Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Leftover Fun

This is the day and night when homes will be bulging with Halloween candy , whether gotten on neighborhood runs or left over at home. There's usually a lot to take in and eat. Sometimes all those extra goodies can still be around til the candy canes and holiday fudge appears. What to do with these leftovers? Repurpose! They can add some fun to any dessert or snack.

Chocolate based treats can be used in everything from cookies to icing to ice cream. If you have left over Hershey's Kisses or the bite size Reese's Peanut Butter cups, then make those peanut blossom cookies. This is a great way of getting rid of them and they make a fun treat with warm milk or hot tea on a cold day. Reese's pieces can be repurposed as chips in the famed treats with their name. This is a chocolate cookie studded with the bits. Remember, these can also be put into homemade brownies for a fun surprise. The popular Mounds Bar can also be used as a cookie ingredient,The dough, however isn;t the typical cookie one, but rather a stickier, more brownie like one, that has melted chococlate chips in it. Other candies that go well in a cookie are KitKats and Almond Joys. Forget Whoppers, those malted milk balls, The malted milk centers dry out and  turns to a  cement texture which  makes for a dangerous kind of snack.Another idea is chopping up the chocolates and adding them to either chocolate or vanilla ice cream for fun add ins. They can also be used for toppings too, especially if you're thinking about making an ice cream pie . Fold into cream cheese icing for a neat addition to any cupcake or cake frosting.

The chopped candies also can be used in salty snacks too. Try doing a popcorn crunch using them and freshly popped kernels. It's then laying both on a foil covered baking sheet and pouring melted chocolate bark over them.Let harden for ten minutes and then break into bite size pieces. Pretzels can be subbed in along with potato chips or Cheerios. These can also be made into balls with the addition of melted caramels and marshmallows  Famed Momofuku Milk Bar bakery pastry chef, Christina Tosi, creates a heavenly mix of leftover goodies , butter,milk powder and pretzels. It;s first mixing brown and white sugar and then melting the butter in a large bowl (use a microwave for this). These are combined along with the milk powder and broken pretzels. Spread this mixure on a lined baking sheet for twenty minutes at  This is then baked for about twenty minutes in a preheated 275 degree F oven. Afterwards, let cool and break into pieces. Toss them with whatever chopped candy you have and serve. Another idea is adding the pieces to Nutella or Hershey's chocolate spread and spreading on croissants for a fun snack. The candy can also be added to smooth peanut butter and served on bread or Hawaiian rolls for a sweet nosh.

Bowls of leftover candy? More like the ingredients of fun snacks. Repurpose those Halloween treats into new and fun treats for the whole family!

Prayers to those who suffered in the Manhattan Halloween attack today

Monday, October 30, 2017

The FODMAP Diet - The Tricks And Treats Of It

Many people are afraid to eat. because of the consequences. They're plagued by stomach aches, gas and those awful runs to the bathroom. Most likely they need the FODMAP diet, a semi specific list of foods that either relieve or aggravate the stomach and intestines.

The FODMAP diet is relatively new, first coming about in 2005 from a hypothesis  paper. The paper stated that a collective reduction in the dietary intake of  all indigestible or slowly absorbed short chained carbohydrates would minimize stretching of the intestinal wall. This was proposed to reduce stimulation to the gut's nervous system. The low FODMAP diet was first formulated by a research team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia to help people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. What does FODMAP stand for? Fermentable, oligosaccherides, disaccherides, monosaccherides and polyols or sugar alcohol. Any one of these or all may cause such annoying and debilitating problems of increased gas, bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. Other symptoms, according to Dr. Martin Storr,who wrote FODMAP Navigator (Digesta Press), are frequent stools
Diarrhea and constipation.It may even worsen pre-existing conditions too. Dr. Storr's book is an excellent guide because it lists every kind of food and even additives as low or high. It will definitely help those suffering navigate through groceries and farmer's markets.

What can be eaten? Most fruits which can be turned into delicious breakfast salads.They are bananas, cantaloupe,papaya, pineapple and strawberries. Some veggies are good such as broccoli and carrots, olives and red and yellow bell peppers. Tomatoes are low and can be made into stomach soothing salads and sauces. What are huge taboos are soy products as well as dairy and gluten filled baked goods. Those who have problems should stridently avoid soy burgers as well as regular and soy lattes. Luckily there are almond and rice milks that can be used  to both a tasty drink and in cooking and baking. They can also be used in making homemade ice cream too. Tempeh and hard tofu are fine.  Meat lovers will breathe a  huge sigh of relief. The big three: beef, chicken and ham are fine as are turkey, lamb  and even bacon and eggs.  Rice is another perfect food and people can sub in rice crackers and flour for regular wheat products. Gluten is another culprit, so switch over for gluten free breads, rolls and pasta. Cakes and cookies are also responsible for stomach discomfort so sub in fruits and baked goods made with a mix of rice flour and tapioca starch. Plain cocoa is non confrontational  so you can make chocolate goodies such as cupcakes. Also many companies such as Pillsbury have gluten free mixes and doughs,

FODMAP is a great guide for those who suffer from a variety of discomforts. It s' easy to switch over and start eating without any worries.It's the first step in having a life without any problems.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Dinner Party Issue

Spoiler alert - don't read this if you want to read about it in tomorrow's Sunday New York Times

It's going to be holiday time soon enough, and with that comes dinner parties. Luckily tomorrow's New York Times Sunday Magazine is devoted to all things cooking for a large crowd. Any home chef can follow the recipes and rules - yes, there are rules and be a modern day Pearl Mesta. It's actually easier than one would think, thanks to their  The Art of The Dinner Party.

