Monday, August 31, 2015

A School Ready Kitchen

Many schools are starting this week (bummer, right?) and that means revamping the fridge and pantry to fit students needs.Those scholars will  need fun and nutritious foods to help them through the day and those all important study hours.Feed  them right  and they'll do better at school - hopefully,

Kicking off the school day can be  a pain, especially if the little and not so little ones have spent the summer starting off with junk cereals.It's time to go back to eating healthier breakfast foods. One of the best cereals to eat is Mom's Best Cereals. The company creates good for you spins on Cheerios,Coco Puffs and Lucky Charms. They are made with without any high fructose corn syrup along with no partially hydrogenated oil and best of all no artificial flavors or preservatives. The  cereals also taste better than the national brands and don't have their residual cloying sweetness. The boxes also are fun, having interesting and fun facts on ecology and animals. Pancakes and waffles are always in demand- however make them with whole wheat or buckwheat flour.That classic oatmeal is always good , even in hot weather. It's a warm fulfilling bowl that can be supplemented with the fruits of the season.What about eggs? Should kids eat them or not? The answer is yes, but only if they don't eat too much cholesterol on a weekly basis. A poached egg or an egg sunny side up served with bacon can be saved for a birthday or holiday breakfast and not a school day one.

Lunches can be made both fun and healthy. One good investment is a bento box. This Japanese classic is perfect for storing sandwiches and snacks. The compartments let eaters have the right amount of the main dish and sides or snacks.These are easy to be had and can be found everywhere from Target to This allows you to make  a nutritious main such as a mini salad or sandwich along with tasty veggie and fruit sides.For sandwiches , always have whole wheat or seven grain slices instead of white  and think beyond the usual baloney and mustard. Make a guacamole spread  for sandwiches instead of mayo and think tomato slices or broccoli florets.If you do have to serve protein then think leftover steak or chicken which don't have the preservatives or nitrates. Salads can be made fun and colorful too. Add carrots along with diced red and green peppers.Extras  can be whole wheat croutons or sunflower seeds.Look for dressings that are low in fat  but high in natural ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Have the student make the salad to suit their likings.

Get your kitchen ready for the new semester. Have healthy ingredients for nutritious breakfasts and lunches. It'll make for a better student and better grades.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Buckles & Crisps & Cobblers Oh My

Summer baking isn't always an easy thing.Who wants to create a complicated torte when it's ninety degrees outside?However there are some tasty baked treats that require almost no work, They are the fruit filled buckles, crisps and cobblers. They are  baking at it's simplest but also at its' most delicious.

For starters, buckles, crisps and cobblers are somewhat alike but there are some differences. Buckles are more buttery and cakelike. Fruit of the season is mixed with a rich batter and sometimes topped with a streusel topping. It's one of America's oldest dessert recipe, having been made in colonial New England kitchens. Originally it was made with blueberries but now home bakers can use peaches and nectarines as well as raspberries and blackberries. It does have to be made with wet fruit hence the buckling effect so unfortunately apples and pears won't work with it.Melissa Clark offered a recipe in her A Good Appetite column in Wednesday's New York Times Food column. Hers is made with mixed berries such as blueberries  and blackberries along with black raspberries. She also gives it a light sprinkle of cinnamon too and tops the finished buckle with iced cream. Whipped cream or even crème fraiche also goes well with it too.

Crisps are somewhat easier to make and a good starting off point for novice home bakers.They're simply a mix of sugar butter and flour poured over fruit. They can be made with everything from rhubarb and strawberries  to apples and peaches. Apple crisps sometimes have oats added to them as well but it's up to the baker. They're a snap to make , and a fun back to school treat to make with the kids serve with mounds of cool Whip or iced cream.Cobbler is another simple dessert that can be made with frozen biscuits. Bisquick can also be used to create a tasty topping as can yellow cake mix. Your best bet is a scratch  one using flour and baking powder for a light fluffy one. Some home bakers add oatmeal and cinnamon but save that for the crisps. French style has one or two eggs in it for a much more cakier topping.A good cobbler is an equal blend of biscuit that's not too sweet and that will sop up the fruits' juices and fruits that will bake up soft and pulpy. Cobblers can also be made with cherries and blackberries but the peach kind is the best. Again you can serve it with vanilla ice cream , crème fraiche or good old whipped cream.

The weather is sweltering yet you can still bake. Try the super easy buckles  crisps or cobblers with the fruit of the season. They are a snap to make and oh so delicious to eat.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A New Kind Of Deli

Walk into any deli and you're going to see the usual stuff. There's a display case of mayo drenched salads, and an array of deli meats. What you won't find is chaga or even a tank of live eels. Where could you be? At Harry & Ida's , a deli restaurant mash up that's an East Village staple.

Jeff Gordonier  wrote about this interesting and mind blowing deli in Wednesday's  New York Times Food section. It was created by Will and Julie Horowicz and named for their great-grandparents who were deli owners themselves. The newest generation keeps certain culinary traditions such as hefty brisket sandwiches, fresh killed and smoked eels and brined beef tongues. The first won Mr. Horowicz the top prize in the Brisket King of NYC competition. The deli's restaurant division Ducks is also garnering attention for its' barbecue, also winning recognition and second place at the Kingsford Invitational barbecue contest.The Horowicz's didn't come to their family's business easily.Ms. Horowicz was a Vassar grad , teaching English on the island of Reunion, off the coast of Madagascar. Her brother, a ping pong enthusiast (who has a fondness for playing the game au natural) had to come up with a snack heavy menu for the Flatiron district table tennis hangout SPIN New York.After garnering knowledge at SPIN, they opened up Harry & Ida's , definitely a homage to the family business

What makes them different than their great grandparents deli is their choice of foods.It's not just traditional Jewish deli foods but others that are from the American South, Native American and Asian traditions.Chaga sits marinating in a jar as Will Horowicz turns this Russian fungi into a tea. It's certainly not the traditional Dr. Brown's celery and cream sodas that are standard issue at any New York City deli.There is skate(!) jerky along with cattails (!!!) marinate in brine,.  The last is a standard in indigenous cuisine and tastes like cucumber Pickled ,it'll fit in well in the Horowicz's deli, standing in for the traditional dill pickle. There are also brining crab apples, a sight not seen at any other eatery . Spruce , another North American food is also on the menu.. The brother and sister are big into foraging as well as fermentation, This is what makes the deli a stand out.They experiment, not selling for the everyday stuff like cole slaw and potato salad.

Harry and Ida's is a blend of new and old thanks to Will and Julie Horowicz. They blend traditional deli foods with new spins and ancient techniques. It's what makes their deli unique in a city full of the usual pastrami sandwiches.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Small Brands Huge Successes

It wasn't that long ago that small , artisanal brands were eclipsed by, national and more widely known ones.This is changing, as more and more foodies discover smaller , more naturally made foods. These are becoming popular and to the owners; and inventors; delight, successful.

