Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Mardi Gras And Shrove Tuesday

Today is Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, the last day of celebration before Lent. It's a time of revelry and enjoying egg and butter rich foods before forty days of fasting. This is a time for pancakes too, thanks to the tradition of Shrove Tuesday. It's a celebration whatever is made today.

For some Mardi Gras means gumbo. This is an easy cook, a fun stew made with shrimp and andouille sausage along with the holy trinity of Cajun cooking - celery, onions and bell peppers.Okra which gives the dish its' African name is added along with tomatoes and tomato paste. It's a great meal for a dinner party too because of its' ease of serving. The dish is ladled over rice and served. Etouffee is a Cajun dish eaten throughout New Orleans at this time. It has another Cajun and Creole staple - seafood. Crawfish is usually used but shrimp can subbed in along with crab. It's called a smothered dish because it's ladled over rice which helps balance  the dish's fieriness. Again it's an easy make, using the usual ingredients found in the cuisine along with cayenne and hot sauce. A sweeter Mardi Gras treat is King Cake, a brioche type ring cake decorated with Mardi Gras colors and containing a trinket. They can be bought on line, if you're far from Lousiana or you can make it at home. It's basically a cinnamon coffee bread rich with butter and eggs., then topped with a confectioner's sugar icing. Purple, green and gold, Mardi Gras colors are sprinkled on top

Another name for the day is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake day. Big in Britain and in Slavic countries like Poland housewives are supposed to use up all the butter and fat along with milk and eggs before Lent starts. Pancakes also symbolize the pillars of Christianity, eggs for creation, flour for the mainstay of human life,  salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.There are races in Britian , with
the tradition starting in 1445.A housewife cooking pancakes heard her local church calling all to
church and ran to Mass, still flipping pancakes to prevent them from burning. All of the UK participate in this annual event, including William and Kate. Pancakes are one of the easiest dishes to make This simple dish can be jazzed up for the holiday with the addition of walnuts and pecans along with a fat pat of bourbon butter, Bourbon can also be added to maple syrup too. For a more sophisticated take,try crepes for Shrove Tuesday or even for meatless Lenten Fridays.The recipe is sort of like the pancake but the butter is melted first.It also helps to chill the batter for an hour before cooking for a crisper crepes It only takes two minutes to cook it on both sides.

Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday  is a day of fun eating before the fasting of Lent. Enjoy it with either a bowl of gumbo ,a slice of King Cale or a stack of pancakes or crepes.. Celebrate with good food.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A True Cajun Mardi Gras

This is the time for Mardi Gras and all the flavors of New Orleans.However, it's the cuisine of the Cajun backwoods that's the true taste of the holiday. some recipes have been handed down , first originating in Nova Scotia and France and marrying dishes from Africa and Spain. Their traditional dishes is what the holiday is all about.

Gumbo is an excellent example of  Cajun cooking. Every family probably has a recipe handed down through the decades. Its origins are from the French seafood stew bouillabaisse and the hearty soups of West Africa.Okra is the binder in it,In fact the name gumbo comes from the Bantu word for the plant nkombo. Any kind of caught meat , from squirrel to venison is used. A meatless variation, gumbo z'herbes for Lent. made with beet greens spinach and turnip greens. Spanish colonists brought paella to the area and it was refashioned in jambalaya.Again, the recipe varies from family to family. The basic one is made with chicken and shrimp along with the holy trinity of Cajun cooking, celery onions, and bell peppers. Thyme, bay leaf and parsley are also added.  Some parish home chefs add andouille the homemade garlic laced sausage along with alligator (!). Tomato paste is omitted from the recipe unlike the professional ones in New Orleans.Crawfish is a huge part of any celebration and the spicier the better. The fish is dipped in a blend of paprika , cayenne and chile powder along with garlic , salt and pepper.

Sweets also plays an important part in any Cajun country celebration. There is the King Cake a fun sweet yeasty brioche type  bread. It's decorated with a vanilla glaze that's been sprinkled with gold, purple and green sugar. Gold symbolizes power, green means faith, and purple means justice . Home bakers hide little trinkets inside such as a coin meaning prosperity in the coming year, a baby doll representing the infant Jesus and a wedding ring , hinting at a possible marriage for the finder. Another sweet Mardi Gras treat is chocolate yummy  or pudding cake..It begins with a cookie base , followed by layers of chocolate pudding, sweetened cream cheese and Cool Whip. Every house has a different spin on it. Instead of cookies, the first layer can be a cake or a mixture of  flour , pecans and butter.. Some home bakers will add an extra layer of vanilla pudding to the layer of chocolate pudding. Instead of a third layer of Cool Whip, freshly whipped cream can easily be used as a third layer.Chopped pecans or chocolate chips can be sprinkled on top.

True Mardi Gras celebrations are in the parishes surrounding New Orleans. Locals revel and eat these delicious dishes that have been  handed down. It is a fun way of enjoying the last day before Lent.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Comfy Oscar Party

Oscar night means Oscar parties. For many of us  - including those who weren't nominated  - it means watching them at home,with a favorite meal or snack to nosh on.Nothing beats enjoying favorite nibbles while watching favorite stars win.

Pizza is always a fun party food.It's so much better coming straight from the oven.If you don't want to  go through all the steps, there are the instant ones like Celeste's that offer pizzas for one. These are big enough to be shared for two.For those who love the idea of a fresh from the oven pie, try Pilsbury's pizza dough. It's already made and just needs to be rolled out, topped and baked, Top with such toppings as an all meat that includes salami, pepperoni and capicola, or a veggie one that has peppers onions and olives.another variation is English muffin pizzas. These are super easy to make and super fun to eat.These can be made in a toaster oven although they do come out crisper if they're baked in the oven. Want something a tad more glam? Think bruschetta. This is an easy make that just involves cutting up plum tomatoes and mixing them with basil, olive oil and garlic. You can add a dash of balsamic vinegar for some tartness. serve o toasted rounds of Italian and French bread.

A fun home party food is pigs in blankets. Take regular hot dogs and cut them into thirds. Wrap a crescent roll around them and bake  for thirty minutes. dip into sauces such as forty karat mustard , made extra golden like Oscar himself with the addition of curry. Also try a homemade honey mustard one made with wildflower honey and a spicy barbecue one. One of the easiest and tastiest - and my favorite is homemade guacamole and chips.Use the blackest ones  to create the dip. These are the ripest and will produce an ultra creamy dip . I like to use vine ripe tomatoes for a dash of color
and a jolt of needed sweet and tart. Remember to drizzle some olive oil in to give the texture some smoothness. Of course, the night is all about movies and that means popcorn. Go old school with air popped , then bathed in real butter. A sweet fun variation is kettle corn.It's an easy recipe that just involves adding sugar to kernels and oil and then popping over a low flame.Use white sugar for a popcorn ball taste or brown sugar for a caramel corn one.

