Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What Makes A Good Chili?

Chili recipes are always up for debate. Like pasta sauce and French toast, how it's made is up to the individual home chef. Some add ground beef, others prefer lamb, A few home recipes calls for more beans than chilis. What's the best recipe to use? Stick with the basics and build from there.

That's what New York Times Food great Sam Sifton wrote about in today's Wednesday 's issue. Chili always causes a great debate. everyone has his or her own opinions on it He suggests starting with the bare bones of the recipe, using fellow co-writer Julia Moskin's chili formula. The most important ingredient is protein. Whatever you use, make sure it is high in fat and flavor. Use a quarter of a pound per person. What's the best meat? Mr. Sifton recommends chuck beef from the steer's shoulder,however short ribs and brisket are also good choices.A good idea is mixing cuts. Add stew meat to ground. Pork can also work as can lamb. You can go low calorie with chicken or turkey but remember that they can dry out. if this is the case, Mr, Sifton suggests a few strips of bacon to keep things juicy. Dark meat can also be used because its' got  fat too or you can use duck meat which is also rife with fat. Game meats such as venison, buffalo and even moose (!)along with marsh duck and pheasant. Vegans can add beans or fake beef crumbles as I do.Many Texans consider adding beans to be sacrilige but they can add more flavor and more protein

The next big debate are the chilis used. Mr. Sifton gives a entire list with their definitions. Most people, including myself, just use a heaping tablespoon or two of chili powder, an amalgam of dried chilis , paprika dried oregano and dried garlic. Authentic chilis use poblanos. These are big green peppers that are not too wild in their heat. Their color changes to red as they ripen. These are perfect for those who don;t want a five alarm bowl. For a sweeter and smokier mix try blending in ancho peppers. They can range from mild to medium hot, The pasilla pepper is a dark chocolate brown color of moderate pungency and brings a great deepness of flavor. Of course jalapeno brings spark to the table. Smoke and dry it and then transform into a chipotle. Chimayo is a New Mexican genus and its deep adobe red hue turns the chili the same rich brick color,Another suggestion from Mr. Sifton is also using chili powder along with the actual chilis themselves.  You can make your own powder . A good recipe is taken from Texas restaurateur Robb Walsh. It's toasting three ancho peppers in a pan, allow them to cool and add half a teaspoon of pan roasted cumin seeds. Garlic powder and dried oregano are also added. Everything is ground in a spice mill. An easier way is just add a heaping tablespoon of commercial chili powder to the mix

Chili is in the eye of the beholder. Stick with whatever works and whatever is delicious. It's the kind of recipe that c n be varied if you want  something new.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sweet and Savory Switch Up

Can salt and sugar be interchanged? Good question. Sugar is used primarily in dessert and baking, Salt and other savories are used in meat and vegetable courses. Change it up a bit. Both tastes unexpectedly used can create a new and exciting spin on ordinary dishes.

Salt has been primarily used in savory dishes for millennia. Maybe a pinch of it was used in baking recipes to bring out a cake or pie's flavor.. Things started to change with the invention of Crackerjack and tin roof sundaes.The first was invented in 1896 and married the flavor of salted  popcorn with a caramel coating. People love the rash pairing of two distinct flavors. It was around this time that a savory sweet concoction hit ice cream parlors first in the Chicago area then around the country. The creation was the tin roof sundae, a layer of salty peanuts on top of chocolate sauce, and ice cream and topped by a cloud of sweet whipped cream. Of course there's salted caramel, the best flavor sensation since - well salted caramel. It was sheer genius to combine flaky sea salt with the sometimes over sweet caramel.It's everywhere now, from cookies to ice cream to ice cream topping.It does make sense because the flavors are exact opposites of each other and together they balance each other out.Another good marriage is sea salt with dark chocolate Imagine a rich dark bark highlighted with nuts and crunchy nuggets of fleur du sel.