Stephanie Strom wrote about this in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Just as easy as it is to publish a book nowadays' due to platforms like Nook, it's relatively easy to produce a new item..Thanks to Facebook and Twitter small companies can get their product out to millions.Another reason is that sales are not tied to grocery stores anymore. Many companies, like the artisanal soda company,Zevia  received their success from sales on Amazon. Another boost comes from Whole Foods,it;s the store that sells  smaller, more naturally processed food stuffs,If a new food , whether a cookie or prepared meal gets a following there, they're golden, The company's decentralized structure allows for store and regional to incorporate small lots and batches into their store inventory. This is a boon for small companies that would usually start out selling or even handing out free samples at flea markets or street fairs.

For those who want to start up their businesses, there are some points to consider first. Concentrate on the product instead of the investors advises Will Rosenzweig, the founding chief executive of The Republic Of Tea and an investor as well.So many new companies should be improving their brand instead of trawling for angels.This is the reason he founded the Food Business school at the Culinary Institute of America, to help with the hard and sometimes financially demanding early days,Many smaller companies though  have passed this hurdle. There is the new condiment company, Sir Kensington , created by friends and former Brown University classmates, Scott Norton and Mark Ramadan. Their ketchup is a throw back to the original recipe of just tomatoes, tomato paste and natural sugar.Another new entrepreneur Lindsey Rosenberg has introduced a new kind of cake and bread mix, Cherryvale Farms. It's a big seller at Whole Foods and New Leaf Community Markets, a smaller all natural grocery store chain.

If you have a new food idea, go for it. Nowadays you can be a success with your gran's tomato sauce recipe or those peanut butter balls you love making. It's  a new era for food and drink entrepreneurs . Go for it and make a mint.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An Easy Summer Sauce

We are in the middle of tomato season. This versatile fruit that masquerades as a veggie can be made into everything from a sandwich to a bowl of salsa. However it is best made into a tasty pasta sauce. The garden taste comes through, tangy and sweet, perfect for any pasta when made this way.

David Tanis believes this and wrote about it in his column  City Kitchen  in today's New York Times Food section.. One of the best aspects of homemade sauce is that you can make it and use it months from now. There will be that ripe taste in the middle of a cold winter. Even if you don't; have them in your backyard you still can get beauties at your local grocery store and get them cheap. According to Mr Tanis, this is another reason to make sauce. He suggests looking for ugly, cracked and large ones that are slightly bruised. These are cheaper due to these imperfections yet still  have a sweet, dense blood red flesh, perfect for sauce. Another suggestion is using plum tomatoes if you like their taste(slightly sweeter than the beefsteaks).The one standard he demands is that they be sun ripened. (remember home growers can also use the less than perfect ones from their gardens too instead of tossing them onto the mulch pile)

Prepping them  for sauce is easy. This is not the kind of recipe where home chefs don't; blanch and peel the tomatoes. What it does require is the surprising hand held grater, a gadget not necessarily associated with sauce making., Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters and then squeeze out the seeds if you don't like a few in your sauce. Now place the cut side against the grater's large holes and gently rub until there's only tomato skin  left. Now add a pinch of sea salt, two tablespoons of olive oil along with a sprig of basil and a halved garlic clove. You can add tomato paste to thicken it for a more traditional textured sauce. Cook it in a low wide saucepan over a high heat. Once it starts to boil the lower the heat and let it simmer.It can be kept in the fridge for five days afterward or just frozen for later use down the line. . Mr Tanis recommends serving it with farfalle or penne, textured pasta that will hold the sauce but I can also see  it with bucatini,the thick tubular spaghetti.Serve with a sprinkle of pecorino or Romano  for the best summer dish  of the season.

Take advantage of tomato season and make this easy and delicious sauce. It's a great way of enjoying the harvest right now. Freeze some for later to have the taste of sun ripened tomatoes on a cold winter's night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Simply Vietnamese Cooking SImply Delicious

Vietnamese cooking is a delightful mix of meat and vegetables , Asian and French flavors and sweet and savory. It is a cuisine not to be missed.Luckily there is a new cookbook that brings the best of this interesting country'srecipes right to your kitchen.

Food writer and chef Nancie McDermott wrote a phenomenal cookbook that will appeal to both experienced and novice home chefs alike, Her Simply Vietnamese Cooking (Robert Rose Press) is an excellent guide for those wanting to cook Vietnamese cuisine. Chef McDermott became an expert on cooking it when she lived there for three years during a Peace Corps stint. She also has travelled extensively throughout Asia and has written several cookbooks with four focusing on Asian cooking. What is so great about the book is that she takes the mystery out of Vietnamese cooking. along with providing helpful tips and interesting stories on both dishes and drinks.  She includes a whole page  centering menus  on meat or vegan dishes , northern Vietnamese or southern, a fun beach party one  centered on seafood along with a menu for cooking cool and light on hot , steamy days - like now.There's also suggestions for a  Vietnamese tailgate party and even a campfire cookbook. Chef McDermott includes a glossary of ingredients with emphasis on Vietnamese herbs use. These are vital in creating the exact flavors for several dishes.The photos showing the dishes are amazing, and mouth watering.

Vietnamese cooking is an interesting mix of different flavors and various ingredients.Fish sauce, made from anchovies, is a vital ingredient in many dishes. It gives meat and veggies dishes an earthy saltiness and rich caramel brown color. Viet Nam is a tropical country so coconut figures heavily in many savory and sweet dishes.One of my must make  recipes is Chef McDermott's coconut ribbons , a  crunchy sweet usually made for the holidays,,There are tasty recipes for the Vietnamese classic pho, noodle soup as well on another favorite  salads. The  people are big on beautiful  lush bowls of mixed greens, full of vibrant herbs and there are recipes  featuring these. They could be used as palate cleansers when  serving other dishes such as sizzling savory pancakes or pho noodles with chicken. Both dishes are redolent with a mélange of sweet and salty flavors that dizzy the palate. Since Vietnam was also a French colony at one time, there are Gallic influences  in pate chaud a meat filled puff pastry, crème caramel and Vietnamese coffee, a take on café au lait.

Simply Vietnamese Cooking is a great cookbook for those who love Vietnamese cuisine  or those who want to experiment with Asian cooking. Chef McDermott gives a varied cookbook , full of delicious savory and sweet dishes. Buy it today and experience the deliciousness of South Asian foods.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Preserve Us!

There's nothing like the taste of summer. It's fresh and tangy, sweet and mellow , kind of like the season itself. Make it last by turning them into yummy preserves, chutneys and salsa. You have that sun ripened flavor when it's sleeting and snowing outside.

Many  home chefs are put off  by  the very idea of canning or preserving, probably because of the threat of botulism . Get over that fear.What you need to know is that non acidic foods, namely veggies such as corn , cucumbers, carrots  and the like must be processed in a pressure canner.It's a  little more involved but the contraptions does most of the work.There is the easy route  - that is canning acidic foods which is a simpler process All you need is a hot water bath which is placing canning jars in a large, tall pot. You do need tongs along with a timer, a canning funnel and a rack to hold the jars.If you're a neophyte ,I'd recommend chutney..It's basically cooking fruits or veggies with  a variety of spices. Salsa is the cold version of that and both can be put in the freezer and thawed  before using . Before doing any preserving, ask yourself what would be used the most. Don't make jams when they'll just sit there or make just one jar of chutney when the family goes mad for it. Gauge the popularity of what you'd like to make and make it.

