Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year New Foods

One of the best New Year's resolutions you can make is to expand your palate.This is the first step to inclusion and breaking down the walls of prejudice.Let's face it any new dish tried is a fun way to find a new favorite.

One trend that will be popular this year is Middle Eastern.Try some of the amazing dishes of this cuisine.Yes, there are juicy and spiced kebobs and creamy hummus, but there's also Za'atar and  baba ghanouj . I can' t say enough good things about Za'atar.It's fantastic with toasted pita and highlights chicken and tomatoes.Baba ghanouj is a tasty ,zingy  dip that takes the simple eggplant  to new heights.Thanks to trying these centuries old recipes, my culinary atlas has grown.I'm excited to try Russian cuisine along with rediscovering Indian and Greek.Even local cuisines should be on anyone's radar.Philadelphia is also my dance card and that is a city with a big platter of different cuisines to buy.
Another way to expand your culinary atlas is to take cooking classes.There are many good ones out there. Some community colleges offer them and bring in local chefs to teach.Definitely take advantage of these.Another venue is night school.Many towns offer such diverse  courses as Thai and West African.You not only learn to cook the different dishes but some will have field trips to markets to show where to buy ingredients.Specialized markets are another way to further your knowledge.Take a walk down the many aisles.Taste the samples given and ask tons of questions.If it's all overwhelming, then buy some snacks or cookies and jump from there.Many chain grocery stores have a wide variety of multiethnic foods.Try some of the imported foods and spices there.Incorporate them in your Everest cooking.

A brand new years means brand new flavors.Expand your palate to include them.You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Party Time Cookbook

This is the week for parties, from late night soirees to New Year's Day open house. For Southerners, this is the time when they shine.They know how to do celebrating just right.For the rest of us there's The Southern Living Party Cookbook.  It's a great guide to show how to get through simple through extravagant dos.

Elizabeth Heiskell , author of  What Can I Bring , contributor to Southern Living Magazine and a well known caterer in Mississippi  has written an updated version of the early Seventies book.oxmoor Press is the publisher.This is a must have for party givers.There are dozens of ideas for all sorts of get togethers, from a girl's night out to christening parties. I love how it's not just recipes but suggestions on  everything from decor to games that can be played.There are even ideas for favors that guests can bring home.The book may reflect Southern hospitality and have a Dixie vibe but there are fondue recipes along with ones for a chick wagon get together.Also if you think it's hominy grits and fried chicken, there are sophisticated recipes and parties worthy of  any urbane crowd.There are also  section on the proper glasses for drinks and how to toast.A lovely touch is what gifts to give the hostess,something that 's really not done anymore. The Easter meal has a special how to on making golden egg name tags

The recipes are grouped according to the party.A Low Country shrimp boil will have, of course, shrimp,but also cocktail sauce and an accompanying slaw. Teas, big, in the South , are also featured,especially the sweet custom of a bridal tea.This has blushing mimosas,a twist on the classic brunch cocktail served with long stemmed strawberries authorities.Another aspect is the large amount of reasons for hoisting a glass and sharing a canape .I love the Graduation Coffee where high school (and this can definitely be extended to college grads) are feted with a morning meal of rich dark chocolate chai latte served with the easy to make petite cinnamon rolls and sausage balls.The chuck wagon dinner sounds amazing with cowboy steaks cooked on a skillet out doors. With it comes ranchero beans, Mrs. R's coleslaw and German potato salad.It ends with a giant chocolate cake.Of course there are The holidays,with flourishes added.Homemade Hollandaise sauce graces Spring asparagus, being the prefect side to a leg of lamb.Thanksgiving and Christmas have fun ideas.:-)there's old fashioned roared turkey and chocolate bourbon pecan pie along with a variety of fondues .

The Southern Living Party Cookbook is just a great idea book for party givers.It can guide any host through all sorts of gatherings and soirees.It's a home like daft must have.

Friday, December 28, 2018

My Air Fryer Adventure

I received an air fryer for Christmas.To be honest it came as a bit of a surprise.I didn't ask for it.It wasn"t on my radar.Yet, it's a great addition to my kitchen arsenal.

It looks like a Keurig coffee and tea maker.
The black circle is the temp control and timer.The cylinder in front is the basket handle.

The little fan spins away the minutes.The timing is on the left.The right side has the temperature which only goes up to 400 degrees F.

These are the inner and outer baskets that held my first experiment Gardein's chicken tenders.They  were cooked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.This is how they came out.

They were crispy and better taste than when I oven baked them.Of course, fries had to go with them so I used Acme's in house brand Signature shoestring fries,

The result?Perfection.They crosped up nicely aft being cooked at 400 F for fifteen minutes.

This Christmas gift has turned out to be one of the best gifts ever.I am getting the cookbook on air frying .There"s a basket full of great foods to be made!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A Wild Russian Feast

New Year parties mean a lot of food and a lot of drink.The Russians amp this up with feast that rivals any holiday party or dinner.They create tables that literally groan with the weight of many dishes ~and of course vodka .

Julia Moskin wrote about this as well as interviewing chef Bonnie Frumpkin Morales!, owner of the popular Portland,Oregon eateries, Kachka and Kachinka.Her family came from Belarus,which was a separate country (emigres  use the blanket term Russia when asked where they're from).The Russian New Year revelry is less than one hundred years old, starting after the Russian Revolution.Vast properties of the Russian Orthodox Church were nationalized with religious instruction being outlawed, and the craziest - outlawing belief in miracles which probably meant the Virgin Birth. A decade later the Soviet regime completely banned Christmas.They twisted it into a day of work.New Year's Eve, however , was saved and declared a national holiday.   Gradually Christmas traditions snuck in.There were trees, presents and sweets.Father Christmas was transformed to Grandfather Frost who handed out gifts with the help of his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden.It is now a big to do night.That means the meal or the zakuski  course  may start in the early evening and last until midnight There are braised short ribs,  along with Georgian chicken tabaka, pressed flat and pan roasted with garlic.Another lush dish is chanterelle mushrooms and potatoes cooked in a Russian version of creme  fraiche,

Chef Frumpkin -Morales (her husband, Israel, is of Latino heritage and fromKansas City,Missouri ) and
her family create these dishes along with many others.Her parents brought over their dishes of pungent smelling fish along with their recipes for pickled fruit and vegetables.There was also jellied  calves feet and cured skeins of fish roe.One of the stars of any Russian New Year's feast is Salat  Olivier, which has become Russia's modern national dish.Poached chicken is folded with diced potatoes,pickles, eggs, carrots and whatever is dictated by family tradition.During the czarist  era, caviar and crayfish were  major additions for the wealthy.During the Soviet era, luxury was replaced with baloney and canned peas for everyone. There is also salo ,a cured pork fastback and dark, dense breads.All this is washed down with endless vodka shots.The meal has to be hearty to absorb all that strong alcohol.There are recipes that anyone can recreate, including the mushroom and potato one.There is also a herbed grain salad with mushrooms, hazelnuts and pears.Spinach and the Soviet staple.,barley is also tossed in.There is a neat  "cookie"  recipe called chocolate kolbasa that's a blend of shortbread, graham crackers and a fudgy mix of chocolate chips, chopped nuts and cocoa blended with butter and condensed milk.It's mixed together, filled into a log and then chilled.It can also star at kids  parties too.

The Rusians know how to do New Year"s right:. It is feasting and fun for all ages.They ring  in a holiday with gusto and passion .

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Trends of The New Year

It's the day after Christmas and there are already predictions for what will be trendy in 2019.What will we eat? Or drink? Will we be more eco conscious or more snack ready? Time and our palates will tell.

