Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Cooking vegetables is not always easy. Try as all we home chefs might , it's hard to make the most mundane exciting. Not anymore. I just got  a spiralizer and it's a whole new and fun world out there.

Mostly influenced by a cookbook about spiralized vegetables that I just reviewed for this blog, I decided to get a spiralizer in the hope of making dishes with new twists to them. I bought Veggetti from Kohls on line.

As you can see it 's an hourglass shaped grater that has two sets of grates located on  opposite ends of the device. They're marked thick or thin for the width.
. I opted for the last which I felt would be good for what I was making. As you can see I used smallish zucchini to make the zoodles or zucchini noodles.It's an easy to do, and in a way much safer than using the scarier looking mandolin. The squash goes in the wide cone  shaped ends and all you do is twist. What comes  out is long pasta like strands of squash.There is a gripper that you insert in the squash's end  as it whittles down to a cone. The cone which is basically a nub can be sliced and added to the noodles. The spiralizer's interior produced these curly fry looking spirals that can also be cooking with the zoodles.

How did I make the zoodles and spirals? 

In a simple saute with olive oil, margarine and garlic

What you'll need:

4 smallish green zucchini, washed and dried,

2 cloves minced garlic,

A good slug of extra light olive oil
(Bertolli brand is the best for this)

margarine or butter

Spiralize the squash and put to the side..Mince two cloves of garlic  and set aside.Pour a good slug (figure three to four tablespoons ) of olive oil in a skillet and set over a medium flame. Added about a tablespoon of margarine or butter. Stir the margarine or butter around in the oil until melted. Add the garlic and then carefully pour in the  zoodles. You will have a lot but they will cook  down . Constantly stir until all the zoodles have been coated. Ten minutes into cooking you can put a glass lid over the skillet.If you want, add another tablespoon of margarine or butter for more flavor. You can also season right now with salt and pepper (I used  sea salt and fresh ground pepper for it).Cook until the strands are a pale translucent color.(uncooked squash strands will have an opaque white color.)

If you want, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over them. I like my zoodles just as they  are!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Celebrating Our Service People

Today is Memorial Day, the day when we remember those who gave their lives for America. It's also important that we remember our living servicemen and women too.If they're in line with you at your favorite coffee shop or fast food joint, treat them to a free coffee or a free meal. Show them your appreciation for what they do.Deployment is not easy, They have to leave their spouses and children and go off into a hostile unknown, all to protect lives damaged and savaged by wars. The least we can do is treat them to a cup of joe or a hamburger.

Our elderly veterans also would appreciate from a dinner or an afternoon of coffee and war stories. They have so much to give us historically as they enlighten  and inspire our millennials with their experiences. Bake a cake or a pie, whip up a batch of brownies or cookies and bring them over to them.Organize a cookout to celebrate their victories. You may not  only have a fun time but gain a few new friends as well.

Never let our veterans be forgotten. Cherish them. Feed them not only with food and drink, but with reverence and gratitude, respect and love.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Barbecue With Sauce

It's the start of the barbecue season and that means the usual fare - burgers- dogs  and salads. The problem is that they can be boring. It's time to liven up the Q and change up those traditional recipes. Replace the ho-hum with something exciting.

Hamburgers are standard grill fare. Most home chefs usually buy the premade patties then slap them on the grill to cook up. Instead a more interesting option is buying ground beef and adding to it. Try the classic hamburger recipe that mixes ground chuck with beaten egg, breadcrumbs and Worcester sauce. This not only makes for a more flavorful bite  but a thicker burger. Bacon  makes anything taste better so think about creating a burger with a bacon center (get the already cooked bacon for this or make your own). It's the same with cheese. You can make cheddar burgers with the surprise of the sharp Vermont kind or pizza burgers with a mozzarella center. Serve the last with tomato sauce. Jalapeno burgers are always a crowd pleaser too. Add four chopped and seeded peppers to a pound of ground meat. Homemade burgers usually made with chickpeas can get an exotic spicing up with everything from cumin to turmeric. Hot dogs are a little more difficult to change up yet they can be amped up with cheese or any kind of filling. Before cooking ,slit the hot dogs lengthwise so they'll cook up with a gash. Fill the gash with melted cheddar or better yet pulled pork.Vegetarians can have their soy dogs filled with ratatouille or a hot onion chutney.

One of the most predictable barbecue dishes is salad, namely macaroni. It's usually the elbow kind mixed with Hellman's, Sometimes celery is added for color but that's it. Try tricolore rotelli instead of the traditional.and for a healthier spin olive oil instead of the mayo. Sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts round it out. For a real eye opener make a spaghetti salad.It will create both memories and smiles. Add some chopped salami and ham, along with peppers and tomatoes in an Italian dressing to a bowl of cold pasta. Make a veggie salad fun by using a spiralizer. These are great gadgets that turn veggies into long strands or "noodles". Think of making a cucumber noodle salad with sour cream and fresh dill. Sub in Greek yogurt for a healthier dish. Chickpeas and their liquid can have double use at a cookout. Use the first along with parsley and chopped onions in a Mediterranean style salad with za'atar dressing. Za'atar is a mix of sumac , oregano, marjoram along with toasted sesame seeds and thyme. Sea salt rounds this easy to make spice. The accompanying liquid has the same composition as egg whites and can be transformed into a vegan mayonnaise, along with adding lemon juice, Worcester sauce, dry mustard and a pinch of sugar. This can also be used as a condiment too.

Don;t have a boring barbecue. Liven it up with unique homemade burgers and fancily filled dogs along with some wild salads. It'll be not only tasty but fun - exactly what a cook out should be.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Without Grain, Without Problems

Gluten is everywhere from the obvious baked goods to the not so obvious in salad dressings.Imagine, though a life totally free of it, and free from troubles and ills that come with it.Celiac sufferers can , thanks to a new cookbook, chock full of recipes and advice.

Hayley Barisa Rycezek has written an interesting and informative cookbook entitled Without Grain: 100 Delicious Recipes for Eating a Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free Diet (Fair Winds Press). This is a must buy for anyone or their family suffering from gluten allergies. Ms. Rycezek explains what it a gluten allergy and what it can do. What is interesting is the  extra list of non edible items such as stamps and shampoos certain medications and makeup that are also chock full of gluten .There are detailed explanations about the differences between good fat and bad fat along with which ones to avoid. One of the drawbacks to healthy eating is that it does cost more but not to worry. There are good tips too, to save money. For example  Ms. Rycezek recommends slow cooking a whole chicken and also using the drippings and bones along with buying in bulk. The book also tells readers what "flours" to  stock up on, namely almond flour, and arrowroot starch, She also issues a ninety day challenge for readers to get off grains. The book makes it easy thanks to the tasty array of recipes that are divided into chapters. There are the usual ones , breakfast, main meals, soups and desserts but there is also one featuring grain free basics and  kid approved ones. The last is appropriate since so many children suffer from celiac disease and miss out on all the fun stuff.

Taking Ms. Rycezek's challenge would be an easy one.  The recipes are fun and some are copies of store bought foods. The grain free basics cover everything from breading mix to pie crust to gravy made with potato and arrowroot starches.Breakfasts can consist of cinnamon square cereal made with almond flour and tapioca starch or cinnamon rolls with  that ooey gooey cream cheese frosting.Party givers will appreciate the chapter on appetizers which run the gamut from spinach and artichoke dip to meat filled egg rolls.There are also recipes for grain free Cheezits and crackers that will rival the store  bought versions.The chapter on soups and stews is an extensive one with such favorites as Italian wedding soup.and a hearty Hungarian goulash.The Main meals have such classics as stuffed peppers with cauliflower rice as opposed to the real thing.Cauliflower rice is an easy sub in for rice, with the veggie being pulsed into small rice like pieces in a food processor. Kids will love the kids approved recipes like  the no corn corn dog made with uncured hot dogs and almond flour They will go mad for the Parmesan crusted chicken tenders and the ham and cheese hot pockets. Desserts are amazing. Those missing sweets will love the Key Lime pie, chocolate chip cookies,and the grain free Oreos made a combo of various starches and potato flour. A birthday cake recipe is thrown in , complete with a butter cream icing.

