Thursday, November 30, 2017

Panettonne That Holiday Classic

The classic big boxes are standards right now in supermarkets and gourmet stores right now up until the New Year. They store gold of a sort,  panettones , those delicious buttery breads filled with everything from candied cherries to chocolate chips.Its' complicated recipe is now becoming an obsession with American bakers.

Tejal Rao wrote about this holiday must have in yesterday's New York Times Food section. The recipe was usually the domain of expert Northern Italian bakers , thanks to its' complexity . According to Ms. Rao, it is wildly sensitive , demanding and occassionally infuriating. It is a yeast dough , after all and that is not always easy to deal with in baking.It is a high maintenance dough . The end result should be an airy crumb that can be pulled apart with the ease of pulling apart cotton candy It should be sweet and light ,melting on the tongue.It should be as weightless as cake and have a slight tang like sourdough. Many Italian bakers begin with lieveto madre the starter.Some recipes don;t call for this,Jim Labey of the Sullivan Street Bakery  has a recipe that calls for less sugar which also means no starter . The home baker can just make a simpler version of it called pan d'oro or golden bread. It's essential a panettone without all the  mixing and baking drama.

Prosperous households made the bread as early as the Medieval Period.. Even back then there was an obssessive amount of attention being paid  to technique and ingredients. Over the years as it became mass produced, it took on the qualities of a mass produced, perfumed sponge. One American baker from San Francisco, Roy Schvartzapel has elevated the recipe after tasting an artesenal one. It has a wispy  texture, melting instantly in his mouth and he recreated it with the help of Italian baker Iginio Massari outside of Milan. He makes small batches of it to sell. Other bakers have tried , some have relegated their doughs to the garbage. Screw up on it and it becomes trash. Everything about the panettone has to be perfect, from the fermentation to the timing, to the temperature, from the emulsion to the starter. Even as something as straightforward as mixing can have pitfalls. Maybe the best bet is taking the slices and turning it into a yummy bread pudding that starts off with toasting the panettone slices  and then covering them with an eggy milk mixture.It's then baked in a aluminum tented pan for forty-five minutes. The end result is a  puffed, golden treat , perfect for a holiday dessert.

Good home bakers should try this Italian treat. It can be a challenge but worth it. If not you can always buy it and turn it into a tasty bread pudding.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Soul Food Vegan Style

Can  soul food known for its' use of sumptuous ingredients do an about face and become healthy? Yes! There's a new wave of African-American chefs and home chefs who are embracing this lifestyle. The result - the same delicious flavors with a new spin.

Kim Severson wrote about this movement in today's New York Times Food section.,Typically soul food is awash in fats, dairy ,and sugar. This had led to obesity, hypertension and diabetes amongst African-Americans for decades. Many are looking deeper , going back to the vegan West African cuisine, their ancestors ate.Another game changer is infusing newer dishes with Caribbean spices to make them more exciting.\.It is catching on, There are books on black veganism by A.Breeze Harper who wrote the anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health and Society along with Tracye Mcquirte's By Any Greens Necessary :A Revolutionary Guide For Black Women Who Want To Eat Great, Get Healthy , Lose Weight And Look Phat. These are life changers, breaking women of color from bad eating habits and easing them into healthy, more veggie-centric ones. It also doesn't hinder the fact that Beyonce and Jay-Z have embraced the lifestyle  by becoming partners in a vegan meal kit service.Several other rap stars have also gone meatless and dairyless.Oprah herself  took the vegan challenge and even presented it to her staff to give up meat.sports star such as the famed Williams sisters, Venus and Serenad meat and its' trapping to improve their game.

It is tough to give up the delicious flavors like bacon infused collard greens and the classic fried chicken. The last is the hardest, partly because of tradition and partly because of the taste. Surprisingly, it can be duplicated, much to the chagrin of the naysayers. Cauliflower can be used for the meat according to chef Jenne Claiborne, It'll have the same desired crunchy crust as the chicken but without the added fat.she also uses soy milk so there's also no added calories. Chef Caliborne has also made vegan collard greens, subbing in the fat back with soy sauce and smoked paprika. Ms Severson has given Chef Claiborne's Oyster Mushroom Etouffee, which is loaded with veggies and even dulse or seaweed flakes as opposed to the usual, seafood, chicken or Andouille sausage. There is also her mall style vegetable stir fry that includes chickpeas, bell peppers and broccoli. The sauce is sweetened by the addition of medjool dry dates. with this recipe, you could add the soy chicken strips to make it a little more like the real deal. Even desserts have been given the vegan treatments. Butternut squash has been used for  eggs in sweet potato pie.

The popularity of vegan soul food  is spreading. It's not giving up old classics but reinventing them for a healthier diet. There's the great flavors without all the fats and sugars.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Edward & Sons Animal & People Friendly

Vegans and vegetarians have it hard during the holidays .It's difficult to find festive foods that are free of any animal products. Now add the problem of gluten allergy and it  becomes darned difficult. Luckily, there's a company, Edward & Sons that can help them navigate through the season.

