Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Vegans Gone Glam

Vegans usually get a bad rap. They're either thought of crunchy granola types or ditzy Hollywood stars who eat nothing but lettuce leaves and avocados. There is a happy medium thanks to a Malibu couple that's giving the lifestyle a much needed boost. It's not only good for you ,it's also glam.

Jeff Gordonier of the New York Times Food section got to interview and eat with glam vegans Julie Piatt and Rich Roll in their Malibu , California home.Going meatless now is going mainstream. There are famed vegan restaurants on both coasts.and more and more people are embracing plant based's not dowdy any more . There's a sexiness and brightness to it with the promise of looking younger and having better skin without any surgery, serums or creams.One Britsh blogger, Ella Woodward claims it cleared up her skin as well as improved her health. For those who want to start glowing and cooking this way there are several good books to chose from such as Mr. Roll's The Plantpower Way, Deliciously Ella,My New Roots and The Lookbook Cookbook. It may take family members some time to embrace it. Most think non meat eating is strips of tasteless tofu over brown rice or mashed yeast. It's so much ore than that.

Maybe the best way to acclimate family and friends into this lifestyle is taking them to vegan restaurants. New York has some good ones, in particular Dirt Candy.Amanda Cohen , its owner worries about the faddishness of the movement however eating at her restaurant may change that.Her Portobello mousse will definitely be an American classic along with her broccoli dogs with broccoli kraut.Veggie burgers usually don't get a following however chef Chloe Coscarelli makes that happen, Her variety of tempeh burgers is getting their own fan base at her SoHo eatery thanks to her blend of different grains and spices made into a patty. Home chefs can easily copy this however remember that the ingredients are somewhat more costlier than beef. As Chef Cohen points out , going vegan is not cheap."It's not for peasants." she declares. Home chefs can start off with the pocketbook friendly Morningstar Farms brand of vegan foods. They have a good array of veggie burgers, fake nuggets, bacon and hot dogs. Buy different canned beans from Goya. These can be made into everything from burgers to casseroles.

The Roll family is on the right track with vegan eating. It gives them a boost while they give it glam. It's not a fad anymore. It's a lifestyle choice with very good benefits.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is It Safe To Eat

There's been a little bit of controversy lately about expiration dates.Is it OK to eat food a day, a week a month, even a year past its' use by date? does it on the item?depend ?Or the fussiness of a wary home chef? The answers may surprise you.

We Americans are somewhat paranoid about the blue stamped dates on the bottom of our containers and bottles. Even British comedian John Oliver commented on it on his HBO show This Week Tonight According to him we throw away nearly 730 football stadiums full of food per annum. It all has to do with our squeamishness about those darn sell by dates. To be honest , we don't have to. Of course dairy should be thrown out . The smell of sour milk alone can stink up any fridge and kitchen, Old dairy products can cause food poisoning. However if it's unopened and only a day or two past the sell by date it's still OK to eat. Cheese can more or less last up to four months depending on the kind Parmesan, Asiago and Romano can be kept for this amount of time. The semi soft ones like Brie and Camembert should be kept only two to four weeks. Butter can last a month before turning while margarine has a further run at four to five months. Ice cream should only be kept three months after opening however I've had no problem with ones opened six months  ago. The texture will be very gritty and icy but still edible. Unopened sodas like Coke and Pepsi can last six to nine months.

What about all those sell by and eat by warnings? A "sell by" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale.It's not mandatory .It's just a guide to tell the retailer when the food is at its' freshest and best tasting. The  can be eaten weeks afterwards. There is also the "best used by" date which refers to quality not safety. For example sour cream is already sour however it has a zingier taste when it's fresher.Born on date is the date the item was brewed or baked.Guaranteed fresh is used for baked goods. You can still eat then  after the date but it will be less fresher or even stale. Many even buy the staler breads and cakes because their prices are usually slashed almost down to half.Use by is for foodstuffs and items and it's is the last date recommended while at peak quality.  The deciding date is up to the manufacturer to decide this. Last is the pack by date and usually found on canned and tinned goods. This is a tricky date and can go by month -year - day or even stranger, by the Julian calendar not used in this country (or worldwide for that matter) since the  mid 1700's. A can of beans can have a date of 090912 or 009-999.The best method to determine of a canned food is still OK to eat is look at the can.If it has a normal shape it's fine. If it 's bulging or even growing then toss. Bacteria is a living thing that grows and expands. It will stretch out the can to accommodate itself.

So when food is OK to eat and when  should it be tossed. Use your senses as a guide If it looks, smells and tastes bad, toss it . If not then it's still viable to use. Whtever you do, don't waste good food. There are some people out there who would die for stale bread and expired milk.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monmouth's Mouthwatering Stops

New Jerseyans love two things: our cars and food. Road trips to interesting restaurants and food related shops are on our must do list especially with fall here. Monmouth County , a beautiful blend of farmland and waterfront provides that It's a great day trip to take, and it's only forty minutes south of Manhattan Island.

One of my favorite places to go in Monmouth is the beach front. The county has some of the loveliest beaches in the state.Not too far from the historic and windswept state park Sandy Hook is Bahr's  and Moby's These are owned by the Bahr family and have been since 1917 when the family switched from manufacturing neck ties to running a seaside eatery. A great grandson opened up the outdoor deck Moby's Outside deck a few years ago. Moby's is my summer and early fall hangout (it's closing for the season on October 18th)The clam chowder is the original recipe that Jack Bahr first made and it is a rich stew of huge clam chunks, potatoes and tomatoes. Bahr's the restaurant also features this and I recommend starting every meal with it.Both places also have delicious boiled lobsters  served with homemade coleslaw. Octoberfest is big here thanks to the family being German and they serve weiner schnitzel and sauerbrauten along with potato pancakes and pretzel soup! For quick fare try The Windmill in Long  Branch. It's part of a family owned chain and known for it's roasted to perfection foot long hot dogs as well as overflowing baskets of hot , crispy French fries..

Some of the best bakeries in the state are located here too. A  fave, with a statewide reputation is Atlantic Highlands' The Flaky Tart. It is truly the best bakery in the metro area with perfectly buttery croissants and mouthwatering chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. Cups and Cakes, of the tony town of Rumson also has some yummy treats plus a juice bar. You can buy sweet little tarts and fresh made carrot juice in one shot. Away from the shore front is western Monmouth county, This is horse and farm country, being charmingly reminiscent of the English countryside. Sadly there is no clotted cream but happily there are acres of pick it yourself apple , pear and peach farms. One of the most known is Delicious Orchards. This is a must see  no matter what time of the year. They have the best baked goods, from apple pies to brownies to English muffin breads. This is also the place to go for gourmet meats such as Serrano ham and all sorts of veggies like Brussels sprouts on the stalk and huge wedding bouquet sized cauliflowers.Other farms like the nearby Eastmont is know for their various pies made with their own fruit, and they also have pick your own peach and apple trees when in season.

Visit Monmouth County not just for the beautiful windswept beaches but also for their eateries, bakeries and farms The county has an amazing array of  homemade and fresh baked foods. Spend  a day or even a weekend there to experience them.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Foodie Fall Trips

Autumn is here and that means road trips usually to see the glory of changing leaves. Yet  it could also be a time to enjoy some of the yummy foods associated with that area. Try some homemade apple cider or a wedge of sharp cheddar during a pit stop. Pick up some apples or even pumpkins for decorating or cooking.