As for what to make, nothing beats jams and jellies.Try  peach preserves which are perfect on any breakfast bread.Plums also make a delicious jam, with their sweet, earthy flavor. Raspberries are approaching their second season in just a few weeks. Take time out to pick them fresh and turn them into a delicious jam that can be used as a great filling for crepes or the perfect breakfast on warmed croissants.By now you're probably sick of tomatoes however you'll be missing them during a harsh winter. Preserve their summery flavor by turning them into a jam(yes, you can turn them into a kind of jelly!)Since they are a fruit , you 'll need a whopping 4 1/2 cups of sugar  to  3 pounds of tomatoes Use it as a ketchup sub in on burgers for something different. Tomatoes and other produce can be used to make chutney and it goes well with hot and cold dishes. You can also make tasty sweet and savory salsas. Try a plum and peach one  with  a zing of red pepper for bite..A tomato and jalapeno one will warm you up on those coldest November and December nights..

Preserve the taste of summer. Making jams, chutneys and salsas are a great way of keeping that wonderful garden produce alive during the winter months. It's easy, fun, and tasty

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Exciting Sauces From San-J

Sauces are the best way to liven up any meal. The centuries old San -J realizes this and has some exciting and different sauces such as Sweet And Tangy, Teriyaki  and Thai Peanut that can be used for almost everything, from salads to barbecue , from salads to egg rolls. They're perfect for adding zest to any summer meal.

What is unusual about any San-J product is that they are gluten free and have been made that way for  two centuries.San-J  or San Jirushi is one of Japan's oldest companies, having been founded in 1804 by the Sato family. They started with miso and Tamari, a thick sauce  and  now have expanded to gluten free Asian cooking sauces,.This allows those with celiac disease to enjoy dishes and sauces without any worries about bad side effects or reactions..There is a wide range to choose from, such as Szechuan with the zing of ginger, traditional teriyaki along with the fiery Thai Peanut and fruity Sweet and Tangy.Rounding then out is zingy Asian BBQ along with the zesty  Orange Sauce and the smoky tasting Mongolian Sauce. All have natural ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, soy beans along with plum juice concentrate and ginger. Another good thing about them is that they don't have to be refrigerated once they're opened )although to be honest  you won't have them around long}.

I recently tried the Teriyaki, Thai Peanut and Sweet And Tangy sauces and marinades. The Teriyaki is perfect right now for marinating chicken and beef for the grill. It has a lovely mellow taste that only adds to the meats. I would definitely recommend it for grilled wings and legs, perfect for a Saturday night party. The Thai Peanut has a  flavor that 's tempered by peanuts and red pepper. You could use it  to vary a Pad Thai dish to zing it up . It can also be used in making an easy Thai noodle dish. Just use angel hair pasta along with chicken breasts, julienned carrots and diced onion to create a tasty and exotic dinner.Thai Peanut can also be used  as a dressing for a yummy and refreshing Thai salad. Pour it over shredded cabbage and  vegetables of your choosing. You can add grilled chicken or shrimp for more weight. San-J 's Sweet And Tangy sauce  proved an excellent dipping sauce for veggie egg rolls. It had a nice bright flavor that didn't over power the wraps. It also makes an excellent sauce for Chinese style fried chicken too along with dumplings and spring rolls.

Liven up your summer barbecues and parties by adding San -J's Asian cooking sauces.They will add zest and zing to chicken and beef along with salads and Thai dishes Try them for some warm weather fun.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Camping Cuisine

Camping is one of those fun summer trips that unites you with Mother Nature. It's sleeping under the stars,  swimming and splashing in streams and dining al fresco. Nothing beats the last and it's amazing what can be cooked at a campsite. You can have fun creating some tasty dishes over a campfire.

Before you embark, write out a plan of what you're going to eat. Also anticipate any monkey wrenches thrown in your path. If one of your fellow campers comes back with clams or a freshly caught fish , be prepared with the appropriate knives for shucking and deboning . A Swiss army knife wouldn't go amiss so make sure you bring one. Bring a spatula  and a wooden spoon for stirring and mixing. Pack  a cast iron skillet which can be used  for everything from frying and baking to cooking pancakes. Buy a cooking grate which looks like the top of a cheap barbecue grill. It's great for cooking steaks and burgers along with veggies and toasting bread. You can also buy a cook stove, basically a burner with a base that's usually fuelled by propane. These can be easily had at any store , from L.L. Bean to Sears.If you go with a campfire , know when it's ready to use. Build one an hour before cooking so the fire burns down and there are no big flames.The coals should be hot enough now to cook a full meal on the fire.

One of the best ideas for camping cuisine is eating local. Many camp sites are located near farms and some near oceans and lakes. Take advantage of this. Buy fresh veggies and fruit. Take advantage of local dairies for milk, cream , butter and even eggs. If you're camping near the beach, then buy local seafood. Nothing beats boiled fresh lobster with  a tin of dairy fresh melted butter. Think dehydrated foods too. Companies like Alpine Aire and Mountain House sell  these and they have a wide range of different dishes, from granola for breakfast to beef Stroganoff and chicken chili for lunch and dinner. You can bring a cooler too for steaks and burgers but make sure it's always cold and you have plenty of ice or get ice for it.Bring dried spices along .These are light to pack and can zing up your meats and  veggies.Of course make sure you have the ingredients for that campfire .classic, s'mores. Keep the chocolate in the cooler until you're ready to use it.

Eating al fresco is the best. There's nothing like cooking and eating under the stars.It's one of the perks of camping!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lush Succotash

Succotash used to be considered that blah dish served in high school cafeterias. However this indigenous American dish can be delicious if made properly. It's also a great way of taking advantage of summer's harvests too by adding a cornucopia of fresh veggies and beans..

David Tanis wrote about it and improved on the classic recipe in yesterday's New York Times Food section. The dish originally was made by a branch of  Narragansett Indians in Massachusetts. Their msickquatash was Anglicized into succotash and contained the basics or Three Sisters of indigenous cooking. These were corns , beans and squash which was cultivated in three separate mounds and grown in copious amounts.. There were summer and winter versions. The summer featured fresh sweet corn, shelling beans or fresh green beans and tender summer squash. Fresh or dried meat and fish were also added to give it more weight The winter version consisted of dried corn, dried beans and pumpkin,Both recipes were a boon to early settlers who struggled with crops and food supplies. Succotash gave them both the needed nutrition and food to survive.

Sadly the dish suffered in the centuries after that.School cafeterias across the country vilified it,It's usually a blah mix of corn, beans and lima beans. Once in a while pearl onions  were added while  home made versions had ample amounts of butter or margarine added to  give it some zip (as I have done). Mr. Tanis throws August's bounty into the mix. He puts in zucchini, green peppers and tomatoes for color and zing. While traditional succotash has salt pork or bacon for extra flavor. Mr. Tanis amp it up by adding lobster chunks, He also tosses in a dollop of crème fraiche .Okra is another new ingredient that is thrown into the mix. It is great for thickening the stew as well as it giving it flavor. It can be omitted if  no one likes it There are the traditional ingredients too,There is the original corn , shelling beans along with any choice of lima, cranberry or  even black eye peas.

