Saturday, September 30, 2017

Lou And His Special Diet

Kids today are beset with a plethora of allergies.They suffer from everything from gluten to nut allergies. Many along with their parents r don't know what to do or how to refuse. Luckily, there's a brand new book out there to help along. A smart boy, named Lou can help them.

The children's book, Lou Knows What To Do; Special Diet "Boystown Press 2017) was co-written by Kimberly Tice,MS CCC-SLP and Venita Livack MA, CCC-SLP who have encountered children who have had allergies. It is a plague of the modern world, with more and more children (along with adults) being diagnosed with severe food hypersensitivity. This book is a gentle tale about a young boy , named Lou who has to deal with the double onus of a peanut and gluten allergies. This wide eyed boy, expertly drawn by Andre Kerry ,discovers he has to change his diet. His magic bubble wand (and what kid - or adult for that matter wouldn't want this) shows him the type of foods that he can't have. There is a bubble depicting a table full of doughnuts, cereal, bread and cake along with a bubble showing Lou looking fretfully at a jar of peanut butter.There are also pictures of him checking out boxes with his mom in the their local supermarket. Another shows hin at a restaurant, scanning over a menu along with thanking a chef for creating a "safe" meal for him. More illustrations show Lou  at school , with him saying no to trading questionable snacks,. There's also him with his teacher and the explanation of how to use an epi pen.

This is the must have book for both parents and teachers. What I like about it is that every page starts with the red ink highlighted Lou knows. Ms. Tice and Ms. Livack also know not to talk down to kids, and explain everything in simple, uncomplicated terms. They  have written other "Lou" books" that features the hero at the supermarket and at a party.Another plus is that they stress the seriousness yet liveability of severe allergies without also showing the sometimes dire consequences. This book is definitely a learning tool, allowing for a dialogue to take place between teachers and students. There is even a page of tips for educators.It can also open a conversation  for healthy eating and what foods are good or bad.There's also a quiz at the back too to see if the kids really understood the story and if they retained anything.A nice bonus would have been a section on recipes that feature gluten and nut free dishes and snacks. Hopefully the authors will consider this in this future and include recipes for sunflower seed butter as well as for gluten pizzas and cupcakes.

Lou Knows What To Do, Special Diet, is a great book for kids with allergy. It is smartly and sensitively written by two authors who have a keen insight into children. This is a must have for any young person's library.,

Friday, September 29, 2017

Can You Rival A Great Baker?

One of the best aspects of The Great British Baking Show is that it introduces American home bakers to a plethora of British  and European treats. It would be the ultimate project to create an elaborate baked good. Can it be done?

American bakers - including myself - have a tendency to rely on boxed mixes. These can be varied to create new cakes and desserts yet there's limited creativity. True bakers will nix the Pilsbury and Duncan Hines (as if we lesser ones  would) and use flour and baking soda, eggs and butter along with milk and molasses.The Great British Baking Show and its' American spin offs have challenges that require old fashioned ingredients and creative thinking. Anyone can recreate the recipes.There's an entire franchise of "Great British Baking Show" cookbooks out there along with recipe books from former judge Mary Berry and current Paul Hollywood. There are even specialized ones that focuses only on breads, sweet buns and trifles in separate books. These are perfect for home bakers wanting to break the mold. These are more labor intensive than some of our ones. Spices have to be ground. Sometimes there's proofing  in a low temperature oven. Elaborate cookies require handmade molds.It's not for the faint hearted.

There is a sense of exhilaration and triumph however when a bake is done. Imagine creating Series 7 winner  Candice Brown's Tudor showstopper, a marzipan peacock.It was an elaborately decorated cake , with the surprise of fresh blueberries in the middle. Or creating Mary 's technical challenge of a Victoria sponge , a lovely end to a Sunday brunch. How much more fun would the holidays be with Paul's Tudor technical challenge of  elaborately knotted Jumbles , zinged up with freshly ground mace and aniseed, along with caraway seeds. If these may be too much start off with some of the contestant's recipes. These are still complicated, but a bit easier to make. There is a tasty pina Colada rolled cake, which is laden with coconut mascarpone ,pineapples and coconut rum. For a savory spin, and perfect weekend lunch , try baking the croque Monsieur kites. This is intense, because the puff pastry has to be hand made (no Pepperidge Farm here) and stuffed with  cheeses such as Gruyere and Emmenthal as well as pancetta and mushrooms.It's also creating your own porcini powder with  grinding the mushroom .it also requires a dough mixer with a hook and creating a scratch Bechamel sauce.

The Great British Bake Show is an entertaining foray into intense  baking. American home bakers can break free of their cookie cutter bakes and try some of the elaborate sweet and savory recipes. It'll expand the repertoire along with filling the kitchen with yummy treats.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wines For A Week Night

Wine is an important component of any meal. It's especially important on a weeknight, where it helps to unwind after a stressful day. What to serve? That depends on what's cooking. Just don't be too serious about it. Save that for the meal.