Without Grain: 100 Delicious Recipes for Eating a Grain-Free,Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free Diet is the must have book for celiac sufferers and those wanting to improve their lives through eating. The advice is priceless. The recipes are out of the world. Going grainless is the way to go, especially with this cookbook as your guide.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Braai Barbecue South African Style

Barbecue is universal.  All it takes is good weather a grill,  and excellent cuts of meats. South Africans practically celebrate it with braai or grill in the Afrikaans language. It is an involved affair that features time honored recipes and good food.

Julia Moskin wrote about it as well as getting to try the recipes in yesterday's New York Times Food section. The issue featured everything fire grilled and barbecued . Braai fits right into this as it's beyond a national pastime , it's part of South African heritage, uniting everyone in this once segregated country. it is even celebrated as a recognized holiday on September 24th,or Heritage Day. Braai is an ancient technique, first being named shisa nyama, Zulu for burnt meat, and is done in every neighborhood, from shanty towns to villas.barbecuing has grown in popularity thanks to more supermarkets selling more affordable cuts and shows featuring it such as "Ultimate Braai masters" and  Siba's Table.It can be the everyday chicken or toasties, grilled cheese sandwiches to more elaborate steaks and sausages.Lamb ,beef and pork are among the most popular to be grilled.T-bone steaks Some even sell ostrich meat along with bok or antelope and wildebeest. Supermarkets even sell braai packs, although there are still many butcher shops here that sell customized cuts. where customers  can also buy  already cooked barbecue, red hot from the grill. There are even restaurants that feature braii and the side dishes that accompany it.

What makes a braai so delicious?It's the influences of different cultures on the cooking. Spices play a big role in the flavoring thanks to the influence of the area's Cape Malay population. These were the people transported to Africa's tip from Indonesia in the 17th and 18th Centuries.Many worked as cooks and their recipes and spices are still used today. They brought sweet chutney, fiery ketchups and grilled skewers along with different curries. Sosataties, a descendant of satays are also big on the braai menu. These are lamb chunks marinated in a tangy sweet jam and perfumed with fresh citrus or curry leaves. Peri-peri,a type of chili pepper that came with the Portuguese settlers from nearby Mozambique is a braai must have.. The South Africans also serve the highly spiced with coriander and cumin sausages called boerewors and use a salt rub called braii sout  seasoned with those same spices along with clove cinnamon and cumin.Brais aren't just about meats. Home barbecuers also throw corn on the grill, but it's not the mild ears that we serve. Theirs are full of heat and kick thanks to being rubbed with butter zested up with fresh , hot chiles, garlic and hot sauce. There is also umxhaxha, a mix of corn and squash simmered with salt sugar and cinnamon stew like dishes, umngqusho and chakalaka, made with  various veggies and more spices.

Braai just isn't a barbecue. It's South Africa itself, uniting a still fractured country with grilled meats and sides. Delicious , yes, but much more than that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It's The Barbecue Issue!!! Part One

Every one's thoughts turn to the outdoors when Memorial Day rolls around on the calendar. it's not the clear blue sky and balmy temps that 's the lure but the grill. It's barbecue season, with all the fun  and good food that come with it.It's time to leave a hot kitchen for a cool  grill.

The New York Times Food section covered all things related to it in today's issue. It's a keeper . especially for those planning on a big barbecue this weekend. One of the best articles is by regular contributor, Sam Sifton. He explains the basic, starting with the most basic - the fire.He parses the difference between direct heat (perfect for hamburgers) and indirect heat( good for slower cooking meats). There is also a how too about creating both on the same grill, whether it's a gas or charcoal fueled one. He then explains how meats from chicken to seafood to pork, beef and lamb, should be prepared and cooked. Mr Sifton recommends novice  grillers to go with the easiest - chicken. There are also tips on  on grilling all the meats along with how to prepare different types such as chicken breasts, shrimp and hamburgers. Melissa Clark gives a how to on how to roast an entire chicken outside.It's actually done in a skillet placed on the grill.One of the best things about cooking this way is that the drippings get saved as opposed to being dissipated . They can be used to saute sides. Ms. Clark uses it to saute spinach spiked with garlic and anchovies. Home chefs can vary the greens with ramps or chard.

Of course veggies are an important part of the cookout . John Willoughby and Chris Scheslinger wrote about the side side of barbecuing. Vegetables are surprisingly good for grilling. They grow tender without losing their flavor and can retain it days afterwards in the fridge.Both Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Scheslinger recommend bell peppers,eggplants and tomatoes. Even lemon and lime slices can be grilled, their juices lending some smokiness to dipping sauces.There is a smoky chimichurri sauce recipe that would be great with any grilled steak. Home chefs have to try the  recipe for red onion chutney that takes the grilled alliums to another level,thanks to brown sugar and a melange of spices that include chili and cumin. Chefs around the country are also on this grill anything bandwagon too.Another Food regular, Jeff Gordonier traveled around the country to see what professional cooks are throwing over the coals.There are glazed grilled carrots that are cooked first and then tossed into a dressing.Onions can be charcoal cooked  so their middles become creamy, savory puddings  while hunks of olive oil soaked bread can be tossed on the grill to  become toasty and smoky.Oranges can be cut and place don skewers to be toasted into chips.Anything can be used in a barbecue, a great idea for chefs who may be running low on food and ingredients.

Today's New York Times Food section will help any home chef  deal with grilling . There is some great advice that will work for  this year and for seasons to come. Save the section. It's truly invaluable

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Oodles of Good Noodles

Noodles are a fun dish, brightening up every meal but did you know they can also be packed with nutrition? Or made from favorite veggies and fruits? They can and thanks to a new cookbook they can be turned into a variety of delicious dishes, starting with breakfast and ending with dessert.

Chris Anca, creator of the blog, Tales of a Kitchen wrote this intriguing cookbook Nourishing Noodles (Race Point Publishing) about homemade noodles. These are not the typical egg noodles that most home chefs use. Instead they  are created from a variety of produce thanks to  a spiralizer, a gadget that can cut almost any vegetable or fruit into thin noodle like strips. The strips are called zoodles, ribbons and spirals.and are a refreshing departure from the usual flour kind. The book starts off with a list of the gadgets to use, including a dehydrator as well as a detailed list on how to spiralize various fruits and vegetables. Spiralizers are a great addition to any kitchen , and can be bought for as low as $19.99 at Target and Kohl's. Her advice is excellent for novices just getting the hang of the gadget and technique and how to use it on the various ingredients for the best results. The book  is divided into different sections from breakfast, lunch and dinner to snacks and appetizers,soups, and desserts. There's an extra chapter on condiments  and toppings, from coconut "bacon" dried coconut chips that have been coated in liquid smoke to nice cream, an ice cream stand in made from mushed, frozen, overripe bananas.