Oscar nights mean Oscar treats, full of fun and flavor.Make your faves or try something new and adventurous. sit back, nosh, and root for your favorites to win.

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's The Spice Cakes!

Today I finally made my B&W style cupcakes. Was it work? Heck  yeah!! It was interesting and definitely a learning experience. It's been over ten years since I last made cupcakes so it was like relearning how to make them.

I started with Duncan Hines Spice mix. It's a simple enough mix,

It's three eggs along with a cup of water and 1/3 cup of vegetable oil all are mixed into a satiny , creamy batter thanks to three minutes with an electric mixer set on high.
Thank Target for these pretty heart decorated cupcake papers. Using the paper makes clean up easier.I filled the cups 2/3 full. This was not a good idea. Use the tablespoon rule when filling cupcake pans. Always pour in three tablespoons. Other wise.

Yup, they look like mutant muffins instead of delicate tea cakes.This is  how they should look:
See how perfect they look, wth only slightly rounded tops. As for that empty one, there wasn't enough batter for it. I would have had enough if I had followed the three tablespoon rule, Now it's time for the icing. As I've written before, I wanted to use a glaze. and I found a super easy micro wave one from  Food.com. It just required semi-sweet chocolate chips , condensed milk and three tablespoons of butter.
The chips just had to be microwaved for just a minute and a half (no longer otherwise the chocolate will burn).The condensed milk and butter(I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter) are added and vigorously stirred with a wooden spoon.I then used my spoon from my ice cream maker to ladle it on and smooth it out

They look pretty professional, despite all the trouble. The taste - better than B& W's. (Sorry B&W).

I will definitely make them again or maybe as a layer cake form for a birthday or party.I want to try the icing with a scratch butter cake for a truly old fashioned treat.

My cupcake skills need more work, but everything baked is a step closer to creating the perfect cake, cupcake, bread, pie and cookie. It's on to the next yummy project for this home baker!.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sheet Pan Dinners With A Twist

One of the latest trends in home cooking right now is sheet pan meals. These are an easy cook and mix of the main meal and sides. Now there's another layer added to this - pasta. It gives a new texture and taste to a popular dish.

Melissa Clark decided to tackle this and write about it in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Any sheet pan meal is an easy make.It's just spreading out your desired ingredients on a baking sheet that's usually reserved for cookies and square  pizzas. She makes a roasted broccoli pasta. This is unusual in the sense that the main ingredient isn't a meat such as chicken or pork but pasta. Ms. Clark uses chiocciole , a  macaroni shaped kind, however, home chefs can also use fusilli or ziti.Using pasta does require the extra step of boiling it, but then it's really no different than boiling the wide noodles for lasagna. Vegetables are a must for any sheet pan meal. Broccoli is used because it roasts well,,with the florets becoming crispy. That and the pasta, which will become crisp too will pair nicely with the addition of fresh ricotta.The cheese will burnish and caramelize.Ms. Clark also adds a good sprinkling of Parmesan spiked breadcrumbs and lemon zest for more zing.

Even novice home chefs can create this tasty dish, perfect for a weekday dinner or weekend lunch.It does start off with a very hot oven. Ms. Clark recommends a 425 degree Farenheit oven Use a rimmed baking sheet. The broccoli is tossed with olive oil along with red pepper flakes, a pinch of sea salt  and cumin for flavor( you can swap out the pepper if it proves to be too spicy). Roast until tender and brown between eighteen and twenty-five minutes. Toss halfway through to make sure that all the florets are evenly cooked. The sheet pan is removed from the oven and it's time to turn on the broiler. At this point, the pasta should be boiled and then drained.It's also at this time that the
 breadcrumbs have to be spiced. Ms. Clark uses panko bread crumbs but I don't see why regular or homemade ones can 't be used. Toss the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan,  lemon zest and salt and pepper. The pasta and broccoli are then tossed together on the pan then dollops of  the ricotta is added..It's then sprinkled with the breadcrumbs , along with getting a generous drizzle of olive oil. Broil for about two to three minutes or until browned and crisped. It's served with a squirt of lemon juice. Other veggies such as cauliflower and eggplant can be subbed in for the broccoli  while Camembert can be used for the ricotta.

A sheet pan meal is an easy meal. Add pasta to make it special and tastier. It's a nice spin on a new trend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cajun Beer For Mardi Gras

All eyes will be turned to New Orleans and Louisiana this Tuesday for Mardi Gras. Cajun food such as gumbos and etouffes will be bubbling away on stovetops and in cauldrons outdoors. Now there are beers to go with it and the wild revelry.

Rachel Wharton, a food writer usually published in The  New York Daily News switches to the New York Times Food section this week to write about an exciting entry into the drinking world : Cajun beer.She travelled to Arnaudville, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun country where  French is the primary language and the laws still follow the Napoleonic Code.Karlos, Byron and Dorsey Knott, whose ancestors came from Quebec in the 1780's started the brewery to go with the spicy, flavorful foods they grew up on.Bayou Teche Brewery, named for the famed waterway that connects southern Louisiana, goes back to the French or Belgian tradition of French and Belgian farmhouse brewing traditions.Unlike other beers that stand along, these biers are meant to be served as part of the meal. There are different types, one made with the fruity tasting French yeast.This is the Saison D'Ecrivisses or crawfish beer that goes well with the Cajun staple, seafood.Many of the ingredients incorporate Southern Louisiana ingredrients  such as raw local sugar , rice and hot peppers. There was even a beer called Shrimp and Grits that actually included hominy grits and shrimp!.according to Karlos, The drink tasted fantastic but the aroma was none too great.It smelled like old shrimp - not a big selling point.

How did a Lousianian get involved in brewng? Blame Karlos' time in Seattle. He and his wife, Stephanie , moved there and that's where he got caught up in home brewing.He also went on tours of such craft breweries as Redhook and Pyramid. Karlos returned back home in 1998 where he and his brothers home bewed their beers to go with the spicy gumbos and boils. Unfotunately their hoppiness and maltiness competed with the intense flavors.of Cajun cooking.Recipes were tweaked and revised so that they went better with the brews. The Knott brother's turning point came in 2009 when six kegs of their traditional Belgian pale ale was served at a beer festival in Lafayette. Local distributors went wild for it. Now the brewery has over twenty different types from a peppery strawberry to a citrussy one called Swamp Thing brewed with the classic Cajun ingrdient - rice.Included in the article is a recipe for Crawfish Etoufee, the spicy stew made with crawfish tails and poblano chiles. Bayou Teche is only sold in Lousiiana and Texas right now. Hopefully theyll branch out nationwide soon. so everyone can enjoy their delicious brews.