This California  company is a godsend to vegans everywhere. It started in 1978 long before vegetarianism and anything organic became hip. Their first product was a miso cup, a nourishing instant soup, again made long before any of the more popular cup of soups. The ingredients were freeze dried yet wholesome, packaged in a simple packet. Their products have now evolved into ones that have no artificial colors or flavorings. Moms will  be grateful for the fact that none of the products have been made with chemical preservatives and hydrogenated fats. The company is divided in sections. There's Premier Japan which has Hoisin and teriyako sauces. Their Native Forest line is perfect for vegan bakers. It has coconut milk, both liquid and powdered that work well in baking and creating a dairy free whipped cream. This is a company with a conscious and it promotes and supports fair trade with by buying its' artichokes and coconuts from fair trade farmers. Edward & Son not only caters to vegans and animal rights activists, but is also to those with ADHD, gluten allergies along with soy and lactose allergies.

I was curious about the company and wanted to try their products.The miso soup is interesting  and easy to make. It's combining the miso with water and then adding a mix of dried soy and greens. The soy bits were very silky and creamy and they were  a nice foil to the briny saltiness of the miso. I think I will try the seaweed variety made with wakame seaweed next. I also have the Golden Gravy mix which will go well with seitan slices and mashed potatoes. Edward & Sons has a good variety of macaroni and cheese mixes and they're definitely on my radar.The Alfredo Mac made with brown rice elbow macaroni will be the one to try. They also make gluten free cake cones - my favorite  - and I decided to give these, too, a try.I used the richly decadent Talenti brand of ice cream - coffee chocolate chip to fill it. I like their gluten free cones better than the regular ones. They are crisper than the gluten ones and best of all the bottoms don't become soggy once the ice cream drips down,

This holiday season  - look to Edward & Sons for all your holiday cooking and baking needs. You can create a delicious and healthy meal and dessert with these good for you products. There's no need to scrimp on flavor,

Monday, November 27, 2017

Gathering And GIving

One of the hallmarks of Southern cooking is feeding others, and providing them with comfort. A new cookbook emphasizes this with a variety of sweet and savory recipes. It's perfect for the cooks who love to cook and give.

This great cookbook is Love, Welcome, Serve- Recipes That Gather And Give (The Hachette Book  Group 2017) written by Amy Nelson Hannon, the owner of Euna Mae's Kitchen Shop and   food blogger. She is a Southerner, straight from the heart of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas and that homey hospitality shines in her recipes. There's even a section at the back of the book that tells home chefs what recipes gather people together and which ones give. Since Ms. Hannon is deeply religious and a preacher's wife, every section begins with a quote from Brilliant Saverin to Mother Teresa about opening up one's home to others/ The book opens up with a parsing out of kitchen ingredients, and true to her Southern roots, recommends using Hellman's mayonnaise along with full fat ingredients. Other recommendations include using richly flavored Vietnamese cinnamon, freshly squeezed lemon juice and the more expensive Neilsen-Massey vanilla extract.There is a handy must have list of equipment that every home chef must have as well as what foodstuffs should be in the fridge, freezer and pantry.

The recipes themselves are cozy, ribsticking ones.The book is divided into different sections from Bites That Welcome To Meats, Mains And Hearty Stews and finishes with For The Love Of Sweets. This is a Southern cookbook so there's a lot of cream cheese , butter and sweet tea used. Still, the book has a huge swath of Mexican and Italian dishes too.There are also regional ones such as Texas Firecracker a marinated Saltine, zinged up with red pepper flakes and garlic.She also gives a tasty pulled pork recipe, loaded with spices, perfect for a Saturday night get together with friends.Her Easy Mozzarella And Meatball Bake is kind of lasagna minus the pasta and would be a great weeknight meal. The sides cover everything from Roasted Honey Balsamic Brussels Sprouts to bacon and brown sugar collards. Southern baking is also represented. Home bakers will love Ms. Hannon's biscuits as well as her scratch pie dough recipes.Another plus of the book is that it has recipes for homemade chicken stock,tomato sauce, whipped cream and even hard shell chocolate sauce.

Love, Welcome, Serve, Recipes That Gather And Give is the perfect holiday gift for the home chef  and baker that open their has yummy recipes that can feed a whole table of guests or as a comfort to those in need. it shows that love not only comes from

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Your Holiday Baking Guide

It's that time of year when home bakers start creating all those holiday goodies.A successful bake relies on a well stocked kitchen. Get the arsenal ready now. The end result is stress free prep, without any worries.