The recipes are fun and original. Even the most finicky of eaters would melt at them and leave the plate clean. Breakfast offers a blueberry smoothie bowl, made colorful with beet and carrot spirals and made healthy with homemade nut milk,.Kids will get a kick out of the carrot granola breakfast to go, with its' fun carrot noodles and kick of spices.Hosts will love making the pear, date and cheese canapes, decorated with ribbons of Asian pear and and dates. There are even sushi recipes that involve Fiji apples and yellow squash mixed with avocado and wrapped up in nori. Of course there are "pasta" recipes. most notably zucchini noodles with kale pesto. This is a take on the Genovese  sauce , usually made with basil but it's where the similarity ends.The sauce is left to marinate for five days before serving with the "zoodles". A tasty hot noodle dish is potato pasta aglia e olio that combines both regular  potatoes and white sweet potatoes in a garlic and oil sauce made interesting with currents, paprika and turmeric. Dessert recipes feature the whimsical carrot cake noodles, that have a cream cheese sauce. and the taste good, good for you brownies that are gluten free and nutrition dense,

Nourishing Noodles is the book to
have for noodle loves wanting something different along with those home chefs who  love to spiralize their fruits and veggies. The dishes are fun and creative , healthy and nutritious all in one, It's a great cookbook ,with oodles of good dishes and oodles of tasty noodles.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Eat Complete For Complete Health

Most cookbooks are usually known for their great recipes or for the author. Rarely are they known for improving lifestyles or helping to stave off illness. Yet there is one new cookbook that not only has tasty recipes but also great advice on how to eat right.

Dr. Drew Ramsey wrote this phenomenal book, Eat Complete (Harper Press) which shows home chefs how to cook with twenty-one nutrients  that fuel brain power,boost, help with  weight loss and just transforms over all health.The opening chapters are must reads as he tells us how to eat complete  and with mindfulness. He also breaks down  what we need to eat in three categories, seven for foundation, seven for protection and seven for ignition.A change of diet even aided his  patient,
 a young man vanquish his depression and helped him turn his life around.There is also some very sound advice on how to feed our brains, since they are the organs that require the most energy.There is advice on why we should eat grass fed meat, dairy and eggs as well as adding color to our plates.The book is also a must for those suffering from gluten allergies , since all the recipes are gluten free.He also explains in detail about our vitamin intakes , probiotics and prebiotics along with our Omega 3 s and mineral intakes.There is a great section on the problems that arise with each meal and how they can be solved. Home chefs can definitely learn from the book and incorporate his suggestions for a better life for themselves and their families.

That said , one would think the recipes would be boring - they're not. Best of all,Dr. Ramsey gives recipe suggestions in the chapters about the twenty one nutrients If you want  more Vitamin E in your diet then try the recipes for clove spiked cocktail nut mix or the buttermilk strawberry smoothie. An iron rich diet  would include Dr. Ramsey's pumpkin crusted lamb chops and mussels with garlicky kale ribbons.Anybody , even finicky kids will like the dishes. Teens  and chocolate lovers will go mad for the spinach spiked chocolate cashew smoothie.Serve the sunflower-Parmesan crisps with
 navy bean -rosemary hummus at a party for a healthy and flavorful alternative to any sour cream dip.Make the sweet potato chips with the spicy Romesco sauce for a fun but nutritious treat.There are great dinner recipes such as roasted chicken with anchovies and olives along with the roasted pork loin with red cabbage fennel sauerkraut with toasted cumin seeds.Even the desserts are packed full of nutrition. There are sesame seed cinnamon baked apples , the classic dessert amped up with turmeric and olive oil to end a meal or the mouth watering double chocolate avocado (!!) mousse. Finish with a cinnamon-almond egg cream!

Eat Complete is the  must have book for any home library.It will no only provide home chefs with delicious recipes but with a template for eating healthier. Meals and snacks will no only be delicious but helpful in creating a better life, body and brain

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Infusing Flavor And Fun

Infusing different flavors into beverages and meals a great way to add excitement to ordinary stuff we eat. It's easy to do , thanks to a new cookbook that can guide any home chef through the process. The best part is that infusing brings out the creative side any any cook.

Erin Coopey wrote this fun and fascinating book, Infusing Flavors (Cold Spring Press) This is a good book for gardeners looking for different ways to use their herbs as well as home bartenders seeking to expand their repertoires.It's also fun for home chefs as well because many dishes do have some kind of infusion.There is a brief description of what infusions are as well as a pictorial on the tools needed. Infusions are easy to do with the right equipment such as cheesecloth for bundling herbs along with crocks, Mason jars and funnels.Ms. Coopey divides the book into chapters that show different types of infusions. There's one on the old fashioned tincture , tissanes. that are making a big comeback as well as one on broths. I love the chapter on shrubs, and switchels , drinks from the Colonial era and how they're updated for our modern palates.Another neat aspect is that there are recipes that go with the infusions. The book is also studded with tips and definitions such as the explanations of different sweeteners, from sugar to maple syrup.along with a definition of herbes aux Provence. There's also a detailed list of herbs from catnip to sage and their benefits to the body.

The book is divided into sections .Home chefs will definitely appreciate the chapter dedicated to infusing oils.. There is a pizza drizzle one, flush with Italian herbs such as oregano and marjoram. along with garlic.It can be used to add extra oomph to a homemade pie or as a dipping sauce for crusty Italian bread.Rosemary infused oil is perfect for summer salads or just to bring out the flavor of home grown tomatoes Infused vinegar is also represented . Home chefs can have fun creating such infusions as blueberry infused gastrique and cherry infused balsamic vinegar. Both can be used for main dishes or in dressings..There are also recipes for infused broths which make for interesting and tasty soups. Water enthusiasts will appreciate the recipes for agua fresca, the refreshing drink from Latin and South America, made with just plain H2O  and infused with , hibiscus flowers along with watermelon and honey. There are even recipes for homemade root beer, ginger beer, and  grapefruit soda. Home bartenders will appreciate the recipes for that bar must have bitters.These have new spins such as cranberry bitters and cacao biters with cinnamon and spice. Home bakers will love creating their own vanilla and almond extracts too.

Infusing Flavors is the perfect gift for those infusion happy home chefs. There are some great recipes and tips on how to infuse even the simplest foods and drink with more flavor. It's a fun way to liven up summer dishes and drinks!

Friday, May 20, 2016

ThaiFusions - Your Grilling Must Have

It is grilling season and with it the same old recipes.How to liven up those chicken wings and ribs? By giving it the fusion treatment , thanks to some new sauces that feature the best of Thai flavors. Thaifusion has just introduced three new grilling sauces that can be used not just for barbecues but also for dips and even salads.

  This brand is perfect for those who live to cook or just love eating the tasty and flavor packed cuisine, It started with Toi Borthwick, a Thai national who married a Scottish American over forty years ago. The cuisine was not as popular as it is now so finding even the simplest sauces was hard. She had to create her own, sometimes fermenting curries and fish sauces in clay pots in her backyard. Those recipes now form the sauces that make the company she owns with her children.. Thaifusions has both curry sauces and grilling sauces that reflect the varied  sweet and fiery flavors of Thai cuisine.. It is the barbecue sauces, however that bring out the flavors of southeastern Asia. Peanuts are a staple of Thai cooking and their peanut sauce delivers it.It is blended with  creamy coconut milk to give it a silky texture with an eye opening punch of fire.Another new comer is the chile pineapple grilling sauce , a typical Thai marriage of fruity sweet and eye watering spicy.A tad less hotter is their mango ginger grilling sauce, made with brown sugar to sweeten it. The company also sells green curry and Panang curry sauces that are used primarily for cooking. All sauces can be b ought at Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table.

The sauces are perfect for grilling. One of my favorites is the chile pineapple sauce because of the tiny bits of pineapple in it.It is the perfect marinade and sauce for both pork and chicken. Use it to baste on chops before grilling and serve with a pineapple mango chutney. Try chicken wings and drumsticks marinated in them for thirty minutes. It can also be used as a dip for naked nuggets, grilled bits of unbreaded chicken.For a different twist try the chicken nuggets  with the peanut grilling sauce, It's an easy  way to make the classic Thai street fare chicken satay. Usually this dish is labor intensive due to making the sauce from scratch,First marinate the chicken pieces in a combo of fish
 sauce and soy sauce and then grilled to a crispness.The satays are then served with dipping bowls full of the peanut sauce. I can also be used for a cold Thai noodle salad as well.Robust meats like steak and hamburger are perfect with  the mango ginger. Create a steak satay  with a soy marinade and serve with the sauce.Marinate t-bones or skirt steaks with it and then serve with more sauce. Add some to hamburger patties for a fiery and fun surprise.It would also be good as a chicken marinade too or as a wing dipping sauce.