Cajun beers are not just a niche beer.Soon hipsters and Cajun food afectionadoes  will enjoy these spicy and unusual brews. Bayou Teche will be up there with Sam Adams,

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Q'Doba Grill Possibly The Best Mexican Food

Mexican food out can be a dicey affair . It could be too bland - or worse too spicy and hot. Then there's the cookie cutter factor, creating the same dishes for every customer..Luckily there is the refreshing Qdoba Grill that offers freshness and variety.

This is my favorite Mexican fast food - although should it be called such? There's nothing even remotely "fast" about it. There are fresh cut  vegetables and grilled meats. Even the tortilla chips are crisp and crunchy, not soggy with oil.Qdoba's Grill's tastes and cooking style is similar to home chefs' cooking the cuisine. Why is it not like its' closest competitor, Taco Bell? Maybe because it''s not  part of an international fast food corporation. The restaurant chain was started in the mid 1990s by Anthony Hauser  and Robert Miller in Denver ,Colorado. Another competietor, Chipotle was also created there two years earlier.It was called Zuma Fresh Mexican Grill and made a million and a half in revenues alone during the first year.Four years later the name was changed to Qdoba . The chain is known for their San Francisco or Mission style where the burritos are overstuffed with rice and double the amount of meat and veggies.It's also known for other freshly made customized dishes , unlike Taco Bell and reasonable prices - unlike Chipotle with its' expensive tacos , burritos and even guacamole.

Again , the reason I love it  there  is a homey freshness to it. I love having the tacos made my way, without beans and corn, just loaded with their spiced chicken and chopped tomatoes. The servers add just the right dollop of guacamole to top it off. Another reason to like Qdoba is that every dish can customized to suit both meat lovers and vegans. The menu is not varied. There are only six choices such as the classic taco, burrito and nachos along with  the burrito bowl, tortilla  soup, and taco salad. Of course, they have guac and chips, a creamy mashed avocado lightly spiced with what tastes like tabasco sauce. The queso or cheese sauce is laced with beer as is the featured drunken chicken this month. I enjoy their regular grilled chicken, again lightly spiced and not overpowering. The burrito bowls are also tasty, Bean lovers can go crazy with it, having both pinto and black beans and nothing else. There's also corn and peppers to add to everything too. Another plus? The soda machine that has a huge variety of different sodas. It' where I get my Dr. Pepper cherry vanilla fix and I can get as many refills as I want.Qdoba also sells wrapped chocolate chip cookies to battle any leftover fire and spiciness.

Qqdoba Grill offers the best and most reasonably priced Mexican fare out there. It's no wonder so my, like myself, can;t get enough of their delicious tacos and yummy guac. It's the best south of the border style food.

Monday, February 20, 2017

White House Kitchen Meals Fit For A President

The White House is the base of many American institutions The West Wing and  the Oval Office represent the  sitting president while the second story represent the presidential family. However, it's the little written about White House kitchen that fuels the powers that be with favorite dishes and desserts.

There has always been a kitchen in the White House. The first cooks were enslaved African-Americans owned by George Washington. They continued on in the kitchen until President William Henry Harrison in the 1890's . As the 20th century progressed the kitchen became fancier and much more sophisticated . Updates such as a stainless steel makeover during FDR's tenure and an entire transformation thanks to Harry S. Truman seeing the room needed to be drastically updated. Gourmet chefs ushered in the 21st Century with the Obamas bringing in Cristata Comerford, a Filipino born to oversee the cooking. The White House kitchen is also responsible for hard boiling and dying the dozens of Easter eggs used for the annual Easter egg hunt and the annual Christmas gingerbread house, a copy of the White House with some personal touches representing the sitting First Families. They also create amazing banquets which reflect the countries of the foreign leaders feted. When former British Prime Minister David Cameron visited , the kitchen whipped up a bison Wellington , an American spin on the classic British dish and lemon sponge cake. another English classic for his state dinner.

What did our presidents like to nosh on? Not surprisingly,  our first president George Washington had a fondness for cherries along with other fruits. John Adams and his wife Abigail preferred simple New England fare such as Indian pudding along with basic ingredients such as butter and molasses. Thomas  Jefferson was the first gourmand president , bringing in ice cream and macaroni along with anchovies, souffle, and Parmesan cheese to the US palate. James Madison had his wife, the famed Dolly, to thank for White House teas. Abe Lincoln was a fan of his wife 's Mary's courting cake, a homemade , frothy meringue of a cake. Teddy Roosevelt loved sugar so much he put seven lumps in his coffee cup, described as a bathtub by one of his sons along with a kind of shortbread cookie called a sandtart., Cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a big fan of any kind of soup and homemade doughnuts.The first president who loved to cook and often made his own meals was Dwight D. Eisenhower. He had a thing for soups and beef stews. Haute cuisine took a holiday when Bill Clinton was elected.. His was a passion for cheeseburgers along with roast beef sandwiches , his mom's sweet potato casserole and carrot cake. President Obama loved scallops along with the healthier fare his wife Michelle recommended.,

The White House has fed and catered to all our presidents. They have nourished our leaders in times of crises and tempted then wth  savory and sweet treats during difficult days. It is not just a kitchen where food is prepared but part of the net work that support all American preidents.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Your Best Ever Mini Guide To French Food

If you can cook French food, you've mastered one of the world's most complex yet most delicious cuisines>Many home chefs shy away from it, claiming it's too difficult. It's really isn;t thanks to a special section to tomorrow's New York Sunday Times. This isn't a spoiler alert.The New Essentials Of French Cooking is a keeper alert.

Melissa Clark is the author of this section which has some classic Gallic recipes as well one for a tagine, a North African dish popular with the French. Ms. Clark is the author of the weekly column A Good Appetite for the Times' Wednesday Food section. She has also  has authored several cookbooks, her last with famed Manhattan andFrench-born chefs, the famed Daniel Boulud and David Bouley. Their work in savory main meals and delectable pastries and have introduced many a
New Yorker to the subtleties of  French cooking. . Ms. Clark offers such basics as steak and omelets and fancier fare like quiches and souffles. What I found truly intriguing was each dish's history. Some like the omelet are adaptations from the  French, They have been around from ancient Rome. The same is true for the classic coq au vin, created by an annoyed Julius Caesar to give to the Gauls.
A variation of quiche was popular in ancient Egypt. Tangines may have entered the vocabulary and the country around the seventies but their history goes back to the Tenth  Century where Berber and Muslim cultures collided.