Most folks from the New York metro area and Boston head to New England. Vermont and New Hampshire may have some glorious displays but they also have endless farms and regional specialties. Of course Vermont is known for it's maple syrup and it pays to stop and pick some up, There are also creameries that turn out wheels of fine cheddar as well namely, the Cabot creamery which has branches all over New England. Apple pie is the state pie so stop and either treat yourself to a slice or buy one to bring home. Some bakeries will sell a bread particular to that region, a sweet loaf called anadama. This originated in the fishing villages of Massachusetts and wove its way to other New England states. It's a sweet loaf, thanks to molasses and a mix of cornmeal, wheat and rye flour.It can also be found in Massachusetts too, namely in smaller bakeries throughout the region If you're visiting New Hampshire for leaf looking  then try the  Canadian born tortiere , a meat pie filled with cubed game meat and potatoes.

Of course New Jersey and New York along with Connecticut and Pennsylvania offer some amazing foliage as well. The Garden State has pick your own farms nestled in between the golds and reds. Go to these to pick your own pears and apples along with pumpkins. In between New York State's majestic oaks and maples are there not only farms but wineries too. This is the season that they offer tours and tastings so definitely book one if you're in the area.. Best of all some are only a skip away from Manhattan with vineyards out on Long Island's Suffolk County and right over the Jersey  border in Orange ,Rockland and Sullivan Counties. Connecticut and Pennsylvania have some lovely farms too. Like NJ and NY farms , these have everything from cider  and freshly baked cinnamon doughnuts along with candy apples , honey and different pies. Some even offer homemade fudge and sticky buns too.

Take a ride to enjoy the fall foliage but also to sample the delicious harvests and treats country farms have to offer. It's a fun way to enjoy the area even more. Celebrate the tree's glory with a cup of cider and a fresh baked cinnamon doughnut or slice of real Vermont cheddar.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Any Weekend Party

Fall brings about weekend get togethers and gatherings. They could be the college student  bringing home their dorm mate for the first time, gatherings of any team or a tween sleepover with  new friends. It could also be a time to catch up with friends after a summer away.The other day Melissa Clark, a weekly contributor to the New York Times gave us easy recipes with the generic title of any. Make this true of your gathering.Any party with any party food will work.

One of the easiest any party foods that work for all of the above gatherings are hamburgers,Everyone loves a good beef, turkey or veggie burger. Take advantage of the warm weather to grill outdoors over a wood fire. Have simple or any fixings such as lettuce , sliced tomatoes and onions. Squeeze bottles of ketchup and mayo should be on the ready . Make any mayo based salad or slaw . Try a macaroni one zested up with minced red green and yellow peppers along with minced celery. Vary it with some hot dogs or veggie dogs and finish with toasted marshmallows or s'mores. For the new roommate or even new boy or girlfriend, think any roast with potatoes  and a green veggie. It could be London broil sharing a plate with mashed potatoes and broccoli salad, It could be a roast capon with scalloped ones  along with a bright mix of peas and carrots. Have a crisp salad on the side and crusty rolls too. This easy combo makes for a lovely dinner party with friends also. Add  candles and wine and you're set for an elegant fuss free dinner..

Any dessert works too. An old fashioned layer cake with a buttercream frosting is perfect and is always a crowd pleaser. Use a mix if you're pressed for time or scratch recipe if you're not. If you want something a little fancier, then put small truffles or raspberries (which are in season right now) on the cake's top. Any pound cake is also good and is simple to make at home. Since apples are in season right now, you could finish off with a homemade pie, with a side of cheddar or vanilla ice cream. If you're hosting a team party or sleepover then have any home made cookie.Chocolate chip is a big fave and they can be made from slice and bakes or by scratch. A fun cookie for a tween pajama party?  Sugar cookies! Leave them plain for the kids to decorate at a decoration bar with colored icings , M&M's, raisins and dragees.Dinner parties can end with any ice cream drizzled with liquor. Pair coffee with Kahlua, chocolate with peppermint Schnappes and vanilla with rum.For the kids set up a sundae bar with any sundae toppings from syrups to nuts to whipped cream to fruits.

Any party food can work for a weekend party . Pick out any recipe that fits your plans and go with it. It's a simple no fuss approach to fall entertaining.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Embracing Ayurvedic Cooking

Many today want a cleaner  lifestyle . That can be achieved by embracing the Ayurvedic lifestyle. It's an ancient Indian way of healing through certain foods and practices. Luckily there is a guide  in the formof a cookbook to help us achieve a purer way of living.The recipes are not aid in creating a more balanced diet but they're also tasty.

Lois A. Leonhardi wrote The Essential Ayurvedic  Cookbook.(Robert Rose Press) with the intention of not only having home chefs cooking healthier but also embracing the medicinal benefits of the practice. There are chapter devoted on figuring out if one is a vatta, pitta or kapha the three categories or doshas , These will help in divining what meats, veggies and herbs belong in an individual's diet. Ms. Leonhardi even includes a questionnaire about finding out in what category you belong, Most , according to her,  are a mix of all three. There is some strictness to it , such as sticking to the recipes suited to your dosha as well as no leftovers. All meals must  be made fresh and eaten fresh.. The dishes can be varied though for all doshas as each has a suggestion box at the end of every recipe.There is also a pictorial guide as well along with a how to on turn pantries into ayurvedic ones. There's a segment on the six tastes that make up the diet. They are sweet, sour salty, pungent , bitter and astringent  and all figure prominently in creating the  dishes.

Many of the recipes reflect the Indian diet. Dal, or mashed lentils , figures prominently in a large amount of the lunch and dinner recipes. There is also ghee , the clarified melted butter as well as tamarind paste along with coconut milk Mung bean recipes dot the book ..All meals are highlighted. For breakfast try the fresh made vegan vanilla nut yogurt along with millet breakfast patties that Ms. Leonhardi recommends serving with a poached egg or scrambled egg whites. Since she is Italian, some recipes have an Italian spin  to them. She includes her uncle's mushroom frittata recipe along with an ayurvedic spin on her grandmother's tomato sauce. Cannelini and pizzettes are also adapted for all doshas, with the basic recipe given along with suggestions..It;s not all vegetarian either like the Hindu  Indian diet. There are rabbit , and salmon recipes  plus lamb, pork and chicken ones too Desserts are allowed, in both candy and tea bread. Ms. Leonhardi also includes tea and the creamy yogurt drink , lassi recipes too.

Healthier eating means healthier living.Use The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook to achieve this. Those aches and pains along with the bad attitude will disappear , thanks to a thoughtful blend of meats veggies and spices blended in ancient ayurvedic recipes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Winning Your Week

Cooking should be a fun science experiment , blending basic chemistry with culinary alchemy to create tasty dishes, However many of us don't have the time to cook anything. It's a quick trip  to       the grocery then dump frozen dinners in the microwave or call take out for the usual pizza or Chinese. don't despair, Yet again, the Times Food section comes to the rescue.

