Thursday, June 30, 2016

Making The Most Of Mochi

Japan is known for many tasty  treats, from the delicate crisp tempura to the flavorful  ever popular sushi. Now one of their most popular sweets, mochi is becoming a favorite. What's great about this dumpling like sweet is that they can be made at home, much like any confection.

Tejal Rao,a former food critic and contributor for the New York Times Sunday Magazine wrote about this interesting sweet for yesterday's New York Times Food section. Mochi is a street food with vendors making it fresh at their stands but it can also be bought in supermarkets too..It is a big treat during the Japanese new year Describing it is a bit hard. Imagine a soft dumpling with a sweet inside, made only of rice and beans plus a sweetener.Modern mochi makers such as Tomoko Kato, owner of  Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Patisserie Tomoko also makes  chocolate and strawberry fillings.s.An ice cream version of it first hit the States at  Los Angeles based company Mikawaya in the early Nineties where it was also pushed into major supermarket chains.  It's  kind of like a frozen bonbon with the daifuku rice dough wrapped round a sphere of ice cream.Trader Joe's pushed an all American version of it in its' stores in 2014. Theirs had a pumpkin pie filling that was just in time for Thanksgiving of  that year. There's predictions that mochi will be the next macaron.It could well be. They're all about the melding of textures instead of flavors and they're different enough here to be eye catching. Unfortunately mochi  has a short shelf life. The dough dries out after a day or two and should be eaten right away.

Another plus about them is that they're easier to make than macarons.There's no baking and timing involved, save for cooking the two layers on the stovetop. Mr. Rao includes a recipe with the article. The most difficult part is making the exterior or the daifuku rice dough.It has to be as tender and soft as a kitten's paw. Home chefs do have to buy the mochiko flour which can be had at Asia food markets or Amazon, however corn starch can be used too.Potato starch is also used , primarily to keep the dough from sticking to fingers. It's rolled out with a rolling pin into thick, flat disks, Home chefs can go traditional with a sweet bean paste or anko. Again ths requires getting azuki beans,found at Whole Foods, Albertsons and Asian food markets. After being cooked for a bit., they're then transferred to a food processor where they're pureed into a paste. That's returned to the pot where it's sweetened with sugar along with pinch of salt added. It's then poured out and spread out in a small shallow container and put into the fridge to set. The bean paste is rolled into balls between the fingers and then enrobed in the mochi dough. More hand rolling is involved and then the dough is pinched to seal it, More adventurous home chefs can try a chocolate ganache as an alternative to the anko.

Mochi is a fun treat that will sure to be the next fad.It's an easy make and fun to create. Try it for a different type of dessert.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Newest Trend: Old Skillets

At one time or another home chefs hear the family lore about cast iron skillets.How sturdy they were, how they could could everything from eggs to cornbread. It leaves the modern cook, used to Teflon coated ones, with some envy. Luckily this American classic is coming back big time.

Julia Moskin wrote about them in today's New York York Times Food section. Many home chefs as well as professional ones are falling in love with this leftover from the 18th Century and with good reason. They are versatile and can be used to cook up everything from breakfast to dessert.Another reason is that cast iron is a better conductor of heat than the more modern stainless steel and aluminum.It keep the food cooked in it hotter long after the heat below has been turned off. Home chefs looking to buy one should be warned. Don't be lured by price. Yes, Wal-Mart offers one for only sixteen dollars - which is a true bargain but it's not that great. Opt for the more costly Finex ten inch skillet which sells for $165 or the pricier Borough  Furnace skillet at $250. For fifty dollars more home chefs can get the Field one.Home chefs should remember that the more expensive ones are made the same with old fashioned craftsmanship. From the 1700's on skillets were hand poured and polished . The end result was a thinner , lighter skillet with a smooth cooking surface, attributes that the modern ones such as the Wal-Mart Lodge one doesn't have.The new pans do come preseasoned, something that had to be done at home with earlier ones

Many home chefs have a problem with preseasoning and tempering, according to Ms. Moskin Each of the skillet makers have their own preferred system of cleaning and reseasoning.The advice is simple: treat the pan as a 19th Century cook would.Just simple cooking and cleaning will season it.Skillets had natural coatings formed by cooking with fat and bonding the fat molecules to the pan's surface.She recommends using the pan often for projects like shallow frying, cooking bacon or frying chicken.Afterwards, scrape the surface clean with a stiff brush, a bench scraper, a kind of chopper, or just salt. Rinse with very hot water and if needed a drop of soap. Put it back on the stove over a low heat until completely dry, This is what makes the patina.Keep in mind though that if the pan is unused for a long time , the coating will become sticky, rusty or even both, Store skillets in the cupboard or better yet the oven to protect them from dust. If there are a stack of them, then place paper towels between them.Cast iron will last decades if treated properly, and makes a great legacy gift for anyone

An old fashioned cast iron skillet is a modern kitchen must have. It can fry ,bake and saute along with lasting for decades. Forget all these Teflon coated pans. Get the real deal!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fermenting Your Diet

Many home chefs think that fermenting foods is an elaborate and complicated process.It really isn't thanks to a new cookbook that pares it down to an easy science.Anyone , from novice to expert transform simple cabbage into sauerkraut and tea into kombucha.

Fermented Foods At Every Meal (Fair Winds Press) is both an interesting guidebook and cookbook on the basics of fermentation and the recipes that spring form the fermented foods and beverages. Hayley Barisa Ryscek, the voice behind the healthy cooking and natural lifestyle blog Health Starts in The Kitchen, as well as being the author of several healthy eating cookbooks wrote this fascinating book She is big on fermentation, we all need it in our diet to protect ourselves and maintain our gut health. It also leads to longevity as in seen in Japan's Okinawa Archipelago where many live to 100 years and beyond. . The first chapter explains the difference between prebiotics and probiotics and why we need to increase the former's intake.There's an interesting section on the science of fermentation too as well as suggestions for what foods and cultures to buy. Everything is spelled out from what tools to use in the process to steps in the recipes. The chapters are divided by the cultures such as creme fraiche followed by recipes that use it and fermented ketchup (!) and its' many ideas. Another great thing about the book is the ever helpful hints that are highlighted in bright gold. These provide first time fermenters with valuable tips.

This is not a typical cookbook where there are chapters on meals, snacks and sweets,Each one starts out with the featured culture and the recipes that follow them. There's also a history included too. Creme fraiche lovers  will love its' chapter with its' how to make and ferment along with such recipes as berry topped chevre cheesecake cups, cherry compote ice cream, and cheesy beef stuffed baked potatoes topped with it. Kefir is a must make fermented drink that also has its' due. It's used mainly as a drink but it's also in the tasty chocolate peanut butter banana breakfast smoothie as well as in a creamy cole slaw .Of course there's a chapter on the greatest fermentation of all-  sauerkraut. Surprisingly enough it's just cabbage ribbons fermented in sea salt and its own juice. Surprisingly also is that it''s not just for accompanying bratwurst.It's put into smoothies  and a hash made with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. There is a bratwurst and sauerkraut recipe but livened up with quinoa. Kombucha is a big drink right now and there is a chapter on it . There are fun ferments such as ketchup and chutney along with salsa. perfect for giving a summer party a healthy kick. There's also a chapter dedicated to yogurt along with such fun recipes like strawberry banana yogurt to go tubes ,smoked salmon spread, lamb kofta with herbed tztzakiki and frozen yogurt bark,

Fermented Foods In Every Meal is a great book for those wanting to have a healthy probiotic diet. The  how to s are easy along with the recipes. It is a must have for every kitchen and for every home chef interested in fermented foods and drinks,

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Hunk of Roast Beef

I normally don't write personal stories on this blog. Foodie Pantry has always been about recipes and dishes, trends and cuisines. Yet I feel this one story has to be told. It's about my 24 year old British shorthair , Shelby, who we lost yesterday to lung cancer She was an exceptional cat, a true gourmand, perfect for this foodie cat mom.