Just as salt enhances sweet, sweetness can add to savory dishes.The mark of a good tomato sauce is its' balance of sweet and salty. Generations of  chefs, both here  and  in Italy have added grated carrot to their sauces. Its' sweetness takes away the acidic tang of the tomatoes. Some here in the States had refined white sugar. I've tried this and was not happy with the candylike taste of the sauce. Instead I used dark wildflower honey which gives a sweet, earthy mellowness to the blend,Usually a teaspoon does the trick. The darker the honey the better.It has more nutrients and minerals than the light golden type. A teaspoon of this also helps balances out chili too, eliminating the tartness of store bought tomato sauce.For years  chefs , both restaurant and home, have gilded varieties of roast foul with all sorts of sweet glazes.Honey glazed chicken and Cornish hen have pleased palates for generations.It's usually mixed with both orange zest and juice to overcome the sugary taste. Fruits have always been used with different roasts, namely  pork, ham and chicken. The Germans have been marrying apples and pork roast for centuries, The apple's taste is enhances as well as tones down the meat's intensity.

Go ahead. Mix it up by giving savory dishes a touch of sweet and sugary dishes a jolt of saltiness. It's a great way of enhancing opposite flavors and making them stand out and memorable.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Diabetic Cooking - A Healthy Variety

One of the worst scourges of our time is diabetes. It can have terrible, life threatening consequences if not regulated and the diet not monitored.Luckily the American Diabetes Association has come out with a cookbook full of delicious and tasty recipes. Even the dessert and snack ones are flavorful and fun.

A Complete Month Of Meals Collection is a compilation of breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. The opening chapters deal with what can I eat, making healthy food choices and how to use the cookbook to your best advantage. The what I can eat section is crucial to a well balanced lifestyle.It lists the diabetic super foods such as beans, nuts,berries and fish to name a few The healthy food choices are also vital to better eating They give the best choices for fruits and veggies along with grains. Starchy vegetables are allowed and again the cookbook gives the best options. There is an excellent section on proteins, encouraging readers to try the "fake" or soy meats such as chicken , burgers and sausage.There's also a section on dairy as well as general tips about what to buy. The American Diabetes Association or ADA also parses out bad fats and what they are. Varieties of fish are divided into best, and good choices and choices to avoid. There's also sections on alcohol and what everyday beverages are good to drink.Home chefs will appreciate the pages discussing the amount of calories needed a day.It also shows how to regulate carbs as well.

What about the recipes? They're divided into breakfast lunch and dinner cards along with sections
on them and  on desserts located at the end of the book. All the recipes are tasty and based on regular classic ones. A Spanish omelet is modified to just use egg whites instead of the whole egg.There is baked fried chicken which is a great comfort or even party food. The lunch section tends to lean towards soups and salads. These, too, are tasty with such as cauliflower rice and chicken soup, loaded with veggies and flavor. A chicken and spinach salad is not only perfect for lunch but could also be made for a Saturday or Sunday night supper Vegans will appreciate the recipe for bean burger, made colorful and flavorful with kidney beans and ketchup (!) Kids will love the veggie pizza and the English muffin pizza melt. made with fat free mozzarella.  The dinner recipes are simple but elegant Home chefs can try  the chicken with sun dried tomatoes made special with a dash of white wine along with veal Italiano. People are curious about the desserts. There are many such as a healthier spin on the famed Sally Lunn cake and rice pudding Young and old alike will enjoy the sweet potato raisin cookies and graham pudding sandwiches. Drinks are also in here. Low sugar punches and shakes are the perfect thirst quenchers for those with insulin problems.

A Complete Month Of Meals Collection is a must have for any diabetic home chef. The meals  and treats are tasty withou being bad for you. This is the way to cook and to eat.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The All Powerful Banana

Bananas have been a staple in kitchens for over one hundred years. It's usually the first treat we eat and one of the first fruits we use as an ingredients It's the snack we carry to school or the office.Bananas also are packed with nutrients - the perfect fruit. It even has its' own carrying case.