Eric Asimov wrote an entire column about it in yesterday's New York Times Weeknight Cooking issue.  As he writes weeknight wines should be like easygoing comedies as opposed to Ingmar Bergman films. They should be delicious and refreshing without requiring rapt attention. Also the price shouldn't break the budget. Figure around ten dollars is fine. Most of what he recommends come from Italy, Germany, and France, but you could easily get ones from Spain,Portugal, Greece and's just that there are more varieties and tastes coming from the first two.There are some that are close to twenty dollars and these are included in his list.One of the first and the best recommended is from Piemonte.It's  De Forville Langhe Nebbiolo.It's perfect with any kind of risotto or gnocchi,thanks to its' notes of sour cherry and roses.It's also hardy enough to pair well with grilled fennel laced sausages.Another wine, perfect with pasta or even just meatballs is Contra Soarda Veneto Rosso Gaggion 2012.This is made in northeastern Italy , It's made from the marzemino grape , a relatively unknown variety here in the States, but used for centuries in the Trentino, Lombardy and Veneto regions.

For those who would like a French wine then think Chateau Gravile-Lacoste Graves 2016. It's one of the less expensive wines.that is a combination of semillon,a golden yellow grape  ,sauvignon blanc and muscadelle.Serve it with seafood, such as steamed salmon or a light lemony shrimp scampi.Its also a good dessert wine too. German wines are always a nice addition to any meal wanting them.Try  a Knebel Mosel Reisling 2015,is dry, stony and pure. Its' minerality goes well with any kind of chicken dish, think an easy roasted one along with ham. It's perfect with shellfish, so think of serving it with any crab or lobster dish. Mr. Asimov also throws in a Portuguese wine, Tiago Teles Bairrada Maria da Graca 2015.It is  a ninety per cent blend of red- alfochiero and ten per cent white bical. It's fruity and flowery . Pair it with spicy stews or even peppery seafood gumbos. Grilled lamb kabobs and lamb chops are always a part of weeknight dining. Drink a truly Greek wine, Gal's Retinitis
Nobilis NV 2015.It's made with the more refreshing roditis instead of the usual dull savatiano.

There is a huge choice of wines to go with any weeknight dinner. Pick the one that pairs the best with what you're serving and go with it. It'll make for a relaxing drink after a hectic weekday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Weeknight Cooking Issue

It is hard to come up with a decent meal five days a week. Add to that a busy work schedule, plus after school activities and overtime. There's also the dilemma of making every night exciting , filled with the prospect of a fresh, tasty meal. Not to worry. The New York Times comes to the rescue.

Their Weeknight Cooking issue today has a slew of ideas and recipe to get any home chef, whether novice or old pro through the week. As Sam Sifton puts it, anyone and everyone can have a tasty meal without resorting to take out. It can just be as simple as making rice in a multicooker,  flavoring it with butter and soy and serving it with a fried egg under a sprinkle of ginger. Voila, a whole meal with protein. Everyone contributes, from Julia Moskin to newcomer Tejal Rao.One appliance home chefs must have is a multicooker. This is a godsend because it can do so much. It's different than a slow cooker because it has so much more. I'ts also an electric pressure cooker, a rice steamer and a rice cooker. Some of the better brands, according to Melissa Clark, author of the weekly column, A Good Appetite, recommends Instant Pot, but there is also Breville and Fagor. She had originally bought hers for the sake of research for a article but became so attached to it, wrote an entire cookbook, "Dinner In An Instant" (Clarkson Potter Publishing). What is great about the Instant Pot is that it can cook food in minutes instead of hours.Ribs only take twenty minutes to cook as do beets and potatoes. Lentils and split peas also cook up in no time too in the electric cooker.

Her recipe is a tasty one. She gives us pressure cooker tamarind baby back ribs, made exotic and different by the addition of tamarind paste or concentrate.Fresh orange juice and garlic cut the sweetness. The ribs are then broiled at the end to give them a charred, crunchy crust while the Instant Pot give them that chewy , moist interior. Chicken thighs can also be cooked this way, maybe with tomato sauce, coconut sauce and garam masala for an exotic spin. Tejal Rao contributes with the recipes from famed British cookbook author, Meera Sodha. She has a vegetarian touch of weeknight cooking. There is her red lentil dal with coconut and lime kale.It is fiery and spicy  along with being completely meatless. This is typical of where she is from in Goa where Gujarati cooking reigns.
Healthy Goa cooking traces its' history  back to the Third Century BC when the Emporer Ashoka banned the slaughter of animals. For a side or even a main dish there is also her roasted broccoli with almonds. It's coated with a mix of cream cheese and Greek yogurt spiced  with black pepper, cardamom and nutmeg. It's baked on a baking sheet for ten minutes. Dave Tanis contributes the classic sausage and peppers, zested up with onions and red wine vinegar. He suggests serving it with a sunnyside egg but I'd rather turn it into a filling sandwich , thanks to ciambatta or Italian bread slices.