Thaifusions Grilling Sauces are must haves for this year's grilling season. They add sweet and heat , livening up any cut with Thai flair. Get all three and enjoy the blend of chilis and fruits.with your favorite barbecue meats.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dandelion Season

Dandelions are everywhere right now. Many gardeners consider them pests but home chefs consider them a gift. This garden denizen is extremely versatile in the kitchen.

David Tanis is a big fan of the bright yellow bloom and wrote about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Dandelions are one of those Spring greens that get pushed to the side, thanks to the more glamorous stars of the season. Chefs go crazy for asparagus and ramps while foodies gobble up nettles green, garlic and rhubarbs. Dandelions? Not so much.At one time they were popular , adding zing to salads and fermenting as wine. They should appeal to the health conscious.In previous eras dandelions were the go to cure all. There were tinctures and soups, full of them because they were thought to be not only blood cleansers but good for the liver and kidneys. They were turned into tonics for rejuvenation. The greens are good for you.having one of the highest iron contents of any new greens. They're also loaded with such vital minerals as  calcium,copper manganese,and magnesium. Dandelion  greens are also high in Vitamins A and C, which are helpful in absorbing that iron along with Vitamin K used in clotting.Surprisingly they higher in calories than regular spring greens but they are still good for you.

Many home chefs ask what sort of dandelion greens should they get?The greens are sold in farmers markets and they've probably been specifically grown on some kind of farm. Many foragers usually go into the woods or backyards.Just remember that the leaves are highly absorbent and can also pick up whatever poisons and pesticides that were sprayed around them. As for the leaves make sure they're the tender ones that grow before the flower blooms. The leaves have a slight pleasant bitterness to them, especially with the wild ones. Since the French are big on the leaves, Mr Tanis offers them in a vinaigrette.The recipe is modeled after a classic Parisian salad.with lardons,or pork fat cubes, beets and eggs. He spikes it with fresh ginger and lime juice to temper the dandelion's strong flavor.This is an labor intensive salad that includes cooking the beets and lardons and  served with goat cheese smeared on toasted baguettes. The greens can be cooked into a simple frittata with Parmesan cheese and onions. They can also be cooked up like spinach with olive oil and garlic for a side. Use them instead of broccoli rabe with pasta for a new spin on cavatelli and broccoli.

It is dandelion season. Head to the woods or the farmers market and pick them up for a salad or omelet. They are chock full of nutrition and flavor.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Home Cures

Home curing is starting to become popular again. Many home chefs are discovering what their ancestors loved - deliciously cured meats and fish with unique flavor.The best part of curing is that it's so simple .Even novice home chefs can try their hand at and get good results.

Ian Fisher wrote about it as he also tried his hand at this ancient method in today's New York Times Food section. Curing is one of the oldest food preparations, beginning with the ancients and the first uses of salting and smoking. Every culture had some type of cured meat from the indigenous Plains tribes to the ancients,Greeks, Romans, Spaniards and Persians.Curing can range from simple to labor intensive and highly elaborate. There are all sorts of gadgets to create charcuterie or salumeria level meats. For those considering it, remember you'll have to humidifiers, grinders slicers, casing and pH readers. Some home curers even go as far as building their own drying rooms.It's a hobby that can quickly take over a person's life much like canning. Like canning there are caveats. There have to be precautions since it's basically rot that causes curing,Without any proper ones, salmonella can set in. A former chef at Chez Panisse and an early advocate of home curing Paul Bertolli offers this advice. Leave the more complicated processes to the pros.Beginners should buy his book Cooking By Hand to learn simple curing (although his cured salamis can be had at Whole Foods). He learned how to cure by observing his Italian born grandparents curing cold cuts in their Berkeley California home.

Mr Fisher went the simple route with curing, using the simplest method - salt.Using it draws the rot sucking the moisture out as well as concentrating flavor.This process also allows added flavors to infuse into the meat. This way home curers can add favorite spices to make every piece of cured meat unique,.Many home curers use a variety of different herbs such as fennel and clove as well as nutmeg, juniper thyme and bay leaf.. Garlic can also be used along with onion flakes.Mr Fisher's favorite,the Roman guanciale or pig's cheek, one of the main ingredients in pasta carbonara is one of those cured meats delicately spiced for flavor.Garlic , rosemary and coriander is mixed with salt, pepper and sugar and then rubbed over the cheek.It's then popped into a Ziploc bag for just three days. it canbe roasted right away or cured  in a drying space. such as a fireplace Mr Fisher also has dried meats in his. Three weeks later he had the perfect cured meat, tough and dry on the outside, with meat encased in an almost buttery fat.His next project was bacon, made from the pig's belly and cured with salt sugar and maple syrup. He moved on to lox , salmon cured with horseradish and surprisingly beets.The result was a flavorful treat ,perfect with bagels and cream cheese of course.

Home cured meats and fish are true delights that any home chef can make. The recipe is simple enough to make delicious maple bacon or variations of salami It's worth the effort because the end result is flavor packed slices of cold cuts..

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Food On The Go

Humans are eaters and snackers. We are also goers, meaning we're always moving somewhere, usually to and from work, usually in traffic.what happens when hunger comes along for the ride? Try sensible snacking.

A commuter's' best friend isn't his or her traffic app. It's their sandwich baggie . This little square can hold everything and anything. It's great for meals on the go and snacking. Many of us wind up eating breakfast on the road. There's not even time to stop for a coffee and doughnut or a breakfast sandwich. Put some granola into a baggie for a quick meal. Another idea is a healthy cereal like Mom's Best Cereal  which comes in a variety of flavors.They're made with whole grains and cane sugar - not refined. It's a good alternative to all those over sugared brands. Of course the best breakfast on the run is any piece of fruit. Bananas are the best They're easy to pack - you don't even need a baggie. -and chock full of vitamins and potassium. One is filling enough and will get you through to possibly or the first coffee break at eleven AM. Apples and pears are also good choices.. because they too are filling. Apples are higher in calories so if you 're watching your weight, stick with the pears.One is only eight six calories. Both can also be used as snacks when on a Saturday morning run to the soccer or baseball field or while running weekend chores.

That sandwich baggie can come in handy for lunch and snacks. Many people like sales reps and technicians have to eat on the road. Again you can go the fast food or deli route however that can get old quick. Then there's all those calories. Hamburgers and heroes are tasty but they're fattening. Salads and soups are great but messy and distracting when eating on the road. Try a healthy sandwich made with whole wheat or multi grained bread. and lean cold cuts.The best bet on the last is getting them from your supermarket's deli counter. Get freshly sliced roast beef or turkey . For an even neater sandwich try a wrap. You can swaddle in some lettuce or tomatoes along with a squirt of ketchup or mayo. Also have some savory snacks on the ready too. These come in handy on the drive home when you're hungry and stuck in traffic. Think Pepperidge Farm goldfish or pretzels.The pluses areboth nibbles are low in calories and not as greasy as potato chips.They're a nice way of staving off hunger and again they're also perfect for those Saturday afternoon runs or  Sunday's road trips. Fruit, too is good here  along with raisins, nuts or seeds like sunflower or pumpkin. They keep you satisfied until you reach home and a hot meal.

Hunger hits at any time - evne drive time. Be ready when you;re on the road and want to nibble or nosh. Have a sandwich bag filled with fruit or crackers, sandwiches or cereal to make it easier

Monday, May 16, 2016

Stuffed: From Empenadas To Pasties

Stuffed foods are always fun foods. How many times have we bit into a pasty and enjoyed the savory  middle.Or sunk our teeth into a Jamaican patty, relishing the mixture of spices and beef. They're a wonderful marriage of crusty shell with flavorful stuffing.

