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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Sweet Mother's Day Treat

One of the nicest Mother's Day gifts is a home baked cake - and luckily Duncan Hines has the perfect one  - their Perfect Size. This is an easy and fun bake!

This is the container.

All a home baker needs is one egg , a quarter of a cup water and two tablespoons of butter.
Everything is blended with a mixer for about three minutes on high speed. At the same time preheat the oven to only 300 degrees F.It comes with a sturdy  paper bowl that's peeled off  after its' been cooled off.Pour batter into bowl, bake for forty minutes and presto -

It comes with an icing bag that's blended with four tablespoons of butter (for both the cake and icing I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
Then the butter 9which should have come first mixed with a tablespoon plus a teaspoon of water)
This is the cake , before icing ,put on a pretty plate,
Now afterwards with the icing.

I'm leaving it in the fridge overnight to set but tomorrow it will be a fine cake for a fine lady!
Happy Mother's Day to the Master Chef who taught me everything!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Exotic Ad Easy - Mother's Day Meals

What do you give the woman who cooks for you all year round, including major holidays. A home cooked meal - and not a can of Spaghetti-o's heated in the microwave. Give your mom something out of the ordinary. Think easy and exotic. It'll be simple yet memorable - the perfect Mother's Day gift.

Many non chefs or novice home cooks look to ordinary for a lunch or dinner. It's usually a meat loaf or pasta with prepared sauce. Yet there are many dishes from around the world that are just as simple to execute. Think the Southern French or Provencale dish pain bagnat.It's a tuna sandwich amped up with tuna in oil (always a richer taste however if it's too much then stick with  tuna in water) There's also hard boiled eggs, anchovies and sliced bell peppers. Scallions and Dijon mustard are added for more flavor. Use a rustic bread like a hollowed out ciambatta or French bread. After constructing, soak in oil  and wrap in Saran wrap for twenty four hours. This allows all the flavors to meld into all these delicious tastes of briny and mellow, sweet and salty. If you want a cooked meal then think of Indian curried chicken. This is heating boneless breasts with onion in olive oil simmering in a large skillet.  One third of a cup of curry powder is then added and then the covered dish is cooked for forty five minutes over a medium low heat. Afterwards, remove the skillet's lid and cook for an additional fifteen minutes. Just be careful because curry burns easily. Cook up some basmati rice for real authenticity or serve with warmed naan bread.

Mexican food is always fun and super easy to whip up. Forget the tacos, unless they're mom's favorite. Think fajitas with either chicken, flank steak,or grilled shrimp. Of course its' the  chili powder and cumin mix gives it zing but it's also the addition of sliced bell peppers and onions that highlight this recipe too For vegan mothers, you can sub in any kind of mushroom from button to portobello. Make sure the lady of the day also gets a margarita Try a frozen watermelon one, made with Cointreu and tequila along with two and a half cups of cubed watermelon and one and a half cups of crushed ice.If mom likes sushi, surprise her with home made tuna or California rolls. It is a bit labor intensive ,but that's mostly comes from preparing the rice. Start with the glutenous white sort and rinse in a colander or sieve until the water pouring through is clear. It's then boiling it for twenty minutes.At the same time combine rice wine vinegar, sugar , vegetable oil and salt in a saucepan. Cook until the sugar dissolved and then stir into the rice  to create  that tangy layer. If you're unsure about using raw fish, then use cubed avocado and matchstick cut carrots,cucumbers ,green bell peppers and zucchini. Serve with a sake for a nice touch. Instead of sushi you can sub in the tasty , fried tempura. The batter is feather light, consisting of only egg whites, flour and water, beaten almost like a meringue . All sorts of meats and vegetables can be dipped in and then fried in vegetable. oil.