This is definitely a keeper issue. There are stories and recipes from such heavy hitters as Sam Sifton and Tejal Rao, regular contributors to the Times' Wednesday Food section. What is great about their and other's contributions is that there is a story of how to and why  with the recipes. Home chefs will get a feel of what goes into each particular meal and how to prep the food and table. There are also rules included - mostly on how to start conversations in the little Table Talk tips . This helps any newbie host or hostess start up table talk. One valuable idea is researching some recent news item or weird science story that guests haven't heard about. This will set the ball rolling for some interesting salon like chatting. Another Table Talk  Tip is letting guests mingle and make small talk with each other. It helps in gauging  views on politics, sex and religion. Another fun sidebar is the celebrity questionnaires. Such luminaries as Quest Love, Alice Waters, John Waters, Busy Philips, and DJ Khaled are asked about who they would invite, what food and drink would they serve, where they would hold it  and what music would be played. The fun last question is how would they get people to leave (John Waters' way is a hoot). There are other sidebars too that feature memorable dinners and essays on dinner parties and being a bad guest.

Of course the issue is all about the party itself and the recipes that make it. Each is different and fun in their own ways. Take, for example, Samiin Nosrat's dumpling party,  which is really a cooking party,where everyone pitches in to make the Korean mandu or potstickers. Its' roots go back to when she was in college, busing tables, and working and eating with fellow waitstaff and cooks. It starts with feeding guests snacks first and then letting them pitch in . Tejan Rao gives us a fondue party (surprising  because she is the number one Indian chef). Hers is an informal cheese fondue,  true to the Swiss with Gruyere and Appenzeller cheeses. Bread, potatoes and cornichons are dipped in th gooey melt. She serves it with quick pickled vegetables and finishes with a thin and crisp apple tart. A more sophisticated take is famed chef, Dorie Greenspan has a French twist on it, feeding those in the food industry with gravlax, ossobucco and spiced red wine poached pears. Gabrielle Hamilton 's menu is ideal for a semi dressy cocktail dinner party. It starts out with ice cold martinis that pair with deep fried pork, braised rabbit and roasted mushroom with black lentils and croutons. Sam Sifton writes about the expandable feast complete with steamed clams with jalapeno butter, pineapple salsa, cilantro and mint salad and roasted sweet potatoes with smoked paprika.His is a relaxed do, with turning a dinner party into an expanded family dinner. He ends it with the homey Klondike bars and whiskey.

A dinner party is what you make it. It does take help and that's what the Sunday Magazine dinner party issue is for. Use it during this holiday season to create the one you want to give.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Sweet,Scary Treats

This is the weekend for Halloween parties. One of the highlights of any party is the dessert table, full of fun treats.They're easy to make and home bakers and candy makers can get as creative as they want. The result is buffet of spooky sweets, the perfect end to any holiday party.

Caramel and candy apples reign supreme right now. For a fun twist, set up your version of an Apple Bar. Have apples already dipped in the gooey stuff surrounded by bowls of mini chocolate chips, toasted coconut flakes , and festive black and orange sprinkles.For a total gross out have bowls of crushed Oreos and gummy worms so kids can create their own "ewwww" versions.If there are adults , think pepper flakes for something different along with sea salt and Szechuan peppers.You could also set out bowls of crushed peanuts or walnuts but keep in mind about guests' nut allergies.If whole apples are too much, then cut the fruit into slices and insert sticks in them. This makes for easy eating and multiple dippings. You can do the same for pears too to vary the flavors. Grapes, another fall favorite, can be turned into "monster" eyes. Just take any green or purple seedless and putting already made candy eyes on them. These can be bought at any party or baking store or can be made at home. It's taking two cups of confectioners sugar and seven teaspoons  of water and mixing them until they form a thick glaze. Pour this into a plastic bag and cut one end off. It's then piping circles on wax paper and inserting the mini chocolate chip, point side down into them. Let dry overnight. They can also be used on cupcakes and cookies too. Affix to the grapes using gel icing.

