Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Real HalloweenTreat: The NYT Magazine Food Section

Foodies received a real Halloween treat today - the New York Times Magazine food issue. If you haven't received or bought it yet,HALT- go no further. If you're still curious , read on.It's one of the best compiled culinary centric so far. It's truly a goodie bag filled with yummy articles.

One of the best pieces was written by Francis Lam, who wrote about radical chef, Edna Lewis.Mr. lam himself, is pretty famous, having been a judge on Top Chef masters. Chef Lewis was an amazing woman, even  without the food aspect. She was part of the Harlem Renaissance ,along with being a seamstress to Marilyn Monroe and model Doe Avedon It is  her cooking and her quest for redefining Southern cooking that is her legacy. It is the cooking of both plantation and plantation kitchen, combining African vegan cooking with the elite French cooking that Thomas Jefferson brought from France.There are also good recipes that feature poached pears and biscuits It is  the fried chicken recipe though that sounds amazing. It involves frying the pieces with a slice of country ham for more flavor along with not frying in deep fat but rather a sautéing method  in which the pieces are piled on top of each other. Brown the breasts first and then lay on  top of the sizzling legs . Doing this will let the legs cook up evenly.

One of the most colorful is the reinterpretation of those wacky Betty Crocker recipes from the Fifties. Tamar Adler wrote the accompanying article but the real credit goes to photographers Maurizio Cattalan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, Their accompanying photo shoot is trippy and Fellinisque with gilded lobsters alongside a tongue in cheek made cheeseburger pie and chicken salad in melon rings.There is also a salute to fondues, from the original Swiss to a wild variation involving British breakfast meats. On the serious side there is also the story of food historian Barbara Ketcham Wheaton interviewed by Bee Wilson.MS Wheaton ,a former librarian , has quietly compiled a database entitled "The Cook's Oracle". Her goal is to catalog every recipe ever written along with every ingredient ever used and every technique that was ever employed. There are all sorts of interesting gems in this articles, such as food trends and long forgotten cooking methods. The issue also holds sweet personal essays on food that must be read as well.

Sit back, grab a handful of leftover Halloween candy and read this issue. This is New York Times Food reporting at it's best.It's definitely a yummy treat.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Last Minute Halloween Treats

The scariest part of any Halloween party is not having enough treats for your guests. Don't despair .There are plenty of fun , last minute goodies to serve - and best of all - a snap to make, This gives you enough  time to hop into that /monster/angel, demon/political candidate costume and vie for best costume.

Monster fingers are always a neat hors d'oeuvre to serve.Take regular size carrots and round the ends. At one end carve out a fingernail like indentation. Serve them in a jar filled with vinaigrette (heavy on the red wine vinegar here - you want to go for that "gore" effect). A variation of this is roasted fingers. Serve with a dip if you'd like but the vinaigrette should impart plenty of flavor.A variation of this are roasted fingers. Grill hot dogs (meat or vegan or both ) , stick an almond at the end and served on bloody bandages- hot dog rolls soaked in catsup. Another fun starter is really devilled eggs. Pour a drop of red food coloring as well as adding some cayenne to the egg mash. Put cashew halves on either side to simulate horns. Creepy mouths will have your guests talking. This involves snow pea pods, baby bell peppers and almond slivers.Slit the peapods lengthwise so they resemble mouths. After cut the peppers so that they resemble little tongues and pace in the slit. Add the almond slivers as teeth and serve. wash down with some blood red sangria or a red wine punch.

Halloween is a time when you can never have enough sweets. Haystacks seem an appropriate treat, given that it's also harvest time too. These are one of the easiest treats to make.Start by a quick toasting coconut in the oven or toaster oven until lightly brown at 350 degrees Farenheit. This only takes two to three minutes. In the meantime, melt dark or milk chocolate pieces with butter or margarine. for a few seconds. After cooking mix well and add the coconut. Stir until completely blended and  then drop on either a greased cookie sheet or a sheet of parchment paper. Cool for two to three hours before serving. For added color , decorate with a candy corn or Mellocreme pumpkin. You can also make candy corn bark by adding the treat to melted chocolate . Don't mix and spread onto either a buttered  cookie sheet or parchment paper. Candy apples are the perfect Halloween party treat and favors too. You can dip them fresh and then set up a decoration bar with nuts, coconut flakes, gummy works and M&M.s. Guests will love creating their own fun designs and  savoring them afterwards.

Make these scary and yummy treats for your Halloween do. They're a great way of celebrating a spooky night. Give  them party fun that's just pumpkin perfect!.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Making Tofu Tastier

Many people have a preset notion of tofu. It's tasteless and slimy for starters and its' look is not that appealing. However , with the right recipes, tofu can be- dare it be said, delicious .

Melissa Clark is behind this movement, I suspect, and is trying to get New Yorkers and foodies to go meatless (and this could not happen at a better time when any slice of steak or bacon is vilified). What did she do to make this soy product seductive? She shredded it. The idea came from the cookbook "Near And Far: Recipes Inspired By Home And Travel" by Heidi Swanson. She sautes the shredded tofu in olive oil. For added crunch  she adds pumpkin seeds. A scant dash of buttermilk is also tossed into the mix as are pea greens. Since we're almost in mid autumn , Ms Clark gives it a fallish flavor with earthy shiitake mushrooms. These impart a lovely caramelized brown color that spreads over to the tofu.  There is color in minced red pepper and edamame.You can even add pork for more flavor as she does, but the flavors are perfectly intense, so it's kind of gilding the lily.

The only possible stumbling block is getting an actual brick of tofu. Ms. Clark uses it in her New York Times video. Whole Foods sell it, as do some regular grocery stores such as Stop & Shop. However it can be too soft, with the consistency of a set pudding. If worse comes to worse , turn to Morningstar Farms which has beef style crumbles. These can easily be subbed in. If you do come across a brick of firm tofu, it's then  easy to turn it into shreds. Just take your average cheese grater and rub the tofu against the larger holed side. The goal is a soft fluffy mound , akin to scrambled eggs or spaetzle even.This creates a nice light  textured medium that's easy to work with. You can also use this method to make vegan scrambled eggs too. Again, acquiring a firm brick of it can be somewhat of a quest, so be prepared to get alternatives.

Tofu is not always an easy sell. This one featuring it in shredded form is the perfect dish for soy lovers and those in need of converting. It creates a crunchy, flavorful dish that's good for you and good tasting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Exotic Side of Game Hens

Cornish or game hens sometimes have the reputation of being boring. They're usually served with a side of stuffing and maybe some green beans for a dash of colors. However ,like any fowl , they can be livened up with exotic spices. The result is a tasty spin on a traditional recipe.

David Tanis  experimented with the chickens and wrote about them in today's New York Times Food section.His City Kitchen column offers advice about them  Remember these are expensive birds , being slightly a few dollars more than the average capon or even turkey. Cornish or game hens are worth it. The meat is extraordinarily tender. That's really their selling point. this tenderness is a plus, because the meat quickly absorbs any marinade from spicy to lemony.They're about a pound each, with some reaching two pounds so figure one each for hearty eaters. Both butchers and grocery stores sell them.

