Monday, August 14, 2017


Foodie Pantry will be reopening September 1st and with it comes all new ideas, reviews , recipes and pictorial how to. The Great British Baking Show will be featured as a modern Jewish cookbook review along with healthy recipes with low acidic ingredients.

Restaurants will be reviewed.I'm looking forward to trying out Texas Roadhouse with its' Blooming Cactus and yummy selections of steak!Also Nino's in Garfield NJ, with it's amazing Portuguese dishes.

See you soon!!!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Getting Closer

The Pantry will be opening soon. Look for healthy recipes, new cookbook reviews , how to pictorials and recipes.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Foodie Pantry Reopens September 1st

The Pantry returns Friday , September 1st. Look for all new postings , reviews, and musings on diet!

Looking forward to writing in this new season!


Friday, July 7, 2017

The Last Entry ..... For Now

I am closing the Pantry for now. I don't know if I will come back because I am undergoing a life altering operation. it will change me - and not for the better. I whole heartedly wish everything was different - back to normal, where I could still interview chefs and write about food trends. That was not meant to be.

If I am back  - I am back - if not - thanks for all your amazing support these past nine years.It meant  a lot to me. I loved writing this blog and now I must give it up.πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺ

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Eggplant

Eggplant is one of summer's most versatile gems.It can be turned into a variety of different dishes from fried to gracing a pasta sauce.It can be baked  into a type of casserole or turned into a delicious spread. Anyway you cook them, eggplants are the tastiest veggie around.

David Tanis  knows this and wrote about them in his A City Kitchen  in yesterday's New York Times Food section.He uses Sicilian recipes because the eggplant is one of the basic ingredients in their cuisine.It came to the island from the Arab influence and has remained there since the Middle Ages. Two other staples , tomato and peppers , came in through the Spanish during the Columbian period and the three mesh together nicely.It's also part of the cucina povera or "poor cuisine" where simple ingredients and a pinch of this or a pinch of that is added. There are no fancy ingredients, just veggies from the garden, olive oil and herbs.Eggplant has always been considered  cheap. Fried slices of it , coated in breadcrumbs were always known as "poor man's oysters." and this is a stand in for lamb chops in some Sicilian households. They're  also great in salads, or pickled. Stuffed eggplant is a standard and it's usually filled with rice and ground beef.

Mr. Tanis gives three eggplant recipes that are perfect for a summery dinner. The first is pasta alla Norma, named for the famed opera by Vincenzo Bellini, He  came from Cataniia where he ate this dish daily for lunch. It's simply  mixing fried cubes of eggplant with penne pasta. The seasoning , again, is pure cucina povera, It's garlic , tomatoes and basil  mixed with the cubes. Toasted bread crumbs and cheese  are usually sprinkled on top. Another tasty dish is caponata, which from the island's Arabic period.It's stewed in oil, and sweetened with sugar. The savory kick comes from vinegar, capers , tomatoes and onions cooked into a type of sauce.  The eggplant is then added and let set to allow all the flavors to meld.It should sit for at least an hour before serving.Baked eggplant parmagiana is another delicious way to cook or rather bake the veggie. The original recipe recommends layering it with tuma cheese, that highly aromatic cheese from Piedmonte but Mr.Tanis uses smoked mozzarella and fresh ricotta. Anchovies fillets are scattered on top, their saltiness bringing out the eggplant's sweetness.

Take advantage of eggplants  this summer. Use them in a variety of different dishes, They're versatile and tasty, perfect with other summer harvests of  tomatoes and peppers.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Berry Time

One of the best things about summer is that it's berry season. These rich colored gems are perfect in everything from cakes to ice cream, from pies to tortes. They add snap and sweetness , livening up any recipe.

Famed chef and pastry chef , Yotam Ottolenghi wrote about them in today's New York Times Food section. He only discovered them when he was a young man and cycling through the Netherlands and Belgium to Paris. He did have fruit growing up, mostly from trees. namely figs,  pomegranates, lemons and dates, but berries growing on low to the ground bushes were a novelty to him. His interest was piqued by famed chef Rowley Leigh. Chef Leigh did with berries what Middle Eastern chefs do with herbs - use them in absolute abundance,They need to be the building blocks of the recipe.Chef Ottolenghi's own recipes  include berry infused icings and butter creams. he studs them in cakes and tarts, mixing them with those fruits of his childhood. Lemon is probably one of the best partners for berries, as its'tartness and simplicity  marries the sweetness and layered complexity of any berry.

This is obvious in the his recipes. There is a blueberry, almond and lemon cake, perfect for any summer get together, from birthday to barbecue. He combines a cup and a half of fresh blueberries with both lemon juice and lemon zest. Lemon glaze finishes it off, so the cake, which is more of a pound, is not overwhelming with the taste of blueberries. Almonds also temper this , in the form of flour. His other recipe also marries nuts and berries. This time he uses pistachios and raspberries.The crust also has a taste of lemon to it, along with white wine vinegar. The filling combines a heaping cup of raspberries with two and a half cups of raw, shelled pistachios. He roasts and mashes these , until they're almost like a nut  butter. Eggs are then added for body and then it's placed in  the pastry shell. The raspberries are then sprinkled over the filling and baked.It comes out kind of like pistachio marzipan

Take advantage of berry season. Use those ripe. rich gems in such treats as tarts and cakes. Enjoy their,earthy sweet, flavor..

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Foodie Fourth

Enjoy the nation's birthday with fun foods. Munch on the dogs and burgers, have extra helping of three bean and potato salad.

Watch the fireworks  as you enjoy iced tea or ice cream! Visit the Boardwalk for some yummy cotton candy and candy apples.


Happy Birthday America!!!!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Meatless Fourth

 Millions of Americans are going to sink their teeth into burgers and dogs tomorrow .More son than Thanksgiving, July 4th is a true Yankee carnivore holiday. Yet, what about the vegans, vegetarians and those who want to eat healthier. The answer is easy - go meatless.

Eight  years ago, I wrote about vegan barbecues and even then the market was expanding. There are some tasty burgers out there, thanks to recipe improvements. Morningstar Farms, is the leader in soy products and they have a wide variety of burgers. They have Griller primer Burgers which have a smokey steak-y flavor. These are perfect for those wanting a taste like the real thing but without the cholesterol. Kids will love the company's tomato and basil ones that even have mozzarella bits in them. Serve them on the chewy Italian rolls, ciambatta, for extra goodness. For those on a diet Morningstar has their Mediterranean chickpea burgers which is kind of like a textured  hummus, and brimming with spinach and tomatoes along with Greek herbs and spices. Grill these and serve on grilled toasted pita  with tahini sauce. There are also hickory riblets that can be grilled and served with cole slaw and grilled corn for a real down home meal.

Hot dogs are another Fourth must have. Morningstar also has some good veggie dogs that can pass for the real thing. To make them more like Sabrett's , slice the dogs in half before grilling. Doing this will grill them up nice and crispy , perfect for tasty eating. The company also produces corn dogs which can be a fun barbecue extra.Of course there are other brands too, namely Tofurky, They also produce deli slices and sausages too however it's their dogs and jumbo dogs that are the stars. Grill the jumbo ones and serve on those bready Portuguese rolls for a fun , filling treat.If you want chili dogs, then also go vegan. You can make your own using Morningstar  Farms meat crumbles. Try a  a chili salsa, using fresh tomatoes and onions mixed chili powder and sliced jalapenos.Grilled chicken is always good too. and again look to Morningstar for this. They have both the regular and buffalo style patties that are just as easily barbecued as their burgers..Serve them on biscuits with honey mustard for a Southern take along with piccalilly relish .

Yes , you can have a meatless Fourth. It's healthier and tastier than the standard fare.It makes for good eating and good holiday memories.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Scoop On Ice Cream Creations

Now that's it's officially summer  it's time to get out the ice cream.Most people are happy with just a scoop of  vanilla i a waffle bowl/ Yet ice cream begs to be turned into something a bit more extravagant. Get out the scoop and get creative.

You 'll need ice cream, whether home made or store bought. If you're cranking it yourself, then go wild with different flavors. Mix rosemary and honey . Try cheesecake with pistachios.  Toss in Raisinets or Milk Duds in a homemade chocolate ice cream.  If you're buying it then stick strictly with ice holds up better ,  I think, with hot fudge and caramel. It's not as intense and works well with any add ins. One of the easiest ice cream creations to make is the sundae. It's usually just two or  three scoops , drenched in some kind of sauce  and then topped with whipped cream. For a different spin use  a homemade salted chocolate sauce  which is easy to make. It's just taking salted butter and a scant pinch of sea salt to  chopped dark chocolate  and brown sugar. Sundaes are sometimes layered with fruit. For a truly lush creation. have the first layer of strawberries or raspberries , then the ice cream. Top with the chocolate sauce and mounds of homemade whipped cream. Reserve some of the chocolate bar , and using a hasp, shave off  light puffy shards of it to decorate. You can sub in salted  caramel too for the chocolate sauce and topped with chopped  salted caramels .

Banana splits are the height of cool decadence.It's taking three scoops of the same ice cream or three different ones (usually, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) and placing them on a long oval dish or banana boat. Slice a banana lengthwise and place on each side of the scoops. Top the vanilla with pineapple , the chocolate with chocolate sauce  and the strawberry with strawberries or strawberry topping. Generously cover with whipped cream, wet walnuts and maraschino cherries.  You can also create a Bananas Foster split too. with vanilla ice cream for a truly decadent dessert or snack. Another fun treat is the classic ice cream sandwich. Moms across the world usually plop ice cream between two giant cookies and then roll them in sprinkles or chopped nuts. Make it  bit more sophisticated. by using pound cake, (it can be store bought) Slice a slice in two and layer softened ice cream on it. It can be placed in a puddle of sauce or coulis and topped with either whipped cream or creme fraiche. For a fancier spin cut  the slices into quarters to make ice cream petit fours. Add a  puff of whipped cream, then top with chocolate shavings, sprinkles or even edible flowers.