Weeknight cooking needn't be as stressful as week day living, It can be tasty and filling , done in only twenty minutes..It's easy and fun - just like weekend cooking.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hot Fall Days

Thanks to climate change , we tend to have summer well into fall. Gone are all those autumnal dreams of Sunday roasts and freshly picked apple treats. It's time to get back into that summer mode of easy cooking and easy eating.

Tomato season may be over in some parts of the country, yet there are some plants that are still producing. If you're sick of of tomato salad, then think about using them in a salsa crudo.  This is where tomatoes are chopped and then marinated in  fresh basil, olive oil, and chopped garlic. It's then left to stand for a half hour as any type of pasta is cooked. The heat of the pasta is what cooks the sauce. Serve it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and toasted and oiled Italian bread. You could also use that bumper crop of tomatoes in a cooling pan bagnat, the Southern French sandwich also consisting of tuna, anchovies, and  hard boiled eggs .Olives, peppers, and cucumbers are also added along with Dijon mustard and olive oil. Use a large round loaf of Italian bread for this. It's the perfect sandwich for an early fall day at the beach. Served with chilled cider .If the temps are still too unbearable, then go back to that hot weather fall back - salads. Create hearty chef salad ones for those busy weekends filled with soccer games and chores. Keep the barbecue out for those roasts.London Broil can easily be adapted for grilling. Slice and butter baste for a tasty spin on a Sunday roast . You can even grill new potatoes too, in foil packets.

What about all those apples you picked, anticipating cooler temps for baking? Use them. They make a nice snack , especially when you're trying to wean yourself and the kids off candy and cookies. They can also be baked in the microwave.I'ts just coring them , filling them with butter and red wine or caramel and baking them for three to four minutes. Serve with whipped cream or for a more refreshing vibe, vanilla ice cream. Another idea is just slicing them into wedges and serving them with an already made caramel dipping sauce such as the one from Marzetti. If you still are hungering for some kind of apple dessert, then think about the super easy microwave apple crisp. This only takes ten to twelve minutes  and there's no need to heat up an already hot kitchen with a hot oven.It's just sliced apples with a crisp topping of flour,melted  butter,  brown sugar and a combo of allspice and cinnamon. Again serve with vanilla ice cream for a cool treat.Apples can also be used in a salad. too. They are great with chopped celery and walnuts or with romaine lettuce, pecans and raisins. This is the perfect side for any early fall barbecue or tailgate party.

Don't let those hot fall days faze you. Adapt a summer mode of cooking and enjoy these balmy times. You'll feel better and eat better too.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Scallions Decorative And Tasty

Want to add color and zest to any savory meal? Then think scallions. These emerald green stalks are wildly popular in Chinese cuisine but  they can also be added to any other recipe. Try them  - for some zing and oomph!

Scallions are part of the allium family, and are first cousins with bulb onions and second cousins to garlic,leeks and chives. They're sometimes called green onion, spring onion and salad onion. Due to their age, they not to have a  fully developed bulb at the end of their stalks. The stalks themselves are round, hollow and tubular, growing from a small knob. They originated in far eastern Europe and the name for it came from the Greek word ashkelon which is also where the word shallot derived from. There are about seven different types. The ones we see in supermarket is the Welsh variety and it is also used quite often in Asia. The other type, A cepa is also sold here. The onion is divided into two parts, the white which has  a sweeter, more flavorful taste than the green section. Most professional and home chefs use the green part a lot , simply for color. You can use these instead of chives ,especially on baked potatoes. They will definitely give them more flavor. Peak season is usually Spring and summer but they can be bought all year long. Scallions are always sold in bunches . Do not buy if the white part is yellowed or if they look wilted.

One of the most famous and most delicious recipes is scallion pancake from China. This is an easy cook at home.It's a simple flour pancake with an entire bunch of chopped green scallions added. They then fried in peanut or vegetable oil until crispy and brown . Each pancake receives about a tablespoon of the greens. They're usually served with soy sauce or a sweet sauce, made from soy sauce, ginger root and brown sugar.Scallions add zing too,  to hot and sour soup, giving it a nice fresh flavor after all the heat and tang. Slice them very thin and toss  them into a fennel salad . They give the usually mild salad green some zing and zest. They do this for other recipes such as cauliflower fritters and seared salmon.They can be added to bland mashed potatoes for color and dash along with being deep fried in corn flour and bread crumbs.  The Chinese are not the only ones who love scallions. The Mexicans often incorporate them in tortillas and even guacamole.

Scallions are a great way to enhance any savory dish. Try them n classic Chinese pancakes, salads, or guacamole. They are sharp and tasty, a perfect way to add  excitement to lunch or dinner.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Seafood And "R" Months

There's been a long standing rule that you should only  eat seafood with months that have an "r" in them. That means lobster or shrimp  until May? Is that true? Or can we eat it all year round.