Surprisingly a banana is a berry growing from a large herbaceous plant.Since the plant body is large and thick, banana plants are often mistaken for trees. The leaves are comprised of a stalk and a blade. There are the dessert or Cavendish kind which are bright yellow or the plaintain. The last is usually grilled, baked or fried, usually sliced wafer thin and deep fried until they resemble  potato chips. Bananas are one of the world's oldest fruit, going back to 8000 BCE. The seeds traveled westward, across the Indian Ocean to Africa, where the Wolof  tribe named it banaana. The Portuguese took it to western Africa and New World where banana plantations sprang up in Brazil. The plant also thrived in Jamaica where most banana plantations began.There is the myth that bananas are high in potassium which is not true. They are packed with nutrients that aid in heart health, thanks to being high in pectin, a much needed fiber. Americans eat mostly the deep yellow Cavendish variety, named for William Cavendish, the sixth duke of Devonshire. He introduced them to England in 1834, when only the aristocracy could afford them. Now they're in  every one's kitchens, Shoppers can buy them green and let them ripen in a paper bag with either a tomato or an apple.

Bananas are a baker's delight. The most common treat is banana bread. Many novice bakers usually try a banana bread as their first effort. It is an easy bake, with a tasty mix of ripe bananas, brown sugar and walnuts mixed with butter, flour , baking soda and eggs. The batter is poured into a greased loaf pan and baked for about an hour. It's the perfect brunch bread, sliced and slathered with cream cheese,For those in a hurry there are the instant mixes that only require eggs, vegetable oil and water., The flavor won't be as genuine because there's dried banana instead of fresh,. They can also be turned into tasty muffins and cakes too.Melissa Clark gave a decadent banana cake recipe in the Wednesday New York Times Food section. Hers is a rich , lush one  made with roasted(!) in their skin fruit.Lime juice and coconut are also added for a tropical flavor along with sour cream for richness.It's frosted with a coconut cream cream cheese frosting. and sprinkled with a generous amount of toasted coconut flakes. Of course bananas can be turned into healthy and tasty smoothies. Try one with yogurt along with skin milk for a refreshing sip after a walk or afternoon drink to wash down veggies and dip, Honey and wheat germ give it more of a good for you boost. You can also add some strawberries and swap out the honey for  chocolate syrup.Try a coffee banana one  sweetened with agave nectar. Greek yogurt gives it its' creaminess

Bananas are the perfect ingredient or snack. They fun to eat as well as being a great ingredient that add rich flavor to anything from cakes to breads and muffins to smoothies.Always have this versatile fruit in the kitchen.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Fun Side Of Fermentation

Probiotics is the new buzzword in home cooking these days. Home chefs are discovering that fermenting has a variety of pluses for the body as well as giving a unique flavors to food and drink. Now fermenting is simple to do , thanks to a brand new cookbook that shows how easy it is.

Kombucha, Kefir And Beyond (Far Winds Press 2018) is a fun and informative book written by Alex Lewin and Raquel Guajardo..  Mr/Lewin is  graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and The Institute For Integrative Nutrition, He teaches fermentation classes and workshops while Ms. Guajardo, also a graduate of second school runs a cooking school in Monterey , Mexico, with a specialization in fermentation.She started her own brand of kombucha and fermented vegetables which can be found in stores in several Mexican cities. The book begins with a full description of fermentation and why we need it. The authors delve into the history of it , and how it came about  - from our earliest days  as "drunken monkeys." They also provide the history of fermentation and its' many benefits and how it can improve your life and your health. A huge plus of the book is the guide to the tools needed for fermentation. They go into great detail about what bottles  and jars are needed for storage (luckily cider and beer bottles and their caps can be repurposed for this).There is a special page explaining kombucha supplies along with detailed pages regarding safety and sanitation.They also tell what kind of soap to buy - namely low residue , unscented dish soap.There are also pages  devoted to fermentations most basic ingredients  water and sugar.

The recipes are exciting to try. Mr. Lewin and Ms. Guajardo start off with easy recipes that novice fermenters can test out. There's the Indian  lassi that can be made savory , sweet or just plain. There's the salty fermented lemonade that can also be made with lime for a refreshing and all natural sports drink. Home fermenters will love a recipe for the cute sounding ginger bug that is responsible for ginger ale and ginger beer.Raw ginger provides an excellent substrate for the growth of lactic aid bacteria. Yogurt lovers will enjoy the recipes for kefir and yogurt.The chapters become more advanced with kombucha and its' honey based cousin, jun.A really interesting chapter is vegetable drinks. There's a beet kvass made from the brine of fermented beets. Best of all it can easily be made in a Mason jar. There is also a radish  brine , a fascinating mix of cabbages , radishes and such spices as cinnamon , and peppercorns with a dash of oak leaves.For those who love soda, there are recipes for the all natural ones that have the same amount of fizz and flavor without the health risks. Some are reflective of Ms. Guajardo indigenous Mexican roots. There is hibiscus soda made with just dried hibiscus flowers, sugar and filtered water and a homemade grape soda.  There is also a chapter dedicated to pre-Spanish recipes such as pulche , a precursor of beer and the pineapple based drink tepache.Home brewers will get a kick and a buzz out of the beer wine and even hooch recipes along with ones for fermented cocktails!