Another likable aspect is the why master it column  gracing every recipe. Ms.Clark gives encouraging reasons to make the dishes.Many home chefs would balk at the cassoulet recipe but she  explains as nothing more than a humble bean and meat stew. She does point out the negatives, that the dish is not one to make it on the fly. It does take planning as well as marinating the meats.Yet some of the ingredients , such as Great Northern beans  are easy to come by and easy to work with in the recipe. another plus is that she thoroughly explains the steps , offering how tos that any chef, from novice to experienced can follow. For those that are still put off by le cuisine Francais, there are simple recipes. Try the steak recipe with a red wine sauce.It's a mix of Cognac and brandy added to sauteed shallots.The sauce is then deglazed with chicken stock  and then butter and chives are added. This will go well with the butter cooked steaks. Serve with the mouthwatering  Pomme Anna, , a buttery crispy, baked cake  of thinly sliced potato slices.If you get brave enough, finish with a dessert of the airy bittersweet chocolate souffle.

The New Essentials of French Cooking is a must save for home chefs. Itis the best beginner's guide to  French cooking. Save this special pull out and try the recipes.There is nothing like the cuisine Francaise!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Expiration Dates Yes Or No?

Most home chefs are controlled by them while there is a small band of rebels that blatantly ignore them. What are they? Expiration dates. They control what we eat and how we eat. Now they're coming into question. Are they legit?

Everyone , from local news to even John Oliver are bringing them into the forefront. are they correct? Should we throw out that milk a day after the sell by date? Or chuck those canned veggies a week after or are they still good enough to cook? Some foods are and aren't. It's an iffy situation but there is a rule of thumb you can stick to.  Milk can be kept up to one week past the expiration date. while eggs can last as long as three to five It's hard to tell if they're rotten because it's only after the shell is cracked there's an odor.Poultry and seafood are a bit chancier. They should be cooked or frozen with a day or two of buying. Beef is a little sturdier. There's a window of three to five days before it goes bad. Canned goods are a whole other ball game. Highly acidic vegetables like canned tomatoes can last up to eighteen months . Low acid ones such as green beans can last five years. There is a catch , however, and most, if not all home chefs know what it is. Canned goods have to be kept in a cool,dry place, such as a pantry. ambient temperature should be between fifty and seventy degrees Farenheit. To make sure the temperature is constantly accurate, install a thermometer inside your pantry .

What about frozen foods such as ice cream and microwave meals? Unopened cartons of chocolate and vanilla can last up to two to three months past the printed date. Untouched sherbet can last a month longer at three months. Opened, it can last one to two months while sherbet, again, can last a month longer. How can you tell when its' bad. It's not the odor - there is none but the appearance. Tiny ice shards form on the ice cream's surface and under the lid. These can be removed so the ice cream can still be enjoyed but one ice shard begets several. Together , they can turn that solid brick of butter pecan into a gooey, oozy mess. Do Popsicles last as long?  Much much longer. The average Bomb pop or Rocket Pop can last up to six to eight months. Frozen TV dinners vary . Anything with chicken can only  stand six months before it goes bad while beef, seafood and pork can last up to a year and a half.  Tacos, enchiladas, and burritos have a year expiration date. That doesn't mean to load your freezer with them. Just remember you have them before you go shopping for a new dinners. Freezers tend to be like closets, with the older stuff being shoved to the back. Clean it out every three to four months.

Do you follow expiration dates. The best advice is to be aware of them. Food can last longer than the sell by date. Let your nose and taste buds be the judge.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Your New Go To Sauce Lemon Curry Butter Sauce

Sauces add to any dish, whether it's chicken or broccoli. Unfortunately, what usually works for meat may not work for veggies and vice versa. Yet there is one sauce - and a simple one, too, that can go well with any kind of main or side dish.

Melissa Clark wrote about  and experimented with lemon curry butter in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section.It's a simple recipe consisting of butter, minced garlic, herbs, spices and a squirt of lemon. The herbs and spices are not scary.It's ground curry and grated ginger melded with minced thyme leaves.Four tablespoons of butter will do it. Too much more will make it too rich. The amount of garlic used is also up to the cook. Ms. Clark likes a lot which is obvious in the amount - four. This can be winnowed down to one or two if the taste is too intense. The same philosophy applies to the spices.It doesn't have to be curry.Anything from the spice cabinet will do. The curry does lend a smoky flavor but cumin, paprika and coriander would work just as well. The same goes for the thyme. Try dill or dried instead. The only ingredients that really can't be changed are the lemon zest and the butter.Margarine wouldn;t work, nor would olive oil. Get a good butter like Kerrygold or Plusgras unsalted butter.

What would the sauce go with? Ms. Clark recommends such fish as blackfish , or hake. These are very mild in flavor which works well with the sauce's robust taste. Hake is the cheaper of the two but
 it has a less refined texture. The meat is very flaky and it is delicious, however,  Ms. Clark warns not to overcook it. Home chefs could also try flounder too. The sauce isn't just for fish. It would be good with chicken breasts and egg noodles. Serve it over leftover chicken to jazz it up. Unlike sauces that only  work for poultry and seafood , this one can do wonders for any steak. Think about drizzling it over skirt steak before broiling it.Veggies, especially the root ones, benefit from this bold sauce. It works well with the milder tasting ones such as turnips and beets, although the sauce  would be excellent with carrots. It could even work with asparagus and red, fingerling potatoes.Just go light on the garlic and curry so that the veggies shine through,

Lemon curry butter is snap to make and is versatile for any kind of main and side dish. Try it with fish or serve it with carrots. Liven up chicken breasts or turnips. It's the perfect go to for any meal.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Good Role Model

In the male-dominated world of restaurant cooking there is one woman who stands out. Dominique Crens is that woman, the one who is not only taking the restaurant world by storm but making a tremendous mark on the culinary world.She is not only being recognized by colleagues but also by Michelin as well.

Julia Moskin had the lucky chance to interview this dynamo for today's New York Times Food section. Chef  Crens has risen to the top, an almost meteoric rise. She has been honored by the French government for her contributions to gastronomy and culture along with being on the cover  of Gastronomique En Vogue. She was also profiled on "Chef's Table" on Netflix. Unlike others in her field, she has also delivered TED talks on defining success as well as spearheading a movement of chefs intent on bringing agriculture to Haiti  Of course there is going to be jealousy and questionings.It's surprised some American food lovers who are more familiar with April Bloomfield and Barbara Lynch. She is stunned herself at this rise and adulation. She was even going to decline the title, Best Female chef" because of its' sexist overtones. However, Chef Crens reconsidered it, realizing she could do something the cachet that came with it.

After all, she can use her name to influence and promote topics she is passionate about. Unlike other chefs, Chef Crens is outspoken on such hot buttons as immigration, religion, entitlement and even entitlement. Ms. Moskin describes her as thoughtful, out spoken, authoritative and soft hearted. Another aspect that also makes her stand out is that she is basically  home schooled, learning from her mother and not at a culinary school. She talked her way into Stars under chef Jeremiah Powers and then a stint in Indonesia. Along the way she honed and refined her skills, earning praise and followers. Her food and style are unapologetically artsy, personal and at times, risky. Chef Crens uses both the lush and the unconventional. There's foie gras, abalone and king crab mixed with such foraged ingredients as sea buckthorn and even plankton! Her featured  squash recipe is made with a persillade of pumpkin seeds, sage, parsley and lemon zest. What is unusual about it is that Chef crenz chars the squash as if it were peppers. It;s then cooked more in a pan and sprinkled with coarse sourdough breadcrumbs.toasted in melted butter.