Before you even assess your ingredients, take a look at your cookie sheets and baking pans. Sometimes rust sets in  which means only one thing -toss.The same principle applies to cookie sheets and pie plates. Splurge and give yourself the early holiday present of a new bake set. Stores such as K-Mart, Target and Wal Mart have great sales on them right now so it pays to replace the old set. The same goes for whisks and rolling pins too,. along with both plastic and metal cookie cutters.Another pre-baking must is checking your hand mixer and blender to make sure they're up to snuff.If not, then take advantage of the holiday sales and buy a new one.If you're thinking of making candy invest in a good candy thermometer.This will help more in registering the right temperature as opposed to the old fashioned way of dropping the mixture into ice cold water to determine its' stage.Cake icers can also crack so check to see if yours still works. If you're planning on creating elaborately decorated cakes and cupcakes, you may want to get more icing nozzles . These will help in fine tuning the decorating with different squiggles and swirls.

Basic ingredients also have to be scrutinized. Luckily granulated sugar can last indefinitely. Brown sugar doesn't and after two years can get hard, sticky, and lumpy.Replace your flour if its' been in the pantry for more than seven or eight months.Anything baked with it will have a stale taste. Whole wheat lasts even less. If you;ve had it more than six months toss. Keep the vanilla extract. it's good for four years. The same for your cocoa powder - it lasts  two years before going stale.If you have to go shopping for new ingredients, make a list beforehand. Ask yourself if you want to make a holiday treat from scratch or from a mix.You can stock up on mixes  if you're pressed for time. The same goes for ready made icings too,.Also stock up on sticks of butter and margarine because you'll be using these the most. Get a five pound bag of flour instead of the usual two pound bag. (remember extra flour will come in handy for thickening sauces too ).It pays also to get bags of almonds ,walnuts and pecans for both baked goods and candy. Don't forget the holiday themed decorations like red and green  sprinkled and metallic sanding sugars.

The best treats come from a well prepped kitchen. Makes sure yours is ready for the onslaught of holiday baking.Stock your arsenal now so you don;t have to run out later.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Vegan For The Holidays

One of the most challenging aspects of a home chef''s holiday menu planning is cooking for vegans and vegetarians. Is it possible to create delicious and fun meals without seafood or beef? Can there be tasty holiday cookies and treats without the enhancement of butter and cream? Yes! There's a brand new cookbook that can help to navigate a meatless season.

The Vegan Holiday Cookbook (Robert Rose Publishers 2017) was written by Marie LaForet, a well known French vegetarian  and creator of the blog Vegetal-100. She is also a Parisian and that means elegant dishes and afters that would go well at any time of the year. Her book 's introduction indicates that she is an animal rights advocate along with being concerned about diet and health.She also lists the gluten free and adaptable recipes so that sensitive eaters won't have to suffer.. Mme LaForet also groups the recipes into different categories, from traditional to light and sophisticated, including buffet and last minute.This book is perfect for any vegan novice , looking to create that perfect at home gathering Another plus is that she concludes with home made gift section.It is easy to copy her various butters using vegan margarine and such spices as dill and black pepper for one and another one loaded with sun dried tomatoes, rosemary and smoked paprika,There's also recipes for flavored salts such as garlic and herb and lemon  and spice. Home bakers would appreciate a pretty jar filled with cinnamon and vanilla sugar.

The recipes themselves are just as flawless.Imagine a party graced with her vegan caviar (!) and squash truffles. The first is made with flaked seaweed sasoning to give it that briny,salty flavor. Mme. LaForet uses this a lot in creating faux seafood dishes such as tofu gravlax canapes and fisherman rillettes. She is big on puff pastry and uses it to create chestnut vol-au-vents and puff pastry stars, ripe with chestnut and squash. Main dishes are a vegan's dream Try the porcini mushroom risotto, chock full of button and porcini mushrooms.A great opener for a Christmas lunch could be the ravioli in flavored broth that's been zinged up with the fiery Chinese five spice powder.A tree trimming or Hanukah  party can be made cozier with the tasty seitan pot pies filled with meaty cubes of seitan -or a meat like wheat gluten.Another Hanukah treat would be the potato pancakes loaded with kohlrabi. The sides are simple but classy. Her Hassleback potatoes and roasted beets would be the right match for her paupiettes or her spin on a vegan Beef Wellington. The book ends with sweets and cocktails. Mme, LaForet has a dairy free panna cotta made with vegan creme fraiche and chestnut puree. Every holiday cookbook has cookie recipes and she gives us shortbread and the sweetly spicy Pepperkakor. Drinks are made with ginger and hibiscus and orange cranberry for some festive sipping.

The Vegan  Holiday  Cookbook is the go to Bible for vegan and vegetarian home chefs. They can create elegant hors d'ouevres, main meals and desserts without sacrificing taste. Buy it today and start creating a cruelty free menus for the holidays ahead.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Today is the American Thanksgiving, while others are thankful, personally I am not. it has been a God awful year , especially with my Mom's passing. I cannot give any thanks for such a bleak, heart breaking year, full of misery heaped upon more misery.