Treat mom to a easy and exotic  meal for her special day, Don't go for the ordinary. Travel the culinary globe for the right recipe that's fun and different.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The LA Restaurant Scene Hot And Getting Hotter

For anyone visiting Los Angeles this  summer, the emphasis won;t be on the tourist sites but on the restaurant scene. The city is stealing the thunder from the New York restaurant scene with some funky and new eateries in up and coming neighborhoods. They reflect what's best about the Southern California dining scene.

Adam Nagourney wrote about the LA restaurant scene in yesterday's New York Times Food section, the Los Angeles bureau chief for the New York Times. He writes about several diverse ones that reflect the ever churning and  changing scene.  A surprising fact about the city is that none of the restuarants  are Michlin rated. It doesn't and never had the white tablecloth , good crystal vibe of Manhattan's four star gems.It's like  the people themselves - laid back.Jeans and sweat shirts are more prevalent at expensive restaurants than suits and dresses.According to Patric Kuh, the longtime restaurant critic of Los Angeles magazine claims there are few rules for dining in the city. The unlikely becomes real and great. There's a uniqueness that in restaurants that New York doesn't have. This has attracted New York restauranteurs such as Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park and the famed Spotted Pig owners, April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman who are already building a place near Gwen on Sunset Boulevard.

The trendier restaurants are not in the heart of the city like other cities. Here's Looking At You is right in the heart of Koreatown.It features trendy dishes such as frog legs and straticella cheese , a change of pace from the usual LA fare. Larchmont, a quiet suburban area has the new restaurant ,Kali, It showcases local ingredients such as avocados and Fiscalini, a Parmesan cheese produced in California. Many restauranteurs and chefs look for low rent places  simply because it's too expensive to own or rent space. Owners of the New York eatery , Glasserie, Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson first opened a falafel restaurant in a rejuvenated old food court in the old Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. Their next venture is Kismet, that ' housed in a former pizzeria in the suburb of Loz Feliz. It's on the famed Hollywood Boulevard but in the quiet section.Another plus of a SoCal restaurant is the clemency of the weather. There's farmer's markets galore bursting with tomatoes and mushrooms. Some chefs even grow their veggies and herbs in their own backyards , all year round, something that can't be done in Manhattan,

Will LA ever eclipse NY with good restaurants? No, they'll be on the same par. LA will have the laid back creativity that the city won't have. Is that good? That's up to the diners .

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Layers Of Perfection

Phyllo dough can be a tricky medium to work for many a home chef.  Purists will want to bake their own while those looking for a shortcut will buy it.  What makes for good flaky layers that works well with both savory and sweet dishes.

Famed chef and baker Yottam Ottolenghi posed this question on his article in today's New York Times Food section. His training in cooking school has allowed him to create the famed layers but not without flaws. Phyllo dough is simply flour ,salt and water mixed with olive oil and rolled out until it's paper thin.It's one of the world's oldest recipes and bread recipes.Chef Ottolenghi tried  with some of the best phyllo makers st one of the most celebrated baklava factories, Karakoy Gulloglu in Istanbul, Turkey The chief ,baker, Mustafa, a fifth generation baker, believes that a combination of "hard work, attention, meticulous care and love." It's more the meticulous care that creates the perfect sheets. . Do it wrong and you could wind up with holes as Chef Ottolenghi first had during his schooling. There is another way of  creating phyllo or warka as its' called in Morocco.It's similar to the way crepes are made using a red hot pan.The phyllo dough is tapped upon it until the pan is completely covered.. The chef learned the cheat way , thanks to a Moroccan home chef called Fouza. Put  a frying pan over boiling water and pour a scant amount of the  batter into the pan. The result is the perfect paper thin piece.

