongue as well as stuffed lungs. Tea and beer usually round out any Nepali lunch or dinner.

Nepal is known for beautiful and exotic scenery.It is also know for interesting foods that reflects the cultures around it. It is full of variety and spice as it has been for centruies.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pasolivo Olive Oil Light And Fruity For Spring

As the temps warm up it's time to think of lighter fare such as barbecues and salads. with that comes Pasolivo Olive Oil, an incredibly light oil that comes in  different flavors.This is unusual in itself and this difference makes for all sorts of great and innovative dishes,

Pasolivo Ranch has been producing this fine oil for the last ten years in the lush valleys north of San Luis Obispo , California. It's an area known for its'  olive oil, almonds and wine.The company, owned by the Dirk family not only produces the artisanal oil but also a unique variety of vinegars, blended spices along with everything  olive and olive  oil.(their tapas are on my next must buy list) There are different kinds  of flavored olive oils that will work well with this season's  barbecues and salads. Flavors include basil,  and lime along with lemon, citrus and extra virgin. There is also the one of a kind rosemary, this last is always made at home by oil enthusiasts.Try theirs instead to save yourself some work.Another plus is the cool retro like containers, small metal containers with easy to use  pop up lids.

I love Paolivo's oils. Usually there is some snobbery when dealing with California and/or American pressed olive oils however that disappears with one taste. The extra virgin is so incredibly light.There is no after taste and it would be perfect in any tomato sauce recipe and salad. Definitely use in it making a heavenly aglia olio one.. I like the fruity and refreshing flavor of the lime infused one too.It's good mixed with sea salt and drizzled on grape tomatoes but also use it in guacamole. Olive oil gives the avocado dish a smoothness and body , the lime version would do this along with accentuating the taste. Any of the Pasolivo olive oils would be great as a marinade for barbecue. Use the hearty basil for  roast beef  and while chicken and fish  can get a fruit bath in any of the citrus infused ones. There is a recipe for cake and ice cream on the website that calls for the original. I would sub in the citrus flavored ones for a creamy and smooth texture and flavor.

Pasolivo Olive Oils are perfect for the season coming up. Use them  drizzled on fresh veggies or marinating barbecue meats. Even try them as an interesting ingredient in ice creams and cakes. They are wonderful and unique.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Childhood Friends

Every once in a while we go off the sensible adult diet and head back to childhood faves.There's that one food that turns us into Marcel Proust and his madeleines. Is it bad? Not if it's a brief foray into throwback eating. It's just a nice way to remember our culinary pasts.

One of the biggest American kid foods was and still is Spaghettios.Who doesn't love it as it celebrates its' fiftieth year. It's a mix of big and small pasta hoops that at times fit perfectly in each other like Russian nesting dolls. As an adult ,it's a tasty nostalgic return. It's also a quick hot meal on a Friday  night.It is low in calories however has a whopping 630 grams of sodium. Unfortunately there are no boxes of uncooked pasta hoops where you can make your own. You can make your own Spaghettos from scratch but it is labor intensive. Better stick with the real deal and have  it two or three times a year. Another food of our kittenhoods (and here's an interesting fact , a cat's favorite food is the one it first ate during his or her kitten phase) is Chef Boyardee. Everyone has  eaten a can of this famed pasta on a Friday night or Saturday lunch .One of the most favorite and often bought are the ravioli. we all loved the tiny bity size, often mushy squares , brimming in chopped beef and simmered in a saucy tomato sauce.There was also the spaghetti too, always a treat for lunch or quick Sunday supper.There was an actual Chef Boiardi, Hector who came to New York in 1914 and first worked at the  famed Plaza Hotel. Give him a lot of credit. He introduced Italian food to all of America during the 1920s , allowing families to have not only variety, but also nutrition in their lives.

No matter where you are in the world, fish  fingers or fishsticks were probably a big part of  your childhood diet. It was a Friday favorite and an introduction to the British classic fish and chips.The company still makes fish sticks however they have been given a healthy twist, Gone is that oil soaked crust and in its' stead  a baked low calorie meal. The side of chips has been gotten rid of as well. If you 're craving something similar ,Jake's Wayback Burgers has a  dish with three pieces of fluffily battered cod deep fried to an oily crisp . A generous side of fries is also offered. Of course every Yank grew up with  SwandonTV dinners. These were a wild mix of differently made  meats, sides and dessert. The originals were tasty, cooking up in metal trays which produces crispy stuffing and brownies.The turkey was always the best because it has an ample amount of gravy and turkey slices.Swanson also had corn  niblets , improved by a massive glob of butter on top. Then there was Rice-A-Roni, that quick mix of pasta bits and rice, flavored with all sorts of spices  - and  - well additives.It was a real treat as it accompanied roast chicken or a slice of steak. Even better was when the steak juices mixed with it ,

We're all like Marcel Proust, One whiff or bite of a childhood fave brings us back to a happier time. It's always nice to go back, if only for a quick meal.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Listeria Explained

Everyone is getting antsy these days about the Listeria outbreaks that are cropping up throughout the US. The questions are what is it exactly and where can it grow. A few simple answers is all it takes to understand this bacteria. It is dangerous but it can be completely avoided with the right food choices.