Kombucha , Kefir And Beyond  is a fascinating trip into the world of fermentation. It's also an easy guide into creating tasty and nutritious drinks that are a plus to any diet. Buy the book, try the recipes and get ready for the benefits of probiotics.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Will Restaurants Survive The MeToo Movement?

It's in our news everyday. It was common for  over a century in the movie industry, Even our olympic teams were not safe. Now the restaurant and food industry are also offering up their sex offenders and predators. Will it affect the way we eat? Will this powerful movement bring down the culture of celebrity chef?

Kim Severson posed this questoin as she also interviewed the chefs in an article in yesterday's New York Times Food section. One of the most famous offenders was Mario Batali, he of the trendy restaurants and TV shows like "The Chew." Sadly his partner, Joe Bastianich also has suffer, having to rise though the ashes of bad publicity. He had to get rid of Chef Batali, is elevating his mother, the famed chef, Lidia Bastianich to a much more involved role.. To be honest , Chef Bastianich has more experience and a more realistic and down to earth approach of managing both the business and employees. She can easily lead her son and offer sager advice when to comes to opening another restaurant or hiring a new chef.There will be another problem when the two partners split.Mr. Bastianich likens it to a divorce with who getting what. Then there are the customers. Do they want to go back to Babbo or Da Posto, despite the excellent food? It is the same dilemma  with another trendy Manhattan eatery, The Spotted Pig. One of the owners, Ken Friedman sexually harassed his workers which got him into a Connecticut rehabilitation center. His chef and partner, April Bloomfeld is now running the eatery on her own.

New York City isn't the only town where restaurants are having their MeToo era. Famed eateries in  New Orleans and Oakland, California. are also in the news thanks to predatory cooks and owners. The famed John Besh of New Orleans is still in charge, despite the twenty-five charges against him from former and current employees. He also maintains the final say on major business decisions however that's where his power ends. Mr. Besh  had ceded it over somewhat to Shannon White who started as a server with his company that includes seven restaurants.She persuaded him and his partner Octavio Manilla to put her in charge. Her argument was that this was a women's problem and a woman has to take the lead. Men would not understand it.She set up a hotline, revised training procedures and updated the employee handbook, adding a code of conduct and a morals and ethics cause. The trendy neighborhood of Oakland California is not immune either.Chef Charles Hallowell, who got his start at the famed Chez Panisse was accused of propositioning employees as well as having a language of sexual innuendo in his restaurants which include Pizzaiolo, Boot and Shoe Service and Penrose..He has stepped aside as an investigation is now being conducted. However he is arrogant enough to think this will all blow over. As one accuser, Molly Surbridge has stated, he needs to feel the real consequences such as a jail sentence for the severity and enormity of it to sink in.

Sexual harassment has to be stopped, especially in the restaurant industry. It may close some,It may ruin business partnerships. Yet it has to be brought ot light and stopped. It has gone on too long. A new era has to begin.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Architecture Of Pastry

Imagine a dessert that has sleek lines and innovative design ideas.It's happening around the world  and especiacally in New York, thanks to former architects now becoming pastry chefs. They are creating mind bending and thought provoking afters using the simple elements of baking. Yet their creations are far from simple.

