Friday, March 31, 2017

Happiness Is Breyer's Ice Cream

One of the best American ice cream's is Breyer's  Any Yank will tell you why he or she loves it..It's smooth and light , creamy and flavorful. Breyer's either be the perfect dessert or the most satisfying snack. Best of all it can be used in making many treats, ideal for the warm days ahead of us.

Breyer's is one of America's oldest food manufacturers starting right after the Civil War in 1866. William A Breyer started by hand cranking his creamy concoctions. It was made in the Philadelphia style, which had already been popular for a century. The Philly way eschews eggs, producing a lighter product and taste. It's more of a thick kind of ice milk as opposed to the eggy French style of ice cream.Breyer created different flavors right away, adding fruits, nuts and extracts, which are still being used today.He opened the first ice cream shop in 1882 and four more quickly followed. The rich mixture of whole cream and cane sugar. It was cranked in one store and delivered by a horse drawn carriage to the other three. By 1896 Breyer and his family set up the first ice cream factory as more and more people clamored for the icy treat. The Twentieth Century brought more sales to the company that topped millions, and was sold to grocery stores in New York City, Staten Island, Jersey City , Newark and even south to Washington D.C. The family sold it as early as 1926 to National Dairy Products Corporation. It has been bought and sold several times, from Kraft to Good Humor and finally to Unilever who make the ice cream in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. They now produce gluten and even sugar-free ice creams  for those with celiac disease.

Breyer's is one of my favorite ice creams, simply because of the light mouthfeel and taste. It's not a heavy , custardy feeling , like some other brands. It's good on it's own but that lightness helps to make sodas and sundaes airier too. One of my favorites is their coffee flavor. This is perfect in chocolate flavored soda (yes, there is one - and Stop & Shop makes it )along with making an excellent mochaccino sundae. This consists of two  plump scoops , drenched in chocolate syrup and covered in Reddi-Whip. Their fudge ripple is to die for, with the vanilla ice cream marbled with thick fudgy veins. My new favorite is the new Breyer's Blast that has chopped up Samoas,from the Girl scout cookie collection.Samoas on their own are more like candy, with their coating of chocolate, caramel and toasted coconut. This marriage has created a yummy, chewy but light coconut flavored ice cream, that I would love to put into a summery ice cream pie.Another must try are their Gelato Indulgences.My to try list has their lush chocolate caramel, that dripping with the last and decorated with decadent chocolate curls along with Tiramisu Gelato, that's made with marscapone cheese,espresso syrup and lady finger bits.

There's a reason why Breyer's is America's favorite ice cream. It is delicious and light, perfect for dessert or as a cool treat on a hot day. Try this classic , It's sure to be your classic ice cream go to after one spoonful

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Eggs And Fish

As Lent progresses, it's hard to cope up wth meatless dishes to feed the family. By now they're probably sick of  pizza and pasta and cringe at the idea of another plate of steamed veggies, The solution is easy . Turn to eggs and fish .Both are filling alternatives for meatless dinners.

The idea comes from yesterday's New York Times Food section. Melissa Clark gives us an egg dish  more exotic version of hard boiled eggs while David Tanis takes on monkfish. Ms. Clark's  column, A Good Appetite focuses on ande ki kari, a recipe taken from Julie Sahni's 1980's cookbook, Classic Indian Cooking. It is hard boiled eggs with a spicy tomato sauce. It is simple enough to make. Hard boiled eggs are swimming in a sauce of contrasts,sweet and spicy , earthy and pungent. It's grated (yes, grated ) tomatoes mixed with onions sauteed in vegetable ghee, a solid vegetable shortening. Butter or olive oil can be used instead. Garlic, ginger, and cumin seeds are also added. The puree also has coriander, cumin and pepper flakes as well as black pepper for zing and pop..It should be cooked until it thickens and the fat starts to separate.In the meantime, cut eggs in half lenghtwise. At this point turn the heat on again add garam masala and the eggs. Serve with naan bread or over rice with yogurt.

Another meatless idea is monkfish. David Tanis gives an interesting spin on it in his A City Kitchen column. The fish is sometimes known as the "poor man's lobster" because of its' look and taste. The meat is a creamy white and very firmly fleshed. Any home chef can fool the family with it by passing it off as the expensive crustacean.The French call it "gigot de mer" leg of lamb from the sea. The tail is the most desirable part of it and it 's about the size of a pork roast , according to Mr. Tanis. He uses a restaurant chef;'s technique of wrapping the tail in butcher's twine, making it compact for cooking. He suggests rubbing it in extra virgin olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. For a southern Mediterranean vibe  lay the tail on a bed of thyme and rosemary branches. Tuck lemon slices and olives around it. The meat can be smeared with an easy to make olive paste. Mr Tanis puts pitted black olives, garlic, and quarter of a cup of olive oil into a food processor in a food processor and grind to a rough paste.This last can be also good on its own , slathered on crusty Italian or French bread.

Try these recipes for a different spin on a meatless Friday - or any day. They're exciting and fun for even a dinner party on a Saturday night. Meat won't be missed.Honest.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sensual Cooking

A good dinner is a feast for the eyes and the palate. However to make that dish happen all five senses need to be employed.It may be sensuous but more than that it's necessary to create the perfect meal.

Julia Moskin wrote about this method in today's New York Times Food section.It's based on ASMR  or autonomous sensory meridian response.It is a newly defined sensory state that is a kind of pleasurable shivering or tingling that spreads along the scalp, upper back and shoulders in response to soothing repetitive sounds.Originally it  included  soft whispering, pages turning, or having one's hair brushed but now it has expanded to food. There are even videos that cater to this such as Silently Cooking and Peaceful Cuisine have no sounds - no how to voiceovers so home chefs can listen to "cooking sounds" like a knife's rasp against chocolate, a whisk whipping egg whites and the glug glug of olive oil being poured. Blind home chefs have been relying on this along with taste and texture.They know the difference between a boil and a hard boil along with the different feels of a rare and well done steaks. The mouth feel of pasta is important because it signifies when it's half cooked or done.Sadly there is nothing to help those with impaired taste and smell problems or anosmia.

How can we sharpen our senses to make for better cooking and baking? Ms Moskin gives a sidebar of tips that can home a home chef's senses. Notice the steady sizzle of  frying food in a skillet. Popping or uneven sounds mean's the heat's turned up too high. Practice picking up a teaspoon of salt in your fingertips so  you can accurately measure without measuring spoons.Listen to liquids as they cook to differentiate between what  simmering , boiling and hard boiling sound like.Also listen to cakes baking as famed Southern chef, Edna Lewis recommends Cakes make little bubbling and ticking sounds when they're in the process of being baked. Cookies need the sense of touch to determine if they're done. Touch their tops. They should feel crispy and crusty  - and not soft and dought. Silence means they're completely done.Use the blade of a small sharp knife to gauge when a fish is cooked. Slide it gently into the flesh and then press against your lips.It should feel pleasantly hot like a hot shower - not warm - and not scalding. Touch is very important when it comes to making a salad. Toss greens with your hands to make sure they're fluffy and cool. Any limp leaves should go back to the fridge for refreshing with a damp paper towel.

Cooking should be a sensual experience . To make that happen use all the senses - not just taste and smell. Listen. Touch . It'll make for a much better tasting meal.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Moore's Hot Sauce Zesting Up Your Chicken

The most important aspect of buffalo chicken wings is that they should be fiery with a nostril stinging zing.How to transform ordinary ones into this?Slather them with Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce. It'll give ordinary wings and legs oomph.

