Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diwali Feasting

Today is Diwali, the  Hindu festival of lights, starts today. It's a time of celebrating but also feasting on delicious savory and sweet dishes They are easy to make , not just for this holiday but for  an every day treat as well. Usher in  the harvest with them or just have them star in a dinner.

Diwali is praying to the goddess Laksmhi, the goddess of prosperity and fertility. Families dress up in their best clothes, visit each other and exchange's a five day affair with families honoring each other on the different days. Food  plays an important part and various  New York Times Food writers gives us some excellent savory and sweet ones. Try David Tanis' Chana Dal Sundal,  Southern India  street fare that reminds one of popcorn.It is the perfect party food, especially if there are a lot of kids in attendance . It's simply cooking cold water soaked chickpeas in abundant lightly salted water and then afterwards placing them on a cookie sheet to dry. They're then tossed with curry leaves cooked with curry leaves, red chiles and mustard seeds. A pinch of asafetida gives it a mild leek taste. An eggplant curry would be a great main dish . Again, most of the ingredients from the Chana Dal Sundal are used along with tamarind paste and unsweetened coconut. The eggplants are sliced and  slashed . Spices are then pressed into them and cooked over a high heat for six minutes.  A heartier dish is lamb curry , from David Tanis. It is rich with coriander, turmeric and cumin. The Indian clarified butter, ghee is used to cook the meat and sliced onions. A raita or sauce made from Greek yogurt, cumin and mustard seeds is also made to pour over the lamb.

Diwali is really a holiday of sweets, with sugary treats given to children.Kids will adore the chocolate burfi  - a kind of fudge given on holidays,birthdays and special occasions.  Like fudge it's super easy to make, using ghee, cocoa powder, and both condensed milk and powdered milk. A few drops of rose water  along with sugar gives the treet its' rich sweetness.The treat is made in layers, from the buttery ghee bottom to the chocolate top. Adults may choose shrikhand or sweet strained yogurt recipe from famed Indian food writer, Teja Rao.. This  is made by straining Greek yogurt for twenty-four hours in the  fridge and then gently adding in pistachios, confectioners sugar, saffron,  and cardamon. Once everything is thoroughly mixed , place into serving dishes and decorate with more pistachio and saffron threads.. A European take , again from Dave Tanis, is the coconut cardamom panna cotta. The spice's pods are added as well as unsweetened coconut milk. It's decorated with candied grated ginger along with peaches, nectarines, blackberries or raspberries. Sip some of Melissa Clark' mango rose waters Lassi, a refreshing mix of  mango, yogurt, milk and rose water. This can also be frozen intoa frozen yogurt for dessert.

Diwali is a time of lights and celebrating. It's also a time of feasting. Make savory and sweet treats to enjoy with family and friends.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Eating Better Thanks To Science

The name Musk is usually associated with science - the science of the electric car. Now there's another Musk, Elon's brother , Kimbal who is changing the food world. His style? Using science, of course. He wants to revolutionize the food world the way his brother revolutionized the auto world.

His was the main story in today's New York Times Food section. Food regular Kim Severson, conducted an interview with this innovator. Kimbal Musk's main idea is to promote a philosophy of  real food that will not only nourish the body but also the farmer and the planet.It's not really a new idea. Michael Pollan, a food writer, and author of Food Rules has been preaching this for years as others who have pushed and created a farmer's market and urban farms. What makes Mr. Musk's idea unique is that he wants to create a network of business, educational, and agricultural ventures  big enough to return the nation's food system back to healthy local foods, grown on pesticide free farms.It is the ideal dream and he does have have somewhat of a background in it, starting with his childhood. He cooked at his father's house for him along with for Elon and their sister, Tosca. Mr Musk does have restaurant experience too. He and his former wife, Jen Lewin, started Kitchen in 2004, in Colorado. It was a farm to table concept. A skiing accident that broke his neck and left him temporarily paralyzed got him to refocus his drive. He would devote his life to food.

This led him to be interested in school gardens. His ex wife designed a modular curved plastic planters that could be arranged in any school yard to hold produce yielding plants. They were first installed in the Denver school district in 2010, with the extra bonus of teaching kids about science.Other schools in Memphis, Los Angeles ,Pittsburgh and Chicago.He's also started a chain of hyperlocal restuarants, called Next Door,These feature wild salmon and local pasture raised beef, along with big Greek salads bursting with community vegetables. Not everyone is enamored of his efforts. There has been a lot of criticism, especially from Alice Waters, the pioneer of the American Slow Food Movement. and creator of the famed restaurant , Chez Panisse. To be fair, he has criticized her , proclaiming that she doens;t know how to scale a garden to fit a school. She in turn has accused of him the same thing. His Square Roots project has met with a lot of flak too. It's an idea that has young farmers growing greens with nothing but enhanced water and LEDs in shipping containers, It's hydroponic farming that has critics sniping about the lack of nutrient rich soil.