She was a rescue cat from our local shelter. The story started when our other house cat , a fiery calico, appropriately  named Sparkey sneaked out. My brother went to the local shelter, here in Bergen Country ,in the hopes of finding her (she was hiding in her old stomping grounds, a wild patch of land called The Gully behind my house). He had come back with the news , not of Sparkey, but of Shelby, a big friendly "male" who love to be petted. The he was a she , an older rescue, maybe ten, maybe eleven years  in age Another cat? No! We had way too many inside and out. Not another. Yet when I went for a second visit, fell in love with this chunky girl with the most expressive celadon colored eyes. Her eyes are what riveted you to her. They were wide discs that took in everything.  Her fur was a thick, slate gray, the color of dark rain clouds. She had huge round paws that were almost circular in shape. I knew she had to have some kind of  pedigree to her but what? Maybe Persian? I found out she was a British shorthair thanks to looking though a cat magazine that featured the breed., She became my little aristocrat.True to her English blood  she loved London broil and roast beef. She'd walk the length of her couch (everything in the living room was automatically declared hers) over her Froggie pillow to make sure she got a bite of my roast beef . I always had extra for her, She gobbled it down,

It wasn't just roast beef. From the start she loved pepperoni. I guess her original pet parent spoiled her with it. She loved nibbling on the slices, even the soy ones my brother ate. Chicken was another favorite along with ham and any Italian cold cuts. She loved the Wendy's burgers and Popeye's chicken I brought home. Shelby was a big cheese lover too. Any cheese, from the gooey mozzarella on my pizza to cream cheese to Brie was always- well - catnip to her. She loved cheddar, not settling for just a few small pieces. She wanted the whole slice  - to herself . Other favorites were butter and margarine. Every morning  we ate breakfast together, She had her food along with two little bites of margarine soaked whole wheat toast even up to her passing. Eggs were another passion. She went mad for the eggy custard flan that my brother's assistant would make us for the holidays. Shelby would give that unblinking celadon stare that said quite loudly "That's mine. Please give me it and I 'll let you have the leftovers". Of course she also loved soft boiled eggs, enthusiastically licking the yolk that I purposely left for her. Whipped cream was another favorite. I'd  dip my fingers in whatever sundae or fruit and cream and let her lick each one. Usually she'd be full after the ninth fingertip.To build her up in her later years I'd give her baby food which she shared with another of our rescue cats, a handsome but skittish rescue boy named Lucky. They'd share a jar of Gerber's ham  and be satisfied for the evening (or until her late night snack at around 11:30).

Shelby, I miss you . I miss my little foodie aristocrat who loved eating as much as her pet mama.I know you are up in heaven , nibbling the best cheddar and of  course, roast beef. One day we'll be together again, raiding the angels' refrigerator.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Spritzers And Sparklers

One of the most refreshing summer drinks is anything made with seltzer. The fizz makes any wine or juice festive and it's a nice departure from the usual cocktails and ades. They're perfect for barbecues or even just enjoying movie night by yourself.

The New York Times Food section on Wednesday gave some good advice regarding making the perfect spritzer. Robert Simonsen wrote about going to and looking towards Northern Italy for inspiration. Generations have made the perfect spritzer. All it takes is three factors : bitter , bubbly and low in alcohol.Sadly , us Yanks made a blander version popular in the States during the Seventies and Eighties.It was known as the white wine spritzer in which any white was combined with seltzer. It wasn't a memorable drink , neither in taste or character. The true Italian spritzers should be more wine than seltzer or soda water. What is used is up to the bartender. Seltzer is the best because there's  more of a lightness and fizz. Soda water has a definite mineral taste in it that can detracts from the flavors of the other ingredients One of the best spritzes is the Aperol, composed of the bitter orange liqueur, prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine, and seltzer.Another refreshing combo is a mix of California Chardonnay with Bruto Americano, a liqueur with such diverse ingredients as coffee bark, bitter Seville oranges and balsam fir, Pink grape juice give it a blush color in this spritz called Cali Spritz, created by Jon Santer, owner of the Emeryville California bar Prizefighter.

Seltzer can also liven up the non alcoholic as well. These are called sparklers and can be made with a variety of juices. You can use store bought  fruit juices or crushed fruit. For the first try to get the purest and the most natural. The Simply Juice company sells juices as if they've just come from the juicer itself. Try their lemon or limeade for a truly refreshing thirst quencher. The two can be combine and mixed with seltzer for a tart drink, perfect for those holiday barbecues.Their orange juice is another one that can be mixed with any fizzy seltzer for a drink that can be sipped all day long. In fact it make for a perfect virgin or clean mimosa for any brunch.Cranberry fans could make a clean Cape Codder spiking up the juice with seltzer. As for fresh juices you can use a juicer. The drinks will have a different, more fresher taste. Home mixologists can also use fruit simple syrups, a variation of the classic bar staple. Basically it's a cup of sugar and water mixed with one and a half cups of fruit.They're boiled together and then strained through a fine mesh strainer. Any fruit can be used. Think tart for some flavor contrast. Take advantage of the blackberry and raspberry season right now. They not only make for flavor packed drinks but also for pretty ones too. The cooked berries tint the seltzer  lovely shades of pink.

It's summer, the perfect time for both spritzers and sparklers. Open a few bottles of seltzer and create a cool and bubbly thirst quencher,excellent for a hot summer's night. Sit back, look at the stars and sip.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Bananas For Banana "Ice Cream"

After writing about the ice cream made solely from bananas, I couldn't resist and made it.  As always it takes me a long time to jump on the bandwagon, The recipe has been around for a few years, I had seen it on every show  from Dr. Oz to my local Fox Channel 5 AM show "Good Morning".

 I think my initial resistance was that it's a fad and that people will forget about it. I just wrote about it in Monday's entry.I just had to try it after seeing all the pictures. It looked too creamy and luscious.

And you know what? I was hooked. It's easy to make. Just take a very ripe banana, the kind with a lot of brown and black spots., Slice into coins and then freeze , preferably overnight in a freezer bag.

I then added them to my mini food processor. Some recipes call either for this or a blender. Stick with the food processor. The blades are sharper and can handle the frozen fruit better.

                     Now pulse. It'll look like either oatmeal or flaked coconut.

It then goes through a gooey stage. Hang in there. I guess this is the part where the pectin in the banana melts with the ice crystals . It gets better.

Much better. See how creamy and airy it is? It really does look like soft serve ice cream.

Now, many people  would just end it there,but I didn't.

I turned my batch into a sundae and before any of you think it's counterproductive, look closely. The syrup is Hershey's Lite syrup with only 20 calories a serving and Stop & Shop's Lite Whipped Whipped Cream at only 10 (!!!) calories a serving. It's like the lowest calorie banana split ever.
What you do with it is up to you? Many add cocoa powder for chocolate "ice cream". Some add almonds or peanut butter. You can even sprinkle chocolate chips, jimmies or mini M&Msover it or blend them in. . It can even be plopped in a cone or waffle bowl if you like. You also don't have to just use one banana. Make a bigger batch with two or three. The  "ice cream" lasts for one week, however I know from experience - it won't. Make your own batch and see why.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Perfect Summer Dessert

Summer brings about a desire for light, airy desserts.They usually involve cream and the fruit harvest of the season.Imagine a sugary , dense Sicilian cassata  , usually a cold weather cake transformed into one perfect for a warm weather party.

David Tanis did just that and wrote about it in his column, A City Kitchen, in yesterday's New York Times Food section Cassata is a passed down kind of a recipe , first originating in Arab ruled Sicily in the late 1100's. It is usually a heavy affair , made with layers of ricotta cheese  plus chocolate or vanilla filling.It's covered with a shell of almond marzipan and elaborately decorated. Most Sicilian bakers also soak the cake  layers in rum or liqueur It's not what many would think of a dessert for a sweltering late June dessert. Mr Tanis lightens it up considerably.The only part kept is the sponge cake for the layers. Gone is the cloying , sugary icing along with the rococo decorations. The filling is only ricotta while for the liqueur use  either the eye opening grappa or vodka . Fresh fruit is used instead of the usual candied ones, so it has the feel of an elaborate shortcake. Home bakers should not be put off by this recipe as they would be by the original. It' 's pretty easy to create and assemble. They can also put their own spin on the recipe. Mr. Tanis uses strawberries but recommends also trying peaches, mangoes and nectarines.If they want , they could even sub in the less sweeter blackberries and raspberries, also in season right now.

What makes cassata so unique is the ricotta. It should be the freshest and the tastiest. Most good cheese stores or salumerias, Italian delis, should have it.It must be  moist , without any sourness.Taste it if you can before buying.The texture should be smooth  not grainy. Mr. Tanis suggests sampling  several kinds to understand the broad ranges of them. As for the soaking the layers, home bakers can play around with the syrup.If the grappa is too intense (and it might be to those who aren't used to its' strong flavor), try light rum or better yet limoncello, the tart Italian liqueur. For a non alcoholic one, sub in a honey syrup, perhaps a floral infused one.Orange liqueur can also be great in soaking the cake layers. One of the best things about cassata is that the cake layers can be made a day ahead. They are a classic sponge made with six eggs. flavored with true Sicilian flavors, almond and lemon. Bake it the day before serving because it will be easier to slice into layers at a day old. The ideal time to assemble a cassata is in the morning so that the flavors will meld . Paint the layers first with the liqueur infused lemon syrup then spread the layers with the ricotta.Settle it in the fridge for the afternoon, or  the entire day if you have time.Add the strawberries or any other fruit on top just before serving. the berries can be tossed in sugar and lemon before or just dusted with confectioner's sugar.