Another method is buying it, ready made , Chef Ottolenghi suggests getting a good brand, one that is of good quality. How can you tell? By the scrunch test. Scrunch a sheet in one hand. If it's of good quality , it'll spring apart. A bad piece will be brittle and will easily fall apart. Remember to liberally brush it with melted butter which allows the sheets to separate and rise in the oven.Work quickly when brushing them or they'll dry out. Chef Ottolenghi gives two recipes - one savory and one sweet. The savory is a feta and herb tart.It not only has the lightly tangy feta but also grated pecorino Romano cheese.mixed with such  herbs as tarragon, mint and parsley . An egg custard is made with four eggs, milk and cheese. The sweet version is  what else - baklava. except there's a twist.Chef Ottolenghi adds halloumi , the Egyptian version of mozzarella.It's mild and slightly salty - which cuts the sweetness of the rosewater drizzled on the tart. There still is the traditional filling of chopped walnuts mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg mixed together with melted butter. The baklava would make a lovely Mother's Day treat, thanks to sprinkling dried rose petals on top.

Phyllo dough can be made by any home chef. Beginners should try the warka way while more experienced can execute the traditional method. Then experiment with savory and sweet dishes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Special Cake For Mom

One of the best gifts is a homemade one for Mother's Day. Any mom would appreciate a tasty treat that she didn't bake. Think fun cupcakes or a daffodil cake. If she's into fruit than a great pie, or if she's fancy a plate of macarons with a ganache filling. There's a variety of sweets that can be created for mom's special day.

If you're not a pro at baking, then go for the mixes. Between the big three cake mixes, Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, you can make any kind of cake.Duncan Hines has introduced serving for one -  mug filled with either cake or bread. This is the easiest bake - just the mix and three tablespoons of water - - it just takes a minute in the microwave and voila - a perfect treat. She can have her choice of flavors from a decadent chocolate lover's cake to  banana bread. There's even one minute muffins, blueberry ,apple cinnamon and corn, in a mug too for a neat breakfast in bed. as for cakes and frosting , all three brands have not only mixes but frostings too. As for decorations Betty Crocker has these various sprinkles including Cupcake Gems that are gold and silver sugar crystals. Sprinkle these on a plain cake  to amp it up to something special.You can also have fun with the mixes too, thanks to the brands offering dozens of recipes on their sites. Try a poke cake with either pudding or Jello for a fun surprise or a skillet cake , layered with whipped cream and fresh berries.Pillsbury has a easy to bake ice cream cake recipe that just requires cake mix , ice cream and whipped cream.It's easy to assemble and decorate.

More experienced bakers can definitely whip up a scratch cake with no problems. One of the prettiest is the daffodil cake,  a marriage of angel food and yellow scratch cakes. The frosting is a mix of pineapple juice and Cool Whip which is a lovely , mild flavor to go to the cake. Of course , nothing beats the taste of a scratch marble cake. This would make a great dessert with a scoop of French vanilla or chocolate ice cream.It's also good just on it's own with an iced coffee and mom's favorite Sunday crossword. A homemade pie is always a nice gift.Supermarkets such as Stop & Shop and Acme are still selling Granny Smith and Fuji apples and these are the best for a homemade apple pie.  If you want something fancier then think a homemade lemon meringue with a slightly browned meringue crown. It's a great end to a Mother's Day barbecue. Another tropical tasting treat is a Key Lime pie, the perfect union of sweet and tart. What mother wouldn't like a plate of fresh from her oven macarons. Yoou can make them like the ones from the famed Ladueree Patisserie, with flavors such as chocolate, salted caramel and even rose water.Fill them with a rich chocolate ganache or almond buttercream for true luxury,

Nothing beats a homemade treat for mom's special day . Surprise her with home baked treat. It's a sweet way to thank her for she's baked for you.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Farm Fresh Desserts

Imagine desserts that are bursting with fresh flavor and fresh fruits of the season. It would be a different spin on classics and much loved treats. Thanks to a new cookbook , it's now easy to incorporate any harvest into tasty desserts and snacks.