The family owned Moore's of Jasper , Alabama is known for their sauces and marinades. They originally owned a local steak house known for their popular and freshly made sauces. They have grown from the original to a variety of different flavors. The original is a robust and hearty hickory flavor that even enhances wild game and veggies. For poultry and fish Moore's have created a lighter , more herbal sauce that can even be used as a salad dressing. Barbecuers who love a more exotic taste should definitely try both their teriyaki and Asian teriyaki wing sauce. Both are enhanced with sweet garlic, soy and ginger. It would be great for chicken but it would be a terrific marinade for grilled steaks. Home chefs who don't like heat and bite should try Moore's Creamy Ranch Buffalo Wing sauce, one of the mildest of all the Moore's sauces. It would even be good as a"secret sauce on chicken slidersor hamburgers. There's also Honey BBQ and Blue Cheese sauces that would go well not just on wings but legs and breasts do. For eye watering heat switch it up to their new Spicy Habenero sauce. which would be perfect in either turkey or chicken chilis or even in fajitas.

I tried their Orgiinal Buffalo wing sauce as a dip with chicken nuggets. Despite the mild label, it still has a eye opening zing. However, unlike other hot sauces, the heat doesn't linger that much on the tongue which, for me is a blessing ( I know there are some hot sauce aficionados out there that would say it's too mild). The ingredients are simple mostly being cayenne and vinegar. Both flavors make the sauce what it is. - There is a burst of heat followed by a decided tang. Liquid margarine gives it a silky texture that is a nice contrast to the fire. It's good as a dipping sauce for any chicken product from nuggets to legs and wings.  It would also be a good marinade for grilled chicken leaving behind a zesty but not too  zingy taste. Another idea is marinating chicken breasts in it, and then creating it a sauce , using the sauce along with extra margerine and tomatoes to be served over rice Moore;s recipes include using the sauce for sliders and even in a spicy shrimp gumbo.

Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce is the perfect foil for those wings . They're also good for legs and breasts too. Try it for a zingy and zesty change of pace.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Your Spring Planning Guide

Spring is a time of holiday and party planning, thanks to Easter and Passover.It's also shower season  and graduation party season too. All of these bring a certain amount of panic. However, don't worry. Start plotting and planning  - and it'll be smooth sailing through this busy season.

Easter and Passover require thought. Even though they're a couple of weeks away it's time to begin to write all sorts of lists The most important is the guest list. Who's coming - who's coming for both dinner and dessert and who's just stopping by for dessert.Another important list is an allergy and likes and dislikes. list.. There's also the question of the ham. Do  you want a dry or wet one? Do you want to just serve it as the solo main dish or have an accompanying leg of lamb? What about the vegans in you life? What will they eat? As for sides, do you want Spring fresh asparagus or go for more heartier fare such as homemade potato salad and baked beans? Passover also brings about several dilemmas for the home chef  Will a brisket be satisfying or lamb? would a leg of lamb be more satisfying than lamb chops?.Should the seder table be based on family traditions or jazzed up with a more trendy Mediterranean one that features za'atar and harissa? Also, should the desserts for both be a  buffet of different sweet treats or just one type of dessert. Another question, should the dinners be held outdoors if the weather is warm and sunny?

Showers and college grad parties will also crop up like Spring flowers.Many weddings take place in June and July so April and May are prime shower months. There may also be proposed baby showers too. Again the hosts not only have to start compiling lists but possible seating arrangements too. The last thing any party giver and celebrant need is a battle erupting. Another question is indoors or outdoors? If the house is too small, then consider a backyard venue which means start looking into tent, chair and table rentals. Now comes the next question is buffet or pot luck better? To be honest , people (and you do have to have to invite the opposite sex) are too busy gossiping and playing catch up to eat. Think about serving nibbles such as spinach pies or mini pizzas along with cheese puffs and small skewers of  cheese and veggies. Desserts can follow in the same vain with mini cupcakes and petit fours  iced with frosting that reflects the wedding's color scheme. Graduation parties also require planning too. Keep in mind that you may be housing  former dorm mates and roomies Respect their likes and dislikes along with allergies and culinary bent. If they can contribute great - they may even have some interesting contributions to the buffet.

Spring is hear and with it a varieties of holiday dinners and parties to plan.  Don't panic, Careful planning will help you get through this hectic season with ease.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A True Zuppa DI Montagna

One of the best dishes to come out of my great-grandmother's region of Piemonte is zuppa di montagne or soupe de la montagne. This savory bread pudding is a snap to make and a good way to get rid of stale Italian or French bread.

The first step is to make a broth. It can be any broth but my family has always used chicken and then vegetable. broth. Make about four cups of broth.At this time preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

It's then slicing the leftover bread into one inch thick rounds and placing them in an UNGREASED glass casserole dish. The pieces can be split to fit the dish.For more color and texture you can also put parboiled Savoy cabbage leaves on the bottom. Swiss cheese is the final layer
It should look like this, with every inch covered with the slices.
Now about that broth. Cook it and then ladle it into the dish, about half the depth of the dish
Bake for only fifteen minutes in a 325 degree F oven or until cheese is melted and browned .
This is the finished product. (disregard the Altoids over in the corner)It is so tasty , with its chewy texture and blend of cheese and bread . I suggested the sacrilege of adding ham but that was met with raised eyebrows and "Noes!!!" The only acceptable variation are Stella Doro breadsticks.,
This is so super easy to make and super delicious -perfect for a chilly late March night!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Dash Of Citrus For Spring

Spring cooking usually means lighter fare, from breakfast to lunch, from dinner to desserts.What gives any food a bright, light taste is a dash of citrus. Add a squeeze of lemon or a wedge of grapefruit for a refreshing, airy flavor .They're the perfect addition to any meal., drink or dessert

Grapefruits were the subject of an article in Wednesday's New York Times Food section.David Margolick, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair Magazine wrote about the classic white seeded grapefruit most people grew up eating.It became almost extinct but thanks to preservationists , it's on its' way to becoming an heirloom breed. Napoleon's surgeon brought it to Colonial Florida and it has been a classic in American cooking from then on.. If you want a tasty Spring side dish try another Food writer Melissa Clark's recipe for grapefruit slices with olive oil and salt.It's just slicing  the fruit into rounds and drizzling olive oil over them. Flaky sea salt is  then scattered on top of them. Try this with roasted chicken or even the first outdoor grilled salmon of the season.It can also go into a salsa with lemons and limes along with oranges for sweetness. A grapefruit cake also makes a lovely change of pace for an Easter or bridal shower dessert.It can also be turned into a refreshing sorbet or even gelato for the warm days ahead.

Lemons become a popular flavoring in the Spring. It is vital in preparing a Greek Easter feast.Lemon juice  along with olive oil, and  Greek oregano are poured over the cut and then cooked for two hours. The meat's juices mix with this heavenly combination  called zoumi. It's spooned over the lamb slices and potatoes along with being sopped up with crusty bread. It also figures in their salad dressing too, adding zing to a garlicky vinaigrette. Lemon along with lime will be key to  creating deliciously refreshing ades and iced teas when the Spring temps start rising. They'll be a nice change to all those sodas . Add some seltzer to make them fizzy and fun.Limes will also get double duty when barbecue season kicks off soon. Mix a cup and a half of it with garlic, olive oil and garlic for a tasty marinade for chicken wings and legs.The verdant green fruit can also be perfect for marinating shrimp in cerviza.Mexican beer and two tablespoons of tequila  are mixed with it to create a tasty marinade. Oranges are still in season so include them in any recipe. Add their juices to pulled pork for a different spin on a classic sandwich or marinate a steak in freshly squeezed juice. A perfect Spring dessert is orange cake with orange icing,

Spring is here. Add a jolt to Spring cooking and baking with a touch of any citrus. Their zing is a refreshing touch to creating a light and airy meal.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Ice Cream Classic Redone

One of the best ice cream flavors is fudge ripple . It's a classic that goes well as a scoop, sundae or soda.Imagine a homemade version, spiked with malt.You can, thanks to a recipe in yesterday's New York Times Food section.