Meat and vegetable pastries are nothing new. They have been around since the 1200,s and were even given a Royal Charter from Henry III of England, The recipe was part of an early cookbook, LeViander while another cookbook from 1393 offered a recipe for meat pies or pastes stuffed with venison, veal, beef or mutton.Pasties are part of the Cornish culture in southwest England, where miners used to take them for their lunches as they descended into the surrounding tin mines. These mini meat pies are known for their flaky crusts, made of a short crust dough and delicious fillings of skirt steak  and lamb, using mixed with mashed potatoes and onions. There are also vegetable ones stuffed with swede or turnip along with potatoes or onions. It spawned the Jamaican beef patty when the English took over the island. There it got a redoing thanks to the inclusion of  cumin and curry along with the ultra fiery taste of the Scotch bonnet pepper. The crust, still in the traditional "D" shape color became a rich golden hue thanks to adding either egg yolk or turmeric.Jamaican home and professional chefs expanded the variety by including seafood such as lobster and shrimp along with pork and soy.

Latin and South Americans have their own version , the empenada first made in the Galacia region of northern Spain and Portugal around the time of the spice trade .The name comes from the Spanish word empanar to wrap or coat with bread.It is the Argentinians who elevated the recipe to a high art. The crust is a mix of wheat flour and beef drippings,similar to Yorkshire pudding while the fillings vary from province to province. Fillings range from typical such as chicken and beef to raisins, boiled eggs and olives. Some also have ham or sweet corn inside too and they can be either baked or fried..There are special ones for Lent and Easter filled with tuna and fish. The Arabs have something similar in fatayer.,Its' spinach and onion filling is spiked with cumin. Arab cuisine is also responsible for the Indian samosas. These delights were introduced to the Indian subcontinent around the 1300' to 1400s. from traders. They are also called shingaras in East India and are fried to a crunchy, golden crisp. Both pies are filled with peas,potatoes,onions and almonds along with chutney and yogurt.

Whether it's pastie or empenada or samosa,  a meat or vegetable pie s a great treat. Have it for a snack or as a light meal with a salad. They're flavorful and fun.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Homemade Hydration

Flavored waters  are  big things nowadays. Just plain H2O seems naked without some hint of fruit or mint. Yet they can be costly , especially if they're always on the grocery list. The solution? Make your own.

The best water comes from the tap - surprisingly, especially if you have a filter. It's very wise to install a Brita or a Pur nowadays, thanks to stories of lead in  pipes. To be honest , any town could be next to have tainted water so it pays to install some kind of filtration system . Another less expensive idea is buying your supermarket's in house brand of bottled water. It tastes the same as the more expensive national brands  but at a cheaper cost.Now comes the fun part - the infusions.It pays to get an infuser because you can make some a wide variety of flavors using fruit and herbs.There is the Bobble, which is only $14.95 and comes in a vast array of fun, poppy colors.Another option is a muddler, a cross between a giant swizzle stick and a pestle. They're usually stainless steel and found more behind bars. Yet they're instrumental in crushing any kind of berry or herb for infusing. Suppose you want apple or pear infused water.? This is where it pays to have mason jars with secure caps. The fruits should be sliced wafer thin and then placed in a jar with cold water. Keep the jars in the fridge for about four to five hours  before drinking. Unlike  with berries and citrus , it does take a while for the water to be infused.

One of the best aspects of making your own flavored waters is coming up with favorite combinations along with experimenting. Some people just prefer a light , fresh taste such as lemon or lime, This is a nice refresher , especially when we head into the summer months. Nothing beat a chilled citrus water on a hot day. You can also try oranges or even the smaller more flavor packed Halos for a different spin .Remember to cut the slices in half to allow the juice to seep into the water. Berry flavored water is a lovely way to end a barbecue that was heavy on meat and spices. Use a muddler to crush blueberries or blackberries along with strawberries.You may want to use a fine cheesecloth to filter out any seeds for a smoother drink.The great think about  making your own flavored waters is thinking outside the box. You can try watermelon balls for a sweet change or pineapple  chunks for a more tropical flavor. Herbs can also play an important part. Basil leaves give water a sweet, herbal taste, refreshing for a day at the beach or after running. Any kind of mint, from spearmint to peppermint is a cool addition to iced water. If  you want stronger flavors , think rosemary and oregano, as great boosters for a morning run slug.

Flavored waters are not only hot right now but refreshing. They're easy and fun to make. Get an infuser and a muddler and start creating.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Granola Fun

Homemade granola is not only fun to make but fun to eat. Of course , it can kick start the day but it's also good sprinkled on vanilla ice cream or made into bars.It can also be turned into clusters for healthy snacking too. It is versatile, going from breakfast to snack in no time.

Melissa Clark wrote about her recipe for it in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. It is a fancier recipe than the basic granola one. Hers is very flavorful thanks to the addition of  ginger and cardamon. Most start with cinnamon and brown sugar for taste and nuts and dried fruit for color and texture. Oats are the most important ingredient and  again  most recipes call for rolled oats ( never use instant)The liquids or binders are usually a mix of vegetable oil and honey. Ms Clark uses out of the box ones such as olive oil and coconut oil. Olive oil is a healthier choice and it's up to the home chef to use it instead of any other oil Some granola cereals have clusters which is a big selling point for a lot of cereal lovers who want crunch. Home chefs usually use egg whites which does bind but the result is a brittle sticky glob instead of a light crunchy nibble.To achieve this the oats and coconut are ground into a flour that becomes a paste when water is added. Ms. Clark wanted something more flavorful so she added coconut milk. which gives it a very mild sweetness. Almond milk can be subbed in too.

One good thing about homemade granola is that it can be customized to suit your family's tastes.Almonds can be added in or not. Chocolate chips can replace walnuts. Even Ms. Clark's recipe can be tweaked to suit many different tastes. Hers is loaded with seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower but one can be eliminated while the other is doubled. For a healthier spin try chia seeds which are high in calcium and manganese. Flax  seeds can be added too for a boost. These have a slightly nutty flavor that can add to the mix. Dried fruit is another granola must .It gives extra sweetness and more flavor.. Ms. Clark's recipe calls for coconut flakes but you can add anything from dried cherries to dried apricots to raisins to create a healthy , nutrient packed breakfast. Once you've mastered the basic recipe you can start on bars. Granola bars are fun and perfect for anything, from beach days to sports events.They're a cross between a cookie and granola, thanks to the addition of flour , baking soda and butter. The last can be replaced with vegan non dairy butter for a healthier bar. Semi sweet chocolate chips can be added along with nuts or sub in the chocolate with dried cherries or almonds.

Granola is a fun and healthy food to make. You can stick to the basic recipe or go wild and creative with seeds, nuts and dried fruit. The end result is a tasty treat that's good for you and tasty too.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fava Beans A Taste Of Spring

The season brings about a plethora of fresh tastes, letting us know Spring is here. The fava bean is one of those.Its' "green" flavor makes it perfect for everything from soups to pate.They're definitely a great addition to barbecues and al fresco dining.

David Tanis knows this and wrote about them in his City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Times Food section.This is the time for  them,late spring, and they are tender enough to eat with the pods still on.Fava beans should be incorporated into the diet. They are high in folate and manganese as well as being rich in dietary fiber.The beans are a staple in the Mediterranean diet and figure prominently in Italian, Greek and Spanish cuisines.They are great gracing a minestrone or in salads, thanks to their creamy texture and slightly nutty flavor.The only bad thing about them is ridding them of their pods.It's a tedious chore as Mr. Tanis can attest to. You can avoid this by getting immature pods with no beans inside. These outer coverings can be grilled and are just as versatile as the mature pods and can be grilled over coals or served a la plancha ,cooked on a griddle. They can also be stir fried in a hot work too along with being added to a Spring vegetable soup.. Peeling the older ones is tedious but worth it . Make the work easier by employing the family to help out and doing the day before using is a big help too.