Succotash is a great way to enjoy the summer's bounty and celebrate indigenous cooking. Make it today with lobster for a lush feast. It's not that yucky side anymore but an elegant stew, featuring the best of land and sea.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lucali An A List Pizzeria

In the old days a neighborhood pizzeria usually got good reviews from loyal locals. Nowadays they get on the A -list being the highlight of celebrity tweets. Lucali, a trendy Brooklyn pizzeria is just this but so much more. Like any good city pizza parlor, it produces mouth watering pies.

It was the subject of Alan Richman's interview in today's New York Times Food section. Lucali is the invention of Mark Iacono, a Carroll Gardens native,  who brought business and good food back to his old neighborhood.What is truly unusual is that Chef Iacono has no background , no culinary education or family in the was cooking with his nonna, his grandmother that was the springboard into pizza making and cooking. Another impetus was the pizza he had growing up, with it's paper thin crispy crust with the right amount of  cheese and sauce. It has paid off It's a favorite of Brooklyn boy, Jay-Z and his wife, Beyoncé. They famously blew off the Grammys to share a pie there. David Beckham famously tweeted  about having his most amazing meal there. It has become so popular that CHef Iacono has opened up a branch in Miami and will be opening up another Lucali in L.A..

The restaurant only has pizza and calzones, from the looks of the website. There is the choice of a plain pie and toppings which cost three dollars each.  Chef Iacono offers the usual, basil and the unusual , such as Portobello mushrooms, shallots or artichoke hearts. The calzones have a creamy mozzarella filling with extra sauce  for dipping. Another plus is the atmosphere. Chef  Iacono has made it look like a period piece pizzeria, with  even brass handled candlesticks that would not go amiss in the Masterpiece series "Poldark". The color scheme is not the typical red and white check, but sepia and creamy shades of brown that are reminiscent of tintypes. It's a perfect place for proposals and many a pizza has come out with MARRY ME written on it in mushrooms.The restaurant is where a beloved candy store Louie's was and it was an important part of his childhood. The restaurant was in part named for him and the Iaconos" daughter Kalista.

Good New York  pizza is few and far between. Go to Lucali to taste the best pie, the pizza of rock stars and sports idols.. Try it for a taste of heaven.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cooking Through A Heat Wave

Most of the US is in the middle of a hotter than a fired up grill heat wave. It is summer , after all and the dog days of August to boot. Cooking in a hot kitchen is not always the best. What to do? Keep it light  and easy, both with food and eating.

If you have a grill this is the time to use it but use it  sparingly. One, it's torturous to stand outside in ninety to one hundred degrees , tending to a hot  fiery grill and two, too much of that barbecued stuff is no good for you. If you do have to cook, keep it easy , Dogs, burgers and steak are your best bets. They're a simple cook up  without any hassle or fuss. Make easy sides too. Think a baked potato or grilled onions and tomatoes. For those who don't have grills or don't like the idea of charred meat, then  stick with pasta and rice. These are versatile and you can make all different types for variety. Try a pasta con salsa crudo. This is just taking chopped tomatoes and letting them sit in a bowl with a bit of sea salt and red pepper flakes as you cook the pasta. Mix in when it's done and add some fresh mozzarella or freshly picked basil on top. Rice is another easy fix. You can make a quick lunch or Sunday supper congee with some bouillon cubes and a cup or two of instant rice. It can also be spiced with oregano and red pepper along with sliced ham and stuffed into cored and seeded peppers. Greens like Swiss chard and broccoli rape can be cooked in a flash  in a frying pan. You can serve them with sautéed chicken breasts or steak for a heartier meal

Salads, any salad , is desirable. Make a tasty chef  salad that will last for two meals. Serve with sun warmed baguettes or Italian bread. Canned tuna is another heat wave must. It can be made into a variety of different dishes. Buy both the oil and water based ones to expand your food base. Tonno en olio makes a simple but truly satisfying supper when paired with just French bread. Add tomatoes for  a taste of Provence.. Plain tuna can be mixed with mayo , diced celery and onion for a tuna salad that is perfect for lunch time sandwiches. If you want to go  up scale then think crab. Like tuna you can make wonderful salads with it.  Hard boiled eggs are another plus during these hellish times. They cook up in three minutes and can be added to any salad or just eaten plain with a little sprinkle of salt. Egg salad is another friend to a home chef. It's an excellent filling for sandwiches but also for hollowed out tomatoes too. If you're stuck entertaining, don't worry. There are some elegant and easy dishes to make for company. Cold poached salmon is a great dish .It takes, at most ten minutes or less to cook up .Serve with sour cream and onion sauce  for color and more flavor. Another chic idea is serving paper thin prosciutto slices  with melon along with a chilled Prosecco wine.

It's a heat wave,for sure. It's time to chill , especially in the kitchen. Take it easy , cook light and simple. Eat light and simple too during these hot summer days.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Graze Craze

Snacks delivered to your doorstep? That's every foodie's dream and it can become a reality. A new company called Graze is sending goodness and good munchies. It's not only a neat spin on snacking, it's a healthier way of eating.

The company  was started by a group of seven friends who were tired of eating the usual chips and dips. They wanted variety but variety with nutrition. The groups came up with healthy snacks, thanks to their taster Eleanor (no last name is mentioned) who creates the large array of both sweet and savory noshes.The ingredients are artisanal, with small family bakeries and fruit producers contributing.Graze tries to go for the unusual and best tasting. It also has classic flavored snacks such as the Boston cream pie sweet snack mix and a sesame garlic crunch.Surpriingly  enough they also have broths like the Vietnamese pho for a quick hot mini meal. A Graze box can contain anywhere from four to eight small packs .It's a small box with  small fistfuls of crunchies that costs $11.99 per month. They also have a sharing box too which are twenty bags you can give out to family and friends.

How does the Graze snacks taste? Interesting. My box had New York Everything Bagel, Iced Cinnamon Bun, Vitamin E Defense and Pizza Margherita. My favorite was the New York Everything Bagel. These were crunchy poppy seed onion sticks, that tasted more like flavored Melba toast than bagels.The Iced Cinnamon Bun took some getting used to. Imagine a Ciinabon deconstructed and then reimagined as a healthy snack.Cinnamon honey almonds are mixed with yogurt covered sunflower seeds and vanilla cookie drops. They have to be eaten together to get the whole effect. There was one super healthy snack of hazelnuts, raisins peanuts and  dried cranberries which is a pretty tasty snack that would work on any picnic. I also liked the Pizza Margherita which has basil infused Melba toast bites and mini tomato breadsticks. What was a detractor were the cheese cashews.I would have put cheese nibbles instead of the nuts which really don't belong in a pizza mix.

Graze is a foodie's dream come true and delivered to the front door. There's an interesting array of snacks , both sweet and savory to try.It's different than the usual chips and pretzels , for sure.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Refrigerator Roulette

It's the weekend.It's too hot to go to the store to shop, yet you have to have some kind of lunch or supper for yourself and the family. What to do? Play roulette - refrigerator or pantry. There are ingredients there for something.- that's up to your creativity.