What's Halloween without cupcakes or cookies? You can have a pumpkin spice cake or stick with chocolate and vanilla. Make a vanilla or chocolate butter cream icing. Vanilla can be dyed orange to have the cupcakes resemble pumpkins. Reserve some icing to be dyed green for stems and leaves. You can also dye the icing bright purple or neon green and top with those eyes for monster cakes.. Black cats are one of the most popular symbols of the holiday. Start with icing the cupcake with chocolate frosting. Add Oreo triangles for ears and licorice strings for whiskers. You can use the confectioner's sugar and water mix to create eyes and the nose. Tint the eyes yellow and green, and make a pink triangle for the nose, using the mix and red food coloring. An easier decoration is  the bat. Half chocolate wafers for the wings and a peanut butter cup for the body. Use red gel icing for the eyes. Butter cookies are another fun party treat. Ice in white for ghosts , with chocolate eyes. Bake the cookies in a tear drop shape and ice them in white,yellow and orange for  candy corn. Spiders are always fun and creepy.Try peanut butter spider cookies. This is baking the classic cookie and then pressing an upside down peanut butter cup in the cookie's center. Add the googly eyes and pipe melted milk chocolate around the cup to represent the legs.

Halloween is a time for fun and sweets. End your party with classic goodies everyone likes. A candy cork cookie or homemade candy apple are the best treats of all.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Apple Pie For Everyone

One of the best treats of fall is a freshly baked apple pie. Nothing beats the perfect slice , bursting with fruit and spices. The problem is everybody wants a slice - a huge slice which is flattering to the baker. The problem is the baker never gets to have a slice of his or her creation. What to do? Bake a bigger pie..

Julia Moskin tackled this problem in yesterday's  New York Times Food section. She too has had to watch her pies get devoured in one dessert setting with nary any room for leftovers. Her solution? Break free of the tradition of using nine inch pans, used for decades. This was standard in a time when home bakers baked several a day Farm wives baked different kinds, using all sorts of dried or fresh fruits, pecans and hickory nuts  and sometimes crackers and condensed milk. Pie today is different. It's meant as a project, feeding a large  crowd after a dinner party.Ms. Masking recommends ditching the traditional pie plate and use any kind of baking dish. It does have to be two inches deep and be able to hold two and a half to three quarts of fulling and crust.Use heavy ceramic pans,  a skillet or casserole dish. Don't worry about having a rim. The pie 's crust is thick enough to make its' own.  The reason. Make a crust that is thick. Think rolling out a half inch one instead of one that's 1/8 of an inch thick. This is a double crust one . It should be sturdy but have that tenderness . Instead of the traditional lard, Ms. Moskin gives the crust a French twist by adding unsalted butter which will give it a nice "tarte" feel and flavor.

Most home bakers make the mistake of using just one apple type. Break this habit. Too much of one apple sort  will ruin it. Use a mix of tart and sweet varieties. Home bakers can use the ancient varieties such as Bramleys and Pippins or they can go modern with a mix of tart Granny Smiths', Honeycrisps and Pink Ladies, Ginger Golds and Cameos.Ms. Moskin also suggests using McIntosh,Idared or Cortland apples if home bakers want crunch.They're actually a good addition because they break down and help bind the filling. A blend of  textures also helps in creating a delicious, memorable pie. Lemon juice is commonly added to balance out  the sweetness however according to Kate Mcdermott, a professional "pie coach " try unfiltered apple cider vinegar. She also advocates  a shot of liqueur to the mix. Try schnapps or brandy such as French Calvados. For a non alcoholic alternative think cider, cider syrup or just plain apple juice. What about cinnamon? Many home bakers go crazy with it, turning their pies into giant Pop Tarts. A small, even teaspoon will do it even for a big pie along with a pinch of nutmeg and a half a teaspoon of allspice. This last, again can cut the sweetness, giving a nice warm smokiness to the filling.

The best pie is a well made one. Break the traditional recipe by making one for a large crowd. Add a shot of Calvados, vary the apples and cut back on the spices. It'll create a pie that's not only delicious but memorable.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Restaurant That Makes You Think

Are you supposed to eat when you go to a restaurant?Or just order and eat? That's the question that nags at visitors who visit the uber trendy restaurant Vespertine. What exactly is this place? It's popular and expensive - but what else does it represent?

Pete Wells asked almost the same restaurant in his Critic's Notebook in Today's New York Times Food section. The restaurant posing all these conundrums is Vespertine with dishes being artfully prepared by chef and co-owner Jordan Kohn. It starts with entering the place. Mr. Wells wonders if the building is humming or actually breathing - usually not a question asked when entering any eatery,The building itself is strange , as he put its, kind of like putting it too near a toaster oven and having the sides warp.Waiters sound more like the killer albino, Silas from The DaVinci Code, wearing only black slippers and flowing black robes. (which can be unnerving to any diner prone to nightmares) They murmur what the dishes are as they serve them and then drift off to the side. Food is not served on traditional plates, but miniature sculptures that enhance the dish's look.Even Vespertine's website has nothing but an arty Ingmar Bergman type video that shows some dishes being created but mostly a winsome young thing in religious robes traipsing across a honey colored field.This may work in Culver City , So Cal, where this may reign supreme. but would it work in a more snobbish city like New York or in   foodie towns like Chicago,Boston or Philly?