Mr Tanis gives a lovely recipe with the beans being mashed on toasted baguettes slices. The beans have a silky texture that makes them wonderful as a kind of pate. He adds garlic cloves and red pepper along with rosemary. The pepper can be omitted if considered too hot. Try freshly ground black pepper instead. The beans  are first dropped into boiling water and then they're plunged into ice water. They have to be skinned when cooled and this is an easy task.Pierce the skin with  your thumb and then slip it off. These can be prepared up to a day in advance if you don't have the time to do it the day of.The fava beans are then sauteed in olive oil in a skillet over a medium hot heat.  They should be cooked for only a few minutes  but not browned. A half cup of water is added  and then the beans are simmered until softened. Do this for about ten minutes or until most of the water has been cooked off.You can use a potato masher (preferred) or a wooden spoon to roughly mash the favas.Return them to the stove  and cook on a medium heat. This is the time to add the pepper and rosemary along with a little water if the mash is too much. Transfer the bean mash to a warm bowl as you prepare  the baguette slices.Smear a tablespoon or more on each slice. You can drizzle some olive oil and a light sprinkling of sea salt on them if you want.

This is the time of year for fava beans. Make them in a tasty pate or add to  a Spring vegetable soup. They are a great addition to any dish.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Aquafaba The New Game Changer

Something exciting has happened in the food world and we have the chickpea to thank for it. Actually we have the liquid that surrounds it  for this new discovery. With it , vegans now can expand their diets to include everything from meringues to mayo.

Jane Black wrote about this breakthrough in today's New York Times Food section It started with Goose Wohlt, a software engineer from Indiana and recent vegan who was in charge of the dessert for his family's Passover seder. He wanted to create a meringue however , as any vegan home chef will tell you, is impossible. Replacing the egg , in particular, the egg white is difficult , even more so to  it replicate. Egg whites are a combination of water and proteins, and it has been impossible to create an animal friendly version - until Mr. Wohlt started tinkering with the idea.Science is his passion, Before the chickpeas, his great love was antigravity.He scoured literature on proteins, starches and vegetable gums.It was his wife however who provided the key to his discovery. She had mentioned seeing a video about two French cooks who used the liquid from canned chickpeas to make a chocolate mousse. He decided to try it with the meringues. It worked. The liquid  whipped up instantly into a snowy white foam and create the perfect meringue.He posted it on Facebook to a group called "What Fat Vegans Eat" back in March and created a sensation. He christened the liquid aquafaba, Latin for bean water.

It is a true game changer and something both professional and home chefs can get excited about. (it made me order an immersion blender on overnight delivery so I can try the recipes). Aquafaba is now being used in everything from pancakes to purees. Even companies are getting in on the craze. Sir Kensington, a condiment company is introducing a vegan mayonnaise using aquafaba. How does chickpea water turn into glossy meringue and silky mayo? It has to do with having the same chemical makeup as egg whites: ninety per cent water and ten percent water. when the two are whipped together, those proteins unfold and bond together  trapping the air bubbles caused by whisking. Pour aquafaba into a mixer and it will foam instantly.The only drawback is the slightly beany smell that disappears when cooked. There's no residual flavor and best of all few calories.It's excellent as a sub for the real mayo. Many have tried to replicate the original using peas which created a vegetal aftertaste. I am looking forward to making the mayo recipe with it since eggs are off my table thanks to gallbladder issues.It'll be flavorful thanks to the addition of dry mustard and lemon juice, perfect for sandwiches and salads.

Aquafaba is a rising star. It's an exciting new ingredient that will be a kitchen necessary in years to come.Watch yourselves, egg whites, you;re about to be replaced!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Know Your Marinades

It's the beginning of grilling  season and that means marinated meats and veggies. The question is what kind of marinades work well with them? Will a simple oil and spice  one work for all or just one particular kind of meat? What about barbecue sauce? Or rubs -are they considered  a kind of marinade.Beginner grillers will have all sorts of questions regarding this.

A marinade in simplest terms is oil, an acid and some kind of flavoring - sort of like a vinaigrette dressing.The marinade acts as both a tenderizer and flavoring.The tough fibers that make up the meat are broken down thanks to the acid in the vinegar, creating a tender melt in your mouth cut. Since beef is a bit tougher than chicken , it pays to have a strong acid in marinade such as wine vinegar or red wine itself.This kind of bath is perfect for a brisket, a thick cut that is often grilled. A great marinade for it is one that has both wine and  red wine vinegar. Lemon juice can also be added for more tenderizing. As for flavoring, try robust spices such as cayenne pepper and dried mustard. Steak , another barbecue favorite also gets a hearty marinade in the form of red wine vinegar mixed with Worcestershire sauce tempered with olive oil.Oregano and thyme are the herbs used for flavor. Barbecue sauce can also be used for red meat too.It's sweeter, but still has the same effect thanks to the addition of apple cider vinegar which also acts as a tenderizer.A rub isn't considered a marinade because it's not liquid .It can be added to a barbecue sauce however as an ingredient to a marinade.

Remember that what works for a steak and brisket may not work for chicken. Those robust baths of wine and red wine vinegar may turn poultry into mush. Stick with lighter acids such as lemon, lime or even orange juice. Rosemary can be used as the flavoring along with oregano. Many people love the flavor of lemon pepper chicken and it can be replicated in a marinade. Use freshly cracked peppercorns along with a third of a cup of lemon  juice. Since this produces a delicate flavor use a delicate herb such as dill to round it out. Fowl can work well with any fruit so think about a pineapple marinade that also includes honey and soy salt for a kick of savory. Orange juice based marinades can  also liven up  a barbecued chicken. Use freshly squeezed mixed with olive oil and hot sauce for a real kicky marinade. It can work with fish and pork too. What about veggies? Should they be marinated? Absolutely!Even veggies such as mushrooms can be tenderized for delicious chewiness.Start with balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil and then throw in fresh ground pepper and basil for flavor.It's usually a three to four hour soak before grilling You can also
 sub in fresh rosemary or parsley for the basil for an entirely different taste.

A good marinade makes for a good barbecue. Just remember that the heartier ones are more for red meat while the lighter ones will suit poultry just fine. It'll make for a delicious grilling season , full of tender, delicious cuts.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Perfect Graduation Party

With May comes college graduations and with them come parties. The best are the old fashioned kind done in the backyard. They can go a number of ways , from elegant to super casual. The bottom line is to celebrate the graduate and honor what he or she wants.

If your grad likes an elegant affair, then think casual formal  with some catering involved.Many restaurants can offer a wide range of dishes, from shrimp scampi  to bruschetta. Some also offer carving tables with roasts like London Broil and turkey. Cheese and cold cut tables can be set up if the grad thinks that hot dishes may be too much for guests.Favorite restaurants also can figure in as well, as the honoree picks out beloved dishes. If money is tight then think maybe just champagne and hot hors d'oeuvres. Luckily there are less expensive brands of sparkling wine such as Asti Spumente if a large crowd is expected. Sparkling non-alcoholic cider can be served to those who can't have alcohol along with the littlest guests. The nibbles can be anything from toasted Brie and apple slices to shrimp pate on toasted baguette rounds. Desserts can be petit fours iced and decorated in the university's colors or small plates of miniature pastries. You can also buy a chocolate fountain for the event. This may seem like an extravagant but it can be used for other gatherings like showers and holiday parties. They can also be rented too for a cheaper deal.If this is too messy then consider making homemade truffles to serve. It's an easy recipe using a simple chocolate and cream ganache.