Will Kimbal Musk change the food industry the way his brother, Elon changed the auto industry? Can he change the way we eat ? He has the drive and determination to do so - just like his brother.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rock Star Dishes

Rock stars are no different than us - in fact they were us before all the success and fame. They also cooked like us, honoring family classics and whipping up their favorite dishes. Now there's a new cookbook, thanks to self taught chef and former music writer, Mark Bego. He's given us some recipes that will surely rock a home chef's kitchen.

Eat Like A Rock Star (Skyhorse Publishing 2017) is the perfect cookbook for any cook who love both the art of cooking and the arts of music and song. There are all sorts of dishes and drink recipes from classical pianists to the rock royalty.Mr. Bego , himself , has also contributed a variety of different ones to the book. His career,  revolves around interviewing celebrities for Record World as well as penning biographies of such superstars as Madonna, Tina Turner and Jackson Brown. Yet he also love to cook and bake, and the book are evidence of this.what is great about the book is that readers dive straight into the recipes. There are no pages or  chapters telling you what  instruments and gadgets you should have  or what ingredients your pantry should hold. Every recipe has an interesting  story with it along with tips for varying the recipe or shortcuts. The chapters are divided into the usual, brunch and breakfast, lunch , salads and soups, meats, pasta, sides  and dessert. There is one exception and that is the cocktail chapter. Any of the drinks would pair well with the hors 'ouevres and brunch recipes.

Mr. Begos has had his famed friends contribute delicious recipes any home chef can make. Ray Parker Junior, known for the theme , from the original "Ghostbusters" movie  contributed his Salmon, Eggs and Grits recipe, a fun Sunday brunch recipe.It's scrambled eggs with salmon and a side of buttery grits. Rock royalty, Sean Lennon has  his Zen like Ginger Scallion Salmon with four main ingedients - again a pefect light supper , especially if served with  Mr Begos" roasted root vegetables. Pasta has always fed musicians and there's no shortage of good ones here to try.  The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald gives  us his Pasta With Ham, Peas and Parmesan Cheese. This is a hearty dish  that can be made so easily  thanks to frozen peas and shredded ham. Lou Christie, the man behind the 1966 hit "Lightenin' Strikes" has a downright tasty Summer Linguine with the salsa cruda, made with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil.Mr. Begos himself, has some extraordinary recipes too. Try his Chicken Paprikash, an homage to his Hungarian heritage or  his Mongolian Beef , a nod to his;love  of Chinese cuisine. Desserts are varied, from Angela Bowie's Cowboy Cookies, a combo of peanut butter and chocolate chip and the heavenly Hungarian Dessert Crepes from classical pianist Havasi,Try a drink from Mickey Dolenz of Monkees fame or Ricky Jones of  The Village People.

Eat Like A Rock Star can make any home chef cook and bake like one. The recipes are tasty and fun to recreate. They're definitely classics in the kitchen.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spicing Up Your Meats

Want to zing up that chicken or pork. Add spice - and yes, you can add  some of the ones that make pumpkin spice what it is. It's a nice way to add some flavorful heat on a nippy fall day. Best of all it give home chefs the chance to be creative.

Spiced meats are nothing new. Before refrigeration and salt, adding spices to various meals to preserve them and take away their rancid flavor. Pepper, cinnamon, cumin and cloves were the ones of choice and they still are today. What should today's cooks use?It depends on the meat. If you're having qualms about using anything more than rosemary or oregano - which are herbs, then just use a light hand. Start off with a roast chicken , flavored with ground pepper and  the Indian classic, garam masala. This last can easily be made at home  by blending cumin, coriander, and cinnamon with cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.It's then marinating the chicken for fifteen minutes before roasting and then roasting in an oven. Pair  the smoky sweet allspice and nutmeg with cayenne  in a fiery jerk rub . Cinnamon on its' own can flavor a chicken. For a Moroccan vibe mix the spice with cumin and ginger  and then fricassee it. Add almonds and couscous for more authenticity. Allspice and cumin can be turned into a paste along with paprika, onion and garlic powders  to rub over chicken . it's then roasted , producing a crispy, spicy skin.

Pork is another meat that can be zinged up with spice. Pork roast on its' own is delicious, but add cinnamon to bring out the meat's sweet flavor. It's combining the spice with salt, pepper, onion, sugar and garlic,. Soy sauce is added to make it a paste and then the mixture is rubbed onto the meat. It does need three to  twenty-four hours to marinate. Cinnamon can be combined with ground pepper for a tasty rub, sweetened with brown sugar and zinged up with dried mustard.Pair the spice with its' fellow sweet spices of nutmeg and allspice for a different kind of dry rub. Red pepper and garlic powder are also added to balance out the's then rubbed onto the pork and left to stand for twenty minutes to let the flavors soak in. Ham can also be improved with a variety of fall spices. A cinnamon glaze is a nice change of pace for a Sunday or holiday ham. It's combining it with maple syrup and dark brown sugar for a spicy sweet foil to the meat's saltiness. Allspice can also be used for ham as well. Mix it with cloves and a jolt of whiskey along with brown sugar and garlic powder. for a memorable glaze that will give the meat a nice bacon like crust

Consider spiced meat this fall. It's a nice alternative and will give chicken, pork or ham a smoky, warm sweetness. Add autumn's flavors to your main meal for a tasty change.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Sweet Side Of Polenta

Polenta has long been a savory meal. For years it's been drenched in everything from tomato sauce to eggs, be fried or grilled. Yet it can be used in sweet dishes as well,It's ot just for dinner anymore. It's for dessert and most surprisingly breakfast.