It was the topic of an article in today's New York Times Food section. Written by Priya Krishna, the author of  Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks, a cookbook that relies on college dining hall ingredients.interviewed several pastry chefs, who started out with blue prints instead of blueberries. The idea of applying architectural ideas to pastry is nothing new. Over two hundred years ago, in 1805  renowned  French chef, the famed Marie-Antoine Careme wrote  "Le patissier Royal" a treatise that codified how architectural principles like drawing and planning could be applied in pastry making. chefs have long played and experimented with the structural possibilities of sugar, egg whites, flour and other ingredients.Now pastry teachers are also using those ideas to teach . At the International Culinary Center in New York and Los Angeles the second half of the school's six month pastry course has incorporated lessons on sketching, making timelines and project planning. There's also a chapter they have to study about elements of design. Thy learn about architectural principles such as dynamism and scale in relation to desserts.

The designs are incredible. Ukranian born pastry chef,, Dinara Kasko has created a cake that looks like two layers of cherries along with one that has three D chocolate sculpture floating atop a tart. Baruch Elsworth 's signature dessert has a large chocolate spiral sitting on what looks like light chocolate ganache spikes.In the hands of a architect come pastry chef, a lime tart becomes a tube as in pastry chef's Jennifer Yee's case. It's the shape of a bone and it's filled with a tangy lime curd. Toasted meringue is piped around it , not just for more texture and flavor but to anchor the tart in place. Pomegranate seeds are then scattered around it for color and bite. However not everyone is impressed. Stella Parks, a senior editor at Serious Eats and creator of Bravetart feels that the culinary element may be forgotten. She compares them to a trip to a  modern art's fine there but ot at home. People would rather have a memorable slice of cake or cookie.Agatha Kulaga, a self taught baker  and found of Ovenly, a Manhattan bakery has stated thus. Also diners are more willing to eat something that reminds them of their usual dessert as opposed to a puff of this or a tube of honeyed that.

Floating layers of pastry? Squares of cake that look like cherries. Is it art ?Or just dessert. Thar's up to the eater to decide

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Happy Birthday Disaster

I had such high hopes for the cake I was going to bake for my friend's birthday.It started out good.Unfortunately I can't even upload the pictures regarding this. It's like the whole project is against me!!!!!

It is blurry  but you can see it's the Duncan Hines butter cake, along with sprinkles and butter. I did everything according to the instructions (well except for the sprinkles) I added half a cup which I thought would be fine. It wasn't.

The butter part was fine. I diced it to make for easier blending. This is the batter
The batter looks fine. It was fine as I poured it into the two inch eight inch round cake tins The problem was that the batter super rose and got all over the oven floor. Could it be that I whipped too much air into the batter, thanks to my new Proctor-Silex beater? Maybe? The batter didn't set on one layer. That went directly to the birds when cooled.
I made a traditional butter cream for the remaining layer, 
As you can see the cake is in the pan and is too soft to be lifted out of it. Just a plain icing graces it, hiding the mistakes in the upper right side. I used Wilton's Sparkle Gel icing to write happy birthday. If it had come out OK, , it would  have been a blue and green ombre, but alas it wasn't.

Will I use Duncan Hines again? Maybe. Maybe not. Will I bake butter cake again? Probably not  but never say never. This has been an eye opener in a usually idyllic and problem free baking season. I will try again - but not so soon. I think I need to get the bad taste of a flop out of my mouth.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Cereal's Other Side

Cereal has always served as THE breakfast food for one hundred and forty years.It's  a great starter for sure, yet cereal can be used in a variety of other recipes, both sweet and savory. It's not just for breakfast  but for lunch, dinner and even snacking.

Every American kid has memories of their mom making Rice Krispies treats. It was our first time in thinking outside the cereal box.Who would think that what we had for breakfast would make an awesome dessert? Even though you can buy these low cal treats, they're super easy to whip up.The basic recipe is melting three tablespoons of butter and one package or about forty marshmallows and melting the two ingredients together in a saucepan. Add six cups of Rice Krispies, mix until cereal is completely coated and pour into a buttered  13 by 9 two inch pan. Wait until completely cooled and cut into squares.  The fun thing about this recipe is that it can be varied. They can made gourmet by increasing the butter to half a cup or one stick. If doing this, then up the amount of cereal by ten cups. Vanilla is added for a richer flavor.  Marshmallow creme can also be used instead of the puffs. Go wild with additions. Most just toss in sprinkles and chocolate chips but there are some who would toss a handful of crumbled bacon into the mix.The recipe isn't exclusively that cereals' You can also make them with Cheerios, Fruity Pebbles and even the diet driven Special K. Any of these can also be turned into holiday shapes.  You can mold them into chocolate dipped footballs for a Super Bowl party or cute red sprinkled laced hearts for Valentine's Day.,