A toned down cassata is the perfect cake for summer. Add some fresh strawberries along with grappa  or vodka for zing. It's a nice treat on a sultry night,

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Porchetta Season.

Early summer in Italy is always magical.There are nectarine colored sunsets, lazy nights, drinking Prosecco in outdoor cafes. and the aroma of food, ever present. It is also the time of food festivals throughout the Republic , where natives and tourists can sample the most delicious street fare. One of them, porchetta, is being celebrated right now.

Julia Moskin not only got to write about it in today's New York Times Food section but also got to visit Umbria where the festival is held and savored this most amazing dish.Porchetta originated in Rome but is also found in other regions throughout Italy and on the island of Sardinia. It is a popular dish , usually sold at Italian street fairs or sagras. Porchetta is almost a religion, going deep both in the Umbrian heritage and psyche,A new meat supplier there, Etrusco is producing the  meat used for it the way it was produced during an earlier generation's day with bigger than average pigs and cows.This means larger cuts with a more flavorful taste.Etrusco's founder ,Valentino Gerbi who is also a butcher,  believes in embracing the peasant traditions of "no compromises , no shortcuts" as he puts it. Many other farmers are also following suite.The pigs are grazing  out doors, eating corn and barley  instead of bone meal along with taking no antibiotics or supplements avers another farmer, Ramon Rustico.He also states that people want to eat cebu vero - real food that is hearty and satisifying both in taste and proportion.. The pigs, used for porchetta  are descended from the British strain ,Large White. They're known for their particularly large and muscular legs which are used in making prosciutto.

What is porchetta exactly?. It is a deboned and gutted pig that has been stuffed with garlic and herbs.It is then roasted in its' skin until it is crunchy , juicy and , as Ms, Moskin puts it, insanely aromatic.The dish is not for the squeamish or animal lovers.The head is left on,which gives it the appearance of a pig  in a brown sleeping bag.It is then sliced  and either stuffed into crusty rolls or between slabs of equally aromatic foccaccia. Every slice is magical, with spirals of tender meat, lush fat and crunchy cracklings.The goal of eating it is to get all three textures in every bite.Most Italians use shallots and garlic along with salt and pepper. It's finished with a golden dusting of fennel pollen. Porchetta can be made in an American kitchen.It is labor intensive because all the bones (namely about 200 of them, with just 32 for the ribs) have to be removed. Home chef's don't need any surgical skills, just patience, and possibly help doing this.Ms. Moskin gives a recipe that is relatively easy to follow. She uses the easier to handle whole bone on with skin pork shoulder..It does call for fennel pollen which is easy to get over the internet and at some specialty stores.(although it grows wild in Northern California so it's easy to harvest and bring home).If not, use minced fresh rosemary and garlic for flavoring. Serve on focaccia or better yet, kaiser rolls.

Porchetta is one of those heavenly Italian creations that leave foodies and gourmands wanting more. It is easy to replicate that blend of crunch , juice and aroma. Make it , instead of barbecue for a true taste of Italy in early summer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Your Fun Low Fat Summer Diet

Low fat does not have to be boring. In fact, it can be fun, thanks to some innovative gadgets and recipes.This makes for  some exciting eating while losing weight and gaining important nutrients.

Since it is summer, take advantage of melons - any kind. Cantaloupes are big right now and these are perfect for any meal. Start off a sweltering day with a cool slice of one along with an iced coffee or tea. Another idea is filling the middle with vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. Add berries such as strawberries or blueberries for some color and a good shot of antioxidants . You can also turn it into a refreshing drink Take half of the melon and blend with a cup of low fat milk, soy or almond milk for a nice way to start the morning - or end the day,Watermelon is all over the place right now and we're going to see more of it as the season progresses. Try watermelon infused drinks  such as agua fresca. Puree chunks of it and add that along with lime juice to seltzer as an alternative to soda and iced tea. A melon salad is also a nice start to dinner or dessert. Shred some mint leaves on top for a shot of coolness. Peaches are also in season, They make great snacks  if you're craving something sweet. A decadent dessert is layering fresh peach slices with low fat whipped cream for a  not all that bad for you treat. You can also layer them along with the berries of the season with Greek yogurt and almonds for yummy low cal parfaits.Another fun treat is layering the fruit with  banana ice cream made with only frozen bananas.

This is the start of squash season too. Zucchini is always the star of the season, thanks to its' abundance in farmers markets and gardens.One cup of it is only thirty-six calories, so it's the perfect food for summer dieters.It's a hot veggie right now, thanks to the zuchetti maker or spiralizer. I highly recommend adding this gadget to any kitchen. It's an hourglass shaped grater that produces long spaghetti like spirals or strands called zoodles. You can make low calorie  zuchetti that has only sixty calories a plate and that includes the sauce .These squash noodles can even be turned into fries by batter dipping them in a low calorie batter and then baking them. Zoodles can also be used in stir fries too.  If you get zoodled out then chunk them up to be  roasted alongside other summer vegetables such as bell peppers and onions, for a healthier take on barbecue.These can be first cut up into chunks and marinated in olive oil and lemon. They can be grilled on their own or with chicken or lean cuts of beef. Add tomatoes and they can be part of a salsa crudo with the zoodles or whole wheat pasta. Tomatoes will soon be all over the place as we progress into July and August. They're great  in homemade salsas and also fresh sauces. Chop plum tomatoes and let them soak in some chopped garlic and olive oil  as you also boil pasta.Pour the cooked spaghetti or angel hair over them, The heat will cook up the tomatoes. You can also add capers and olives for more flavor.

Summer dieting is easy. There's a wide range of fruits vegetables and meats to choose from to help lose the weight and gain the nutrients. Best of all , they can be made in a variety of fun and exciting ways.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Scream For Healthy Ice Cream

With summer comes ice cream, and this summer will be no different. Yet too much of the creamy cold stuff is no good.Yet what to do? Switch to ices? Give up the good stuff and sub in fruit? The best option is look for ice creams that are not so sinful. Whether kitchen made or store bought, they 're still delicious.

The best way to have healthy ice cream is to make it yourself. It's easy to pick up an ice cream maker and get the right ingredients. The basic recipe is a custard however you can still make a rich one using unflavored gelatin and nonfat sweetened condensed milk.Another plus about making your own is adding healthy ingredients too.Liven it up with blueberries and strawberries, flavored honeys and dark chocolate shards. Just remember that homemade ice cream can get very hard after prolonged periods in the freezer. A twenty minute stay down below in the fridge part can remedy that. Many dieters swear by banana "ice cream". It's just first slicing a ripe banana into thin slices or coins, freezing them in an airtight container such as a freezer bag or freezer safe glass bowl. When ready ,pulse the slices in a food processor or blender.It takes a while for the fruit to transform into a creamy soft serve looking is worth it though. Many add cocoa powder to give it that chocolate dipped banana taste. Get daring with it too. Add spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. Top it with semi-sweet  chocolate chips or chopped almonds or serve it with fresh sliced strawberries or crushed blueberries.

What about if you don't have time even to whip up the banana ice cream? Supermarkets such as Stop & Shop and Acme have extensive ice cream aisles so the choice is wide and varied. Yet which ones are the best for your diet? Surprisingly Ben and Jerry's. It's actually their frozen yogurt but it's still cold, sweet and creamy at 100 calories for the strawberries and cream flavor. Ice cream lovers should try Edy's slow churned kind. I love their  small cups in different flavors.The chocolate chip mint (always a favorite ) is only 190 calories while the vanilla is only 160 calories. You can also buy the larger gallon containers in many more flavors like Mississippi Mud Pie, Maine Blueberries and Cream along with Vermont Maple Syrup and the mousse like French Silk. A lot of people have Breyers in their fridge during these hot , steamy months, and now they have both low fat and no sugar variations of their classic chocolate, vanilla and cookies and cream. The sugar free has a little more variety, with their flavors that include mint chip swirl,butter pecan and salted caramel swirl along with a take on Neopolitan and vanilla. What about the king of ice creams, Haagen Daz? Stick with their frozen yogurts that have 100 calories less than their ice creams. They have the same rich flavor without  all the richness and fat.