The bacteria has actually been around for decades. It was the 1920s when two researchers independently identified Listeria monocytogenes from animal outbreaks. It is responsible for the relatively rare listeriosis. The disease primarily affects pregnant women,fetuses, newborns, those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. One form of it is meningitis. Healthy people rarely become sick from it however it can happen.Listeria can be found in soil, water and some animals such as cattle and poultry.It can also live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats or foods.. Unlike many germs, it can grow in cold temperatures such as the inside of a freezer or refrigerator.It is usually killed by cooking and pasteurization.The symptoms are flu like and  could easily be confused  with a virus. Sufferers go through diarrhea along with fever, stiff neck, vomiting and weakness.There is also confusion in some cases. Most people are immune to the bacteria, but there are no tests yet to determine this,

What foods can it contaminate?It's ready to eat deli meats along with hot dogs however it could also affect veggie based products as we saw a few weeks ago with Amy's . The company's pizzas , lasagna and enchiladas were hit thanks to bad spinach.The reason for this is the manure used from infected cows or again from  the soil that the plants grow in..Fruits can also be contaminated as seen in an outbreak in California canteloupes. Several hundreds were thrown out of Colorado supermarkets thanks to the fruit being sprayed with contaminated water.  Dairy products can also be victimized too, Blue Bell Ice Cream had to be taken off  supermarket shelves throughout the southern US.The company, one of the largest ice creameries in the country had a total recall of all their products from their gallon containers to their ice cream pops.This is rare however because it is found in unpasteurized milk or foods made with unpasteurized milk.There is also the chance that it could be found in beef cuts as well as in raw chicken.Luckily any method of cooking can kill it. Some fish can also have it however the smoked kind is safe.

As with all foods, it's better to be safe than sorry. Wash fruits and veggies thoroughly .Cook meats thoroughly and be on the look out for food alerts.It's the best way of dealing with Listeria before it deals with you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fish Fears: Getting Over Them

One of the biggest fears and trepidations home cooks have is cooking fish, from buying it to storing it Then comes the hard choice of how to pan cook it .However there is one way of conquering this phobia. Treat it like any other meat. Handle it the way you would beef, chicken or pork.

This is Julia Moskin's advice in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Her Recipe Lab article give great advice and a simple to follow recipe on pan seared fish, Despite her vast and experienced background, Ms. Moskin has admitted she has qualms about cooking fish,  Most restaurants , especially in New York City, tend to cook any fillet in broth, juice or nage - a white wine herb infused broth (returning fish to water, Ms. Moskin muses).Other chefs prefer oil poaching, a costly way of cooking involving a slow simmer in tons of oil. A less expensive way is en papillote, folding up individual fillets in parchment paper with butter and herbs. It steams the fish and produces a thin broth. The problem is cooking this way is not exciting or that tasty. Searing in oil to try to produce the Maillard reaction is also dismal.The result is overcooked and flavorless fish.

Ms. Moskin sought advice from Chef Mark Usewicz of The Mermaid's Garden in Brooklyn. HIs secret to the perfect home cooked fillet? Butter.However the first step is getting a good , heavy skillet and constant attention. Not bad because the whole process only takes five minutes, The initial seas should be done in either grapeseed, canola or extra extra virgin olive oil because these will not burn at a very high heat.Only a few teaspoons will do the trick. Then add a nut of butter, flip the fillet and baste furiously. You can toss in a few fresh herbs like thyme or tarragon. What is the best fish for this? Try black bass, haddock, fluke for something different. For tradition stick with salmon, striped bass, tilefish or snapper. As far as it stinking up your fridge? Don't worry. If it's been properly prepped from the dock to the supermarket freezer, then there should be no odor or rot. It should last a few days  as would any piece of protein.

A good piece of fish is truly a treat. Cook it simply to bring out its' sweet briny flavor.It will be the best thing ever to  come out of a home kitchen

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Legacy Of Ladies And Lunch

Women's clubs seem to be a thing of the past, a quaint souvenir of when women got together to discuss how to better themselves and their lives. One such club remains, and has survived for 124 years. It was tarted during the Gilded Age in the 1890's and survives today in the 20 teens,It is the Thursday Afternoon Cooking Club and is going strong in Wichita, Kansas, a city known for its' strength and can do attitude.

It was the main article in today's New York Times' Food section. Kim Severson wrote the piece and even went to Wichita to interview the current members. Some are the great granddaughters of the founders. and still carry on the tradition of Thursday lunches and sharing recipes.The club itself started off as a kind of empowerment club for women in a Kansas that was just defining itself.Besides cooking it also taught manners to young women who were transitioning from farm girls to  wives of newly rich oilmen and ranchers. The Thursday Lunch Club  also concerned itself with what contemporaries of the time thought would be the lost art of cooking as well as the domestic sciences. Groups like this were springing up all over, It was the start of the Junior League and The DAR< Daughters of the American revolution along with several other clubs dealing with improvement and intellectual pursuit.Today's current batch of members are usually retirees  , mostly in their late sixties. Some however are only in their early fifties while other members are close to ninety ad these have been awarded honorary status.The Thursday Lunch Club now is more than just a club. The memebers weather all sorts of events , from marriages to death together and act as a family It's is very rare that they break off into clcliques or have battles. (although there was the Great Napkin Wars of the Nineties when one member introduced fancy napkin folding to the traditional three fold group)