Today's issue is entitled Ways To Win The Week  and it is a definite keeper issue. The sections greats have weighed in and contributed some very helpful and informative recipes and advice. Food editor Sam Sifton gives one of the best nuggets - expand your pantry.A well stocked one is crucial in preparing varied dishes. Mr. Sifton suggests  His though has an Asian flair to it as he advocates keeping soy sauce, fish sauce, miso along with some truly exotic ones like the Indonesian chile sauce,sambal oelek and Goechujang, the thickly fermented Korean red pepper sauce.Also shrimp paste, the filling for shrimp toast,is also a must have as well. Mix any of these with melted butter and you have a nice , flavorful glaze or sauce. They work with any meat, from pork to chicken , and any vegetables. Throw in some  noodles and rice and you have a quick delicious meal. Julia Moskin goes a step further with providing the basic ingredients for  a pasta dish. Take a basic element like pasta and add a garnish. The last is a rather stretched interpretation with avocado, any kind of egg, bacon, crushed chiles or leftover veggies. Mix with butter or olive oil and voila, an instant dinner.

Melissa Clark of A Good Appetite, David Tanis of A City Kitchen  and Martha Rose Shulman of  Recipes For Health  also weigh in.Ms. Clark starts off with giving all her recipes  the name of any like any meatballs or any fish. In other words you don't have to adhere to a strict recipe that calls for specific ingredients, Her philosophy is use generic ingredients for a hot , satisfying weekday meal. There are five basic recipes from the two mentioned above to chile, roasted vegetables and even scallopine. She also urges not to use measuring cups or spoon, All that measuring out slows down the process, along with creating more to wash up later on.Figure out what pinches and dashes are , using just your eyes or hands. Approximate.Of course adjust the flavor if it's too bland. Add that extra pinch or salt or pepper. Use fresh herbs for both color and flavor.Mr.Tanis gives a yummy and quick dish that just involves mussels , white wine , and of course French baguettes. Mussels are steamed in either white wine or water and then served with garlic rubbed toasted baguette slices. This is a great dish to serve n a warm fall night. For a healthy spin Ms Shulman gives us garlic soup.This Provencale recipe is just cooking minced garlic cloves with water, salt, and bay leaves. Pasta is then added along with any kind of veggie from peas to broccoli. Croutons and cheese can be added to gild the lily.

Weekday cooking shouldn't be such a chore. Have a well stocked pantry and basic recipes.These two combined can provide you with a week and weekend of hot , tasty meals, fresh from the stove.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Food Fit For Francis I

Pope Francis is here in the States  and many are probably wondering what does he eat. What's his culinary background? He comes from a good one, His parents and grandparents are from Piedmonte  and Genoa,Italy so there's excellent meals on that side and a bevy of good Argentinian dishes that he also grew up  eating. It makes for a rich and  flavorful food history.

Pope Frances I was born Jorge Mario  Borgoglio in Flores , a barrio or neighborhood of Buenos Aires. His mother's family was Piedmontese and Genovese, probably coming over during the crossover immigration of the late 1800's His father 's family left in the early 1930's.He surely had to grow up on bagna calda , made with good Argentinian beef . This really is pure heaven, a dipping sauce made with anchovies, garlic butter and oil is heated in a fondue pot. Beef  and various veggies such as Savoy cabbage  is dipped into it and cooked. Its' usually served in the winter months and for New Year's Every Piedmontese kid grows up on polenta   and it 's usually made a variety of ways, from cooked with eggs sunny side up to chicken and mushroom gravy, cacciatore style.Risotto or risott (as my family on both sides of the Atlantic call it )is another kitchen must. have. We make ours with tomato  and porcini mushrooms.. How do the Piedmontese end their meals? With the ethereal eggy custard  sabayon. This is a  simple mix of egg yolks , Marsala and sugar cooked over a double boiler. The sweetness is cut with delicate espresso cups full of strong espresso laced liberally with grappa.

Pope Francis ' also grew up with Argentinian food . Since the country is known for its' beef asado or barbecue is popular and often made at family gatherings. Sausage or chorizo  is also served as is morcilla or blood sausage. Other animal parts  like chitterlings are also cooked and served with chimichurri,a take on the Piedmontese salsa verde, made with parsley ,garlic and olive oil along with white vinegar.(it 's big in Piedmonte , usually served with beef tongue).Noquis , the Argentinian version of gnocchi is also made as are fettucini and tagiatelle. Buenos Ayres  enjoys Argentine style pizza but it is baked with a layer of chickpea flour dough on top to create a version of pizza rustica a covered or smothered pie.Argentina also has the Mesopotamia section in its' northeast section of the country offers many different kinds of indigenous fish and papaya dishes.Pantagonia, the rugged southern part that's pointed towards Antarctica  features mutton and lamb along with both freshwater fish such as trout and seafood. Berries grow in abundance here, providing the country with strawberries, bilberries cherries and rosa mosqueta, or sweet briar The country is also responsible for the culinary phenomenon dulce de leche which is poured over cakes and even pancakes.

Pope Frances is a humble man with simple tastes. Yet one can't help but wonder what lush Piedmontese or Argentinian dish is his favorite. There is so much to choose from and hopefully he treats himself to one  of them from time to time.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fall Fruit's Savory Side

Fall is here  and with it comes bushels of apples and pears. Many home bakers will be excited by this  as they make everything from pies to tarts to crumbles. Yet both fruits have a savory side. They can easily be incorporated into mail dishes , adding a certain tart sweetness and complexity to meats and veggies.

As any German will tell you having apples in the main meal is crucial. Apple sauce goes hand in hand with our potato pancakes and cuts their occasional greasiness. Cut up apples figure prominently in red cabbage, in fact they the ingredient that gives the salad its' signature tartness.An apple chutney  or whole  apples is usually served with roast pork .The last is cooked with the meat and the fruit picks up the pork's rich flavor while the meat absorbs the apples aroma and juices. Any kind of apple , from Granny Smith to Fuji are excellent in slaws. Mix shredded apples with cabbage , along with carrots and scallions for a crunchy sharp slaw,perfect with any tailgating barbecue. Another idea is a Waldorf salad, a yummy mix of chopped apples, grapes chicken, celery and walnuts. This is an excellent dish for a Sunday brunch, especially when served with a sparkly French cider. Apple chutney is a great side to both pork and beef .It's easy to make, cooking it , usually for thirty minutes, is the most labor intensive. It's a mix of the fruit,blended with onions, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pears are also in abundance right now. Most home chefs and home bakers usually use them in buttery rich tart.  However pears, whether they be Anjou or Bosc can be perfect in main dishes as well. Of course there is pear salad.One version includes spinach for a healthy kick and bacon whose saltiness is the perfect marriage  of savory  and sweet. Assiago cheese can be sprinkled over it for more tang. Pear chutney is another good recipe.Pair it with ginger for a fiery bite that would be a great go with for ribs or even a roast beef.Try Bosc pears in a garlicky one that would work with roasted or even barbecued  chicken .An unusual fall party dish is a savory pear tart made with creamy feta and sage. Just slices of this paired with a sparkly white wine like Prosecco makes for elegant eating. Anything blue cheese and pear is wonderful together  as is cheddar and pear surprisingly. You can make a tasty and flavorful grilled cheese  with them for a fun and unusual lunch.