Farm-to-table Desserts ( Skyhorse Publishing 2017) is an interesting cookbook written by Lei Shishak,best known for her Beach House Baking and Beach House Brunch.Ms. Shishak has written a book to cover all seasons which are delineated in her book. There are recipes for the four seasons that highlights the harvests of each particular one. right from the start she recommends heading to the local farmer's market.Her reasoning makes sense. Produce begins to lose its' nutritional value soon after its' harvested and continues to decline as time elapses. Fresh picked fruit and vegetables still have the highest amount of vitamins and minerals. She also explains why we should support our local farmers and buy from the farmers directly, giving them the full price. She also is a big believer in cooking and baking with organic fruit too. It  has no chemical pesticides and genetic modifications.
There's also a handy conversion chart for overseas home bakers too that converts tablespoons and teaspoons into grams and milliliters.

One of the best parts of the book is the recipes divided by season. For Spring home bakers can try such treats as maple creme caramel or rhubarb mint ice cream. Since late Spring is the time for cherry  and peach harvests there are the white peach and cherry crumble and apricot peach crostata. The summer and fall recipes really shine . A chilled cantaloupe soup would be the perfect end to a hot night of barbecuing, A homemade mango granita would be a great cool down during a heat wave.Every kind of berry is also featured and Ms. Shishak has a delicious recipe for a berry Pavlova, a yummy meringue filled with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.Fresh mint decorates these elegant little bowls.Strawberry shortcake, a summer classic is turned into a roll with roasted (!) strawberries transformed into a jam, Fall brings roasted grape bruschetta and pear cake,baked with a cornucopia of  spices such as allspice cloves and cardamon, Yes, there's a baked apple recipe, and this time it has a homemade butterscotch sauce. Winter brings banana and lemon recipes like banana souffle,  and a Meyer lemon cake  both perfect for the holidays.

Farm-to-table Desserts is a must for any home baker longing to cook with fresh ingredients. It is chock full of recipes for any time of the year. They are delicious ways to enjoy organic fruit.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Big Southern Do

Today is Derby Day  a big celebration in Kentucky where Southerners revel in the glory of the Kentucky Derby. You have to hand it to Southerners. They know how to do a party right - inspiration for us Yankee party givers. Do a do Southern style - with good food and good drink. Everyone will love it.

Biscuits, always a favorite , can make an appearance at s Southern themed party. Serve them with bacon ,pimento cheese, a favorite filling in sandwiches. Another idea is homemade tomato jam top with cheddar, sort of like an American's take on bruschetta. Tomato jam is easy to make .It's just taking whole peeled tomatoes and half a cup of sugar and cooking into a jam  boiled in a large skillet. A teaspoon of kosher salt is added to bring out the tomatoes' flavor. It's then cooked for about fifteen minutes until thick and jammy. Deviled eggs have always been a staple in almost every celebration and holiday. These are easy to make and can be decorated to look quite fancy. It's just taking the egg yolk and mayo mash and putting it into a cake icer with  small tip (Like a Wilton decorating tip - number 199). Swirl in the filling into the halved egg whites and then dust with paprika or finely minced gherkins.Okra is a big staple in Southern cooking, especially in Louisiana where it's used in gumbo. It can take on a modern twist as a popper. It's simply cutting the stalks into one half inch pieces and first soaking them in buttermilk. They then are rolled in a spicy cornmeal batter that's been spiked with cayenne and garlic powder.

Barbecue is a way of life down South and it too is always the star of many a party.May barbecues have a whole roasted pig . This may be too much and too labor intensive - after all - a pit has to be dug to accommodate the spit and coals. Ribs would be a better choice. They're easier to cook and eat.Marinate them in a spicy and tangy sauce that's laced with hot pepper sauce and sweetened with ketchup and brown sugar to create an interesting marriage of flavors.. Barbecue and fried chicken are also staples of Southernn home chefs. Again brown sugar is added to the chicken's barbecue sauce for that earthy sweetness while chopped onion and garlic gives it some zing. The recipe calls also for ketchup but tomato jam could be subbed in. A fun party food  is homemade fried chicken - what the South is all about. The best tasting ones start with a simple batter , consisting of just flour, eggs and a cup of milk. First  soak the chicken in the milk  and egg mix and then thoroughly coat with flour.Fry in lard for a truly authentic Southern taste.  A Southern do ends with peach cobbler or banana pudding.If it's fancy then bake a traditional hummingbird cake.It's a banana  - pineapple cake laden with pecans and cinnamon. It's iced with another Southern classic  - cream cheese frosting . Serve it with after dinner coffee laced with bourbon for a fantastic ending.