The more important question is how is the food. Yes, it can be artfully done. That's nothing new thanks to the famed Barcelona restaurant El Bulli and its' amazing and highly creative chef, Ferran Adria. Mr. Wells got to experience a black tortilla graced with a branch of water spinach brushed with a turkey emulsion. Tiny yellow pike eggs sparked it as did pink and purple  finger-lime blossoms that were no bigger than shirt buttons. There was kelp with dotted with drops of lovage sauce along with a blob of whipped honey, An artistic black wafer was a crumbly  savory cookie made from black currants and dried onion and brushed with black currant jam.The dishes looked weird but tasted good. Lobster was served in a bittersweet sauce of malted barley syrup and butter along with a spill of tapioca. A brined scallop dish was sauced with yuzu and a tea  tea made from Douglas fir tips. Ovals of asparagus decorate it.There is a tea made from the flowers of the butterfly pea plant. Chef Kahn's dishes are innovative and he does have a following in LA. The problem is for how long can he be creative and do diners really want to go through the whole experience?Again, this concept works well in California and only California.  Most people who eat out want to eat - only the rare foodie would want their dinner to be a work of expensive art.

Which brings us back to the question - what is Vespertine? Is it a restaurant that serves arty food?Or an art  gallery that serves edible works? Either way it is unique.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Eating For Health

It's time to eat right as we ease into cooler weather. We need to boost our vitamin and antioxidant intake along with decreasing all those carbs and other bad stuff. The benefits are great - less aches and pains along with fewer cough and colds.

The fall harvest is full of beneficial veggies and fruits. Squash is in abundance right now. It pays to incorporate it into our meals three or four times a week.It is chock full of Vitamin C and magnesium which help to destroy free radicals throughout the body.It is also loaded with Vitamin A , namely caretenoids which give it that rich orange color. These also give us lutein and zeaxanthan which helps in preventing the degenerative eye disease, macular degeneration along with strengthening the eyes. It's also inflammatory which help prevent against fevers and even gout. Brussels sprouts are another fall favorite making their debut for the season in many grocery stores. These mini cabbages are other good veggise to eat right now. Like squash they are loaded with Vitamin C but also folate and fiber. The first reduces heart attacks along with being a key factor in the formation and maintenance of DNA -necessary for developing fetuses. Fiber is a dietary must. It keeps the lower intestine working along with lowering cholesterol. Even though tomatoes are past their season, you can still buy vine ripes and grape varieties. They are chock full of magnesium, phosphorous and copper (!) which promote everything from healthy skin to  bone strength and prostrate health for men.

Healthy eating can have a fun side. Raisins, always , a fun nosh are loaded with all sorts of good things. They have catechins which scavenge the free radicals floating in the body that wreak havoc on organs and cells. they also reduce the chance of diabetes and hypertension. Pair them with almonds for a sweet, chewy, snack. Almonds are full of calcium and potassium and have as much antioxidants as broccoli! They also build strong bones and teeth as well as artery walls. Nut fans should also consider pecans too. They're high in iron and manganese along with promoting digestive and heart health.They also reduce breast cancer risk and strokes Dark chocolate, the darling of foodies and chocoholics ,is about the most fun of all the good for you foods.It's shot full of antioxidants as well as a great source of energy.It also raises the good cholesterol HDL while lowering the bad kind LDL. It's excellent for the brain because it increases the bloods' flow to it. Any form of dark chocolate contains theobromine which hardens tooth enamel. The best part about  fun, healthy foods is that they can be combined to make fun treats. Dip raisins and the nuts in melted dark chocolate to form tasty clusters that are not only a treat for your taste buds but for your entire body too.

Eating healthy has so many benefits. It staves off the minor diseases and prevents the major ones form occurring.  Bring these foods into your diet for better living.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Cooking favorites With Gail Simmons

Everyone has a  favorite dish .It's the go to for dinner parties or holiday meal. It's that comfort food or treat we turn to when times get tough. Imagine a whole cookbook filledwith all sorts of delicious recipes for both food and drink. Now home chefs can, thanks to celebrity chef and Food Channel star  Gail Simmons. Her new cookbook is a must have for any kitchen,

Bringing It Home (Grand Central Publishing 2017) was written by Ms. Simmons and Mindy Fox. and it features everything from fun cocktails and  nibbles to roasts and sides. She knows food thanks to her background for helping out Vogue Food editor, Jeffrey Steingarten to being one of the most popular judges on the Food Channel favorite Top Chef for the last few years. Her book has deeply detailed descriptions on vital kitchen gadgets as well as what every well stocked pantry should have.These also are described in depth so no home chef can ever buy the wrong ingredient after reading it. Another important bonus is the chapter on chef lessons worth bringing it home. These are tips ranging from when to add salt to knowing when a dish needs acid. I like the fact that most of the recipes also have additions such as Kitchen Wisdom which are little asides about shopping, cutting or cleaning ingredients and Snippets (also one of Ms Simmons' childhood nicknames) that have fun facts about the food. There is also Chef Tech which gives home chefs and bakers tips about preparation  and cooking. Because of these the book is a great gift for novice chefs who still may have qualms about cooking and baking.