This season, don't look at just apples and pears for only baking. They can be incorporated in a wonderful variety of savory dishes, from grilled cheese to chutney . Try them this way for a new twist on fall fruit.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

An Elegant Fall Outing

Autumn is a beautiful time of year for picnicking outdoors.It really cries for an elegant spin on the meal, with whole cold roasts as opposed to the usual quickly made sandwiches and slaws The menu should be both classy and classic.Top it off with a soft or hard cider for some variety and kick.

Instead of the usual picnic fare think whole roasts. You can roast a chicken, Cornish hens or even a turkey breast the night before and let chill(you can also use leftovers too).Quail or partridge also works here and you can either buy it on line or from a good poultry farm in your area. A cold London broil is another good choice.. Nix any gravy , it would be to messy to bring along . Besides the roasts have their own juices anyway that can be sopped up with bread.As for bread aim for baguettes.or brioches. These can accompany the meat or are perfect for pates and cheeses. Sides can be simple: tomatoes with a sprinkle of  sea salt, boiled artichokes with lemon wedges or lettuce wraps filled with steamed veggies. Another route is fish and seafood. You could have cold poached salmon with a light sauce or even a shrimp cocktail with a spicy dip. Make sure the shrimp have been peeled before you pack them. Nothing ruins an elegant outing more than having piles of shells scattered about. For something much simpler think easy pates or a variety of cheeses, form sharp English cheddar to creamy French brie dabbed on sliced baguette rounds.

Desserts can be simple yet decadent. Shortbread is always a good choice. It's rich and classy along with being the perfect end to an outdoor meal.Tuiles, those delicate French butter cookies would be  right in place too. They can be baked into cones and filled with raspberries(in season right now) and crème fraiche for a decadent dessert. They are also good just baked in the traditional style , a square resembling a roofing tile,hence the name. Pears are just coming into season and creating a pear tart with a buttery crust would be a perfect end to a feast of  cold roasted Cornish hens or salmon. Apples, too are also out right now. Pair slices with sharp cheddar for a different take or bake into a galette. This  last is a rustic Gallic spin on the traditional pie and is just as easy to make. Have thermoses of good espresso or tea  to drink with it.if you can , bring a flask of brandy along to add for fun and to keep the chill out along with containers of whole cream for the coffee and tea. A packet of chocolate mints is a nice touch so remember to pack those.

The crisp air and even crisper fall ware call for an elegant outdoor meal. Pack up one and take to your favorite place  and enjoy. Nothing is better or more decadent than eating classy food outdoors on a beautiful chilly day.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Generate Your Own Energy Bars

Busy school days and activity filled weekends demand energy bars.These help both big and little kids manage hunger and boost flagging spirits. There is one problem with the store bought ones , Wayyyy too much sugar What can you do? Make them yourself!

Many home bakers  shy way from baking energy bars. In some way they're really no different than bar cookies.It could be the ingredients that may freak out bakers - namely the  oatmeal used. Done wrong and those bars will turn out to be very healthy cookies. However homemade energy bars are no different to make than  cakes. Some even require just some microwaving a  set in the fridge What is so great about them? There are no extra sugars or  cringe inducing fruits your kids may  hate. There's also not the threat of life threatening allergens or being made  near themYou're the creator , you know  what will go in them. Energy bars can be tailored to suit tastes and allergies. Also home bakers can control the amount of sugar being put in them. Home dried fruit can be added as opposed to the kind that coated in sugar crystals. Carob can be added instead of chocolate or dark chocolate can be used instead of the bad for you milk variety.

What does go into a homemade energy bar? Start with a base.It's usually rolled oats.These give bars their chewiness.You can also use high fiber cereal as well. I would add flaxseeds for extra benefits - these are packed with antioxidants and are easily to blend into the recipe. Chopped medjool dates can also be used because they are dense and sticky perfect for creating a base.Next comes the nuts. Peanuts are good, most kids like them. Better choices would be almonds which are great for building strong teeth and bones along with aiding in good heart health and walnuts which aid in digestion and lower cholesterol. The biggest question is what type of sweetener to use. The one not to use is refined white sugar. Most energy bar recipes usually require  honey, brown sugar or agave syrup. If you're going to use honey use the dark kind. It has much more antioxidants and more nutrition than the light kind. As for fruit, use fresh  such chopped apples and pears . Dried fruit is excellent but I'd recommend using ones you've dried at home. Some of the recipes do call for eggs which are used for binding everything together..

Homemade energy bars are not only good for you, they're also tasty.Make them for great boosters for the family during this busy season. They'll give them a much needed lift along with a burst of flavor.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

From Gourmet To Chef

Ruth Reichl went from the glamour of magazine editor to the coziness of home chef.It was a boon to her  as it led her to write  another cookbook My Kitchen Year:136 Recipes That Saved My Life..It is  chock full of delicious recipes and drool worthy pictures of her creations. As always , when one kitchen door closes another opens to a better one.

Kin Severson wrote about this in her article in yesterday's New York Time Food section.At one time Ms. Reichl was the ultimate foodie writer, being editor in chief of the famed Gourmet Magazine as well as  food editor of the LA Times . She also  was a restaurant critic at the New York Times too. Everything changed in 2008 when Gourmet closed its doors after sixty nine years in publication. To this day she still does not know why it shut down.Luckily she relied on her "hippie" ways , getting over the firing and going back to her true love cooking The writing wasn't pushed aside though and she kept an emotional cooking journal, a season by season account of her recovery from losing her job. She embraced Twitter , letting fans read her haiku like food posts (and also provided fodder for parody from those not familiar with her style). An editor gently pushed her into creating a full fledged cookbook It paid off.

The cookbook is deeply personal, appealing to many home chefs who love her recipes and identify with her. There are pictures of  Ms. Reich trudging through her snow filled yard to her backyard cabin where she writes along with tossing autumn leaves in the air, her two beautiful Russian Blue kitties ,Cielo and Zaza posing and her  cooking her recipes. The recipes are amazing There is a lush chocolate cake iced with rich cream cheese infused frosting . This would make a great holiday and a fantastic birthday cake. It has a 1 1/2 cups(!) of butter in it along with brown and white sugars. Home chefs will love making her  chicken diavolo , a spicy dish ripe with jalapeno and serrano peppers along with paprika and lemon.Another recipe is an Asian influenced eggplant salad that has a trio of interesting flavors such as fish sauce brown sugar and chile flakes. I can see this salad being served with the chicken . The book is filled with other great recipes that would be perfect to make as we ease into fall.

Cooking has always been a form of therapy and that was never more true than it was for Ruth Reichl.It inspired her and got her through a difficult transition period of going from star editor to home chef. It paid off in the form of a yummy cookbook, chock full of tasty recipes!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Thick Juicy Steak Done Right

In some parts of the country it's still hot enough to grill outdoors. What  better to celebrate the last tendrils of summer than with a thick juicy steak, perfectly grilled and seasoned.It's actually an easy cook that just requires only using half of your grill. The  result is a crusty outer layer with a meltingly tender inside.