Mr Tanis decided to give them a Middle Eastern spin. He spices them with sumac, the main ingredient in tend of the moment, za'atar along with pepper and cinnamon. Pomegranate molasses is added for color and sweetness  however be warned.It can slip to the bottom of the roasting pan and burn quickly.Mr. Tanis' solution is keep half an inch of water at the bottom. when this mixes with the pan juices, then baste the birds to keep them moist.It's served with basmati rice flecked with raisins, currents and pine nuts/ There's also a sprinkling of bright jewel red pomegranate seeds for extra zest and zing. Mr. Tanis garnishes it with fresh mint for color  but you can omit it if you like.

Cornish hens are a great dinner . Their tender meat is perfect for absorbing such exotic spices as sumac and cinnamon.Give it a Mediterranean flair with these and the lush pomegranate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thug Kitchen - In Your Face Blogging

Many food bloggers (including myself) go for a homey, informative and sometimes preachy way of writing about food and nutrition, Most of us don't use profanity and in your face phrases  to get our points across. Maybe we should. It works for a vegan food blog , Thug Kitchen and it's garnering fans and hits,

The controversial blog was started by Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis , vegan hipster, who want to spread the good word of vegetarian to the masses (and that is never more important in light of yesterday's not so eye opening news about red meat and bacon). However their way of doing such is peppered - and salted - with every obscenity under the sun.It does draw readers and fans. Their second cookbook "Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give A *&&^% was published in September. Using bad language is a good way of selling any product  and even giving it some oomph. However this has gotten them in trouble, namely with African Americans who feel that the language and their title is too ghetto and demeaning. A few critics even have claimed that it promotes a negative stereotype of their diets as well.It has caused two well known cookbook authors Bryant Terry and Alice Randall to comment on Mr. Holloway's and Ms. Davis' writing style. According to a recent New York Times interview ,Ms Randall feels that "it drowns out and distracts from authentic black voices who are speaking to communities they love with the wisdom of shared experience."

There are fans who do love the site..The recipes are influenced by the hippie era Moosewood Cookbook and Isa  Chandra Moskowicz Vegan With A Vengeance. There are a lot of them and they're divided them into seasons, meals and ingredients. This is great if you're looking for a fall lunch recipe that has apples.In some ways they're just ordinary vegetarian recipes.The pickings are pretty thin. There are no bakes, or casseroles, lunches are nothing more than sandwiches and burritos.The dessert recipes have only two good recipes, the frozen chocolate bananas and  iced gingerbread squares Another point is not all  the recipes are vegan. Milk is  used in one or more recipes. There are better vegetarian blogs out there, featuring really good recipes that are filling. Check out Oh My Veggies and Green Kitchen Stories. Both have interesting recipes that are hearty and filling. Oh My Veggies even helps in meal preparing with tips and hints. Best of all you can let the kids read them without any worrying about them learning bad language!

Thug Kitchen is OK if you're a hipster vegetarian living in Brooklyn. It's cool if you're into swear words being a part of a recipe. Otherwise it's just another food blog trying to get readers by being over the top and on the edge..

Monday, October 26, 2015

So, Do We Go Vegan?

There is a new report out claiming that red and processed meats cause cancer. This is no big news , it's been known for at least thirty or more years. What is controversial is that the World Health Organization or WHO now equates them with asbestos and tobacco. Yet are they that bad?Or is this an over exaggeration?

To be honest we do need meat, We need it for our bodies to produce amino acids . We also need it  for Vitamin B12 and protein. Vitamin B12 or iron can be found in lobster but that comes with a warning of its' own - its' chock full of cholesterol. If do still redmeat or bacon, then cut down on it. Try to limit it to maybe once a week  the cut down to twice a month and then maybe once a month. I know this is easier said than done. Most of us rely on our supermarket's deli or Subway for lunches . What can be done is looking to fresh cut meats , such as chicken or roast beef. Also subbing in soy meats helps along with switching to veggies. This can be done slowly. Start by adding more tomatoes and spinach. Cheese slices are also good and get familiar with the different types out there.Another idea is looking at vegan web sites and cookbooks . These are chock full of delicious recipes that can help transitioning over to a more meat free diet.

Other meats have come under fire as well, namely hot dogs, burgers and sausages. Again these are going  to be hard to get rid of or at least decrease.Look , Wendy's and McDonald's are a huge part of the American diet. Fast food is just easier  to deal with , especially after a long work day or busy weekend. Luckily we can cut down on the amount of burgers and dogs we consume.Wendy's offers a wide array of salads plus baked potatoes  to wean you off those Baconators. Morningstar Farms offers a variety  of veggie burgers and  hot dogs that can stand in for the real thing. To be honest we need to look to Germany who gave us the first two along with a huge variety of sausages and wursts. For some reason, Germans don't have the high cancer stats that we have and yet our diets are relatively similar. It could be portion control (they're not gluttonous by any means) or how the meats are processed. There could be less nitrates and chemicals in the meat.It could also be that they're not as heavily into the carcinogenic  barbecuing as we Yanks are. Maybe if we stop all this excessive grilling we can keep that extra chilidog or Sloppy Joe in our diets.

So what do we do? Eat well, eat for our bodies and not our taste buds.Try more plant based foods, nix all that barbecue - and like with alcohol and sweets - just cut back. It 's the start of a healthier way of eating.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Nikkei Cuisine A Marriage of East and South American

What is the marriage of Japanese and Brazilian/Peruvian cooking ?Nikkei. It's an interesting mix of centuries old Japanese cooking with cultivated for centuries South American ingredients. Now there's a new cookbook celebrating this happy pairing.

Luiz Hara is the author of Nikkei Cuisine,Japanese Food The South American Way(Jacqui Small publishing) and its based in his own mixed heritage. He is 3/4 Japanese and 1/4 Spanish , raised by his father's Japanese Brazilian side. The book is an interesting mix of recipes, his family's story and the story of the over 100 years of immigration from Japan to South America.It's one of the few cookbooks that have an interesting history lesson attached to it.In a way the two cuisines blend perfectly such as sushi and ceviche. Both  cultures use white rice religiously and it figures prominently in their cuisines. Of course there were some adaptations on the Japanese side, especially when they came from a fish eating culture to the Brazilian beef one. However the Japanese embraced the many vegetables South America had to offer and these were quickly incorporated in their recipes.

The recipes themselves are interesting. Chef Hara's is a definite marriage of the two worlds. He uses his own as well as ones from famed South American Nikkei chefs There is kouji fried chicken with fried lotus or renkon chips which would be fun for a Saturday night party or tail gating get together. Miso soup stars here as does arroz con pollo but both have tinges of the other's culture.There.s even a recipe for five different types of popcorn that have different spices from macha or powdered green tea to hot wasabi. He has a Japanese influenced chestnut rice side that would go well with any South American pork dish.The dessert recipes are also soaked in the two cultures. with green tea or coconut ice cream, along with South American super fruit flavors.

Nikkei  Cuisine :Japanese Food The South American Way is the perfect cookbook for those who love Japanese and Brazilian cooking.It's a salute to a rich and varied heritage as well. Buy it today and start making these interesting and flavorful cuisine.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Healthy Spaetzles

Spaeztles are one of those tasty and German foods that go with everything. This versatile homemade noodle is a great side and can be turned into  a great main dish too. Now there's a new twist to this classic - spinach . Spaetzles are going green.