Cereal can have a savory side too.Rice Krispies can easily be used in breading chicken or fish. It's taking one cu and a quarter of coarsely crushed pieces mixed with flour and seasonings such as salt and pepper, dried parsley and a kick of cayenne. You can also use cornflakes - usually one and a half cups for three pounds of various parts. The recipe can either be deep fried or a healthier baked.. The chicken is first dipped into melted margarine first then rolling them into the crumbs. The result is a crunchier texture that works well with the bird. Fish can also be coated in the cereal. It's actually healthier because the coating doesn't absorb as much oil, creating a lighter, less greasier piece. Cormflakes can also be used. Both have to be mixed with flour to get that exact texture or the batter could fall off during frying.Cereal can also be used in other recipes as well.The ancient grain version of Cheerios (this has quinoa and millet along with amaranth) can be turned into a croquette. Asparagus , zucchini,carrots and pepper are added along with goat cheese to the ground up rings. They're then coated in bread crumbs and fried to create a tasty and unusual dinner.

Cereals aren't just for breakfast. They can be turned into savory and sweet meals and desserts everyone will like.  Just think outside the cereal box.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Losing A Genius Paul Bocuse

Good chefs come along once in a century. Paul Bocuse was just that chef. a master in creating amazing and legendary plates. Sadly he merged with the infinite, yet he left behind a legacy of delicious recipes.

Chef Bocuse was born ninety-one years ago in southeastern France in the picturesque town of Collognes -au- Mont- D'Or, a commune of the World Heritage culinary site of Lyons. He was a student of the first woman chef, Eugenie Brazier. She, herself, was a supernova in the Gallic culinary world, being the first chef, male or female to acquire six Michelin stars for her restaurant in the French  Alps. He was the one who was responsible for reviving nouvelle cuisine, a lighter and more delicate take on the cuisine classique, the more common sauce heavy dishes that originated in France during the 1600's, Doing such made French cuisine more accessible not just to gastronomes but to home chefs across the globe.Nouvelle cuisine actually came about during the 1700's with chef Vincent La Chapelle, publishing the first cookbook featuring it. Bocuse's new take on it became a hit as it especially  resonated with American chefs, Classic dishes were now plated with artistic flair. Chicken , beef and fish were now drizzled or dotted with sauces, instead of being drowned in them. Vegetables were not just a side,, They too became part of the plate's canvas.

Bocuse was also known for the World Cooking Contest award,  Concours  mondial de la cuisine. Bocuse d'Or first created in 1987. The event takes place i Lyons at the end of of this month. Its' a two day affair attracting such amazing chefs from all over the world. It's divided into three medals, gold, silver and bronze, exactly like the Olympics. The US team was coached by the great Rolan d Henin, the famed CIA instructor, The Culinary Institute of America was chosen itself, to be the setting of the American competition as well as Epcot Center in 2008. The CIA honored Chef Bocuse in 2011 with the title of Chef of the Century and changed the name of their famed restaurant , Escoffier to Bocuse. The chef himself was responsible for creating truffle soup, The recipe itself can be recreated at home but it's a rich one, complete with foie gras, black truffles (you can buy these but they are around 100 dollars.) and Noilly Prat vermouth. There's also mirepoix and chicken breast added and topped with a puffed pastry lid.. Home chefs can make a cheaper version using button mushrooms.

Paul Bocuse was a driving force in world cuisine. His influence will be felt for decades to come.he was a true genius and will be truly missed.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Naturally Boosting Your Energy

we all have days when we hate to get out of bed . Our energy levels are low and everything including rising is a chore. It's time, then, to look into natural energy boosters. Even a bite will give the impetus to get up and go.