It is summer and that means ice cream. Go all out and create something wonderful, cool and tasty . Then enjoy!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fun Summer Drinking

Warm weather means thirst. Nothing quenches it more  than a cooling cocktail, mocktail or glass of wine,.A chilled glass could accompany a barbecue or  just a sultry night spent with friends.Luckily there are a variety of libations that will work perfectly to satisfy.

Alison Roman wrote about this the other day in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. She gives some interesting flavor combos for summer mocktails. One of the most important factors to consider is not making the drink too sweet.It should mimic a cocktail with ingredients that nuance the harder stuff and mimic the heat. John deBary, the bar director at the famed Momufuko, believes this is what makes faux drinks just as zingy as the real things. He also adds vinegar (!) to the mixtures because it adds salinity and acidity - the same aspects that make up regular alcohol.Ms. Roman gives a recipe, hibiscus fizz, that combines unfiltered apple cider vinegar with hibiscus tea , agave nectar or honey and soda water. Another mocktail salted lemon ginger spritzer has ginger kombuicha  A more refreshing one combines cucumbers and tonic water to taste. To give it  a more realistic flavor, a few drops of  Peychaud bitters, a gentian based tonic is stirred in. . Other ideas include a Virgin Mary, a Bloody Mary without the vodka and a fizzy lemonade made with fresh squeezed lemons and San Pelligrino. water mixed with a simple sugar.

For those of you who want a kick then think rose.Eric Asimov mentioned this in his Pour Column.It is officially the wine of summer despite it being an anemic version of more robust reds and whites.
It is made en masse, and many roses do not have memorable flavors or notes. Yet there are some good ones out there. costing anywhere from fifteen to twenty dollars. One of the best is Idlewild Mendocino, County, The Flower, Flora and Fauna, made of dolcetto, nebbolo and barbera, It's the perfect barbecue pour because it's more savory than sweet, despite the fruity, sweet citrussy smell. For a true fruity wine, go for Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Rose le Rose d'Folie. ,The core ingredient is gamay grapes, the deep purple ones used for red wines. Another summery fruity rose is from the Wolffer Estate on Long Island's South Fork. Their's is peachy  and well balanced with a note of anise. Soak sliced fresh peaches in it for a truly decadent warm night dessert or snack. Want exotic? Then go for  the Georgian, from the country of Georgia, Pheasant's Tears which \is fermented in ancient amphora like vessels line with beeswax and buried underground. The aroma is one of flowers and herbs and is low in alcohol.

Summer drinking should be like the season itself. Light and airy, I  should also combat the heat with refreshing flavors and a smooth chilled texture.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Variety Of Burgers

One of the best recipes to have fun with is the hamburger.It can be made a variety of different ways  with different ingredients for oomph and surprise. It can be basic, it can be spicy. It can even have a tangy sweet flavor. Best of all, it can be made by anyone, from a novice to an experienced home chef.

The basic burger is made from a pound of  good ground beef mixed with one egg and half a cup of bread crumbs. The egg is whisked with salt and pepper and then the meat and bread crumbs are can be mixed with a fork or hands and then mounded into balls. From there , they're flattened into patties and either are fried or grilled. If you want more flavor think about cutting the beef amount in half and adding ground pork or just completely going with pork. You can also do the same with ground turkey to create a healthier burger. As for flavorings. this is the fun part. Go crazy. Try a jalapeno burger with the addition of sliced jalapenos and tomato sauce. Garlic and cilantro can also be used too. Speaking of garlic, roast it and add it to the ground meat. It's so flavorful that a bun is not necessary.Onions are another flavoring that can make a burger sing. Mince them very fine before adding for a deliciously sweet and earthy flavor. Caramelizing them  also lends a great depth of taste too. Its just cooking the onions in oil before adding them to the beef.

A burger surprise is always a fun meal. Try any kind of cheese , from cheddar to American. Remember don;t use slices, instead get the bricks and cut them into cubes. These are easy to insert into the patties. Another idea is grating the cheese or cutting it into small bits and flecking it through the burgers. Bacon and hamburgers are a no brainer together .Imagine a burger stuffed with it. The bacon should be thoroughly cooked and crumbled first. You can also add cheese for a fun spin on a bacon cheeseburger.If you want to get the kids to eat nutritiously , you may want to sneak in some broccoli or carrots into their burgers.One of the hottest recipes around is the Paleo influenced avocado stuffed ones. It's a  a perfect marriage between the unami based meat and the sweet , buttery fruit. It's mashing the avocadoesas you would do for guacamole and then slathering the mash  on one thin patty. Another patty is put on top and the edges are them sealed. After grilling, the burgers can be topped with any leftover mashed avocado. The burgers can be served in tacos and with salsa for a neat twist.

Have your burger your way, You may want a garlic infused one or one with a surprise in the middle. It'sup to you,. Any burger is a good one.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Heating Up With The Summer Issue

Summer's here and that means one thing: fun food and treats! The New York Times Food section know this and today's issue was dedicated solely to all those summer pleasures. Find out about hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches, pot lucks and picnics. There's also a piece about an night market , full of tasty treats. This is summer at its' delicious best.

Everyone contributed to this keeper issue. Sam Sifton, Melissa Clark and Julia Moskin weighed in bout the best and worst hot dogs, participating in a taste test  to determine what's hot and what's not. This is a boon for hot dog lovers and grillers. The best are the all beef ones, namely Wellshire Farms Premium All Natural Uncured Beef franks and Hebrew National Beef. They also have a guide to label terms to help home chefs navigate towards the best grillers. They explain the difference between cured and uncured, along with the different types of casing. The trio also debunk the phrases old fashioned , premium, signature and classic - all marketing ploys. Ms. Clark also has her column about pot lucks too, perfect go withs for hot dogs. She offers a tomato and zucchini casserole with crisp cheddar topping. This dish will definitely take advantage of  a garden's bounty along with a plethora of such herbs such as mint and marjoram. There also is the extra recipe of pickled deviled eggs, always a fun summer treat. The dinner could end with Samantha Seneviratne's recipe for ice cream sandwiches made with homemade chocolate cake and good quality vanilla ice cream.

New York is known for summery nights and picnics in the park and there are articles on these as well. Tejal Rao goes on a picnic with Marisol and Angel Morales  They're not famous chefs but avid picnickers who love to go to their nearby park, Coffey Park for some tasty eating. Theirs is a mix of restaurant made grilled  chicken served with Ms. Morales  arroz con grandules. Ms. Rao also talked with Marnie Hanel who wrote the book "The Picnic: Recipes And Inspiration From Basket To Blanket . She suggests improvising. No cooler?No problem. Fill a  plastic wagon with ice to keep bottles cool. There's also a recipe for fried chicken  biscuits with hot honey butter.for an outdoor lunch or dinner. New York is also a city that never sleeps during the summer months.  This is true of the Queens Night Market, located where the 1964 World' Fair was held.It's where all sorts of tasty street food is sold. Here visitors can sip chicha morada , the Peruvian drink made form purple corn, pineapple peels, cinnamon and, cloves.  It's  definitely would soothe the heat of fuschka, an Indian semolina shell lined with a mash of yellow peas and chiles, splashed with tamarind..These are from the stand called Jhal NYC. Korean and Bolivian food are also there along with Indonesian  cakes of coconut and rice.Nigerian and Persian food is also represented too.

Summer is here. Enjoy the bounty of the season, whether at a picnic or all night fair. Take advantage of it and enjoy .

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Your Summer Shopping List

Summer is here and and with it an entirely different way to shop. A trip to the local grocery or farmer's mart should reflect not only the weather but the ease of cooking during heat waves. The best part is there's more fresh produce right now which lends to creative cooking and baking.

Produce is big and will be during these next three months. Take advantage of what your local groceries and farmer's markets have right now. This is the perfect time to buy corn and remember it's versatile. Yes, its good grilled and slathered in butter and herbs but it can also be used in homemade chowders  and salads. Try it in a fresh corn salad where the niblets can be mixed with fresh tomatoes and peppers. As for those last two, they're all over. Tomatoes should be high up there on your summer shopping list. (as tomato plants because nothing beats the taste of fresh picked tomatoes from your yard). They're versatile and can be used to make fresh sauce or salsa cruda, a raw sauce that cooks when cooked pasta is poured over it. Forget about canned or jarred sauces then. Use them when the weather gets cool again. Peppers are another must have. They are good cut into strips and grilled or stuffed with chopped mushrooms  and rice. Fruits are another must buy. Cherries, plums and peaches are in season and these make great snacks. They can also be pureed into mash for ices and popsicles too. Take advantage of  berry season too. Strawberries should also be on the top of the list because they can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner..

Should you buy a lot of microwave foods during the summer? Maybe  just popcorn and that's about it. instead of processed meals salads should be in the top five on your shopping list . A head of lettuce can be turned into a variety of delicious salads., from Nicoise to a chef's.  Have extras such as croutons and almonds slices to make it fun and crunchy. Olive oil is another must. It'll be used a lot  in salads but also for grilling and for marinades. Get the bigger bottle and you won't have any worries about it running out. Garlic cloves go faster in the summer than in the winter. Always have a nice fat one because you'll use the cloves for rubbing meats , as well as for dressing and marinating. This also applies to lemons that are are also well used during the season, although you can also buy a bottle of lemon juice. These also can be used for homemade lemonade and barbecue cocktails. Many home chefs buy cold cuts because it's easy to serve them for a meal or pack them on a picnic. Go for fresh sliced ones at your deli counter or good Italian cold cuts from Citta brand. They have the best tasting salame and  prosciutto , perfect for sandwiches and even bruschetta.

