Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ramadan Recipes To Open The Pantry

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Teaser Tuesday

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Good Holiday

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Good Memorial Day

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Pantry Is Semi Open

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

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

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Pantry Is On Indefinite Close

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Skinny Cooking ,Not So Skinny Flavor

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Future Of Our Markets

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

True Mex

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Southern Edge

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Yikes! There's No Food!

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Sweet Mother's Day Treat

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

This is the container.

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

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

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Exotic Ad Easy - Mother's Day Meals

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The LA Restaurant Scene Hot And Getting Hotter

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Layers Of Perfection

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Special Cake For Mom

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Farm Fresh Desserts

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Big Southern Do

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 5, 2017


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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Chef's Legacy

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Best French Toast Recipe Ever

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Best Aquafaba Cookbook!

Aquafaba is one of the hottest and trendiest ingredients in the food world today. This miracle ingredient  is nothing more than bean water, coming from the humble bean. Yet it can create anything from elegant French macarons to homey scrambled eggs.

This magical elixir is the subject of vegan food blogger. Rebecca Coleman's new all vegan cookbook Aquafabulous (Robert Rose Publishers 2017). This cookbook is completely devoted to aquafaba, or bean water that comes not only chickpeas but also from navy beans and cannellini beans, The  recipe book is perfect for hard core , serious vegans, who have eschewed all meat, eggs and dairy products.What is great about the book is that it has recipes covering everything from breakfast to dessert. Mostly aquafaba is used for meringues and macarons, but there are all sorts of easy to create dishes and treats.A plus of the book is that Ms Coleman answers the many questions about the liquid. She  assures home chefs that their sweet desserts won't have an overpowering bean flavor.There is also an explanation of the different beans used in making a light or dark meringue along with the surprise of using tofu water to also create aquafaba.She also has a list of the important ingredients that are musts in any vegan pantry.There's also three different recipes for making homemade aquafaba, using  stovetop, slow cooker and pressure cooker methods.The last two methods do require an extra step of boiling, but this is minor.

I absolutely love this cookbook!! I had no idea that bean water could be so versatile. I have been wanting to make homemade macarons with it  - and the book has the recipe - but thought it was only used for this. How wrong! It can be used to make a sub in for real scrambled eggs in such tasty recipes as Breakfast Burritos and a potato -kale frittata. It makes waffles airy and light and pancakes puffy. Aquafaba is also a main ingredient in homemade pasta, creating a feather light dough along with being in a healthy baked mac and cheese.Of course there are meringue and macaron recipes. Ms. Coleman has an excellent one for French macarons filled with a chocolate ganache that I would love to try. There is the other famed meringue recipe, Pavlova that is a combination of heavenly meringue covered in macerated berries. Vegan bakers will love making the lemon meringue pie, sans the usual egg whites. Chickpeas themselves shine in some of the savory recipes too. Anybody, even fervent meat lovers would gobble up chickpea curry, chock full of sweet potatoes, chickpeas and green peas.There is a vegan chicken salad made with mashed chickpeas that's on my radar. It will be perfect for picnics . A meatless loaf with miso gravy is another must make, perfect as a the main course at any holiday dinner. An aquafaba  based ice cream will be the perfect ending to these dishes,.

Aquafabulous is the definitive cookbook for this amazing ingredient. Buy it and create not just out of this world macarons and meringues but a wide variety of tasty and healthy savory dishes.It's amazing what this humble and simple ingredient can create.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Gifts From Mom to The Bride To Be

It's May  and we all know what that means - gift seaso for moms and future brides. Between Mother's Day and the start of bridal shower season,, everyone from kids to coworkers have to think of an interesting and memorable gifts. The best bet? Kitchenware. It's not only practical, but fun.

What to get those mothers and brides who like to cook? There's a plethora of items that would excite any cook.Cookbooks are always a good start , especially for those home chefs who love to experiment with different cuisine.You can also buy accompanying accoutrements and create a theme. Have a tangine pot along with basmati rice and spices to go along with a Morroccan themed cookbook. Think a pasta maker paired with an Italian cookbook  or a crepe pan to go with a book on French cooking.Another great idea for the modern home chef is a tablet stand . After all many home chefs and bakers now get their recipes from the web. Unfortunately, many of the tablets don't have stands and hotly have to lay flat on a usually messy table. This is where they get doused with flour or splashed with water or gravy. Keep them from this with a lucite stand that elevates them and also makes the tablet easier to read. Target has them for as low as thirty dollars and can be bought in either black or white , either one going with any kitchen decor.It even has a stylus pen so no greasy or floury fingerprints . For five dollars more there 's the stand that comes on top of a paper towel holder.This actually holds the tablet at eye level - so no bending down anymore to read it.

There are also some great no-tech gift ideas too. Nothing beats a lovely set of all cotton dish towels.I recently received a pair of them from my very best friend of almost forty years.

As you can see they are not just pretty,a throw back to a simpler time in cooking and in kitchens.It's also practical, being made with a very sturdy , moisture absorbent cotton. The top ecru ones are crocheted and would even make lovely place mats.These are easy to make for  those who know how to knit and crochet.. My towels came with this
A really elegant bottle of dishwashing soap. It's an aromatic blend of lavender and rosemary that not only leaves dishes clean has my smelly kitchen sink with a fresh , garden scent.

May brings flowers but it also brings Mother's Day and the start of the bridal shower season. Pick gifts that are not only pretty but practical. Thye'll be appreciated for years to come.