What can we eat to give us that get up and go? Most reach for that all important cup of joe to make them wide eyed and bushy tailed. The problem with caffeine is that it's dehydrating along with making you edgy throughout the day, It can also cause stomach discomfort - not good on the morning of a big meeting. Stick with that classic oatmeal.It's high in fiber too which the body needs to function properly. Bananas are ca also give you that much needed eye opening jolt. What's great about this fruit is that it can be eaten plain, as a snack or sliced and topping cereal.  It's also tasty  as part of a smoothie.Bananas can be eaten as a sweet afternoon snack when energy levels dip mid-afternoon.Greek yogurt is another food that can get the body running. Sweeten with honey and cinnamon for a breakfast treat or use it as a dip with veggies as a healthy and tasty lunch. Mix sauteed onions in it and serve with baked potato chips as a fun snack.

Energy levels can lag during the day too. Not a great feeling when you have a lot to do. The best solution is eat a high energy lunch, Chickpeas are the best choice as are dark leafy greens such as the ever popular kale. Create a salad with these too along with the addition of grape tomatoes  and broccoli, You could make a Greek yogurt based dressing for more boost or stick with a simple vinaigrette.Hummus is another chickpea recipe that's easy to make. It's basically pureeing them with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Serve with toasted pita for a light but filling lunch.The beans can also be blended with zucchini to make tasty fritters, the perfect Saturday lunch, Snacks are another way to help stay focused and bright eyed. Of course many of us reach for a chocolate bar. The only good ones are the dark  90 per cent chocolate . These resemble baker's chocolate in color and almost in taste. If these aren't your cup of energizing teas, then stick with nuts. Almonds are the most healthiest but walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews. and pecans can also give you more energy. If you do crave a chocolate bar go for a dark one loaded with hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are pure energy. They do taste good on their own but they're pure heaven married to dark chocolate.

Jump start your day with  energy boosting foods. They'll give you the jolt needed to function properly . Start today for a burst of vibrancy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tea And The Perfect Kettle

One of the best things about chilly winter days is a soothing hot cup of tea. It's more refreshing than a coffee and lighter on the palate than hot cocoa.What makes the perfect tea? The perfect kettle, of course!!

What is the perfect kettle? I had to ask myself that today as I browsed both the Target site and Target's actual shelves. Our old kettle's handle broke, ending thirteen - fourteen? years of constant service.(it's seen in this blog's signature photo) We not only heated water for endless cups of tea - but also for instant espresso, hot cocoa ,oatmeal and instant soups. It could have lasted for another decade - save for the plastic handle breaking.  A tea kettle is vital to any household, especially one as tea addicted as mine. Going out to buy one was a must.I had wanted a stainless steel one, like our other. That was until I saw this beauty.
It's from Chantal (29.99 from Target) and what drew me to her (is she like Mrs.Potts from Beauty And The Beast?) is the sleekness. I love the ergonomic handle that makes her easy to lift and pour. Another big selling point was the lever on the handle's underside, It automatically lifts the spout cover. This is a huge plus  because it  was a pain to always lift the old kettle's cover.That required a a pot holder to do this. She is also a whistler - another bonus.

This tea kettle is a bit more delicate than the other. It is completely coated in enamel which means it can't handle intense heat for long periods of time.If the enamel melts she becomes  a fancy watering can for the garden.She  also only holds two quarts while the old kettle could handle about three and a half to four quarts.Still, she is a beauty , especially with that glossy, shiny navy blue coating.She is going to be handled with care. .The interior needs to be washed if there are any mineral build up which unfortunately will happen  thanks to us having hard water.. Luckily there is an instruction booklet and it suggests washing  away any mineral build up  by boiling white vinegar and water for twenty minutes. How can you tell when that happens? The kettle's interior will have a white powdery deposit, thanks to a high  magnesium and calcium content,It can be a real pain to remove if left untreated for long periods of time.

What makes for a good cup of tea? My Chantal tea kettle. I look forward to many cups of tea with her.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Joy Of Canadian Cooking

Mexican cuisine usually gets all the attention when it comes to North American cuisine. Yet Canada also has a varied and interesting culinary heritage that marries native with European traditions. The result is a  meld  that  should make Canadian cuisine interesting and exciting.