Summer shopping should easy and reflect the season's bounty. Take advantage of the produce and use it in every meal  Buy foods that are simple to use and simple to eat too. It'll make for a quick trip to the supermarket.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Don't Cater To Your Caterers

A catered affair should be classy and elegant, with amazing arrays of food and drink. Yet, surprisingly this isn't the case in many situations. A lot of banquet halls seem to have the upper hand when it comes to planning their clients fetes. Is this right? No. Don't cater to the people planning your big day.

This was brought home when I attended a friend's do for his daughter. At first it looked like a lush  luncheon , almost too much for a baptism. There were all kinds of foods , from the brunch classic , the omelet bar to the carving board, full of ham, turkey and pork roll. One side of the room has about fifty or sixty different kinds of dessert , Creme brule shared the spotlight with both white and milk chocolate fountains along with every kind of cake from strawberry to carrot. There was only one small problem. We had to share all this grub with the Sweet Sixteen party occurring in the next room. A fight broke out between the two groups a sort of Darwinian survival of the fittest and hungriest party guests. It  not something my friend or his family needed on this blessed day. Let this be a lesson. Make sure the food you want is yours exclusively.I'm sure both parties were surprised  - to say the least - at having communal food tables.Ask about exclusivity when scoping out the place. Will the food served be just for your party? Why is our buffet also someone else's?Of course read reviews too and if this is mentioned, then look for another place.

Another problem was the lack of soft drinks and juices. There were only two drinks offered - water and mimosas/ Kids could only have orange juice or water. I understand the fact that my friend wanted the invited little ones to have something healthy to drink but he could have also sprung for a pitchers of apple juice on the table. As for us adults, it was impossible to even get a much needed glass of soda. He had opted for everything else, including entertainment but not for six dollar pitchers of soda on each  table. The guests had to pay two dollars plus tip for a glass of Coke. Another important factor when you're planning a luncheon or dinner  is asking  what kind of hard and soft drinks will be provided. Don't opt for limits or "You can have either this or that but not both." The banquet hall should have given more options.They should have served a sparkling white wine instead of mimosas and also offer pitchers of soft drinks or iced teas.Don;t settle or get talked into having  just one expensive drink. I found  the idea too limiting and annoying , especially when I was looking for a non-alcoholic choice of beverage.

Caterers should cater to you. Don't agree to what they want if it's not what you want. It's your affair. Have it the way you want .

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Savory Cakes

We all have a notion of what cakes should look like and taste like. We expect a sweet, vanilla or chocolate flavor. Sometimes there's the zing of spice or punch of fruit. We never expect there to be a savory taste. Yet, there's a whole new breed of them out there - savory cakes.

The notion has intrigued me ever since I read about it in David Tanis' A City Kitchen column in last Wednesday's New York Times Food section. He offers a carrot cake, but not the kind loaded with raisins and frosted with cream cheese icing. This one has not a speck of sugar in it, save for the grated carrots. The base is white cornmeal mixed with white flour. Not only are grated carrots added but also zingy scallions along with cumin and black mustard seeds.Like sweet cakes, there are eggs to give it body as well as baking powder and baking soda to give it lift. Unlike its' sugary cousins, feta cheese is also added. Mr. Tanis frosts his with creme fraiche  and is decorated with cilantro sprigs and more scallions. It would go well with the potluck recipe from Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column. It can also go with salads too, as Mr. Tanis suggests or possible as something to dipped into the yolks of sunny side up eggs.

The entire idea of of a non-sweet cake is fascinating. There are savory cookie recipes,from wafers to shortbreads. These are usually served as hors'd'oeuvres or with soups, a different change up from crackers. Savory cakes? Are there any, besides Mr. Tanis' recipe? Yes.  Eating Well offers one loaded with cauliflower and garbanzo bean flour.  Roasted pepper and dill give it color while feta and eggs give it body.It's served warm  and alone so it's meant to be eaten as the main course. It would work with a plain  salad on the side or possibly grilled chicken breasts or salmon.  Food 52 has a recipe for a savory sausage breakfast cake that's chock full of  pork sausage, onion and cheddar cheese.  The cake element comes with the flour, baking powder and soda along with eggs and milk.Mayo is added for smoothness and a silky crumb. This would be the perfect brunch cake, with a slice accompanying an omelet or again dipped into a sunny side up egg. A slice would also make a good breakfast or even
 lunch on the go too.It would be interesting to make any of these savory cake recipes into cupcakes, frosted with creme fraiche or plain cream cheese or dusted with cumin or paprika.

Savory cakes instead of the traditional sweet? What an interesting idea? It certainly changes the way we think about  and eat cake.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Classic Revisited Nino's Pizzeria

It's very rare that a restaurant lasts almost  forty years with the same owner. Yet that's what happened  with Nino's Pizzeria in Garfield, New Jersey. It's been feeding the community with good food, introducing generations to Southern Italian classics. I've come back to it after a long time away and I'm glad I did.

Nino's is an unpretentious  little eatery with only four (albeit big) tables.It's been a take out since the original owner opened up this Harrison Ave. landmark forty years ago. The current owner John, and his brother bought it from the original owner, Nino, hence the name. Unlike other Italian restaurants in the area, this one has a surprise - good Portuguese food. Yes, Nino's has pizza, garlic knots and rice balls, as their fellow pizzerias but they also have frango assado, roasted chicken with vegetables and the famed codfish bacalhao, steamed, fried and  roasted.Picadinho , that tasty blend of minced meat and vegetables can also be ordered for a change of pace. The catering menu even includes a roasted  suckling pig or leitao along with a seafood rich paella Portuguese style.It can be washed down with the mild cherry tasting soda Guarina from Brazil.

This is a nostalgic trip for me, I used to go to Nino's during my college years for their garlic pizza. It was a gem, standing out, with the perfect ratio of cheese to sauce, studded with tiny bits of minced garlic. Has it changed? I had the plain slice and it was not greasy , unlike  slices from other local pizzerias. There was more cheese than sauce, creating a chewy , gooey texture. Their crust is good, more of tart one than than of the usual flat one with puffs. Their calzone is about the best around.It's crust was light and crackly,again not sogged down by oil. The filling is the traditional  ricotta, but it was like a ham infused cloud , light and fluffy without the usual cloying salty taste.It came with a tomato dipping sauce which was also perfect in flavor and texture.Many Italian restaurants put out a sauce that's too thick and chunky which slides off the calzone, ending up on the floor, table or lap. Nino's was spot on , and the best part was that it actually tasted like tomatoes - not too sweet or garlicky. The calzone and sauce were a definitely matched pair.

Nino's is worth visiting if you're in the Garfield area. It has an interesting mix of Portuguese and Italian food, all tasty and good. Visit it if you're craving pizza, pasta or bacalhao.

Nino's Pizzeria,
300 Harrison Ave #2
Lodi New Jersey 07644
973-772- 5056
Hours 10 AM to Midnight

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kuka Paka A Recipe To Make Your Own

Chicken can be sauced with anything. Tomato gives you chicken cacciattore, mushrooms and sweet wine gives you Marsala while white wine and lemon is franchese style. Sub in coconut milk and spices and you have the Kenyan version kuku paka , a departure from the ordinary poultry dishes.

Tejal Rao , famed chef and food writer, wrote about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section,Simply put it's chicken on the bone  smothered in a sauce. The name is abbreviated from the Swahili kuku wa kupka, roughly, chicken in sauce. However , there are different variations on how the meat is cooked. It can be charcoal grilled, steamed with aromatic herbs or braised. The sauce, itself can be pale and soupy or dark and glossy. Some home chefs make it mild while others add enough chilies to burn the throat.Corn, potatoes, and even halved hard boiled eggs are added. Yet there should be some unifiers according to famed food writer and actress , Mahur Jaffrey (she's the one responsible for bringing Ismael Merchant and  James Ivory together). One is a touch of sourness and the heat of green chilies. The sourness comes from a squeeze of lemon juice but some Kenyans also add a spoonful of tamarind pulp for the same effect.

Kenyan food blogger,Kaluhi Adagala has her own spin on the dish.It's common in the coastal cities, but she comes from the interior where it is a big deal. So is her recipe. She adds sprigs of fresh rosemary, crushing them to release the fragrant oils. Her's is also golden, tinted with the mellow flavored turmeric and either serves it over hot rice or chapati, flatbread. Sometimes Ms. Adagala serves it with ugali,a type of polenta that is a regular in Kenyan diets.Another Kenyan, the Nairobi caterer and recipe developer,brines the meat in apple cider vinegar. She also cooks the aromatics such as onions and ginger raw in the coconut milk., letting them mellow in the fatty liquid as she constantly stirs. Home chefs can replicate the flavors, first using their grills to cook the chicken. This imparts a nice smoky flavor that goes well with coconut milk along with the cumin and coriander. As for the coconut , most Kenyan cooks use fresh coconut milk, however it's kind of difficult to get them right now. Ms. Rao suggests using  two cans or 27 ounces of coconut milk plus  two tablespoons of coconut oil.

Kuka paka is a tasty departure from the usual chicken dishes. Try it for a flavor that rich in spices and textures. It's exotic but delicious, complex to taste  but easy to make.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Classic Lemon Bars

Lemon bars are a bright, sunny dessert, perfect for a summery dessert or picnic.They're the perfect marriage of tangy and sweet, creamy and chewy. The treat is also an easy bake, especially on a hot day.