Long ago the "r" rule only applied to oysters which made sense,It then became more inclusive and also meant shrimp, lobsters and clams, Refrigeration a century ago was spotty at best. There was no way shellfish could be kept cool during the sweltering summer months. That only happened in cooler ones  when ice was readily available.Another reason was that the bivalves spawn in the summer so there are only young ones to catch and that there needs to be a rest for the fish to repopulate . The flavor is also different too, which can ruin an elaborate dish such as Oysters Rockefeller.One of the most compelling arguments for only eating shelled seafood in the fall and winter is the red tide. Luckily the levels on this algal bloom are now  closely monitored. It affects not only the nervous systems of marine life but also mammal  - humans included. Monitored harvesting and regular toxin testing have all but eliminated this deadly threat.

This means if you've been off seafood during the Spring and summer months, then embrace it now. It's time to try Oysters Rockefeller  - an easy two part  cook. First boil the shell fish, and let cool. Then it's just simply a mix of breadcrumbs, spinach and bacon. Tabasco sauce and Pernod, absinthe, give it flavor and a certain decadence. If you don't have absinthe, use Anisette. It's then spooning the mixture into the oysters and broiling for ten minutes in the oven. Of course, if you want something delicious and simple, try steamed mussels. What they're steamed in is up to you. Some people add beer , some add white wine and butter. They should be de-bearded  which is getting rid of the thin, sticky membranes that adhere them onto surfaces.Just grasp these strings with your thumb and forefinger , pulling firmly until it comes loose. Just discard afterwards. A little less labor intensive are clams. Fall is the perfect time for a meaty New England or Manhattan clam chowder.They're also delicious in red or white clam sauce over linguine.If you want their full, briny flavor, try them raw with either a squeeze of lemon or hot sauce. Clams can be had crudo style , cut up and marinated with citrus juices  such as lemon and lime as a kind of civic.

Start the fall with tasty shellfish and warming chowders. Enjoy clams and oysters, along with mussels in a variety of dishes. It's the season for them.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Savory Side Of Apples

There will be apple recipes galore now that it's autumn. This luscious fruit can be used in sweet dishes  and desserts, but try something different. Apples can be a great savory dish as well.

The Germans have long used apples in savory dishes, mostly pork ones. One of the most flavorful and favorites is pork with apple laced sauerkraut. The shredded cabbage is mixed and cooked with  sliced apple, brown sugar and caraway seeds. The best kind for this is Braeburn or Red Delicious but you could use a Granny Smith for some zing. Ladle this over the chops and bake for about forty-five minutes until the meat is no longer pink inside. You can also stuff pork chops with the fruit as well.Mix the Granny Smith slices with pecans and mustard along with coarsely crushed Ritz crackers. You can add raisins too, if you' like. The chops should be split open and then stuffed. It only takes thirty minutes to cook at 145 degrees F.Surprisingly chicken and duck can also be stuffed with apples.Use the small Cortland apples shredded and blended with breadcrumbs, butter and corn flour. You can also try the apples with celery and raisins. It doesn't matter if you keep the peel on or not. Apple stuffed duck is another treat. Combine Macintosh apples with ginger along with maple syrup and onions for a zingy stuffing that goes well with the mellow meat.

Apples can also star in sides too. Golden Delicious ones can be used in a tasty slaw along with red cabbage Dijon mustard and caraway seeds, Apple cider vinegar and olive oil are the base for the dressing. Combine two different kinds of apple such as the sweet Red Delicious and the tart Granny Smith for a tangy side salad. Another idea is relish, a perfect side for roasted ham. It's combining four tart apples with apricots with sugar and vinegar,Orange peel and almonds are also thrown in for color and crunch.Even mashed potatoes can be zinged up with a sliced  Macintosh Empire or, Spartan  Shallots and butter are added so that the dish doesn't turn too dessert-ish. This would be a great side with any pork loin or roast ham. Apples can also be combined with mashed turnips too. For a fun holiday side tries mashed sweet potatoes with  apples. Cinnamon and nutmeg give it a warm, spicy flavor. This is the perfect accompaniment for any Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey instead of the usual marshmallow laden yam dish.For a smoother texture try applesauce instead.Applesauce can also be made savory by the addition of thyme garlic and cider.

Apples are just as good in savory dishes as they are in sweet. Use them as stuffing or in a slaw. Combine them with cabbage or apples. They make for a delicious ingredient in any main meal.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A "Sweet" Taste of Cake

If you want a perfectly made cake look no further than Yotam  Ottolenghi. This famed British chef and baker can create the ideal one, rich with flavor and moist with texture. Now fans and home bakers can whip up exact copies, thanks to his and Helen Goh's new recipe book, Sweet  based solely on treats from the oven.

Chef Ottolenghi and fellow baker, Australian , Helen Goh, give the world their best recipes. Chef Ottolenghi wrote about  two of them in yesterday's New York Times Food section. He and Ms. Goh have been together as fellow bakers and partners since 2006. She started in the savory side of Ottolenghi's vast food empire and later graduated to the sweet side.It was at this point that he recognized that saw his own restlessness and insatiable drive for perfection. They made the perfect team.  They share a passion for precise measuring and timing along with weighing the right amounts to create the perfect sweet. She also brings her Australian and Malaysian heritage to the table as well. The site sells the famed Aussie cookie yo-yos, a crunchy sandwich cookie filled with  passion fruit buttercream while the pastry shop offers  billowy powder puff cakes and her famed chocolate one that an Australian newspaper once called the "world' best" Her Malaysian influence is seen in Chef Ottolenghi's bakery , especially in her chiffon cakes and pandain infused pineapple tarts. She has also brought her cupcakes, scones madeleines and cheesecakes too, that also features cakes from his childhood..