Don't deny yourself a bowl of ice cream during these hotter than an oven days. Make or buy a low calorie one that's full of flavor but half the calories. You'll enjoy the treat without the guilt.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Serving Your King ::Father's Day Meals

Funny how dads are not treated as greatly on Father's Day as mothers are on Mother's Day. There's no fancy breakfasts in bed or elegant lunches out. However it's time to treat the king of the castle with respect and good food.

Yes, it's OK to make breakfast in bed  - or out on the deck - for the man of the day. Pancakes are always a good start but jazz them up with beer. Sub in the cup of milk with beer for a different kind of breakfast. Serve with eggs and caramelized bacon. This last is easy to make. Dip bacon strips in an equal mix of brown sugar and cinnamon and then arrange on a baking sheet. Bake eight minutes , and turn once.If hes' not a griddle cake fan, then think waffles, in particular bourbon waffles. This are grown up Eggos,  thanks to quarter cup of the liquor added to the batter. Serve with pecans and warmed maple syrup. Another fun idea dad may like is a breakfast hero. Toast a hero roll in the oven or on the grill, and fill with a layer of cheesy scrambled eggs or his favorite omelet. Layer on sausage patties, Taylor ham and Canadian bacon. Throw in some tomato slices and guacamole if he's into them.Do dads do brunch? Of course - just tailor it to their tastes. Yes, real men do each quiche but turn it Paleo  by adding beef cubes or steak tips and some cheddar.For some fire, toss in a few tablespoons of  chopped jalapenos. What about the drink? Save the mimosas for the moms and splash some vodka into the orange juice for an eye opening screwdriver.

What about lunch?Since the day is going to be a beautiful one think picnic,whether at the beach, park or mountains. Health conscious dads may want a whole wheat sandwich, stuffed with vegan cold cuts. Tofurkey has an excellent array of them from soy baloney to soy ham,They also have soy cheese that tastes like the real thing.It would be a good time to try out the aquafaba based mayo. This is a simple mix of the liquid from a can of chickpeas, blended with vegetable oil and apple cider vinegar along with dry mustard and lemon juice. It can also be used to make a healthy coleslaw too, along with good for you whole wheat macaroni salads. If dad is a meat eater, then think of turkey or London broil sandwiches, with fresh sliced tomatoes and onions. Instead of chips, sub in olives from the salty Greek kalamatas to the mellow black ones. What about the king's dinner? How about a meal that combines the big guy's two favorite things, the grill and chili, Grilled chili involves grilling beef cubes and green peppers over a fire and then adding them later to the rest of the recipe.The recipe can be made with chicken too.Homemade pizza is also a great way of celebrating any dad. especially when it's homemade and loaded with his favorite  toppings. End the day with chocolate stout cupcakes and a cigar!.

Treat the dads out there with respect and fun dishes. Make their special day  just that special, with good meals and fun treats. They're the best gifts of all.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Best Grain Free Recipe Book

Grain free living doesn't have to have the limitations that normally go with restricted diets.Thanks to a new and innovative cookbook,those with gluten and grain allergies can not only have delicious meals but mouth watering snacks too. It's packed with advice, info and best of all those yummy recipes.

Laura Fuentes, creator of the Momables Meal plan where parents can get recipes and ideas delivered to their inboxes has written a cookbook similar to them. The Best Grain-Free Family Meals On The Planet (Quanto Publishing Group USA) is based on her experiences dealing with her own gluten allergies as well as her children's,They all needed healthier eating for a better life and that required less processed food and more natural.What is most helpful is the section, called Real Life and Food that  addresses picky eaters and what to do at social functions.She recommends bringing all the dishes out on he table and letting the kids choose what looks good to them.As for social functions it's best to bring a lunchbox or thermos. That way the hosts don't have the worry about guests reacting to certain dishes.Ms. Fuentes also has a list of essentials for a complete grain free pantry and how home chefs can clean out theirs. There is a section about where to get ingredients from , growing them to hitting farmers' markets to becoming a member of shopping clubs CostCo and Sam's Club  offer a trove of fresh produce  along with healthy oils and spices. She also recommends shopping online too. She writes about what tools to use and recommends getting a spiralizer, that fun kitchen tool, that turns zucchini into zuccheti along with the usual hand mixers and slow cookers.

The recipes are divided into sections, from breakfasts to lunchbox favorites. There are also  extensive chapters on family meals and snacks and treats. Kids won't have to sacrifice their favorite dishes , thanks to this cookbook. Breakfast recipes are silver dollar pancakes with coconut flour and blueberry maple breakfast sausages.There are also sorts of muffins ,from a peaches and cream one to a chocolate chip. Ms. Fuentes even has breakfast cookies and the exotic Middle Eastern egg and tomato dish shakshura. The lunchbox recipes are great for both school and those vacation days spent at home.Try the recipe for veggie falafels, made not with chickpeas, but with onion, cauliflower and zucchini.,bound together with almond flower.For a healthy lunch or snack make the seven layer Greek cups, loaded with feta, hummus and kalamata olives. Dinner recipes are equally fun . Kids and parents will love the quick mu shu pork and the shrimp scampi with spaghetti squash. There are recipes for zoodles or zucchetti.Ms. Fuentes even makes a ramen soup with them! Snacks and treats are many , each as tasty as the next. There are plantain and beet chips that will surely replace the bought potato ones. There are flourless bites made with raisins as the binder. These come in yummy flavors like cherry chocolate and apple pie along with coconut brownie. A homemade version of Nutella along with ice cream are also included as are grain free cupcakes with rich fudgy frosting.

The Best Grain-Free Family Meals On The Planet is a kitchen must have for those families with gluten allergies. The recipes are easy and tasty, sure to be family classics .Buy it today and start creating these grain free dishes!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

You Serve Soft Serve

Soft serve ice cream is one of the best summer treats.It's creamy and satiny all in one. Unfortunately if you're hankering for it , it's a trip  out to the local ice cream parlor or boardwalk. Not anymore.It can be made at home.

How can this be? Easy, thanks to a recipe by Melissa Clark in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Home chefs don't need one of those special machines that churn out the treat. They don't even need an ice cream maker. The fanciest gadget required is a food processor (although the recipe works well with an ice cream maker so use it )It's an easy recipe that only requires six large egg yolks, heavy cream and melted cream cheese! Why the last? Because it's a sub in for the usual gums commercial ice cream manufacturers use to solidify the product. Ms. Clark leaned this from Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, an up and coming maven in the industry..Ms Bauer asserts that cream cheese  gives body to ice cream and gives it body.. Another suggestion from her is using a mix of granulated and liquid sugar to increase the ice cream's elasticity. Liquid sugar could be corn syrup or honey. .Ms Clark recommends the last but it's not the average honey. For more flavor think a lavender one or chestnut , linden flower or even buckwheat. Adding the honey gives a caramelized sweetness that amps up the flavor.

Is making soft serve hard? No. It's basically creating a custard and then freezing it. The base is really considered French ice cream or sort of like frozen custard. The recipe calls for six large egg yolks that will be first whisked together with the honey, sugar ,vanilla and salt. The cream is also heated for a better blending and to prevent the eggs from curdling. The entire mixture should just be simmered until the custard can coat the back of a spoon otherwise it could curdle.Transfer to a heatproof bowl and add the cream cheese. This last should be cut into cubes for more manageability and it will melt faster . Then the bowl should be nestled in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Then the custard should be whipped until thick and cold. Use a hand mixer or immersion blender for this. After five minutes spoon it into ice cream trays.It's best frozen overnight but if you're pinched for time then just stick it in the freezer for three hours . (It's maximum time is one week)Once frozen, pop out the cubes with a butter knife or off set spatula and into a food processor.Pulse cubes with a half cup of milk until smooth and the consistency of soft serve. serve immediately . It can last up to one week but you probably won;t have to worry about that.Buy or make cones for the real experience.

Soft serve ice cream is one of the hallmarks of the summer. Now you can have it right in your kitchen, thanks to an easy recipe. Make it and enjoy this classic treat, whether in a bowl or in a classic cone

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Szechuan Battle

One of the most food oriented cities in China is Chengdu. It's considered to be the food capital of this amazing country, the Lyons, France of the East.It is also a culinary World Heritage site , attracting thousands of foodies and gourmands a year. Unfortunately this is what's spoiling the broth so to speak.