What is polenta? It's a dish of boiled cornmeal that's then baked, grilled or fried. It's derived from earlier pulses, hence the name, from spelt, faro and chestnut. The introduction of corn in the Columbian exchange changed the dish forever. Remember, there are two kinds, usually referred to as grinds. The coarser one makes for a firmer consistency , able to hold its' shape while the finer produces a creamy , soft texture. Use the coarser grinds for the breakfast polentas. One interesting dish is the corn made with cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg.Cook the polenta first and then add the sugar and spices, It's then pouring it out on a sheet tray and letting it chill for thirty minutes. Cut into squares and then fry, Serve with maple syrup and butter for a tasty breakfast.It can also be turned into a breakfast's adding the meal to a boiled mixture of  milk vanilla bean and salt. A cup of sugar is then stirred in and it's served with Greek yogurt , honey and preserves such as apricot or marmalade.Try it with coconut milk , topped with strawberries and almonds.

Once you've tried sweet polenta, there's no stopping. It makes for an interesting dessert., because of the texture. A very trendy recipe in many Italian restaurants right now is chocolate polenta. This is an easy take on a classic chocolate pudding. Use the finer ground one for an extra creamy texture. It's cooking it for three minutes as it's whisked into a thin steady stream. Three tablespoons of sugar are added as is one teaspoon of vanilla extract and eight ounces of good dark  finely chopped chocolate.Stir until smooth and melted and served. Add a dollop of whipped cream or creme frache. Polenta can be cooked with butternut squash, coconut milk, and vanilla paste along with such spices as ground ginger and cinnamon for a healthy take on  it. Polenta is also an excellent base for cake too. Try it in a cake loaded with orange and coriander for a tasty and citrus-y dessert. Polenta can even take the popular form of the cupcake.It's mixed with regular flour to create a nice crumb. A cup of chopped strawberries and lemon zest are added for a nice fruity flavor and then they're iced with a strawberry lemon glaze.The Italians have been making polenta cookies for centuries. Try their buttery lemon infused swirls or simple tea cookies, perfect with espresso. The last can be dipped in melted dark or milk chocolate for a fancier party treat.

There is a sweet side to polenta. This classic Northern Italian dish can be made into a delicious breakfast pudding or a tasty orange infused cake. Use it to make fun cupcakes and buttery cookies. It's a great ingredient to any breakfast or dessert dish.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Edgy Veg - Vegan Fun in A Cookbook

Most vegetarian cookbooks are usually preachy with staid tofu recipes. Not so with a kicky new meat free recipe nook that's loaded with fun recipes. The Edgy Veg turns the vegan lifestyle on its ear and gives it  roller coaster ride of flavor in the kitchen.

Candice Hutchings and her husband,James Aita are the writers of this really entertaining cookbook published by Robert Rose Publishers. The pictures alone are drool worthy, that make anyone want to eschew meat and head to the kitchen. The books has an unusual opening, starting with books and TV programs about  going meatless before diving into the basics. Another big plus is that Ms. Hutchings and Mr. To have a list of tools that are divided into three categories - critical, important and helpful.  There is also a very detailed list of pantry staples that all novice vegans should have. Every meat free cookbook has egg, meat and dairy substitutions and this one is no different.These can be bought or made at home.Some are versatile such as aquafaba - bean water from chickpeas along with coconut milk.Tofu and seitin are musts . They are the backbone of any kitchen as Ms. Hutchings points out. Another plus is that there is an opening chapter devoted to basic recipes. You can learn how to make four types of yummy vegan bacon along with pizza dough and simple neat - yes neat - balls.She has recipes for such basic sauces as Hollandaise and Bearnaise along with eggless mayo and non dairy sour cream.