David Tanis is the one behind their colorful transformation.His City Kitchen in Wednesday's New York Times Food section is devoted to them. He learned how to make then when he was a restaurant cook, form the place's chef, an Austrian who could make these in his sleep. These batter noodles are one of the easiest things to made for any  beginning home chef. They're just a simple mix of flour, water and egg, similar to pasta but without the drama of making sheets and then cutting them in even strips. Spaetzles should have a wetter consistency than pasta dough. Mr.Tanis suggests think porridge with its' gooey, runny batter. They can be made with a soup spoon and a cutting board with the noodles being flicked into a pot of salted boiling water. You can buy a spaeztle maker at Amazon for as low as eleven dollars and it's recommended if you make them a lot(using one is actually much easier and much less messier, plus you'll get a batch of evenly sized spaetzles).

Mr Tanis tweaks the recipe with a spark of green, He adds pureed fresh baby spinach for the best the egg and water. A dash of nutmeg, always recommended, is also use to temper the taste.He then sautes them in butter and sage with lardons or cubes of bacon or pancetta. Parmesan is then added and the whole dish has a decidedly Italian vibe to it. If you want a more Germanic one, then think of cooking it with sauerkraut or string beans. This last would go well with the spinach, a nice marriage of that fresh veggie flavor. Unusually the noodles accompany veal and pork  however these can be the perfect side to roast chicken or even turkey for the holidays.If these spaetzles are too bland for you , then try Martha Stewart's which have the added zing of thyme ,rosemary and parsley. Milk is also added for body.

A dish of spaetzles is always a good idea. Give them some spark by adding pureed baby spinach to the recipe.It'll be a nice new spin on an classic.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rediscovering Your Broiler

For many home chef broiling is a rare experience. It's usually not thought of for cooking steaks, even now when the weather is still warm enough to grill outside. Yet broiling adds to meat,poultry  and fish , giving them a  nice juiciness without all that overpowering smoky flavor. It's time to rediscover this important part of the oven.

John Willoughby did just that and wrote about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section Sixty years ago broiling was de rigeur for home chefs.It was used mostly for chops and steaks and they were usually over broiled until they were dry and flavorless. The method  fell out of favor with only restaurants using them and being renamed as the salamander. (this from the Greeks who attributed the animal with fire producing ability). Luckily a new generation is discovering broilers and using them to create a variety of dishes. His friend and cooking partner, Chris Schlesinger started with steaks, namely because his girlfriend, Suzanne wanted them and the time of year was not agreeable to outdoor cooking. Her craving happened in the middle of a snowstorm. The stomach wants what the stomach wants and Chef Schlesinger decided that pan cooked steak would end up in a smoky kitchen. That's when his broiler snobbery had to be over come and the broiler was the only method left to produced perfectly grilled filet. He was hooked, graduating from beef to chicken to fish.

There are a few warnings to heed before trying out your oven's boiler. Remember that every broiler has its' quirks and peculiarities. Different ones heat to different temperatures and the distance between heat and rack varies from oven to oven. Home chefs have to be active in the cooking process.As with outdoor grilling, it's important to check in often on the food and move it around to avoid one side getting burned or cooked before the other side. Before even starting the broiler needs to be preheated  for five to ten minutes, preferably for the longer period of time. As with grilling select tender and thin pieces of meat to broil.Fish steaks, chicken and steak strips are all fine. Stay away from whole chickens ( although you can broil Cornish hens thanks to their small size) and wholes roasts. Save those for the oven. Pay attention to where the food is positioned. (this doesn't apply to the old fashioned under the oven type). The meat has to be close enough , namely three to four inches away to cook properly. Also nix the Pyrex or any glass  container because they will break. Buy  those aluminum  a roasting pans which can be used many times and then discarded without cleaning.

Home chefs should rediscover broiling. It's a lost method of cooking that should be resurrected. It produces  deliciously broiled meats, that are juicy and succulent,

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Scones, The Way Coleridge Liked Them

Today is Samuel Taylor Coleridge's birthday and surely he must have celebrated with a Devon cream tea. One of the components of any tea are scones, those mouth watering biscuits.They're an easy bake for novice home chefs along with being versatile with their ingredients. They can be just plain or filled with everything from nuts to berries to even candies.

Scones have been baked since the early 1500's and were surprisingly the size of a luncheon plate in their early days. Their origins were not England as you'd might suspect but possibly from Scotland and Holland. The Scots have something similar, called a bannock and it could be from this that our modern day ones originate from. They  could also come from the Dutch schoonbrod  translated into fine white bread. The Dutch ones were smaller , spoonfuls of dough were dropped onto a hot griddle and cooked. Even the Germans made them and also contributed to their name by calling them schoenbrod.Most foodies  as well as Coleridge himself, knew the British variations of them. These are the ones that are  chock full of currants, raisins, dates and cheese. The Scots and Northern Irish mix potatoes in with the dough and then fry them. These tattie scones are a big part of the Ulster fry up, the sumptuous breakfast full of streaky bacon, pork sausage and eggs.The US embraced scones thanks to the recent coffeehouse culture , and we probably have Starbucks to thank for that. They're mostly cinnamon and blueberry flavored here .In Utah, they're a variation of the Indian fry bread with buttermilk and baking soda.

Scones are the perfect bake for the novice home baker. You can easily make the ones that ST Coleridge probably enjoyed with his Devon cream tea.There is the Bisquick kind made with that baking mix.These are the closest to what Starbucks sells, with a confectioner's sugar glaze and stuffed with blueberries.A more authentic version is the English recipe which calls for mixing white flour with baking soda.Butter is added to this and the dry ingredients are cut together similar to what is done with pie crust.Once the mix resembles course breadcrumbs, eggs and milk are added to give it a  more doughy quality. It is then rolled out to a one inch thickness and then cut with a biscuit cutter or can be cut into triangles.They're baked in a very hot oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit   for only ten to fifteen minutes . If you want them to have a shiny top then brush them with a beaten egg before baking.If you want to have a sweet crust then, just sprinkled granulated sugar on top after egg /butter washing and before baking. For cinnamon flavored ones just add four teaspoons of the spice to the dough.Serve them the true British way with clotted cream (which you can get on Amazon) butter and any jam, such as raspberry or red current.

Celebrate Coleridge's birthday with a batch of freshly made scones, butter, jam and , of course Devon cream tea. He would have appreciated this tea, as you will. Savor the taste of a butter and jam covered one washed down with hot milky Earl Grey.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tasty Tarts

One of the most delicious and versatile baked treats to make is a tart. It's an elegant alternative to cake and pie, always looking perfect on a dessert table. One of the best aspects of any tart recipe is that you can make one or a dozen with basically the same recipe.They all are mouthwatering , with their glazed crusts  and rich fillings of fruit, cream or ganache.

A tart is basically a topless pie with usually a short crust.meaning it has a lot of shortening or lard in the recipe. Many professional and home bakers will sub in butter for a richer flavor and more crumbly crust. The pastry has been around since the medieval period, starting off with more meat than fruit fillings. The French quiche , German zweibelkuchen or onion pie and Swiss Gruyere pie are savory forms of it. Most tarts are now either custard or fruit filled. The truest form of tart is probably the English custard tart.It has a rich egg yolk filling, sort of similar to the Italian zabaglione.Any home chef can easily make them and also personalize them too. They can add in a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg. or do a dusting of toasted coconut or toasted almonds on top.A Gallic variation is the tarte aux flan, a creamy one that has the light Spanish based custard as a filling. fruit tarts are a great way of using the fruits of the season. Nothing beats the sweet and tangy flavor of both apple and pear tarts.