Their recipes reflects the trends of the last 124 years.The members took a trip to New York City in 1900 to learn how to cook the latest rage- the omelet. World War Two saw recipes subbing in honey for sugar due to sugar rationing, along with tea being used for coffee. New products like baking powder were hotly debated as members wondered if their recipes for buckwheat cakes would be compromised. Food trends also influenced dishes. The Sixties saw some wild combos such as crab puffs and pineapple mint surprise - a kind of lemon bar- mousse hybrid; Hot curried fruit and deep sea casseroles defined the 1970s while the Nineties reflected the health craze with turkey tenderloins glazed with raspberry. A much more recent addition is alcohol, enhancing the luncheons. Everything is recorded in the minutes, form how the napkins are folded to what was said. Recipes are first practiced on spouses to see if they'll be good (the recipes - not the hubbies). One included one is Date Cake Delicious, from their 1922 cookbook. (and ,yes, they do put out cookbooks).It reflects the era, when women made scratch cakes with many ingredients. There are dates with cinnamon and clove along with nuts to make a rich , chewy loaf cake that would not seem out of place at an afternoon tea or a ladies lunch.

Many organizations have come and gone in 124 years. The Thursday Lunch Club has survived, giving advice and good food to Wichita ladies for literally three centuries.It is as stalwart and steady as the ladies who have joined it, then and now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Vitamin Enriched

One of the biggest worries foodies have is are they getting enough vitamins. We love our different and varied foods but are they good for us? Are we eating enough to fulfill our daily vitamin requirement? The best advice is still be interested in new foods and culinary trends but be prudent about nutrient deficient foods.

Vitamins are divided into two kinds, water soluble and fat soluble. Water soluble are absorbed quickly into the body's water . They are the eight B vitamins and C. The B vitamins are a varied group including niacin , and the all important folate.Most of the B vitamins are found in liver and kidneys however there's also found in other kinds of food such as whole grain breads and pastas. These are healthier for you than organ meat and versatile.Try a yummy while grain spaghetti with the Vitamin C rich tomato sauce. One of the most important B vitamins is folate.The name comes from the Latin for leaf and it is prevalent in dark, leafy greens. This is spinach,  collards and broccoli . The first can be made so many different ways, from salads to crepe fillings. Collards, also high in Vitamin C, are great sautéed in a mix of olive oil, red peppers and garlic. The same with broccoli It is versatile and can go from omelets to salads. B Vitamin meats range from beef to lobster, both considered luxury foods As for the Vitamin C, this is primarily the citrus fruits but also many vegetables have it too.Kiwi fruit is high in C and it can be made into lush desserts from gelati to tarts.

Fat soluble vitamins require fat to be released into the body. These are Vitamins A,D, E and K. Vitamin A is found in the carotenoids, the veggies and fruits responsible for eye health along with immunity and stem cell growth. There are carrots as part of this group and they can be juiced to create a flavorful salad dressing. Sweet potatoes are also part of this group and they are so versatile. Try them as  trendy  baked fries or whipped with butter and brown sugar , a different take on the usual mash. Dairy products  such as whole milk and butter are also Vitamin A rich and you can use these- sparingly in dishes for prep and flavor.Even though Vitamin D is basically gotten through early morning sunshine but it can also be had through dairy products. To get an extra dose, have Greek  yogurt blended with fresh fruit and honey. One of the most used and talked about is Vitamin E. It aids in skin  and lung health and can be found in the highly tasty  sunflower seeds and almonds, Both can be used to add texture and taste to all sorts of salads. Vitamin K, needed for blood clotting is found in, not surprisingly olive oil and also soy products. There are so many varieties of soy based "fake" meats, you can have an entire week of faux burgers and steaks, and all the while be loading up on K.

You can still eat fun foods  but check to see if they are vitamin rich . This way you have not only great taste but great value. Meals can be varied and lux but also good for you,

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Little Bit Fishy Adding Seafood To Your Meals

It's always  treat to have seafood for lunch or dinner. Unfortunately it can be an expensive meal, especially at some of the four star restaurants.The better idea? Go to your local fish market or even supermarket and make your own lush dishes. Most crustaceans and fish are easy to cook up and they pair well with everything from pasta to veggies.

Lobster is always considered for a special meal.Remember there are two kinds , spiny and Maine. The first is from the Caribbean and doesn't have claws, the Maine variety does ad is somewhat bigger.It is often the more preferred, thanks to having sweeter, firmer meat. Lobster can be turned into everything from salad to a great ingredient for Lobster Fra Diavolo. Of course the best way is having steamed or boiled  with a cup of melted butter or a lemon wedge. This is not recommended for animal lovers because you have to plunge it in a large pot of boiling water,Some fish markets, and this is where you should buy your seafood for the freshest,- do sell lobster meat that has already been boiled or steamed. You can make yummy lobster rolls for lunch or an elegant lobster salad for a fancy brunch. Crab legs can be bought precooked s well. Crab is versatile, going from picnic to lux in different dishes Try a picnic crab salad with  the meat blended  with elbow macaroni, diced green peppers and onions . Add a dash of cayenne for some zing. It can also be the base for Crabs Benedict, a take on the classic brunch dish, Eggs Benedict.