Melissa Clark wrote about this in her A Good Appetite column in today's New York Times Food section, Nothing beats a good mouthful of  steak and she recommends using 1 1/2 inch thick bone in rib eye steaks. For those less expensive cuts Ms. Clark sprinkles on some blue cheese crumbles, letting them melt on top, Her choice is Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue,a top quality blue cheese aged at the   Jasper   Hill Farm  in Vermont. You  could also use any good blue cheese from your local cheese shop or better grocery store. She  also add chives and butter. I would prefer an herbed butter , using a blend of Kerrygold with different herbs like rosemary and parsley instead of the cheese or just melted butter in the style of Peter Luger  Steakhouse for dipping steak pieces. Ms. Clark also suggests finishing with a hot sauce mix and again that's up to the individual.

The grilling method is a bit different. than the usual way. Ms. Clark uses indirect  heat to cook. The method involves building a fire on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side bare. First sear the meat on  both sides over the open fire then move it over to the unlit side to let it cook at a leisurely pace. This method is best suited to thick bone in steaks that are at least an inch and a half in thickness.Cooking them indirectly will ensure that the cut is evenly cooked .Done over a constant fire the meats would wind up being too charred..This way , there's still a lightly charred crust but with a tender and done pink inside. After the cooking the steaks are transferred to a cutting board for ten minutes to let the meat rest. Here. Ms.Clark mixes the butter , chives and hot sauce and them pours  it  over the steak. I would just let them be save for a quick brush with melted butter before serving.

Nothing beats a thick juicy steak. Cook it the half grill method for the best    possible tenderness and flavor. Doing this will make these meaty beauties even more desirable.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cooking Wild

Bears and moose and seals! Oh my! This isn't a list of just wild animals but the ingredients of some truly wild dishes in a new cookbook The Wild Game Cookbook. Although I don't ascribe to cooking all animals (seriously, ultra cute sandpipers and baby seals along with bunnies on a platter?)there are some home chefs out there who prefer the Papa Hemingway way  of hunting and then cooking your catch. Now there are some interesting recipes about what to do with those carcasses.

Chef and hunter John-Paul Grappe wrote this informative, to say the least, book (Robert Rose Publishers) with dishes featuring every kind of wild life from larks to moose. :This cookbook may be very offensive to animal lovers and animal rights activists. There are people who do love hunting and cooking their kill however, and this is the perfect gift for them. Chef Grappe is not only a restauranteur but has also been an instructor for the last twenty five years. The book is also good for nature lovers with its detailed pictures of wild animals along with information and vital stats about them. There is some interesting info about curing game birds as well as cooking with game, including one section about dealing with muscled meat.Hunters will appreciate the varied tips and advice about prepping freshly killed animals. There is even a mushroom guide about what kinds to use in dishes. as well as a four page pictorial how to on how to prepare fowl along with a dictionary on different cooking techniques such as braising and frying.

Chef Grappe does have some recipes that home chefs can make with turkey,goose, duck and rabbit bought from their local butcher. There is a stuffed turkey poult with a tarragon rich fumet that would make a nice alternative to a typical roast turkey dinner. Some may want to try roasted young goose stuffed with roast chestnuts or duck l'orange. The hare or rabbit recipes have a decidedly Gallic taste to them thanks to Chef Grappe's French Canadian heritage. Hunters may appreciate the venison loaf or the bison rib eye steak.Chef Grappe also includes ones for boar that are rich with sauces such as Sauce Diane and sparkling cider. However there are also beaver and seal recipes here, including one for a beaver tail. I hate to say this in any review on this blog but those particular recipes  are just distasteful as are the ones for squirrels.Yes, people eat these animals and have for centuries , however I can't see that happening in a civilized society where farm animal meat is plentiful.

If you're a hunter who loves to cook your catch, then The Complete Wild Game Cookbook is for you. It's certainly informative and eye opening with a wide array of recipes. if you love game, then buy this book.There's all sorts of dishes from the smallest lark to the biggest moose or caribou.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Your Fall Kitchen

The temps have finally cooled down  and there's a refreshing nip in the air. Autumn starts in a few days  and that means a change in cooking and baking,Now home chefs and bakers will want to sped more time in a warm kitchen , instead of avoiding it.

Lower temp means things can heat up around the oven. After eating just dogs and salads for a season, it's nice to have real main dishes with hearty sides.For many busy home chefs, this is the time to dust off the crockpot. There's nothing like making  stick to your ribs stews with dumplings and chilis. Make sure you have the spices for this such as bay leaves and cloves for any stew or ragout and chili spices and cayenne for chilis. It also pays to stock up on pastas too as well as cans of tomato paste and sauce to make homemade sauce.Pasta, especially the whole wheat kind, can be used as main dishes  even for Saturday lunches or Sunday suppers.It's quick and easy to make, a nice meal to come home to on a chilly night. If you have grown basil all summer for homemade spaghetti and pizzas, then pick it now and freeze for later use.This is easy to doc- just wash the leaves, pat dry with a paper towel and then layer loosely in a plastic container.They can last up to a year. You can also turn them into pesto sauce too. This involves putting olive oil , garlic cloves and big handfuls of basil leaves in a blender and pureeing them into a smooth paste. Pour into containers and freeze. It's an excellent base for homemade tomato sauce and gives it more flavor and zing.

Fall is also the time for baking as well. Many home bakers take advantage of it being  apple season and want to bake pies. If that's the case then stock up on Crisco along with flour. Galettes, a more delicate version of pie , can also  be made with the fruits of the season, like pear and fig. These tarts require a lot of  butter so it pays to always have a couple of sticks around. This is also the time of school bake sales so have the ingredients for cookies and cupcakes handy too. Home bakers may just want to bake a batch of some sweet treat just to have a nice dessert. If you're big on doughnuts and fresh baked bread then add yeast to your shopping list.If you're not much of a baker but still love a morning treat of warm rolls, then stock up on a few rolls of poppin fresh anything. This may also be a good time to critically look at baking pans and tins,.Sometimes they do rust and need to be replaced. Think about buying   the new silicon versions which will make the baking experience easier. Also stock up on vanilla , sugars, both granulated and confectioner as well as food coloring for icings. too.Candy making is big now too. Make sure the candy thermometer is working properly or just replace it.. Also have plenty of sticks ready for candy apples.

Yes, there's a nip in the air. That 's a signal that home chefs and home bakers can go back to making hearty dishes and rich apple pies. Tis the season for serious cooking , baking, and of course, eating!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Bake Off Returns

Who doesn't like a competition show. There's drama, tears, back stabbing and Victoria sponge.Yep, the Great British Bake Off is back on the air in America at 7PM on Sundays, thanks to the good people at PBS.It's an informative and fun romp through the various levels of baking. Because it's British to the core, it's not as brutal as some Yank competition shows. It's sort of like a tea- but with bite.

The judges are back - the suave but stingingly honest Paul Hollywood,the sweetly stringent Mary Berry, and the hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. These two are a comedy duo but have also hosted other English  food shows  such as Light Lunch and Late Lunch.Ms Perkins also was featured with food critic Giles Coren on the Supersizers series where they ate dishes from various centuries. Together this band  creates the perfect blend of serious and funny. The hosts offer encouragement and laughter to stressed out bakers, while Mr. Hollywood and Ms Berry offer advice in a teacher like way similar to Tim Gunn's way on Project Runway. The show is divided into three sections, the signature bake where bakers have to make their own recipes according to a certain theme (such as sponge or pies) the technical which is where they all  must follow one recipe) usually one contributed by  Mr. Hollywood or Ms. Berry) and the show stopper, This last tests the bakers on their skill and talent. All the shows a have a theme, whether, breads, pies, cakes, and biscuits - or cookies here.

