Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kuka Paka A Recipe To Make Your Own

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Classic Lemon Bars

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Gourmet Bride - And Groom

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Your Vacation Kitchen

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day Feasts

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

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

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

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



Friday, June 16, 2017

Cool And Calorie Free Frozen Fruit Treats

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Juneteenth Menu

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Food Down Under Gourmet And Rare

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

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


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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

While I'm Away

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Hot Temp Diet

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

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

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

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



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Easy Summer Desserts

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Salmon Days

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tahini Savory And Sweet

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kerala Cuisine Brought To Light

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hooked On Produce

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

Piggy Days

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

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

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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Road Trip - Moby's Lobster Deck

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

Hot Dog ! Choices!

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Flavor From The Garden

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

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

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

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