The recipes not only reflect her traveling, both with family and for Top Chef but also her Jewish and Canadian background. There are recipes for chopped liver and pork and beans Quebecois, an homage to her grandmother.  The book is divided   up into such chapters as Begin The Day For breakfast, Poultry and Meat along with Drinks - non-alcoholic sips and Drink-Drinks, the real deal. Ms. Simmons gives an easy recipe for soft boiled eggs along with the fancier Bloody Mary Eggs that's a spin on the North African dish shakshura. Imagine this for brunch, washed down with her Pickle Juice (!) Martini. She has excellent meat dishes such as Piri-Piri Roast Chicken, chicken zinged up with the ancho chilis, fresh ginger and coriander and Not Your Mama's Horseradish Brisket, in which the traditional cut is coated with garlic and horseradish. There are also excellent sides too, such as salt and vinegar smashed potatoes and grilled radishes. The two favorite sections are the Nibbles and Sweets chapters are chock full of fun recipes. I want to try her Crispy Chickpeas, spiced up with dukkah, the Egyptian spice blend for a snack while her Toasted Hazelnut Tarte Au Sucre would make a nice change up for pie during the holidays. Her bourbon marshmallows also sound like a real treat, especially floating in her dark hot cocoa.

Bringing It Home is a cornucopia of Gail Simmons favorite recipes.It's a great book, chock full of all sorts dishes and desserts. Her favorites  are so tasty and delicious that they're sure to be everyone's else's favorites too.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It's Coleridge's Birthday!

Today is Samuel Taylor Coleridge 's birthday, born in the romantic and dairy rich shire of Devon in Southwestern in England. What would he have eaten for his big day? Pasties, buttery and flaky pastries filled with beef, pork and possibly chicken. Maybe a slice of the fish intense Stargazey Pie , with the little heads of pilchards. It would have been washed down with a delicious cup of scrumpy - a strong, slightly carbonated cider made from the county's famed apples. He may have finished with a Dittisham plum tart smothered with clotted cream.

To him, a toast  - not with scrumpy but with a modern American treat - the German chocolate cupcake!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Perfect Birthday Cake

One of the crowning moments of any birthday is the cake. It's usually a perfect two layer affair with a yummy filling , frosted with buttercream. Buttercream roses or marzipan figures decorate it.It's a challenge for many home bakers , yet it doesn't have to be. Any home baker can create the perfect birthday cake.

One of the biggest dilemmas home bakers face is what kind of cake to bake.Scratch or mix? Many purists will tell you scratch is much better for you health wise and taste wise too. However, if you're pressed for time, a mix is a lifesaver. If you want to make a scratch one, keep it simple with a vanilla or a chocolate flavors Make sure you have all the ingredients from the baking powder to the butter and eggs. Remember to have unsweetened  cocoa powder if you're making a chocolate scratch cake. As for mixes, Duncan Hines  brand is really the best. The mix produces the best crumb - moist and flavorful. Pilsbury and Betty Crocker are also very good. All have a variety of different flavors that include such fruit flavors as orange ,lemon,pineapple and strawberry. Betty Crocker has the  fun SuperMoist Rainbow Chip cake , a mix filled with multicolored sprinkles. Once you decide on what kind of cake you're going to bake, check your inventory of pans.  The best kind is nine inch metallic ones. These  produce perfectly baked and even layers , with no burning. Also make sure you have a cake tester which is crucial is determining when the layers are done along with a sturdy wire rack for cooking.

The filling is important too. Many home bakers just use the icing as the filling, which can be OK if it's not too sweet. Cream cheese icing is the filling of choice for classic Red Velvet and carrot cake as well as banana cake. For other cakes, pureed fruit and whipped cream make for a nice  not too sweet filler. Try a layer of fresh cream and raspberry for any chocolate or vanilla cake.Lemon curd is a great filling for a lemon or pineapple cake. It's an easy mix of lemon juice with zest blended with egg yolk, sugar and butter to create a kind of pudding. A strawberry cake would be made decadent with a chocolate mousse one., and then iced with a dark chocolate butter cream. As for the finishing touch, buttercream is the way to go. Fondant, a combination of corn syrup, shortening and powdered sugar, flavored with vanilla is heavy and will make the cake cloyingly sweet. Save it for making figures and objects. Go with buttercream. The frosting can be made in a variety of flavors from vanilla to raspberry to orange to even peanut butter. Again, make sure you have the instruments to make the perfect gateau. An icing spatula is a must  because it gives a smooth glossy finish to the cake. Icing combs will give the sides those perfect even lines that bakery cakes have. Make sure you have a good cake icer that has a variety of nozzles to make buds and leaves. A cake nail is necessary to make those big roses that grace every birthday cake.Also have a nozzle with a small tip for writing.

The perfect birthday cake is the perfect gift. It should have a moist cake, a delicate filling and a creamy , buttery icing. The combination will give you  a memorable creation that's worthy of any birthday wish.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diwali Feasting

Today is Diwali, the  Hindu festival of lights, starts today. It's a time of celebrating but also feasting on delicious savory and sweet dishes They are easy to make , not just for this holiday but for  an every day treat as well. Usher in  the harvest with them or just have them star in a dinner.