I  absolutely love this book and the fun recipes in it.It's divided into such  cheekily named chapters as Souper Natural, The Main Squeeze and Thirsty Girl. MY favorite chapter is MUnchies which has  crunchy golden samosas and even movie popcorn with four different flavorings ,from dill to chili cheese to salted chocolate. They include a yummy Buffalo cauliflower seven ways that would be the perfect Saturday night dinner/snack. Of course there is main and side dishes too, and they are from around the world , including recipes that honor Mr. Aita's Syrian background.A vegan home chef could easily impress guests with their steaks with Bearnaise sauce or impress family with a cauliflower version of General Tso's Chicken.Pair it with the Edgy Roasted Veg ,a tasty mix of various veggies zinged up with hot pepper and lemon juice. Comfort foods are also here, There is tomato bisque served with non cheese grilled cheese along with a French dip sandwich and Easy Cheesy Fondue made without any cheese! There is a chapter on power drinks like the eye opening ginger shot and the tasty mint chocolate chip smoothie. Of course there are desserts and they feature the elegant and the cozy. Home bakers will love recreating the classic Victorian Sponge while kids will go mad for the coconut cream based ice creams and the "Literally Dying Skillet Cookie ala Mode, a giant chocolate chip cookie.

 Home chefs should definitely buy The Edgy Veg. This is the perfect cookbook for any vegan or thinking about a lifestyle change carnovire. The recipes are way too delicous to pass up! Get it today  for some yummy cooking and eating!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Top Chef Becomes A Top Entrepreneur

There are some chefs who just cook - and that defines them. Others turn their skills into a multi-level business and that also defines them. Then there is Mike Isabella who is a combination of both.He's setting the Washington DC culinary world atilt and now has a new concept, a modernist food church .

Jennifer Steinhauer interviewed Chef Isabella for yesterday's New York Times Food section. Mr. Isabella first came to prominence ten years ago when he appeared as a contestant on Top Chef. He wowed judge Tom Colicchio with a tasty pepperoni sauce. In the years in between he established eleven restaurants in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.By then end of this year he'll be opening a vast food emporium at Tyson's Galleria, a McLean Virginia luxury mall. His latest venture, a French eatery, Requin will bring life to The Wharf, a refurbished  area of the Washington waterfront. This new eatery is a kind of food church being helmed by him and chef Michael Rafidi who has also has a background in southern Spanish and Moroccan cuisine. Chef Isabella has a whole globe of international restaurants, including Greek,Italian Mexican and Chinese.

Mr. Isabella is much more than a restauranteur . He is a mogul, somewhat rare in the food world. His empire is worth thirty million and it includes stands in airports and sports arenas. He has an army of six hundred workers whiich will double when the new restaurants open. This boy  from New Jersey had humble beginnings. His culinary career started at the now defunct Restaurant School of New York, did stints in Manhattan and Philadelphia. He cooked for the famed Marcus Samunessen and prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr. He experimented with eastern Mediterranean food at Zaytinya. He met Tom Colicchio at food writer , Joan Nathan's house where he pushed Mr. Nathan to let him compete on Top Chef. After the show he started Graffiato in Washington 's Chinatown section. His future lies with the success of Isabella's Eatery at the upscale mall.. It will have a variety of different cuisines from Mediterranean to Japanese , with Italian thrown in He'll also have an  ice cream parlor and a coffee bar.

Mike Isabella is beyond just a restauranteur. He is a giant in the industry  and his empire will keep growing. It will be exciting and interesting as to what he'll do next.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dhosas A Tasty Spin On Crepes

Dosas are one of the fun foods in Indian cuisine. They're light and crispy, without the heaviness of say a curry or paneer. These crepes can be filled with anything and make for a perfect dinner or even a snack.

Melissa Clark wrote about them and tested out a recipe in her A Good Appetite Column.They are a variation on the FRench crepe, being made with lmetils and rice. Unlike them, there's no special pan to create them. Any cast iron  skillet or griddle will do. Dosas do require a lot of prep time and devotion.There will be a trip to the local Indian market to purchase white urad dal  - a type of black lentil that's been split and husked along with Ragi flour or malted finger millet flour. Home chefs will also need frozen shredded coconut and curry leaves also available at Indian market. It's then soaking, grinding and fermenting for twenty-four hours.It's basically rinsing the rice and urad dal in cold water and then transferring it to a large bowl or container. Fenugreek is added and then cold filtered water . The grains are left to soak at room temperature for twenty-four hours  before cooking.It's then drained afterwards, then transferred to a powerful blender or food processor and blended with filtered water until a thin runny batter is formed. Rice flour or ragi millet flour is whisked in until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter. The fermented batter will bubble and rise up..

Making dosas is exactly like making crepes. The first few won't come out perfect. There's an old saying about throwing the first few crepes to the dog. It does take a knack according to Anita Jaisinghani of the famed Indian restaurant Pondicheri in New York City. She recommends not using too much oil to fry them along with setting them on the griddle for a heartbeat before spreading the batter out to the pan's edges.Use a measuring cup's bottom and not a spoon for spreading. This creates, golden, crunchy exteriors. Don't worry if they're not thin,. The thicker they are the better to taste the rich  lentil flavor. Ms. Clark fills her with  a pumpkin seed chutney and flavored mustard greens. The chutney is super easy to make. It's cooking the frozen shredded coconut and onion in coconut oil.. Mustard seeds and curry leaves are also added for intense flavor. Ginger and cayenne are also added for the classic Indian heat we all know so well.Pumpkin seeds are add for crunch .