Most college graduation parties are usually backyard affairs.Again consider what the graduate wants and likes.It could even be a pot luck kind of deal where friends and relatives bring the grad's favorite dishes.Mom and Dad can be in charge of the hamburgers and hot dogs while grans and aunts along with godmothers can bring the chili or potato and macaroni salads.This is the time for celebration so you can even go whole hog - literally - with a pig roast.Some rib joints can roast it for you or it can be roasted at home in the back yard, however remember that the set up is labor intensive and dealing with an entire animal is not for the faint of heart. Consider buying a few racks of ribs instead These are easy to handle and dole out to guests.Fried turkey is another outdoor party favorite. Serve it with a cranberry chutney  and grill roasted sweet potato halves along with grilled veggies. If your grad has eschewed all meat, then think of vegetarian or vegan barbecue.Morningstar Farms has some excellent sub ins such as soy dogs and black bean burgers along with chicken patties and even nuggets. Soy bacon and soy cheese can be added for a healthier , more humane bacon cheese burger. Salads can be made with a non egg mayo called Nayonaise that can do the same trick as the real deal. It can be used for salads and dressings. There are vegan bakeries that can make a dairy and egg free cake as well.

Let the college graduation parties begin. Celebrate that degree with a party that the grad will remember for decades. he or she deserves it.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Southern Mother's Day

With Mother's Day and the Kentucky Derby falling within the same weekend, it's nice to combine the two and have  Southern style brunches lunches or dinners. Southern cooking represents handed down recipes and hours of family fun in the kitchen..It's is the perfect cuisine to celebrate mothers no matter where they live.

A Southern style brunch is full of all sorts of flavors. You can start off with mint juleps,a mix of mint leaves, bourbon and water.Confectioners sugar or  a simple syrup is added to it for sweetness.If it's too much for a late morning meal then use the bourbon in  a Southern punch. Add Chardonay to it along with a combo of juices, namely, cranberry ,orange and lime. Use the juices and seltzer for a kid's punch.As for food ,think classics like a basket of fresh from the oven biscuits served with honey butter. Cheddar grits would go well with any egg dish or you can blend the eggs with the grits and cheese for a savory custard. A baked ham is always a welcome addition and slices can be made into a sandwich along with scrambled eggs and biscuits.if you want to keep it light then serve  oven baked maple glazed bacon instead.It's an easy recipe with just brushing the strips with syrup a few minutes before they're done. Shrimp is sometimes served , usually at brunch tables in Georgia and the Carolinas,They're usually made with a mix of chopped green peppers and onions and served with grits.The seafood can be served for an afternoon lunch too.

Southern lunches and dinners are big affairs too.Of course there is Kentucky fried chicken and no from the local KFC. There is an actual recipe that calls for a variety of spices such as ginger, mustard, oregano, and basil  mixed with flour to give the pieces that spicy taste and after bite.  You can use breadcrumbs but a simple batter mixed with the seasonings and spices will make for for a crunchier  and crisper chew. Serve on homemade buttermilk waffles with a drizzle of maple syrup for sweetness.Hot browns are a Kentucky staple, originating in Louisville and they make a fun lunch or dinner for mom. The open faced  sandwiches start with  turkey and bacon piled onto white bread and then topped with a Mornay sauce, a white Bechamel sauce mixed with Gruyere cheese and egg yolk, An easier version is a white sauce with grated Parmesan cheese added. You can also add a tomato slice and an egg too. They're then baked for ten minutes. A quick fun dish is Louville style chili which is a spicy stew served over spaghetti.It can be made meatless or with cooked with  chicken but the usual recipe calls for pork ,lamb or beef . All three can be added  for a really hearty meal. Finish with a Derby pie, a chocolate and walnut tort baked in a pie shell.

This is a weekend of celebrating both for moms and horse racing.  Do it Southern style with boozy drinks and good food. Mom will love it and so will the rest of the family!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Planting Your Meals

Despite the weather it is actually planting season, Many home chefs also become home gardeners to guarantee their summer cooking has fresh vegetables. Planning is key to a great garden along with planting what will be eaten most.

Everybody goes wild when they see those seed packet displays. There's so many veggies, herbs and even fruits to choose from. Hold back. That enthusiasm may result in buying and growing produce
you"ll  never eat . Ask yourself and your family what do they like the best. Tomatoes are always welcome because they not only go in salads but can be used in ratatouilles and sauces. Also family and friends always love to receive a bag or basket of fresh picked tomatoes too. Lettuce is another plant that's always in the  garden. Buy several different types of lettuce seeds to grow (however be warned,critters like woodchucks love to nibble on lettuce leaves).Carrots are another garden must because they can be turned into  a great side or part of any salad. They're also very easy to grow as well.Some home gardeners like to grow green peppers and then cook the harvest with Italian sausages or make them stuffed. If your family loves corn, then consider adding it to your garden plot.Just remember that corn does require not only space but extra care.If the family doesn't commit to it then the best bet is buying ears at your local farmer's market.

Herbs are always welcome plants in any yards. Again evaluate what you cook with and need, then seek those seeds.Basil is one of the most versatile herbs. If you use a lot of it , consider an entire patch of it or buying three or four basil plants to transplant. After all, it won't just be an addition to pasta sauces, but it will be used in marinades, topping pizzas and being made into the main ingredient of homemade pesto sauce.It';ll also be given to family , friends and neighbors who will be constantly asking for it for their own cooking.Rosemary is another herb that's much in demand and it can be grown in any garden. Home chefs will do well by planting garlic cloves in the backyard too. They're easy to tend to and yield amazing shoots that can be subbed in for scallions. Also the idea of using fresh garlic is very appealing to any home chef. Like basil, it can be used in almost every savory dish out there, from salads to roasts.Home chefs should also consider growing fruit such as berries and melons. Strawberries are always on every home chef and home bakers list for summer ingredients, Adding  fresh from the garden ones will amp up homemade  strawberry shortcake or homemade ice cream. Watermelon is a great summer must have and it's fun to have a slew of them in the back yard. Just remember that melons do take up a lot of land so plant accordingly to allow for their growth.

This is the season for planting. Make a list of what you cook with the most and then plant them.There's nothing better than cooking and baking with fresh from the garden ingredients.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

It's Garlic Season Too

Normally Spring is reserved for the first strawberries and peas of the season. Rhubarb also makes its' debut around now too. Yet, there's another bloom sprouting and blossoming too right now, It's garlic- coming back in all its' aromatic glory.

Melissa Clark wrote about it in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. The shoots are available from April until June and look like scallions with floppy, leafy tops and slender , white stalks. Every part of the garlic plant is edible, including any bulbs growing from the root ends.Those eventually form the familiar garlic heads comprised of  cloves , a staple in both home and professional kitchens.The bulbs are tender, juicy and sweet.They also have an herbal tang that the  older cloves just don't have. Ms. Clark recommends using them in recipes that call for scallions. Try them in salads, compound butters or pesto like sauces. They can be treated like the mature version and puree them into aioli or pesto.They can even be subbed in scallion pancakes,giving the dish a fresher, "greener'  flavor.  New garlic, like any allium, has health benefits, namely in promoting heart health and lowering high blood pressure.Most garlic sprouts can be had at markets such as Whole Foods  however they can be grown at home. Fill a jar with dirt and place one garlic clove in it.he jar should be placed in a sunny window and the dirt should be watered daily. Shoots should appear within two weeks and can be harvested right away.

As for recipes, Ms Clark suggests making that Middle Eastern staple tabbouleh. She treats the green stems like herbs. She minces it in the parsley and mint which are the spine of the salad.Play with the ratios.If the new garlic is too strong then add more of the other two to temper it,The main idea is having a salad that's more green than beige with bulgar. Cucumbers and tomatoes are also added, rounding out the freshness.There is also  cumin,allspice and lemon juice added too for color and tartness. home chefs could add tomato paste for a more authentic flavor along with subbing in cayenne pepper for the cumin and allspice. Tabbouleh can be served with grilled or roasted meats or fish (it would work well with kebobs this Memorial Day)along with the traditional falafel. It could be served with just a simple chunk of feta cheese and toasted pita bread for a light lunch or supper. The greens can also be chopped up scallion style and added to a simple cucumber salad.with a lemon or lime vinaigrette.

