Friday, July 7, 2017

The Last Entry ..... For Now

I am closing the Pantry for now. I don't know if I will come back because I am undergoing a life altering operation. it will change me - and not for the better. I whole heartedly wish everything was different - back to normal, where I could still interview chefs and write about food trends. That was not meant to be.

If I am back  - I am back - if not - thanks for all your amazing support these past nine years.It meant  a lot to me. I loved writing this blog and now I must give it up.💧💧💧😪😪😪😪😪😪😪😪

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Eggplant

Eggplant is one of summer's most versatile gems.It can be turned into a variety of different dishes from fried to gracing a pasta sauce.It can be baked  into a type of casserole or turned into a delicious spread. Anyway you cook them, eggplants are the tastiest veggie around.

David Tanis  knows this and wrote about them in his A City Kitchen  in yesterday's New York Times Food section.He uses Sicilian recipes because the eggplant is one of the basic ingredients in their cuisine.It came to the island from the Arab influence and has remained there since the Middle Ages. Two other staples , tomato and peppers , came in through the Spanish during the Columbian period and the three mesh together nicely.It's also part of the cucina povera or "poor cuisine" where simple ingredients and a pinch of this or a pinch of that is added. There are no fancy ingredients, just veggies from the garden, olive oil and herbs.Eggplant has always been considered  cheap. Fried slices of it , coated in breadcrumbs were always known as "poor man's oysters." and this is a stand in for lamb chops in some Sicilian households. They're  also great in salads, or pickled. Stuffed eggplant is a standard and it's usually filled with rice and ground beef.

Mr. Tanis gives three eggplant recipes that are perfect for a summery dinner. The first is pasta alla Norma, named for the famed opera by Vincenzo Bellini, He  came from Cataniia where he ate this dish daily for lunch. It's simply  mixing fried cubes of eggplant with penne pasta. The seasoning , again, is pure cucina povera, It's garlic , tomatoes and basil  mixed with the cubes. Toasted bread crumbs and cheese  are usually sprinkled on top. Another tasty dish is caponata, which from the island's Arabic period.It's stewed in oil, and sweetened with sugar. The savory kick comes from vinegar, capers , tomatoes and onions cooked into a type of sauce.  The eggplant is then added and let set to allow all the flavors to meld.It should sit for at least an hour before serving.Baked eggplant parmagiana is another delicious way to cook or rather bake the veggie. The original recipe recommends layering it with tuma cheese, that highly aromatic cheese from Piedmonte but Mr.Tanis uses smoked mozzarella and fresh ricotta. Anchovies fillets are scattered on top, their saltiness bringing out the eggplant's sweetness.

Take advantage of eggplants  this summer. Use them in a variety of different dishes, They're versatile and tasty, perfect with other summer harvests of  tomatoes and peppers.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Berry Time

One of the best things about summer is that it's berry season. These rich colored gems are perfect in everything from cakes to ice cream, from pies to tortes. They add snap and sweetness , livening up any recipe.

Famed chef and pastry chef , Yotam Ottolenghi wrote about them in today's New York Times Food section. He only discovered them when he was a young man and cycling through the Netherlands and Belgium to Paris. He did have fruit growing up, mostly from trees. namely figs,  pomegranates, lemons and dates, but berries growing on low to the ground bushes were a novelty to him. His interest was piqued by famed chef Rowley Leigh. Chef Leigh did with berries what Middle Eastern chefs do with herbs - use them in absolute abundance,They need to be the building blocks of the recipe.Chef Ottolenghi's own recipes  include berry infused icings and butter creams. he studs them in cakes and tarts, mixing them with those fruits of his childhood. Lemon is probably one of the best partners for berries, as its'tartness and simplicity  marries the sweetness and layered complexity of any berry.

This is obvious in the his recipes. There is a blueberry, almond and lemon cake, perfect for any summer get together, from birthday to barbecue. He combines a cup and a half of fresh blueberries with both lemon juice and lemon zest. Lemon glaze finishes it off, so the cake, which is more of a pound, is not overwhelming with the taste of blueberries. Almonds also temper this , in the form of flour. His other recipe also marries nuts and berries. This time he uses pistachios and raspberries.The crust also has a taste of lemon to it, along with white wine vinegar. The filling combines a heaping cup of raspberries with two and a half cups of raw, shelled pistachios. He roasts and mashes these , until they're almost like a nut  butter. Eggs are then added for body and then it's placed in  the pastry shell. The raspberries are then sprinkled over the filling and baked.It comes out kind of like pistachio marzipan

Take advantage of berry season. Use those ripe. rich gems in such treats as tarts and cakes. Enjoy their,earthy sweet, flavor..

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Foodie Fourth

Enjoy the nation's birthday with fun foods. Munch on the dogs and burgers, have extra helping of three bean and potato salad.