Chef Ottolenghi and Ms. Goh gave two of their recipes from the new book. One is that famous chocolate cake, the other is a pistachio and rose water semolina one.The chocolate one is deep in flavor and rich,It is also a buttery one, using a cup plus one and a half tablespoons of the unsalted kind.To offset the cocoa's intensity,  a teaspoon and a half of instant coffee granules.As for the chocolate itself, both dark chocolate pieces and a half cup of Dutch processed cocoa. The flavor is magnified by the addition of a choice of icings. -a rich  chocolate ganache or an espresso cinnamon marscapone topping. If this is too intense there is pistachio and rose water semolina cake, This relies on pistachio and cardamon for a mellow blend of taste along with almond meal. There is a lot of butter needed too, namely a cup of it plus one tablespoon. That and four large eggs create the golden crumb.It can be served plain with just rose water syrup drizzled on top but it can be made lusher with a rose cream made with both creme fraiche and Greek yogurt. More rose water and confectioners sugar sweeten it. The cake is decorated with candied rose petals,easy to make just pesticide free rose petals, egg whites and granulated sugar.

Chef Ottolenghi and Ms Goh have created the ultimate baking  cookbook. The recipes are richly satisfying. Get it and bake!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Come Food Or High Water

A hurricane is a devastating event for anyone A super hurricane like Harvey or Irma that left five to six feet of water is catastrophic - especially to a home chef passionate about cooking. Yet many Houston residents made do and persevered. They were inventive and resilient,  still creating tasty dishes despite hardship.

 Kim Severson, a Southerner herself visited several Houston homes and interviewed residents, including the mayor's wife who had suffered the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. Kitchens were completely torn apart, soaked to ruin by flood waters. Some were even visited by alligators! One famed local cook, Al Marcus, managed to wipe down surfaces with a bleached rag and cook up a brisket for the All Hands Volunteers who ripped out the sheetrock from his home and countless others.He is known for his big Thanksgiving meals and will not disappoint. He plans on hosting this year, even if it means eating in a hollowed shell of a dining room. Francine Spiering, a food writer and recipe developer lost everything. Her favorite knives are gone along with forty cookbooks, plates and platters. Her home office was also  located in the kitchen.She is salvaging as best she could - but restoring the kitchen could take up to six months.There is hope , though. A Dallas woman has raised enough money to send dozens of Instant Pots, slow cookers, that will be used as ovens.Others who understand what it's like to go through disaster have donated, food, cutlery, and coolers.

Some home chefs are ingenious. Dana Karni, a lawyer, who loves to cook transformed her kids' playroom into a makeshift kitchen. She and her sixteen year old son carried a small chest freezer up to the  second floor. The contents were precious - the salmon she had caught with her dad on a trip to Alaska.Also upstairs her set of good Japanese knives which would have had another use had the waters risen more. She had planned on using them to cut a hole in the roof so she and her children could escape. Their linen closet is now the pantry and there is an espresso maker on master bath vanity.A few Houstonites like Aimee Ally Taylor and her family bounced around to four different homes before finding a nearby house with a working kitchen. Many have lost a lot, from beef that was eaten by gators to casks of homemade vinegar and vanilla.  All of them have dreams of what their new kitchens will look like.The mayor's wife , Andrea White,wants a cookstove against the wall, and not on a kitchen island as it previously was.Perla Moncivais, thinks about an open concept with a table , big and roomy enough for her four children .It will take a while as witnessed with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Houston will survive, So will the home chefs who cook phenomenal meals. A hurricane won't stop these dynamos - not when it comes to cooking.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Marriage Of Old And New Rosh Hashanah Dishes

 The Jewish New Year is upon us and it's a time to celebrate with the traditional. It's also a time to embrace the new as well. Both ideas can also mean the Rosh Hashanah table, with a marriage of family recipes along with introducing different dishes. This will make for a more interesting meal.

Brisket has always been the centerpiece of the holiday table. It's been enjoyed  for generations, usually braised. Many will cook ones with onions added, to give it a sweet and earthy flavor. A sweet and sour sauce , with crushed tomatoes, brown sugar and garlic, can also be used. More adventurous cooks can try rubs such as a garlic and onion rub or ones spiked  with chile powder. Chicken is another choice to try for the holiday. Think of making it with cinnamon and apples for that touch of sweetness that represents a sweet new year. Another recipe that's a blend of sweet and savory is  one made with pomegranate or cranberry juice along with Granny Smith apples and the traditional ingredient of honey. Cayenne pepper is added for bite and kick.This calls for the chicken to be cut into pieces and cooked in a Dutch oven.Every family has vegans and they should be considered into the equation as well.Think tofu, zested up with cumin and ginger Moroccan  style. This is an easy dish, with first cooking the tofu, then setting it aside to create a sauce redolent with onions , garlic and scallions. Almonds and apricots are added for crunch and sweetness.