Are tarts easy to make? They may seem complicated with all their steps but they're can be made by any novice home baker. The  star of any tart is the crust. This is what makes it extraordinary. If it's too soggy, then the whole thing is gloppy.The preliminary steps are similar to making a regular pie crust.The dough should be chilled, anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour The crust should be rolled out to an even thickness and then placed into a two piece tart pan.Remember the dough is supposed to be tender so don't worry if there's tears. These can be mended.If it's baked without the filling then prick the sides and bottom with a fork to prevent shrinkage. Don't do anything if the tart is to be baked with a filling.Luckily tart crust can be made with gluten free flour Tarts can also be made with almond or any ground nuts too. Beginners should start off with the simple custard tart and then work their way up to fruit and ganache filled ones.

Tarts are an elegant alternative to pie. They are easy to make for any home baker, who wants a classier dessert with no fuss. These fit the bill perfectly.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Homemade Meat Pie

The air has that fall nip to it signaling it's time to make hearty  homemade meals .One of the best is the meat pie.It's a tasty way to get rid of leftovers while providing a rib sticking lunch or dinner. - Vegans and vegetarians need not worry  - the recipe can be tailored so that's it's chock full of only veggies.Any way you make it  it's a nice hot meal,perfect for a chill autumn day.

The first thing to do is choose a crust. Does the family like those ready made meat pies?Then your best bet is a flaky pie crust. This is the best for absorbing the gravy along with providing a tasty outer shell, perfect for dipping into gravy. Puff pastry is great if you don't have time to make the exterior. You can always buy Pepperidge Farm' also gives a different flavor and texture to the pie, imparting a light, buttery taste with a super flaky crust, not unlike that of Beef Wellington. If you want 'a traditional shepherd's pie then use only a top crust of mashed potatoes as they do in Great Britain.The mash actually gets crusty and it's wonderful in sopping up the pie's juices. You could blend in  some chives  or the scantest amount of garlic to give it more flavor and color. Home chefs may want to think outside the box and use a cornbread crust. This is mostly used for chili pot pies or Mexican beef pies , and like the shepherd's pie crust is only layered on top. Of course the recipe should be remedied if there are gluten allergies,  Go for the paleo crust  then - a combination of ground almonds and cashews bound together with coconut oil.

What should go into a meat pie? Leftovers if you have them. Any London Broil or roast beef would be the start of a perfect filling. Many have used what was left of their holiday turkeys.Chicken can also be used and if you don't have the time, use  Swanson's Chicken a la  King  which also has peas and carrots in it. You can also make the French Canadian meat pie , tortiere with ground pork .It can also add ground veal and beef to it as well for more flavor.What about vegans? Surprisingly tofu is actually a tasty filling. You just have to use the extra firm kind  or it will get mushy and fall apart. A mix of mushrooms is another excellent meatless choice too.  Any pot pie has to have a good amount of veggies  for  added color and flavor.Most include the usual mix of carrots and peas however you can mix in some different ones such as  lima beans and spinach for variety. All fillings should be first cooked as a stew so the pies are filled with a rich  gravy. Any filled pie can be frozen and saved for another day but you have to under bake it about ten minutes and then let it cool off. It then can be stored in fridge for a few weeks,

A home made meat or vegan pie is a great chill chaser during these autumn days.Make them for the family for a nice and tasty way to warm up. They'll appreciate a ribsticking chicken or shepherd's pie after a brisk day out.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hearty And Soy

Do vegetarians and vegans eat enough to be healthy? Many think they're deprived because they've eschewed meat along with dairy and eggs. Surprisingly these soy lovers are well fed and have a variety of different dishes to choose from. from breakfast to snacks.They're not starving, thanks to to an ever expanding range of vegetarian products.

With the holidays coming up people wonder what their vegetarian friends and family will eat. After all the highlight of any Thanksgiving meal is a burnished turkey  with the trimmings while Christmas dinner features a pink, juicy ham.There is tofurkey after all and it's far from the joke people think it has improved over the years and the taste and texture is similar to an actual Tom Turkey.The company Tofurky has an excellent array of "meats' and dishes. They even have a feast that includes all the holiday goodies, including brownies and even Tofurkey cards. The company has a roll with a stuffing interior and a gravy packet.The company also is known for their hot dogs which do taste like the real thing. They also have Jumbo dogs for those who like the big ballpark franks along with kielbasa and chorizo. Vegans can enjoy Bolognese sauce again thanks to their meat crumbles. Many other companies, like Morningstar Farms also has them as well and they are versatile. Home chefs can make chilis or Sloppy Joes with them, two hearty dishes for the chilly days ahead..

The other aforementioned company, Morningstar Farms is the giant in soy products. They are chock full of choices for hamburgers even recently adding spicy Indian flavor to their repertoire . They also have great fun foods, that are perfect for parties or a let loose Saturday supper.They have garden veggie  nuggets which would please anyone meat lover from age three to one hundred.There is also enchiladas which are a great quick lunch  or dinner. Both companies have a section just on recipes and these are separated by meals and appetizers. You could make bacon double cheeseburgers with patties along with soy cheese and soy bacon.. Try a homemade pepperoni pizza with soy slices  or a cheesy beef crumble..Create a meat free Eggs Benedict with soy ham and soy scramble.   Vegans and vegetarians can go to any tailgating party and come back stuffed, thanks to Tofurky's brats  and Morningstar Farms corn dogs.Bring a few burgers along to convert the most die hard meat lovers. It's easy to do. There's no turning back once you try soy.

Vegans and vegetarians are not starving.They have a wide variety of different products to choose from, for any meal or snack. They are not only getting  flavorful dishes but also nutritional and filling ones too. .

Friday, October 16, 2015

An Apple Picking Outing

This is the season for apple picking .It can be a fun day of enjoying the crisp fall air and having the last picnic of the season.Many orchards have picnic tables set up along with stands selling all sorts of foods.The best part is th e picking itself. Everyone will enjoy it  - if done right.

One of the most important aspects of a day outdoors is the right clothing. October days run the gamut from summery to chilly and sometimes the temps change mid day. Be ready. A nippy day may heat up into one befitting July or August. It's OK to have both jeans, capris and shorts along. Everyone can wear their favorite tee but have a hoodie on hand if you or the little ones start feeling cold. Sneakers or even mocs are a must. Don't let your teens and tweens wear flip flops , no matter how comfortable or cool they feel. It's not safe. Fields have burrs and sharp twigs along with any stray nails left from any construction. Bring sun block too and lip balm.It may be the fall but the sun's rays are still strong and harmful. You can bring hats or visors if you want to protect your head and sunglasses to shield eyes from bright sunlight.Most orchards will supply pickers with bushel baskets or burlap sacks for their bounty. so you don't have to worry about bringing them. Just make sure there's plenty of room in your trunk for apples and whatever else you've picked.

This day out is the perfect day for a picnic. Always bring water along because picking is thirsty work. Juice boxes are a must if there are kids, as are bottles of unsweetened ice tea and sparkling water. Bring a thermos of hot tea, coffee or chocolate if it's a nippy day. You could even fill it with hot soup too. Bring hearty sandwiches along since both the brisk air and all that reaching and walking can work up an appetite.Have Kaiser rolls stuffed with ham and cheese or roast beef.  You can add mayo to them too,now that the weather isn;t sweltering which can spoil the spread. Also pack homemade macaroni and potato salad too to round out the meal.Power bars and pretzels are great snacks to bring along too. Many orchards do have stands that sell hot dogs and soda. Some like Colt's Neck New Jersey's Delicious Orchards show case everything from Serrano ham to fresh baked breads and rolls. Anyone can easily buy their picnic food there and have freshly made customized sandwiches.. The kids may want to snack on their bounty on the ride home. Thoroughly wash all apples before hand with extra bottles of water.