Melissa Clark wrote abut this in her A Good Appetite column. The inspiration comes from The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory where she got a double shot of malt in her chocolate malted.Her recipe for fudge ripple is a marriage of  malted vanilla ice cream with a malt shot veins of dark chocolate.There was only one problem with the original recipe. Malt powder is tooth achingly sweet. According to Ms. Clark it's made with heaps of sugar which will impact the flavors tremendously.A better solution is to augment the powder with barley malt syrup, a dark sticky amber liquid.It's heady  and thick but not too sweet.Dilute the malt powder with it to create a richer more layered flavor. Health food stores carry it but it can also be bought at Amazon online (it is pricey, however with a twenty ounce jar costing close to fifteen dollars).If you can't get it stick with the malt powder but maybe cut down on the amount used, from the original 2/3 cup to maybe 1/3.for the base.

The ice cream base is a traditional  French vanilla with two cups of heavy cream and six egg yolks to give it body (save the whites for meringue nests to nest the ice cream if you're ambitious enough) Light brown sugar is added instead the usual white for a mellower, more complex flavor. The fudge ripple is made with  the barley malt syrup  too, mixed with unsweetened Dutch process cocoa.  According to Ms Clark adding the syrup will give it a double duty.It adds a punch of flavor but also keeps the fudge sauce supple in the ice cream. The finished product ends up with soft ripples instead of those rock hard seams that come with store bought fudge ripple.I wonder if this recipe can be varied, with one, making it Philadelphia style without the egg yolks and two, with a coffee or even chocolate ice cream base. There are recipes for these on the net. The malted vein would definitely work with the flavors. Be warned , however.Ms. Clark's recipe is a labor intensive one, with the cream being heated with the milk, then adding the eggs, followed by straining. The marbling is easy.It's a layer of ice cream, then a layer of the fudge sauce, then another layer of ice cream followed by more fudge sauce. She served it with either fresh whipped cream or crushed malted milk balls.

Homemade fudge ripple ice cream is the ultimate dream for any foodie. Imagine it with fresh whipped cream , with the malted taste blending perfectly with the chocolate and vanilla. It truly is an ice cream lover's dream.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cooking With Dementia

The diagnosis of dementia is scary  to begin with but imagine how a cook would feel. The loss of memory means the loss of  recipes and techniques. However there is one cook who is conquering it with cooking and eating  helpful foods.

Kim Severson wrote about this cook,Paula Wolfert , who's also  the food writer suffering from Alzheimer's disease in today's New York Times Food section.Her name may sound familiar to some. She was the one who introduced tangines and couscous to a generation of American home chefs and foodies . The dementia will not deter or define her. After all she and her two small chldren were left in Morrocco by a cad of a husband.She only has two thousand dollars then and no where to go  Her drive ,which propels her today, enabled her to live with some of the Beat Generations' most notable personalities in 1959. She discovered cooking as a young bride, taking classes from the French teacher, Dione Lucas, known for her omelets. Ms. Wolfert then became her assistant , with occasional cooking gigs arranged by none other than famed chef, James Beard. That didn';t work and she followed  her then first husband to Morocco where she wandered the souks or bazaars, picking up exotic spices and recipes. In 1973 her first cookbook "Couscous and Other Good Food From Morrocco" celebrating what she absorbed in the North African country. Other books that followed were centered around the cooking of Southwestern France, Spain and other parts of the Mediterranean. Now her life is being explored in a new biography, "Unforgetable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life."

The renegade spirit is what is also getting her through this difficult time too. Since 2013, Ms Wolfert has been  dealing with the problems that come with the disease Words on the page were not making sense to her while questions were now baffling her. The worst part was when he had to ask her novelist husband, William Bayer how to make an omelet. As always she didn;t take time to feel sorry for herself, she sprang into action. Ms. Wolfert  She culled knowledge from Internet research, her doctors,and from dementia patients . There were also lengthy FaceTime conversations with friends and experts. From all this she has created a diet that will  help stave off the debilitating effects of this disease.She makes bulletproof coffee,a  high-quality java that is bolstered with grass fed butter and "Brain Octane Oil", an eight carbon fraction of  medium chain triglyceride oil, the last is saturated in fatty acids. It boosts  cognitive powers She also munches on squares of dark chocolate which slow down the dementia's progress as well as eating more salmon, berries and greens along with the extracts of eggplant,tumeric and cinnamon. Carbohydrates are off the table.. They can bring on the risk of Alzheimer.s

Paula Wolfert is not just a brave cook, introducing the US to delicious exotic foods, but also a brave person. She will not let this disease define her,She is curing her self as only a chef can - with good , healthy food.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gardening For Beginners

This is the time for planning your Spring garden. It's a great way to not only have organic foods at your fingertips, it's also a great learning experience.Yet many home chefs have qualms about starting a garden. They're afraid of what to choose and how to prep the ground. Yet, it is easy, if it's kept simple.

The first thing any home chef should do is look into low maintenance veggies . This makes gardening not as complicated or time consuming. Easy plants are the root vegetables such as carrots, radishes and turnips. Carrots are versatile  and can go from salad to cakes to even breads. Radishes, both the veggie and the tops are great in all sorts of dishes from stir fries to omelets. A good turnip crop can be turned into a yummy mash or fun oven baked chips Beets, those ruby red sweet treats, and another root veggie are also a dream to grow. Once boiled, they're delicious in salads..Zucchini is another plant that 's a snap to grow. One of the big plusses is that it produces three to nine pounds of the squash per season. Another plus is that it's incredibly versatile.It can be stuffed , or cut up into rounds or coins to be sauted in butter and garlic. It can also be the base of a summery ratatouille or turned into breads and muffins.For those who love tomatoes, their favorite fruit(yes, it is) is a dream to grow.The only problem and it is a slight one  - is making sure that the soil's pH is around six or seven. Add lime to increase it or sulfur to decrease the level.

Once you have drawn up your list of what to grow, start looking at your both your front and back yards. Yes, it's traditional to always have gardens tucked in some cozy corner of the backyard, but consider the front  yard if you have better soil and plenty of sun there. However, some towns have bans(!) on front yard gardens so please check with yours before you begin or you could wind up with a fine or a citation..The next step is acquiring the right tools. One of the first to get is a good pair of gardening gloves. They protect you from any thorny weeds  or the errant thistle that may invade your plot. Gloves also protect your hands from UV rays and prevent you from having gardener's nails, that crust of dirt that gets underneath them.A hoe is your second need.It has to be sturdy wide one for vegetable gardening. Hand trowels and spade are the next must-haves. Hand trowels are great in digging out weeds and planting herbs. Spades are perfect for digging seed holes and building up mounds around plants. You'll also need a hose nozzle with multiple settings. This can either mist your plants or provide them with a rain like spatter. Also a sturdy hose is a plus too. The last thing you want is one that keeps springing leaks. A small sprinkler is also a good buy too. It waters the garden without soaking the patio.