Side dishes are just as important as the main ones. If the family insists on traditional then think tzimmes, but maybe with a slight twist. Try a trio of yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots, cooked in orange juice, honey and chicken broth.If it's too sweet add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to cut the sugar. Salads can also be incorporated into the dinner. Use the super green of the moment - kale mixed with pomegranate seeds covered with an almond halvah (!) dressing. For crunch and zing try the Sephardic Jewish  inspired lemon fried cauliflower .This is breading the boiled florets in a breadcrumb batter and then frying them in oil. They are then drenched with lemon juice to cut the oiliness.Carrots are a big part of any Rosh Hashanah meal. Roast baby ones with olive oil, honey,  and orange zest. They can be also served with basmati rice , spiked with raisins and almonds. This is also a good main dish for vegans too.  How to end the meal? With the traditional honey cake. The timeless recipe is spiced with cloves and allspice but it can be modernized with coffee and even whiskey (!) It can even be baked into cupcakes Decorate with dried apple slices and drizzles of honey.

Rosh Hashanah is a time of celebrating the new while holding on to tradition. Create a holiday meal that reflects this. Use old and new recipes to create a unique New Year's dinner.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The End Of The Harvest

Summer is coming to a rapid close and with it the harvests of the seasons. Many plants are still producing fruit and vegetables well into apple and pear time. Don't worry if you still have some. There's so many recipes that call for them.

Tomatoes are the most versatile of any garden fruit.If you still have an abundance of them, then consider the red gems for salsa cruda. This is a simple sauce to  make because the only cooking involves the pasta.It's taking tomatoes of any kind, chopping them and letting them marinate in garlic and olive oil.Feta or mozzarella can be added as well. Of course salsa is the easiest way of dealing with a bumper crop. Roast the tomatoes along with chili peppers for a smoky rich flavor. Like any other fruit, tomatoes can be turned into a preserve.The best part, it doesn't require any elaborate canning equipment or skills. It's just cooking it on a low heat for two to three hours and then letting it set in the fridge in any kind of jar.Tomato jam is versatile and can top anything and everything from crab cakes to fried eggs. It can also be whisked into a vinaigrette for some punch or served on toasted and oiled Italian bread. If you have green tomatoes and want to clean out the garden, pick and put in a paper bag to ripen. You can also fry them too. The coating is a double one, with the first just being flour and the second being a mix of breadcrumbs and cornmeal for some crunch and bite.

Tomatoes also go well with another end of harvest veggie - pepper. Combine the two with eggplant and onion for a tasty ratatouille, perfect for an early fall al fresco lunch. Peppers, alone , can be tasty. Use any bumper crop to make a pepper salad. Julienne into strips and toss with a simple vinaigrette. Crumble in some feta cheese for variation and bite. Of course, there's nothing like that great comfort dish  - stuffed peppers. Make them the traditional way with ground beef and rice or mix it up with ground turkey and chili powder. Yes, they can also be pickled too. The process is an elaborate canning one, that does require skill and equipment. Zucchini is another part of a late summer harvest. Try spiralizing them to create a healthier kind of pasta. Saute the strands in an olive oil and crushed garlic. It can be stuffed too or split in half to create boats. This last is a fun way to serve the squash. You can stuff them with meat and cover with sauce and mozzarella or skip the meat for a pizzaiola .  A sweeter idea is using it in a spice laden bread, redolent with cinnamon and cloves or a cake, 
rich with dates, topped with an orange cream cheese frosting.

An end of season bumper crop is a true gift. Use this harvest in a variety of ways to create tasty dishes and desserts. It's a nice way to clean out the garden and fill up the fridge.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Discovering Aldi's Supermarket

One of the hottest trends in American food shopping today is Aldi's This German import is offering European brands at cost , as it helps to expand the Yankee palate.It's a great place to shop and sometimes has items that you wouldn't see in a traditional grocery store.

Aldis' was started by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in Germany  in was a continuation of their mother's store which started in Essen, an industrial city in northwest Germany.Theo worked with their mother  while Karl apprenticed at a deli. It was Karl who took over another food store, known for it cheap prices and this was the basis for the future Aldi. The Second World War disrupted their business, but the brothers were back with a vengeance afterwards. They took over the family store and soon after, opened a second one. By 1950 they had opened thirteen stores in their native Ruhr Valley. Their philosophy was simple - remove merchandise that did not sell, along with cutting costs by not advertising or selling fresh produce. The brothers split in 1960 over a dispute of cigarettes and whether to sell them in the stores. By that point the Albrechts were the richest men in Germany, owning three hundred stores.It was at this time that the name Aldi - short for Albrecht Diskont came about. Karl  was the owner of Aldi-Sud while Theo and other investors were the owners of Aldi-Nord. By the 1970's they had expanded to Austria and the US with the first store opening up in Iowa. In 1979 they acquired Trader Joe's Now there are 8,000 stores worldwide.