 Another seafood  treat is shrimp..The best bet is buying it deveined and shelled Shrimp  too can be made several different ways, Kabobs are fun and tasty, a perfect dish for the first barbecue of the season. Marinate them  first in Italian dressing and then grill with  mushrooms , tomatoes and onions ,Shrimp sauce is delicious on spaghetti or angel hair and is a fun topping on homemade pizza.Fish are always a welcome change. Salmon is popular right now and it's not only versatile but healthy for you,It is heart healthy and chock full of Omega-3. Try steaming it with garlic and ginger for an Asian vibe. Another way is with lemon and  herbs such as dill, parsley and chives. Serve with brown rice and a healthy veggie mix of carrots and broccoli. One of the most blendable is tuna.Try the Italian tonno en olio or tuna in olive oil in a Salad Nicoise.This is a blend of another tasty fish, anchovy with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, capers, and sliced hard boiled eggs dressed with a simple vinaigrette. Tuna stuffed tomatoes are a great luncheon plate for a small bridal or baby shower.A tasty low calorie meal or even snack is flaked tuna on crackers.

Any fish or seafood dish is  treat. Make it an affordable one by cooking it at home. There are many different kinds to experiment with along with many different recipes. Try  a few to enjoy the rich , briny taste of the sea.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Superseedz Pumpkin Seed s Super Yummy Super Versatile

One of the best snacks for you are pumpkin seeds. They're crunchy and fun snacks, perfect for a side at lunch or a nighttime snack. A bag of them is perfect on a hike or just for munching at the beach. Best of all, now they come in different flavors thanks to a great company, Superseedz. They have created really delicious savory and sweet snacks,

Eating pumpkin seeds is nothing new. The indigenous Americans have been nibbling on them for millennia. They are heart healthy as well as beneficial to the liver.along with just being a fun and crunchy snack. Now  Kathie Pellichio, creator of Superseedz takes it a step further by making them both savory and sweet/They are even pan roasted in small batches as she first cooked them to ensure more flavor and even roasting. To be honest Superseedz is one of the best snacks out there today. There are nine(!) different flavors from Naked to Super Spicy to nosh on. I love the Naked because there's that earthy , nutty taste and the Sea Salt flavor which is just salted perfectly however I'm mad for the Tomato Italiano which has a cool pizza flavor. I can see scattering these in an Italian hero, or a simple garden salad to give it texture and zing. The Curious Curry is another fave, the perfect blend of good for you curry with the seeds. Superseedz Super spicy is coated with dried habanero and cayenne along with a zip of garlic. I definitely recommend adding this to any chile , giving it a true Mexican spin along with bringing more heat to the sauce.

Of course the sweet Superseedz are just downright yummy too. I love the Cocoa Joe's and the Cinnamon and Sugar. There is also the flavorful Maple Syrup and Sea Salt, a true marriage of sweet and salty. Thanks to the roasting process, some of the seeds comes together in little clusters and they are fun little snacks, sort of like Crackerjack, but much better for you. Cocoa Joes' can also be good on ice cream and for something truly different , and sprinkled on cake filling for a crunchy surprise.. These and the Cinnamon and sugar can also be used to decorate cupcakes instead of sprinkles and mixed into plain cereals for extra flavor and benefits.The Maple Syrup and Sea Salt can be made into a fun take long granola if you bake them with oats, honey and raisins.  Pumpkin seeds have much needed zinc and iron  in them along with protein. Any of the Superseedz flavors are a good source of protein, perfect for those cutting back on their meat intake/ Another plus is that the bags are just right for slipping into a picnic basket , lunch bag or even desk for easy snacking . They're also easily resealable so that the seeds always stay fresh.

If you want a new snack that's good for then try the tasty savory and sweet flavors of SuperseedzThese gourmet pumpkins are a great alternative to the traditional snacks along with having a ton of benefits. Get addicted now to these super little seeds with a big flavor!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Eating On The Go

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year. There are games to attend , cleaning to be done  and events to be planned,That means that there will be times when a meal or snack will be eaten in transit. There is a problem in that. Most people tend to grab anything and everything to satisfy those munchies. Don't . The best bet is eating healthy  - even on the go.

Spring Saturdays are spent more on the road than at home thanks to all sorts of sports activities. Instead of you and the kids grabbing a quick burger at the local fast food joint., think stuffed pita pockets. These can be customized to suit everyone's tastes. Try to include some form of protein because it helps to stave off hunger longer. Try some leftover chicken or turkey as the main part of the stuffing. If you have to get cold cuts then try Boar's Head because they're low in fat and sodium. You can also use hummus, whether bought or homemade too. Sliced tomato, baby spinach leaves and bean sprouts all could be added as well as some spices and herbs for zing. Mix together cubed tomatoes and low fat mozzarella cheese along with olive oil and oregano Fill pita pockets with this for a kind of inside bruschetta. If you're home and want a quick hot meal , then put this in the toaster oven until the pockets  start to puff out and crisp up. Another yummy quick meal is a quick cold taco, filled with guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce and chopped lettuce. Add a tiny bit of sour cream or a big blob of salsa to round it out.