Unlike some competition show, the competitors aren't cut throat or even that back stabbing. Maybe it's because they're British and they possess a certain civility there. Like American competitions, the backgrounds are varied. There are no professional bakers here. This season,  Season 5 is just starting here (it's the middle of season 6 in the UK). There is Beca, a Welsh military wife who loves both singing and baking, Ali, from Birmingham is the only baker in his family  and loves to create tarts while Rob is a space satellite designers who has a thing for foraging mushrooms The bakers are as young as 18 such as Ruby and , older more experienced home bakers such as Deborah and Howard. There are ten bakers per season and the final three compete for the title of Britain's best baker. PBS will air the second show tomorrow.The best moment , came from Josh , a baker eliminated  in the very first show. He accidently subbed in salt for sugar in  the technical challenge of angel  food cake. Seeing Mr. Hollywood choke on it was priceless. Sad to say it was one of the reasons josh was voted off.

The Great British Bake Off is a sweet treat on a Sunday night. Watch it for the drama but also  for the great rcipes. It''s a fun and educating race to be the best bakers  the United Kingdom has to offer..

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Day To Help

It's always hard on this day, especially for Americans. We can move on  by dong random acts of kindness and community service. This is the time to think about volunteering at soup kitchens and pantries along with helping our military section.

Again, I can't stress the importance of helping those less fortunate. It also is a good idea to include kids, reminding them how truly lucky they really are.If you can chop, dice, mop and wipe, you're welcome at any kitchen. Donate those extra veggies and fruits from your late summer harvest too.Tomatoes, peppers and squash can go a long way in creating sides and stews. Local farms should think about donating fresh apples and pears to both soup kitchens and food pantries. Also these provide better nutrition and benefits than any packaged treat and teach younger ones about eating right and healthfully.Many cities and towns have meals on wheels which need volunteers. Senior citizen centers also need people as well Food pantries need people too, namely I the form of stockers .If you have time, then think about spending a few hours every week at your town's or church's food bank.

Our military  should also be celebrated. They have had the roughest battle for the last fourteen years. Restaurant owners should have veteran's days where  military and their families can enjoy a free meal or at least a free dessert.Many chain restaurants do offer this or some kinds of discounts.Local heroes should be honored too. If you know one, don't hesitate to bake a cake for him or her or invite to dinner or an early fall barbecue.Our older veterans also deserve that honor and recognition. Buy them a drink at your local VFW, treat them to a doughnut at your local Dunkin Donuts.Invite  them to a dinner  out or a home cooked meal where they  can tell you about their time in service. They'd appreciate it while you receive a section of living history. Another idea is creating goodie boxes for the troops overseas. Pack with homemade cookies and snacks, along with salt and pepper and condiment packets.Please include letters of thanks as well.

September 11th is always a hard day to get through. Yet we can honor those lost by volunteering at soup kitchens or helping our vets.It's a day - a start to make the world just a little bit better.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Bright New Restaurant Season

Autumn in New York is magical. The stifling heat is gone, replaced by crisp breezes.It's s the start of the party season as well as a brand new season for the arts. It's also a brand new season for eateries with many of them opening up during these next few weeks. It's an eclectic freshman group with flavors from Provence to the American South.

The New York Times Food section  featured them yesterday in their fall restaurant preview. Veteran food writer , Pete Wells went up and down Manhattan Island as well as into the boroughs to find the latest and soon to be restaurants. of course there are the classic French one like Le Garage in Brooklyn that features classic Gallic flavors like beurre noire and Rouge Tomate Chelsea , a branch of the midtown one. This is New York City after all , and Italian and Chinese cuisine reign supreme here. Affectionados of the cuisines will not be disappointed with the latest creations from partners Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.,  La Sirena.This is a huge 250 seater hybrid trattoria in the trendy Maritime Hotel. Mr. Batali has a menu full of roasted and fried tidbits along with pastas and scaloppini , reminiscent of Little Italy restaurant fare. The Waldorf Astoria is also acquiring a new eatery in the form of La Chine , a Chinese restaurant , that reflects its' new owners heritage. It will showcase  unusual dishes like raw lobster with winter melon, along with raw drunken shrimp in yellow wine. Chef David Garcelon , the chef at La Chine is familiar with working with raw fish and he'll leave his imprint there.

Are there any stand outs? There are a few predicted such as Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen that features homey classics such as chicken with hot sauce.The Lower East Side has welcomed  Lucky  Bee which serves Asian street food like smoked trout with betel leaf. German and Austrian foods will be on every Manhattan foodie's must eat list thanks to German chef Guenter Seeger who will open a restaurant with his  name and the wittily named Austrian restaurant, Freud. The last is big on weiner schnitzel along with other Viennese classics in an atmospheric brasserie that's reminiscent of the actual Freud's Vienna.Nordic food is also anticipated from chef Gunnar Gislason, who was the chef at the famed Dill in Reykjavik, Iceland. He'll head the restaurant connected with the Nordic market at Grand Central Terminal. Authentic Peruvian cuisine , is going to be served at hot spot to be Llama Inn  and it's predicted to be one of the city's most innovative. Another star on the horizon is Indian Accent which will also  serve diners  risotto, soft shell crabs and pork ribs along with traditional dishes.

Fall in Manhattan is always an exciting time, full of fresh starts and new beginnings. It's definitely true of the city's restaurant trade. New eateries abound and with them exciting new tastes .

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Spins On New Year's Foods

Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday night .It is a new year full of old recipes, lovingly passed down for generations. Sometimes, though, it pays to add a touch of the new . Nothing livens up a holiday meal than a new spin that guests and family will love.

Both Melissa Clark and David Tanis realized this and made it the center of their respective columns in today's New York Times Food section. Ms. Clark decided to make a roast chicken with plums for her menu and column A Good Appetite. which is a spin on serving something sweet for the New Year. This ensures tht the upcoming twelve months will be sweet .This can be cloying if done wrong. There has to be a balance as sweet and savory play off each other. For this Ms. Clark uses a roast chicken flavored with red sumac a , spice popular in Middle Eastern and Greek cooking. This is not derived from the tree but is a tart, bright red berry that is dried and ground up into a powder.Ms. Clark uses it as part of a garlicky rub for the chicken. She roasts two in a large roasting pan with a rack, the kind used for roasting Thanksgiving turkeys.  Cooking underneath, and absorbing the sumac infused drippings are the plums, cut up to make a kind of chutney. Cinnamon is added to the rub and the plums to tie it all together. It's a perfect way of adding sweetness without it being too overwhelming.

David Tanis also contributes a family favorite in his A City Kitchen column. It's his Aunt Edith's apple kuchen ,It is an easy bake  with the recipe similar to a coffee cake.It's a quickly made batter too, topped with any kind of fruit , sprinkled with sugar and then baked,Mr Tanis tweaked the recipe by adding candied ginger and a touch of honey to the batter and giving the cake a honey glaze. New crop apples give it texture and fruitness. Home bakers could sub in pears, another fall fruitjust coming into ripeness.,, for the apple and the ginger can be nixed  for a milder tasting cake. The honey glaze can be kept and for a more fallish taste, try wildflower honey. It is a bit richer than other cakes thanks to the  three whole eggs along with a stick of butter however it is a holiday cake so  it can be indulgent. Margarine could be subbed in but then the cake loses its' rich buttery flavor. The apples and honey are a spin on a Rosh Hashanah tradition of dipping slices in a bowl of honey to ensure a sweet year.