Dominique Crens is a nova in the culinary world Yes, there are stars but she stands out as the brightest and the most unusual. She is at the forefront of a new wave of culinary innovators.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Candy Anytime

Valentine's Day is known for its'  lush boxes of chocolate cremes, caramels  and nuts.. They're wonderful to nibble on but there's that "Aww " moment when you run out.  Yet ,you can have them any time of the year.It all starts with a bag of chocolate chips.

Many home chefs balk at candy making and understandably why. It does require a candy thermometer  and it's tough to discern when the candy goes from the soft ball. to hard ball stage.It can also be dangerous because sugar burns can be serious enough for a visit to the ER.  Some recipes , though, don't require a lot or any cooking. Chocolate covered cherries is just mixing and blending.It's blending butter and corn syrup together , and then adding confectioner's sugar.It's kneaded until it becomes a kind of dough and then chilled. A teaspoon of it is wrapped around a maraschino cherry and then each is enrobed or dipped in either melted milk or dark chocolate. You could use chocolate confectioners; coating but the chips are also acceptable too. What about those luscious caramels? Those, too, can easily be whipped up in any home kitchen. You could make your own which would be a mix of butter, brown sugar cooked with corn syrup and condensed milk. If you're still leery about making it , buy caramel sauce, sea salt and again, chocolate chips,It's making chocolate cups first, then filling them with the sauce and salt , Afterwards, pour more melted chocolate on top as the cover.

The marriage of peanut butter and chocolate, light or dark is heavenly. Many love Buckeyes,, those peanut butter filled bonbons, named after the nuts from Ohio's state tree. Creamy can be used, but for more texture and fun, use the crunchy kind. The recipe involves mixing peanut butter, butter and , vanilla together as a paste. These are then rolled into marble-like balls to be chilled in the fridge. The coating is chocolate chips with shortening added to ensure a satiny, glossy finish. The balls are then dipped into this and left to harden until firm.  You can also chocolate dip nuts too, such as peanuts, or cashews as the candy companies do.The highlight of any candy box are the coconut cups. These are nothing more than molded haystacks, those tasty domes of toasted coconut and chocolate. It's just toasting shredded coconut on a cookie sheet for five to ten minutes in a 325 degree F oven . Melt the chips in the microwave or in a saucepan, then thoroughly blend. Instead of using a spoon to drop onto a greased cookie sheet. , spoon into a greased candy mold.Coconut can also be used in a coconut creme candy. It's mixing it with confectioner;s sugar and condensed milk to form a paste. As wth the other cremes, form into small marbles shaped balls and chilling for twenty minutes. They can be then dipped in melted milk or dark chocolate  mixed with shortening for glossiness.

You can have Valentine's Day candies all year round. Make the entire box or just the ones you love. Either way , it's a sweet treat not just reserved for the day of love but for every day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Breakfast Of Love

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and .although, it's on a Tuesday, you still can create a romantic breakfast for too. It's a nice way to start the day and to chase away a chill winter morning. Just add love.

Eggs are always a good way to go. It's a plus if you have a heart shape egg mold to make a romantic  looking sunny side up egg. It can be served with buttered toast, but think lusher with an English muffin, croissant or even a sliced brioche. The last two would be wonderful to soak up that rich yolk. Another perfect egg dish for your valentine is Eggs Benedict. You can make the original with Canadian bacon but if you want some variety, try chopped chorizo or maple infused pork sausage. Vegetarians would enjoy the florentine version , made with spinach.If you feel the Hollandaise sauce may be too much - especially on a work day, skip it. You could sub in cheese for a breakfast sandwich. Omelets are another sweet way of celebrating the day. Try the original French style that has a  crepe-like texture and shape.It's more the execution than what's in it. It's taking one tablespoon of butter and melting it into an omelet pan or skillet. It's then mixing the eggs in the pan and folding the solidifying mass into the shape of a business envelope. Fill it with either savory or sweet. The best is with fine herbs, a mix of tarragon, chives, parsley, dill and tarragon.

Of course,Valentine's Day is always about the sweet -and sometimes naughty. What better way to say  "I love you" or "You're special" than a homemade waffle. This is an easy recipe. It's basically a cup and a half of flour mixed with baking powder , eggs and a cup and a half of milk.Fresh waffles are great but if you don;t have the time, there are always Eggos. These can be jazzed up with a bourbon or brandy laced maple syrup or a maple butter. This last is super easy to whip up. It's just mixing unsalted butter with maple syrup, brown sugar ,and pumpkin pie spices. Make it half an hour before you  toast  or make the waffles . It can also go on another sweet breakfast treat  - French toast. This too is simple to make, yet sinfully good. It's just dipping sliced bread into a mixture of eggs,  milk and some spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. The best French toast comes from baguettes or Italian bread. These loaves yield nicely chewy and dense toast, perfect for syrup and butter. Heart shaped pancakes are another perfect dish to wake up to. Serve with sliced strawberries and strawberry syrup. You could even spell out your initials in chopped strawberries.

Start the day of love off with a breakfast your sweetheart will surely love. It can be Eggs Benedict or waffles , drenched with bourbon maple syrup. Anything served will end in sweet romance.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Snow Planning

Snow has a way of changing a home chef's plans.What was going to be a day of baking and decorating turned out to be a day of food shopping. Now, instead of testing doneness, it 's planning on what to make for a day in.

That's the problem with weather - any kind during any time of the year. Winter can be the most challenging. I thought I was going to spend the day filling cupcake papers with spice cake batter and melting chocolate for glaze. Instead, I was trolling the aisles of my local Stop & Shop looking for ingredients for two to three days worth of meals.Unfortunately,  there was not much to choose from. People panic when they hear the word snow and dreary news forecasts don't help the matter any. The store was lucky it still had the basics, eggs, milk and bread on the shelves.Home chefs  may still get these basics, but not necessarily what they want or usually buy. Settle for what's left over. If there's no white bread, then choose whole wheat or rye. Rolls and bagels can even stand in for the regular loaf. The family may even like the change.As for eggs., many love the white kind but the brown is just as good.If there are no eggs left, then buy the egg substitutes, They work for omelets  and, scrambled  recipes along with being OK for many recipes.If the store is out of milk, think evaporated. It's a little thicker than regular milk, resembling cream but it still can be used in coffee and tea.