Snacks on the go can be trick too. It's all too easy to pick up a bag of chips or a pack of snack cakes  Yes, these are tasty and thy satisfy but they're full of empty calories. For a healthier nibble think nuts or seeds. These are filling and tasty  without all that artificial stuff like, transfat and sugar. Most companies such as Planters sell sleeves of different nuts and these are easy to pack. Also think whole wheat crackers or even Triscuits to munch on.Crackers smeared with peanut butter is a great way to satisfy hunger pangs between meals.Try cashew and almond butter for variety. It's tempting to pick up Hostess cupcakes or Twinkies for a  sweet snack along with quick energy, however resist. Save them for a rare treat. Instead have fruit. Most supermarkets have containers of already pineapple and watermelon which can fit perfectly in a lunch bag. Not only are they packed with vitamins and fiber but they're also refreshing, especially when chilled. Apples are still being sold and they too can be easily stored for quick munching.If you do crave cookies then stick with the all natural kind such as Kashi, The brand has some good ones like chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. What about protein bars? They're good for quick energy but just be alert as to whar's in them. Some do have a lot of sugar and preservatives. Read labels before you buy,.

Spring brings a variety of activities and a non stop schedule. Keep up your strength by eating healthy meals and snacks while you're on the go.You'll feel better and ready for whatever comes your way.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Healthy Picnics

Yesterday's Times Food section  about sandwiches brought on ideas about picnics. The weather is perfect for a healthy meal outdoors whether at the park or the beach . Pack your basket with tasty but good for you sandwiches, snacks and drinks.

The sandwich is the main star of any picnic meal. Think healthy with meat from leftover roasts. Cold cuts can be good however try to get those that have less nitrates and fats in them. Although with leftover chicken and turkey , you can pack the wings and legs, if there any left over.Leftover ham, chicken and roast beef can also be devilled simply by adding chunks of leftover roasts to a food processor along with a teaspoon or two of water.This creates a nice paste that can be mixed with low calorie mayo or even olive oil for a spread. Veggie sandwiches are always good. Go Provencale by adding some sliced tomatoes on a whole wheat baguette. The Food Sandwich issue suggests not keeping the tomatoes in the fridge. This will make their flesh mushy. They should have a nice firmness and a chewy sort of meatiness to it . For the Southern French style, you can drizzle some olive oil on the bread along with some sprinklings of oregano and rosemary. For a Nicoise  use tuna, preferably tonno in olio, tuna packed in olive oil. This is both good for you and a luxury. Peeled and  sliced hard boiled eggs add another silken touch of lux,. If you have the time you can make either broccoli or mushroom pate. These are somewhat labor intensive spreads however they are yummy and delicious on artisanal rolls.

One of the most favorite aspects of picnicking are the snacks. Everyone feels like they can go wild on an outdoor jaunt. Bags of potato chips, and cheese puffs are always thrown in  along with every kind of available snack cake. These may be fun to  nibble on  but  whether they're eaten outdoors or indoors , they're still bad for you.Insteead try a bag of pretzels,. You can even pack some kind of mustard too for dipping. Nuts are always a good bring along. Nothing beats some crunchy almonds or lightly sea salted peanuts..As for sweets, dark chocolate  is always a good treat. It's full of antioxidants and flavonoids. Try fruits dipped in it for extra flavor. More natural are cuts fruit pieces such as watermelon and pineapple. Both are sweet endings full of vitamins and fiber.As Spring progresses , think about packing seasonal fruits such as strawberries and blueberries.Cookies are always fun to bring along and there are healthy ones out there such  as the Kashi brand or Fig Newtons. You can also bake a batch too but remember to use whole wheat flour and   brown sugar. All this food requires drink. Again skip the soda and bring the chilled water bottles. If you want flavor then think BAI and BAI5 juices and sodas. These are all natural  with the addition of the coffeefruit and come in tasty flavors like peach and blueberry.Their sodas are light and sparkling ,perfect thirst quenchers during a hot day.

Spring picnics are always fun.Make them healthier too, with  good for you sandwiches, snacks and drinks, It's a great way of enjoying the fresh air.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Sandwich Issue

Just in time for the warm weather is the New York Times Food section Sandwich issue  Everything about this culinary staple is explored, from it's origins to its variations. There are recipes ranging from hot to cold, from traditional to out there recipes. Read it and you'll never look at two slices of bread and fillings again.

Newcomers and regular contributors have given some interesting spins on this most basic of dishes.Even Florence Fabricant's Front Burner section is sandwich centered. There is even a review on a new butter knife that expertly shaves cold butter from the container along with where to buy Pullman loaves , the old fashioned bread that makes for the best sandwiches.Food regular , Jeff Gordonier talks with Manhattan's best chefs about different recipes.According to Justin Smillie the chef of Upland, a delicious one starts with a schmear of fat. This is the case with Mile's End chicken salad sandwich.. Crunch is also important, hence the reason that chicken salad sandwich has a layer of gribenes or fried chicken skin bits as a layer.. A real plus of any sandwich is having fresh ingredients. Tomatoes should not be put into the fridge or they';ll get mushy, ditto the same for lettuce. Both should have a refreshing crispness to them. One of the more interesting articles is by Pour contributor Eric Asimov as he pairs sandwiches with wines. What to drink with that Vietnamese lunch special?A German resiling. It pairs perfectly with pork and pickled sandwiches.Mr. Asimov suggests  to create a good pairing, depend on the sandwich's dominant notes. This is usually the meat but sometimes the spices or condiments used can  also dictate what goes well with it.