The new year is a time for honoring traditions and new hopes. These recipes are like that, a combination of the old embracing the new. They are a delicious way of welcoming in Rosh Hashanah.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lunchbox Cuisine

Yup, it's that time of year when parents start fretting about what to put in their little and not so little ones lunch boxes.Making a filling and taste grabbing mid day meal is tough. Will they like it or trade it for something better? The key is to keep them smiling with some fun foods that are packed with flavor.

Before you pack , ask yourself what does my kid like? If he or she is into Mexican, think about a small cup of guacamole and whole wheat tortilla chips. Avocado is great for growing bodies, thanks to the presence of good fats. Add tomatoes and onion and its' packed with even more antioxidants and vitamins. A taco salad is a lunchbox surprise. You can take the ingredients from last night's tacos or cut up chicken or beef  cold cuts along with crumbled tacos and mix with sliced tomatoes, onions and lettuce. Dress with hot sauce and shredded cheese or mix the taco sauce with mayo for a south of the border take on French dressing. If you have a Francophile, then think baguettes spread with Brie and tomatoes or sliced apples.A pan bagnat is a yummy treat and easy to make.It is packed with flavor from pitted kalamata olives and Dijon mustard. The recipe calls for hard boiled eggs but you can sub in tuna in olive oil for protein. Just good cold cuts on a baguette is a lunch treat  that anyone would enjoy.

Of course parents want to add a good dose of healthiness to their kids lunch boxes.Do this in the form of  julienned carrots and peppers along with celery sticks. These make perfect dippers for Greek yogurt zinged up with   a squeeze of lemon or lime. Other good dippers? Pretzel sticks and Melba toast.  These are neat surprises for those baby snackers who like nibbles more than actual meals. Toasted pita chips and the Indian bread naan  cut up are also great for dipping into hummus. This last may be a hard sell for some kids. After all it's this squishy, mustardy colored gook that may make some young foodies flinch and grimace. It's easy to make at home and you just need some chickpeas, along with olive oil and lemon.. To give it a lighter color add a 1/4 cup of cannellini beans. Peanut butter is another great dip or spread. Instead of buying it , try making it at home.It's pretty easy to do  thanks to  food processors. You can add chocolate to it for a take on Nutella.or add a dash of honey for some sweetness.

Lunchbox cuisine is simple to maneuver hrought if you know your kids' likes and dislikes. Zest it up with some different foods now and then, Add a dip to shakes things up or a favorite food for comfort. You'll get an A for effort from your choosy little foodies.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Labor Free Labor Day

Enjoy this day  free from work but also remember the people who make it possible for you to eat. Think of the farmers and their workers, those who have to toil in the hot sun so you can have fresh salad or juice.Keep  in keen consideration every worker at your grocery store. It is boring and tedious to stock shelves and taking inventories. Think of those who stand on the on their feet all day  baking those yummy cakes or slicing those drool worthy cold cuts that you love so much.

Remember those who serve you at restaurants, diners  and fast food joints. They have the hardest jobs, taking your orders , cooking dozens of  dishes and broiling tons of hamburgers. They do the work of ten people and get paid very little for it . Not only tip them generously but generously praise them as well. They more than deserve it.

Enjoy this day , relaxing on the beach or at the barbecue, but also remember those who in the food industry that make your life easier.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Getting Ready For Tailgate Season

It's the start of the football season here in the States and with it the start of the tailgate season!Whether it's your first or your fiftieth , it's a good time to get some gear to make parking lot cuisine easier to make and tastier to eat. There are so many different gadgets and cook stoves to choose from along with mini coolers and plates ,Start the season with the right stuff.

One of the most important items to have is the cook stove or grill.For true luxury there is the Go Galley Portable Kitchen. This is the Rolls Royce of carry along kitchens.It comes complete with four gas burners along with a sunken side burner and a gas smoker.It's an investment at $1700 however you can go in with four or five people  and cut the costs. This kitchen will be able to fry a whole turkey as well as cook up three dozen burgers and a slew of ribs. You may want to think of a smaller one, namely the Party King Grills Swing N Smoke MVP. it can also double your patio grill as well. A better , and easier to haul one is the Weber Portable Charcoal Grill.It's only twelve inches and can fit in any trunk. it's perfect for dogs and burgers and smaller racks of ribs. Hibachis are another great tail gating cooker.Try the cast iron Sportsman Grill Hibachi by Lodge Manufacturing. It's only one hundred bucks  and a good investment.There are also various smokers  you can buy too as well as Brazilian grills that allow you to  evenly roast skewers of beef and chicken.

Another important item is the cooler. A wheeled cooler is about the best . It can be toted anywhere and then discreetly pushed to the side when you're done with it. It needs to be able to store all the raw ingredients like the meats and condiments as well as drinks. The best size for this is the one that can hold eighty quarts. Coleman makes this  and it is also sturdy enough to last for a few tailgate seasons. Another idea is a mini fridge that can be plugged into your car's cigarette lighter for activation. Some even come with a pocket to hold favorite CDs. One of the cheapest is the trash can coolers which is a foldable barrel. You can store meats in them  but not for a long time, since the ice will melt. They are perfect for keeping beer and soda chilled. You could go with a cool radio cooler with Ipod port but this is just  and only for drinks . Another one  is a cross between a scooter with a fridge for a seat.It's a grand but it's great if you have to deliver food and beer to friends across the parking lot. As for how to eat your grub, go get the GOPlate. This is a plastic disc that has four large compartments that hold hot and cold food. There is a hole in the middle for  bottles and cups too  in the middle.they're only 9.99 for a set of ten and definitely worth it.

Get geared up for tailgating season with the right cooking and storing gear.It'll make for an easy, trouble free cookout  as you cheer for your favorite team. It'll make for a fun season  of burgers and beer.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Real Southern Cooking

Southern cooking is one of the greatest  gifts thanks to amazing chefs and time honored recipes.Famed chef Dora Charles is one of the first and has created  a cookbook A Real Southern Cook In Her Savannah Cooking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt),celebrating the flavorful dishes of Georgian cooking.. It is a must have, honoring generations of the ingenuity and talent that went in creating this uniquely American cuisine.

Kim Severson  interviewed Chef Charles for Wednesday's New York Times Food section and came away with some interesting recipes such as Cheater's Pickles and Next Day Fried Greens , complete wit her special seasoning  which can be used on other dishes as well. Chef Charles is also known for being the second in charge to the controversial Paula Deen. Unfortunately it was not an equal relationship as it always seems to be .It reflected  the uneasy relationship African Americans have with white employers, that was a carry over from the country's enslavement period. Not only did she witness racism, she was paid only ten dollars  an hour despite her large contributions to Ms. Deen's Savannah restaurant the Lady and Sons. Luckily she had the support of another former Deen employee ,Lisa T. Jackson who went out on her own to become general manager of  Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House. Ms. Jackson's lawyer  helped chef Charles with her own settlement as well as her book contract. There are stories of Ms. Deen, and they are both warm and painful, making up only six pages in a large cookbook.(in all fairness Chef Charles does acknowledge the other's contribution)Readers should skim over this , and focus instead on Chef Charles' family and black life in Georgia' Low country.