Regular contributor.Kim Sevrrson pondered this in an interesting article in today's New York Times Food section.One of the most intriguing is cheese teas coming from Taiwan. This is green or black tea sipped through a cap of cream cheese blended with cream or condensed milk.It 's already big in San Francisco where it's  are with Meyer lemon and mascarpone cheese.Bet Starbucks will do e out with ,with Dunkin Donuts following.It  may be good, who knows.Another beverage that will be gaining speed is dry drinks.The 18 to 34 age group are more involved in spirit free cocktails.What does that mean? High alcoholic liquors such as gin will be relegated to the back of the bar.Drinks will be mixed with lower alcohol wines such as the spark ly Prosecco along with shrubs(!), craft vermouth, botanicals, and also non alcoholic drinks like Seedlip ,distilled vegetable and floral extracts.

We will be having more of a conscious when we eat too.Plastic straws and bags will have more bams throughout the country.Also diners are demanding that their favorite eateries cut back on packaging.Cutlery and plates will also be more reusable.Another green dream is the plant based main course.Substantial vegetable entrees will become fixtures on menus.Many people have started to eat less red meat or abandon animal products altogether.There are even some corporations  that have banned red meat from their campuses.Will this anger some carnivores? Possibly ,there may even be some law suits then?That said,another new trend is motherless meat, proteins that are laboratory grown that are entering  mainstream dining.There will also be more creams, milk and cheeses made from soy nuts and coconut.Even everyone's favorite ice cream will be made with no cream.A big trend that I've embraced is Middle Eastern food.Many will go wild over the foods of Lebanon,Syria and Turkey.Za'atar  and kebobs  will rule.There is also talk that the Stans  such as Kazahkstan, Tajikistan  and Uzbekistan will also give us the most popular dishes too.

2019 will be full of interesting trends that are both green and global.Embrace them or ignore them.Or come up with a few of your own.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

They Meet

They do meet💘💘💘💘
It's a holiday coupling made in heaven! Vanilla mousse and pan d'oro.

The perfect Christmas match!
I hope everyone has holiday love like this!
Merriest of  holidays!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Pace Your Christmas Cooking

One of the craziest Christmas tradition, at least here n the States is cooking and baking for just one day - Christmas. Everything has to be made for December 25th;A better and less frantic idea is pacing yourself. No one can make a ton of food for just one day. Spread out the feasting to two or three days.

That's the philosophy I'm following.As I pointed out yesterday I was going to bake two different kinds of premade cookies. Then on second thought  it seemed kind of crazy, We'd be inundated with them and they'd lose their specialness. Plus I have a mess of other things to do between wrapping presents and the usual household chores.To spend an entire Sunday afternoon in the kitchen would seem too much. The chocolate chips can be made when the sugar cookies get all gobbled up.After all the holidays are supposed to last for twelve days until Three Kings or Tre Re day, January 6th. I have enough time to create all sorts of sweet treats, from cookies to maybe a cake or a giant sharing cookie for the New Year's. I do not want to go crazy with baking. It could lead to all sorts of disasters  from under baked to burnt.Another reason for pacing the desserts is the pan d'oro I bought. I will be dressing it up in the Italian tradition where this airy brioche type bread is sliced horizontally and filled with vanilla cream pudding.The cake is a foot high and will be more than enough for three people.

Cooking should be treated in the same light.There are many who cook huge meals on Christmas Eve followed by a second banquet Christmas Day. This is taxing even for the most experienced home chef. There are usually two roasts, sides and salads. Sometimes two or three main courses share
 the spotlight.Families spend the days before preparing sides. Then comes the letdown on St. Stephen's Day, or Boxing Day, December 26th. This day can be celebrated  not with leftovers but with fresh cooked main courses and sides. My Christmas Eve will be making gemelli - those twisty pastas with homemade sauce. I could have saved it for our Christmas Day dinner but one, it would definitely be too much and two,it wouldn't go with a vegan turkey dinner.It would also be a day of nothing but cooking and a night of washing up. St. Stephen's Day is going to be when  I take panettone the Italian fruitcake and turn it into French toast. This is the perfect "day after" lunch, just a lazy day to enjoy a long brunch y meal, and go over the gifts.Whatever wasn't made during these three days will be baked or cooked in the ensuing ones.

The holidays can drive anyone crazy, especially the home chefs and bakers. Pace yourself. Stretch out the holiday kitchen scene before you stretch out yourself.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Premade Or Homemade

It's the dilemma of the holiday season :premade or homemade. What do you bake for family and friends?Or for yourself. That is the question.

For me this year the answer was a no brainer.Actually two answers:Pillsbury

Last year I went crazy baking up to 200 cookies 😲
24 iced cupcakes😲
and a marble cake with homemade fudge frosting😲

Talk about gilding the lily.It was a lot of work even though I used mixes for all three.This year I thought I'd just go to B& W Bakery in Hackensack or head to Stop& Shop and buy mini holiday cupcakes. I saw the first at the Lodi Shop Rite , as I was searching for the Gardein holiday loaf and couldn't resist. It looked too cute   and the end result would be yummy sugar cookies straight from my oven. Then I saw the Nestle's chocolate lover's giant cookies at my hangout , Stop and Shop. I
couldn't resist. and besides they're supposed to be the size of wagon wheels. Again irresistible. 
What I needed was easiness this year.Just preheat the oven, separate the cookies and then pop into a hot oven. Simple.
Besides I have to save my energy for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day cooking!😱

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Recipes From The Red Cat

The Red Cat restaurant was one of those eateries that stood out in lower Manhattan. It was a great place to get great food Their dishes were legendary. Foodies raved about their burgers and sauteed zucchini. The Red Cat may  be closing but their recipes will live on for home chefs.

It's closing was highlighted in yesterday's New York Times Food section. The food section maverick and former editor, Sam Sifton, and his photographer , Daniel Krieger went to visit this classic that will close this Sunday. The Red Cat has been there since 1999 , started by Jimmy Bradley and Danny Abrams. The restaurant was meant to evoke New England by way of Paris oozed a kind  of  particular kind of elegance only seen in New York.It was confident and relaxed, witty but not too formal, nor informal either. Its'  most famous dishes are its' hamburgers and the quick sauteed zucchini with pecorino cheese and almonds. There are also tempura fried green beans with sweet-spicy mustard that everyone orders and still  will keep ordering til the last order is taken.One of the best things about the Red Cat is that it's a family place. Mr. Bradley's father built the half hull model of a red cat boat on the wall.Workers have been there since the opening and one worker Valentin, Garcia -Luna has gotten his family jobs there.

Mr. Bradley fell in love with the restaurant scene when he was an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island. He worked at several, and arrived in New York in 1994,cooking for a number of chefs, including Jonathan Waxman at the Bryant Park Grill. He became a friend and a mentor - a part that he took on and nurtured the latest generation of chefs .Luckily the Food section has published some of the Red Cat's recipes. There s Jimmy Bradley's Salad with Gruyere Imagine  bacon laced potato salad married to a creamy fondue. The potatoes are oven roasted so there's a nice crispness to them which goes well with the bacon's crunch. The dressing starts with a roux and then the Gruyere along with heavy cream is simmered together.. The salad is made first and then ladled on to the cheese mixture. It's a great dish for the quiet days between Christmas and New Year's/ The tempura green beans with the mustard sauce would be a fantastic  holiday party nibble.It's the classic tempura batter made with  egg whites, seltzer and flour.  It's fried on canola oil and served  a mix of Dijon mustard, honey and soy sauce.

The Red Cat has given twenty years of great food and atmosphere.The recipes will live on, thanks to  home chefs recreating its' best recipes. They'll be going strong

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Jamaican Christmas Up North

Christmas is full of amazing aromas and flavors. Amp those up and you have a Jamaican holiday. The Jamaicans have always amped up everything about Christmas, from shopping with a junkanoo band playing to cooking and baking flavorful rich dishes. They do the day right.