Chris Buckley, who has covered several aspects of Chinese life and politics wrote about the tug of war between traditional chefs and the next generation who is trying to draw in crowds in today's New York Times Food section. Lively debates have even broken out about upholding culinary traditions and embracing new ways and new customers.The country , as it always, got involved. The  recipe guidelines got updated and, yes, it seems that the government gives a kind of  forced advice on how to cook. One traditional dish " strange flavored chicken strips" , a cold dish that includes dark vinegar should use the meat of a one year old rooster and no other kind of chicken.To outsiders this may seem too much., however tradition is important to the Chinese and that includes recipes. (although Szechuan cooking as we know it is only a century old). The regulations are kind of pointless here  because Szechuan cuisine is really a melange of other recipes from other areas of the country.Several centuries of war, trade and migrations brought outsiders who contributed chiles, fermented bean paste,sugar and other spices along with their own cooking traditions. It solidified around 1916 as a regional cuisine.Local food writer Wang Shiwu describes the Chengdu attitude this way:"whatever is attracted in your cuisine,I can absorb and adapt it."

However too much of the new is creeping in and bastardizing the cuisine. New chefs are using such diverse and Western ingredients as mayonnaise or using  a new ingredient such celtuce or asparagus lettuce to kung pao chicken  which doesn't need it.Traditional chefs there need to grasp the idea that their cuisine, like others, needs to evolve. A camp of chefs hope to remake Sichuanese cooking for more urbane, middle class tastes.but built on the core of traditional ingredients and techniques.Some have opened airy , modern restaurants that serve dishes with contemporary twists and presentation. According to one savvy chef , Yang Wen, whose restaurant Lotus Shadow features those same kind of dishes. "There's no survival without innovation." One creation is  braised shrimp infused with jasmine tea, a world away from the home spun fare favored by old fashioned revivalists.Others hopefully will follow , especially this last group. As English food writer Fuschia Dunlop a longtime Chengdu  resident puts it , Chengdu has an incredibly high concentration of restaurants and a fiercely competitive restaurant industry so people are looking for the newest best thing. The old gets old very quick and that means no interest in it, despite any cultural meaning.

In the end, a new kind of tradition won out. It's taking traditional spices and cooking methods and giving them new spins and twists. Will it work? Probably . It's the old with a refreshing whiff of the new.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A German Summer Picnic

German food plays an important part of the American cookout and picnic.Most of what is served has Teutonic origins and came over with the many German immigrants who made this country. The food is still great and even better are the summer foods you find now in the Swabian Alps , near the soothing forests and sparkling waters of Lake Constance.

Hot dogs or frankfurters originated in Frankfurt, Germany and have been around for seven hundred (!) years. The original was a pork sausage known as Frankfurter wurstchen and were given out to the townspeople during royal coronations.In the 19th century, Johann Georg Lahner brought them to Vienna where they took the city's name - wiener - and beef was added to the pork filling They came to the US in 1870 and were made - where else- Coney Island. T hey were first served with gloves to stop consumers from burning themselves. Because of this the hot dog bun was created at the St. Louis World Fair in 1893 by Antoioine Feuchtwanger, thanks to his wife's suggestion. Now they're a part of every barbecue and picnic, even coming in such diverse meats as turkey, chicken and even caribou. What goes with hot dogs? Another German classic - potato salad. There are many different versions of it. Southern Germans make it with vinegar, mustard and even beef or chicken broth .Northern Germans make it with mayonnaise and this is what was brought to America.Here it went through some tweaks such as the addition of bacon , capers and even chili powder.

What do modern day Germans eat during the summer? Potato salad but not what most people expect. First the potatoes are different. Waxy potatoes are preferred and they cooked and peeled while still hot, Then they're sliced and mixed with chopped onions.A warm mix of vinegar , beef or chicken broth and oil is then pour over the spuds. Chives or schnittlau along with sliced pickles or mustard is added. The salad is then allowed to rest for a few hours before serving.It can be served with a crusty bread as a main dish or as a side dish.Usually a summer dinner would be a wurstsalat, a tart sausage salad prepared with distilled white vinegar,oil and onions. Sliced gherkins are sometimes added for some sweetness.It's an easy to make salad. The sausage is cut thin as are the onions. Both are then marinaded in the vinaigrette before serving.. Some Swabians add sliced baloney along with parsley to mix it up or to add color, the red and white stadtwurst.Zweibelkuchen, or onion pie is another summer favorite, usually eaten in August and September. It's similar to quiche and is loaded with steamed onions along with crumbled bacon , cream and caraway seeds. It has a simple pie crust shell and an egg base.

Enjoy the summer German style. Have hot dogs  and potato salads or go fully Swabian wtih wurstsalat and zweibekuchen. It's a tasty way to enjoy the warm days and nights ahead.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cuisine Of The Sunshine State

Florida is known for many things, sugar white sands, the mysterious Everglades and a fascinating history.Yet it also has some interesting dishes, influenced by the South and the many people who have immigrated there. It is not only a snowbird's retreat,it is a foodie's one too.

Many forget that the state is also part of the South and with that comes Southern cooking The northernmost counties border Georgia and Alabama.Grits are a  staple  but the grunt fish , popular i n the area is added in. People from Jacksonville to Pensacola also enjoy barbecue along Brunswick stew. That true southern dessert chess pie ,a custardy treat rich with sugar, cream and eggs is found in many bakeries along with being made by many home bakers.Georgia's pecan pie drifted south and is also enjoyed in northern Florida. The indigenous people, the Seminoles also contributed to the table. They showed settlers how to cook boiled swamp cabbage or the nicer name heart of cabbage palmIt's cooked with water salt and a little sugar. The greens can also be bought, already soaked in a vinaigrette  and relabeled hearts of palm.The tribe also contributed a fried bread made only of flour water and oil along with softkee a kind of hominy made with wild rice, baking soda and cornstarch.It can be served with meat or just plain. Some of the indigenous meats from alligator to deer are served with skillet corn stuffing, possibly influenced by intermarriage with former enslaved Africans.Cajun and Creole influences have also impacted the cuisine too

The southern part of the state has been so richly influenced by the Caribbean that the cuisine is now called Floribbean.One of the main influences is Cuban, thanks to many migrating from Castro's Cuba for almost sixty years. The hallmarks are an emphasis on fresh ingredients, namely chicken and fish and ,a melange of spices.especially strong flavors offset by milder ones. Also the cuisine uses a lot of fresh fruit juice, namely citrus such as lemon and orange. This is the Cuban and Haitian influence wit their love of sweet and tangy. However unlike some Cuban and Jamaican, the heat is less intense.It's not as eye watering as Jamaican jerk. The fieriness is almost always mitigated by the addition of mango,papaya, rum, almond , key lime or honey. A typical Miami dinner might be paella, with fresh caught fish  or pernil, roast pig accompanied by arroz con gandule -rice and peas. Barbacoa, the original barbecue is also featured and done in many backyard cookouts.What makes it different from regular grilled meats is the   use of  fresh juice as a marinade for the meats. Of course the most famed Southern Florida dessert is the drool worthy Key Lime pie. It comes from the Florida Keys, Papa Hemingway's hangout. This is a tart, yet rich and custardy pie thanks to the limes and eggs used along with condensed milk and topped with whipped cream The crust is almost alwaysnmade of graham crackers.

Florida gives us a panorama of different scenes, from ritzy beaches to gator filled swamps. It also gives us a variety of different dishes, each as unique as the people who make them. They are diverse and tasty, exciting and flavorful,

Stay strong, my Orlando readers. Show bravery and heart. Show love when others want hate, courage when others want fear. We're behind you.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pumpkin Goodness

It may be too early in the year to even mention pumpkins but there is a fun new cookbook that celebrates the gourd. After all, pumpkin is not just a fall October thing.It can be eaten all year round in a variety of yummy savory and sweet recipes

Pumpkin It Up (Gibbs Smith Press)written by Eliza Cross, a well known cookbook writer, is a cookbook that celebrates all things. pumpkin. (Keep in mind that this time of year is the perfect time to plant pumpkin seeds if you want homegrown organic pumpkins in the fall).She breaks the myth of cooking the gourd in the autumn months. The dishes can be made now for any summer feasting.The chapters include basic recipes,beverages and sweets along with muffin and breads.There are also savory recipes as seen in the chapters devoted to soups and stews, sides dishes and dinners. There is even one featuring pumpkin breakfast recipes. Of course there is a chapter on dessert along with one on cookies and bars. Ms. Cross also has two pages on hints as well. They are good, especially the ones advising  when it comes to picking ones from the patch . She writes that it's best to pick out the smaller ones for making pie because they're sweeter and have a smoother texture than the ones used for carving jack-o-lanterns.Also use an ice cream scoop, a serrated grapefruit knife or a melon baller .when scooping out the flesh. One important hint is discerning between pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling. The last already has spices in it and could ruin a savory dish if used.Another good fact to know is that the puree freezes well and can last up to nine months in the freezer .