What I will be grateful for being Thanksgivings past, where my Mom cooked such family favorites as Swabische style stuffing , rich with sage along with pecan pies, loaded with nuts and sweetness.I will be thankful for all those New York Thanksgivings where we gathered together with friends in Greenwich Village as I had my version of a dinner, a turkey - spinach- avocado wrap.

That's what I will give thanks for and that's all/

Have a good Thanksgiving. Cherish what you have.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Leftover Time

One of the best things about the Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers. It is a home chef's blank palette for creating new dishes with whatever remains. It's a way of repurposing everything without all the waste.

Repurposing tomorrow's dinner was the subject of Tejal Rao' s article in today's New York Times Food section. The bird itself is rife with ideas , from a second meal with gravy to being made into  other, more refreshing dinners. The first recipe Ms. Rao gives us is a turkey salad with fried shallots and herbs. She spices it up with a chopped jalapeno pepper mixed with coriander and mint leaves. There are also shallots fried in peanut oil.Another idea is the Southern influenced turkey and noodles. This is kind of like the turkey tettrazini millions of American home chefs made thirty and forty years ago. It's creating and hand rolling homemade egg noodles (however you can use the already made Mueller's for this) and boiling them in turkey stock.  A cup of roasted turkey meat is added to make it more substantial. The noodles must air after making to dry out and then they're rehydrated once they're in the broth

The next dish is from Ms. Rao's cookbook.It is pav bhaji and it's a take on the Indian street food.This is for day three of leftovers when there are bits of meat still stuck on the bones. She recommends crisping them in a cast iron pan.It's then mashed with tomatoes ,onion garlic and peas. Garam masala gives it the kick as does turmeric and ginger.Potato buns are used. They are lightly buttered and then  placed cut side down in a separate pan and browned until they are golden. The turkey mix is then ladled onto the buns and eaten sort of like a sloppy Joe.If there are any leftover rolls, you can use them instead of the potato buns.A spin on this is would be crisping the turkey bits and then putting them in the turkey gravy along with switching the veggies to whatever 's left over. Nix the spices and just add sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

The best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers. Be creative with the bird. Serve it in sandwiches or an entirely new and different dish.It's a canvas to have fun with in the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving Eve Feasting

Everyone is anticipating the big meal on Thursday, but what tomorrow night? Thanksgiving Eve is a big night in the kitchen but not for eating. Many home chefs forego dinner just to squeeze in extra baking or food prep time. Don't . It pays to eat the night before.

It's usually a strange American tradition of ordering pizza the night before the big day. This can be helpful, especially when you want a hot meal or are dealing with starved kids. To some it's the way to go. It's usually fresh from the oven and always satisfying. A better solution that doesn't take much time is English muffin pizzas. These are a snap to make and home chefs can utilize their toaster ovens
 while the main one is used for baking pies. The kids can even make them, it's just slicing the muffins  drizzling olive oil, and tomato sauce on top. End with shredded mozzarella. The kids can also add their own toppings from pepperoni slices to chopped olives. The same thing can be done with pita bread too.A real crowd pleaser that's also easy to make in the toaster oven is French bread pizza. You can use French bread or the long hoagie rolls for this. Again , load it up with filling toppings so the family isn''t into nibbling at the pies or the premade hors d'ouevres.

If you prefer something light, then think of soup. It's easy to open up a can of Progresso or Campbell's. Want something a bit more home made tasting , then try Alessi Soups. It's an easy cook, with just adding four cups of water to the powdered mix. The result is a thick , fragrant potage that tastes like your nonna's soup. There's only one problem with soup . It' not filling. Make a small salad with it along with serving crusty hot rolls. Another easy  idea is any egg dish. They're filling and a good source of protein. Make some scrambled ones and serve on toast for a satisfying yet simple dinner . Microwave a few strips of bacon to make it a bit more substantial. A fritatta , stuffed with leftovers is a great way of cleaning the fridge to make room for Thursday's leftovers. Add any combo of veggies, cheeses and meats to create a flavorful and hearty meal to three to four eggs. The same applies to omelets. Again. serve both  with toasted French or Italian bread and even a relaxing glass of wine or hard cider.

Don't starve yourself when you creating the big feast for Thursday. Have a filling meal the night before and you'll feel better the next day. You'll need all your strength to tackle one of the biggest cooking days of the year.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tasty Sunday Suppers

One of the best times to sit down to  a meal is Sunday night. The hustle and bustle of the weekend is over and it's a time to relax and catch up.It's a time when families can gather over a good meal and chat about their lives. Now there's a new cookbook that has a whole slew of  great Sunday night suppers and desserts.