Diwali is praying to the goddess Laksmhi, the goddess of prosperity and fertility. Families dress up in their best clothes, visit each other and exchange gifts.it's a five day affair with families honoring each other on the different days. Food  plays an important part and various  New York Times Food writers gives us some excellent savory and sweet ones. Try David Tanis' Chana Dal Sundal,  Southern India  street fare that reminds one of popcorn.It is the perfect party food, especially if there are a lot of kids in attendance . It's simply cooking cold water soaked chickpeas in abundant lightly salted water and then afterwards placing them on a cookie sheet to dry. They're then tossed with curry leaves cooked with curry leaves, red chiles and mustard seeds. A pinch of asafetida gives it a mild leek taste. An eggplant curry would be a great main dish . Again, most of the ingredients from the Chana Dal Sundal are used along with tamarind paste and unsweetened coconut. The eggplants are sliced and  slashed . Spices are then pressed into them and cooked over a high heat for six minutes.  A heartier dish is lamb curry , from David Tanis. It is rich with coriander, turmeric and cumin. The Indian clarified butter, ghee is used to cook the meat and sliced onions. A raita or sauce made from Greek yogurt, cumin and mustard seeds is also made to pour over the lamb.

Diwali is really a holiday of sweets, with sugary treats given to children.Kids will adore the chocolate burfi  - a kind of fudge given on holidays,birthdays and special occasions.  Like fudge it's super easy to make, using ghee, cocoa powder, and both condensed milk and powdered milk. A few drops of rose water  along with sugar gives the treet its' rich sweetness.The treat is made in layers, from the buttery ghee bottom to the chocolate top. Adults may choose shrikhand or sweet strained yogurt recipe from famed Indian food writer, Teja Rao.. This  is made by straining Greek yogurt for twenty-four hours in the  fridge and then gently adding in pistachios, confectioners sugar, saffron,  and cardamon. Once everything is thoroughly mixed , place into serving dishes and decorate with more pistachio and saffron threads.. A European take , again from Dave Tanis, is the coconut cardamom panna cotta. The spice's pods are added as well as unsweetened coconut milk. It's decorated with candied grated ginger along with peaches, nectarines, blackberries or raspberries. Sip some of Melissa Clark' mango rose waters Lassi, a refreshing mix of  mango, yogurt, milk and rose water. This can also be frozen intoa frozen yogurt for dessert.

Diwali is a time of lights and celebrating. It's also a time of feasting. Make savory and sweet treats to enjoy with family and friends.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Eating Better Thanks To Science

The name Musk is usually associated with science - the science of the electric car. Now there's another Musk, Elon's brother , Kimbal who is changing the food world. His style? Using science, of course. He wants to revolutionize the food world the way his brother revolutionized the auto world.

His was the main story in today's New York Times Food section. Food regular Kim Severson, conducted an interview with this innovator. Kimbal Musk's main idea is to promote a philosophy of  real food that will not only nourish the body but also the farmer and the planet.It's not really a new idea. Michael Pollan, a food writer, and author of Food Rules has been preaching this for years as others who have pushed and created a farmer's market and urban farms. What makes Mr. Musk's idea unique is that he wants to create a network of business, educational, and agricultural ventures  big enough to return the nation's food system back to healthy local foods, grown on pesticide free farms.It is the ideal dream and he does have have somewhat of a background in it, starting with his childhood. He cooked at his father's house for him along with for Elon and their sister, Tosca. Mr Musk does have restaurant experience too. He and his former wife, Jen Lewin, started Kitchen in 2004, in Colorado. It was a farm to table concept. A skiing accident that broke his neck and left him temporarily paralyzed got him to refocus his drive. He would devote his life to food.

This led him to be interested in school gardens. His ex wife designed a modular curved plastic planters that could be arranged in any school yard to hold produce yielding plants. They were first installed in the Denver school district in 2010, with the extra bonus of teaching kids about science.Other schools in Memphis, Los Angeles ,Pittsburgh and Chicago.He's also started a chain of hyperlocal restuarants, called Next Door,These feature wild salmon and local pasture raised beef, along with big Greek salads bursting with community vegetables. Not everyone is enamored of his efforts. There has been a lot of criticism, especially from Alice Waters, the pioneer of the American Slow Food Movement. and creator of the famed restaurant , Chez Panisse. To be fair, he has criticized her , proclaiming that she doens;t know how to scale a garden to fit a school. She in turn has accused of him the same thing. His Square Roots project has met with a lot of flak too. It's an idea that has young farmers growing greens with nothing but enhanced water and LEDs in shipping containers, It's hydroponic farming that has critics sniping about the lack of nutrient rich soil.

Will Kimbal Musk change the food industry the way his brother, Elon changed the auto industry? Can he change the way we eat ? He has the drive and determination to do so - just like his brother.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rock Star Dishes

Rock stars are no different than us - in fact they were us before all the success and fame. They also cooked like us, honoring family classics and whipping up their favorite dishes. Now there's a new cookbook, thanks to self taught chef and former music writer, Mark Bego. He's given us some recipes that will surely rock a home chef's kitchen.