Dosas are a traditional Indian dish that's tasty and traditional. They are labor intensive but worth it.l Try them for a taste of the fiery yet delicious./

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lia Huber's Amazing Journey

Many chefs go overseas to learn cooking. They usually head to Paris or Milan, but not Lia Huber. She learns her craft on the beaches of Corfu and the lush jungles of Costa Rica. This journey has led her to her latest cookbook/autobiography, Nourished : A Memoir of Food, Faith and Enduring Love.It's much more than a recipe book, it's a template for surviving rough times.

Ms. Huber has lovingly and humorously written this interesting book published by Penguin Ramdon House. She has been through a lot in her life with being diagnosed with cancer in her twenties along with fibromyalgia, first mistakenly diagnosed as lupus. She and her husband Christopher have gone through a plethora of ups and downs. Their strong faith has kept them anchored as she writes about it, One of the aspects I love about this book is that it can strike a resonant chord with anyone, not just home chefs but anyone going through their own hells.Chef. Huber is a regular contributor to the magazine Cooking Light, and that detailed, colorful writing, usually reserved for recipes and food articles, is present here.Readers will feel like they're in the lush forests of Costa Rica or the dusty roads of Oaxaca , Mexico.She vividly shares her meals with friends  in Northern California , inviting the reader into their circle along with sharing the pure joy of her daughter,Noemi's adoption The book travels the world, from North and Central America to Europe. The places have impacted her and her recipes.

The recipes are important to her and at at the end of each chapter. They are as varied and as interesting as her life. Any home chef, from novices to pros, can recreate these delicious tributes to the people and places in her life. Spring peas are what changed her way of life and cooking and there is a recipe for them along with an accompanying recipe for roasted rack of lamb. Home chefs will share her excitement of opening up their culinary repertoire with spices and herbs.There is the grilled pork en adobada with cebollitas,Ancho and guajillo chilies along with cumin and cinnamon zing up boneless pork loin.Try pollo en jocon, chicken with tomatillos and serrano chilies. Greek cooking has greatly influenced Chef Huber's life and there is an excellent recipe for the garlicky potato dish , skordalia. Since she also spent time in northern Italy, learning the intricacies of pasta making there are some good recipes for surprisingly zucchini frittata.It's so simple yet so flavorful. She also is inspired from restaurants, as we all are, and that's seen in her lasagna and Beijing Peanut Noodles/ Yes, there's a cake one, from Mexico, Pastel Imposible, Or Impossible Cake, a magical blend of chocolate and flan that changes position while baking.

Nourished: A Memoir Of Food, Faith and Enduring Love is not just a cookbook but an inspirational book. Buy it  read it for hope , make the recipes for nourishment, It is  must have for any home library.

Monday, October 9, 2017


Columbus did a lot for food fusions despite  his many sins. The Americas opened up  world of different marriages on so many levels that could not have been possible on the other continents. Recipes were fused as nationalities mingled and married. It created a brand new cuisine.

Marriages are  the first places where fusion cooking occurs. Many Germans and Italians have intermarried in the last 140 years with them recipes. Italians learned how to make spaetzle, pasta's Teutonic cousin while Germans  experimented with brajolerouladens's or beef roll's relative from across the Alps.Kids, hybrids, themselves had the joy of one of the most varied charcuterie's from landjager and teawurst to mortadella and prosciutto.Greeks , usually thought of being exclusive, married out and brought such diverse foods as corned beef and Yorkshire pudding into diets, rich with dolmades and pastisio. As more and more people came to both North and South America, intermarriage occurred. People from the islands came and fell in love with, not their new cities but the people in them. Rice and beans became  a side dish to such American classics as roast turkey and squash. New cuisines , such as Tex-Mex a combination of Texan and Mexican and Creole, a wide mix of French and Spanish recipes, but also influenced by Amerindians, African, along with Haitian, Italian, German and Irish.

The Columbian Exchange also brought another type of marriage. Ingredients from both sides of the Atlantic  were now being combined to create brand new dishes. Italians embraced tomatoes so much that it's hard to think of Southern Italian cuisine without them.Corn, another New World crop is the catalyst from turning polenta, that ancient recipe that first used barley , into pure heaven and a staple of Northern cuisine. Corn also brought that international snack favorite popcorn all over the globe. The South American tuber, the potato was all important in feeding both Ireland and Germany. It's big in Swabian German recipes like ,kartofelkloesse dumplings made with potatoes and zinged up with gingersnps. They're the chief component in potato pancakes or latke, along with the Irish boxties and English tattie fish. The Europeans brought  over the domesticated meats such as beef, chicken and pork. Without these Mexican cuisine would not have chicken tacos , beef flautas and pork chilis.
. The indigenous North Americans gave the world its' most famous bird, the turkey, used in every holiday dinner , both in the US and the UK.