  Southern Living  contributor and James Beard Award winner Cynthia Graubert wrote this interesting cookbook Sunday Suppers: simple DeliciousmMenus For Family Gatherings (Oxmoor House Press) about a southern tradition, the Sunday supper. This is usually a light repast, followed by a luscious dessert. Hers is just that along with tips and "Southern advice"  about guests and invites. The suppers shouldn't be relegated to just Sunday night. I can see making these for a Friday or most definitely a Saturday night with a small cadre of friends. Another plus is that she sprinkled interviews with famed southern chefs (including one of my Facebook friends, the great cook, Damon Lee Fowler) and their memories of Sunday suppers and what they do to carry on the tradition. I love her little advice paragraphs that are also sprinkled throughout the book. There's one on being tardy - being fashionably late is not acceptable. along with the day after thank you note - do write out one and mail - not email it. She even addresses the overnight guest and what gifts they should bring to thank the hosts.

What of the recipes themselves? First of all, they 're not all Southern.Yes, there are some Low Country and grits recipes but it's a good mix of Mexican and Italian. She has slotted into seasons along with the fun breakfast for dinner. As Ms. Graubert states the menu plans aren't set in stone. A recipe for one meal can easily be the main one for another.It's kind of  like a mix and match. Again, many of these would make fine Saturday night dinners such as the slow cooker pork and baked mac and cheese, followed by the yummy white chocolate chip cookies. Some of the breakfast for dinner recipes would be perfect for a Sunday brunch. Imagine making Spring vegetable frittata and cheese grits casserole on a cozy Sunday morning and finishing with breakfast cookies and coffee. The recipes can also be adapted for tailgate parties too such as the mini muffulettas and apple cole slaw. Finish with any of of the cookie or many brownie recipes.

Nothing beats a Sunday supper shared with family. Luckily Cynthia Graubert has written a fantastic cookbook that offers some tasty dishes , sides and desserts. This is the perfect cookbook for those that treasure lazy Sunday suppers with friends and family.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Three Perfect Holiday Cakes

It's the start of the holiday season and with it a time of sweet treats. Nothing can compare to a home baked cake, made from scratch and with love. The Sunday New York Times Magazine (spoiler alert!) has come up  with three , delicious recipes that are sure to be family favorites and a home baker's go to.

Tejal Rao, a Wednesday Food section contributor, and master chef herself gathered recipes from three pro bakers. The first cake is cranberry lemon stripe cake,by Helen Goh.. She co authored a cookbook, Sweet, with  famed baker and chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. The cake is a festive one with a vertical (!) stripe. The basic cake is a sponge, which is quite malleable. The filling is a cranberry puree made with just frozen cranberries and sugar. The other part of the stripe comes from the cranberry butter cream, however this is not the typical butter cream most home bakers use. This also has corn syrup and egg yolks. It's more labor intensive too, because the eggs and corn syrup have to be cooked and then added to a bowl. and whisked. Butter cubes are added afterwards as does the puree. Assembly  though is easy,It's creating a sponge roll,  wrapping the three buttercream and puree frosted layers around each other. A watered down version of the puree is then drizzled on top.

Another decadent treat is Stella Park's devil's food cake with toasted marshmallow icing. Ms Parks is author of the cake cookbook, Bravetart and has created some amazing desserts and treats. This cake is a classic, rich, dark cake, zinged up with the addition of coffee. The marshmallow icing is a homemade one, consisting of egg whites , sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla. There is also the addition of Kosher salt too to balance out the sweet. The fun comes in icing it and using a small blowtorch to get that toasted look. The third cake comes from Genevieve Koh, creator of  the cookbook, Better Baking, a full recipe book that has gluten free recipes.  Hers is a sugarplum gingerbread cake, ripe with the flavors of the season.Prunes are what give it that earthy fruity sweetness while the full array of spices such as ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves. The prunes do have to be rehydrated and this is done by simmering them in  boiling water for a few minutes, and then bathing them in molasses and baking powder.The cake is baked in a Bundt pan and dusted liberally with cocoa powder.

Any of these cakes would make a holiday meal more festive. Make them for a holiday dinner or holiday party. They are the perfect treat to welcome in the season

Friday, November 17, 2017

Praying For A Good Diet???

Diet, as we all know, takes will power.You need a resolve of steel to stick to it and forgo favorite fattening foods. A new book suggests Divine Intervention can help. Is that true? Can we pray away the pounds?

According to author and creator of  the site Dashing Dish , Katie Ferrell, you can.Her new book, Nourish (Faith Words Publishers, 2017) explains that by eating clean and being spiritual, you can shed pounds and sin, becoming a stronger person in the process. Like many "cookbooks" today this one is all about the personal experience , peppered with recipes. She goes through many transformations from a horrible teen age experience with anorexia and bulimia to a young student nurse to a wife and expecting mother.Her writing is likable and some will identify with her.Ms. Farrell is a Bible reader and applies certain passages to her life so that it all makes sense.It's really the first food related book that offers prayer as a solution. She also broaches on the subjects of perseverance and purpose along with partnering with God. The faithful will see this as great plan. Others many eschew it and concentrate on her sections on portion control and getting rid of the junk. She does make an important point about emotions and how they can guide us down right and wrong paths.