Every home chef should have pasta and rice in their arsenal. These are great as any base. Spaghetti and angel hair pasta can be turned into pasta con burro,  a light dish that is packed with flavor. Sub in garlic and olive oil for the butter  and make aglia e olio, another simple dinner that can be amped up with grilled chicken or salmon if you have them.Rice and beans are a staple in most kitchens. This is easy to make and  again, you can add to it. Try chicken or ground beef to give it more weight. Throw in a can of tomato paste and sauce  along with a dash of chili powder for a quickly made chili. Even without the spices it' still good. Rice can also be the base for a curry too.( remember that the spice rack is your friend here too ). An easy one can be made just by using the two ingredients. If you want throw in any veggies  found in the fridge or freezer , go ahead. Peas  and potatoes can also be tossed in too for more flavor.

Suppose the fridge holds only dribs or drabs or just cartons of leftovers?  Use them. Leftover cheese , flour, and a little milk can be melted down into a sauce Add some chicken or veggie broth and you have a soup.Sliced cheese, ham  and bread can be repurposed  into a yummy Croque Monsieur, that tasty French bistro sandwich.If you just have cold cuts, then think an Italian hero or better yet , a chef salad. Mix some mayo and ketchup together with oil and vinegar for a homemade French dressing. to pour over it. Tuna fish is another versatile player in refrigerator roulette. Mix it with mayo and chopped celery for a stuffing for tomatoes or make a lovely salad Nicoise with it.It can also be perfect  as a tuna melt with cheddar on top for a heartier lunch or supper.. Any leftover bread can be repurposed in both savory and sweet ways. You can make  savory bread pudding as well as a sweet one. There is a bread salad that consists of stale cubed Italian bread, tomatoes ad sliced onion. One of the classic bread recipes is French toast and it can be made for any meal. Besides it's one that you know the kids will love  and eat up instantly.

Refrigerator roulette can be a life saver,Look through the fridge or pantry for ingredients and then be creative. You can come up with a tasty meal with what ever is around.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Method Of Procedure Great Recipes , Easy Style

Everyone thinks that cooking is an art and you have to have that artist's touch to be successful at it. That is partially true however there are some great cookbooks out there to help any home chef become kitchen savvy .A new one. Method Of Procedure by celebrity chef , Thomas Gosney can assist in that. Delicious meals and desserts can be created with his simple instructions to sometimes complicated recipes.

What is great and what I love about this book, published by XLibris is that recipes are deconstructed. It's like having Chef Gosney right there in the kitchen with you. He is an expert chef, having trained at the famed Johnson and Wales University in Providence , Rhode Island  and appeared on the Food Network With Bobby Flay as well as on MTV and Hard Copy. He offers hints and tips that you would only get in a cooking class. His stock recipes are broken down into basic ingredients, suck as meat and bones and then the aromatics or herbs. A third category acid  is added, This is anything fro tomatoes to alcohol to zing up the broth. It does make for a better taste and understanding of how flavors meld together to form a definite taste. His salad dressing recipes are also somewhat similar. He explains what emulsion is, an important process in creating the perfect one. For some of the other recipes he puts directions such as DON"T OVERCOOK in bold letters, just as a reminder to not let the dish head south.

Chef Gosney's book is a mix of old and new, family and trendy.There are many seafood recipes since he is a fish lover.He lovingly writes about a seared halibut with a fragrant saffron broth and a grilled lavender trout that uses the now trending lavender as a flavor ( don't be afraid  -it can also  be used in cooking). I like his takes on homey classics like ambrosia, that pot luck dinner side that he elevates to gourmet level and forgotten cookies which are meringues that are baked in a low oven overnight There are also dishes that are on point right now such as Korean kim chi and espresso herb crusted  bison rib eye steak.Meats.that aren't mentioned much in conventional cookbooks are also included in recipes such as Cast Iron Pressed Pheasant and Dijon and Thyme Crusted Rabbit. He does have vegetarian dishes such as porcini mushroom risotto which he walks the reader through  and collard greens  made with smoked ham or smoked turkey legs. Chef Gosney also has excellent sides such as cauliflower "grits, spiced with jalapeno and garlic noodles.

Method Of Procedure is a great cookbook that helps home chefs expand their knowledge and elevate their skills. Chef Thomas Gosney  gives so many good recipes from appetizers to .desserts.They are fun and funky, trendy and short the perfect cookbook for today's cook.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Expo 2015 New Food Ideas

Since its'  earliest days  World Expositions have been introducing people to new foods and ideas. After all potato chips, the hot dog and the ice cream cone were introduced at  expos past. Its' not surprising that the Milan 2015 has introduced some new dishes and concepts too.

Rachel Dondadio covered it and wrote about it for The New York Times Food section yesterday, She was able to travel to this beautiful gem of a city and sample some of the foods offered. The expo itself is a strange mix of cuisine and sustainability. Vertical gardens vied with restaurants for attention and visitors. The US had one of the former with kale and other veggies sprouting at a dizzying angle and being watered with drip irrigation. With the Americans comes the James Beard American Restaurant which is located at the Seven Stars Galleria in the city. A dazzling array of chefs cook there, and the dishes are made by Mary Sue Millikin of L.A.'s Border Grill, Sarah Jenkins  of New York's famed Porchetta and Paul Qui of Qui's in Austen Texas. The food is traditional American but not the usual barbecue and hot dogs. Every Thursday there is a Thanksgiving themed meal and there is an explanation of some American foods by Libby O'Connell of the History Channel. She tells of the history of the American diet, from the colonists' love of roast beaver tails (true!, they were rich in fat and protein - and I imagine crispy- the fore runner of pork rinds) to our passion for pizza - that came from GIs who had been stationed in Naples during the Second World war.

Mostly Expo 2015 is educational. The United Nations Pavilion Zero  has  a huge wall of monitors showing the changing prices of such foodstuffs as canola, papaya, beef and potatoes. The UK has a pavilion in the shape of a hive  to give visitors a honeybee's view of the world. Not only can tourists eat ancient grains in a variety of forms like pasta and pizza they can also learn about them too. There's also music there too, from techno to hip hop.Women and food is also explored thanks to a series of lectures about diet and nutrition. Since the Expo is also about sustainability there are several exhibits catering to this. Not only are there the vertical gardens by both the US and Israel there are also programs featuring the African Milk Project and Italy's Food Repurposing Project This last is reusing extra food into dishes  at schools  and eliminating large amounts of food waste. If you can ' t     make it to the expo, then go to the website , There are tons of recipes (in Italian) from every country on Earth and feature  everything from grains to meats and fruits and veggies along with chocolate.

Milan's Expo 2015 is an interesting marriage of saving and feeding the planet. It combines old and new cuisines as well as methods for repurposing food. It is an exposition that will enlighten foodies and environmentalists alike.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ice Cream Philly Style

Nothing beats ice  cream, especially home made. It's so delicious and the perfect foil for homemade pies and cobblers. The best ice cream for this Philadelphia style, the original American treat .It's easy to make , especially if you have the best dairy ingredients. The result is light and airy, the perfect summer time refreshment.