Julia Moskin write about these golden gems in today's New York Times Food section.Lemon bars are like chocolate chip cookies. People have definite ideas about how they should taste. They  should pay homage to the lemon along with having golden brown crusts, and creamy curd fillings . Think of them as the home baker's version of a lemon tart.Traditional recipes call for a filling of  lemon curd a preserve , using the fruit along with eggs, butter, and sugar. The recipe is based on the French tart aux citrons, an egg and cream rich lemon custard in a shortbread crust.It's also a cousin to the Southern classic lemon chess pie and surprisingly the brownie along with pumpkin bars and dream bars - those brown sugar, and chocolate squares.  However unlike these, lemon bars have a thick bottom layer, sort of a cross between a pie crust and a cookie. This  make these finger snacks as opposed to be eaten with a fork.(although brownies and bars are meant to be eaten with fingers)

As Ms. Moskin points out everyone has a definite idea and even recipe for them.Many Americans have grown up on Lucy's Lemon bars. named for the famed Peanuts character.It's a basic recipe with an easy to make base and interiror, consisting of a simple curd filling. Some baking blogs rework the recipe, adding cardamon to the crust and using Meyer lemons (bad idea - according to Ms Moskin. The lemons are mild in flavor - not what is wanted). The one twist is giving the crust  a dose of  sweetened coconut which can be made at home.It's just soaking coconut flakes in a simple syrup for thirty minutes . The recipe given is a straightforward one. There's only a cup of butter in the crust to two cups of flour to make a simple shortbread type crust. The filling is typical with four eggs to  give it body along with half a cup of lemon juice for color and flavor. The crust should be GBD golden brown deliciousness as per pastry chef Shuna Lydon, from the famed restaurant Boudin. Confectioner's sugar is then dusted over the finished squares.

Lemon bars are a sweet and sunny way to celebrate the summer. Bake up a batch to enjoy the tart lemony goodness, married to a buttery crust. They're a fun, enjoyable snack.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Gourmet Bride - And Groom

June is not only wedding season but also shower season too. Many spouses to be are into all sorts of gadgets and trends , being more savvy than previous generations about cooking and eating. If that's the case then get them interesting kitchen ware that reflects  their knowledge and tastes.

Hipster bride and grooms love anything artesanal. They'll go for pickles or beer that have been made not by a big company but by themselves. A DIY pickling kit then is the perfect wedding gift. A fermenting kit is only $34.00 on Amazon and it not only yields up tasty dills and gherkins but also trendy probiotic treats like kimchee and sauerkraut.There's even a date tracker and recipe book too. For a fancier spin throw in silver pickle forks that can easily be bought at that great artesanal  bazaar, Etsy. Bacon is another trendy home made product right now, Think about a bacon curing kit. This has everything from curing salt to a curing bag and maple sugar. It's only twenty four dollars, again at Amazon. You may want to throw in a gift certificate to your local grocery so they pick up the pork tenderloin to create it. As for the beer, a beer making kit would be perfect for the much in love . Best Buy has an elaborate one for $798 , a perfect gift for the groom from his groomsmen and best man..There are also cheaper ones for around forty if cost is an issue.

What about those who love to cook and bake? A traditional gift is always a crockpot - which is still a good idea. However update it by giving a mini one. These are great for making smaller meals and are not as expensive as the bigger varieties. They run in pricing from twenty to forty dollars. A sous vide machine is another neat gift home chefs will appreciate. This is a water bath for sealed packets of premeasured ingredients. The end result is tender, flavorful and juicy restaurant quality meals. Sous
vides are pricey, however. One can cost $200 although it would be a perfect gift from the wedding party to the couple. Food dehydrators are another neat present for gourmands. They can be used for making everything from fruit roll ups to beef jerky. Again, these can be expensive, starting at $90 and running as high as $400. Couples who love to bake may appreciate entire cake decorating kits. Step it up a notch and gift them with a cake airbrushing kit to create amazingly decorated creations. It comes with an airbrush and add ons  along with a power generating compressor and plastic dropper.

Gourmet couples deserve gourmet gifts. Give them something that will appeal to their artesanal and gourmand sides. It'll be a memorable shower gift, enjoyed years afterwards.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Your Vacation Kitchen

Many people rent houses or efficiency apartments for their vacations. This is great because there can still be home cooked meals , using local produce and products. it does mean packing extra - but just a few vital components of a kitchen away  from home. Pack light. Just have the basics on hand.

What to bring? None of your good stuff. Leave the La Creuset and Farberware back on the kitchen shelves. Go to your dollar store to get pots and pans. These can be used in any situation, from camping to indoor cooking.A saute pan is about the best bet. It can be used for making everything from French toast to pepper steak. Another must is a two quart pot , It can be used to boil small lobsters and , shrimp along with ears of corn. You can also boil potatoes in it for mashed as well as serving mashed potatoes in it. Some rentals will have barbecue grills. The owners may have left such staples as tongs and brushes along with turning forks.If no to either grill or implements, then consider a portable hibachi, Ace Hardware has a double one for only $11.99 while Lowe's has a more elaborate and sturdier one for $39.99. Remember that they're not just for the summer holidays. Both can be used in the fall for tailgate parties.As for the extras, you can buy them too, at your local dollar store or even hardware store in the town that you;re staying in.

What else to bring or buy? Good melamine plates are always needed. These are a sturdier type of plastic that won't crack  from too much use. These can be bought as a set at Target right now, in fun geometric patterns. While you;re there also pick up an inexpensive cutlery set  This last also can be bought at your local dollar store along with  a spatula and ladle. Should you invest in a good knife for holiday cooking. Yes, but don;t go overboard with an expensive one. Stop & Shop sells Farberware knives that work very well but for half the price of the more expensive brands. (this is actually my all time favorite knife that I use almost every day ).Another must is plastic containers that can hold any leftovers to take home.  These are also wonderful for containing any,, seafood fruit and veggies bought at local markets. Again these can be bought anywhere from  the Dollar Tree to Acme. They're also great for storing sandy little, flipflops and sandals as well as toys and sea shells. You usually have to bring bath  towels. Remember to bring just a couple of dish towels also along with two or three potholders.These can also  be used for oven mitts too. Every kind of store has these , and you could probably buy souvenir ones where you'll be staying.

You don't have to bring the entire kitchen and the kitchen sink along on your vacation.Just tote along the basics that you'll need. It'll make holiday cooking that much more easier.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day Feasts

What would make the perfect Father's Day meal? Anything that includes, bacon, barbecue and alcohol, in most cases. This would make any dad drool and relish dishes that features  his favorite things - including a nap afterwards.

What would be the perfect way to start his special day?BACON!!!! Think a two or three egg omelet packed with it. For a less artery clogging way to start the day, sub in turkey  bacon which is fifteen calories less a slice. Eggs Benedict is a great way of celebrating all of what dad does. Make it his by subbing in the Canadian bacon with three or four slices of the other. Another twist is layering the poached egg and Canadian bacon on a layer of bacon for a real meaty treat. Crispy slices can also be stuffed into French toast.It's made like a Monte Cristo sandwich with two slices of bread dipped into an egg batter. Some recipes call for a brown sugar sweetened cream cheese too.  what goes with a brunch like this? A bacon decorated Bloody Mary. Wrap a couple of slices around a celery stalk and stick into the glass. He could also welcome the day with the British cocktail Snakebite, a mix of cider and lager.A more potent waker upper is the porch crawler, a mix of beer, vodka and gin, sweetened with some kind of fruit juice. Spike dad's orange juice with this wild mix .

The porchcrawler could also be swigged around the grill (although keep dad away from any flames and lighter fluid). If he's a big burger guy, then definitely make him the best, using chopped meat. Carry on the bacon theme by adding bacon drippings to the mix , saving the strips for the sandwich later on. Men love fire and spice too. Jalapeno burgers are always a zingy treat. Remember to deseed them and then mince into tiny bits. A dash of Cajun seasoning can also be add for a four alarm  eye opener. Dad may want a cut that's a bit more substantial. Treat him to a Porterhouse  or a Flatiron, both deliciously tender and flavorful cuts. Skirt steak is another that Dad would enjoy with an ear of corn or grill baked potato.Baste with melted butter  that's been spiced up with Worcester sauce and Dijon mustard. How do you finish the day? Bacon or stout cupcakes. Both are easy to whip up . Try the bacon in a mocha batter  and then decorate with chocolate icing. Stout can also be added to chocolate batter for a tasty cake or cupcake. Make sure Dad get's the lion's share of a slice or two or three cupcakes to gobble down with an iced coffee.

Every dad should be treated like a king tomorrow. Create a special meal for your sire with bacon, meat and alcohol. This is the perfect combo for  perfect Father's Day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Cool And Calorie Free Frozen Fruit Treats

Is there a low cal alternative to ice cream for a summer treat? Yes, and they're even more delicious than a scoop of butter pecan. It's frozen fruit which is not only good for you but refreshing.

Fruit popsicles are a tasty and cooling treat on any muggy , not day,. They're  tasty as either a snack or a dessert after a barbecue. Take advantage of June's harvests. Cherries, strawberries, blueberries and peaches are out in abundance at farmer's markets and supermarkets.Use them to create sweet treats. Coarsely chop the fruits and pour into popsicle molds (there are some cute ones out there).Add low sugar grape juice or fruit punch to give them body. For a more festive look sub in fizzy flavored seltzer that will give the pops  "frozen" bubbles. These can also be dipped in dark chocolate for added flavor .A more sophisticated take is granita, the easiest ice to make. This is an Italian classic, even being served with a brioche for breakfast in Sicily. Try a lemon one for a cool, summery break from hot temps. It's cooking the lemons down with  both the  juice and zest with water and sugar and then freezing in metal pans.Let the liquid  sit for thirty minutes,take the pan out and stir the ice crystals, Repeat  this every half hour for three hours. The final result is an icy  slush that's served in goblets or bowls.

If you don't have time for this don't despair.There are some very tasty pops out there  that are chock full of fruit and goodness.A caveat though before shopping. Look to see what the ingredients are Avoid those with fructose. Outshine is a new company but it's giving the more traditional brands a run for their money. They have such delicious flavors as grape, watermelon and a host of berry flavored popsicles.. Get their variety pack to please the whole family. The company has also gotten on the coconut water bandwagon and is offering one made with the milk.It's also loaded with large pineapple chunks. Dole has put out a yummy treat  Dippers. The fruit company is dipping a toe in the froze treat department with their low calorie but sinfully good dark chocolate dipped frozen strawberries and bananas. The strawberries are the best and there are two slices one to a pack. It's a marriage of two great flavors in a refreshingly cold treat. Add them to low cal frozen yogurt for a fun sundae.Diana's Banana's  are another frosty treat  that perfect for the dog days ahead. They are  dark chocolate covered banana slices which make for some good snacking on a sweaty night.