Famed cookbook writer  and regular contributor, Priya Krishna wrote about it for today's new York Times's Food section. She not only got tot taste the best of Jamaican home chef Hazel Craig but also saw how she created these amazing dishes. Her assistant was her daughter , Jessica, the head  pastry chef at L'Artusa in  Manhattan's West Village.Hazel lives for Christmas celebration It has been the one constant n her family's trouble life here first in Queens , then Islip Long Island. They had even suffered a fire that completely destroyed their house. Yet Hazel would not be deterred during the holidays. She cooked curried goat, callaloo,ackee and saltfish in a small trailer. Even in their rebuilt house, she made sure they had the same feasting as they did before. It stems from Hazel's Jamaican upbringing. The island goes into full partying mode every December. She grew up in Spanish Town where people would dress up, playing drums and dancing in the streets. Her grandmother made her favorite dishes which included curried goat and a fruitcake rife with cherries and raisins marinated in rum since the Christmas before, Hazel's dessert nowadays is a sweet potato pudding , dusted with nutmeg.

The family comes from all over the US for a traditional Jamaican Christmas. Hazel makes the fiery callaloo which would be a perfect chill chaser. right now.It's a fish and greens stew chock full of all sorts of flavors. The original recipe calls for Amaranth and water spinach but Ms. Krishna suggests subbing in kale and Swiss chard with their stems removed. Saltfish or baccalao (cod) is also added for substance along with tomatoes and onions, Hazel adds a teaspoon of Lawry's Seasoned Salt which also has paprika and garlic.It's also cooked with vegetable or canola oil. The fish is first boiled and then shredded into little pieces. The tomato and onion are sauteed , then the saltfish and greens are added and stewed.The other recipe is for curried goat.If you do try this, remember that most supermarkets don't sell it. You'll have to go to a halal butcher for it.Onions and potatoes are added to it along with that famed Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper - which is pure fire.There is also the addition of Jamaican curry which also has allspice added ,a spin on the true Indian curry.It takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours to cook in a Dutch oven.

Jamaicans know how to do Christmas right. They make it a festival of food, both fiery and warming and sweet and calming. That's exactly what a holiday should be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Small Quiet Christmas Dinner

Everyone thinks of Christmas dinners as big lavish affairs with  tables groaning with roasts and bowls of mashed potatoes with gravy , followed by an endless array of sweets. Some households may have that. yet there is also the ones with only two or three people. They can still celebrate but on a smaller scale.

Roasts are always the stars of a holiday table. Yet a twenty pound turkey or ham would be  way too much  not to mention providing leftovers until Valentine's Day. Think small. A four to six pound turkey will work and there will still be leftovers for sandwiches.Another idea is turkey breast. it can range anywhere from two to eight pounds. The smaller ones only take between an hour and a half to two hours to roast and there's not as much fuss to them.It can even be  cooked in an Instant  Pot. There can be gravy  by using the pan drippings.  Individual Cornish hens are a lavish  yet not so overwhelming as a  main dish as well . Like turkey, there will be crunchy skin and tender white meat and juicy dark.Ham has always been a Christmas favorite. Get a small one  - a little over one pound will be satisfying to a party  of two or three.What about vegans? Gardein has  four turkey cutlets that come with a reasonable facsimile of gravy.If there's a table of four then  think about their holiday roast. It's stuffed with cranberries and rice along with having its' own gravy packet. The taste is exactly like the real thing too.

What about sides? A full holiday table will have three or four plus a salad or two. This would be too much for two or even three people. Write down a list of favorite sides and narrow it down to two. That way dinner isn't so overwhelming and there's no waste or a ton of leftovers in the fridge. If you're having stuffing, then nix the dinner rolls. Decide on what kind of potato you want , whether the usual Idaho or russet or sweet. Think  larger casserole type sides such as scalloped potatoes or candied yams may be too big a dish for two. You could just have baked russets with a fancy garlic or herbed butter.Or try just roasted yams, with maple butter. Something green is always a nice compliment to ham, turkey or tofu. Get the steamer bags of broccoli and green beans. There's just enough for two to three people.Serve with melted butter or vegan butter and sprinkle on some Parmesan.. Dessert should just be for two. Duncan Hines has  their Perfect Size cake mixes with icing that makes for a sweet ending to a holiday meal. Jazz it up with a sprinkling of red and green sprinkles or crushed candy canes.

A Christmas dinner for two or three can still be lush and delicious. Just think small. It'll be a perfect meal, with the right amount of food.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Your Holiday Spice Guide

Christmas brings the heart warming aroma of spices. They are what add flavor and color to a variety of dishes. If you;re new to them, experiment and be delighted by their contribution to recipes. Which ones to use? All of them.

One of the most traditional spices are cloves.These dried little pin like buds have been used in Asian and Mexican cooking for generations.It is also a must for a Christmas ham.Not only does it serve as a nice decoration, its' dark earthy sweetness complements the meat's saltiness.They can also be used in another holiday treat mulled wine.This is a heady warmed punch that not only has cloves but also star anise, juniper berries,cardamon,and cinnamon. Ground clove can be used in the famed coconut Christmas cake too. Nutmeg is another spice that's a winter favorite.Usually it's dusted atop frothy cappuccinos  but it can also be used  with brown sugar as a dry ham rub or sprinkled on mashed sweet potatoes.Of course it's used in baked treats.Try nutmeg laced cupcakes with caramel icing or sugar and spice cookies that rich in butter, nutmeg and cinnamon. The star of the holiday spice rack is cinnamon.It can be used in a soul warming butternut squash soup or a fiery veggie hash. Snickerdoodles wouldn't be the same without it and you can add a pinch to regular sugar and butter cookies too.

The big stars of the season are ginger and peppermint. This is the time of elaborate gingerbread houses and sweet gingerbread boys and girls. Yet ginger  root can be used in main and side dishes too.It works perfectly with ham or even roast pork. Mix it in a marinade of chili peppers,honey soy sauce and rice wine for a more non-traditional but delicious Christmas dinner or holiday buffet.This fiery root can also zing up side dishes too.Everyone will  rave over honey ginger carrots that also have a spritz of lemon juice . For a cleansing dish, make a salad with the ginger and beets dressed with simple oil and vinegar. You could make gingerbread cookies but how about a Christmas ginger cake, sweetened with molasses and zinged with ground ginger mixed with cinnamon and cloves. The strong flavor of peppermint is also prevalent right now. A nice peppermint tea is soothing after a heavy meal and perfect for a quiet read with a new book. Add a drop of peppermint oil to hot cocoa for a tasty night time treat.The pairing also works well in cookies. Think a plate of chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies or pinwheels. Bark also is a great way of highlighting the two flavors too.

Spices are what give holiday food and drink their special flavors. Use one, Use them all to make the holidays even more delicious.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Cookie Baker's Must Have LIst

It is holiday baking time, Most home bakers have an idea of what snap or crisp they're going to make. Now it's time to make sure  the arsenal is well stocked. Print out the list below and circle or highlight what you need.

Cookie cutters - do you have enough for what you want? You can get by with one circle and one star cutter. If you want more variety then head to Target and buy the Wilton eighteen piece set. They have everything from a mitten to reindeer to Santa 's hat. You can also buy a Wilton three piece set that has a star, stocking and candy cane cutouts.
Ice cream scoop - use this for perfectly shaped and evenly distributed drop cookies.
Cooking spray - to use on the ice cream scoop. Dough just slides out without it sticking to fingers and rings. Prefrably use  butter flavored one. This can also be used in place of butter or margarine to grease cookie sheets
Appropriate flours - yes you may need the regular kind but also have a package of  gluten free flour for those family and friends with celiac disease.
Sweeteners - have plenty of white and brown sugar for doughs and confectioners sugar for icings..If you're going the alternative route, then make sure you have enough honey and maple syrup
Flavorings - make sure you have  vanilla extract or vanilla beans and pods, along with peppermint, rose water ,almond, coffee and cocoa extracts
Baking chocolate and unsweetened cocoa - for both cookies and icing.
Cream cheese bricks - for icing and some cookie recipes.
Eggs you'll always need them
 Unsweetened apple sauce  - an egg sub in for vegan cookies
Aquafaba  bean water from chickpeas. An egg white substitute that can be used for making meringues and royal icing.
Nuts - use for flour, texture or decoration. Have packs of slivered almonds, crushed walnuts and pecans.
Peanut butter- for peanut butter cookies and for sandwich cookie fillings
Chocolate chips for cookies and decorations
Sprinkles,  red hots,  dragees and sanding sugars - for decoration
Decorative tins and Saran wrap  - for wrapping them as gifts.