This is the time to take advantage of new garlic greens. They add to a bright tangy herbal flavor to any dish. Try them in tabbouleh  for a new spin on a traditional dish.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Know Your Knives

Home chefs have to have as many skills as their professional counterparts. One of the most important is good knife skills. Not having them can result in many accidents that can be avoided by just  brushing up on techniques. Yes, a good  sharpened knife helps but also a good grip is vital too.

Julia Moskin covered this in today's New York Times Food section. Ms. Moskin herself, a renown chef , and who has countless meals under her belt was chopping all wrong.She and most home chefs may have had the knife in what;s called a"death grip".   a too tight grasp on the hilt or handle. Try to relax and let the blade do the work.The hand holding the knife is called the cutting hand while the other, is the helping hand. The last should be curled in a bear claw position with the fingertips curled under and the knuckles pressing down on the ingredient being cut to prevent any sliding or rolling.This prevents any fingers getting sliced. Another way is to bunch the fingertips together and rest the pads on top of the ingredient. There are different types of slicing and cutting. The most common is dicing , using done to onions and peppers. which  is done in a grid to produce uniformly sized pieces. Julienne is used for some salad ingredients and potatoes.It's slicing lengthwise to produce long , slender pieces. Then there are chiffonades usually done for leafy ingredients such as basil. The leaves are rolled cigar tlike and the knife cuts them in a rocking back and forth There is also the roll cut used for carrots and larger vegetables. I involves as imagined rolling and cutting into irregular wedges.

What knives should be in a kitchen?. One of the most important is the chef's knife. It has a broad, tapering blade , sharp tip and chunky handle.Ms. Moskin recommends practicing with one to make for a better cook. Home chefs should start with an eight inch knife with a plastic blade and then graduate to a ten inch one. Remember to buy ones with comfortable handles and blades thicker than at the base than at the tip. The second most important knife is a utility. Since they're in constant use in home kitchens, it pays to have three or four.Their short handles, usually three to four inches long , make for easy gripping and easy control.They are best used on small ingredients such as shallots, mushrooms and peaches.. The plastic handled ones are the best choice and since they're so inexpensive, there's no guilt when they go dull and have to be thrown out. A serrated knife is the third knife home chefs should have in their arsenal.A ten inch serrated blade is not only great for slicing through baguettes and loaves but also for butternut squash, lemons and watermelons along with soft skinned veggies like tomatoes and  eggplants. Remember that all knives have to be honed and sharpened , ideally on a daily  basis but once a week is good too.

Knives are a vital tool in creating good meals and desserts. Have the necessary  ones to do just this along with good cutting skills. It will make for easy prepping and cooking.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Foodie Mom Gifts

What to get a foodie mom for Mother's Day? There 's a slew of gadgets and gewgaws along with some sweet and savory treats as well. Some may prefer cooking classes or cookbooks too. The question is which one is the best gift?Get one?Or get them all?

Every mom would like a Keurig coffee maker if she doesn't have one already? The machine does make great individual cups of coffee and there are so many K-Cups flavors to choose from. There are even hot cocoa and a variety of teas to choose from too. Another nice gift is the cup carousel , a kind of tree that holds the various coffees and teas.This comes in small or large and is perfect for that mom who likes to vary her hot  drinks through the day,.Keurig also has come out with a cold drink dispenser too where moms can enjoy their favorite chilled sodas and iced teas through the day.One gift any foodie mom needs is a good knife that cuts everything. Farberware sells these in bright colors like turquoise and purple at all sorts of stores including some groceries such as Stop & Shop.. This is my favorite gadget/utensil and I use it for everything from slicing bread and veggies  to cutting meat .Keep in mind that a new set of kitchen knives are always appreciated because they'll always be in use. True mom foodies would appreciate a mini butter churner or how about a garlic grater with accompanying oil dish.For fun give foodie dice, wooden die with foods, seasons and seasonings printed on them. Any meal can  literally be  a roll of the dice .If mom loves shaved ice then get her the Hamilton Beach Ice Shaver  to create  refreshing mounds and slushy drinks.

Cooking classes are always fun for the foodie mom.They not only broaden her knowledge but let her meet like minded home chefs. Stores such as Sur La Table have cooking classes in some of their stores and sign up is easy.Restaurants such as Ninety Acres in Peapack, New Jersey has extensive courses  in cooking but also in  cocktail making and wine tasting. Mothers wanting to expand their baking and frosting skills would appreciate classes that would expand their skills. Some larger cities like New York, San Francisco and Boston offer dessert courses in such specifics as Italian desserts such as cannoli and biscotti and chocolate classes where they learn how to make pot de creme and  ganache cake. There are also chocolatier classes too where bonbons and truffle making are learned.. There are some chefs that can come to the house and give mom a private lesson or two. This can be costly however an alternative is asking a chef from her favorite restaurant to come over and showing how to cook her favorite restaurant dishes.Aunts and grandmas can be included in this too for a customized at home cooking class that spans generations.

What to get a foodie mom? Anything and everything . Surprise her with foodie dice or a cake decorating class. Have her take a wine course or buy her a good Farberware knife or butter churner. She'll love them all!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Gluten Free Slow Cooking

Gluten free cooking can be a bit labor intensive however there's a brand new cookbook that can help. It's chock full of delicious and fun slow cooker recipes that range from breakfasts to dinners, from snacks to desserts. Even those without celiac disease would enjoy the many dishes that can be made.

Hope Comerford, author of A Busy Mom's Slow Cooker Adventure blog, decided to put all her recipes into one fantastic cookbook, The Gluten Free Slow Cooker (Fair Winds Publishers).It is a great book for those with gluten allergies who not only want variety but also freedom from the kitchen. Ms. Comerford starts off with advice about what kind of slow cooker to have.There are also tips for novices such as buying cheaper cuts of meat because slow cooking tenderizes out the toughness along with no peeking which can affect cooking. She also recommends buying crock pot liners because these keep the crock pot form becoming messy,If those can;t be found then use non cooking spray which makes cleaning up afterwards a dream. Ms. Comerford has written an extensive list for a gluten free pantry. It is a practical one  with name brand ingredients such as Mrs. Dash Seasonings along with fresh fruit and produce. She is also one for using short cuts such as frozen vegetables and gluten free cake mixes to make prepping just that much simpler.

The recipes are fun as well as being tasty. Breakfasts start with frittatas rich with tomatoes and avocados,and onions, spiked with hot sauce. There are fun oatmeals such as banana bread oatmeal made with bananas and  brown sugar and cinnamon roll oatmeal which is Cinnabon in a bowl. I love the chapter called Starters And Snacks They'll Want To Attack, especially the recipes for pizza dip and the ones for   Buffalo Chicken Meatballs and Chili Lime Wings. Soups are hearty and healthy, with recipes for cabbage and lentil soups.There are main meals such as apple and onion pork loin and cranberry glazed turkey breast that  can be made at lunchtime and forgotten until dinnertime.There is a yummy and easy eggplant  Parmesan casserole, chock full of eggplant, Parmesan cheese  and a jar of instant sauce.Sides are also included such as brown sugar mashed sweet potatoes, redolent with butter and brown sugar and white wine mushrooms , slow cooked with wine, chicken stock and a variety of herbs. Desserts are amazing, and Ms. Comerford includes sauces such as caramel and strawberry orange, perfect on ice creams or custards. There are also easy to make pumpkin  and Irish cream brownies made with gluten free chocolate cake mix which also goes into the slow cooked chocolate lava cake.

Gluten free cooking doesn't have to be a chore. Thanks to The Gluten Free Slow Cooker  celiac sufferers can have tasty meals and treats without any work at all. It ' all down to a slow cooker and this great cookbook.