Don't turn to ice cream when the temps rise. Go for frozen, fruity treats instead. They're healthier and goo for you , both for cooling off and for getting better nutrition.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Juneteenth Menu

Junettenth is an important holiday in the African-American community. It's also a showcase for recipes that have been in families for generations along with highlighting the flavors of the community. It's a time of remembrance and celebration.

Nicole Taylor wrote about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section Juneteenth is June 19th, commemorating the end of slavery, albeit two years after Abe Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.Texans erupted in joy  which led to the festivities. The state still holds the country's largest Juneteenth celebrations with parades featuring horses and souped up cars. Tender, fatty brisket can also be had along with barbecue. There are other celebrations throughout the south and in major cities such as new York, LA and Chicago. The food must be red or have a red tint. The color symbolizes ingenuity and resilience in bondage. Strawberry pop is the drink of choice at most of the gatherings. Kola nut tea and bissap - hibiscus tea  are also served - first coming over with the enslaved from Africa. Some of the celebrations are more spiritual, giving thanks to the ancestors with more traditional foods such as black eyed peas and collard greens.

Of course red food rules. spicy hot links, beef sausage dyed with red food coloring, are on many grills during Juneteenth. Texas Pete Hot Sauce is also served, its' orange-y red color livening up everything from fish to rice. The menu varies from state to state. Char grilled oysters are served in Mississippi while the Carolinas serve up vinegar tinged pulled pork.There is also always bowls of  potato salad made form family recipes. The dessert is usually Red Velvet cake or pie . Ms. Taylor, who has written the cookbook, The Up South Cookbook : Chasing Dixie in a Brooklyn Kitchen. includes a recipe for strawberry slab pie which is the perfect end for any summer meal.  The filling is fresh strawberries mixed with brown sugar and zinged up with grapefruit juice and zest. Grated fresh ginger is also added to get away from the usually cloying fruit jam flavor. The crust, too, is unusual with a teaspoon of cracked pepper added for more fire. Buttermilk and butter temper it. There are pastry circles on top, also brushed with buttermilk for decoration.

Juneteenth is a celebration rich in tradition and food. It will represent freedom and ingenuity with tasty and tempting foods. Enjoy it this day, full of meaning and flavor.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Food Down Under Gourmet And Rare

Australia is known for many things. beautiful cities, A dazzling outback filled with all sorts of natural wonder. Sunny, bright people who are always quick to smile. Their food - not so much. Yet the Aussies are breaking away from the Vegemite and expanding their horizons

The New York Times Food section devoted their entire section today to the tastes and flavors of the world's smallest continent.Of course the most obvious influence is Asian with Chinese and Vietnamese holding sway in many big cities and even smaller suburbs such as Cabramatta. They influenced such famed chefs as Kylie Kwong,Luke Mangan, Neil Perry and David Thompson. There's also an interesting article about the Market Melbourne and the fight to keep it going instead of razing it.One of the more interesting articles is about Aussie foods used to make traditional dishes or traditional immigrant foods respun by Aussie chefs.. Imagine using a huge emu egg to make sabayon (!) Or imagine a sausage brought by Slovenian immigrants and renamed kranskys. There is the Bunning's sausage sizzle named for the company that started this hot dog cook out. Aussie cuisine also celebrates the aboriginal foods, the ingredients that have been used for five thousand years.

This is for my little fish lover, Wellington or Wells, Sadly we lost him to a stroke today at 8 this morning. He was only five years old, still young in feline years. He was a special little boy who loved his one kind of food, flavored with salmon and tuna. Wells was not a foodie cat, begging for scraps and licks from an  ice cream or cream filled spoon. He was very traditional and catholic in his choices. I will miss him.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

While I'm Away

Unfortunately , I will be going for major surgery and with that time away from the kitchen. It means prepping and cooking before hand.It also means taking out food too.

If you are facing anything from surgery to even a vacation away from the kids, make sure the pantry, fridge and freezer are well stocked. The obvious is making casseroles so the whole family can eat a rib sticking meal. If the weather is too hot then , just keep in mind about lighter fare and that includes salad. It may pay to have groceries home delivered with all the right ingredients for a fresh , vegetable dinner. Stop & Shop's  Peapod lets you get the same fresh produce and meats that you'd buy yourself. They also have meal prep kits that have all the ingredients plus instructions on how to make themThe choices are varied, from eggplant Parmesan to  baked mac. Even the kids can make their  honey Dijon chicken, steak au poivre or salmon with creamy lemon dill sauce. Peapod can also deliver toilet paper , cleaning supplies and pet food too.Definitely sign up with them if you're laid up and cannot go food shopping.They'll even throw in coupons too.

Eating take out is another option however be wary. Too much of a good thing may be a bad thing. It's great if you're friendly with diner owners and privately owned restaurants. The owners probably know your tastes and favorite dishes, They can easily cook up a healthy meal for the whole family., and even provide extras like more gravy or  napkins. Sometimes they'll even through in a dessert for free too. As for fast foods, be wary . It's easy and a treat to always order burgers, fried chicken and fries, Once or even twice in a week is fine, but not every night. One of the best is Wendy's. They have a good and varied selection of salads in different sizes from half and full. There are also baked potatoes that can be just sprinkled with salt and pepper for a healthy side.Another healthier fast food is Subway which can make up fresh, non-greasy sandwiches in all sorts of varieties. They now even have roasted chicken which can go well with their sliced tomatoes and avocados.Q'doba Grill is a good choice too. The ingredients are not frozen and you can create a more nutritious and fat free tacos and rice bowls.

If you're laid up, you have to rethink  how you cook and shop. Take it easy. Have a plan. Let others do your work. You deserve a break.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Hot Temp Diet

What does this blog have in common with hot weather? Endless articles about noshing through a heat wave. I've  written about how and what to cook and eat during a heat wave. The advice is the same.Eat light, eat healthy. It's a way of living through it.

As I've always recommended, go for salads. They're light to get down and easy to make after a long, sticky day at work.Again one of the most flavorful (and a true favorite) is Salad Nicoise. This is a fun mix of Bibb lettuce, tuna, and a host of veggies. The traditional recipe calls for green beans, potatoes, and plum tomatoes. Anchovies and hard boiled eggs are also added for more protein and flavor. The dressing is a blend of olive oil, red wine vinegar and dry mustard. A squirt of lemon and crushed garlic also give flavor. You can also wrap all the ingredients save the lettuce in Romaine leaves for Nicoise wraps. Another tasty cool dinner is Neopolitan bread salad. Slice up plum tomatoes , mozzarella cheese and Italian bread and soak in olive oil spiked with rosemary, oregano and garlic. If you want more substance with it. julienne strips of salami  or  bell peppers to add to it . A plain salad is always good too. Add yummy but nutritious extras like broccoli, cauliflower, and chickpeas and mix with a light, low calorie dressing.

Many people turn to the grill when the temps get hot. If you can stand the heat, then go for it.I've  recommended homemade burgers which are easy to make. For juicier ones add an ice cube in the center of each patty. Some other add ins are minced onions , garlic  and even peppercorns Grilled foil dinners are a perfect meal for a hot summer's night. Try chicken with onions and peppers, zested up with such herbs as oregano and rosemary Another quick idea is using canned veggies such as corn and string beans with steak  for a healthy and colorful supper. Even meat loaf can be foil cooked, Think of one laced with barbecue sauce. It can be sliced and served on hamburger buns. Fish such as salmon can also be foil grilled. Use lemon and parsley for flavoring along with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve alongside a summery string bean or broccoli salad.One of the quickest and most classic meals is the quick tomato sandwich. It's just tomato slices on bread with a slick of mayonnaise. If you want want something healthier, and a tad more sophisticated. think tomato slices on olive oil soaked French or Italian bread.

It's another hot summer with high temps. Think of eating light and tasty with classic and simple recipes. It'll get any home chef through the hot days ahead.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Easy Summer Desserts

The last thing any home chef wants to do during hot weather is bake. Yet there's something about homemade desserts that finishes a meal . what to do. Have a no bake treat.   . They easy to assemble  and even easier to eat.

The thought occurred when reading about Eton Mess, that quintessential English dessert the other day in David Tanis' A City Kitchen in the New York Times Food section on Wednesday. This is a fun and easy make, taking store bought meringues and breaking them  and then mixing then with freshly whipped cream and another mix or mess of  strawberries and rhubarb. The only effort is prepping the berries and stalks, marinating them in lemon juice , sugar and water to get rid of the rhubarb's bitter taste. They can be layered with the meringue , cream and fruit to make the Aussie favorite Pavlova, named for the great Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. Eton Mess can be varied, Try blueberries or more more tartness blackberries. Take advantage of the season and add a cup or two of chopped peaches or even better - pitted and sliced cherries. Many home chefs have paired the last with chocolate chunks for an even decadent dessert. Use chocolate meringues too, if you can find them. If you can;t find meringues, make them yourself using egg white or aquafaba - bean water.

Trifles are also easy desserts that can be made in an elegant deep dish bowl or even in a dessert's kind of like an ordered Eton Mess with layers. Start with a bought angel food cake and then cut it into chunks, Layer with cream and then a layer of strawberries or blueberries. Repeat a second time and chill. A colorful one is a blend of different berries ,using raspberries and blackberries. A fun decadent one is a blackberry trifle with blackberry brandy soaked pound cake, layered with freshly whipped cream and crushed blackberries.The all time favorite, tirimisu, is really a trifle of sorts. An easy one involves layering coffee soaked  lady fingers with sweetened marscapone cheese and topped with a dusting of cocoa powder. Truly easy desserts are American at heart. Think of the chocolate logs, a marriage of chocolate wafers and Cool Whip (or fresh whipped cream if you want to put more effort into it. ) Vanilla wafers can be layered with canned pineapple chunks and cream for a tasty, tropical treat. Vanilla ice cream can be subbed in for the cream for an even cooler treat.