Once you have all these it's time to BAKE!!!!🍪🍪🍪🍪 Get that cookie factory in gear and create tasty memories!!!

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Breakfast Book For You

Breakfast is undeniably the best meal of the day. That explains why we have brunch , and the evening meal breakfast for dinner.Now there's a new book that  has all things first meal. It's a recip e book, history book, and encyclopedia all in one. It is the epitome of  breakfast.

Breakfast :The Most Important Book About The Best Meal Of The Day (Oxmoor House Publishing 2018)was compiled and written by the editors at Extra Crispy, a blog about what else - breakfast. The site is rife with celebrity interviews and where to find the best hot chocolate along with recipes on how to turn leftover tinned popcorn into breakfast.It's a fresh approach to eating fun, healthy and/or traditional and the book also reflects that.I love this book.It has a plethora of really good recipes along with the why of what we eat in the morning  or afternoon  or evening. The history of the egg is fascinating, starting with the CroMagnons. Another interesting section, written by Jim Behrle. is the one on Taylor ham, why it's call what it is and why we cook it with four slits in it. Following it is an essay on livermush, a North Carolingian breakfast specialty. Coffee and , especially cappuccino affectionados will love the chart detailing the amount of espresso, milk and foam that go into our must have morning joes. There is also an excellent section on the mimosa, that ubiquitous brunch must have along with eight variations on it.Contributors have also written reminiscences about the breakfasts that defined their childhoods along with an eye opening essay on Anita Bryant, she of orange juice and old fashioned homophobia fame.

What about the recipes themselves? There are so many that I am going to try during this holiday season and well afterwards. I love the advice for making the perfect poached egg. There is also the perfect Hollandaise sauce to go with them, explained with such exactness that it'll be your go to recipe for this delicious , lemony sauce. The chart for five easy  smoothie recipes will come in handy for those who want a healthy "green" start to the day. All of them just have five ingredients which makes for an easy blend.Then there are the decadent Dutch babies, those puffy oven baked pancakes that feed four or five. Want more baked goodness? The Extra Crispy writers have a chapter on such tasty AM classics as DIY toaster strudel, made with phyllo dough and sticky toffee cinnamon rolls, based on the English sticky toffee pudding. Home bakers will love the recipes for buttery brioches and old fashioned fruit filled muffins. International breakfasts are also featured here.Dal pakwan ,a  fiery standard in Indian household would be perfect on a cold winter's morn along with the yeasty, sweet Shibuya honey toast, popular in Chinese and Taiwanese households. The best recipe by far is their take on a gingerbread house constructed out of Pop Tarts and decorated with a variety of breakfast cereals.

Breakfast  The Most Important Book About The Best Meal Of The Day is the must have holiday gift for breakfast lovers and foodies alike. It is informative and entertaining. Best of all it is chock full of yummy recipes that you can create for any meal, breakfast lunch or dinner!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rum Balls With Zing

One of the most classic holiday treats is the rum ball. This is a no brainer for seasoned home bakers - an experiment in fun for novices. Yet the original recipe can be fusty -  a throwback to holiday parties of mid 20th Century America. It's time to liven it up with exciting twists and flavors.

Melissa Clark did just this n her recipe for them in  yesterday's New York Times Food section. Her A Good Appetite  centers around the recipe, marrying another Christmas flavor, gingerbread. Hers was a happy accident, thanks to the scraps left over from a gingerbread house. She was left with weeks of nibbles and still had more remaining. As with any frugal home baker, she pulverized  the pieces.
,using the crumbs for both the balls and a few cheesecake crusts subbing them in for graham crackers. The first were a big hit.People like their heady, boozy buzz  and the gently spiced bites. This year she deiced to make them again, using packaged gingersnaps.along with pecans and amber rum. You can also use bourbon or brandy too, just to vary them.Ms.Clark also uses cocoa powder to give the rum balls an earthy mellowness along with freshly ground ginger, and freshly ground cardamon along with ground cardamon and more ginger. this time ground. Get rid of the usual corn syrup and put in maple for a warmer, deeper flavor. The cookies can be coated in either confectioner's sugar for a moist exterior or granulated sugar for a nice crunchy crust.

The recipe is simple and a no bake one. What brand of gingersnaps should you use? Ms Clark doesn't have any favorites. You could use Nabisco's new and improved recipe which features real ginger and molasses. For a buttery flavor then go to the cream of the crop - Tate's gingersnaps which have the lovely addition of butter flavor too. She does specify what kind of rum to use. The amber  variety has
 a mellower flavor than the white but she recommends using the one you like. It starts off with pulsing the cookie crumbs and pecans in a food processor until coarsely ground. Do not over process. The nuts have to have some texture. Alternately finely chop reserved nuts  and add them to the crumbs. In a separate bowl stir together 3/4 ths of a cup of confectioner's sugar , rum.maple syrup and the cocoa powder. Also add the spices. Stir in the crumb mixture, adding more ginger if you want more fire. Squeeze everything together in a mass. Roll the dough into one inch balls, finishing in a roll of either confectioner's or granulated sugar -your choice. Store them in an airtight container where they'll last up to two weeks (although they'll probably go in a day) Drizzle more rum onto the older ones to keep them moist.

Make these zingy balls to add to a cookie swap or end a holiday dinner. They're easy and fun. Bestof all they're delicious and boozy - the perfect Christmas bite?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Best of 2018 Issue

What was the best recipe of 2018?Or the best restaurant? Or the best wine? The answers are in today's New York Time Food section. Foodies and readers may agree or may have a few of their own choices. Let's see if your choices were in the top.

So, what where the best recipes? One turned out to be the one that was my biggest disaster Julia Moskin's chicken franchese. Done right it must be magic.I realize that some recipes just don't translate to vegan. It is a great dish,perfect to make for a holiday dinner party with friends. Add some fettucine along with a flute of Prosecco for a really festive meal.Another chicken recipe also became a Times reader fave - Melissa Clark's sheet pan chicken , Even novice chefs can make this tasty mix of chicken, bell peppers and sweet potatoes. It's spiked with sage,paprika , and cayenne. If you prefer mild then try Alison Roman's baked mac and cheese -  creamy with sharp cheddar and given texture with a sprinkling of bread crumbs. There is also Sam Sifton's adaptation of Jonathan Wu's beef and broccoli using chuck steak, and butter! End with salted chocolate chunk  shortbread cookies, from Alison Roman . These new classics won hands down as one of the best recipes, as it married everyone's favorite flavors dark chocolate and butter.

The best restaurants and quick bites are internationally varied. Reviewers went wild over Lagman House that produces the varied noodles, from Gulshat Azimova. a Dungan cook. She is from a small minority from southern Kazakhstan. with ancestral influences from the Muslims who traded on the Silk Road and the Han Dysnasty. Bab Marrakesh gave reviewers  a taste of Morocco. with lamb shanks amid prunes and almond and the meat pie, bastilla, dusted with confectioner's sugar. Ho Foods has its; lu  rou fan, pork belly soaked in a combination of Taiwanese beef and rice wine, along with orange peels. What wines were the stars of 2018? Eric Asimov cites the grand  Chateau Lafite Rothchild Pauillac 1868 (!), He was fortunate enough to attend the 150th anniversary celebration of Lafite's acquisition by the famed Rothchild family. According to Mr. Asimov,this was the wine of a lifetime. For more down to earth wines, there's the Noel Verset Cornas 2004, a syrah and the Italian La Stoppa Emilia Macchione from northwest Emilia -Romana,known for its' purity and depth.