Columbus ushered in the Age of Discovery . He also brought in marriages of diverse culture and fusion cuisines. The Columbian Exchange changed the world's lives and diets

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Helping The Hurricane Victims

There have been three devastating hurricanes in the last month . Homes have  been demolished and with them the heart of any house - the kitchen. It's ,time to step up in our kitchens to generate money and items that are crucial to starting over. Charity does begin at home, but with our ovens and pantries.

One of the easiest fund raisers to organize is a bake sale. Nothing beats homemade cookies and cupcakes. These are simple to make and fun to vary. Bake giant chocolate chip cookies instead of the usual smaller ones. (Try the recipe from Wednesday's New York Times Food section.) It's a good idea economically because you can charge more - think three dollars a cookie  instead of two dollars for six. They can also be made in sugar and peanut butter flavors too.  Since it's fall, think about a fun batch of caramel apple cupcakes. Bake them in muffin tins for a rounded apple look and then ice with caramel when cooled. Finish by sticking popsicle sticks in them to look like the real thing. Again, these can be priced at four  dollars a piece to bring in more money. To honor those hit by Hurricane Maria on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, bake  Pueto Rican cakes. These are a delicate mix of an egg and butter rich cake soaked in a homemade rum syrup.They're then decorated with a  syrup soaked meringue. Another cake to celebrate the island is a yummy pineapple rum cake which is sure to be a best seller. It's a pineapple upside down cake spiked with the Caribbean spirit. Squares of it would sell well.

A second way of helping is going through your pantry and donating any duplicates.It's easier to donate cans and foodstuffs to the Houston and Florida victims.It's not so much for those on Puerto Rico.  If anything donate water and diapers to those hit by Hurricane Maria.  When donating, try to aim for canned items that are versatile. Tomato sauce and  can be used in making a great pasta dinner but it can also be used for making chili as well as soup. Canned green beans can be used both in salads and as a side. Canned potatoes are another must donate. They are great in thickening up soup but the sliced ones can used in scalloped potatoes.Corn is another versatile canned veggie because it can be added to salads or served on its' own. Canned chili, although not as good as homemade - yet makes for a  satisfying meal They're not as donated as much as other canned goods but canned fruits are always welcome. Kids. love canned peaches and these make for a change up from the usual processed snack cakes for dessert. Just remember to get the ones that are low in syrup and sugar. Try canned grapefruit which is loaded with Vitamin C along with canned mandarin oranges also packed with Vitamin C and fiber. Fruit salad is also good. It can even be eaten for breakfast and canned cherries make for a nice snack.

We have to open not only our hearts, but our Kitchens and pantries too. Organize bake sales. Start a can drive . Bring those hurt by these wicked hurricanes closer to returning to their own kitchens and pantries.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Your Fall Dinner Guide

One of the blessings of fall is that it's perfect weather for creating lavish dinners. It's time for roasting  and  creating good old fashioned sides that are filling. It's the season for the kitchen to be filled with mouth watering aromas and tastes.

Roasts are always a great fall dish. Not only are they satisfying, but they also provide the family with leftovers. A Sunday favorite is London Broil, a top round steak that is usually marinated. It doesn't have to be , it can just be liberally sprinkled with pepper and then put into an oven  or broiler. A simple marinade is using olive oil, garlic and maybe a splash of lemon. Roast beef is another great fall main course. It can be made on its own or with gravy.It's an easy cook, Just  dust with salt and pepper. Remember cooking time is one pound times twenty minutes, so a six pound roast can take two hours. Cooler weather also means tasty pork dishes. A pork roast can be cooked in a broiler, oven or slow cooker, however if you want a nice crust go for the oven method of cooking.It can be made Italian style with garlic cloves and rosemary or German with a side of cooked, spiced apples. Tired of the usual roasts? Then go for lamb. It can be with made exotic with the addition of  tarragon, paprika and cumin or simple with only lemon , garlic and rosemary. Want  lighter fare? Then go for chicken or Cornish hens. These are more delicate in flavor and calories, a different spin on the traditional roasts. Of course there is turkey which  should not be reserved for just the holidays. Roast a smaller one for a Sunday dinner.

Traditional roasts demand traditional sides. Mashed potatoes are always a crowd pleaser. Think of the age old recipe that's just a simple mix of Golden potatoes, butter and cream. You can sub in milk for the cream. Variations include add garlic, chives and even the skins themselves. Scalloped potatoes are a nice alternative and easy to make. It's just potato slices layered with a kind of Bechamel sauce, dots of butter  and then baking for an hour. Sweet potatoes are another great side that can compliment any roast. Nix the overly sweet casserole and go with baked kind. They can be roasted with your roast on a separate foil lined cookie sheet. Because of their intense flavor, just serve with butter and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. Don't forget the greens. Steamed broccoli is  the perfect palate cleanser for all the other sides. Add  some lemon juice to bring out the fresh "Spring-y" flavor. Another great green is Brussels sprouts.. It's just boiling them and then giving them a topping of butter knobs and grated Parmesan cheese. It's then broiled so the sprouts are covered in buttery and cheesy goodness. For color throw some corn into the mix. Use canned since the corn season is well past. Try fiesta corn ,a marriage of the kernals cooked with chopped red and green peppers. Creamed corn is another nice alternative.