Eat Like A Rock Star (Skyhorse Publishing 2017) is the perfect cookbook for any cook who love both the art of cooking and the arts of music and song. There are all sorts of dishes and drink recipes from classical pianists to the rock royalty.Mr. Bego , himself , has also contributed a variety of different ones to the book. His career,  revolves around interviewing celebrities for Record World as well as penning biographies of such superstars as Madonna, Tina Turner and Jackson Brown. Yet he also love to cook and bake, and the book are evidence of this.what is great about the book is that readers dive straight into the recipes. There are no pages or  chapters telling you what  instruments and gadgets you should have  or what ingredients your pantry should hold. Every recipe has an interesting  story with it along with tips for varying the recipe or shortcuts. The chapters are divided into the usual, brunch and breakfast, lunch , salads and soups, meats, pasta, sides  and dessert. There is one exception and that is the cocktail chapter. Any of the drinks would pair well with the hors 'ouevres and brunch recipes.

Mr. Begos has had his famed friends contribute delicious recipes any home chef can make. Ray Parker Junior, known for the theme , from the original "Ghostbusters" movie  contributed his Salmon, Eggs and Grits recipe, a fun Sunday brunch recipe.It's scrambled eggs with salmon and a side of buttery grits. Rock royalty, Sean Lennon has  his Zen like Ginger Scallion Salmon with four main ingedients - again a pefect light supper , especially if served with  Mr Begos" roasted root vegetables. Pasta has always fed musicians and there's no shortage of good ones here to try.  The Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald gives  us his Pasta With Ham, Peas and Parmesan Cheese. This is a hearty dish  that can be made so easily  thanks to frozen peas and shredded ham. Lou Christie, the man behind the 1966 hit "Lightenin' Strikes" has a downright tasty Summer Linguine with the salsa cruda, made with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil.Mr. Begos himself, has some extraordinary recipes too. Try his Chicken Paprikash, an homage to his Hungarian heritage or  his Mongolian Beef , a nod to his;love  of Chinese cuisine. Desserts are varied, from Angela Bowie's Cowboy Cookies, a combo of peanut butter and chocolate chip and the heavenly Hungarian Dessert Crepes from classical pianist Havasi,Try a drink from Mickey Dolenz of Monkees fame or Ricky Jones of  The Village People.

Eat Like A Rock Star can make any home chef cook and bake like one. The recipes are tasty and fun to recreate. They're definitely classics in the kitchen.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spicing Up Your Meats

Want to zing up that chicken or pork. Add spice - and yes, you can add  some of the ones that make pumpkin spice what it is. It's a nice way to add some flavorful heat on a nippy fall day. Best of all it give home chefs the chance to be creative.

Spiced meats are nothing new. Before refrigeration and salt, adding spices to various meals to preserve them and take away their rancid flavor. Pepper, cinnamon, cumin and cloves were the ones of choice and they still are today. What should today's cooks use?It depends on the meat. If you're having qualms about using anything more than rosemary or oregano - which are herbs, then just use a light hand. Start off with a roast chicken , flavored with ground pepper and  the Indian classic, garam masala. This last can easily be made at home  by blending cumin, coriander, and cinnamon with cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.It's then marinating the chicken for fifteen minutes before roasting and then roasting in an oven. Pair  the smoky sweet allspice and nutmeg with cayenne  in a fiery jerk rub . Cinnamon on its' own can flavor a chicken. For a Moroccan vibe mix the spice with cumin and ginger  and then fricassee it. Add almonds and couscous for more authenticity. Allspice and cumin can be turned into a paste along with paprika, onion and garlic powders  to rub over chicken . it's then roasted , producing a crispy, spicy skin.

Pork is another meat that can be zinged up with spice. Pork roast on its' own is delicious, but add cinnamon to bring out the meat's sweet flavor. It's combining the spice with salt, pepper, onion, sugar and garlic,. Soy sauce is added to make it a paste and then the mixture is rubbed onto the meat. It does need three to  twenty-four hours to marinate. Cinnamon can be combined with ground pepper for a tasty rub, sweetened with brown sugar and zinged up with dried mustard.Pair the spice with its' fellow sweet spices of nutmeg and allspice for a different kind of dry rub. Red pepper and garlic powder are also added to balance out the sweetness.it's then rubbed onto the pork and left to stand for twenty minutes to let the flavors soak in. Ham can also be improved with a variety of fall spices. A cinnamon glaze is a nice change of pace for a Sunday or holiday ham. It's combining it with maple syrup and dark brown sugar for a spicy sweet foil to the meat's saltiness. Allspice can also be used for ham as well. Mix it with cloves and a jolt of whiskey along with brown sugar and garlic powder. for a memorable glaze that will give the meat a nice bacon like crust

Consider spiced meat this fall. It's a nice alternative and will give chicken, pork or ham a smoky, warm sweetness. Add autumn's flavors to your main meal for a tasty change.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Sweet Side Of Polenta

Polenta has long been a savory meal. For years it's been drenched in everything from tomato sauce to eggs, be fried or grilled. Yet it can be used in sweet dishes as well,It's ot just for dinner anymore. It's for dessert and most surprisingly breakfast.