These are some of the best - tastes and flavors that made 2018 sing . Will they continue on in 2019?Or be replaced by even better and tastier foods and wines. Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Very Paleo Christmas

Christmas is the time for rich food and even richer desserts. There's a lot of guilt - and calories involved though and that means spending January dieting. Yet suppose you can have tasty treats and eat them too? You can - with a Paleo based menu and recipes.

Ham is a big deal and a classic Christmas main dish for centuries. Guess what? It's also the star of many a Paleo dinner too. Instead of crusting it in brown sugar and ginger ale use a mix of coconut crystals, raw honey, along with maple syrup. Zing it up with dijon mustard and coconut vinegar which has the similar taste to apple cider vinegar.It can still be decorated with pineapple rings and cloves. Another choice is of course,turkey.Keep it moist with constant basting. so there's no need for gravy. Since a flour based gravy is taboo, try a barbecue sauce mixed with chicken broth for a different spin. Every Christmas dinner table is also laden with sides. Think a simple grilled Brussels sprouts  with just olive oil or better yet a melange of veggies. Try a colorful mix of cauliflower, kohlrabi, and butternut squash baked in coconut oil and spiked with thyme and rosemary. For fanciness, try a sweet potato Dauphinoise, made with almond milk.There is some decadence with the addition of butter and Gruyere cheese. You could also just roast them in the oven and serve with a small dab of butter or coconut oil.

Christmas means cookies and treats. The Paleo diet allows for a wide variety of ingredients to be used so that means a variety of goodies. Paleo sugar cookies have an extra nuttiness thanks to homemade cashew flour being added to the recipe. This is easy to do. It's just taking raw cashews and grinding them in your food processor. Coconut flour is added for more substance, Tapioca flour is also added as a binder along with the clarified Indian butter ghee,one egg and honey. It  may sound like a bit too much for a simple cookie but the end result is worth it. Want more variety ? Then try the caveman's version of the chocolate chip. It's more or less the same as a regular one, but the standard brown sugar is replaced with raw honey (keep in mind that the taste won't have that earthy sweetness regular ones have). Blanched almond flour mixed with coconut flour is used instead of white.The Paleo recipe does require organic dark chocolate chips and not the usual bag of morsels. If these recipes are a bit off putting then think about Paleo peppermint meringue trees. These don't vary too much from the original  recipe. They're made with egg whites, tinted with a natural green dye , and piped into three blobs on top of each other. After baking, the bottoms are dipped in a mix of peppermint oil and dark chocolate . This is a great treat for kids and adults alike.

Paleo doesn't t mean basic. You can have some good for you holiday treats Paleo style that are relatively healthy and fun. It's still a Christmas with a good meal , followed by tasty treats.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Junior Baking Made Easy

Kids and baking cookies go together like  well  cookies and milk. Yet some recipes can be overwhelming for the young bakers, especially if you're letting them go solo.Go with the simplest.  It'll make for a fun  and not fretful time in the kitchen.

The easiest, and least worrisome are the no bake recipes.One of the most fun and the most candylike is the recipe for cow patties (horrible name but a tasty bite). It's adding butter, sugar, and milk,along with milk and cocoa powder in a four quart sauce pan. It;'s boiled for a minute and then taken off the stove.  Peanut butter and vanilla are then added , finishing with the oats. The  "dough" is then dropping by heaping teaspoons on wax paper lined baking sheets. You can add red and green cherry halves for a festive holiday look.If you feel that the kids can't handle a burner then think about Rice Krispie cookies. Heat up the butter and marshmallows in the microwave for  three minutes on high. Stir and then microwave again. Stir a second time to make sure marshmallows are completely melted. Then add six cup of the cereal,. Mix until all the rice puffs are coated. Pour mixture on a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan coated with cooking spray. Use the cooking spray on the spatula and spray liberally on the cookie cutters.Decorate with icing, chocolate chips, silver dragees or anything that catches the kids' eyes. You can also make a Rice Krispie  house too, using all sorts of candies and cookies to decorate it.

Older kids such as the nine to twelve age range can have fun with simple sugar cookies. Try a drop recipe instead of a rolled , put in the fridge dough. It's a mix of flour, baking soda, salt and butter along with  one egg and vanilla extract. Sprinkle on holiday sprinkles before popping into an oven.Peanut blossoms are another fun holiday cooking and can be varied with both milk and dark chocolate  kisses. The dough is a peanut butter one, sweetened with light brown sugar. Continuing in that vein, have the young bakers trying their hand at peanut butter cookies. For even more deliciousness  dip the ends in either milk or dark chocolate and then blitz with red and green sprinkles.Chocolate chip cookies are everyone's favorite and the homemade ones are the best. A simple recipe is one that contains all the stuff that makes these snaps a decades old classic. It's an alchemy mix of flour , butter eggs, brown sugar (it has to be BROWN sugar, white just won't work) and of course chocolate chip or chunks. Dark chocolate is the best.

Encourage young bakers with simple recipes. They'll enjoy making and baking them. Let these future pastry chefs go wild with flour and sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Pick Your Party

What kind of holiday will you throw? Cozy and fun? Elegant and catered?Outdoorsy and fun? Indoorsy and quiet? There are many ways to play this. It's up to you on how and what to serve.

Many Christmas parties are family  and friend affairs. A fun one is a potluck dinner. Everyone can bring this favorite dish , whether savory or sweet.Make sure that they're are no duplicates unless the recipes somewhat differ.No one  wants every dish to be pasta based. If someone's signature dish is already taken , then suggest their second or third favorite recipes.Some areas are blessed with mild Decembers. Think about an outdoor party, complete with a barbecue.eschew the heavy winter dishes and think summery potato salads and slaws. Instead of cookies, think a hot chocolate s'more where dark chocolate is subbing in for milk chocolate and then sprinkled with cinnamon.Have plenty of outdoor lights on since it gets dark early. A tree trimming party is another option. This is an informal one so think a crockpot of tomato sauce with a big pot of any kind of pasta simmering on the stove or chili, poured over piping hot polenta. Guests can bring  dessert, namely homemade cookies. You can
 even have a cookie contest with prizes. Create stockings  filled with Peeps marshmallow trees , along with chocolate and peppermint bark for kids (and any adult with a sweet tooth).

Then there's the elegant route.This is time to get out the good or holiday themed china along with name cards and a slew of utensils gracing plates and chargers.. It' tempting to set the table with poinsettias but these can be too big, obscuring guests' faces. Think something small and classic such as a quartet of white and red roses in small square vases. You can work with a florist to achieve this. (there is also a great company, Venus Et Fleur that can create these with perfectly preserved roses) . Start with two or three amuse bouches. These can be shot glasses full of gazpacho followed by Camembert bonbons and small skewers of grape tomatoes and mozzarella cheese , with a balsamic drizzle. As  for dinner, you could go for a standing rib roast or roast capon. Think grilled asparagus with lemon  or roasted squash with thyme and onions for sides.  Also having a simple side salad with a plain vinaigrette dressing is a must.Dessert can be that American classic - baked Alaska using aquafaba  on trend right now. Even more impressive is croquembouche , a  pyramid of cream puffs, filled with chocolate ganache and champagne cream.

There;s a variety of party types to choose from. There's no right or wrong choice. - just your choice. Have fun planning and throwing it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Gift Of Giving Back

Today s the 77th anniversary  of Pearl Harbor , a  time when people didn't weigh  the pluses and minuses of their actions. They just did, thinking of others before themselves. We have to do the same, feel the same way during this holiday season. Volunteer your culinary talents and time this winter.

One of the best ways to help is volunteering at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.For those without family,this is the best way to spend Christmas instead of at the movies or just home alone. Shelters and kitchens also throw small holiday parties and if they let you , bake something. Have the kids help. A fun sheet cake , plates of cookies and  trays of cupcakes help to make everyone's season brighter. It is also a good time for the kids to start on a lifetime of public service. They can also  make up stockings full of candy for kids there too. If they're older they can also assist, from serving food to washing up and drying.Another idea is organizing a holiday bake sale with the shelter or church . This is a chance for a kind of cookie swap where you can shine and bring your best recipes. A great idea that definitely gives back is having a group get together and bake a gingerbread village. Raffle it off with the proceeds going to the poor. Any one with a sweet tooth would love wining a munchable town.