Nothing is more fun than a day of apple picking. Make it truly great and enjoyable with the right gear and a hearty lunch. Then get ready to pick!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chicken And Jam

A good meal should have one simple classic dish and one complex highly flavored one. The new York Times Food section delivered this yesterday in two recipes from two of their star writers. Melissa Clark gives us hints and instructions on how to create the perfect roast chicken while David Tanis has a great recipe for Moroccan herbed jelly. Bring them together for a dinner party for a widely varied meal, full of flavors and textures.

Novice home chefs would do well by reading  A Good Appetite in yesterday's New York Times' food section.Melissa Clark show how to easily roast a chicken. It starts with a trip to your local supermarket or butcher's shop and try to get the best, usually a free range , antibiotic bird is the best choice. Once you bring it home, then salt it.It should b brined about a day before the actual roasting. Also leave it uncovered  in the fridge so the skin can dry out a it Doing this gives the finished roast a nce golden, burnished look.For flavoring, salt and pepper  = that goes without saying - but also herbs. Try the "twiggy" ones like rosemary, bay leaves and thyme. These will release less moisture than other herbs.If you prefer a lemony flavor , then use curls of lemon rind as opposed to lemon wedges.You can truss or tie up  the legs if you want but it really doesn't male a difference. Ms. Clark recommends using a sauce such as chimichurri or Béarnaise, but personally I'd go with just the plain  chicken. A roast chicken is flavorful on it's own.

You could make David Tanis. herbed Moroccan jam to go with the roast. The recipe was taken from Paula Wolfert's 1973 cookbook, "Couscous And Other Good Food From Morocco."It's not a jam in the traditional sense, it refers to the slow cooking down of ingredients. It's a favorite dish of acclaimed chef Russell, Moore of Camino Restaurant in Oakland, California and he has put it in his newly released cookbook "This Is Camino" He has tweaked the recipe  so that instead of using foraged greens it uses the more domesticated ones such as lettuce along with parsley and carrots. Kale and broccoli rabe are also added along with celery tops and cilantro. Spice and heat come in the form of cumin and hot chiles.The jam method begins with first steaming the greens, completely drying them out and then cooking the down in  pepper infused olive oil.The process only takes ten to fifteen minutes and then you can be served. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Mr. Tanis recommends serving it with pita but if you want try it as a sauce with Ms. Clark's roast chicken if you want.

Try  Melissa Clark's roasted chicken recipe for an  elegant dish. Serve it or have it follow Dave Tanis' exotic herbed jelly .They're a perfect blend of simple and complex, great for dinner or even supper.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New York Biscuit Town?

New York is known for many things, fashion, night life, biscuits. Biscuits????! Surprisingly the most sophisticated city in the world and its'  boroughs are becoming purveyors and experts on that Southern specialty. Some are traditionally made while others are given a fillip of spice. It's all part of the new city eating experience.

Ligaya Mishan wrote about this in today's New York Times Food section.Ms. Mishan, a restaurant critic for the section went on a city wide quest for the best biscuits. There are many Southern  restaurants that are standouts in New York and with them comes the traditional fare.The cuisine is becoming  so popular that there  are even biscuit shops  opening   up too throughout Manhattan and her boroughs. Who has the best? Ms. Mishan visited several. One is the Beehive Oven, a Williamsburg hot spot where the owner and chief baker Treva  Chadwell makes an approximation of her Texan grandmother's recipe.. These are tall biscuits , perfect little towers of married denseness and fluffiness..Chef Chadwell sometimes stuffs them with fried chicken or shrimp remoulade. One of  Brooklyn's best known Southern style eateries Pies N Thighs , baker Sarah Sanna who also has Southern roots, takes on a more modern twist. She uses low gluten flour for airiness and European butter for  richness. The biscuits are then brushed with a wash of raw egg and heavy cream.Chef Din Yates uses a similar recipe at Cheeky Sandwiches. The New Orleans born chef also adds butter milk too for tang.

Some bakers decide to go an entirely different route. They eschew traditional recipes and go their own way.The  East Village Root & Bone make tiny ones, the size of petit fours as Chef Jeff McInnis serves them with a dipping sauce of dark chicken jus fortified with honey and sea salt. There are also twigs of fresh thyme and benne or sesame seeds for double dipping .Other  biscuits from other restaurants and biscuit shops have the inside surprise of black pepper, homemade strawberry peach jam and dark chocolate as a rebel homage to pain au chocolat.. Some bakers, like Liz Santiso of Brooklyn Biscuit Company sprinkles grains of coarse sea salt on top to give it extra saltiness and crunch One batch has a dusting of chipotle on top with a smoky Cheddar filling. Even goat cheese has been added for a certain creaminess. Some bakers even nix the white flour and use cornmeal, creating a cakier kind of biscuit. All are served with either butter or honey butter.

Biscuits are not just a staple of the South anymore. They're becoming a Manhattan staple  and a favorite.Like the city itself, they can be both traditional and funky, down home and chic at the same time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Leftovers With Zip

One of the worst things a home chef dreads is boring leftovers. Usually these consist of some forgotten veggies, leftover carcasses and this and that of sides from recent dinners past. Luckily with a dash of spice or a pat of butter these can be transformed into yummy meals that will be eaten. It just takes some  creativity and the will to experiment.

One of the worst are those veggies that are still laying around the crispers. These can be that one leftover tomato or onion that was just one too many for a particular dish.These can be sliced up and made into a tasty salad, thanks to some added  homemade dressing.These lone veggies can also go into an omelet, revving up the common  egg dish into a frittata. You can even add a dash of Parmesan too for more flavor.  Leftover broccoli and beets can also be transformed into colorful salads,perfect sides for tailgating parties. Be grateful for those leftover roasts too.Ham cam be devilled thanks to a quick spin in a food processor or it can be used for part of a croque monsieur sandwich.  Turkey can be cut up for that classic tetrazzini or a yummy turkey and celery  salad. This last can also be done with chicken, using mayo and tarragon for a lushly  flavored salad. Serve on croissants for a really elegant lunch or supper.Those London Broil slices will be good on hot, buttery garlic bread or perfect in a biscuit topped meat pie.

Two of the most versatile foods that make perfect leftovers are bread and potatoes. Any kind of left over bread can be turned into a sweet or savory bread pudding.Stale  French and Italian breads make an excellent base for the famed dessert pudding. They create a chewy, textured treat that's makes for an decadent dessert, especially when served with salted caramel sauce.These baguettes also are great for being repurposed into French toast. Any bread makes for tasty homemade croutons and breadcrumbs. Potatoes can be turned into almost anything as well. Last night's mash can be transformed into today's crispy fried puff. They can be cut up and used for breakfast and brunch hash browns. In fact you can use your leftover peppers and onions in it as well. Plain baked potatoes can be turned into a mash zinged up with garlic. Sweet potatoes are part of the versatility category too. They are wonderful mashed and whipped or as pancakes. Many turn them into fries or a kind of Tater tot, to be served with a molasses syrup. Use both white and sweet in a hash redolent with bacon strips and pepper for a fun brunch side.