Of course there are recipes for the Earl of Sandwich's greatest and only invention. This also brings up why its' called that. It seems the earl of, John Montagu had ordered a  quick meal of meat placed between two slices of bread. Since he was the "It Boy" of the day , the name stuck although there probably had been variations for hundreds of years before. The modern day recipes from both Melissa Clark and David Tanis are mouth watering and easy to create. Try Ms Clark's yummy roast beef sandwich. Usually this is made with left over roast beef, but she makes it with freshly cooked meat, namely a boneless top loin roast.It came with a cap which helped in the taste and cooking. Served on rye , it was a sandwich and meat lover's dream. David Tanis went the seafood route with tuna. He takes the classic tuna fish sandwich and classes it up with olive oil - not mayonnaise. Salsa verde is also added along with anchovies. sliced hard boiled eggs decorate this open faced sandwich, placed on a crusty baguette or ciambatta roll.If these don't make you drool, then head over to the field guide in the middle of the paper. There are lists of fillings and breads and explanations of some of the more exotic ones like the Croque Monsiuer, Pan Bagnats and Banh Mi. You could also give American classics like the dagwood and the Po Boy a shot too.

It is the perfect times for picnic baskets stuffed with sandwiches. Use the New York Times Food sandwich issue to create yummy ones. You can have fun experimenting with everything from a simple roast beef to a more elaborate Croque Monsiuer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Your Spring Snack Guide

Spring brings a lot of changes.we dress lighter, We should eat lighter and we should snack lighter as well.Those whipped cream topped hot cocoas and cupcakes may have been great as we were bulking up for the cold however they may be heavy and calorie rich  during these warm days and nights.It's time to change to less dense treats.

One of the best snacks, both in cold and warm weather is popcorn . It's a better alternative to potato chips and dip .it's full of fiber and taste, perfect for filling up during games or a day at the beach.Another plus is that's it's easy to tote around - and if you have any left over is perfect for feeding the birds.a great Saturday night snack is nachos. The winter saw them piping hot with cheese and maybe chili on them. Go light  with a homemade salsa of chopped tomatoes, jalapenos and onions. You can even use this for crackers or a fiery spin on bruschetta.English muffin pizzas were also a great Sunday night supper or snack. Sub the canned sauce for fresh chopped tomatoes and replaced the heavy mozzarella with a hearty sprinkle of Parmesan. another healthy filler is cottage cheese blended with chopped veggies. Add some broccoli florets along with cut up snow pea pods  along with a few grape tomatoes and diced onion. Add a good dahs of fresh cracked pepper and a tiny dash of sea salt for more flavoring.You can also cut up soy hot dogs and wrap crescent dough around them for a low cal version of pigs in blankets.

This is the season of first harvests. That means fresh batches of peaches , strawberries and blueberries. Eat these when you're craving something sweet. They're full of fiber and vitamins,perfect after a winter of cookies and snack cakes. Fruit can be grilled too and it can be easily turned into shish kabobs. Brush the skewered pieces with honey before you put them over the fire.The fruit of the season can also be mixed into Greek yogurt for a nice pick me up at the office.As the temps shoot up you may be tempted by ice cream or even those whipped cream topped iced coffees. They may be cooling and a treat however they are fat bombs just waiting to go off. stick with ices or low calorie ice cream treat.You can even semi freeze bananas and strawberries and then have them with  chocolate syrup and low fat whipped toppings. As for the coffee- stick to iced black for a refreshing change. You'll taste the full rich flavor of the beans that way along with being enervated. You can also q8unech your thirst with BAI all natural juices and soda They're fresh and fruity, having only five calories each.

It's spring and that means lighter fare for snacking. enjoy ,kw calories sweets and treats as the temps  rise. You'll not only feel satisfied but also rewarded with good for you snacks.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shed That Winter Diet!

One of the worst aspects of the bad winter we just had is that most stayed indoors and just ate.We ate out of boredom or to save up fuel for all that snow shoveling. Now its' spring and it's a different vibe.It's almost bathing suit season and that means cutting back on those cold weather treats and embracing healthy eating.

All those high caloric foods that got us through those cold mornings and even colder nights won't hold up during the warmer spring days.Those breakfasts of bacon and eggs heaped on buttered toast would be better saved for when falls rolls around. Think about fresh fruit for starting the day, or better yet served in a bowl of healthy all bran cereal.This is filling and will get you through a busy morning. A fruit smoothie is another perfect way to start the day. Try making a berry smoothie using strawberries and blueberries.Both will be in full season in another month or two. add some ground flaxseed for both fiber and Omega 3. A big plus is that a flax seed smoothie will keep you sated and full until lunch. If you do crave a bacon and eggs breakfast then think soy or turkey bacon and a side scramble of egg whites.A big bowl of fruit salad is also a great first meal. Add some almonds for crunch and protein.If you're used to an English muffin dripping with butter and jam, rethink it. The muffin alone is 120 calories about the same amount as two slices of whole wheat bread.Have this last with a smear of margarine and a more naturally processed jelly.