Home chefs should also hone in on the rich variety of traditional recipes. This is true American cooking at its' best. There is also advice with two pages devoted to teaching how to properly fry as well as how to sooth burns with yellow mustard. Black Southern cooks always make their own special seasoning mix to add to their dishes, chef Charles is an easy one  to replicate.It's a blend of Lawry's special seasoning, granulated or powdered garlic , black pepper and table salt.This mix is dusted over ribs and pork chops along with baked spaghetti. She stresses how important it is to choose good raw ingredients and urges building flavor at every step. Some recipes rely on Southern pantry staples like margarine and Miracle Whip, Her biscuits are made with classic ingredients like buttermilk and Bisquick but sweetened with Sprite(!). The book is co-written with cookbook writer, Fran McCullough, who introduced her to  the famed Kerrygold butter and paprika which both found their way into some recipes. There are also contributions from Chef Charles . eight three year old aunt Laura Daniels as well . readers will enjoy Gone To Glory Potato Salad and Savannah Red Rice.

Chef Charles is giving us a legacy of the best of Southern cuisine in A Real Southern Cook In Her Savannah Kitchen. It reflects a cooking tradition born out of tears and hard labor, but also of joy and family.It is a true gem.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Summery Harvests Of September

Even though it's September there is still tomatoes and greens to be harvested. With them come delicious recipes that utilize the produce of this still summery season. Have them now while  the weather is still balmy and the gardens are still lush. Enjoy these tastes of late summer.

Melissa Clark and David Tanis realized this and made  the early September harvests the subject of their individual columns in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Ms Clark's A Good Appetite  featured the perennial star of the season, tomatoes. She creates a  mash up of three great tomato sandwiches. She deftly blends a BLT with  teas sandwiches  and throws in a heavy dose of the famed Catalan sandwich pan con tomate.The sandwich's base comes from the last. She takes rustic country bread. toasts it and then rubs it with raw garlic and the tomato's pulpy inside.Drizzle olive oil and lightly sprinkle sea salt on it.The tea sandwich part is when strands of tangy white onion is added. Layers of bacon and mayo are added , this is the BLT part of it.It's a messy , yummy sandwich that's literally finger licking good , according to Ms. Clark.Variations abound  with subbing the onions with cucumber and giving it a more Iberian spin by using thinly sliced Serrano ham instead of the  bacon.

David Tanis devoted his a City Kitchen Column to that flavorful French vegetable soup, pistou..This is a Genovese influenced soup from the French Provencale town of Nice. A kind of pesto is made, called pistou and it's exactly the same as its' Northern Italian cousin. Basil ,garlic and Parmigiano cheese is ground  and the olive oil is added to it. since this is a bean soup, there should be  a good mix of them, Use shelling bean from the vibrantly colored  cranberry to the large  , meaty cannellini These should be cooked independently from the soup base. The base itself is a kind of potato stock that also has sautéed onions and more beans, this time romano and yellow wax beans You can add squash and zucchini too, but you can also vary this   with adding a quartered ripe tomato or two.along with cubes f pumpkin of you have any in early bloom. Rice or pasta can be added but it's not necessarily.Afrter cooking  the soup is ladled into bowls and then a spoonful of pistou is added. Serve with toasted baguette slices dipped in oil, or if you want the pistou itself.

The summer is still giving us bounteous harvests. Take advantage of them by making a delicious tomato sandwich  mashup  or a bright green Provencale. soup. Both are perfect to eat during these still balmy days.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gardens Of Knowledge

Now with schools starting across the country it's time for communities to think about another subject - gardening.Schools across the nation should think about adding it to their curriculum. It not only teaches kids about nature and sustainability but also about giving.The produce can be easily given to those families and fellow students  who need it.

Schoolyard gardens are here and there in several major cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Kindergarteners through high schoolers learn about how veggies and fruit is grown and produced. They learn about composting and the importance of bugs such as worms  for soil aeration. There's also the satisfaction of seeing produce ripening and harvesting it .  Having a school garden can also be inspiring. Kids will want to have a small home garden themselves and influence siblings and cousins to do the same. Another plus is that it will make them. want to think  about possible  futures   in     biology, cooking   or  even farming.  It will even show them how to be more generous and more aware of the less fortunate  around them when the produce is donated to food pantries.

Gardening will also teach kids about nutrition. This was the case at the Martin Luther King Jr Middle School in Berkeley California, It happened to be near where famed chef Alice Waters lived. She came in and helped start the Edible schoolyard plan.It helped inner city kids learn all about the science of growing  along with the importance of fresh ingredients in cooking.The program helped them make important choices when it comes to eating and snacking. There are even cooking classes where students solve math problems by reconfiguring recipes. The program them went to New Orleans and then Los Angeles. It is now employed in almost every big American city.and is helping a second generation of students learn how to cook and eat better.

If your school district  doesn't include gardening as part of its' curriculum, then protest It's important that students know the value of fresh food and how it can impact their lives. Fight to have a garden of knowledge in your town.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Healthy Nibbles

With school starting up soon  kids are going to be noshing and nibbling like crazy.The problem is eating right.What 's the perfect one? The healthiest choice, of course!

Any kid of any age loves finger foods.Yes, they may reach for the pizza rolls and head to McDonald's for nuggets.
These  are great maybe once in a while for fun however the best bet is go homemade. Instead of the store bought pizzas use whole wheat English muffins with fresh tomato and low fat mozzarella.Drizzle with olive oil and bake in an oven or toaster oven for fifteen minutes at 325 F. Sprinkle fresh picked basil on for more flavor. As for those chicken nuggets, think soy which are lower in calories but big on flavor.Morningstar Farms has them and they taste like the real thing.Create a home made honey mustard by mixing antioxidant rich honey with mustard. You can also make a homemade salsa to go with it.This can also go well with whole wheat tortilla chips too. Julienned peppers and carrots are great nibbles too when paired with spiced Greek yogurt. Add a dash of cumin or curry powder for zip.

Kids are hard wired for sweets.Its easy to reach for sodas and candies to boost up flagging energies.Try flavored waters like Hint that really do have a hint of flavor or the BAI juices and sodas. Both are only five calories each and come in a varieties of flavors like dark cherry and dragon fruit. Try all natural cookies like Back To Nature.They have a wide variety of types to choose from such as Oreo like sandwich cookies along with mint and peanut butter ones. This is still summer so have plenty of plum's, peaches and nectarines on hand too.These make excellent snacks and are easy to carry to activities. As the season progresses add in apples and pears too. Apple slices dipped in cinnamon are a great snack .  Keep snack cakes, cookies and even sugar drenched energy bars out of reach.If there are protests explain that sugar is no good and will make them too hyper.Steer them towards more natural sweeteners like dark honey, stevia  or agave nectar.

Snacking can be both fun and healthy.Make sure good for you nibbles are on hand. Your students will thank you for it .