Aldi's was a treat from its opening day. Yes, sometimes it has kind of out of the ordinary non food items (toilet seats?dumbbells?screwdrivers?ottomans?) but most of the products are perfect for those on a budget. There is also fresh produce as well as fresh meats and fish. too,  It's really no different from any other grocery except that most Aldi's are smaller in size. What I like is their in house brand's such as Clancy's which encompasses all the snack foods. Their microwave popcorn is the best I've ever tasted and now it's the only one I'll eat. Their Priano risottos and pastas are excellent too. The risotto comes in a variety of flavors, such as mushroom and asparagus and they take half the time to cook as traditional arborio rice. I am looking forward to trying  their cold cuts as well as their breads. They have European style cookies that you can't get in American grocery stores. A new
  favorite is. their Specially Selected brand's Lacey's Dark Chocolate Almond cookies, those mouthfuls of delicate goodness.Their Choceur chocolate covered almonds are also amazing - perfect to end an elegant meal or just as a sweet nosh.

Aldi's is becoming a strong presence on the American shopping scene. It's no wonder, with their interesting varieties of products and cheaper prices. Visit one today and fall in love.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Brisket For The Holiday

With the holidays coming up within the week, it's a good time to look at what to serve. One of the staples of any Rosh Hashanah  table is brisket. This classic cut is versatile and can also be made for any fall dinner. Make it in a variety of ways.

What is brisket exactly? It's breast meat from the cow and it can be tough. The reason why is that the meat  serves as the cow's collarbone - mostly comprised of muscles and connective tissue. This does make it ideal for barbecuing and many home chefs only cook it this way. However, it is also ideal for a slow cooker and of course, braising. Before doing all this the perfect cut needs to be bought. What should a home chef look for? A really white layer of fat. The whiter the better because it indicates that the cow has been grain  fed.Stay away from any that have yellowing fat. A dark butter hue  means that the meat is older along with indicating  that there is more gristle to deal with when cooking and eating. The meat should be a dark red color. Another must is good marbling . Look for a cut that has an equal amount of fat and flesh  veining it. The last thing to do is picking up the meat  and its' package and bending them. The cut  should be flexible and the plastic wrap should not have any tears, rips, or holes. The ideal place to buy a brisket is the local butcher's however if there's none within your area, then go for the supermarket. Most groceries usually have pretty good cuts and a variety of sizes to choose from too.

Now what to do with it. David Tanis gave an excellent recipe for it in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. He first rubs it with a fiery mix of cayenne and paprika blended with salt and  pepper. After doing this, wrap it in Saran wrap and then refrigerate preferably overnight but it can also sit for a few hours too.It is then cooked in a 300 degree F oven . Pour a cup of either red or white wine over it  then add cloves, garlic bayleaf  and  allspice berries. Mr. Tanis scatters sliced onions over it and bakes it forth ree hours until tender. He also caramelizes more  onions  and ladles them over the brisket once its' sliced.. If this is too "onion.y" for you, then omit them.Scallions can be sprinkled on top for more flavor.  For a different taste try a sweet and sour version in which ketchup and brown sugar is used.Cook the brisket in a Dutch oven or skillet and then adding the two along with water, cider vinegar, and two sliced onions. This last  creates a sauce that's then ladled over the brisket slices.It can be refrigerated and reheated  too., although eating it freshly cooked is preferred. Serve any brisket with carrots, celery and potatoes.

Brisket is a nice way of welcoming in Rosh Hashanah. It is the centerpiece of the holiday table and works well with any cooking method. Celebrate with a good  cut ,delicious on its' own or with onions ad other vegetables./

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Last Great Restauranteur Drew Nieporent.

Drew Nieporent is one of the one of the last great restauranteurs. His kind is not seen that often anymore , sort of being a culinary dinosaur of sorts. Yet he was and still is a strong presence on the Manhattan restaurant scene for four decades. As long as there's a trendy eatery to oversee, he's there.

He was the subject of a fascinating interview and article in yesterday's New York Times Food section written by Alan Richman .Drew Nieporent is an interesting throwback to the Sixties when larger than life hosts/owners greeted and seated customers. Mind you, this is the era before celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Mario Batale ruled the roost.  The era brought such stars as Sirio Maccioni  of Le Cirque, Joe Baum,of both the Twelve Caesars and The Four Seasons and Georges Lang of the famed Cafe Des Artistes. They shone more than than their cooks did , as . Nieporent does now with his own. His father is to thank for this love. The elder Neiporent worked for the New York State Liquor Authority where there were endless invitations to eat free from restaurant  owners looking for easy ways to maneuver through bureaucratic channels. As a child, Nieporent dined at the fancy San Marino where his mother properly taught to twirl spaghetti on a spoon and ate egg  rolls and sweet and sour pork at China Song., right next to the Ed Sullivan Theater. He ate there the night the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan's show.