The South knows how to throw a party with good food. Create your own Southern do with tasty fried chicken and biscuits, or barbecue and hummingbird cake. It's what entertaining is all about.

Friday, May 5, 2017


Today being Cinco de Mayo, and the emphasis is on all food Mexican. It's always so delicious with the variety of spices married to simple ingredients. Other recipes can certainly benefit from these ingredients and spices. Cooking Mexican style can definitely liven up any ordinary meal.

One of the most popular condiments in Mexican cuisine is salsa. Everyone usually pours it into a bowl and plunk tortilla chips in it. However no many know it can turn into a popping dressing. Mix a cup of  fresh or jarred salsa with a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar and three to four tablespoons of olive oil. Smoky paprika can be added for a different layer of flavor. If you want a smoother textured dressing pour into a blender or blend to smooth with an immersion blender. It'll be great with either a chicken or grilled steak salad. The dip can also be tasty in a frittata with the addition of chorizo and chopped sweet onion.If you want more zing , toss in some sliced jalapeno. Add some rice and black beans for a zingy brunch dish or a fun Saturday or Sunday night supper.Oregano, long a staple in Italian cooking is also a must have in Mexican. Its' aromatic scent and flavor can also add zing to cooked string beans with onions Try some sprigs in a white bean chili that's loaded with canalini beans , ground turkey and onions. Cumin is another spice prevalent in Mexican cooking. Many people associate it with Indian cuisine but it is also used frequently in many south of the border recipes.It's usually in taco and fajita fillings but could easily be added to homemade burgers and meat loaf for added zest.

Mole has always been misunderstood by many American home chefs.Mention adding chocolate to any main dish and watch them cringe or wrinkle their noses.Mole is simply a mix of unsweetened cocoa powder, dried garlic and cumin blended with vegetable oil and tomato  puree. Ancho, pastillo and chipotle peppers are added for fire. Chicken is the most popular meat served with it but it can also be ladled on roast pork or brisket. Shred both meats and serve them in soft or hard tacos for a fun weekday dinner.Grilled veggies such as eggplant and zucchini  can also benefit from this zippy sauce. Chili powder, one of the most well known of Mexican cuisine ingredients , is not only for a five alarm chili but for other dishes as well. It gives boring grilled shrimp a burst of flavor.It's simply brining the seafood in a mix of chili powder, sugar and four cups of water. The spiced shrimp is then sauteed in a mix of vegetable oil, garlic and ginger. Surprisingly the spice can also turn simple chocolate cupcakes into the culinary equivalent of fireworks. Just add a teaspoon and a half of dried
ancho chili powder to any devil's food cake mix or scratch recipe.It and cayenne can even be added to a cream cheese icing for more spark.

Salsify and satisfy tastebuds with the flavorful ingredients  of Mexican cuisine.They'll bring an exciting edge to any meal or sweet!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Chef's Legacy

What will a cook leave the world? Phenomenal food? New recipes? Inventive techniques? That's what one chef, Thomas Keller of the famed French Laundry, is pondering. What is the next chapter of his life book of cookery.