Gardening is not only useful to home chefs , it can turn into a fun hobby. Growing your own food is exciting  and renews interest in cooking. A garden is only a good thing.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Importance Of Fiber

We all hear about how fiber is good for us, but do we actually know what it is? Or where to get it? What about its' benefits and drawbacks? It is a vital part of our everyday eating and can be found in even the simplest fruits, veggies , fruits, and breads.

Fiber or roughage is a dietary indigestible part of food derived from plants. There are two components. One is soluble fiber which is easily soluble in water.It ferments into gas when it hits the colon. It also gives the stomach a feeling of fullness which leads to a decreased appetite. The second component is insoluble fiber which is not water soluble.It' can be metabolically inert and provide bulking or it can be prebiotic - natural chemical that induce or growth of microorganisms that contribute to the well being of their host and metabolically ferment in the large intestine. Bulking fibers absorb water and eases pooping. Dietary fibers can act by change  the nature of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract. Food sources of it are often divided by whether they're soluble or insoluble.Plant foods contain both types in varying degrees. Your best bet for fiber is sticking to a mostly plant based  diet., namely dark green veggies and legumes. Meat has very little  - only about .028 a plant's six and  beans ' eight grams of fiber.

Switching to a fiber rich diet is easy.Foods that have soluble fiber include peas, and soybeans. along with almonds. There's a wide variety of fruits and veggies to choose from such as plums, prunes, berries and even avocados Broccoli and carrots are also right up there along with root tubers such as sweet potatoes and onions. Insoluble fiber based foods are abundant too.They're in whole grain foods such as cereal and brown breads., along with wheat and corn products. Grapes and tomatoes are also part of this group.Don''t throw away those potato skins. They're loaded with insoluble fiber. Cauliflower, zucchini and green beans are also on this list as are celery and nopals or prickly pear. Nuts and seeds are also made up of insoluble fiber so top off a salad or casserole with them. A fiber rich diet can be a tasty one. Think of a ratatouille served with warm crusty slices of whole wheat French bread or a zingy Mexican bean stew topped with shredded Monterey Jack soy cheese.A dish of cauliflower , celery and quartered plum tomatoes with a tahini dip will give you enough of a day's fiber while providing to be a yummy snack. A fun fiber filled meal is sweet potato fries  with a black bean burger. Sub in plank fries - French fries with the skins on for the sweet potato ones.

Fiber is a vital part of our diets. Make sure you get enough, whether in fruits, vegetables, nuts or grains. It'll provide for a healthy, problem free life.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Tasty Way of Detoxing

Mention a detox diet to anyone and they'll most likely cringe.It usually means drinking green, grassy tasting goop or giving up favorite food and treat. Not anymore. There's a new recipe/advice book that will help make detoxing fun as well as purposeful.

Megan Gilmore, author of Everyday Detox has written another helpful book on how to have a cleaner diet and life, No Excuses Detox (Ten Speed Publishers 2017) has given us one hundred satisfying, family friendly recipes.As Ms. Gilmore who also is the creator of the blog Detoxinista, shoots down all the excuses people may have.One of the most major is fresh food being too expensive and family tastes being too particular. She advises to shop seasonally, get the fruits and veggies that are in season. They 're much cheaper than the imported ones.As for family tastes,turn those veggies into snacks and sneak some of them into such recipes as her Frosty Chocolate Shake. What I like about  the book are her meal plans.Every meal ,every day is delicious and different wit so much variety in flavors. There;s also a budget friendly meal plan too which has the same wide variety of tasty recipes for meals and fun snacks  along with a speedy diet plan that includes using leftovers. All three plans have detailed shopping lists that make shopping that much easier.There are also time saving tips that help any busy home chef who's constantly pressed for time.

The recipes are divided into such sections that highlight breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as comfort food, skillet dishes and sweet treats.Soups and appetizers are also highlighted. The breakfast shakes would be great boosters at  any time of day. A frozen chai latte is meant for breakfast but I can see sipping it on a hot afternoon.There's a vegan buckwheat  pumpkin bread that's a great jump start for any morning. The soups look very tasty too.There is the classic Tuscan bean soup, rich with cannellini beans and a mock Mulligatawny soup, fragrant with curry and garlic. Snackers will love Ms. Gilmore's take on game day favorites. The much healthier recipes are garden spring rolls loaded with avocado and green peppers that come with a creamy tahini dipping along with mini pizza bites. The twist here is that the bottom is not a flat bread but a baby Portabella mushroom. Comfort foods get a makeover too, There's a butternut mac and cheese that has absolutely no cheese in it. Its' cheddary coloring comes from butternut squash .  Kids will love the cauliflower baked ziti where the pasta is replaced by veggies. Of course there is a chapter on sweets. Yummy all natural carrot cupcakes are topped with a light and airy  coconut cream. Vegan chocolate cake is slathered with a chocolate buttercream icing with sweet potatoes subbing in for butter.. They're even the base for a vanilla ice cream that comes with a rich yet good for you hot fudge sauce

No Excuse Deotx is a delicious way of eating healthy. The recipes are mouth watering, rich in flavor , while being chock full of good for you ingredients. It's the perfect cookbook for those wanting to change their eating habits

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fine irish Eating

Mention Irish cooking and most will think of gallons of beer and fatty lamb stew.Yet  Celtic cooking is actually very refined.It's full of fresh ingredients, coming directly from the sea and streams that lace through it and the farms that dot it.It is a diet , that's actually quite's elegant.

Most Irish start the day off with a hearty bowl of steel cut oats. These are different than regular oats because the whole grain or groat is used.They also healthier too, preventing such diseases as high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. For a lusher, tastier first meal the Irish love to fry up slabs of Irish bacon, a cross between American and Canadian bacon, blood sausages and black and white pudding. This last is a marriage of oatmeal sausage or white and blood pudding, usually a sausage created from pork fat, ground beef and pork blood. Eggs are added as are vegetables such as tomatoes and mushrooms to round it out.The British aren't the only ones who serve high tea. The modern Celts are fond of the practice and many Dublin hotels offer it.The Irish have tea three times a day, the first at eleven AM, then at three PM for afternoon and six PM for high tea. Teabreads and scones along with fine jams and lemon curds are also served.

Irish dinners reflect both the sea and land. Fine dining in the Emerald Isle can feature the catch of the day. Salmon is abundant here and dinners may include the fish with leeks or made into elegant croquettes served with a cream sauce, Mackeral is another fish , popular in dining rooms.It's cooked a variety of ways, some involving local ingredients such as leek and rhubarb There is also the wildly decadent Ballymaloe Hot Buttered Lobster where the shellfish is served with a wine laced butter sauce and herbs such as parsley,watercress and fennel .Lamb and mutton are other staples , long used in Gaelic cookery. Crusty lamb shoulder is popular, as it is wrapped in a combination of breadcrumbs, pinched herbs and butter. The Irish make a rack of lamb fit for a Celtic king, with three sauces : mint chutney, onion sauce and red current sauce. This newest generation of Irish chefs are discovering a country classic, dulse seaweed that fed many of the  Irish during the Potato Famine of 1840.It's now a ubiquitous ingredient in many upscale restaurants in Dublin and Cork. Meals are finished with fruits and cheeses , products of local farms.

Irish cooking is full of lavish and rich ingredients and flavors. The Irish create magical and amazing dishes from these ad turn them into unique and elegant dishes .It is the food of kings  = Celtic ones.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sancruary Restaurants

In this day and age we have to do all we can to help and protect others. Now the concept is going from towns and the cities to the restaurants in them. Should this be?Or should our eateries stay out of politics.