What of the recipes themselves? I find it odd that she tells readers to try to restrain themselves against such treats as cookies and cakes yet has recipes for them. Granted, they  are what she calls clean - meaning there's no butter or refined sugar or flour, yet they 're still temptations. Other recipes are Make Ahead Freezer Smoothie Packs, made with frozen strawberries and bananas mixed with Greek yogurt and almond milk. These are perfect for the dieter on the go, because they whip up into a quick nutritional breakfast. Ms. Farrell also has a sweet potato-turkey burger mash up that's also chock full of spinach . Some will like the cheesy chicken and green chile lasagna, spiced up with chili powder and cumin. Chicken also rules in the taco chicken quinoa bowls along with the ancient grain of quinoa and in chicken Ceasar wraps. Another plus recipe is the Homemade Oat Flour Pizza Crust. This can be turned into the base for many healthy, fresh veggie pizzas and even flatbread. It's too bad she doesn't have any fish recipes since it was clearly mentioned in the New Testament.

Will prayer help with dieting? It can if you believe. Katie Farrell certainly believes in it and uses it to lead a balanced , nourishing life.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Outside The Thanksgiving Box

Everyone expects the ususal Thanksgiving main meal and sides. Yet sometimes, it pays to cook outside the proverbial holiday box of recipes. It could mean experimentation. It could be a meatless day. It could be falling back on family recipes and the exotic ingredients that come with them. It could be a welcomed break from the usual , too.

Everybody has turkey on Thanksgiving.Or do they? What do vegans and vegetarians eat? Or those averse to the taste of gamy bird? Many vegans turn to Tofurkey , a soy substitute that sort of tastes like the real thing.A better idea is making the loaf yourself. Try a stuffed seitan loaf which is basically wheat glutens mixed with nutritional yeast to create a kind of meat loaf . Soy sauce is added to give it a nice brown color, similar to turkey.It can be stuffed, usually with a mix of firm tofu blended with cut carrots, onions and celery, Another idea is wild rice and mushroom casserole that was the topic of Melissa Clark's  A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section.It is also chock full of white beans and spinach too.Fennel and leeks are added to give it a sweet ,flavor and it's topped with  a mix of Panko bread crumbs, rosemary, lemon zest and garlic. Parmesan cheese can also be sprinkled on top if wanted. Ms. Clark also suggests variations to suit the crowd. Brown rice can be subbed in for the wild, Cilantro is used for color and taste but home chefs can also use basil. The bread crumbs can be nixed if guests have celiac disease.

What about those sides? Most will insist on having the usual bread stuffing , along with yams turned into candy  and some kind of green veggie. Yet if that's not part of the anyone's  culinary heritage, don't make them. They'd probably just sit there on the table and then just sit there in the fridge.Ask any Southern Italian or  Greek family who has served manicotti or dolmades with the bird.If your family has kim chi at every holiday , then serve it .If your family likes river weed, a popular green used in Vietnamese cuisine, then put that on the table instead of Brussels sprouts.The same goes for spicing. If you're hosting a multicultural dinner, then think outside the usual salt and pepper. Zing up greens and salads with various ones such as garam masala or paprika.  The last adds color to every dish and can make the ordinary extraordinary. As for bread, the usual is a prim, little roll on a plate Serve warm , crusty baguettes instead. French and Italian bread is excellent for soaking up thick turkey gravy and wonderful for creating sandwiches afterwards. If the family is used to naan or pita, then serve that. The same goes for dessert. Not everyone likes pumpkin pie. Serve fresh fruit or puddings if you want.

Think outside the Thanksgiving box. It's not writtten in stone what you have to cook and bake. Be true to your heritage.Or be different. The end result is a different holiday meal everyone will enjoy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Proustian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, like any holiday , is not just a time for eating but a time of reflection about why and what we eat. Like Proust's madeleines, turkey and its' merry band of sides makes us think about days past and days that are. Are we thankful for that?

That's what the New York Times Food section posed in today's issue. It was none of the usual holiday  recipes and tips (that was last week) and none of the advice from the usual culprits like David  Tanis or Melissa Clark.Only one Food regular A.O. Scott contributed and his is a bittersweet, funny take on being the designated cook. He even has a Thanksgiving Chef's cocktail  which is humorous and reflects the hell most home chefs go through on the day. Most of the pieces  are reflective essays from Pulitzer prize winning writers that show a multifaced and shimmering mosaic on this great American meal. There is one  real, you can make this at home.recipe, and that comes from Jessica B. Harris, who is the pre eminent scholar on the foods of the African Disaspora. She is also responsible for helping the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture create its' cafeteria. Hers is a more loving memory , as she reminisces about setting the table and the Thanksgiving day highlight - rutabega-potato mash with bacon. It's a great recipe to sub in for the usual mashed potatoes and easy to make. The bacon in it adds a smoky tang , a perfect foil for the holiday greens and cranberry sauce.