It was inevitable that . Nieporent went into the hospitality industry, graduating from Cornell School of Hotel Administration and worked on the cruise ships, Vistafjord and Sagafjord during his summer vacations.His first jobs were at the prestigious Le Perigord, Le Regence, La Grenouille and La Reserve. He also worked as assistant restaurant director at  the famed Maxwell's Plum, owned by one of the greatest restauranteurs, Warner Leroy.   Later he would hire the now famous David Bouley, who was then a little known chef from San Francisco. He was also responsible for bringing eateries to the then industrial wasteland, Tribeca. This was back in 1983 when no one really ventured south of Broadway. He'd have to  find customers who called saying they were lost on their way to the restaurant, scared to even venture into the dark deserted streets. .He Is credited with inventing the 
inexpensive prix fixe dinner for $16.00 at Montrachet. He is also partners with Robert Di Niro and is currently a partner in five (! ) restaurants right now (he's owned over forty for forty years)that include the trendy Nobu and Tribeca Grill.

Drew Nieporent is ne of the last of his  breed, yet he is as influential now as he was back forty years ago. He is responsible for what Manhattan eats and the food trends that touch our lives. He is the heartbeat behind the city's dining scene

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Trump Effect On Our Eating

It is true that our current president can leave a bitter taste in one's mouth. Now his ideas and decrees are affecting our restaurants. From waitstaff to chefs, they're being hurt by President Trump's reneging of DACA Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The Dreamers that have big dreams are being threatened with their worst nightmares.They'll be forced to go back to the bleakness of their  homelands and the problems that they left there.

The issue - not surprisingly - hit the New York Times Food section today. Fernanada Santos interviewed an up and coming chef, Suny Santana and what he could face. His story is not unusual. He and his family came to Arizona from northern Mexico when he was eleven. His father , although he had a degree in mechanical engineering, along with his mother ,felt that the future would be bleak for their three children, Using tourist visas, they stayed in Phoenix where there would be new world of opportunity for Suny. He was enterprising,  As a teen  he collected plastic bottles and aluminum cans  to resell  to recycling centers. At the age of eighteen he graduated from high school and enrolled in a community college where he studied in a culinary program. That was the first problem. Chef Santana couldn't pay the grossly unfair out of state tuition fee that Arizona required from dreamers at the time ad had to leave.

Luckily there was Aaron Chamberlin, his boss, at the trendy St. Francis Restaurant where he worked.  There was also President Obama's DACA created in 2012, which allowed dreamers such as Chef Santana permission to live and work in the US. He thrived. His skills, along with his hunger to learn and determination impressed Mr. Chamberlin greatly,The restauranteur offered to put him in charge of the restaurant. He did so well that Mr. Chamberlin asked him what he'd want to do next. The answer was opening up a taqueria, He'd either do it with his father or raise the money on his own . Not wanting him as competition Mr. Chamberlain  offered to create a taqueria with him.It will be named Chelo , in honor of  Chef Santana's mother.It is her nickname and she will be the inspiration behind many of the dishes.Her method for tortillas will be used in his kitchen. It involves soaking and cooking wheat in lime water, then draining, rinsing, and hulling it. It is then ground in a hand cranked stone mill to make masa, the dough used to make the tacos.

Hopefully Taco Chelo will be allowed to be a successful restaurant and Chef Santana allowed to be a famous chef. It would be an abomination for him to be deported. It should not happen. We can't let it happen.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Perfectly Iced Cake

Fall means baking and with that decorated cakes. Cooler temps make it ideal to frost and decorate cakes and cupcakes. Every home baker should possess a variety of tools to create a creation worthy of any baking show competition.

One of the most important items to have is a turntable.Mine is an Ohuhu brand that is perfect for getting a smooth , even surface. Buy an icing spatula if you don't have one. It can even be bought at your local dollar store. Again this guarantees an even surface. You can also use a regular butter knife for this too if you want.

Another must have is an icing comb, This is a set from Cake Boss that I got from Target. It creates those elegant lines that bakery cakes have . These two create two entirely different designs with wavy squiggles or elegant lines. .

Every home bakers also needs this
This is one of my favorites. The Wilton Icer which is a dream to use. It can be used to create lush roses or delicate lines of leaves. It also makes lovely puffs of frosting on cupcakes, as well as filling them with cream. There are many attachments to create all sorts of  buds and blossoms. Unfortunately  it doesn't come with an icing nail. I had to buy those separately through Amazon.
As for the icing. I prefer a cream cheese frosting This one is from Allrecipes and it is a classic. I have used it not only on carrot cupcakes but also on chocolate ones as well.

1/2 cup softened butter (I prefer I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
8 oz, cream cheese (Philadelphia Cream Cheese is the best)
3 1/2  to 4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tblespns good vanilla extract.

Beat butter and cream cheese until well blended. Slowly add confectioners sugar and vanilla. It will yield two cups. Double it if you;re planning on making a sheet cake. Add two or three tablespoons of extra confectioners sugar to a cup of reserved icing to make roses.

This is the season to start baking. Try your hand at creating a fancy cake for a fall soiree or party.It's easy to do if you have these tools. They'll aid you in making the picture perfect cake.