Leftovers don't have to be hohum. They can be transformed into exciting new dishes that are mouth watering. In fact they'll be so good , there won't be any leftovers!

Monday, October 12, 2015

An Exchange Of Foods

Today is Columbus Day and like it or not it's when two cultures,the indigenous  American and European collided.It may have been the end of one culture yet it brought together what we now know as global cuisine.It expanded the world's diet and brought about better nutrition.

The Europeans brought various meats such as chickens , beef and lamb to the American diet.Yes the people already here ate meats but it came from hunted animals.The new kinds were able to be kept in herds or on properties.European bakers brought yeast to the New World which enabled breads to be made, thus more ready nutrition for the
young, infirm and elderly.It could go a long way in feeding large families. It could also be turned into sandwiches for easy meals.Whether considered good or bad,sugar was also introduced. One of the most dubious  "gifts" is alcohol.Fire water was a way of placate them however it proved lethal in the  20th Century. Sadly many young tribes people have fallen for the variety of junk food that their Euro American counterparts have. Luckily many are returning to the ancient pre-Columbian diets.

The tribes from Canada to Central America have given us so much.They expanded a European diet that primarily existed of cabbage and turnips.Thanks to the Western Hemisphere ,there is polenta and tomatoes in Italy,chocolate in Switzerland and France, and beans in England.Our diets have expanded so much thanks to the potato which was easy to grow. Any meal we eat today has at least one indigenous ingredient.Even our Thanksgiving is influenced not by the English who created it, but by the Massachusetts tribes.The native Tai no gave us barbecue or Barbac a which has become a worldwide staple.On a broader scale the Pacific Islanders gave us pineapple and breadfruit .

Columbus and his crew discovered a whole new world.It was a culinary exchange that changed diets around the world.It broadened our palates and diets.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Nadiya's Baking Conquors All

Can a television baking completion hold the answer to race relations? Can politicians learn from competitors vying for a title as they bake cream puffs and eclairs? The answer is yes. Some of our Republican front runners; can glean a lot from "The Great British Baking Show."'

This wildly popular  English TV program recently crowned a winner for their latest season, She is as British as the Windsors, but not as traditional as one might think Nadiya Jamir Hussein is a thirty year old mother  of three from Northern England. She is the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants and a Muslim. While British politicos descry the influx of all sorts of immigrants and their effect on eroding everything that is good and British  (sound familiar? Listen to our debates) the rest of the country has embraced this expert baker. She is simply and lovingly known by her first name only, being a superstar and inspirations to millions of Britons,She has also turned around a lot of assumption about hijab wearing women heading off to join ISIS. . She is like any other English girl with a love of baking and a sweet tooth.The only thing scary about her is that her bakes are scary good.

I am in awe of her. It is not easy to please the show's formidable judges, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. They are quite critical when it comes to the trio of weekly bakes.that make up the series. A cake or cookie may look heavenly on the outside but in their discerning mouths could be nothing more than a scoop of sweet sand.What we deem as a perfect buttercream rose may be just another ball of colored  lard to them.They adored her raspberry mille feulle, and soda flavored cheesecakes. Her blue chocolate peacock and her mountain of eclairs in the shape of a nun won them over as it did Britain.. Nadiya also had her own style , crucial to winning an audience on any televised completion. Her cheeky humor won over viewers from Cornwall to the Orkney isles. During one stressful bake she joked that she would rather brave childbirth again than create a chocolate soufflé.Like any second generation her heritage shown through. Her lemon drizzle cake was decorated with jewels from her wedding, perched on a stand with a sari bearing the colors of the Union Jack. She is proud of both her blended backgrounds and that is important to young second generation Anglo girls trying to make peace with their identities.

The Great British Bake Off is not only an enjoyable show but it can be a great teaching tool for our American politicians.They should see how immigrants truly contribute to a country's identity, only giving their best.They need a Nadiya, not only for delicious treats and breads but to show them how people of different backgrounds make a country great.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Discover Israeli Cooking

Many Americans have a narrow knowledge of Israeli cooking. They think it could be halvah and tabbouleh , possibly falafel If they're a bit more sophisticated , they may know of hand rolled bagels and za'atar the mixed bag of spices used in cooking.However it's a bit more than just those . It's one of the most flavorful and varied of Mediterranean cuisines. It has ancient grains and fresh herbs along with much loved meat dishes and cool salads.

Melissa Clark explored this in her Cookbooks column in Wednesday's New York Times Food section.She reviewed and tested some of the recipes in Zahav: A World Of Israeli Cooking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers),written by restaurant owner, Michael Solomonov and Stephen Cook. Both are co-owners in the wildly popular Philadelphia restaurant Zahav.It's much more than just a cookbook,veering into memoir territory. Not many cookbooks have an account of a brother's death by a Lebanese sniper or his feelings about being shipped off to a boarding school. The recipes are perfect for any novice home chef . They are direct, simple and immediate. There is a recipe on the gaining in popularity za'atar, a mix of common and exotic spices and harissa, the fiery red pepper paste from North Africa.Of course there are several recipes dedicated to tabbouleh along with hummus which figures huge in the Israeli diet as it does throughout the Middle Eastern world.The main star, though, is the sesame paste tahini. It's used in so many dishes, from savory to sweet being the backbone of both main courses , sides and desserts.There is a caveat to the book though, Ms. Clark warns, some of the ingredients may be hard to find in an American supermarket. A trip to can solve that.

Ms. Clark includes two recipes in her review. One is a pastel, an Israeli meat pie, similar to the Greek pastitsio.It has spiced ground beef along with carrots and onions along with parsley , dill and sesame seeds. However , instead of using pasta or lasagna as layers as the Italians and Greeks do, puff pastry is used, creating a take on a Cornish pasty,She also includes a simple recipe for halvah that requires - what else - tahini.It's as easy to make as simple fudge and a great end to any of the meals in the book. For those who love hummus , there is a snippet of advice as well. Chef Solomonov recommends using overcooked chickpeas for it. They create a dip with an almost buttercream consistency where it  silkily melts on the tongue. His hummus is the star of the restaurant, with all the flavors, including lemon and garlic  being equally balanced in a perfect blend.Any of these recipes could work well at a fall dinner party, especially the pastel served with a good red wine. The halvah would be nice to make as a dinner party or holiday gift.

Israeli cooking is so much more than just hummus and tabbouleh .It is a wide variety of meats and vegetables cooked fresh with exotic spices.Chef Solomonov knows this and displays it in both his restaurant and cookbook, Zahav,A World Of Israeli Cooking.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

a Good Old Fashioned Sauce

Nothing beats a good old fashioned marinara sauce. It makes an ordinary bowl of pasta memorable, with its' layers of simple flavors. Anyone from experienced to novice home chefs can make a perfect one. It's an easy ragu to create for a dinner tonight or for one several weeks down the road.

Julia Moskin wrote about it for her Recipe Lab article in yesterday's New York Times Food section. She is something of a sauce whiz, having made her first sauce when she was a child. Her early sauces  ,made for her little sister, consisted of nothing more than browned chopped meat and  can of tomatoes. Her recipe  has progressed , improved over the years with the addition of spices and pork . Funny enough the sauce doesn't exist in Italy, being one of those Italian American inventions such as pepperoni pizza and garlic bread. One of the successes to a good ragu is how it reacts with the pasta. It should be well mixed with a chunky sort like rotelli or penne. The sauce is added a little bit at a time to the pasta pot and then stirred in until there is nothing in the sauce pot.Doing it this way will allow the hot pasta to absorb the ragu, making it the most flavorful. More spices, along with salt and pepper can be added after to zing it up.