The feeling can extend to neighbors and friends of friends.If you know they're alone for Christmas eve or Christmas day, then think nothing about inviting them. They'd appreciate a meal with family and lively discussions. Another idea is "adopting" a nursing home resident and baking him or her cookies or even creating a fruit basket tailored to their dietary needs. If you have more time them think about contributing to the nursing home holiday party.The families would greatly appreciate it and it would be like bringing a little bit of home back to them,Military families also need a bit of cheer . If there are any on your block, then invite them in for a cup of cheer and some holiday savories and sweets. For any  service person coming home surprise them and their spouse with a gift certificate to  fancy restaurant for  one of their favorite restaurants. It's a small  way of saying thank you. Another way is throwing  a holiday welcome home party where everyone in the neighborhood or family can contribute a sweet or savory  dish.

This holiday season - give  back. It's a way of spreading good will and good cheer. That's the best present of all.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Homemade Food Gifts

Nothing beats a homemade gift. It symbolizes the epitome of love and care. Home chefs and home bakers can definitely attest to this. Family and friends love homemade nibbles. The best part is that it's an easy gift to make.

The New York Times Food section touched on this in an article written by regular contributor, Kim Severson. Food gift swaps are kind  of like culinary Facebook events. Everyone finds out on line and then people are paired with gift givers who also expect a home baked or home cooked gift in return.As with Facebook and Twitter it is a fun way to meet fellow foodies from across the country. There are moderators such as the website Food52 which is dedicated to cooking and decorating brings food lovers together. This year 1,1507 from fifteen countries signed up, (it's closed for this Christmas but you can sign up for next year's). Gifts can be anything from homemade jam to peanuts raised in an Alaskan backyard garden. A new mother, Adrienne Kerrigan, a Seattle food blogger received a container of frozen apples cooked forever from her food exchange couple. They had found out she was expecting and sent her  the same first food that they had fed her baby. As for people with allergies, celiac sufferers are paired with other allergy sufferers.Europeans are given names of foodies on their continent while Canadians are matched with fellow ones.

You don''t have to use Food 52 to have a food swap. If your family and friends love your cooking and baking then gift them with edible gifts. The Food section online has an amazing array of recipes for making fresh from the oven and stove top presents. Snack lovers will go wild for Melissa Clark's tamarind spiced nuts with mint. It's taking cashews and coating them in a blend of tomato paste, light brown sugar,honey butter and tamarind. The nuts are then baked in a 300 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Candy lovers will enjoy opening up a box of Florence Fabricant's buttery English toffee made with a pound of Lindt or Tobler chocolate and two and a half cups of butter. Then there's  David Tanis;' chocolate bourbon truffles , rife with heavy cream,  crushed pecans, or hazelnuts and of course, bourbon. He also has a savory pecan cookie, spiked with rosemary and Parmesan cheese. Give a tin of them with a dry sherry for a one of a kind gift. .If you have jam lovers in your circle surprise them with bacon onion jam, a blend of bacon, Spanish onions, and mustard seeds cooked down with dark brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Bake a loaf of  sourdough to accompany it for a great lunch or hearty snack.

Food gifts are fun to make and fun to give . Join a food swap or give a holiday treat to friends and family. It'll be enjoyed and remembered throughout the entire year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Holiday Issue Of NYT Food

Christmas season is cookie season. It can make home bakers  jump for joy  while novice ones may cringe at the magnitude of work ahead.Luckily the New York Times Food section today comes to the rescue. (is there ever a time when it doesn't?) with their holiday issue. It will inspire and ease whatever qualms may arise.

Most of the pieces are about baking and one article about edible gifts (more on those tomorrow). The baking articles are keepers. There are some seriously good recipes that can be made not just for the holidays but all year round. Kim Severson interviewed top cookie bakers or "cookiers" as they named themselves in the "Tao Of Dough". Top cookier, Georganne Bell lent her chocolate sugar cookies.This is a nice change up from the average vanilla ones. With it comes Ms Bell's recipe for the fluffiest royal icing.Usually it's made with egg whites however her recipe calls for meringue powder  which will give it a lighter consistency.  The chocolate sugar cookie recipe could also be used in making homemade Oreos.with a peppermint or vanilla buttercream filling Ms Severson also has a sidebar on how to decorate like a professional.One of the most important musts is getting the right consitency. Ms. Bell bangs the bowl five times against  a counter to get a smooth surface. Two other musts - don't go crazy with icing gadgets and a slew of cookie cutters. Keep it simple with one holiday set.Also find a recipe that works for you and that you're comfortable with  mixing and baking. Other points include switch to gel food colors and rolling out the dough to a quarter inch.

Allison Roman also contributes to the holiday issue with an article chock full of all sorts of spins on classic cookies. She has one recipe on toasted coconut shortbread, It has crunch and more butteriness thanks to the addition of unsweetened , shredded coconut. They're also finished with sanding sugar that gives a nice crunch when eating them. The end result is like one of those pure butter Danish holiday cookies that  come in that blue tin this time of year. She also reconfigures this classic Scottish treat with salted pistachios, however walnuts,pecans or hazelnuts can also be swapped in.It is a bit harder than the average cookie dough.  It does require a food processor however  if that doesn't work, then old fashioned hand kneading to thoroughly mix the dough. It's baked in a traditional tart pan, similar to the original recipes.It's then sliced in wedges.  She also has a chocolate molasses snap, that are slightly different than Georgeanne Bell's.Hers are spiked with freshly grated ginger mixed with butter for heat and spiced up with cinnamon. Simple granulated sugar is the only decoration this cookie needs. The issue also highlights cookie- centric cookbooks, reviewed by Margeaux Laskey. There is Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big Hearted Bakery  and Rose's Baking Basics to name a few.

Holiday cookie baking and decorating should be fun. Follow the recipes in The New York Times Food section. It'll make for easy  and tasty Christmas time memories.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Fresh Baked Ornaments

Two of the most fun Christmas activities are baking and tree trimming. Combine them and you have a great time creating and  decorating fresh from the oven works of arts. Even novice bakers can join in on the fun with simple recipes.

If you want cookies without the calories, then think salt dough ornaments. Why a dough heavily laced with NaCl? Salt , as we all know, is an excellent preservative. It will contribute to the ornaments lasting a longtime without crumbling or also deters mold from forming which would shorten the decoration's shelf life. Start with preheating the oven to 300 degrees F. What you'll need is four cups of all purpose flour, one cup table salt  and one and one half cups of  warm water. Pour the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and slowly stream in the water as you stir . Keep stirring until all the water has been added in. It will take on the consistency of bread dough so it will be hard to work with. It's now time to use your hands. The dough should be smooth and pliable like pizza dough.It's then rolling it between two large sheets of parchment paper.The bottom sheet should be placed on a cookie sheet. The dough should be 1/8th of an inch thick. If it's too thick the ornament will crack and break due to the air bubbles trapped in the middle. Then cut out the shapes while the dough is still on the parchment. Peel away the excess dough from the cutters. You can then make designs, using a fork, straw or paring knife. Use a drinking straw to poke a hole in the top for the ribbon.

Now it's time for baking! They should go into the oven for about an hour. You'll know they're done when they feel hard.(Tap with a fork or spoon to gauge hardness). Don't worry if they turn brown. You can always paint over those. The real fun part comes after. It's time to get the paints,  glue and glitter!! You can mist the newly baked ornaments with a thin coat of white spray pain to even out any brown baking spots. They can be left white to look snow dusted which would be very dramatic on any tree. Some use puffy paints, others use paint pens for more precision. A fun idea is using them as place tags at a holiday party and personalizing them with guests names. Use gold and silver paint pens to write the names. Another idea is outline the ornaments in glitter, rhinestones or garlands . As for the type of ribbon to use, you could use classic red and green velvet or go a little more fancier with metallic.If you want really festive ones then look into Paper Mart. This  site has a wide variety of printed ribbons that would complement any ornament.