The recipes are varied with a mix of the familiar and the fun. Starbucks lovers will go made for pumpkin spice latte, true to the name thanks to the addition of a cup of pumpkin puree.A perfect beverage for even cool summer nights is the pumpkin spiced cider.Imagine have the healthy gourd for breakfast. You can, thanks to recipes like pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin waffles along with a Dutch  baby, that big pancake from Holland, made delicious with pumpkin and walnut. The savory recipes include the trendy but easy to make pumpkin ravioli along with pumpkin risotto, a mix of Arborio rice, sugar pumpkins and button mushrooms. Due to the squash's mildness it is excellent paired with different meats.It can be paired with turkey for an enchiladas or with chicken and apples for a spin on chicken Kiev.Pumpkins can be used as a side as for fries or baked with Brussells sprouts.It puts a different twist on the traditional fave baked mac and cheese..Of course pumpkin shines in pie and the book has three recipes: the traditional holiday one, but also a chiffon one and a pumpkin cream pie. Then there are the non traditional  ones like the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin tiramisu. Try the pumpkin holes or monkey bread, both livened up by pureed pumpkin. There are the tasty crispies a kind of sweet pumpkin fritter. Candy lovers will lose their gourd over the pumpkin fudge and a spin on Reese's peanut butter cups - with creamy pumpkin filling poured into chocolate cups.

Pumpkin It Up is a great cookbook for pumpkin lovers and for those wanting more nutrition in their lives. It shows that pumpkin is not just for lattes and pies but can be made into tasty pastas and rices along with candy .The cookbook is a true salute to a humble gourd.
The  book comes out in August but you can preorder on Amazon now,

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Basket of Apple Recipes

Apples are one of the most nutritious and tastiest fruits around. There are some man different kids, from the custardy fleshed Macintosh to the crisp Granny Smith with a dozen other varieties in between. There are also dozens of recipes, both savory and sweet that feature  them in a brand new cookbook.

How D'ya Like Them Apples? (Gibbs Smith Publishers) is the cheekily named new cookbook written , by Madge Baird, a seasoned food editor and cooking instructor. She has previously written about chicken and soup, and brings the same enthusiasm and good recipes to this apple-centric cookbook, Her many and varied ones are a great way of introducing and sneaking nutrition into everyday dishes, from stuffing to even chocolate chip cookies. There are chapters on salads and soups along with meat and poultry. The best one are on the pies and pastries, where the fruit shines along with one on cakes cobblers , breads and sweet treats.I have to admit I was a little bummed when there were no caramel or candy apple recipes but there are enough sweet ones to fill that gap. There is a section on interesting facts and helpful hints which will make working with apples easier.The fruit comes in 7,500 varieties worldwide while there's 2,500 varieties alone in just the US and Canada. She also suggest what kinds make for better baking such as those crunchy Granny Smith, Pink Lady Jonathan, Golden Delicious and their hybrid Jonagold. Then there is the question of peels or no peels.Ms. Baird points out there there a lot of antioxidants in the skin and the vitamin C is located right under them skin.

The recipes are wonderful and can take home chefs from the summer right into the winter. There is the snappy apple salad blending Granny Smith chunks with snap beans and almonds with a lemon and honey dressing,,Two unusual ones  are an apple , spinach and brown sausage link one and a potato salad laced with crisp red apples in a honey mustard dressing.Picnic lovers will enjoy the apple slaw, a marriage of the fruit with crisp green salad. The soups are homey , blending apples and apple juice with everything from squash to pimento. Apples always go well with pork and there are a few recipes that feature the happy pairing.There are dressed up pork medallions cooked with apple slices and sweet onions. Home chefs will love making the Sunday Dutch Oven pork that features pork chops, apples and potatoes spiked with a Southwestern or Mexican spice blend that has a kick of smoked paprika,The sides are great too, from the spinach-apple curry to the Parmesan roasted apple vegetable menu. Apples shine in dessert recipes especially pie and these do too. Apple lovers will love the rustic pie  that's in the shape of a gallette.and the yummy wonton apples pockets a la mode,a take on the classic fritter recipe.Kids will enjoy the apple spice cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Try the classic Apple Dutch Baby for brunch or make the applesauce chocolate chip cookies. Purists will love the recipes for apple butter and apple sauce. two classics that are a must in any kitchen pantry.

How D'Ya Like Them Apples is a joyous salute to all dishes apples. Apple lovers have to add this cookbook to their library and to experience the sweet and savory recipes. They are wonderful to make and delicious to eat.
The books comes out in August but you can preorder it and others on Amazon.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

From Gills To Tail

Mention cooking a whole fish and most home chefs will blanch. They don't want to be bothered with the scales or the tail and certainly not the head. Yet,  those sanitized and cleaned up fillets means flavorless and blandness. The best bet - going gills to tail.

Melissa Clark realized this and wrote about it in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Cooking a whole fish means a flavorful dinner later, especially when it's cooked on a grill.A grill is especially not kind to the delicate fish meat. It can dry it out in seconds , leaving  as Ms Clark puts it "petrified". Whole fish is a better choice for outdoor cooking. The skin and bones keep the juices from evaporating too quickly as it acts as insulation.There's also the plus of crisp fish skin. The only problem is that the skin sticks to the grate.The solution is a grill basket, a fish shaped , long handled stainless steel holder that goes over the grill grate .It can be found everywhere from Amazon to Target. If you don't have one , then use a flat metal spatula and ease it under the fish before flipping. Don't worry about it ripping. If it does, comes the advice. The spot can be covered up with a garnish of chopped herbs.Remember to remind guests about the bones or filet the fish right after it comes off the grill, scooping the meat off the skeleton, It can then be served cleanly , without bones or the head to freak out the more squeamish guests.

What fish works the best? Ms. Clark recommends whole dorade, branzino or trout.The first two may also go under the names sea bream and sea bass at your local fish markets. They're fatty skinned fish with sweet, tender meat underneath, She also suggest one fish per person. As for flavoring, sometimes just a hit of salt plus the grill's smokiness is all the  seasoning needed for these mild flavored kinds.If you do want to add aromatics, then use the cavity,.First season with salt, then the thinly sliced aromatics and finally oil the skin.  before popping over the hot coals. .Ms. Clark decided to add lemongrass, sliced lime,cilantro stems and and shallots inside the fish. She also makes a Thai inspired sauce  to go with it,using the same ingredients along with Thai chili sauce, mint, fish sauce and coconut milk,.All of it is put in food processor until it's like a mushy spicy relish. Another route would be using Mediterranean herbs on the dorade and the branzino since both fish have been served in Italy and Greece since ancient times. Try  a stuffing of rosemary,thyme and garlic along with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.They can  also be spiced up Mexican style with a jalapeno sauce spiked up with garlic and onions, along with cilantro and lemon juice. Of course also add olive oil along with salt and pepper.

Going gill to tail is a great way to grill fish, Keeping the head and skin on gives it more flavor. creating a delectable meal.It is the way to create a memorable fillet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Brownies With A Touch Of Salt

What could possibly make brownies taste even better? More butter? More sugar? Walnuts? Try salt along with rich caramel. These two additions elevate the brownie to a whole new level.

Julia Moskin knows this and wrote about it in her Recipe Lab column in today's New York Times Food section. As we all know almost everything has been mixed in to the sweet's basic batter. Many home bakers have blended in cream cheese or peanut butter into their recipes. Oreos have been crumbled in and British bakers have even added chocolate chip cookie dough to create what's known as a "slutty" brownie (slutty means lazy over there, although the name does conjure up what other ingredients to slip in).The famed Manhattan bakery , Baked, has made mint coffee and chile ones but only their Sweet and Salty brownie has made the permanent list. It is a spinoff of one of their most popular cakes of the same name. The cake is a heady mix of cocoa, and caramel with a chocolate caramel whipped ganache and dusted with he flaky French sea salt, fleur de sel along with another dusting of sanding sugar.Home chefs can easily replicate this at home, however as Ms.Moskin warns, don;t use those bags of wrapped caramels - the kind that usually are used to enrobe apples Make your own. It's easy and the overage will be great over ice cream or cakes - or just taking a mouthful for yourself.