What goes into a good marinara sauce?The main ingredient meat should be a mix of pork and beef. Italian sausages work well too, because they already have the herbs and spices needed for flavoring the ragu.if you want to add just beef for a chunky sauce you can but just remember it will make it a one note kind. Tomatoes are also key. Ms. Moskin recommends using San Marzano whole ones but the Tuttorosso brand can also work here.There should also be tomato paste here as well for depth and body. Any imported  kind works here, including San Marzano's American or Chinese canned tomatoes just don't quite cut it , probably because their tomatoes aren't ripe when picked as processed.. This affects the unami or fifth flavor of the entire recipe.. Spices are important. They bring out the tomatoes' earthy sweetness. Use fresh rosemary and thyme. along with fresh parsley. If you have basil, add it too. Ms. Moskin doesn't but I feel it gives a nice mellowness to the sauce. The meat and the onion should be fried first in olive oil  then the tomatoes are added and cooked for forty minutes.

Nothing beats a good homemade meat sauce.Try this one for a delicious, old fashioned flavor of an Italian American kitchen .It's a nice lift to ordinary pasta and makes for a memorable meal.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Goodness Of a Bake Sale

One of the best and fun charity works anyone can do is a bake show. It fits to any charity along with honing home bakers skills and expanding repertoires . Another plus is sampling other home bakers wares and getting ideas for future projects.

Of course the first step is having a cause. Most sales are for schools or for certain conditions or diseases. However you could start or ask your church or food pantry if you could arrange a bake sale for the needy in the community.They may be able to set up a tent at the any one of the street fests that take place in the fall.You could also help at an organization's cake sale, which gives more time to devote to creating goodies Adding drinks is a great way to increase sales. People love to have tea or coffee to wash down a muffin or cookie. Sometimes a passerby just wants a hot beverage to keep warm (and conversely have iced drinks during spring and summer bake sales). Napkins and forks are a must as are containers and bags for those who want their goods to go.Of course having a cash box and plenty of paper and coin change are other musts.One of the most important things to do is having labels listing ALL the ingredients. So many kids have a variety allergies that it's necessary for parents to know what's exactly in that cake pop or brownie. All lists should state  that the items have gluten,were made in a kitchen where there was nuts and if any dairy was used in the baking or icing.

What to make for  a bake sale?Stick with what you know best. You can use a scratch recipe or mixes. Plain brownies are always popular so have a few batches of those on hand. For large quantities use mixes.They make prep and bake time that much easier. You can add extras such as chocolate chips, coconuts , and nuts to give them oomph. Blondies are another hot seller  as are fruit bars.Kids love cake pops and these are easy to make ,especially if you have the molds. Have help when it comes to decorating though, because that's a bit labor intensive.. Cupcakes are classic and they sell - well- like hot cakes. Have fun with the decoration and icing. Chocolate and vanilla are your best bets for flavors and a classic buttercream frosting is always the crowd favorite.You could set up a decorations bar for a dollar extra  and have a  table set up with  sprinkles, nuts cherries  M&M and chocolate chips.Small pies or galettes will do better than whole pies - too messy to eat a cut slice. Think small too when it comes to cakes. A large one may be too much for a person to  carry. Looking for something different/ Then think cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.They're easy to make an can be made in large quantities.

Bakes sales are a great way of giving back to the community. They're also fun , letting passerbys enjoy sweet treats. Think about organizing one to help out those less fortunate.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Celebrations

Autumn is a wonderful time for all sorts of celebration and feasting. It's one of the most beautiful times to get married or engaged. Parties can have an elegant yet rustic menu, featuring the best of the season.. The foods can be farm fresh  taken from local providers to be  spun into a delicious feast.

Even if you're planning on a fall wedding for next year, take into consideration the harvest the season can bring. Many caterers are following the farm to table movement so their choices for you will have interesting dishes. Instead of the usual catered fare like lasagna or chicken with rice it will be  butternut squash soup, Savoy cabbage wraps and possibly a venison or pheasant main dish.A wedding cake may be a take on an apple one, redolent with cinnamon instead of the much used chocolate or vanilla.There could even be mini pear tartlets too, featuring another fruit of the season.As for toasting, think an apple wine - and yes it is a real drink. Celebrants could go for apple champagne, however it has to be made at home using the right fermenting ingredients. A somewhat safer choice is the French hard cider which has a champagne like sparkle and bubble. Make sure there is the non alcoholic kind for teetotalers and kids.Have pear and apple cocktails and mocktails too.

A celebration can also be done at home. Plan accordingly to suit the number of guests. Turkey or ham is a good choice for a big at home gathering. A German style roast pork is another excellent idea.If it's a smaller get together think possibly game fowl such as quail or pheasant.Sides for both types of parties could feature wild rice stuffed squash or a wild rice casserole. Cabbage season is getting into gear and it can be turned into a variety of different dishes from hors d'oeuvres to hot salads. Try it as pes coi, the Piedmontese polenta stuffed rolls or simply shredded and sautéed in butter. If opting for the pork roast , try an apple onion saute to accompany it.This can be made in large quantities for a crowd and can be made in a crockpot . Dessert can be as simple as apple and pear galettes or rustic apple pies. Want something a bit more elegant? Apple cake with cream cheese icing, topped with a spun sugar dome or crown. This can also translate into cupcakes too.

A fall wedding or engagement is a magical affair. Create wonderful dishes featuring the harvests of the season for it. They'll make celebrating either one even better.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Deconstructed

This is pumpkin spice season for sure. Every food stuff , from  candy corn to lattes is now flavored with it. There are even pumpkin spice Oreos! Yet what exactly is pumpkin spice? Is one spice or an amalgam of a few? Another good question is how do we accept  it  after being oversaturated with it.

The spice is actually a blend of four spices, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Their combination is what gives that spicy, sometimes spiked taste. The dominant flavor notes are the cinnamon and ginger, while the allspice and nutmeg provide the more mellower ones. Everyone is so inundated by the combo, that they've sworn off the spice combo. Don't . On their own they are wonderful flavors that can be used in a variety of sweet and even savory dishes.Cinnamon is yummy  in  homemade rolls and coffee cakes. It adds a sweetness  to cereal and is perfect for dusting over cappuccinos. It can be used as a rub on any game fowl such as turkey and pheasant and is a perfect spice for bringing out lamb's flavor. We all know that ground ginger is the anchor flavor in gingerbread and snaps.It;s a strong , robust flavor that can  also be used in stuffing recipes for boost and color.Both spices have a lot of health benefits and you can also make restorative teas with both.