Julia Moskin not only wrote about it in her Recipe Lab column in today's New York Times Food section but made a batch too. Philadelphia style ice cream is different than the French custard style most of us are used to. For one thing it doesn;t have any butterfat or eggs to weigh it down. This eliminates any residual heaviness that lingers on the tongue afterwards. The taste is clean and dairy. After all it 's just milk and cream . This makes it better for flavors like lemon  and vanilla to shine through as well as the taste of  the cream itself. This also makes it excellent for pairings with everything from fruit to pies and cakes. It's not heavy  and doesn't make the entire dessert heavy either. The ice cream is also commercially made by Breyer's which first manufactured it back in 1866, Edy's and Basset's. Ben and Jerry's  along with Haagen -Daz make the heavier custard style which is still yummy but dense.

Home chefs can have fun with this recipe but remember it's all about the creams used. Ms. Moskin insists on an unpasteurized cream, the kind you find at farmer's markets. Unfortunately store bought kinds  have preservatives such as carrageenan and guar gum which can ruin the final texture .Also untrapasteurized or UHT heavy cream has already been pasteurized to 280 degrees Farenheit  as opposed to 162 degrees  for regular cream.This can give the ice cream a "cooked" flavor which you don't want  The second most important ingredient is sugar but you can also  use honey, agave or maple syrup. Then it's just a quick simmer over a low flame or even in the microwave. Taste  as you go. The initial requirement is one cup or 3/4 cup corn syrup. Remember that the cold air mixed in by your ice cream machine will blunt the sweetness. Ms Moskin also recommends that both the mixture and the machine be as cold as possible. Nothing should be semi chilled or partially frozen,It makes for tiny ice crystals whichs makes for a smoother texture. Remember the faster your ice creams goes from liquid to frozen, the smoother it will be as ice cream. You can sub in Earl Grey  tea  for the vanilla bean  for a variation, perfect after a light supper.

Philly style ice cream is easier to make than the custard style kind. It's also lighter and refreshing. Make a batch to go with the fruits of the season

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nectar Of The Foodies

One of the most refreshing drinks is nectar.It;s a variation of fruit ade and a nice change of pace.Nectar is also great as the base of some cocktails and fizzy can also be used in recipes too for a fresh spin.

What is nectar? Many people confuse it with juice which is the pressed liquid from any fruit and then sweetened. Nectar is more or less the undiluted , untreated juice (although the definition does vary ) that contains some pulp or puree.In the US nectar can have as much as 100 per cent fruit juice and as little as 1 per cent with the supplements of sugar and corn syrup thickening it. Read the bottle or box before you buy and always pick the one with the best nutritional value. There are several different brands to choose  from. Goya is one of the best because the company has many different flavors from sugar cane to banana to guava and papaya. There is also the all natural brand Bionaturae, made with all organic fruit and naturally sweetened from apples from Piemonte Italy( a bonus in my book). They have more traditional flavors such as apricot and peach along with sour cherry and wild berry. Even grocery stores such as Stop & Shop have a really good peach nectar that is tasty and light without any cloying sweetness.

Most people will ask what can be done with nectars. They make excellent bases for homemade sodas. or sparklers. Add as much or as little nectar as you want and then fill  with seltzer or club soda. Peach nectar can be blended with champagne to make Bellinis , those oh so delicious brunch  cocktails. Mix it with cider to create a Baby Bellini.  Many cocktails can be created using guava and mango nectar too. Iced teas can also benefit  from a teaspoon or two of them and  it's a healthier way of creating a refreshing summer cooler. Nectars can also be frozen to create a fruiter popsicle as well and they can also be added to smoothies too  to give them a dash of excitement. Surprisingly enough you can also add any flavor of it to plain gelatin to make a more natural tasting version of Jello. Some muffin and cobbler recipes call for nectar as well to give it that boost of more flavor.

Try nectar and see why many love it .It is refreshing and versatile, being made into delicious drinks and treats. It's the perfect drink, the drink of the gods and goddesses as well as of foodies.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Gad= Zukes

Zucchini is in abundance right now,thanks to it being a garden favorite. By now almost everyone in the States has gotten a few from their gardens, or from a relative, friend or neighbor. This popular veggie should be cooked before it's stockpiled in fridges and pantries. There's a few tasty dishes that can be made, using the goodness of the season.

Zucchini or courgettes are summer squash and have to be treated like any squash. Before you do anything with them, scrub them to get rid of any residual dirt or pesticides. They can be frozen however most chefs recommend blanching the veggie first. Blanching is a easy process that is just a quick cook in hot water for only one minute. Doing such deactivates the enzymes that would otherwise cause the squash to become mushy or discolored. Do NOT add salt to the water too because it will soften the cell walls and again cause mushiness. Afterwards ,plunge the pieces in an ice water bath . One shocked or bathed arrange the piece son a baking sheet and pat dry with  paper towel to reduce ice crystals. They can be kept up to three months in the freezer. As for the fresh ones ,tightly wrap them in Saran wrap and store in the fridge. What is great about zucchini is that you can make them any way. Cut, dice , even turn into veggie spaghetti. They are one of the easiest vegetables to work with.

What are some good zucchini recipes? One of the simplest is slicing the zucchini into "coins" and then sautéing them in a mix of olive oil and butter (or margarine). Add  1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic along with salt and pepper for taste. This is a great side to any meat ,especially chicken or London Broil. You can add tomatoes and onions for a spin on ratatouille. This alone with French bread is an excellent meal , quick to make and satisfying to eat.If you're looking for trendy and healthy then make zucchini chips. These are baked coins with the addition of olive oil . Unlike kale ,that only takes a few minutes to crisp up, zucchini chips do take two hours in a 225 degree Farenheit. For a heartier dish, then make zucchini lasagna where sliced zucchini subs in for the lasagna noodles.The veggie can also be used in sweet recipes too. There's nothing like  zucchini bread.This spicy treat only takes two cups of grated zucchini. It's a great way of getting the kids to eat their veggies and it can even be turned into a muffin recipe.

Enjoy zucchini season. Make it as a delicious side or main dish. Have it as a fun snack or sweet dessert. Any way is a good way because it is a home chef's dream, tasty , healthy and versatile to use.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cheating Just A Little

Cooking is involved and labor intensive , especially in the summer. It's hot , sticky and the last place anybody wants to be. Yet we all have to eat. What's the solution? Cheating - just a little. Adding instant this or that can make cooking over a hot stove a bit easier.

Any pasta dish is easy to make. It's just boiling spaghetti or  rotelli and serving it with sauce. The problem is the sauce. Cooking one with fresh tomatoes can take a long time.Most sauces take an hour to simmer.It's great if you're making it on a crisp autumn or cold winter's day , not so much on a hot August one. It's time to temporarily put aside  any snootiness about jarred sauces and use them. Some , especially the organic ones, taste sort of like home made . If you still feel guilty  then doctor it up with a few homemade touches. Some commercial sauces have an overwhelming saltiness to them. Add just a tiny pinch of sugar or drop of honey will remedy that. A tablespoon or two of olive oil can give richness too   ,Remember to always also put in a cup of the pasta water in the sauce before adding the pasta. It gives it flavor and body too.The same ideology applies to making lasagna and cannelloni too. as for the lasagna, the best bet is buying the precooked noodles and then using jarred sauce. Everyone still enjoys a homemade pasta dinner but without all the hot fuss.