Baking fun and decorating Christmas trees  is combining two holiday loves. Whip up a batch today and have some fum. Create memories and ornaments!

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Very Vegan Hannukah

Hannukah is a time to remember miracles and for many vegans, the lives of all creatures are miracles. They want to celebrate but can't because of animal products being used to create treats. However there are meatless recipes along with ones that eschew eggs and dairy. Vegans and vegetarians can have their latkes and sufganiyot without any worries about harming their fellow animals.

A cold December night calls for a hot soup and what better than a vegan matzoh ball one. It starts with vegetable broth, whether homemade or bought, If you make it from scratch remember you can add whatever veggies you want. Start with carrots and celery and toss in tomato and bell peppers if you want. Onion is very flavorful and then also add such herbs as marjoram, rosemary and thyme. Here comes the hard part - making eggless matzoh balls. Can it be done? Eggs are the binding force that keeps the dough balls from coming apart once they hit the hot soup.Instead use aquafaba that  all purpose and on trend  bean water left from chickpeas. They have a composition similar to egg whites and can be used in the recipe.You will have to par bake them . For a simpler take use silken tofu instead of the aquafaba.This is taking about half a cup of firm silken tofu, pureeing it and then adding  one half cup matzoh meal and two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Boil them separately from the soup and drop them into the cooked broth.

Of course it's not Hannukah without  latkes. These crunchy potato pancakes traditionally have used eggs to bind and shape them.  You can omit them and continue on with the recipe.It's taking two large russet potatoes and combining them with a diced yellow onion ,flour and baking powder. Fry in vegetable or light olive oil. Latkes are always good with sour cream and vegans can still enjoy this -  by using vegan sour cream. You can buy it or make it by using silken tofu and mixing it with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.Then add minced garlic and sea salt and blend. Jelly doughnut or sufganiyot are treats that Israelis love at Hannukah, It taking yeast  and mixing it with almond milk and then adding it to the blend of salt, flour and sugar.Coconut oil and ground flax seed is also incorporated into the dough. Fry them first in vegetable oil, then roll the hot doughnuts in a bowl of granulated sugar. It 's now time to fill them. Fill a pastry bag with raspberry or apricot jam, Put the insertion nozzle tip on the bag and stick in the doughnuts. One squeeze should fill them.

A vegan Hannukah is a fun one. It is still full of tasty treats but without harming animals. Celebrate the miracle of all life on earth.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Aquafaba Meringues Finally

What do you do with left over chickpea water? Turn it into meringue and fake marshmallow fluff!  I had some left over from my chickpea stew the other night and that created the itch to literally whip up meringues. This time , they turned out picture perfect.

I used the recipe from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken blog and I think it was one of the best. Before you do anything line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. You can attach it with a dab of meringue. I didn/t I laid a jar of salt on it to flatten the paper.

It starts with a cup of aquafaba. Mine came from Stop and Shop chickpeas.

Then add in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract ,.I used my favorite Nelsen-Massey.
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Then 3/4 cup of granulated sugar.

It was mixing the first three ingredients, using first a stand mixer than a hand held one with a balloon whisk. The recipe said beat for six minutes, adding a spoonful of sugar  until everything is completely  mixed. It took me fifteen minutes to get the meringue into stiff peaks. Then it's dropping them by teaspoon on the parchment. This recipe makes a lot of meringue. I had to use two cookie sheets I baked on on the oven's center rack and the extra on the top most for two hours in a 200 F.  degree oven.
Imagine my surprise when they came out perfect!.  I turned off the oven and then let them dry out in a cooling oven. 
Their shapes were perfect, so different from that gooey mess I made last summer (the weather could have something to do with it).
The baked ones had a slight chickpea flavor which I'm going to amend next time. I may add cocoa or coffee flavoring. The texture was perfect airy and crunchy.
I had a lot of batter left over.  You have to bake it  more or less in one shot. However I had a whole tub left over. Tasting it reminded me of marshmallow fluff . What does that pair with? Frozen dessert! I scooped a big glob on Reveri Chocolate Forest and YUM!
This is my new favorite topping. It's even better than whipped. cream.

This was a fun experiment with exciting and unexpected results. I will definitely vary the recipe to try different coffee and cocoa. maybe even peppermint.
Try this recipe for vegan Christmas cookies, It's a truly an interesting  bake!

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Allergy Free Christmas Cookie

It's the start of the holiday baking season and with that comes a plethora of cookies. However it can also be a dodgy pick and choose game for those with various allergies. what to do? Create bites that are not only tasty and worry free. The end result is still a large buffet of sweet treats.

All baked goods start with flour and that's where the first problem is. Many have gluten which can be lethal to those with celiac disease. A simple spritz cookie can bring on everything from intestinal  distress to vomiting. Instead of forgoing a sweet nibble, incorporate gluten free flours into the holiday baking routine. Many companies like Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur do sell gluten free versions of their regular flours at supermarkets. There are other flours you can use such  almond flour which is perfect for making macarons or light , fluffy's would also be good for low carb brownies and holiday breakfast waffles too. Its' coarser cousin, almond meal can be used for quick breads and such cookies as citrussy snowballs, fun thumb prints or almond chocolate chip cookies. Another route is making traditionally flourless treats.  Aquafaba meringues are simply chickpea water, sugar,cream of tartar and vanilla. Make them really festive by adding natural red and green dyes. Rice Krispy treats can be molded into cookie like rounds for fun decorating and eating. Rice Krispy treats can even be molded and cut into larger pieces to create a variation of a gingerbread house.

Holiday cookies are filled with all sorts of goodies, such as nuts and chocolates. Yet they can be sheer horror for those with severe allergies. Substitution is the key here. Don't deprive  family of those peanut butter cookies. Sub in sunflower butter instead. This is sunflower seeds crushed and mashed into a type of  spread that can be a great  fill in for anything that uses  peanut butter. The flavor is a bit milder, tasting like  - what else - sunflower seeds. Yet it's perfect for baking. Unfortunately those with peanut allergies are usually allergy to other nut such as almonds and walnuts. These figure heavily in holiday baking. If you still want crunch, then think seeds. Try the crunchy and delicate Southern treat benne cookies. These are buttery wafers made with sesame seeds, brown sugar, eggs, and a cup and a half of butter. Have these and they're sure to be a holiday classic. Chocolate is another cookie ingredient  that can cause problems for those allergic to it. Switch to carob which is the perfect stand in. Surprise the family with carob chip cookies. They won't know the difference  between them and the real thing. There's also a carob cookie recipe with powdered espresso in it for a mocha latte flavor.

Allergy sufferers and those who bake for them, don;t despair this holiday season. The key is subbing in ingredients that are still tasty but harmless. You can still make your cookies and eat them too,

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The App That Fed India

Social media may have many negatives but it also has many pluses. It can reconnect
 disconnected families, It can bring groups together such as the #MeToo. It can promote businesses and offer  knowledge. This is what happened with the messaging platform What's App and India. The two meshed perfectly, connecting home chefs, cooks and farmers.

Regular contributor and food writer, Priya Krishna wrote about this happening in yesterday's New York Times Food section.The app , What's App was able to connect a wide network of different food related groups all over the subcontinent. The Indians have Prime Minister Narenda Modi who  started Digital India, an initiative to increase internet connectivity across the country. It would connect urban areas to rural ones. Whats App, owned by Facebook is the medium of choice, It is free and only requires an internet connection. Most new phones already have it installed.As a result over 200 million (!) or one in six Indians have it, more than any other country. Some have misused it, spreading false news, inciting mob violence and even manipulating votes during elections in India and other countries. Yet it also has done a lot of good too, especially those who farm, cook or care about food. India is a country whose culinary traditions are orally passed down, not written on cards or in notebooks. Whats App allows them to share and arrange knowledge and skills.Some have even made a profit from this.