Allspice and nutmeg, "the quiet" spices are excellent on their own too. Their rich individual flavors are woodsy and intense. Allspice can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, Ground allspice  is always used in sweet potato recipes to give the dishes kick while the whole allspice fruits are used to flavor stews (whole ones are not meant to be eaten, they should be tossed after cooking). They can be used in making the traditional Jamaican jerk recipe too. Nutmeg is one of the loveliest fall spices. It   has a warm, sweet flavor, imagine a favorite fall sweater for your taste buds. It graces vanilla custards, adding color and flavor as well as  zinging up that autumn dessert Indian pudding.Nutmeg can also be used in savory dishes too.It's a must have for creamed spinach and vital in quiche Lorraine. Nutmeg is also the rare spice that can work well with seafood. Use it to sprinkle over scallops or in a creamy sauce to serve with them or shrimp,

Pumpkin spice should not be feared Deconstructed , It  yields four spices that are perfect additions to any sweet or savory meal. Try one,or try them all. They are the perfect spices for fall cooking.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Weekend Mishmash

Saturdays- and even Sundays can be lazy days. You don't feel like going to the grocery store, you don't feeling like ordering out. Don't worry. There's probably enough to create a tasty meal just by using a mishmash of ingredients.

First of all assess what you have before getting an idea of what you want to make. It helps to have the ingredients in front of you for inspiration. It's a good time to clean out the freezer and work with that. If you have frozen burgers or dogs, then use them. Add dabs of whatever cheese you  have around to give them some flair. Those tomato sauces you made with your July harvest would work perfectly with any pasta in the pantry. You can also use it along with any frozen and fresh veggies to make a homey and hearty soup. Leftover chicken and ham can be ground into pastes similar to the Underwood products . Add olive oil to make it smoother ad more spreadable.. You can also coarsely chop any leftover meat , add mayo and spices and voila a nice filling for a sandwich. Finely chop them or any leftover from the week cold cut for a chef salad. Leftover mashed potatoes can be turned into yummy fried puffs.Just add one egg, breadcrumbs and some parsley for flavoring and low fry in a frying pan. These can be served on their own or as a side.

Even left over breads can be repurposed into delicious dishes. Bread can be turned into a savory or sweet bread pudding. Zuppa montagna , that favorite Piedmontese fall and winter dish can be made with any leftover stale slice. Layer with Swiss or Fontina cheese. Those slices and hunks can also be turned into a sweet version too. Personally I like using leftover French bread for this dessert.It provides a chewiness and texture that regular bread doesn't have. Add any raisins or chocolate chips for added dash or you can make your own caramel sauce  for true decadence.Those cake mixes collecting dust in the pantry can be turned into  fun desserts. Instead of making an old fashioned buttercream, use Cool Whip instead for icing for a lighter cake. Utilize those rolls of cookie dough you bought on sale for sweet pizzas. Bake a giant cookie, ice with  whipped cream or canned frosting and then top with coconut, chocolate morsels and marshmallows. If you have pound cake and chocolate then think chocolate fondue for a fun weekend dessert.

any kitchen has the ingredients to make a tasty meal and dessert. assess what you have. Be creative with that mishmash. Then cook - or bake.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Old Fashioned Slow Cooking

Many home chefs bemoan the fact that they don't have enough time to cook a tasty and filling meal for their families. There is a solution to that - get a slow cooker and a cookbook dedicated to this kitchen  must . Anyone can create all sorts of recipes from savory to sweet with it,

Cookbook author Phyllis Good realized and compiled a thorough one entitled Fix-It And Forget It:Slow Cooker Magic (Good Books/Skyhorse Publishing).This is more like one of those church cookbooks where everyone contributes a recipe, except the congregation is the entire United States.I like this cookbook, it's down home cooking in a slow cooker. There are no fancy ingredients or even fancy equipment .Eveything can be easily bought at your grocery store or farmer's market. Slow cookers are mostly for beef and pork, namely  meatballs. There are plenty of recipes featuring them here. The book is divided into simple sections from beef and pork to veggies to even lasagnas There are also side dishes and veggie dishes for vegetarian. The dessert section is surprisingly big, with all sorts of yummy treats and there is also a breakfast section loaded with both sweet and savory AM starters.. There's also  a page about what to sub in when you're in a pinch which will come in handy.

The recipes are varied , yet have two things in common, they're rib sticking and delicious.They're perfect for the chill fall days ahead as well as for the upcoming holidays. There are recipes for a warming three cheese broccoli soup along with a hearty corn chowder.Use those newly bought pumpkins and squashes for the tasty soups with recipes from Gladys Koth in Kansas to Ms. Good;s own butternut squash soup.  Meat lovers will enjoy meat and potato loaf and slow cooker beef Stroganoff, rich with both cream cheese and sour cream. Try Theresa Leppert's Amazing Turkey  which is a buttery turkey  wit rich drippings. The sides are very good too. Use the last of the season's tomatoes for baked stuff tomatoes that are filled with Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and a variety of herbs. There is the classic green bean casserole by Beverly Hummel which is the perfect holiday side. to ny turley and ham. Slow cookers also produce desserts and there are some wonderful recipes featuring them as well.This season's apples wil  go well in Kendra Dreps' apple cobbler or Judi Mano apple crisp recipes. For a fun weekend treat try Jeanne Allen's Toffee Treasure Cake. slow cookers can be used for chocolate fondues too.

Phyliis Good's Fix It And Forget It Slow Cooker Magic is the perfect cookbook for busy home chefs. It's filled with a cornucopia of good dinner and dessert recipes along with ones for breakfast and parties. Buy it to day and start your slow cooking feast!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Middle Eastern Spins

Nothing is exotic or as tasty as Middle Eastern cooking. It is a mélange  of different spices and cooking techniques, all marrying to create a wonderful , flavor packed meal. Mediterranean cooking is also easy. Any novice home chef can make it with ease and confidence, producing a perfect meal.

The cuisine featured prominently in both Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite and David Tanis' A City Kitchen in yesterday's New York Times Food section.Ms Clark made shallots grilled on a warm or indirect heat grill. Shallots are part of the onion family and they have a very sweet taste, intensified by the grilling. Ms. Clark recommends cutting them into chunks, This will vary
the textures of the shallot .Some will have creamy smooth interiors while others will be chunky and chewy which works.The key is moving the shallots around so they can get the optimum warmth.If they're not browning, then move them to the hotter side of the grill..They  are then chopped and mixed with herbs and lemon and turned into a kind of relish to be served with labneh, a richly creamy middle Eastern yogurt. You can use Greek yogurt instead and pile on a pita. Ms. Clark recommends serving the relish with meats and fish, but personally I would have chicken and beef layered with the relish and yogurt as a kind of gyro.

It would also go well with David Tanis' recipe this week, Moroccan steamed lamb shoulder. It one of the favorite Moroccan ways to cook it besides spit roasting and simmered in tangines,it's an easy technique with first starting off with putting the seasoned shoulder in the basket of  large steamer(you can use the steamer part of your spaghetti pot for this). Keep the water at the steamer's bottom at a brisk boil for two and a half to three hours. This will make the meat incredibly tender and succulent. Serve with typical Moroccan veggies such as carrots, turnips and zucchini but you can also have a dish with chickpeas drenched in lemon or spices. Moroccan cooks and home chefs slather saffron butter on the shoulder before cooking but Mr. Tanis recommends dabbing it on the meat and veggies before serving. The shoulder is usually accompanied by wildly spiked red pepper oil that's rich with cayenne. For something much more tamer serve it the charred shallots with it as  side on  top, along with pita to sop up any juices.

Mediterranean cooking is a tasty mélange of different spices and flavors. Try an easy relish of grilled shallots for an easy lunch or served with a steamed lamb shoulder for a dinner. These make wonderfully fragrant dishes that are a snap to make.