What is polenta? It's a dish of boiled cornmeal that's then baked, grilled or fried. It's derived from earlier pulses, hence the name, from spelt, faro and chestnut. The introduction of corn in the Columbian exchange changed the dish forever. Remember, there are two kinds, usually referred to as grinds. The coarser one makes for a firmer consistency , able to hold its' shape while the finer produces a creamy , soft texture. Use the coarser grinds for the breakfast polentas. One interesting dish is the corn made with cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg.Cook the polenta first and then add the sugar and spices, It's then pouring it out on a sheet tray and letting it chill for thirty minutes. Cut into squares and then fry, Serve with maple syrup and butter for a tasty breakfast.It can also be turned into a breakfast pudding.it's adding the meal to a boiled mixture of  milk vanilla bean and salt. A cup of sugar is then stirred in and it's served with Greek yogurt , honey and preserves such as apricot or marmalade.Try it with coconut milk , topped with strawberries and almonds.

Once you've tried sweet polenta, there's no stopping. It makes for an interesting dessert., because of the texture. A very trendy recipe in many Italian restaurants right now is chocolate polenta. This is an easy take on a classic chocolate pudding. Use the finer ground one for an extra creamy texture. It's cooking it for three minutes as it's whisked into a thin steady stream. Three tablespoons of sugar are added as is one teaspoon of vanilla extract and eight ounces of good dark  finely chopped chocolate.Stir until smooth and melted and served. Add a dollop of whipped cream or creme frache. Polenta can be cooked with butternut squash, coconut milk, and vanilla paste along with such spices as ground ginger and cinnamon for a healthy take on  it. Polenta is also an excellent base for cake too. Try it in a cake loaded with orange and coriander for a tasty and citrus-y dessert. Polenta can even take the popular form of the cupcake.It's mixed with regular flour to create a nice crumb. A cup of chopped strawberries and lemon zest are added for a nice fruity flavor and then they're iced with a strawberry lemon glaze.The Italians have been making polenta cookies for centuries. Try their buttery lemon infused swirls or simple tea cookies, perfect with espresso. The last can be dipped in melted dark or milk chocolate for a fancier party treat.

There is a sweet side to polenta. This classic Northern Italian dish can be made into a delicious breakfast pudding or a tasty orange infused cake. Use it to make fun cupcakes and buttery cookies. It's a great ingredient to any breakfast or dessert dish.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Edgy Veg - Vegan Fun in A Cookbook

Most vegetarian cookbooks are usually preachy with staid tofu recipes. Not so with a kicky new meat free recipe nook that's loaded with fun recipes. The Edgy Veg turns the vegan lifestyle on its ear and gives it  roller coaster ride of flavor in the kitchen.

Candice Hutchings and her husband,James Aita are the writers of this really entertaining cookbook published by Robert Rose Publishers. The pictures alone are drool worthy, that make anyone want to eschew meat and head to the kitchen. The books has an unusual opening, starting with books and TV programs about  going meatless before diving into the basics. Another big plus is that Ms. Hutchings and Mr. To have a list of tools that are divided into three categories - critical, important and helpful.  There is also a very detailed list of pantry staples that all novice vegans should have. Every meat free cookbook has egg, meat and dairy substitutions and this one is no different.These can be bought or made at home.Some are versatile such as aquafaba - bean water from chickpeas along with coconut milk.Tofu and seitin are musts . They are the backbone of any kitchen as Ms. Hutchings points out. Another plus is that there is an opening chapter devoted to basic recipes. You can learn how to make four types of yummy vegan bacon along with pizza dough and simple neat - yes neat - balls.She has recipes for such basic sauces as Hollandaise and Bearnaise along with eggless mayo and non dairy sour cream.

I  absolutely love this book and the fun recipes in it.It's divided into such  cheekily named chapters as Souper Natural, The Main Squeeze and Thirsty Girl. MY favorite chapter is MUnchies which has  crunchy golden samosas and even movie popcorn with four different flavorings ,from dill to chili cheese to salted chocolate. They include a yummy Buffalo cauliflower seven ways that would be the perfect Saturday night dinner/snack. Of course there is main and side dishes too, and they are from around the world , including recipes that honor Mr. Aita's Syrian background.A vegan home chef could easily impress guests with their steaks with Bearnaise sauce or impress family with a cauliflower version of General Tso's Chicken.Pair it with the Edgy Roasted Veg ,a tasty mix of various veggies zinged up with hot pepper and lemon juice. Comfort foods are also here, There is tomato bisque served with non cheese grilled cheese along with a French dip sandwich and Easy Cheesy Fondue made without any cheese! There is a chapter on power drinks like the eye opening ginger shot and the tasty mint chocolate chip smoothie. Of course there are desserts and they feature the elegant and the cozy. Home bakers will love recreating the classic Victorian Sponge while kids will go mad for the coconut cream based ice creams and the "Literally Dying Skillet Cookie ala Mode, a giant chocolate chip cookie.

 Home chefs should definitely buy The Edgy Veg. This is the perfect cookbook for any vegan or thinking about a lifestyle change carnovire. The recipes are way too delicous to pass up! Get it today  for some yummy cooking and eating!