Desserts can still be made in the heat of summer. Just go the easy no-bake route and create tasty treats and decadent desserts. All without the fuss or muss of a hot oven or kitchen.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Salmon Days

One of the most popular dishes at restaurants is salmon. People love it, seared or broiled, zinged up with lemon or herbs or both. Yet it never is that popular at grocery stores.It's rarely seen in shopping carts or checkout counters. It's strange because it's such a versatile fish to work with in the kitchen.

Salmon is a cousin of trout and whitefish, two meats that home chefs feel confident cooking.It's considered an oily fish , rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.Indigenous peoples , especially those in the Pacific Northwest. Always look for orange or red flesh although there are some varieties that are white in color.The color comes from the fish eating shrimp krill and other tiny shellfish. Go to a fish monger for the best cuts and advice however such grocery stores as Acme and Stop & Shop have excellent seafood sections. As with any other cut, look for salmon that has a bright color and NO smell.If you're buying the entire fish, make sure there are no brown spots on its'belly. Also go in knowing your types. There are five different ones ; king,  sockeye, coho, pink and chum. King is the most expensive with a rich , buttery taste. Sockeye has a deep red color and is deliciously fatty due to the fish gorging themselves to make fuel to move. Coho is the most popular and freezes well while pink is mild in flavor and fragile, It doesn't freeze or age well, however. Chum is also referred to as dogfish and is the best candidate for smoking.Its' also harvested for its roe and breeds at only the mouth of rivers and streams.

You can also buy canned salmon. Bumblebee has one that's packed in water as does Chicken of The Sea. Both offer packs too.  These are great for making quick salmon dinners such as a lower calorie spin on salad Nicoise where it's subbed in for tuna. An easy recipe is salmon burgers, a nice change up from the usual ones. Fillets can also be used in this tasty blend of fish, Dijon mustard,panko bread crumbs and scallions Add a healthy pinch of the famed Old Bay seasoning to zing them up, and give them a crab cake vibe.  Want a really quick and yummy salmon dish? Then try the fish in a crunchy croquette.  Egg is used for binding while celery is added for crunch and color along with green onion and dill. They're then rolled into balls , flattened and fried in oil. The fillets are also good grilled, They can be simply marinated with some oil, a squirt of lemon and seasoning. Soy sauce along with ginger and scallions makes another good marinade .Like any other fish , it can also be baked. Try it with butter and white wine, zested up with tarragon or Italian style  with crushed tomatoes,oregano and garlic, Serve with a side of buttered spaghetti or with green beans.

Home chefs should be embracing salmon.It's a versatile fish that can be coned, baked, roasted and grilled in a variety of ways.Don't bother with the restaurants. Make it on your own.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tahini Savory And Sweet

Tahini is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking and baking.It adds so much to main meals and sweets, giving them a unique flavor and certain creaminess. What's great too is that home chefs can experiment with it, incorporating it into all sorts of recipes.

Yotam Ottolenghi extolled its' virtues in an article plus recipes in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Tahini is n ancient dish, from the Arabic and it means to grind.It's also prevalent not only in Greek cuisine but surprisingly Vietnamese and Southeast Asian as well. It can be made it home, using hulled sesame seeds and olive oil. If not, look in Middle Eastern shops or online. The best according t Chef Ottolenghi is the Al Arz from Israel and Al Taj from Lebanon. He also recommends the  famed "camel tahini" Al-Jamal from Palestine. There is also the Jebrini brand, one of the oldest manufactured, from Israel, made in East Jerusalem. The third  generation of this 130 year old business use the best sesame seeds from the coveted humera variety of Ethiopia. Then the seeds are hulled and hand ground in old millstones, that are 200 years old. Tahini manufacturers are not that careful, allowing for hulls and over roasting - which leads to a bitter tasting spread.

Tahini can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. A Palestinian main course is lamb siniyah, where the condiment is poured over cooked lamb and then baked in the oven. The tahini is baked into a thickly, rich crust, like the mashed potatoes topping a shepherd's pie.It can also be made into a tasty dressing to be served over a tomato and cucumber salad. Try it on any barbecued chicken or steaks this barbecue season. Tahini goes well with sweets too, and Chef Ottolenghi gives two dessert recipes. The first is a sesame, date and banana cake  enriched by a tahini -cream cheese icing. This last is definitely healthier than the regular cream cheese icing, because it doesn't have all that confectioner's sugar.There's marscapone cheese and brown sugar for tartness and flavor. Two tablespoons of sesame seeds are in the fruit rich cake along with three tablespoons of tahini.It laso is the star of Chef Ottolenghi's oat and tahini cookies.A quarter of a cup of it is mixed in with oats, dark brown sugar and hazelnuts.Melted dark chocolate is drizzled on top of these gems for added decadence.

Tahini is definitely a worth try in both savory and sweet dishes. Try it drizzled over barbecue chicken or a tomato salad.Use it in an icing or as a boost to cookies. It's delicious , adding oomph to any dish.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kerala Cuisine Brought To Light

Indian cuisine is more than just curry and naan. The cuisine is varied and different, especially in the south. Kerala has recipes that surprisingly echo the American South.One chef is letting America know that - and also rediscovering her past.

Kin Severson wrote about Chef Asha Gomez in today's New York Time's Food section. Chef Gomez not only is returning to her roots but also highlighting a cuisine not well known here in the States. Many think it's just cheap eats - good only for buffets - laden with rice. American chefs have ruined biryani and dosa, not to mention curries.  There are also the food snobs who dismiss it  because there it doesn't command the respect of European or American cuisine. They also feel that eating cheap food doesn't deserve a second glance. However charge too much of it as Chef Gomez did at her former restaurant , Cardamon Hill, and diners will complain.It was for a $32 for a complex fish curry spiked with smoked tamarind while the Southern cuisine restaurant in  the area charged the same for a fish is insulting and maybe spurred a PBS sponsored show inspired by her YouTube series, "Curry and Cornbread".

What is the food of Kerala.It's inspired by the Portuguese traders that visited the region for spices (and how Chef Gomez 's family acquired their last name and do not shun meat eating ). They brought with them a love of pork and chiles that would define the region's food. In some ways it's reminiscent of the American South . There is fried chicken, braised pork, and vegetables like okra and field peas. There is also a thriving street vendor culture called thattukadas where Chef Gomez used to head for chunks of chicken with crunchy fried shallots,garlic and curry leaves crisped in coconut oil.It was eaten with flaky wheat parathas, or flatbreads. There is a recipe for this called Kerala Roadside Chicken that combines a variety of different spices, from the traditional garam masala to the particular Kashmiri chile powder. The chicken is fried in coconut oil and then garnished with the highly flavored fried shallots, dried chiles and curry.Serve with any kind of flatbread.

Indian food is much more than just curry and rice. There are so many dishes, from each of the various states. They all reflect the diversity of an interesting culture and cuisine.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hooked On Produce

This is the start of the summer harvest season.It's the perfect time to introduce the little ones to the joys of healthy eating while weaning the older ones off junk food and candy.Take advantage of these harvests to impress the importance of right choices.

Peaches are in abundance right now and they 're the perfect and versatile fruit for any little foodie. One is the perfect snack, perfect if it's cut into slices. (always make sure they're pitted.If you want, save the pits  to plant them -a good lesson on gardening) Since the weather is getting warmer, think popsicles. Chop them up in a food processor and then blend with orange or tangerine juice along with agave syrup. A quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract can be added for more flavor. Peaches can be turned into edible cups for yogurt sundaes. You could hollow them out for more space and mix the scooped out flesh with the yogurt. Add some chopped almonds or sunflower seeds for crunch.Another fruit that's out in full display these days is watermelon.Of course , kids love chomping down on a slice , enjoying a watermelon bath, one of the most joyous summer memories.Yet it can also be made into a cooling ade, perfect for a beach day or's just pureeing the fruit in a blender You can strain out the fruit or add it in for a thicker drink. Add half a cup of cold water along with a teaspoon of agave syrup . Mix and chill.

Cherries and berries are also in season and these are the most versatile. Washington State cherries are big right now. They're great snacks on their own (although be careful with pits and stems. Be sure that they're pitted and destemmed before giving to kids). A bowl of fresh washed ones are a simple but tasty dessert.Dip them in dark chocolate and then roll in oats or grated coconut for a healthy but decadent snack. Add pitted chopped ones to salsa for a sweet and zesty tortilla dip. The ruby gems are also great baked in oat or bran muffins too.Make mini ones for hungry little mouths. Berries, both strawberries and blueberries are  ripe and ready to be used in a variety of fun dishes. Start with breakfast and a few in a bowl of Rice Krispies or plain corn flakes. Kids will appreciate the fresh, fruity taste and it weans them off of those sugar saturated kiddie ones.Make a salad pop with the addition of sliced strawberries or a vinaigrette made more exciting with a cup of crushed berries. Blueberries can also make for an interesting catsup. It's just cooking them with honey , lime juice, shallots and seasoning along with red wine vinegar. Kids will flip over putting this blue goo on burgers or dogs or just dipping tortilla or pita chips into a small bowlful.

Get the kids hooked on produce. They'll take on a new love while eating healthy.It's a step on the path to a lifetime of good and nutritious eating.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Piggy Days

One of the easiest Monday meals a home chef can make is pigs in blankets.So simple, yet so tasty. Any novice or kid chef can make these.

I did.
I used Pilsbury crescent rolls wrapped around Sabrett  all beef hot dogs and Morningstar Farms veggie dogs. I had three  extra rolls which I left as crescent rolls.
It was just thwack against the sink, unroll, wrap and bake.
All it took was fifteen minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit. These can be served with any dipping sauce or stuffed with cheeses for a really festive dinner or hot snack.
These will be saved for later with some yummy jam for a nice,munch with hot tea, along with a good TV show.