The temps are dropping That means it's the season for cooking hearty roasts and sides. It's a nice way to warm up against the nip in the air.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Perfect Parmesan

One of the best dishes for fall is eggplant Parmesan.It's a tasty dish, well loved on both sides of the Atlantic yet somehow it loses in translation here.However there's a new way to take that casserole from soggy to super. It's just rethinking the eggplant in a more traditional way.

Julia Moskin tackled this in yesterday's New York Times food section. Eggplant Parmesan has always been a dinner favorite both in the US and in Italy. Unfortunately the American version is as delicious as its' Italian cousin. This is due in part to the way we love our slices of eggplant. They have to be dipped in egg first and then heavily crusted with bread crumbs. This method is fine if you're having them as "poor man's oysters" with a squeeze of lemon on the side or maybe a drizzle of .aioli Yet to layer these oil rich slices  under layers of tomato sauce and melted mozzarella is not good. It bakes into a mush as the sauce seeps into the slices ad turns the whole dish into flavorful sludge. People will eat it, whether at home or in a restaurant but it's still not the best. Luckily it was the famed French chef Jacques Pepin  and his mother who inspired Ms. Moskin. Start off with the eggplant. Don't get those whopping deep purple ones. Stick with delicately striped Japanese ones. These make the best for slicing and frying. Also forget about individual slices. Think fans. Cut one into a fan and flatten out with your palms. Doing this expels any liquid which makes for a crisper texture and much better for pan frying.

Here's the hard part. Changing up both the batter and the sauce. Mix the heavy breadcrumbs. Use Madame Pepin's recipe for aubergine beignets which is just dipping the fans in a mixture of water and flour. If you still want the crunch of  bread crumbs, then use the feather light panko ones. Fry in vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil. (If you want  just serve the fried eggplant on its' own) next is the sauce. Ms/ Moskin looks to shakshura, the North  African egg dish with a tomato sauce. She uses a simple tomato sauce , preferably homemade. A canned sauce can be used as well, however one made with late season tomatoes is much more delicious. The next step is adding packaged mozzarella, shredded or diced.Place the cheese in evenly spaced piles  in the bubbling sauce so that they're not so close and melt together.It may have to be done in two batches. It's then placing a spoonful of the sauce either on top or alongside the eggplant. Top with the mozzarella, lifting it out with a slotted spoon. Decorate with fresh herbs. and serve. This is the closest to Italian style.

Eggplant Parmesan can be made better the Italian way. It's a geat way of reimagining a classic dish. Try it for a tasty change of pace.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Rise Of Bread

Bread has been around for milleniums.The basic recipe hasn't changed  either  however that's about to change.Thanks to a new recipe book,Modernist Bread, how we look at this basic foodstuff our ideas about baking it are going to be tilted on their axis.

Teal Rao wrote about this book entitled Modernist Bread written by Francisco I got a and Nathan Myhrvold. It's a follow up to their epic Modernist Cuisine, written in 2011.The we book is a hefty 2,000 pages long and is a whopping $625.This is for serious home bakers and bread lovers as it chronicles both the history and science of bread making. It starts with the idea of microbiology and goes deposit into explanations.As Ms. Rao states it makes home bakers rethink how the world,s oldest and most recorded food is thought.Ancient recipes, such as what the ancient Romans, baked was recreated.The bread back then was not tasty nor was it delicious during the Renaissance . According to the authors it wasn,t even good during the start of the arts analysis movement in the 1970s.The time is now. Many professional bakers thought there would be new insights, but there weren't any.Yet home bakers can profit immensely from this book.

What can home bakers learn?Techniques on how to combat wheat bread ' dryness and density along with preventing bagels from going bald when their toppings fall off.The first is solved by adding bran and germ to create a lighter, aired loaf.The second requiem the surprise ingredient of tapioca starch which acts as an edible glue.Also add gelatin makes high hydration doughs much easier to handle along with providing a browser crust..Mr.Migoya was born in Mexico City where he learned how to make hu it Lacombe the rich, earthy fungus in corn that 's used as a sourdough starter.He was a pastry chef at the famed French Laundry along with being a teacher at the Culinary Institute of America.He also worked at the famous Queen llc in New York City along with owning his own chocolate store in the Hudson Valley.There is a recipe for cherry chocolate bread that home bakes surely must try.It starts with a liquid sourdough starter and is chock full of dried cherish and chocolate chips.
Bread has been around for a long, long long time . Modernist Bread  demystifies this ancient staple.The book is worth the hefty price,

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Parsing Through Fall Spices

Autumn brings a plethora of warm, rich flavors, thanks to spices. They enhance rich and hearty dishes, from savory to sweet. Yet what exactly are they? Are they just pumpkin pie flavoring or a host of complex grindings that can be used on their own?