This was the dilemma posed in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Food regular, Kim Severson wrote about this movement that happened after Donald  J. Trump became president.This current leader has brought about a nasty and pervasive climate of xenophobia, racism and misogyny. It sadly affects everyone from the farmers that provide the ingredients to the restaurant help who make those ingredients into delicious dishes. Yet at any moment those people can be snatched up by ICE and sent back to their countries of origin.Families will be split up. One restaurant owner arranged to take guardianship of thirteen employees' children if the parents get deported.Another restaurant, Double Comfort in Columbus, Ohio has declared itself a "sanctuary restaurant" meaning that all are welcome, from the LGBT community to immigrants to all races and religions. This was a no brainer for owner , Mary Lyski who already donates all of the restaurant's profits to local food pantries.She even invites Trump voters and supporters in,

Is it good to bring politics into food? Many social media followers have shown their dismay at celebrity chef, Mario Batali for his views, saying he should just stick to cooking and not policies. Yet some policies are connected to our appetites.Chef Edward Lee, who owns restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky and Washington DC feels that politics has always been a means to an end to improving their communities.He uses his restaurant as a tool to do just that.For those who want to get involved there is what is known as James Beard Foundation Boot Camps which trains chefs to shape food policy,Interest in these have grown since the election. There's a waiting list of eight hundred for this five year old service. Issues are dissected at them, Politics are forbidden as is the president's name.Luckily for the industry there is a new generation of  chefs that have grown up on creating fundraisers and giving back to the community along with creating food drives. They will need that determination when they deal with various policies regarding nutrition and GMOs.

Do politics need to be in our restaurants? Should chefs be outspoken about our politicians? Yes on all acccounts. They too , are voters, and Americans too. They need to be heard. They need to be  a strong universal voice.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

An Herbal Feast For The New Year

The Persian New Year ,Nowruz, starts with the coming of Spring and all things green.It's no wonder that the new year's feast is full of verdant  herbs. These are not only celebrating the rebirth of all things vital but Iranian cuisine itself.

Samin Nosrat,a famed food writer and teacher herself, wrote about her holiday and the foods. that are a big part of it .The holiday lasts thirteen days and begins on Monday with the coming of Spring. Families gather around a haft sin, a table spread with seven items.These are sprouts which symbolize rebirth, along with apples that represent beauty and purity.Music is played and rosewater dabbled into guests'palms.It's eleven days of herb filled savory dishes and tea treats.On the final day, Persians take to the outdoors with a celebratory picnic.Most of the meals eaten are usually at home. The cuisine is labor intensive with a good deal of time spent chopping herbs.The focus is on easy to make kebabs and rice, Herbs play such a significant part in the cooking that they measured by the kilogram instead of the bunch in Iran. They can be served fresh but also withered, stewed and even fried in the cuisine.

The herbs figure heavily in the recipes, Ms. Nosrat gives.There is a herb and radish salad with feta and walnuts.It's rich with chives and cilantro, along with dill, mint and tarragon. They're mixed into a vinaigrette , then poured on top of radish and cut Persian cucumbers that have been tossed with crumbled feta cheese.Another festive dish is herbed rice with tahdig.Again there is a large quantity of dill and cilantro, about a cup each into basmati rice that has been cooked with leeks - another flavorful turned into a crisp cake that's been pan fried. The bottom layer is the basmati mixed with Greek yogurt and the rest of the rice is piled upon it.Fish is also laden with herbs. Branzino or rainbow trout is stuffed with the finely chopped  leaves and stems of both cilantro and dill. A cup of chopped chives  gives it some punch as do scallions and garlic. Tarragon rounds out the flavor with its' mild earthy sweet taste.The filling becomes a kind of pesto when walnuts and oil are added to the blend.

Persian cooking celebrates the verdancy of a returning Spring. It' is a time of enjoying the freshness of herbs in all savory dishes. These bring to mind the renewal of the season.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Curry On A Cold Night

This is the time of the Indian festival Holi, the festival where brightly colored powders are gleefully chucked at friends and family. It's also a day of fasting and feasting. You don't have to be Inidan, though to enjoy curry and naan. Indian cooking is the perfect antidote for the blustery March night.

Many home chefs balk at trying the recipes of the Subcontitient. Yet, curry is an easy dish that once tasted will be a family favorite. Try a chicken one that just had chicken strips, diced onions and curry powder. The last can be bought at your local grocery, in the seasonings section. It's just heating the onion first in olive oil and then adding the meat and curry powder. It is a long process, taking about forty-five minutes to fully cook. Another caveat is keeping the burner on a low flame because curry powder burns easily. You can also create a vegan version by subbing the meat with traditional vegetables such as cauliflower and potatoes along with onions and carrots. Turmeric, that health booster is also added for more color and flavor. For a spicier dish, add red pepper flakes. If you like the dish and plan to make it often, then consider creating your own curry powder.It's dried chili blended with the seeds of coriander, fennel and cumin. Dried mace,  white pepper and turmeric round it out. Store in an airtight jar at room temperature. it can be made a week in advance.

Tikka masala is another tasty Indian dish.The chicken is usually roasted in a tandoor oven however a regular one will do. It's a little more involved than a simple curry. You first have to marinate chicken chunks in a mix of yogurt and lemon juice spiced with cinnamon,cumin, cayenne  ginger and black pepper. The chunks should be soaked for a good hour in order for the meat to be perfectly seasoned . They're then threaded on skewers and roasted on a stove top grill.As these are cooking the sauce is made.. Again, it's a blood warming mix of cream, butter and jalapenos blended with tomato sauce, garlic. Cumin and paprika are also added to intensify the color and flavor, A fun weekend meal is a plate of dosa pancakes,These are a blend of plain flour and bicarbonate of soda flavored with mustard seeds. Dosas are like crepes, meant to be filled with all sorts of delicious stuffings.One of the most popular is potato masala. Potatoes are combined with tomatoes and onions  and singed up with turmeric and curry leaves or powder if you can't get the leaves. Cauliflower and shredded cabbage is another tasty combo cooked with chaat masala, a dried spice that also has dried mango in it.

These blustery march nights can be bone chilling. Warm up with tasty Indian dishes that will warm you to your toes. They're tasty and flavorful along with being chock full of good for you spices and ingredients.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Those Macgyver Kitchen Moments

We all have them, those times when we forgot a vital ingredient or wound up short with measuring.It's going to be even rougher for us East Coasters, thanks to the monster blizzard that will be crippling the entire Eastern Seaboard. We won't be able to get to the store, not a good thing,especiallyy if there's you've forgotten something from your grocery list.

This is where Macgyver thinking kicks in.Remember Macgyver? That Eighties TV action hero that could turn a twig into a Swiss Army knife. He's currently enjoying a reboot on CBS and this new millennial inventor still probably can turn a can of beans into a full meal and a weapon of mass destruction. Do the same when you're faced with shortages.If you've run out of eggs for baking,then turn to fruit. Applesauce and bananas make excellent sub ins for them Use a 1/4 cup of either unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana. Aquafaba or bean water can also be used because it has similar proteins and enzyme to egg whites.That can of beans Macgyver could turn into a weapon can also actually be used as meat if you forgot to get burgers or there was a run on them. You can use a variety of different beans.Black beans have an earthy flavor, while kidney beans impart a more milder one. Chickpeas can be made into burgers too,giving off a Middle Eastern vibe.They can also be made into falafel for something a little out of the ordinary.