Whats App has affected all corners of India/Aysha Tanya, a founder of the food and culture publication, The Goya Journal uses it to get recipes from her mother . Saee Koranne-Khandekar uses her WhatsApp created a group with just her family. She even created a cookbook of their recipe  messages and pictures in 2014. Older Indian home chefs tend to be secretive with their family''s recipes, guarding them as if they were gold. Whats App has loosened them up and they're posting all sorts of dishes. .For mango farmer, Noshiran Mistry, Whats App is a godsend. He is able to get an internet connection five kilometers outside his town so he uses the application to send photos of the fruit  as they're growing to vendors all over the country. He also uses it to  pass along lore  about the fruit, preferring to writing a blog.He feels that more will read his messages than that.India's restaurant industry has also benefited. Chef Thomas Zacharias, the executive chef and and partner in the Mumbai restaurant, Bombay Canteen belongs to more than twenty Whats App groups . He uses groups to train employees on the menu and devise dishes, along with motivating the staff.

What's App is  connecting the food world of India. Recipes will not be lost. Farmers will prosper as will restaurants. Best of all people will come together and share their love of food.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Vegan Stew ; When Comfort Meets Healthy

Anything vegan and dairy free is good, especially when you have to cook for a die hard vegan. A recipe in today's New York Times Food section caught my eye. Weekly contributor Allison Roman created a  chickpea stew with coconut milk and turmeric checked all my culinary boxes- meat free, no eggs or butter, full of flavor and  color. Perfect/

These are the star players

The highlighters are the coconut milk and chickpeas, along with the greens. Ms. Roman recommended Swiss chard or kale.I went with a mix of baby spinach and kale.
It's first cutting up the onion.Use a yellow one as Ms. Roman recommends.It does impart a sweeter flavor than the white ones,
Then an inch of finely chopped ginger (mine was a tad too chunky, which kind of is a jolt when you get  it in a spoonful.
Turmeric gives it an Indian vibe.One and a half teaspoons were needed but I felt it was just a little too bland so I amped it up to two teaspoons for a real impact.
Along with hot pepper flakes about one teaspoon, but I love heat, especially on a cold night so another teaspoon was added.
Two cans of chickpeas drained. Remember to save the aquafaba (for cocoa dusted meringues!)

Fry all of these in a large pot using a half cup of olive oil. (it originally was a 1/4 cup but I felt it wan't enough.)
Add the garlic, onion, spices and chickpeas and fry until chickpeas are crispy and brown.
Then add two cans of full fat coconut milk. I used Goya.
and two cups of vegetable broth I used Swanson's.
Onto the greens. My pick - Stop & Shop mix of kale and baby spinach.
This is the stew before.
And after.
It was delicious with naan, with a variety of different flavors melding together. It was a burst of sunny heat on a chilly night. I have a lot left over and it will be even better reheated over rice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Elegant Table

A holiday table is just that,  a dining room table festooned with pretty plates and interesting settings.  Think classy. Think magazine elegant. It's just putting something that's Instagrammable and awe inspiring together to impress family and guests.

An elegant table starts with elegant table linens.Years ago, almost every household had hand embroidered or hand crocheted tablecloths. You can still buy them , namely at craft sites as Herrschner's and Mary Maxim's . I like both these sites because they do offer a wide variety of tablecloths and matching napkins that you can either cross stitch, embroider or both. The two companies sell very beautiful Christmas patterns that would make any table shine. Keep in mind that it does take time to embroider tablecloths, but it's a great way to relax  after a busy day . As far as crochet patterns your best bet is Etsy. This everything craftsy website has many lovely vintage patterns from the classic pineapple designs to the lacy snowflake ones.  Crochet thread can be bought at Herrschner's and Mary Maxim however they only sell white or ecru colored thread, which does make for a simple but tasteful table. Etsy has more colors, and you can easily crochet in Christmas colors.If you're all thumbs with a needle and a hook, then again look to Etsy  for some beautifully handcrafted table linens They also sell matching table runners and place mats too.

Of course a holiday table is not complete without holiday plates. If you haven't bought them by now, then do so. Kohl's has the dainty and famed Pfaltzgraff plates that feature a holly sprigged design. It's a great buy right now at $39.00 for a set of four, Macy's has the beloved Spode Christmas ware and again theirs is a good price: $38.00 for a set that includes matching wine goblets and coffee cups. Bed Bath  & Beyond has the very sweet looking red and white holiday plates. For a set that takes you beyond the holiday, think Waterford. Their patterns are 19th Century sophisticated , with simple and stark lines. Of course with an elegant table must come elegant flatware, Think purity of line, with sleek designs. Crate and Barrel is known for this kind of forks and knives, however Kohl's has less expensive variations. such as several patterns like the sophisticated Joanne and Bordeaux patterns. They also have beautiful sets from Cambridge such as Rosemary and Everdine. What about  stemware? Possibly the chicest comes from the Irish company Waterford. Their patterns and craftsmanship suggest richness and style. Much cheaper are the ones sold at Kohl's, namely Mikasa (you can also go the Mikasa site too). Their balloon glasses are the perfect accompaniment to timeless  dinner and flat ware.

A holiday table should be an elegant one. Think classic and chic as you place timeless recipes on timeless designs. It  will be a table that will be the envy of any holiday host.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cyber Foraging

This  being Cyber Monday, it's easy to turn to the Internet for Christmas shopping and even food shopping. To be honest, you can always find what you want on the Web  as opposed to an actual bricks and mortar store. It's a lot easier , and it does free you up for doing other things. There's also no long lines at the checkout or a dent waiting to happen in the parking lot.

One of the best places to shop for cooking implements and even ingredients is the giant Amazon.It does have everything that a home chef and gift giver want. I've used it for most of my baking needs, from my cake tester to madeliene and cake pans. It has every color of sanding sugar there is where some grocery stores only have one or two colors.Type in"sprinkles" and every color and shape  pops up. Plug in Instant Pot and every kind shows up.The site , is also well known for its' vast array of  cookbooks and there is literally every kind , from the classic Fannie Farmer to Tibetan cooking with every other cuisine in between. Unfortunately Amazon is also a conglomerate and many are turned off by that and rightly so. There are smaller websites that you can buy from. One that stands out is King Arthur Flour. Home bakers may be familiar with their variety of different flours found in their grocery's baking aisle. Yet their website offers a wider choice of all sorts of baking. They have boiled apple cider which give more flavor to apple pies , doughnuts and tarts. There are also stollen kits for ambitious bakers as well as vintage style mixing bowls and cookie cutters. The site also offers Breville toaster ovens along with bread machines and mixers.

It's a well known fact that some of the greatest kitchen bargains come from Kohl's and Target.One of my best buys ever, my Kitchen Aid electric mixer came from there. The price was slashed in half thanks to my Kohl's Dollars and discounts. It works perfectly and I can't even imagine not mixing without it. They also have Instant Pot and you can probably get it cheaper here than on Amazon.The store also has the air fryers which cook and  crisp foods with out having to deep fry them.Another plus with Kohl's is that they have elegant dinnerware and utensils, Need a new set for the holidays? Then go on line and order, and again use discounts and coupons. I did when I ordered a simply classic Cambridge twenty piece flatware set for only $17.00 with coupons. (that/s a little over a dollar a piece!) Target is another great online store for all things kitchen and entertaining. Again there's a 5  per cent discount for Red Card holders. Their gadgets are fun and affordable. I am a big fan of their kitchen ware. I bought their Kitchen Air immersion blender , getting a good price on it, The store also  carries choppers and sous vides. Target also has a huge variety of smaller tools like hasps for grating and strainers for draining pastas. Of course there is Wal-Mart that has everything and bargains galore. Their Pioneer Woman Denim Dinner set is almost half off right now as with  their Baker Eze pan set..

You can do cyber foraging and come up with some great buys and finds. It's just foraging for what you want and compare prices. Take advantage of online shopping .It;s a hassle free way of stocking up the kitchen.