Ironically, it's freezers that can be a home chef's best friend. If you want to have a varied diet during bad weather, then it pays to stock up. Chopped meat is always a good buy because it's versatile. It can be made into everything from hamburgers to chili.Also, buy hot dogs and chicken nuggets for the kids. They'll either be bored and whiny from staying in all day or super hungry from being outside all day.Have steaks and chops for the older kids to enjoy. Pantries should also filled to anticipate days in. Make sure there is plenty of versatile ingredients such as rice and pasta. Rice can go both savory and sweet.Use it for a nice side with chicken breasts or stir fries or as the next.base for a creamy, raisin studded pudding. As for the pasta store several different types. Make a pastina soup one day and a penne or spaghetti the next.Another must have are soup mixes. These feed a large crowd along with having a lot left over for the next day. They also have a more homemade taste than the canned kind, although these are good to have too , for an instant lunch. Baking ingredients are a must too. Nothing keeps the kids occupied than baking cookies or frosting cupcakes. Homemade cake is a nice end to a hearty meal too on a blustery night.

These are the days when there's always a threat of snow. Make sure the kitchen, freezer and pantry are well stocked to anticipate several days indoors. It'll save from experiencing any shortages later on.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Hearty Loaf

Meat loaf is one of those winter comfort foods that can be tailored to everyone and anyone's tastes.It can be subtly flavored or highly spiced. It can made with a variety of meats and even non-meats. Best of all any novice home chef can make it with confidence and ease.

It was the subject of an article written by Kim Severson in Wednesday's New York Times Food section.. as she also celebrated a new cookbook,Meat Loaf In Every Oven Batali'sfrom Mom's To Mario BataliA . It's all about the meat loaf and was written by longtime Times and Food writer, Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauser. The idea came from Mr. Bruni as these friends gathered recipes from all home chefs such as Chuck Schumer and Mr. Bruni's mother, Leslie, The last is the Cadillac of meat loaf recipes.It's probably the recipe most of us grew up on - seasoned with onions and topped with tomato sauce. Other recipes have a definite Japanese and Chinese vibe along with an Arab vibe, thanks to switching out the beef for lamb and including harissa, the fiery chile paste from North Africa.  Their book also includes a chicken (!) one that  tastes like a buffalo wings with a hit of blue cheese dressing. Poultry actually is good for the dish, especially the dark meat.it's the perfect canvas for highlighting other flavors such as fennel or even eggplant, according to Ms. Steinhauser.

Home chef's can also make individual fried loafs. My great aunt, Manya Mary, my Nonna's older sister was known for hers. These could also be also be turned into meatballs which her Neopolitan husband loved (as many of you know, we're Piedmontese and have our own spin on it). It starts out with ground beef that's been hollowed by a spoon or thumb. and then each mini loaf or meatball gets a quarter of an hardboiled egg each along with an equally sized piece of mozzarella. A slice of  prosciutto is also added and them they're browned on all sides in olive oil. My prozia or great aunt served them with tomato sauce. If you don;t want them fried then, make them in mini loaf pans (Kohl's and Wal-Mart has these) and serve with a side of tomato sauce. Vegans can also get their loaves on  with the use of vegan meat crumbles from Morningstar Farms. Binding is important here because the soy doesn;t have the adherent fat that real meat has,Using egg or an egg substitute is crucial in creating a shape that will stick together and not fall apart when sliced.

Meat loaf is the ultimate winter comfort food. No matter how you make it, whether stuffed with cheese , egg and prosciutto or laced with harissa , it's still a cozy tasty , stomach warming slice. It's the perfect dish on a cold, snowy day.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

My Orange Cranberry Loaf Day

As the world knows we had a monster blizzard today in northern New Jersey. It was a perfect day to -what else but bake. I had wanted to use my loaf pan and make a sweet bread. I turned to an old friend - Pillsbury.

This is an easy make. The mix only needs a cup of water, two eggs and two tablespoons of vegetable oil.I then beat it with my trusty wooden spoon about seventy to eighty strokes to create a well mixed batter.It was then poured  into a well greased (I used I Can't Believe It 's Not Butter) eight by four loaf pan,

and then set it into a 375 degree F oven for fifty minutes. It came out perfectly as you can see from the  top view.The sides rose well and it had the perfect center crack to it.

Another plus was the dense crumb, thick and rich , more like a pound cake than a bread. As you can see it was good with a fat slick of more I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
I like this  mix.It was easy and quick to use along with producing a cranberry and orange rich bread. The taste is phenomenal and the mix comes loaded with craisins  - dried cranberries.I definitely want to try their other flavors, such as their apple cinnamon, chocolate swirl, cinnamon, swirl and date breads. They make a nice breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee.

That's what I did with my snow day. Anyone else do any fantastic baking or cooking? Let us know here at FP.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A New Writer

The New York Times Food section has a new writer. Yotam Ottalenghi has joined the staff and with him will undoubtedly come interesting and fun recipes. Today's article will be no different with his spins on dessert. He gives cooking and creating an exotic vibe - perfect for the multicultural and always exciting Food section.

Chef Ottolenghi is much more than a cook. He's an entrepreneur. Visit his website and be dazzled by what's sold there. There are handmade heart shaped lollipops, seaweed and lavoosh  a kind of Armenian bread. There is also  a whole section of recipes.from starters to vegetarian from desserts to savory. His is a website that's hard to leave. He is a Jerusalem-born chef who studied at the London based Le Cordon Bleu and started with the first Ottolenghi deli n Knightsbridge, His cooking and recipes are a combination of Middle eastern, Syrian, Israeli, Armenian Lebanese, Turkish and Iranian. His cookbooks, such as Jerusalem reflect this with its' recipes of life. Today his premiere article is all about desserts and they have a Middle Eastern vibe. He promises more and more recipes with ingredients such as tahini along with spices and lemons, staples of Eastern Mediterranean cooking.Save his will be for interesting desserts to give dinners a  real eye opening finish.

Today's recipes are different, and not your typical dessert ones. Chef Ottalenghi gives us a refreshing granita. Like many Middle eastern desserts,it has rose petals along with pomegranate seeds and Pom juice.Mint is added for a refreshing bite. It's cooking everything down into a syrup and then straining it. As with a coffee granita, the liquid is frozen for two to three hours.a fork is used to separate the clumps and then  it'refrozen for two more hours. It's then scraped again  with the fork times being dragged across the top. This process is repeated  until the liquid is frozen into separate crystals throughout  which will take an extra eight to ten hours.Another  exotic sweet is pastry nests with poached pears, feta and saffron cream. This is an exotic take on classic poached pears with the nests made from kataifi pastry. or shredded phylo dough, These are spaghetti like strands that nestle the fruit. The pear , itself, is poached with such spices as cardamon , cinnamon, star anise, and a pinch of saffron. The saffron is also  added to the cream made with feta and a mix of mascarpone cheese and heavy cream.Slivered pistachios are aprinkled on top for crunch and texture.