Watch the fireworks  as you enjoy iced tea or ice cream! Visit the Boardwalk for some yummy cotton candy and candy apples.


Happy Birthday America!!!!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Meatless Fourth

 Millions of Americans are going to sink their teeth into burgers and dogs tomorrow .More son than Thanksgiving, July 4th is a true Yankee carnivore holiday. Yet, what about the vegans, vegetarians and those who want to eat healthier. The answer is easy - go meatless.

Eight  years ago, I wrote about vegan barbecues and even then the market was expanding. There are some tasty burgers out there, thanks to recipe improvements. Morningstar Farms, is the leader in soy products and they have a wide variety of burgers. They have Griller primer Burgers which have a smokey steak-y flavor. These are perfect for those wanting a taste like the real thing but without the cholesterol. Kids will love the company's tomato and basil ones that even have mozzarella bits in them. Serve them on the chewy Italian rolls, ciambatta, for extra goodness. For those on a diet Morningstar has their Mediterranean chickpea burgers which is kind of like a textured  hummus, and brimming with spinach and tomatoes along with Greek herbs and spices. Grill these and serve on grilled toasted pita  with tahini sauce. There are also hickory riblets that can be grilled and served with cole slaw and grilled corn for a real down home meal.

Hot dogs are another Fourth must have. Morningstar also has some good veggie dogs that can pass for the real thing. To make them more like Sabrett's , slice the dogs in half before grilling. Doing this will grill them up nice and crispy , perfect for tasty eating. The company also produces corn dogs which can be a fun barbecue extra.Of course there are other brands too, namely Tofurky, They also produce deli slices and sausages too however it's their dogs and jumbo dogs that are the stars. Grill the jumbo ones and serve on those bready Portuguese rolls for a fun , filling treat.If you want chili dogs, then also go vegan. You can make your own using Morningstar  Farms meat crumbles. Try a  a chili salsa, using fresh tomatoes and onions mixed chili powder and sliced jalapenos.Grilled chicken is always good too. and again look to Morningstar for this. They have both the regular and buffalo style patties that are just as easily barbecued as their burgers..Serve them on biscuits with honey mustard for a Southern take along with piccalilly relish .

Yes , you can have a meatless Fourth. It's healthier and tastier than the standard fare.It makes for good eating and good holiday memories.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Scoop On Ice Cream Creations

Now that's it's officially summer  it's time to get out the ice cream.Most people are happy with just a scoop of  vanilla i a waffle bowl/ Yet ice cream begs to be turned into something a bit more extravagant. Get out the scoop and get creative.

You 'll need ice cream, whether home made or store bought. If you're cranking it yourself, then go wild with different flavors. Mix rosemary and honey . Try cheesecake with pistachios.  Toss in Raisinets or Milk Duds in a homemade chocolate ice cream.  If you're buying it then stick strictly with ice holds up better ,  I think, with hot fudge and caramel. It's not as intense and works well with any add ins. One of the easiest ice cream creations to make is the sundae. It's usually just two or  three scoops , drenched in some kind of sauce  and then topped with whipped cream. For a different spin use  a homemade salted chocolate sauce  which is easy to make. It's just taking salted butter and a scant pinch of sea salt to  chopped dark chocolate  and brown sugar. Sundaes are sometimes layered with fruit. For a truly lush creation. have the first layer of strawberries or raspberries , then the ice cream. Top with the chocolate sauce and mounds of homemade whipped cream. Reserve some of the chocolate bar , and using a hasp, shave off  light puffy shards of it to decorate. You can sub in salted  caramel too for the chocolate sauce and topped with chopped  salted caramels .

Banana splits are the height of cool decadence.It's taking three scoops of the same ice cream or three different ones (usually, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) and placing them on a long oval dish or banana boat. Slice a banana lengthwise and place on each side of the scoops. Top the vanilla with pineapple , the chocolate with chocolate sauce  and the strawberry with strawberries or strawberry topping. Generously cover with whipped cream, wet walnuts and maraschino cherries.  You can also create a Bananas Foster split too. with vanilla ice cream for a truly decadent dessert or snack. Another fun treat is the classic ice cream sandwich. Moms across the world usually plop ice cream between two giant cookies and then roll them in sprinkles or chopped nuts. Make it  bit more sophisticated. by using pound cake, (it can be store bought) Slice a slice in two and layer softened ice cream on it. It can be placed in a puddle of sauce or coulis and topped with either whipped cream or creme fraiche. For a fancier spin cut  the slices into quarters to make ice cream petit fours. Add a  puff of whipped cream, then top with chocolate shavings, sprinkles or even edible flowers.

It is summer and that means ice cream. Go all out and create something wonderful, cool and tasty . Then enjoy!