What happens when the kids want pizza and you have no or little flour in the house? Head to the crisper and get out the cauliflower. This is a true Macgyver moment. It's taking the veggie's florets and shredding them in a food processor. You will need some kind of binder such as egg and processed cheese to bind it. The principle can be applied to making cauliflower bread too which can be used for breakfast and sandwiches too. Cauliflower can even be turned into breadsticks too, perfect if you're having spaghetti.Out of macaroni for baked mac? No sweat. Spaghetti can stand in ,creating a dish the whole family might enjoy.It's layering the pasta and cheese with a creamy roux  and then topping with pats of butter and paprika for color. Penne can also be used along with angel hair pasta too. If the kids are clamoring for ice cream, despite the freezing temps, don;t despair.Freeze banana slices over night  and then mash them in a food processor for a creamy, tasty banana flavored treat. Yogurt can also be turned into a frozen treat. It can be poured into an ice cream maker along with one teaspoon of  vanilla flavoring. It could also just be frozen too,for thirty to forty minutes.

Don't worry if you run out of ingredients or have forgotten to buy them. Go Macgyver and sub in whatever.It's amazing what you can do wit what's in your kitchen,

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Carrots, Cream Cheese, and Cupcakes

I did it. I baked twenty-four  perfect cupcakes thanks to Duncan Hines and All Recipes. It started with making the carrot cake mix.
The cake batter is super easy to make. It even had carrots and raisithe ns that had to be reconstituted in hot tap water. From there it was blending in three eggs and a  1/4 cup of vegetable oil.It produced twenty-four  perfect cupcakes. I used the three tablespoon method to fill the cups, both metal and the

Now here's the whole gang waiting to be iced
The icing recipe was the classic cream cheese which I got from All Recipes. I like their recipes which are simple and easy to make, yet packed with flavor. It's taking eight ounces or a brick of cream cheese with a stick of butter. 
i used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter..The two blended together perfectly,, although it was sticky at first. The recipe called for four cups of confectioners sugar, I used three and a half. I felt that using less would bring out the cream cheese flavor more. 
 I used my Madagascar vanilla, from Neilsen Massey (I reviewed them back in August of 2015). The two teaspoons of pure essence. This has no alcohol and no aftertaste.
 Here are the guys frosted and dusted with sprinkles and frosting puffs.
I love this frosting. It is definitely going to be my go to frosting for every flavor, including vanilla and chocolate cake.It doesn;t have that cloying sweetness that regular buttercream has. It has a much needed tang that definitely will go great with chocolate cupcakes.I can't wait to make it and dye it  to decorate more baked treats.It also is great for decorating, holding it's shape well as it comes out of a icing nozzle.

Friday, March 10, 2017

In Tune With Tuna

Lenten Fridays usually mean no meat to those who follow Catholicism Unfortunately that could mean Friday nights full of pizza and pasta. They;'re good but can get tiring, especially week after week. Home chefs can fall back on the basic their grandmothers and moms used : tuna. Seriously, there are some good recipes out there, featuring this versatile fish.

Before buying any tuna, be aware that there are many different kinds. Even the canned variety comes in either water or oil. The last is my favorite, especially when making salad Nicoise , that Provencale delight. Again this is also my favorite salad too.It's an easy make, Add it and sliced hard boiled eggs along with quartered vine ripe tomatoes and green beans to Romaine lettuce. For a true Nicoise, anchovies are added , but they can be omitted if you feel the taste may be too intense. Capers,onions and of course, olives are tossed in for more flavor. It's usually dressed with a lemon vinaigrette but a simple olive oil and red wine vinegar vinaigrette is just as good.Grilled tuna in a salad is also a nice addition too.  Water canned tuna can be used in that classic:  tuna casserole. Use cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken in accordance with Lent. To make it a fun Friday meal, top with crushed potato chips for extra crunch and flavor. You could also sub in Monterey Jack cheese for the traditional cheddar. Croquettes are another way to employ canned tuna. They're usually made with leftover mashed potatoes along with green and red peppers. They 're then coated in cracker crumbs and can be fried or baked. Serve with baked French fries.

Tuna steaks are also a great way of eating meatless. This is not the season for them, which is from the late Spring to early fall, however, you can buy  frozen steaks. To get the optimum flavor, thaw in the refrigerator Friday morning and then cook that night., The steaks can be grilled, baked, or sauteed.One of the best ways is searing in a skillet. This caramelizes the surface  and locks in the moisture. Use a heavy skillet to cook, Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil and then cook the steaks for six to ten minutes or until the meat flakes off when tested with a fork. The interior should be a rosy pink.You could also bake them but keep in mind that the oven has to be very hot  - at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tuna steaks on a greased baking sheet . Don't stack them. Brush with melted butter or olive oil. Bake four to six minutes per 1/2 inch thickness of fish.As with skillet cooked tuna, use a fork to test for flakiness and  look for  pinkness in the center. The steaks can be marinaded for extra flavor. You can try lemon and garlic zinged up with oregano or for a more exotic flavor, think soy and ginger slices mixed with lime and sesame oil.

Any tuna dish is a nice way to end a Lenten Friday. Treat yourself and family to a tasty salad Nicoise or soy marinated tuna steaks. Enjoy  croquettes or casserole with the kids. Tuna's just a great way to oberve Lenten dieting.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A St Paddy's Special Home Corned Beef

St Patrick's Day is next week and it's a day of corned beef accompanied by boiled potatoes and of course, green tinted beer. It's a traditional meal but not necessarily a tasty one.Thanks to bad cuts of beef and nasty corning methods, it would come out as a gummy, overly salty slab.That's changing, thanks to both professional and home chefs salting it themselves.

Sam Sifton wrote about this classic Irish -American dish in yesterday's New York Times Food section.The best corned beef comes from New York's Jewish delis where it shines. The meat is a ruddy pink, perfectly salted and fatty. Home chefs now can have this delicious version  According to Bryan Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman, authors of "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing" the process is easy , and will turn ordinary beef into something extraordinary.The process is an old one, starting in the 1800's, in where else - Ireland.The process is named after the large grains of salts that resembled corn kernels.  Curing and.packing plants throughout the Emerald Isle used them to cure slabs of beef that eventually went into barrels and then cans and onto ships to feed others.Someone , either in Boston or the Bahamas,  over boiled either a beef neck or brisket with a head of cabbage and called it dinner. That's the corned beef and cabbage we all grew up on.

That version of it will change with home brining and curing. The only reason home corned beef never caught on was the scarcity of the corns, These are sodium nitrate, that turns the meat that tender shade of pink.They can be found on Amazon under the name Prague powder or curing salt. Originally it was used for forestalling the growth of bacteria but it also gave plain beef a better taste. For those worried about ingesting nitrate, have no fear. Mr. Ruhlman  says ingesting a small amount is harmless, noting that we ingest nitrates when we eat vegetables which draw nitrogen from the surrounding soil. It's then creating a brine with it and whatever spices are desirable.. Home chefs could try coriander, mustard seed and black peppercorns,. Allspice will give it a zippy, smoky flavor as well ground ginger and cinnamon. Bay leaves are good too. The recipe Mr. Sifton gives has pickling spices, which is all those spices aforementioned along with garlic cloves and sugar. A four to five pound  brisket is used and is brined for four to five days. It is then cooked in a blend of beer and ginger beer.A novel idea is turning it into Irish tacos with shredded cabbage that have a jolt of jalapeno. - which is a whole lot better than having a slab of it with a boiled potato.

Home cured corned beef is the perfect treat for Saint Patrick's Day. Brine it the right way and it's a salty pink delight , perfect in a sandwich or as a taco. Enjoy it with a good stout or Guinness for the holiday.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Women In The Kitchen

With this being International Women's Day . it's time we celebrate the impact of women on food and nutrition. After all it's not our dads anf grandads that fed us but our mothers and grandmothers. Yet there seems to be more male chefs than female chefs, while it seems there are more waitresses than waiters. What gives?