However, many essays aren't as thoughtful and as cheery as hers. Take for example 2016 Pulitzer prize winner and English professor Viet Thanh Nguyen who teaches his child about the indigenous genocide. He does soften his essay somewhat about how his hardworking parents got a tricked out Vietnamese styled birds, complete with noodles and native spices. Now his is a blend of store cooked turkey and Vietnam delicacies.  On a somewhat lighter side there is Sarah Lyall, a New York Times field reporter who worked for the paper's London branch, writes about how to explain the holiday to stumped Brits. "Just supper?" they'd ask. for a holiday with no presents and no religious overtures. She made it up, creating cookie logs for dessert and mashed squash with olive oil for a side.Emma Cline ,a very young Pulitzer recipient writes about returning to Northern California where the ride home with her dad has more weight than the family dinner. National Book Award winner, Elliot Ackerman writes about the  country being torn apart, back during the Kennedy Era and now and him being a part of many holiday dinners around the world. Other essayists are Parul Sehgal and Wesley Morris who write about cooking and its's weight.  There is an interesting one from New Yorker contributor. Masha Gassen, who gets together with her neighbor to create a welcoming and memorable one for their gay and transgender friends.

Holidays are just that holidays. With them come a wealth of recipes and reflections. They feed off each other as they feed off us.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roland G. Henin Honoring A Mentor

It is hard to get a good mentor  - no matter what profession you're in. Yet some chefs have had the honor - and fun to work under the great master chef Roland G.Henin. One, Susan Crowther, has honored him in a new tribute book.

Roland G. Henin : 50 Years Of Mentoring Great American Chefs (Skyhorse Publishing 2017) was written by Chef Henin''s former CIA student , Susan, Crowther. It is not just a biography/autobiography, it's a variety of different interviews with such famed and former students as PBS's Mike Colamico and French Laundry's Thomas Keller. Interspersed amongst such are Chef Henin's own recollections on everything from his early years in Tartare, France, a small village not far from the culinary world heritage site of Lyon to his early years in Montreal and Grand Bahama Island. There are some amusing anecdotes  , about the cooking competitions and the hijinks that accompany them.Then there is his teaching at the great CIA - Culinary Institute of America in New Hyde Park, New York, and how he treated (and mistreated) students including the author.Most have very good memories of him, even becoming his friend.

The book is rather dry and long.I found it hard to get really enthused about. It should have been a straight biography, with more details about Chef Henin's  life in France. Instead, it was interview after interview with  fellow chefs working with him on various national and international cooking competitions.Either that or ones with former students that had suffered his wrath. I would have loved to have seen recipes from the competitions as well as ones from the CIA along with some of his family recipes.This would have made the book much more palatable and appealing. Instead, Ms. Crowther has endless conversations with all sorts of chefs and , frankly, one just blended into the next. This is meant to be a valentine,from a former student to her mentor, and it does achieve that. Yet Ms. Crowther should have allowed the chefs to write their own chapters along with providing some kind of recipe associated with this great cook. There aren't even any pictures of the dishes he created , instead there are those of him with fellow chefs and fishing stuck in the book's middle

If you're familiar with Chef Henin, then this is the book for you. It is an ode to a mentor from a devoted student. That's all it is.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Reopened With A Salute To A Master Chef

The pantry is opened - and I'll add reluctantly. We've lost one of the best master chefs  to ever live - my mother - Elizabeth Helble Roberts and it's tough to write this  - and continue on with the blog. Yet this is what she would have wanted for me.I can hear her now. "Why are you stopping for me? Don't be silly. Continue on with it.Don't disappoint your readers."

So, I will ,Ma,

My mother's background was fashion design yet she came from a family of phenomenal home chefs who in their own right, should have been teaching at culinary schools. She had an excellent background , thanks to a Piedmontese Italian mother and Swabian German father. They taught her the subtleties of good Northern Italian and Southern German cuisine. Her beloved paternal grandmother taught her the intricacies of baking which she excelled at.She aced Home Ec , loving the cooking section as much as she loved the sewing one. When she married my Dad, she got a crash course in Midwestern American cuisine from my great-granny Roberts. She could now expand her repertoire with Southern fried chicken, biscuits and crisps. Ma explored her French heritage too, and her love of Paris. We had restaurant style crepes and Bouef Bourgignon when the neighbors ate baloney sandwiches . She plunged into the Chinese cooking craze and was the only one on the block to cook with a wok. Nothing was too difficult or too exotic for her, She even could cook with whatever was in the fridge. Ma  left behind a true library of cookbooks, from La Gastronome La Rousse to Julia Childs.