Pigs in blanket are the perfect Monday meal. They're  a snap to prepare, a snap to make and a snap to eat.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Road Trip - Moby's Lobster Deck

What do you do on a beautiful late Spring day in New Jersey? You head to the Jersey shore and if you're like me  - you head to Moby's the outdoor division of  another favorite Bahr's.
 The kitchen is down below this while the bar is on the connecting step; That green  and beige strip in the background is Sandy Hook, one of the most historic and natural sites on the American East coast. Moby's Lobster Deck is part of the famed Jersey seafood house, Bahr's that's known for its' chowder, lobsters, and homemade biscuits.It's located across from this famed beach in the Atlantic Highlands,(on the Nevasink River. Geraldo Rivera has been known to visit Bahr's via his yacht).The Bahr family owns both with the latest generation running Moby's.
As you can see Moby's has the gamut of both sea and land.I have yet to try the humongous ribs and shrimp platter (which is really for two) or the sea dog, a kind of cod hot dog (!)They do have good burgers , hand made and juicy along with crisp fries.

My favorite? This:
check out the old fashioned- soda straw.!!

A bowl of Manhattan clam chowder with oysterettes.. They're is full of juicy clam chunks along with cubes of potato. The broth is tomato based cooked with sage and other spices for a delicious spoonful.. It's just the perfect dinner or snack. Moby's even sells ice cream and frozen treats such as frozen chocolate covered bananas. Of course I had the coconut covered one. Yum!!!!

There's nothing like a road trip to the northern part of the Jersey shore. Go - and stop at Moby's Lobster Deck. It's a great way to end a fun beach day.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Hot Dog ! Choices!

what is the most versatile food out there? The humble hot dog. There are so many different ones, and ways to cook them. You can create corn or pigs in blankets. Try it with chili or kraut. They are the most easiest and versatile main meals to make.

The first aspect to consider is what kind of dog to get. Nathan's and Sabretts' have the best,especially the last, Theirs' is one hundred per cent beef and cook up nicely, creating  a nice juicy inside and crispy skin.These are the ones  I like,  and they coo up  well on my stovetop grill. Oscar Mayer does have the lower calorie turkey dogs while Trader Joe's has uncured (??) chicken ones. If you're fond of eating them, the consider the last, simply for calories. There are also soy dogs which are good for vegans, Morningstar Farms has their frozen which takes longer to cook than the meat ones . These can be thawed out in the microwave first, on defrost Now comes the cooking method. again, I love my little mini grill which is perfect for cooking up to two to three dogs at a time. They're cooked in a small , melted knob of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
You can also use boiling water or even cooking them with sauerkraut for more flavor.

As for buns, I prefer the potato kind. They've got a sweetness to them and they also are good grill toasted (to do this, just lay them bottoms down butterfly style on one side of the grill for a minute ) KiIng's Hawaiian Roll lovers will rejoice for their new addition of hot dog rolls. They also have sub rolls too for a chewier texture. Many hot dog joints throughout New Jersey, such as Rutt's Hutt and the Galloping Hill Grill use the jaw widening Portuguese rolls. These are fine if you want more bread than meat, however they're great if you're also adding relish , cheese or any other extras. Now about those extras, you can zing your dogs of choice with everything from hummus drizzled on top to large clumps of sauerkraut stuffed inside the rolls. You could also create the fun barbecue crunch dogs. Add a good amount of any kind of barbecue sauce to the bun, then top with barbecue flavored potato chips. Cheddar dogs  can be another treat. Instead of that gooey jarred kind, try shaved curls of sharp English for real flavor.

Have fun with your hot dogs. Pick the ones you like and go wild with creativity. Try them with sweet buns or sharp cheddar. Make them your own signature  delicious dogs.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Flavor From The Garden

It's amazing what the garden - or even farmer's market - can yield up. There's a world of flavor, and not necessarily from the usual veggies and herbs.Look to the allium family and  herb flowers to zing up a late Spring meal

That was the theme of both Melissa Clark and David Tanis 's columns in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Ms. Clark's  A Good Appetite featured leeks and Spring onions in a gratin. Green garlic and scallions also add bite to this anchovy spiked bread crumbs, butter and cheese dish  She gives advice about what to look for in spring onions, taut skins, If the outer layer is brittle , that means the onions are on their way to being mature  - what we see in the stores. Spring leeks are tasty - try them on toast or in soups yet a pain to prepare. They are loaded in dirt - thanks to farmers leaving them in the ground over the winter and piling more soil on them. The leeks are harvested in the the Spring when they 're sweetly flavored. They should be halved before washing and thoroughly washed, especially to remove any dirt clumps.

David Tanis tries another garden sprig in his A City Kitchen column.  He gives us the recipe for herb flower butter. It sounds delicate and lovely yet it packs quite a punch . An herb blossom tastes much like the herb itself. His recipe includes thyme blossoms along with the bright yellow mustard flowers.These can be found in any field along with chive blossoms, clusters of pale violet hued spheres that may look dainty but have the taste of sharp, raw onion. For more oomph, add both Djon and whole grain French mustard. There's also chopped dill and thyme added to unsalted butter. He smears it on sauteed flounder fillets but it can also be added to hot egg noodles for a lovely side with chicken or added to zucchini or scrambled eggs. Another suggestion is spreading it on garden party cucumber sandwiches too. Add borage and geranium leaves to butter balls for a festive dinner party treat.

Look to the backyard and fields for inspiration and flavor. Try a trio of Spring alliums for flavor or pretty herbal flowers for color. Either way it's a nice way to change up everyday ingredients.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ramadan Recipes To Open The Pantry

Like any other holiday , Ramadan is full of different recipes, from all over the world. The one thing they all have in common is that they're nourishing and tasty after a day of fasting. They're both stomach and soul satisfying.

The famed blogger and chef, Tejal Rao wrote about them today in The New York Times Food section. It's right on time too, with the holiday starting this Friday night and lasting for an entire month. This means a meal at night and then a predawn one before sunrise. The whole act of forgoing food is strenuous , but it's an act of devotion. The holiday is also  about community and charity, along with self-reflection and kindness.It's also about cooks buying in bulk and create a months worth of both easy and elaborate dinners.Freezers are stocked with all sorts of goodies. Pakistani born Malika Ameen stuffs her samosas in it. They're filled with ground beef and bulgar and can easily be popped into hot oil or microwave for easy cooking.There are also big pots of lentil soup ready to be scooped up into bowls. Unfortunately the family recipe, fruit chaat, the tangy fruit salad does take time to create.

Other countries also ave interesting recipes for the holiday. .Bim Adewummi, from Nigeria concentrates on carbohydrates and proteins.She spent one Ramadan making eggplant or courgette fritters, another was devoted to spinach balls, the recipe taken from a halal blog.It was based on another chef's, Antonio Carluccio's green dumplings.or probably gnocchi with pesto. There's also  the famed Lebanese fattoush  that Amanda Saab makes. This is a tasty salad with a lemon sumac dressing served with warm fried ,flatbread.Cinnamon and allspice is also added for subtle sweetness (this is actually a good summer meal dish too for anyone to try). The recipes featured are a watermelon chaat and namoura, the syrup soaked semolina cake. The first is spicy spin on a usually mild flavor, zested and zinged up with paprika and cumin seeds. Again, this would be a neat summer salad at a barbecue. The semolina cake is rich with butter and whole milk yogurt., soaked in a syrup that's' tangy with lemon and fragrant with lavender extract.

Ramadan is the holiday of fasting and feasting.It's the last that makes the days bearable. and the nights enjoyable. It's full of good food. and good memories

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Teaser Tuesday

Look for today's hot dog dinner in this Friday's entry

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Good Holiday

To all the service people , from sargeants to cooks who cook and even bake in all sorts of conditions to ,  out there  have a good holiday and thank you. You have sacrificed ad fought for our freedoms.To the cooks , you have tried to fill stomachs with food that 's a reminder of home and a mothers' and grandmother's love. (not to mentions sisters brothers, aunts, dads,uncles and cousins,

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Good Memorial Day

A good Memorial Day to all my readers. Enjoy the dogs and burgers, wings and salads, ribs and slaw.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Pantry Is Semi Open

Last week I closed this blog for an indefinite amount of time. It'll be semi open because I feel I think I can manage it despite my illness. (more on that in the summer). There is so much to report on , especially with the New York Times Sam Sifton and his feud against the trendy Mexican pop up NOMA, along with new and healthier food trends I'd like to follow.

The problem is how much do I write? Everyday may be a bit too much, I have  not only a sick self but sick cat to deal with along with housework and whatever comes my way. I may just do a three or even paragraph report every Friday on what's going on in the world of food and eventually work my way up to three four and back to six times a week. We'll see. I don't know what the fates will allow.

If you feel like advising me , go ahead. I would appreciate what you,the readers, these past nine years have to say and how you feel.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Pantry Is On Indefinite Close

Yet again I have a serious health problem that will take up my life and  very likely incapacitate  me.I have to shut down Foodie Pantry It may reopen in six months or a year. This may be it and it's over for good..It's scary and I have no answer to give my readers.

All I can say is thanks for your support, Cook well, bake well, eat well and live well.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Skinny Cooking ,Not So Skinny Flavor

Every home chef will tell you home cooking can put on the pounds. At times, they made with love and lard, sugar and sweetness. Yet imagine creating tasty mains, sides and even dessert at a fraction of the calories. You can, thanks to a brand new cookbook.