Everyone associates this time of year with pumpkin pie spice. Our doughnuts and coffee, ice cream and, of course , pumpkin pie . what is it exactly?It's equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg, allpsice and ginger. Any of the spices would be goon on their own, flavoring both savory and sweet dishes. Cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of  the Cinnamomun  tree. Cinnamon is  usually used in rolls and breads, but can also be used in lunch and dinner dishes too. The Greeks often use it i eggplant dishes and moussaka.It's big on tagine dishes where it's mixed with coriander and cumin. A dash of it is good in mashed sweet potatoes too. Sweet cinnamon dishes are great for ending a meal Apple cooked in cinnamon are always tasty as are baked apples.Nutmeg is another fall spice that's versatile.It comes from the ground seed of the tree of the same name.It's been used for centuries in both savory and sweet dishes, especially in Colonial America. Try it in a butternut squash soup or spiced kabobs. It;s also tasty in Swiss chard dishes, bringing out the veggie's earthy sweetness. Nutmeg can add a festive sweetness to vanilla ice cream and pudding.
Allspice is another versatile spice that can liven up both a dinner and dessert.It is a Caribbean spice coming from the  pimenta dioca tree.It is the primary ingredient in jerk  and gives Cincinnati  chili its'zing. Meats such as lamb, chicken, and beef can be marinade in a it along with cumin,garlic and freshly squeezed  orange juice.It can also be used in Arabic recipes such as a veggie tangine.Use this zesty spice in a cake rich with walnuts, raisins and brown sugar.A teaspoon of it to hot cocoa   takes it up a notch.Ginger is another autumnal spice tat can be used in both savory and sweet recipes.Ginger is a big component in Chinese cooking.Fresh ginger gives everything from fish to veggie's bite and fire.Add to lobster along with scallions for a zingy Cantonese seafood dinner.Ginger chicken is a nice week night  meal.Of course the  root has been used for centuries in cookies and cakes.A true sign of the upcoming holidays is gingerbread.Bake some for a lovely end to a Sunday dinner or make gingerbread cupcakes for a fun Halloween party.
Make gingerbread cookie baskets and fill with vanilla ice cream for a different kind of dessert.

Autumn is spice season.Break free of the traditional pumpkin spice ones and try them individually.They add a warm fire to any savory or sweet recipe.

Monday, October 2, 2017

island Delights

The Caribbean has given us so many delicious foods and drinks. From jerk to rum, we've experienced some of the best the islands have to offer. They are a mix of indigenous ingredients and European influence. It makes for a tasty cuisine of savory, spicy and sweet.

The dishes from the islands are the first fusion recipes. African, Creole, Cajun, and Amerindian have played an important role. The European influence is felt strongly as well. Spain, England, and France were the first major impacts, along with Portuguese and Irish. Surpsingly, but not surprisingly, there is also a Chinese, Javanese, Indonesian, Arab and South Indian input.Most of the islands share the same ingredients such as rice, beans cassava,a  kind of yam, along with cilantro or coriander. Bell peppers figure heavily into it, along with chickpeas, tomatoes,sweet potatoes and coconut. Some ingredients such as  ackee and saltfish, a type of fruit and salted cod are only cooked and eaten in Jamaica. Many bigger islands such as Jamaica have influence over the smaller ones or are so close such as Trinidad and Tobago that they influence each other. Some of them such as Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Domenican Republic have variations of the same dishes, slightly varying the amount of spicings.

What are the standout dishes of the islands? Puerto Rico and Cuba have the most known and the most popular.The Puerto Ricans make arroz con gandules y lechon - pork cooked with  yellow rice and pigeon peas.There's also pork belly or chicharrones which is crispy and salty like pork rinds. There's the crunchy  tostones, fried plantains, flavored with garlic powder and salt. Cubans have the delicious rice and beans, arroz y frijoles , cooked together. There's also the wildly delicious ropa viejo or old clothes.. This is shredded beef simmered in a tomato based criollo or garlic sauce. Arroz con pollo is another flavorful and famed dish along with the well known Cuban sandwich. This last is a tasty marriage of ham and pork loin with Swiss cheese and dill pickles on a cianbatta or hero bread. Mayo and mustard  round it out.Jamaican food is also striking. Jerk is made with a variety of different meats, from chicken to goat!.It's similar to our beef jerky here in the States. The Rastafarians have contributed vegetarian salt free cuisine to the island. This is called Ital and has such dishes as curried tofu chunks and vegetable stew.

The Caribbean has given the world a variety of tasty dishes. They are spicy and  sweet, savory and crunchy. Try them for an unusual spin on eating.