Nothing beats a hot roast beef or turkey sandwich for lunch or dinner, yet cooking an entire roast in ninety degree weather is torturous. Instead go to your local grocery mart or deli and get sliced London Broil or turkey  and serve with jarred gravy. If you want stuffing, then use Stovetop Stuffing.  which cooks up in no time. It would be nice to have a side of any fresh veggie, because they're in season, however don't feel too ashamed to use canned ones. Even salads, those simplest of dishes can be made with a little cheating. Buy a salad kit. These are wonderful because the greens, dressings and fixings are all prematched. Dole has an excellent Asian chopped salad that is mostly two kinds of cabbage along with a sweet sesame dressing.Crunchy noodles and almond slivers are also added for texture. If you want just add grilled chicken or even shrimp for a more substantial meal. Another good salad is Dole's kale Caesar one which blends health greens with yummy Caesar dressing garlic croutons  and two kinds of cheese. Again add some chicken to turn it into an easy and nutritious meal.

Don't get stuck in a hot kitchen cooking. Cheat a little to create a hot and hearty meal. All it takes is something jarred or pre made and you have a tasty lunch or dinner.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Foodie Holidays

Even though it's August , foodies can still have a holiday revolving around their favorite hobby - food of course. There are several ideas that can provide  any traveler with some fun times and good eats. You can take a city or region specific one or one that centers around a favorite food.

For those who love the Big Easy , New Orleans provides some excellent restaurant choices. Funny enough ten years ago foodies and restaurant critics were writing off this city of eateries thanks to the horrific damage from Hurricane Katrina. Kim Severson recently visited New Orleans and wrote about it's culinary renaissance in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. It is still known for it's delicious blend of Cajun and Creole food but also it's becoming known  for   its' growing number of Vietnamese restaurants and array of internationally born chefs. For those  who go wild for Southern cooking think  about trips to Savannah or   Nashvillle too . Some smaller inns in the region also offer home   cooked   specialties and even allow guests to pitch in with cooking and prepping. Many foodies go to UNESCO World Heritage food sites such as Lyon in France or Chengduin China. Of course Provence and Tuscany top the list of foodie vacation spots and there are several packages out there that feature tasting tours of these regions. Check online for late season discount packages regarding these.

Some of us just want a holiday where we compare one kind of food and head off the beaten path for it.Try the blues route that the Deene boys took in their Food Network show , Southern Fried Roadtrip. Jamie and Bobby Deene, Paula's sons,  went   in  search of the best barbecue, recently and they literally went off the beaten path, heading to small dives and storefronts for good old fashioned cooking. If you have time - and gas money- you can do the same.If not, stick within a contained area. A big city like New York works, Take public transportation to search for the best hot dog or pizza slice. If you're from Small Town  America , then explore your immediate  area  for local treats and farm to table meals. Along the way you may pick up a few historical facts and visit parks you never knew existed. It's a nice way , too, of becoming reacquainted with your region as you become familiar with mom and pop eateries as well as local farms and creameries. This knowledge also comes in handy when you have guests and you're looking for places to eat and visit.

There's still time to take a foodie vacation, whether abroad or local.It's great for enjoying favorites or new dishes. Take a week or even weekend off for a fun food fest!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Shellfish on The Grill

One of the best tastes is roasted shellfish, yet many home chefs seem to avoid cooking them this way. The grill is usually reserved for the classics, dogs burgers, ribs and chicken. Some of the more adventurous will try salmon and even lobster. They're missing out on a simple dinner that is full of complex flavors.

Melissa Clark discovered this in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Mussels and clams are pretty easy to cook. Humanity has been doing such since our earliest days and most beaches in the area hosted clambakes by the indigenous peoples for centuries. Cooking shellfish is a snap. Put over hot coals and wait until the shells open, When they open, eat  Just that simple.There are two cooking methods. One is throwing them directly on the grill grate until they open. This is the no fuss method however you miss out on those yummy juices that comes with the clams and especially the mussels. A better way is taking one of those disposable pans that you use for roasting holiday turkeys and putting the clams in first (they take longer to cook) and a few minutes later the mussels, The entire pain is tightly covered with heavy duty aluminum foil. This way you get the juices and whatever else you mix in with them.

What does work with both mussels and clams? Ms Clark recommends olive oil along with a dry white wine. There's also  the addition of garlic for flavor as well as red chili flakes for heat and mint leaves. The surprise ingredient is sliced almonds. What she does with this is create a kind of gremolata or herb chutney with the added crunch of the nuts. Another idea is to add herbed butter or lemon and butter to the pan along with a tiny bit of minced garlic. Fresh sliced tomatoes and red wine can also make a good sauce , A favorite add in at beach parties is beer where the shellfish is steamed in the brew.Shallots and thyme are also added  for more flavor. No matter how you makeyour clams and mussels,make sure there is plenty of crusty French or Italian bread to sop up the juices.Also make sure there are dishes or even pails to discard the shells.Ms. Clark recommends also serving a chilled white wine like Sancerre or a smoky Manzanilla sherry.

Mussels and clams deserve to be invited to be the barbecue. Grill them for any easy supper with a complex flavor. They are simply delicious, perfect for the season.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Staples From The Garden

This is the time of year when the summer harvests are coming in. There is a proliferation of the three most common, tomatoes, zucchini and corn. These are wonderful to work with, the staples of a summer kitchen. The recipes for them are varied , and can be used for any meal, including breakfast.

David Tanis know this and wrote about it in his A City Kitchen column in today's New York Times' Food section.Fresh summer produce was a big part of his diet during his Midwestern boyhood. He grew up enjoying sun warmed beefsteaks along with sweet corn. There is also his taste for zucchini , thanks to a neighbor who was willing to experiment with it. All three have inspired him to create recipes for three meals. Normally breakfast recipes don't include any vegetables but Mr. Tanis gives us a zucchini flan, that would also work as a light weekend supper.It involves  the sliced veggie along with eggs mixed with milk and nutmeg.Fresh basil and thyme is also used and. The zucchini slices are layered with the custard mixture  Grated cheese such as Gruyere or Cheddar is also part of the flan and it's sprinkled on after the eggs.. If if's too hot to make this, then think about just frying the slices or coins in olive oil and pepper flakes.My version is sautéing in a mix of butter and olive oil with a garlic clove thrown in for more flavor.

Tomatoes and corn are not forgotten either. Mr. Tanis has a yummy tomato salad with anchovy toast that would be right up my alley.  His vinaigrette includes vinegar but you can omit this because the tomatoes provide acidity too. Shallots are also added for bite and garlic cloves. The salad is also colorful. He suggests using a variety of different tomatoes  so the salad had color along with different tastes  from grape, cherry and plum tomatoes. The toast is smeared with anchovy which  makes for a perfect foil for the salad - although be tempted to top the slices with the tomatoes. His corn recipe is a spin on a classic corn muffins with the jolt of jalapeno.Mr. Tanis adds fresh corn kernels to corn meal with the spin of the finely chopped pepper and cheddar. Mushrooms can be added too, surprisingly. Of course tomatoes and corn taste good on their own. Nothing beats a beefsteak with just salt or an ear of corn, slathered with butter, or oil and pesto.