Caramel is not scary to make although many home chefs are terrified to make it. It could be the high temp, but as Ms Moskin points out  we cook something as basic as pasta on a high heat. making caramel is no different.Her caramel is the basic recipe but sour cream is added to give it a tang .Remember to also use corn syrup and sugar to prevent crystallizing.and the caramel from seizing up. The color should be between the shades of ice coffee and iced tea. Many, namely children, will not care for this caramel's bitter sweetness. Cook it then until it's golden brown instead of amber.The chocolate should between sixty and seventy percent cocoa solids which may be listed as cocoa beans or cocoa butter. These should be coarsely chopped for the mix. This is a top quality recipe with two sticks of butter added along with brown sugar. Five eggs are used for richness instead of the usual two. As for the salt.Ms Moskin recommends any flaky kind for sprinkling on top.Any kind of salt will do for the batter as long as it gives the brownies that sweet-salty flavor.The caramel is drizzled over the poured batter and then use a butter knife or icing spatula to swirl the two together. The salt and sugar are sprinkled on when the brownies come out of the oven,Their edges will be puffy  but the middle should be barely set.

Home made caramel and sea salt are what can elevate the brownie to a whole new level. It 's that sweet and salty marriage that does it. It is the perfect union and perfect to change up this classic treat.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Your Ultimate Beer Cookbook

Beer is a summer must have.An icy cold one is the perfect foil for barbecued ribs or even a burger. It's even great for those late night gatherings with friends or neighbors.Imagine having it three times a day or better yet, in bread or in fudge. Thanks to a new cookbook beer lovers can.

Eliza Cross has given us a neat little cookbook,101 Things To Do With Beer (Gibbs Smith Publishing) for not just for summer barbecuing but for year round cooking.Beer is one of the most versatile ingredients because there are many types and each are perfect for everything from casseroles to desserts.The small cookbook (only 124 pages!) is  packed with some big recipes. The chapters include appetizers, breads,sauces and condiments, soups, dinners, side dishes, desserts and sweets.She also give definitions of the seven different beers used in the two pages of helpful hints.Pilsner cannot be used for dessert recipes because it's too light and bitter while stout is too rich and almost chocolate-y to be used in batters.Regular  beers is excellent in baking because the yeast in it acts as a leavening agent.It also makes an excellent marinade because its' enzymes have a tenderizing effect. Its' natural sugars help promote browning and carmelizing. Also beers don't have the acidity of wine so meats can be marinated up to forty-eight hours to absorb more flavor.Home chefs should use caution in adding beers to food that will be frozen since the alcohol in it can inhibit the freezing process.

The recipes are great. Party givers and party lovers will enjoy the easy beer cheese dip made with cream cheese and beer. Of course there are the beer battered recipes,  but with a new spin using cauliflower and jalapeno chips (!). There are the beer battered onion rings but spiced up with garlic and Parmesan. Home bakers will love baking loaves with it because the en product will be not only fluffier and moister but will stay fresher than regular loaves.They'll enjoy baking soft beer pretzels. There is also honey wheat beer bread and cornbread waffles. Beer is  even in German coffeecake and a glazed banana bread as well as in foccacia and scones. The dinners include the classic Welsh rarebit, that glorious mix of beer, cheddar and Worcestershire sauce along with the new classic beer can chicken. However beer lovers will delight in the spaghetti with beer braised meatballs and beef boiled  shrimp. Stout lovers will go mad for the beef stout pie. There are also recipes for sides such as buttered mushrooms with beer and refrigerator pickles made with it. Crafty home chefs can also whip up  spicy beer mustard or best beer turkey brine. along with the beer orange dressing. Stout beer, tastes the most like chocolate and it's in many dessert recipes There are chocolate glazed stout brownies and chocolate stout ice cream.. Other beers such as lager star in apple cinnamon beer batter crepes.along with cherry wheat beer in the appropriate cherry beery Bundt cake. For a fun movie night make a batch of chocolate stout fudge or beer caramel corn.

Beer is the perfect summertime drink. Yet it's even better , saucing up meatballs or giving depth to classic Welsh rarebit. Try the recipes in 101 Things To Do With Beer. They'll elevate the brew to another level.
THe book comes out in August but you can preorder it and others on Amazon.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Ultimate Bacon Cookbook

Bacon lovers are a rare breed. Their lives revolve those mouthwatering cured strips and will do anything to incorporate it into their diets. Luckily, here is a great new cookbook out there with all sorts of savory and sweet recipes that feature bacon.

101 More Things To Do With Bacon (Gibbs-Smith Publishing} is a fun cookbook and a great Father's Day gift for those bacon loving paters. The book was written Eliza Cross, who has penned several of these little cookbooks featuring such diverse ingredients as pickles and beer.She is also a bacon lover and the founder of BENSA, the bacon enthusiast society. It is a slim cookbook (122 pages) but chock full of interesting recipes from breakfast to candy(!). She also includes two pages of helpful hints that help in cooking it. Home cooks will appreciate such facts as nitrate free bacon is sometimes saltier than regular bacon due to processing. She recommends adjusting the salt accordingly if using nitrate free slices. There is more advice regarding artisanal bacon, now a standard in some kitchens and being made by many adventurous home chefs.Also sweet flavored bacon, such as the ones flavored with apple cider, brown sugar or maple syrup may cook up faster than the regular kind and could burn quicker There are also tips on freezing  and microwaving it as well as what to do with bacon grease. She gives smart advice on disposing it - never pour the down the sink.It solidifies quick and creates clogs. Instead put in into a can and dispose of it through the garbage. Bacon fat  can also be reused in several recipes too and used to fry up hotcakes.

Bacon recipes are fun and these are no exception. The book is divided into different chapters, from breakfast - of course - to desserts. The breakfast ones are not what you would think, There are some truly original ones such as apple bacon strata, a layered breakfast casserole that features Granny Smith apples and pecans and the jalapeno bacon popper quiche, an egg pie loaded with heavy cream and cheese  along with the strips and peppers. The appetizers are also varied . There is slow cooker bacon cheeseburger dip that not only uses a pound (!) of it but also a pound of lean ground beef for a fun and flavorful dip.Bacon batons are a neat way to start a party. These are spiced and sugar bacon strips wrapped around the thin Torinese breadsticks, or grissini, Bacon is also a fine addition to  soups and Ms. Cross does add it to tomato bisque along to a wild rice and chicken chowder.. Bacon cheeseburger makes it way into soup with a dash of beer.There are also a chapter on salads, from macaroni to potato along with a chapter on sandwiches. Try the bacon cheese melts instead of the usual grilled cheese or the bacon cheese dogs.for a fun barbecue treat. The strips also make their way into such sides as bacon asparagus saute and bacon and mushroom dressing. Bacon is a wonderful addition to any main meal and compliments the flavor of other meats, poultry and seafood. There's even a BLT pasts with it and arugula gracing bowtie pasta. Bacon in dessert is also wonderful. There is the yummy man candy that also has dark beer as well as a bacon maple fudge. Try the bacon bread pudding with vanillas sauce.

101 More Things To Do With Bacon is a fun cookbook, perfect for any bacon lover. It is a fun mix of sweet and savory recipes.. Get it today to get more joy out of those cured strips of heaven.
,he books comes out in August but you can preorder it and others on Amazon.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The First Of The Summer Wines

These warms days and balmy nights call for a cool glass of wine.This is the time to enjoy one either with something fresh from the grill or the fruits of the season. Sit back and sip. Enjoy the wide array of summer wines.

Roses and white wines usually make the best bets for summer however a good hearty red wouldn't go amiss at a barbecue. For those grill days or nights think about a 2014 Penedo Borges Malbec.It's the perfect foil for a juicy steak or even a meaty homemade burger.It even has a  meaty aroma with top notes of wild herbs Its' flavor is that of ripe plums and dark fruits with a coating of vanilla .Another good red is the 2012 Cakebread Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon with its' aroma of chocolate and black current. It is rich and velvety, perfect with ribs or a T-bone.Australia has sent us some excellent vintages over the years and one summer standout is the 2013 Clonakilla Shiraz/ Viognier.It is expensive at $75 a bottle, but buy it for special occasions like milestone birthdays, engagements,graduations or promotions.Its' aroma is a mix if cracked pepper berries and plums.It's suggested that it should be served with a hog roast but it would be better with filet mignon or a Kansas City strip;A little less expensive and more down to earth are the Piedmontese Barberas. Eric Asimov mentioned it in his Pour column in the New York Times Food section on Wednesday. Have it with a homemade from the grill pizza that 's dense in sauce , cheese and toppings. It's a taste of Northern Italy in the backyard.