Since the earliest of our days, it's been the females that have been providing food, whether from the earliest hunter-gatherers to the first "home chefs" roasting meat on  wood spits over a fire. It's the women who ground the wheat  to make the bread that fed the family. They made sure children had the best nutrition for the time, as they tended to gardens. Our sisters from antiquity probably introduced fruits and vegetables to their families diets, expanding both their husbands and childrens' palates. Some of these recipes exist today in the form of matzoh and pita, roasted lamb and dumplings . The home chefs  that lived during the Roman and Greek empires and the Han Dynasty realized the importance of meals being eaten together too, and how it would strengthen family ties.They passed down themselves and their stories in dishes that the next generation of both girls and boys are making today with electric stoves and all sorts of modern gadgets .Believe it or not we're all eating some form of the Paleo diets thanks to our early female ancestors.

You would think that with women ruling the kitchen , they'd be ruling the culinary world. Not so much, even in this day and age.The cookbooks, were written by women, with the first real one penned by Isabella Beeton in the 1860's but a woman owning a restaurant was unheard of , unless she ran it with her parents  husband, or children.It was a man who gave us the famed Gilded Age eatery Delmonico's in lower was the great chef Auguste Escoffier , a Frenchman who was the world's first celebrity chef. It took a century later for the first female, chef, Julia Child who captivated American home chefs and foodies in the 1960's./. She also laid the groundwork for the celebrity chef culture that came thirty years later in the 1990s. Still, there seems to be an imbalance with the number of male chefs to female chefs today.   The only successful female chef  now is Lidia Bastianich who has her TV show , restaurants,products and cookbooks. She's on the same par as Bobby Flay, and Gordon Ramsey but she' really the only one. There's an imbalance lower down the culinary ladder too.. Most of the fast food managers are men, Assistant managers are women, but it seems that this is the highest they can go. The first tier workers are usually female also. Could it be that boys would rather work in the Apple stores as opposed to  a Wendy's or McDonald's? Or that girls are just pointed to kitchens.?

Today is the Internatioal Women's Day. We have fed and nurtured the world for millennia. Yet in some sectors of the food industry  we're still treated like underlings. It has to change- and we have to change it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quick Dinners

There are those days when we come home too hungry to cook. It's usually after a hectic work day, or a day full of chores or activities. What to do - act quick. You can have meals that are easy and fast  to make.

The most obvious answer to a  quickly had meals would be take out. Unfortunately, there is a wait time for pizza and Chinese, unless you call from the office and car. Even then, there's some kind of prep and cooking time , especially if the restaurant is having a busy night. There is also the fast food joints, but again there are lines , and the off chance of having a very greasy supper. The best bet is stocking your fridge and pantry with ingredients that cook up quickly. One of my favorites is instant rice. Boil it with any kind of bouillon - beef, chicken or vegetable, add some butter and even a sprinkled of Parmesan and you have a kind of poor man's  risotto. Pasta, too , is a quick make. Again add butter for pasta con burro or minced garlic and oil for aglia e olio. Fresh veggies can be also be mixed in for a pasta crudo. Even jsliced grape or cherry tomatoes mixed with vine ripes make for  an interesting "raw" sauce.

If you want something more substantial, then get out the frying pan.One of my favorites is an easy spin on beef with scallions. It's sauteing soy meat  crumbles (Morningstar Farms has the best) and chopped scallions. A slug of Kikoman soy sauce adds flavor and zest. As this is cooking, cellophane noodles are being boiled  and are then mixed with the meat . Real beef and chicken can be subbed in for a more substantial dinner. Another quick meal is a one egg frittata or omelet. These are wonderful because you can add all sorts of extras in them to make them more satisfying. Chop up ham and American cheese  for a Western Omelet, Serve it on toast for a sandwich.Think a fritatta zinged up with chopped vine ripe tomatoes and Parmesan cheese for an Italian spin . Have slices of toasted Italian bread with it for a heartier meal. Italian bread can also be the base for bruschetta. The tomatoes can be made the night before or earlier in the day. It requires the plum variety but vine ripes work well here too. It's then mixing in oil, balsamic vinegar and basil  together to be spooned on slices of Italian bread or even sliced ciabatta rolls for a speedy and delicious dinner.Add minced Italian cold cuts such as pepperoni or soppressata for more substance.

A quick dinner can be made , without having to resort to take out or drive through. Cook up some rice or pasta, Create a tasty Chinese beef or omelet. Enjoy a frittata or bruschetta in minutes. These are easy meals, perfect after a busy , hectic day.

Monday, March 6, 2017

My Little Cake Shop

One more piece of my bake shop puzzle arrived today. The Ohuhu cake stand arrived, thanks to Amazon.
Soon I will have my icing spatula and icing comb to create those professional looking lines on the iced sides of a cake. I also have my Wilson icer

Thanks to my new , and sadly overworked oven, I will be trying all sorts of fun recipes and decorating. This week I will be making homemade fudge along with carrot cake cupcakes and banana bread.What I am looking forward to is making my friend's favorite cake - butter with chocolate buttercream. This will my masterpiece. It will have combed sides along with delicate puffs of icing along with  pink buttercream roses and pale green leaves.

My baking days are starting up again.I'm looking forward to all sorts of creations, from coconut macarons to chocolate chip cookies to elegantly iced cakes.
And a few fudge bars too.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Scandanavian Dishes For Lent

Scandanavian, cuisine whether Icelandic  Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or Finnish has the perfect seafood dishes ready for Lent. The countries share a passion for all sorts of fish , from cod to salmon from herring to shrimp. The recipes are just right for these meatless days.

Salmon is a big dish in Scandinavian cooking, namely in the dish known as gravlax. It's basically curing the salmon for four to five days. It requires both salt and sugar to cure it along with dill and cognac for flavor.. It's an elegant main meal for pescatarians too as well as those who are temporarily off meat. A  humbler recipe is the fish pie, filled with whitefish  and potato, Unlike other fish pies that are usually loaded with onions, this one has the mild ,sweet taste of cucumber to counteract the sharpness of  radishes which also add color. There's also the Scandanavian must have dill in it too for a spark of green and flavor. It's a nice dish to make on a Friday night when the family is gathered. Another cozy recipe is fish soup made with the Norwegian standard - cod. The fish's mildness matches up well with the carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. Crushed tomatoes are also added to give it a vibe similar to the Portuguese soup, cioppino. It's served with warm crusty bread and butter.Norway also has a great flounder soup, from the seacoast town of  Bergen.Like the other it's a cream soup, but also has flour to thicken it. Julienned carrots give it color. Shrimp can be added to it as well.

Flounder is also used in many other Norwegian and Swedish dishes. Try it baked with shrimp for an elegant spin. It's a casserole, with fish filets layered with shrimp ,  tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese, then topped with pats of butter. Another flounder dish is fish cakes, made with flour and tarragon leaves. Cod and haddock can be used too instead of the flounder. Serve with crispy potatoes as a great Friday night dinner. Not surprisingly Scandinavians  also turn seafood into a pudding called fiskepudding. It's ground haddock mixed with milk and eggs to create a kind of custard. It's served with a shrimp and lobster sauce, heightened with a good  slug of sherry. Herring is a big deal in all the northernmost countries. One of the easiest is a salad made with salted fillets mixed with sour cream, chopped dill and the dill's bulb also chopped. Lemon juice is spritzed in for some tang. Serve on rye crackers or with a  dark bread such as kavring.