Cooking and baking with her was like being with Jacques Pepin or Julia Child. It was a master class , in family recipes and international cuisine. To be honest, I was always nervous to  be in the kitchen with her. What if I failed? What would she say? I stayed out of the kitchen for a long time, letting her take the helm. I love to cook and bake but imagine doing both under the watchful eye of an Escoffier. This blog definitely benefitted from her advice. I was always asking her questions. - "How much egg should I put into a recipe?" "Can we vary the stock - switch chicken for veggie?" "How much garlic should go into the sauce?" She was incredibly inspiring and active  - even up to three weeks ago, before she fell victim to the insidious kidney cancer that destroyed her.

I will miss my Mom, Ma- as a mother and as a best friend, but I will always mourn the loss of a great master chef.

Elizabeth Helble Roberts July 18th 1922 - November 12, 2017 . 95 years of amazing good food , advice and cooking.

I know  you and your Grandma Helble are making the best Springele in Heaven right now!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Foodie Pantry Vacation

The pantry will be closed for an indefinite number of time. Hopefully it will be reopened soon.


Friday, November 3, 2017

A Melange Of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of those fall foods that can be good on their own or with other ingredients They're easy to work with , a plus for novice home well as being a great sub for meats.

Many home chefs grew up with the the white button kind. These are the most versatile, showing up in everything from salads to sides. They can easily be stuffed with a mix of their stems and bread crumbs.For those who aren't fond of the button's flavor , try the oyster. It's flavor is very mild , almost flavoring the abalone fish. Shiitake caps are popular right now, Their flavor is woodsy  and they're a good source of copper.Many home chefs have embraced portobellos and have used them as sub in for steaks and burgers. They are one of the most popular  and probably the most versatile. They can be turned into everything from kabobs to meatloaf. For plate appeal try enoki mushrooms These are graceful white stems with tiny pearl button like heads. Like the oyster kind, they have a very mild flavor. They're crunchy to eat and commonly found in such Japanese dishes as sukiyaki and nabemono,or Japanese hot pot.The gem of all is the control. They are sometimes called egg  mushrooms because of their deep golden color.

All these mushrooms can actually work together. Melissa Clark has come up with a tasty recipe as seen in her A Good Appetite column in the New York Times Food section. She combines winter squash with a variety of  different ones. This create not only a blend of flavors but a blend of textures too. She uses the common button with the posh and plush chanterelle, oysters with shiitakes. This creates an interesting mix  made more interesting with curry leaves and mustard seeds, Winter squash , namely the butternut balances it out, creating a nice mild foil for all the heat that comes from the addition of  four chilies and cayenne pepper. According to Ms. Clark home chefs can adjust the heat, making it as spicy or mild as they want it. Serve it with fragrant basmati rice or oven warmed naan bread.

Mushrooms are a wonderful addition to any fall menu. Serve just one kind or blend in stew or curry.  They are versatile and easy to work with in any recipe.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Chefs To The Rescue

Food heals no matter what the problem. It comforts. It nourishes. It gives strength in hard times. No one knows this better than chefs. No one can stop them - not even a hurricane named Maria.

Kim Severson wrote about this amazing cadre of cooks in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Maria devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico and unfortunately that devastation is still there. Many not only lost power but also their homes and that means kitchens too.Even the hotels couldn;t help out. They too were in the path of the hurricane,. Thankfully Chef Jose Andre, a Spanish born chef and giant in the culinary world. stepped in and created  chains of pop up kitchens everywhere, from big cities to mountain villages. He came right after the storm and hasn't left. He was so devoted that he over worked himself and suffered dehydration. Thanks to him , food,  - warm meals and sandwiches were given out to the population,This was more than even the Red Cross and Salvation Army did. He went to food distributors and bought up everything they had. He bought every aluminum pan he could get his hands on. He and his crew started out with the classic Puerto Rican stew sancocho. It fed everyone, from tireless medical workers to those just waiting on line for gas. Even the salvation Army came up to him and asked for 120 meals.

Chef Andre is not new to giving or natural disasters. Back in 2011, he went to help out in Haiti after their earthquake. A year later he was in Houston, wanting to know how to expand the scope of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding those who need food relief. He worked with the organization;'s executive director, Brian MacNair. to add emergency food relief to an agenda that includes building school kitchens and organizing culinary training.  This worked when Hurricane Irma hit FLorida. A manual was quickly written up showing chefs in Miami what to do to sixteen days before Irma hit. It was like a mis en place for disaster. Kitchens and chefs aiding those in need is nothing new. After 9/11. many restaurants near the World Trade Towers devoted their time and effort as well as food to the emergency workers. Competitive chef , Cat Cora started Chefs For humanity after the Sumatra earthquake and there was a contingent of barbecue chefs that headed to help out in Joplin, Missouri,after the 2010 tornadoes.

Chefs , like Chef. Andre set the tone for cuisine. Yet they also help in feeding those who  need it.They are more than just cooks, they're the healers and nourishers  - the hero s who feed and also lead too.