Chef Ottolenghi is going to be a fun and fascinating fixture at the Food section. He'll bring a new vibe to dessert making, infusing classic recipes with a Middle eastern vibe. It'll be not just delicious sweets but ones full of flavor too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

It's All Baloney

One of the classics of the American lunch scene is bologna or baloney.It's graced many a sandwich and has been on many a picnic. This also fed many an office worker  and school kid too over the decades.

Baloney or bologna is as many cold cuts, from, no surprise - Bologna Italy. It's derived from mortadella, the delicately flavored larded and pistachio-studded sausage. America bologna or baloney does not have this, instead it is finely ground pork, although now it can be made from beef,  and even chicken and turkey. There are also soy and venison versions too. It's distinctive flavor comes from a melange of such spices as black pepper, nutmeg, coriander, allspice and myrtle berries.Most Americans are used to eating German bologna or fleischwurst which only has garlic in to season it.There is a polony type, eaten in Britain and South Africa, which is made with a mix of beef and pork. The cold cut is big in Central and eastern Europe too, where it is called pariser and made with either, poultry , beef or pork. Not surprisingly, there is also a halal version made with turkey, chicken or ham. Home chefs can also get a ring version of bologna. This is a smaller ring and usually used in making hors d'ouevres. Many Yanks had their first taste thanks to Oscar Mayer, the famed meat company started by Oscar and his brother Gottfried in the late 1880;s Now they even have a jalapeno (!) baloney for some interesting eating.

Many love a simple baloney sandwich. Nothing beats it, fresh cut, from Boarshead or packaged from Oscar Mayer on a Kaiser roll that's been slathered with a good mustard.It's good on white bread, such as Pepperidge's Farms; but even better on their pumpernickel and rye.Of course, there is fried bologna which many people love Try slicing it into strips and then add barbecue sauce for a take on pulled pork. Serve on Hawaiian rolls with a side of pickles or cole slaw. You could also try it the way great Cajun chef, Emeril  Lagasse , baked with Dijon mustard and brown sugar. This involves a six and a half pound bologna ( the ones you see hanging in a deli or butcher shop) and baking it for five hours ,plastered with the sugar and mustard.These give it a nice crust and makes for a tasty sandwich after, which is what Chef Lagasse recommends.Bologna can be made at home, using chuck roast or ground beef along with liquid smoke, garlic, and onion powder. everything is gorund together with ice water and then formed into a log.Afterwards, it's wrapped in plastic wrap and put into the fridge for twenty-four hours. The wrap is then removed and baked in a 300 degree Farenheit oven for  half an hour. The heat is then reducue to 250 and slow baked for an additioonal two and half more hours.

Baloney or bologna is the classic cold cut.It's delicious any way , from fried , baked or just cold from the container. Slap it on a favorite bread or roll.,  Add  a lick of mayo or mustard, then enjoy, it in a tasty sandwich.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Glaze or Frosting?

One of the toughest choices a home baker has to make is how to finish a cake, cupcake or cookie/ Do you go with the satiny, glossy glaze or the fluffy, buttery frosting? Therein lies the question. what works?.

I tackled this question last month, going into a great deal about the different types of icing out there. Now I will be making spice cake cupcakes from a Duncan Hines mix. Originally, I wanted to top them off with a frosting. Since the cake has more or less the same spices as carrot cake a cream cheese frosting would make sense. It has a tang to it that would work well with the cinnamon, allspice, coriander, ginger, and nutmeg. I even planned to use my new cake decorating set from Wilton, dreams of curlicues and roses dancing in my baker's head, Unfortunately, the frosting may be a bit overpowering in taste, the spices and the blend of cream cheese , butter  and vanilla competing with each other. Should I go with a plain buttercream?  Not enough oomph, and too dull. What about another spice cake topper - maple buttercream which sounds too super sweet. It is  -  paired with confectioners and in some recipes  - brown sugar. The taste alone would drown out the cake - not something I want in a frosting.

Inspiration came in the form of my favorite bakery. The B&W Bakery of Hackensack, New Jersey  has recipes from the original German owners. Even though the current owners are now Korean, they kept many of the original ones for cakes and icings. One is a spice cupcake with a chocolate icing glaze. Bingo!!! That 's what I want. The dark, earthy cocoa  notes will work well with the spices, highlighting them,, instead of smothering their different and unique flavors.It also won't' be that sweet either  since a few glaze recipes are only comprised of chocolate and whole cream. The question is what would be the best glaze? There are several recipes I found on the web. There is the one mentioned above that requires only scalding the cream and adding semi-sweet chocolate chips. I am leaning towards that one. Another calls for granulated sugar and cocoa powder. These are sifted together  and then warm water and butter are added to give it that liquidy glossiness. What is good about using a glaze is that it's easy to use on any baked good.  Just dip the cupcake tops into it, then twist them to get rid of the excess . That's it. No fancy squiggles or buds. It's easy and the cupcakes will look elegant as oppsed to just cute. I may add a candy heart on each cupcake, but that will be enough .

A  chocolate glaze is going to be perfect for my spice cupcakes. It'll not only highlight the cakes' flavor but also give them a lovely, classy look. Perfect to look at and perfect to eat.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Deep Nutrition A New Spin On Healthy Eating

Can food determine if we'll have perfect children? Is vegetable oil the cause of autism? These are some interesting questions posed and answered in a new  riveting book on dieting. It not only gives us advice and recipes but food for thought.

Deep Nutrition:Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (Flatiron Books Publishing 2017) is a provocative book written by Dr. Catherine Shanahan M.D. that explores foods' impact on not just our bodies but our lives as well. Some chapters may be read with a raised eyebrow and a head scratch. According to Dr. Shanahan , even reproduction and producing the perfect baby is all down to what we eat. She recommends that there be at least three years age difference between children so all kids in a family get the benefits of the nutrients in their mother's body. It's that kind of philosophy that is eye opening.There are also chapters that deal with autism and the reason for it - which is vegetable oil. As we all know it is bad for us, and she goes into great detail as to why and what we can sub in its place.  A good chunk of the book is also focused on sugars and why they're bad along with their effect on the body and mind. She also goes after starches too and explains in great detail why they're bad. Dr. Shanahan is pro-carb along with giving advice on good and bad fats.

The book does have some recipes, namely salad dressing and sauerkraut. The doctor is big on fermented foods because probiotics are vital to gut health. There is also one for bone beef broth , or basically Paleo bone broth It is a tasty one because she adds mirepoix , the holy trinity of French cooking along with her version of a bouquet garni. What is surprising is that she does greenlight cold cuts with their nitrates and fats.She also OKs sausages and ham - again most dieticians and nutritionist would warn against this.Most will enjoy her meal charts that offer only three to five hundred calories and a number of different choices. The book provides a list of her favorite raw foods which readers will like too. There are such tasty choices as prosciutto, real milk and cream along with ice cream. Some may even like her list of organ meats such as chicken and duck liver pate along with blood sausage and lamb's kidneys fried in butter Yes, Dr. Shanahan recommends even hamburgers but they must be eaten in the original Hamburg style , without the bun and with  mushrooms in a demi-glace sauce.Also allowed are chicken with dumplings and turkey with gravy.It's not a bad diet if you can just give up any store  bought baked goods.fermented foods also are recommended  and she is big on them,suggesting kimchi and pickles.