Now with springhere, we have to also rethink how we eat lunch and dinner. Most people prefer a hot soup and sandwich for a cold weather lunch.,That's great if it's minestrone and maybe a slice of focaccia on the side but many loved a good , hearty cream soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. It's time to forget that and light.Think an almost broth like vegetable soup with a salad.Add some protein in the form of  chicken or tuna to the salad so that you'll feel sated until dinner. You can also just got for a bigger salad, chock full of mixed veggies , nuts and any kind of meat. If you want to go vegan, then think about tofu added. Dinner should be the same. All those gravy rich stews and roasts were great back in January and February , even March but it's time to go easy on calorie dense meals .Think grilled chicken breasts or even a plain roast chicken with a side of Spring veggies like asparagus.Pastas can also be tailored to warmer weather too. Cook spaghetti or angel hair pasta and then use some of the pasta water to help flavor fresh cut tomatoes, peppers and onions that have been sautéed briefly in olive oil.If you're still longing for a casserole, then make ratatouille. This Provencale classic is made with tomatoes, onions and eggplant  and a perfect filling dish  for a week night or Sunday supper. It's usually served with French bread but you can sub in toasted pita or warmed flatbread instead.

The spring is finally here. It's time to shed those dense calories soaked meals and go for lighter fare. It's not only great for getting into bathing suit shape but also good for your body!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mary Sue Millikin, Super Chef, Super Mentor

Foodie Pantry recently received the privilege of interviewing Chef Mary Sue Millikin,the creator of both the famed  City Café and The Border Grill in Los Angeles. She also just competed a mentorship  on the new competition show on Ora TV. "America Cooks With Chefs  which shows the average home chef how to cook both healthy and delicious A special gift are low calorie recipes from the show , including one from  Chef Millikin's mentee, Vinita, seen at the end of this interview. Enjoy everything!

Foodie Pantry: What interested you about ‘America Cooks with Chefs’ and why did you join? 

Mary Sue Millikin:I love sharing my passion for food with others, and I’m very interested in how diet can contribute to a healthier body and planet.  ‘America Cooks with Chefs’ was such a great opportunity to share good tips and pointers on what I’ve learned over the years with home cooks around the country.   

FP: Did you learn anything from your experience on ‘America Cooks with Chefs’?

MSM: I'm always learning!  I was surprised to find that Vinita, my mentee, was putting herself in a food prison because she couldn’t find another way to manage her weight other than eating the same bland food all the time. I was shocked to learn that this was an issue for many people, and I enjoyed the challenge to help her broaden her view on delicious, healthy food. 

FP: What is your best tip/s to live a healthier lifestyle?

  • Foods that are high in fiber are a dieter’s paradise because they satisfy without adding too many calories.  I like to add chickpeas, white beans, roasted cauliflower or beets to a salad to increase fiber in my diet.  
  • Your body doesn’t always know when it’s had enough food right away –it can take up to 20 minutes for a person to feel full after they’ve had enough food already, during which time you might keep eating. To cut back on this effect I quell my hunger throughout the day with small snacks of carrot & celery sticks or a couple of nuts then sit down to meals with friends or family and eat slowly. 
  • The habit that helps me the most is to have healthy snacks on hand, wherever I am, at my desk, car or the refrigerator at home. I don’t buy anything that isn’t healthy for me. I’m surrounded by food all the time, but once you have the awareness, you have an idea of what to grab and what to avoid. 

FP: How did it feel helping and mentoring a home chef?


MSM:I love the explosion of the American food consciousness over the last 25 years.  Nothing makes me happier than helping people who love to cook at home learn some of the tricks of the professional trade.  

FP: Was Vinita open to all your suggestions? Was she a good student? 

MSM: Vinita was a fantastic student, she truly loves food, and is constantly trying new things and quite talented in the kitchen already.  It was fun to help her wrap her mind around a bunch of new ideas and techniques.  

FP: What are the healthiest dishes that you have created both for your restaurant and at home? 

MSM:I’m fan of an 80/20 dish, with 80% of the dish being plant based, and protein being a compliment or accent to the dish. I love healthy salads with seared meat or fried egg on top, or a red bean stew with root vegetables, where a little bit of smoked ham hock has flavored the dish. When I taste those dishes, I feel that even a die-hard meat eater will be satisfied.  

FP: Who was your mentor and did he or she leave a lasting impression?

 MSM:   Jovan Traeboyevic employed me at Le Perroquet, which was the restaurant I was working at when I met Susan Feniger.  His attention to detail when procuring ingredients was awesome, and set me on a path to only settle for the best ingredients, not always the most expensive ones, that make the most sense for the dish.  

FP: Will you mentor again?

MSM:Yes. As a chef and owner, of 5 restaurants with over 400 employees, mentoring is a huge part of my job. I take it seriously and try to improve all of the time.  

FP: What is your favorite Mexican dish? Do you make it often? 