Enjoy the staples of summer. Tomatoes , corn and zucchini can be made a variety of different ways for different meals. Use them for lunch , dinner and even breakfast!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Food Network"s Summer Fare

Summer programming can be a bit wanting.. There are either  thrice run reruns , goofy reality shows or dramas about flying sharks.Luckily the Food Networkl has a few  new shows to lift us out of the August doldrums.. They're interesting  and a neat way of seeing the country without leaving your couch.

Paula Deene and family will never really leave the Food Network. Her sons, Jamie and Bobby are the hosts of an interesting new show Southern Fried Roadtrip. It's a travel guide through both the Old and New South , emphasizing the best of the region. It's definitely a tantalizing  view of Southern cooking , with small town chefs cooking such classics as collard greens with ham hocks and new twists like barbecued elk! What I like about the show is that it doesn't just focus on the deep South  states like Alabama and Mississippi. It also showcases the Kentucky horse region as well as the coastal Carolinas. It's not just rib joints and grits and biscuits. There are other recipes like a Three Kings cheesecake and alligator ragout, all equally Southern, all equally tasty. The scenery too is lovely, especially when the two brothers drive off on country roads , past old farmhouses and rolling green fields.

Another new show, Great American Food Finds features another set of bros, this time Philadelphia natives Adam and Andrew Erace. They go searching for interesting and unusual artisanal foods for their grocery Green Aisle.They buy from local farms and dairies as well as making their own preserves to stock in their three markets located in various Philly neighborhoods. Their shows take viewers to different food manufacturers, all small and, thankfully, all natural. One stop was to a pierogi factory in Wolcott, Connecticut where they sampled apple and cinnamon ones along with a drool worthy baked potato stuffed treat. They also tracked down a waffle truck where the fratelli Erace sampled true Belgian ones, complete with pearl sugar. They also stopped at Torico's Ice creamery in Jersey City (where I may be heading soon) to try unusual purple yam ice cream as well as mac and cheese pie at a bakery near the Delaware Water Gap. Some of the places like Torico's are open to the public where others can stop and enjoy the foods.

If you want interesting and tantalizing programs, then switch to the Food Network this August. You'll get to enjoy amazing foods with amazing brothers. Enjoy these programs for a truly tasty summer evening.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Make Your Own Cool Treats

Nothing beats an ice cream sandwich or a Popsicle during these hot days. By now , though, it's getting tiresome munching on the same kinds . What to do to liven up those treats? Make your own. Creating your own special one that is not only fun but tasty too.

One of the easiest cool treats to make is the Popsicle.It's probably the first recipe we ever tried making, thanks to pouring a favorite drink into a paper cup and then sticking a stick in it. You can still make them, using a popsicle tray. This can be found at any grocery store or even Target or K-Mart. Fill with your favorite juice or even soda for a fizzy frozen kick. You can also make an ice cream soda and then freeze it for something different. If you're into healthy , then juice fresh fruit and turn those into pops. Add the pulps and flesh for some texture too.If you want something exotic then try the Mexican paletas. These are pureed fruit pops and can be made with any kind of fruit from strawberries to blueberries to bananas. You can even make a refreshing pina colada flavor using pureed fresh pineapple. Pudding is another ingredient that is great for pops. Try one of the Hershey's dark chocolate ones to make an ultra rich Fudgesicle. Add mint for even more decadence.If you're looking for another healthy alternative try freezing yogurt into the molds. Make parfaits by alternating layers of fresh fruit and vanilla yogurt.

Ice cream sandwiches are another hot weather favorite. Take your favorite cookie and add your choice of ice cream. To amp it up buy those big sugar or chocolate chip cookies from your local bakery and sandwich any flavor of  gelato between them. You can also bake cookies ,such as shortbreads or chocolate chip and fill with homemade ice cream. There are cookbooks such as Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holchek Peters that offer great recipes that combine these scratch cookies with homemade ice cream.For something a little less caloric use graham crackers . Crush up extra ones for decorating the middle. Ice cream cake is another treat and surprisingly easy to make.In fact .you can even make one using  store bought ice cream sandwiches.It's layering them with just ice cream and then topping it off with an "icing" of crushed chocolate wafers. You can also bake a regular cake and use ice cream as the filling and frosting. This is a nice idea for a summer birth day cake.You can also do the same with cupcakes by splitting them in half and filling them with ice cream and then add a blob of ice cream on top for decoration.

Homemade cool treats are not only fun to eat but fun to make. Be creative as you combine favorite flavors for a tasty way  to beat the heat. Lower the temps with a fresh popsicle or a slice of ice cream cake.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

If You're Tired Of Barbecue

We're into our fourth month of barbecuing and by now even the most stalwart grill lover is looking for a change.It's time to head back to the kitchen for some easy meat recipes.They're a snap to make ,especially in these steamy times.Not only that, they 're even better tasting than those dogs and burgers.

Ratatouille is usually just a veggie dish however meat can be added for more flavor and impact. Try it with cut up chicken breasts or Italian sausage. It's a tasty spin on the Provencale classic.Chicken breasts can also be done in a light garlicky- white wine saute. Use medallions when making this and serve with angel hair pasta or rice. Another idea is a quick stir fry. Punch it up with sliced ginger along with sliced zucchini , onions and green peppers. All of these recipes are good for leftovers too, so you've taken care of two nights. If the family is still craving burgers, then make chicken burgers. These are easy to make  as you can easy give them a quick fry in the frying pan.Serve with breaded zucchini sticks and tomato salad for a festive, colorful dinner. You can also make turkey burgers, which are,frankly, better cooked in a pan than on a grill. They're juicier cooked indoors and you can get that full turkey flavor too.

If you're still craving beef , then think pan fried steaks. These are a  snap to make and  simple but filing meal if served with salad. You can even cut it up and mix in the greens too. Fileto Piedmontese is also a no brainer  . This is cooking steak  in a variation of bagna cauda,, the Piedmontese anchovy dip. Make the sauce  first, it's a simple sautéed blend of anchovy filets melted down in a combo of butter and olive oil. Add a small minced clove of garlic and when it 's all melted, stir,  add the meat and cook until done. Serve on toasted bread slices (and have plenty of extra bread too for sopping up the sauce later).For those craving the taste of chopped meat, why not make sloppy joes or fajitas.Both are simple enough to make thanks to the sauce packets and fajita kits.Both are a refreshing change from the over grilled patties we're beginning to tire of this season.Another idea - is steak tartare, the exact opposite of any barbecued. This is mix of raw minced beef tenderloin and one raw egg mixed together with salt  and pepper along with a splash of brandy and Worcester sauce.  It 's served like a pate on rye bread but it can also be served on a toasted baguette too.

Kitchen cooked meat dishes are a refreshing change from the usual grilled fare. Try any of these recipes for an escape into good stove top cooking . It's a nice change up and doesn't require all that much work.