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Ford posing interesting ideas about the effects of food on every part of the human body.
is a truly riveting book.It's not your average diet and recipe book. It's much deeper,

Friday, February 3, 2017

Any Sharp Knife Sharpener A Sharp gadget

Knives are an integral part of any kitchen, whether home or restaurant. They always need to be sharp in order to slice  and dice, chop and mince. All this work makes them dull . Luckily there is a gadget out there that can restore sharpness/

Any Sharp Knife Sharpener is a neat, compact little gadget that's so small that it fits in the palm of your hand.mIt comes in the variety of colors and has a suction bottom that lets it attach to any surface. That means that home chefs can use two hands when honing their knives. There's also a long lasting polymer guiding top that won;t harm any blade. and is soft.There's also less chance of any accident happening too, with the Any Sharp honing to a perfect angle.Even those who have never sharpened a knife before will have great success with it, The directions are easy to follow , providing the knives are sharpened east to west or right to left.

Does it work? Look at the picture below. I used the family paring and slicing knife which hasn't been sharpened in a while . Look

I also used it on my Farberware knife.Unfortunately, I can't set the video just right but you can see how  it work

Knives are a vital part of any kitchen. They need to be precise and sharpened after many uses. Get the AnySharp knife sharpener  to hone your parers and carvers. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tout Les Eclairs

One of the most delicious pastries to enjoy is the French eclair. A true Gallic one, filled with delicate cream inside an airy puff of a choux shell is hard to find, non? Not anymore. There a fantastic new cookbook that has every kind of eclair from traditional to the innovative.

Award-winning pastry chef, Christophe Adam has written a very easy to follow book Eclairs,Easy Elegant and Modern Recipes (Robert Rose Press ) all about his signature dish, The classic French pastryParis features everything from popcorn stuffing to sexy eclairs. that feature not the traditional dark chocolate icing ,but a sexy sugar screened picture of a voluptuous Madame Noel or Mrs. Santa.It's no surprise that his good friend is Dominic Ansel, the creator of the famed and wanted cronut. Chef Adam, shares the same high-spirited sense of inventiveness and fun.The cookbook reflects his innovative style with such interesting and nontraditional ingredients as hazelnuts and passionfruits. Unlike some loftier pastry chefs, Chef Adam explains how to make the eclairs in simple language any home chef can understand along with providing detailed pictures of how-tos.What I like about it is the book is that he as a detailed and illustrated list of tools needed as well as his encouragement to go off script and come up with your own original fillings and toppings
, named after lightning,  has been elevated to gourmet status thanks to a sprucing up. Hist patisserie L'eclair de Genie, in the Marais section of

The eclairs themselves are in a rainbow of colors. The choux dough can even be dyed itself to create bright pink shells.perfect for strawberry or raspberry filled eclairs. There is a lemon filled one that has a gaily decorated shell complete with streusel balls and Swiss meringue dots. Apricot eclairs would be a nice treat for any Spring party. The filling is a mix of apricot puree with soft dried apricots and whole cream.Black currents are usually reserved for tarts but Chef Adam makes them an integral part of the eclair filling. The same goes for figs.passionfruit and raspberries. Of course there is the traditional chocolate ones made luxurious with the addition of whole cream and butter. It's decorated with small  squares of gold sugar dusted chocolate. For total fun, whip up the ever fun crunchy chocolate eclairs filled with ganache but topped with silver sugar coated chocolate pop rocks. Caramel , the flavor of the moment is also a filling.with a layer of caramel fondant on top. .There is even a sweet Valentines 'Day themed one where there are heart halves gracing the icing. Keep in mind that all the eclair recipes require gelatin sheets or powder.They can be found at some grocery stores , including Wal-Mart. They are used for thickening the cream so they 're a more solid,,  instead of being gooey and runny.

Eclairs are the new star of the pastry chef. Chef Adam has turned them into flights of delicious fantasy with his innovative recipes and ingredients. Now everyone can experience them in his new  easy to follow cookbook.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Hottest Cooking Trend The Instant Pot

There is a new star in the kitchen these days and it's the Instant Pot. This multipurpose cooker has been winning hearts and taste buds and its' fan club is growing bigger by the day.Is it that special?Is it a home chef's must have? Possibly.

Melissa Clark wrote about this phenomenon in today's New York Times Food section. Home chefs have written glowing reviews on it on Amazon..It is probably used more than the stove and microwave these days.There is a reason for this. The Instant Pot is not just a pressure cooker.It's also a rice cooker, yogurt maker and slow cooker., which makes it that much more desirable, especially to home chefs with small kitchens.There is also the growing trend too, in its' favor. Electric pressure cookers are one of the fastest growing  kitchen appliances with sales doubling and tripling over the last four years.Over three million units have been sold in 2015.It's been on Amazon's top ten best seller list for 2016.Why is it so popular. There are a number of reasons.It's designed with many self- regulating safety features such as sensors to monitor the unit's temperature and amount of pressure.it's also easy to use - just tap a button and that;'s it.it's also cooks faster than the regular slow cooker. Instead of a whole day, the dish is ready is in half an hour.

How does it cook? Ms Clark tried a variety of different meats. and veggies.Pork shoulder turned out heavenly. Lamb shanks took only forty minutes to cook and the result was a silky soft texture.It only took spare ribs twenty minutes to cook and they were done to perfection. It cut the time to cook down a collagen-rich beef bone broth into one afternoon instead of two days. Unfortunately chicken didn't fare so well. The skin was rubbery and soggy while the meat turned out to be stringy and dry with undercooked dark meat. Her steamed chicken breasts with ginger turned out much better. Veggies also came out blah, Ms.. Clark experimented with a variety of different ones and the only exceptions that came out just right were beets and artichokes. Don't think about putting broccoli, kale zucchini, fennel or mushrooms.in it. They'll just turn limp, soggy and unappealing. Desserts can be cooked in it and Ms. Clark gives a chocolate pudding recipe that can be made in less than half an hour. The Instant Pot also whips up a good batch of yogurt too  however it's so so for rice. One of the best functions is that it perfectly hard boils eggs creating ones with easily peel off shells.

The Instant Pot is the newest star of the kitchen. It has a growing fan base  of home chefs who love it  for a variety of different tasty and delicious dishes. It's time to abandon the stove for this miracle multi-talented pressure cooker..