MSM:Tacos. They are the perfect food.  I make them every day at work, and at home very often, my kids love them.
Colorful Chile Relleno  
Big on flavor and veggies, but low on calories and super satisfying.   
Serves 4 
5 Poblano chilies (choose uniformly shaped peppers for stuffing)   
1 red bell pepper 
1 yellow bell pepper 
1 cup green garbanzos (or substitute canned garbanzos)     
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced ½”  1 onion, peeled and diced 1/4"   
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil 
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. grated Mexican Manchego or Monterey jack cheese (or any cheese that's good for melting)  
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. grated Cotija (or any salty, dry cheese like Romano, Parmesan, Pecorino)   
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
Chipotle salsa (see recipe)   
Crispy tortilla strips for garnish (see recipe) 
Optional garnish (if calorie count is not too high),  2 Tbsp. plain yogurt (full fat) for drizzling over hot chile before the tortilla strips. 
Roast peppers over an open flame or under the broiler until skin is charred black, but the flesh is not cooked soft.  Place in a paper bag to cool.  When cool enough to handle, rub the charred skin off the peppers and on 4 of the poblanos cut a slit and carefully remove the seeds, ribs and core - leaving the stem intact.  Take the remaining poblano and the 2 bell peppers, remove the stems and seeds and cut into 1/2" dice.   
Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil and add the diced butternut squash, when just tender drain and place cooked squash in a single layer on a plate or cookie sheet to cool.   
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onion with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cook until slightly golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, then add the garbanzos, squash and diced poblano and bell peppers.  Cook together 5 minutes over medium heat stirring and tossing to combine well.  Remove from heat and place in a bowl, add 1/2 cup each of the grated cheeses and mix well to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning.    
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   
Place the 4 whole poblano chilies in a casserole and divide the stuffing between them.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. of each cheese over the filling in the pepper's opening.   
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is piping hot and the cheeses on top are golden brown.   
On each plate, place a 1/4 cup chipotle salsa to one side, then place hot poblano in the center of the salsa, drizzle with the yogurt and top with crispy baked tortilla strips.  Serve immediately with watercress jicama salad alongside the relleno 
Chipotle Salsa 
 4 Servings
2 Dried chipotle chilies, stems and seeds removed 
2 Roma tomatoes 
3 Garlic cloves 
½ Small onion, sliced thinly 
1 ½ Cups Water 
1 -1 ½  Teaspoons Salt (or to taste) 
Place all ingredients in a small pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook gently 20-30 minutes.  Puree in blender and reserve for serving chile rellenos 
Crispy Tortilla Strips for garnish (optional) 
4 Servings 
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil 
1 tsp. lime juice 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. hot paprika 
1 (6") flour tortilla 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oil lime juice slat and paprika together in a small bowl and stir until salt is dissolved.  Place tortilla on countertop and brush this mixture onto the tortilla both sides, coating evenly.  Slice tortilla into 2" strips and then slice those strips into very thin (1/16") strips. Spread out in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet (or parchment lined) and bake 7-10 minutes or until crispy.  Cool completely and sprinkle over chile relleno. 
Watercress and Jícama Salad 
Serves 4 
1 small or ½ large jícama, peeled 
3 bunches watercress, (About 3 cups), trimmed and washed 
Lime Olive Oil Dressing 
1/4 cup olive oil  
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar 
1/4 teaspoon sea salt 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
Thinly slice the jícama and then cut into 1/8-inch-wide strips.  Combine the jícama and watercress in a bowl. 
Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad and toss well to coat.  Serve immediately on chilled plates. 
Garnish with spicy pepitas 
For a fuller-bodied salad, fan avocado slices across the top and drizzle with cracked black pepper garnish. Let’s add avocado if we can afford the calories!  
Spicy Pepitas 
Makes 1 cup 
1 cup pepitas (raw hulled green pumpkin seeds) 
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
½ teaspoon chili powder or ground ancho chiles 
½ teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon lime juice 
½ teaspoon olive oil 
Preheat the oven to 375 F.   
Mix all of the ingredients, except the pepitas, together in a bowl.  Toss and coat pepitas in the mixture.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake 5 minutes, or until lightly browned, shaking the pan once or twice. 
Hibiscus Granita 
Serves 4 
2 cups water 
½ cup dried hibiscus flowers tea 
¼ cup agave nectar 
Juice of a ½ Lemon (about 2 Tablespoons) 
Bring water to a boil with the hibiscus flowers tea.  Add agave nectar and simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and add lemon juice to taste, adjust for sweetness and strain the liquid into baking pans until about 1 inch high.  Freeze, scraping up the ice mixture every 30 minutes to form the granita 
Vinita’s coconut straws 
Makes 20 to 24 cookies 
1 cup sliced almonds 
2 ½ cups unsweetened wide flake coconut 
½ cup chopped dried cranberries  
½ cup chopped dried dates 
4 ounces canned sweetened condensed milk 
Preheat the oven to 325°.  
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use a nonstick pan    
Spread the almonds on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden and aromatic. Set aside to cool. Place the wide flake coconut in a food processor and pulse to roughly chop.  Add the almonds, dates, apricots and condensed milk and mix JUST until moistened    
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter for each cookie onto the lined cookie sheet and gently flatten to circles of about 2¼ inches in diameter. (These cookies do not spread.)  OR chill this cookie dough and roll chilled dough into straws about 4” x ½”, then place on parchment.   
Bake 10 minutes or until the coconut turns very pale golden, being careful not to over brown. Transfer to racks to cool.