Victoria Dwek and Shani Taub  has written an interesting collection of low calorie  recipes in The Secrets Of Skinny Cooking (Me'Sorah Publications Ltd. 2017). Ms. Dwek is the author of many other cookbooks such as Passover Made Easy and Dairy Made Easy. This is a great book with many tasty recipes for both breakfast, lunch and dinner along with afters. A huge plus is Ms. Dwek's a how to parse the recipes that are half written by her and MS. Taub, a certified nutritionist. There's also a pictorial about what containers and cruets to have for storage.Since the book focuses on lower calories eating and cooking there's also a pictorial how to with just Greek yogurt and what to add to it.This is a fun extra for those who want to vary their snacking and quick meals.There's also a pictorial on what to put on those morning rice cakes and toasts too.They offer a sliced apple along with avocado cream to name a few toppings to choose from.The cookbook's back has something unusual - ads for Ms. Dwek's other cookbooks.and interconnecting recipes from this one,It's sort of like a cross reference.

What about the recipes themselves? The breakfast section does have the unusual  French toast Eggs In  A Hole which combines a diner classic with sweet goodness. (although I wouldn't use Splenda, the way Ms Dwek would. I'd try the more natural agave syrup). There are Savory Warm Eggs and Yogurt where eggs whites are made into a crepe like omelet and served with a  garlicky Greek yogurt sauce.  The salad section are beyond interesting, especially the beet pesto where beets are combined with traditional pesto ingredients such as walnuts and olive oil. There are many vegetarian recipes in this, all made with fresh veggies, perfect for the season ahead.Try Portobello Mushroom Sliders that use portobello caps topped with frozen spinach red peppers and onions, capped with ooey , gooey melted mozzarella or red pepper fettucini.,pasta with a traditional tomato sauce zinged up with red pepper. Those low calorie standards, chicken, steak and fish are also represented here. There's chicken avocado schwarma, shabos steak. and tuna sliders. I love the Chinese food recipes, with low calorie variations on low mein and steamed chicken and broccoli.Desserts are easy and fun.Rich ones such as creme brulee and lemon Napoleons are turned into a dieter's dream thanks to the addition of sugar free vanilla pudding and wonton wrappers for Napoleon pastry.

The Secrets of Skinny Cooking is a great cookbook for those who are watching their weight or wanting to look fit for bikini season. The recipes give minimum calories but maximum taste. There's no sacrificing with this diet driven recipes.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Future Of Our Markets

The grocery market has improved American cuisine for home chefs.It introduced such diverse foods as egg rolls and naan along with collard greens and bagels to our culinary landscape. Yet is its' time past? Are they passe in this day and age?

That's the question posed in an interesting article and interview written by Stephanie Strom in yesterday's New York Times Food section.She was with recently published author, Michael Ruhlman on a tour of a Nutley, New Jersey Shop Rite. Mr. Ruhlman has just published "Grocery:The Buying and Selling of Food in America" by Abram Publishers.This one is an indictment of our modern grocery store being responsible for this country's unhealthiness. His trip has him singling out Special K Caramel Coconut Chewy Bar which is more candy bar than health one with its' staggering seven grams of sugar. Of course that brings up a chapter in his book, "Breakfast- The Most Dangerous Meal of the Day" thanks to our stores selling sugar soaked cereals. He also hones in on, Duncan Hines Perfect Size For One, basically make your own cupcake in a microwave.It has thirty-five grams of sugar however its' convenience is perfect for millennials  - the grab and go eaters. Luckily, thanks to Nutley's sizable Asiacommunity. there are exotic and fresh fruits and vegetables along with fresh fish. This should help boost the nutrition levels of other town residents.

He also predicts that supermarkets will change considerably thanks to many home chefs buying the essentials on line. This means that such everyday items like dish detergent., frozen foods and anything canned or bagged will be out of the store, leaving room for not only fresh produce and baked goods but also for specialty foods.Mr. Ruhlman pointed out that Krogers just acquired Murray's Cheese, an artisanal cheese and specialty foods retailer , catering to trendy Greenwich Village millennials.It started out as a simple family owned eggs and dairy store and then just expanded into charcuterie and bakery. The problem is that this is fine for those who have money and unlimited budgets, but what about those who can't afford the fancy cold cuts and cheeses, along with artesenal pickles and butters? Even the everyday items like chicken breasts and tomatoes will go up in price. Also would a company like Peapod deliver to more urban or even rural areas?A more egalitarian idea is keeping the stores as they are. It's worked for over a century . Why ruin it?

Will the supermarket survive another century? Hopefully . We need it. It;'s where palates are expanded and budgets respected. It's an important part of our American and everyday landscape.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

True Mex

Mention Mexican food and some may cringe. After all, it hasn't been represented well , not only here but across the globe. Yet that true cuisine and thanks to Mexican born chefs around the world, that idea is changing.

Julia Mokin wrote this interesting article in today's New York Times' Food section.For years, tacos and any bean dish were served in Mexican restaurants, from Copenhagen, to New York and from London to surprisingly Los Angeles. Things are changing as innovative chefs with roots in the Mexican states are creating a "Modern Mexican" cuisine. This is a movement similar to the New Nordic cuisine which shone a spotlight on Scandinavian rye bread, smoked fish and Arctic berries. It introduces diners to such native ingredients as cacao, agave, and cactus along with pre-Hispanic varieties of tomatoes, squash and pumpkins. The ingredients which define Mexican cuisine, corn and chilies are also shone in their  original light. Don''t expect traditional dishes such as chiles in nogada,  stuffed poblano chiles or mole poblanos. This is a movement that  uses local ingredients to create Mexican food.

Is that working? In some cases no. If the menu says Mexican, diners want fajitas and taquitos, not a bean mousse or a black bean broth with a dot of caviar and a fleck of gold leaf. This is standard fare at Californio, a San Francisco  restaurant owned by chef Val Cantu. Yet many people have a set idea, thanks to chain restaurants such as On The Border and Taco Bell.Chefs have to work with what they have as was the case with Rosio Sanchez who has her restaurant, the famed, taqueria Noma, in Copenhagen. She does have fresh hand pressed corn tortillas but also octopus with fermented corn husks.It is used in Mexican cooking but not that much.It's more about Danish tastes which revolve around dairy , acidity, fat and unami. The ingredients are all decidedly Nordic Another example is Atla, the trendy Mexican eatery in Manhattan,has a tostada topped with Arctic char, farmer's cheese and capers deliberately echoes the Lower East Side's traditional bagel with a schmear of scallion cream cheese and lox.

What is Mexican cooking? It's what Mexican chefs make it where they make it.It could be a bean mousse or dishes made with local - non Mexican ingredients. It's about adapting  but also keeping tradition.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Southern Edge

Southern cooking is a double edged sword. Yes, it is recognized and is the backbone of American cuisine. However it also has a dark history - born in slavery and enslavement,Does it get acknowledged or ignored? Brought to light or buried?

John T Edge has written about this, questioning every dish that comes out of our Southern states.Kim Severson did an article about this in last week's New York Times Food section. There have been other writers, Ms. Severson reports but none so loud or direct as he.. His new book, The Potlikker Papers:A Food History Of The Modern South , explores Southern recipes of the last sixty years.. The book's title is derived from the  name for the leftover broth from cooked greens  that slave owners fed their enslaved., Luckily the South is changing as his book points out. Fried okra may be sprinkled with fish sauce while ribs are  doused in the Chinese red pepper paste gochujang.

Mr. Edge is not a likely candidate to write abut the South's racist history  He originally dropped out of the University of Georgia where  he was a fullback. He re-entered the famed Ole Miss - University of Mississippi where he majored in Southern Studies. It seems likely that he would branch off with Southern cooking. The South and cooking have been entwined since the late 1600's with the rice trade from the Carolinas.His mentor, the historian, John Edgerton told him that there is still a debt that has to be paid by Southern eaters, relishing the recipes of the enslaved. This has led to him creating the SFA the Southern Food Alliance where it has received criticism. Yet this is what happens with Southern cooking that does come with tremendous baggage.

Will it ever resolve? No. Southern cooking like Southern history will always be tainted by the enslavement and inequality of Africans.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Yikes! There's No Food!

What happens when you thought you had ingredients and you don't? Improvise . Combine this with tat. Add a pinch of what you have and voila - a new  and tasty dish. Necessity is the mother of invention. So is a fridge and pantry full of canned and dry goods.

Every kitchen should have beans.These can be the base for a main dish when there are no other major ingredients such as meat.  These are full of protein and can be mashed into burgers along with veggies and spices to create a satisfying dinner.Don't worry if there are no buns. Toast works perfectly.Beans with tomato sauce and paste make an excellent pasta sauce.Thnik about any kind of bean in a salad too.Also if you've planned on making meringue, remember that chickpea water is the base for aquafaba,It can be whipped up to make elegant macarons or the crown for lemon meringue or Key lime pie. Remember too, that another source of protein, the egg,can be versatile and made into a variety of easy dishes. Combine them with broth to make a type of stratticella or panpiest, especially if you add breadcrumbs. Don't have those  - take stale bread and pop into your food processor. Pulse and you'll have enough for breading too.

Canned food, that kitchen classic , is always welcome.Always buy two or three of one product. You'll never know when you 'll need them.A favorite is Swanson's Chicken Ala King. This has been around sine the Fifties and it makes for a quick and tasty meal.Serve it on toast or even toasted English muffins. It can even be served on top of plain white rice or egg noodles to stretch it out. Tuna too, can prove to be versatile. Use it as the main ingredient for a delicious salad Nicoise or  layer it with  tomatoes on any kind of bread for a Provencale vibe.You forgot to buy meat for your tomato sauce. No problem .Use tuna to give it body.Canned or packaged soup can not only be used for soup, but also for a quick sauce or  flavornig, not only for sour cream but also for Greek yogurt .Keep tins of other seafood too, such as anchovies, sardines and salmon. Another canned must have is chili. It can be good on it's own but also over nachos and hot dogs. Have several cans of the beef, turkey and veggie for those just in case moments.

Don't fret if you don;t have any ingredients for dinner. Improvise with what you have. Be creative. You'll be surprised at what you can make.