Whites and roses are the more preferred wines come the high temps. So many have poured themselves an iced glass of any of these as they 've cooled their feet in the pool or even the sprinkler. What are the best for sipping? They should be tart and refreshing , not to mention  ice cold. The most ideal summer wine is 2013 Domaine de l'Anjardiere La Noe and at $15 dollars a bottle a good buy. It's crisp, floral and easy to drink. It's a nice wine to serve at a brunch or outdoor bridal shower. Another ideal one is a 2014 Domaine Vincent Delaporte Sancerre Chavignol.It has a full, almost waxy purity of fruit with a bright clean finish. The  more expensive at $32 2012 Norman Hardie Chardonnay from New York's Niagara region, with a crispy white fruit taste. This is the time of year to mix the fruits of the season with wines. My family celebrates the season by adding fresh picked  strawberries to chilled flutes of Asti Spumente. The wine is from our region , Piedmonte and goes well with the berries.It's a heady alternative to sorbets along with better way to appreciate the berry's sweetness. Even though there's already a raspberry infused sparkling wine, fresh raspberries off the first harvest of the season is also wonderful in the wine. Think of it as an alternative to a tart or sorbet.

A summer's night calls for a chilled glass of a good wine. Pick one that compliments a hearty grilled steak or highlights the season's crop of berries. They're a refreshing and relaxing way to beat the heat.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Illustrated Kitchen Bible Your Bible

Every home chef should have a cookbook that not only has recipes for every meal and holiday but also chapters about methods and techniques. It should be more than a book, but a bible of sorts that can be marked up and used for reference. Luckily there is a great , epic cookbook that fits that need.

The Illustrated Kitchen Bible:1,000 Family Recipes From Around The World  (DK Publishing) is the must have book that should be in every kitchen library. Author Victoria Blashford-Snell, a Cordon Bleu trained caterer and cooking instructor has compiled a cookbook to rival the classic Fannie Farmer.It is a huge soft cover book with over five hundred pages of all sorts of recipes and detailed ,illustrated how tos. This is the perfect bridal shower gift for any couple staring their own kitchen or for the newly graduated moving onto that first job and first apartment. Home chefs should also have this as well. What I love about it is the vast array of recipes from all over the world. It seems every country under the sun is represented and it's a great way of introducing variety to family and friends. Ms. Blashford-Snell tells readers how to plan and shop, the crucial ingredients in any meal.Another plus are the how tos at the back of the cookbook.There is everything from the simple how to hard boil an egg to the more elaborate butterflying a leg of lamb. Every method is carefully explained so even novices can successfully carve a chicken or shuck oysters, peel and poach fruit or prepare vegetables like an experienced professional chef. There are even pages  on how to grill, bake and make homemade jelly and jam.

The recipes are so amazing. The chapters run from Starters and Light Bites to Desserts and are well illustrated with drool worthy pictures.There are decadent dishes and healthy ones. The starters are perfect for any summer party from the chicken satays to the shrimp cocktail Mexican style. There are the elegant mushroom vol-au-vents for evening cocktails and zucchini sticks for that Sunday afternoon  pool party. The section on bread is one of my favorites. It's not just a recipe for a loaf of white bread, there are ones for English muffins,, rye, croissants (!) and the Italian breadsticks, grissini.It's followed by sandwiches including the classic BLT. Pizza and the Provencale version, the anchovy rich pissaladiere are also represented. Home chefs with families will appreciate the section on kitchen staple dishes such as.arroz con pollo and macaroni with three cheeses. There are endless chicken recipes , from fried to tandoori style as well as recipes on the red meats,from steak and ale pie to roast rib of beef.Seafood is represented in simple baked porgy to the more elaborate salmon in puff pastry. Desserts are a sweet tooth's dream along with being a salute to the EU. There is German Black Forest Gateau to the French madeleines to the Italian panforte..US desserts such as cupcakes with buttercream frosting and muffins grace the pages as do the British treacle tart and Irish Barm Bracks. Pie and cookie recipes round out the dessert chapter.

The Illustrated Kitchen Bible, 1,000 Family Recipes From Around The World is the must have book for every kitchen. It's like having a cooking school and endless recipe file all in one book. Get this book today.It's as important as the stove or the fridge .

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mooning Over Mezzelune

Mezzalune are ravioli's more elegant cousins. These delicate, stuffed pastas are just as delicious as their heartier cousins and are just easy to make.It's a great change of pace from the usual pastas and a chance for home chefs to get creative.

David Tanis knows this and wrote about them in his A City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Times Food section.Both ravioli and mezzalune are easy to make, especially if casings and fillings are made a few hours ahead. Home chefs don't need a fancy pasta machine to make it (although there are some who swear by the more elaborate machines). Mr. Tanis recommends a simple hand cranked one which is even easier than doing the original way - with a rolling pin.The dough is a basic egg based one, made golden with two large eggs plus two extra yolks. Home chefs could try it with a whole wheat version but the dough's texture  may be too dense,Making the dough ahead of time actually benefits it.Afterwards it should be well wrapped and kept at room temperature.Doing this  helps it to hydrate properly and allows it to be stretched more easily into a silky, tender consistency..Another plus is that once the mezzelune have been assembled they can be refrigerated for up to three hours before cooking.This gives home chefs plenty of time to make a dessert or salad. The pasta can be cooked up in only a few minutes , another boon for a busy home chef.

Mr. Tanis fills his mezzalune with, seasoned ricotta which  is always the base of the stuffed pasta .Nutmeg and lemon zest flavor it, along with blanched chopped spinach for taste and color.Some mezzalune fillings include chopped chicken if home chefs want something a bit heartier.Once the filling is made then its time to concentrate on making the pasta rounds. Use a sharp cookie cutter to punch out three inch rounds. There should be enough for thirty-six ravioli, -figure six servings of six mezzalune each. Dust the rounds with a light coating of semolina and keep covered with a damp towel to prevent drying. Once they 're all cut out then, put a tablespoon of filling on top of each round. Using a pastry brush or even a finger sparingly moisten the edge with water and fold over to create a half moon. The mezzalune will resemble mini  empenadas. Continue until all the rounds have been filled and place them on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment and dusted with more semolina. He uses fresh spring peas and shiitake mushrooms in a butter olive oil blend for the sauce. A more traditional version is a butter and sage sauce. Home chefs can also sub in morels or porcini mushrooms for the shiitake.

Mezzalune are a light,delcate alternative to ravioli, Make them with the produce of the season for a wonderful airy meal on a warm, Spring night, They are a lovely , elegant change of pace.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Whole Enchilada

Everyone has their own spin on enchiladas. There are opinions about what fillings to use or what sauces to make for it. Then there are the cheeses?American or authentic Mexican? What makes a good Tex-Mex one?

Sam Sifton had these questions as he wrote about and tasted variations of them for his column in today's New York Times Food section.He flew to Houston where he visited about seven eateries to try the best version for adaptation in his kitchen. South Texas has three basic varieties .Local Houston restaurants such as El Real Tex-Mex has ten while Sylvia's has nineteen.Mr. Sifton just stuck with the three: cheese enchiladas served in a red hued chili gravy or sauce, chicken enchiladas served with a tomatillo sauce and enchiladas stuffed and topped with chili con carne. All are served with cheese and that's when the debate kicks in. The chicken version is served with the Mexican queso fresco,a freshly made mild cheese that can even be created at home.The other two however is made with processed Cheddar. Many blanch at the idea of using American cheese.Home chefs can use real cheddar but there is a caveat.It congeals very quickly and can leave the dish a gunky mess. Go for the in between choice - processed cheddar. Robb Walsh,proprietor of Houston restaurant El Real recommends it provides stability and when mixed with other cheeses takes on their flavors.

That's not the only problem home chefs have with making enchiladas whose name comes from the Spanish enchildar to enrobe.. Making the tortilla soft is a labor intensive job. firm, Fresh corn tortillas have to be dipped into hot oil to make them soft and pliable. Only one or two at a time can be dipped however once home chefs get the hang of them , then it becomes a snap. Use tongs to make the process easier as well as safer.Chef Walsh offers this advice ."dip the tortillas,then roll them around, what ever you're cooking.The seam should be placed down on the pan or skillet.Sauce the middle so the edges get brown and crunchy. Don't smother them in sauce. They'll become gloopy. As for the sauces themselves,they 're quite simple. Mr. Sifton makes a chili gravy for the cheese enchiladas. It's a simple roux amped up with chili powder. The sauce for the chicken version is almost like a primavera sauce with fresh tomatillos cooked with onions and serrano chilis Garlic and cilantro round it out. They're pureed together for a fine blend that amps up the chicken's mild flavor.Any of the recipes can be topped with a fried egg. Rice and red beans are a must for sides.

What makes the perfect enchilada? A combination of both American and Mexican ingredients that create a wonderful, cheesy casserole , chock full of spice. It's a great marriage of flavors and cultures.