Chef Keller proved to be an interesting topic of an article published in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Regular Food contributor , Kim Severson , interviewed him and talked to him about his future plans.French Laundry is one of the most famous restaurants in the world where dishes such as bread and butter are elevated to culinary heights. He also has created the famed Bouchon bakeries.He has also has designed pots and plates along with olive oil infused chocolates.Chef Keller also sells gluten free flour, Cup4Cup as well as silver clothespins at a store called Finesse.There is the problem of who will inherit all of this.He has no children or protegees.He has also created Per Se and Le Bernardin too, both famous and culinary trendsetters. He does sit on the board of the CIA - the Culinary Institute  of  America . He also started a mentoring program called Ment 'or to further culinary tradition of French cooking in America.It will also guarantee a win at the Bocuse 'd'Or, a competition  named for the famed chef, Paul Bocuse, and his mentor.

Some younger chefs find him  a throw back to the "Madmen" era of restaurants. Preeti Mistry, the owner and chef Juhu Beach Club in Oakland ,California feels that Chef Keller is stuck in another era and  views fine dining as disingenuous , built from a system rife with oppression and hierarchy where women, minorities and gays  - whether they be customers or cooks, are treated the same. He needs to address those issues and bring his restaurant and ideology into the Twenty-first Century. Chef Keller just shrugs this off. He did fight convention as a young chef but after realized that fighting and pushing is worthless.There's no value.Chef Keller believes that hard work and dedication will right all the wrongs. While his attitude may infuriate  a younger generation, Chef Keller will continue to push on. He is overseeing the rehaul of French Laundry where there will be a one million dollar renovation.It will have a soaring kitchen  ceiling that will resemble a large tablecloth floating down.One wall will have a large clock with his favorite saying underneath "Time is Urgency."

Chef Thomas Keller will be leaving a tremendous legacy. French Laundry,Per Se and le Bernardin will be talked about for generations and decades to come.His name will be up there with Escoffier and Child.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Best French Toast Recipe Ever

With Mother's Day right around the corner, everyone should be honing their breakfast skills. One of the components of a lush morning meal is French toast. Nothing beats this variation of the French pain perdu. It's a surprisingly easy to make dish that even works for a Saturday or Sunday night supper.

Julia Moskin lets us  in on the magic in her column in today's New York Times Food section. She has always gone for what she calls the "slosher" method. where milk and eggs are sloshed together in a bowl. It's then whisked together into a frothy liquid and white bread is dunked in, scooped out and fried in butter.  The chance if it is delicious is about fifty-fifty - not very good odds for any recipe,Ms Moskin goes to a good source for advice , this being  Jessica Koslow, the owner and chef  of Spirit. Her French toast starts with thick, almost steak like slices of white bread, first seared on the stove and then roasted in the oven. She follows the popular New York trend of stuffing the slices with jams (other restaurants use a sweetened cream cheese) However the secret isn't this, but whole cream. A  few tablespoons go a long way according to her,It gives the custard a richer mouth feel. Home chefs who are still wary about using such a rich ingredient should opt for whole milk. The effect is sort of the same  yet results in a better taste than using two percent milk.

Another aspect in making the pain perdu parfait is the bread itself. Home chefs can use regular or Pullman bread which will give uniformly dipped and grilled slices. Ms. Moskin also suggests using the egg rich challah or equally rich brioche bread.Personally I'd prefer either French or Italian bread.It's dense and chewy and makes a wonderful French toast when sliced into half inch rounds.Another factor in making an excellent slice is the amount of time in the custard mixture.Remember that French toast that has been over soaked will have a damp and gooey middle while the crusts stay crisp and brown. To have an evenly coated slice dip it in, letting both sides soak for about three to four Mississippi  as Ms. Moskin advises. There are some schools of thought that advocate adding everything from sugar to Gran Marnier and Amaretto. Don't.It's not a dessert to be later served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Stick with the butter and maple syrup.Cooking it means aiming for a lacy brown crust on both sides. Think the golden brown of caramelized sugar   and not the dull brown of overcooked eggs. You can do what the chefs do and coat it in sugar  as it's fried in butter (Or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter).It'll be the perfect slice.

French toast is a simple but decadent dish. Make it correctly and it will come out as good as any restaurant.version.It will be more than a simple slice of bread, it will be a sensual experieince.