Scandinavian cooking is in perfect harmony with Lenten eating. The fish dishes are perfect for meatless Wednesdays and Fridays Try them in any way, from a savory pudding to .fishcakes for tasty dining.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Black Bean Soup The Perfect Soup For Now

With the last days of winter and Lent coinciding, it's nice to have a hot meal that doesn't rely on meat. Black bean soup is the best dish for this.It is filling and satisfying, great for a chilly March night,

Julia Moskin wrote about in in Wednesday's New York Times' Food section. Black beans have been around for ages, being a decidedly American bean, growing only on the North American continent. There have always been recipes regarding them in soup, In fact , Ms. Moskin cites a recipe The Times has printed in 1879, that  has home chefs cooking them for three to four hour and then rubbed against a colander to create a paste. The soup tirned out to be smooth and murky, often thinned with cream and served with a sliced lemon and sieved egg. The famed James Beard suggested stirring in a glass of madeira to brighten his black bean soup recipe.. (although a glass of madeira was added to every soup recipe of his). The bean became super popular in the 1970's thanks to the uprise in vegetrian cooking. Thanks to another famed chef, Jeremiah Towers, black beans became the defining  ingredient in Califrnia cusine as he created black bean cakes,  thick tortillas made from a kind of bean dough and topped with creme fraiche and salsa.What is great about these beans  is that they don't need any kind of meat to give them more flavor. The beans absorn the flavors of the aromatics cooked with them.

The recipe is a tasty looking one and I'm eager to try it. Ms. Moskin does add chiles, chipotle and jalapeno for heat along with such aromatics as oregano and bay leaves. The recipe starts out with a non traditional kind of sofrito. Along with the chiles it has carrots and onions cooked in oil with  garlic. This is then deglazd with a cup of red wine . The broth used can  be chicken but  vegetable can be used, especially if the soup is designated for a Lenten meal.. Salt isn't added until the beans are at least halfway cooked, and the heat can only be turmed up in the begiinning to create a hard boil for only ten to fifteen minutes. Home chefs can use an immersion blender for pureeing the mixture into a satiny soup.. This will give it a lush mouth feel, like a rich cream one. This way doesn't have to be set in stone. Home chefs can leave the beans whole and serve them over a bowl of white rice.It can also be used as a side dish with quesdadillas or fajitas.Ms. Moskin advises not to cook it in a pressure cooking because it will turn the texture into a kind of pudding with no liquid left. The finished dish is served with a blob of sour cream and avocado slices. I wouldn't mind adding a few crumbled tacos on top for more texture.

A fiery , creamy black bean soup is the perfect dinner for a blustery Lenten night. It is hearty and spicy without being too overpowering. It's the right soup for these days ahead.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Buttercream Basics A Baker's Dream Book

One of the most fun things about home baking is decorating one's cakes and cupcakes. There's nothing prettier than a shower cake  festooned with roses or  cupcakes livened up with squiggles and swirls. However, this art does have to be learned and luckily there is a brand new book to show us how.

Buttercream Basics: Learn The Art Of Buttercream Decorating (Robert Rose Publishers 2017) , a phenomenal how to was written by Carey Madden and shows how to create amazing decorations for cakes and cupcakes.Ms. Madden is known for her cake decorating books, She has previously written one just for cupcakes and small cakes. I love this book. One of the best things about it is that she  eases novice decorators like myself from the very simple to the very elaborate. The book doesn't start off with elaborate roses and curlicues. That's for later. Another big plus is the pictorial on the different decorating tools and their use. The book also shows the difference between the tips' openings and how to employ them to create lines, leaves, and petals. Another aspect I 'm impressed with is her advice to left handers like myself. So often we just can't decorate properly because the decorations are for righties. Ms. Madden tells us to go counterclockwise when the directions say clockwise. There is also a chapter on how to mix colors and pair them up for the best color schemes along with chapters on not only icing the cake but also filling it too.Home bakers will likely follow her how to have a smooth surface as well as how to clean tips.

Of course, there is the buttercream recipe but it's the Swiss kind made with egg whites and cooked.She does offer the American kind, but it's sweeter , denser and stiffer than the other. The Swiss meringue is not sugary sweet and it's the perfect foil for the triple chocolate  and yellow butter cake recipes that she also includes. All the cakes featured look amazing.  Beginner icers will love recreating the vintage look of coiled rustic or the swoopy homestyle iced cakes. My favorites are the simple swirl and twine decorated ones where only a spatula is needed to create circles on the top and sides.Ms. Madden also has a chapter on adding sashes to cakes, making them look like elegant hats . There's an interesting one on decorating with crystallized fruits such as figs, blueberries, and blackberries. This would be not only perfect for a birthday but also for a wedding too. The more adventurous will undoubtedly like to attempt the dusting technique which involves stenciling. The cupcake section is adorably cute, especially with the caterpillar birthday cake, made with a line of  cupcakes.I love the rosette swirls and definitely will be trying that one soon enough. There's also the bunch of balloons cupcakes that 's just so sweet  and just the right thing for a kid's birthday cake.

Buttercream Basics :Learn The Art of Buttercream Decorating is the best book for home bakers wanting to create professional looking cakes and cupcakes. It's informative and fun. Learning all the techniques and tips is even better than having your cake and eating it too.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lessons From A Lenten Diet

Today is Ash Wednesday , the beginning of Lent.It's a time when most Christians, especially Catholics give up foods that they love. It's a good time to rethink one's diet and maybe keep the fasting up for a healthier lifestyle all year round..

Most people usually give up desserts during Lent. It's a good idea to carry this through the year. Many lose their taste for sugar and even the taste of cakes and ice cream after forty days. They realize that they can sub in healthier  sweets such as fruit to satisfy their cravings.Instead of cookies or a slice of Red Velvet , they'll nosh  on bananas and grapes. Candy is another Lenten no-no. Again, it's so easy to swap Kisses and Gummy Bears with pineapple chunks and apple slices. It's a better choice that can lead to better daily choices. Instead of reaching for peanut butter cups, they'll now eat apple slices dipped in peanut butter. Giving up any sweet is hard, especially if you go cold turkey, but your body will adjust. After forty days, those cupcakes and Oreos may not seem as appetizing as they did back around Valentine's Day.Another good thing about Lent is that whole families can give up  the same foods and support each other. They can also discover healthy food together too which benefits everyone from the oldest to the youngest.

Some people give up savory foods too. A few people nix potato chips and dip during this time. This can be tough , especially if they're nightly snackers or head straight to the chip bowl at a party. An easy substitute is tortilla chips.  As we all know, there's no grease or extra salt to deal with. Another plus is that they go well with salsa, another low calorie treat. Make it with fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers or buy the jarred kind. Popcorn and pretzels are also great alternatives the first being high in fiber while the second is high in n9iacin. Some really go hardcore with the fasting such as the Greek and Russian Orthodox and forego meat, dairy, and oil along with sweets. This is an extremely healthy way to  become a full out vegan,  however be warned. Many people who just go vegan for other reasons have a bad habit of also foregoing proteins. Doing such  can cause moodiness and irritability along with sleeplessness. and a lack of energy. Seek out soy products right away and incorporate them into the diet from day one.. Try Morningstar Farms soy products  which has everything from bacon and sausage patties to chicken nuggets and beef crumbles. As for dairy, it's a good time to discover soy and almond milk , along with soy cheese and ice cream.

Lenten fasting can be the gateway to a year round healthier lifestyle. Start now with giving up the bad stuff.In forty days  you'll won;t even miss the sweets, dairy or meats.