Today's New York Times Food section is devoted to all things Canadian. One of the most interesting articles came from Dan Bilefsky, a long time Times writer and native Canadian living in Montreal. He interviewed First Nation chefs, Cezin Nottaway and George Lenser, both responsible for taking back an important part of their heritage. For centuries the Canadian government tried to erase the various tribal customs and languages. They were successful in that but not in taking away foods the Kitgan Zibi and Nisga'a nation that the two chefs represent. Chef Nottaway not only cooks native meat such as moose and beaver , she also hunts them too. She believes what her grandmothers taught her. - that animals will become lonely and suffer if they're not hunted. She does give a prayer of thanks to their spirits. There has been some uproar when to comes to seals. Even though the indigenous have special hunting licences to obtain their meat, the seal killing has rightly brought about protest from animal rights groups. The killings were very violent and traumatic, drawing six thousand names on a petition.Still Canadians are embracing the native dishes, as food trucks featuring them pop up in the major cities.

Another Canadian tradition, the butter tart was also featured. Sara Bonisteel,a freelance writer and first time contributor to the Food section wrote about these treats. They are the most simplest of bake goods to make. The filling is nothing more than brown sugar,butter and egg. Raisins are added along with vanilla extract.Other Canadian bakers ave tossed in toasted coconut , chocolate chips and nuts.It's orgins are murky,It could have evolved from the Scottish border, Bakewell tarts and the Quebec sugar pie.It's a pretty easy bake. with a simple butter crust and a custard filling.Maple syrup can be drizzled over them after baking. Canadians love their whiskey and there is also an article on it along with wines from the Lake Ontario region. For a while Canadian whiskies were dismissed as being bland and bottom shelf. That's all changing thanks to Davin de Kergommeaux, a whiskey writer from Ottawa.His articles are  introducing a new generation to peppery one hundred percent rye grain or ones finished in port and rum barrels. As far as the wine, Ontario was once known for ice wines, wines made from frozen on the vine grapes. It is changing thanks to vingerons such as Francois Morrisette who guide the grapes from infancy to fermentation.

Canada is a country  full of interesting cultures and cuisines. It's time for them to be acknowledged and tried. The Great North is full of great food and drinks.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Your Pancake Guide

One of the best cold weather breakfasts is a plate of pancakes. They make for a hearty starter or even a Sunday  supper too..Best of all the recipe can be varied to suit different tastes and needs.

Pancakes are one of the oldest dishes in the world, first being made by the ancient Greeks. They were call tagenites and made sort of similar to today's recipe.The first recipe involved wheat flour mixed with olive oil, honey, and curdled milk and served for breakfast.They were topped with honey, cheese and sesame, possibly a form of tahini The ancient Romans made something similar. .It was Middle English that gave us the word pancake.Almost every country has some variation of the cakes.Most Americans and Canadians are familiar with flapjacks or griddlecakes. The US also invented the smaller pancake, the silver dollar, ever popular in pancake houses across the country. The French variation , the crepe, was a trend in the Seventies when a chain creperie , The Magic Pan hit the malls. Italians have a similarly textured one called the crespelle.Now we can experience the Indian varieties which, like crepes, are both savory and sweet.The Chinese have been offering savory ones for years in the shape of their tasty scallion pancakes.

Pancakes are one of the easiest breakfasts to make. Most home chefs turns to that classic , Bisquick to make hearty and sometimes heavy ones.There's also Aunt Jemima, the country's oldest mix , first being made in 1889 by Chris and Charles Underwood. Store's such as Stop & Shop and Trader Joe's also have their own brands. These are great if you're in a hurry and want to whip up a quick batter. The best,though are the scratch ones. Try the All Recipes one which has all purpose flour and baking powder for lift. Also eggs and milk are added to give the finished product a cakey texture.For richer pancakes sub in heavy cream for milk.Recipes like these also increase the butter amount too. Usually there are two tablespoons added but you can go up to a quarter of a cup. Pancakes are versatile. You can add nuts such as chopped almonds and walnuts or go the fruit route with blueberries, strawberries or coconut. Once you've mastered the basic pancake, then try the gem of the breakfast world - the Dutch baby. This is a German style one, similar to Yorkshire pudding. You do need a cast iron skillet for it because the skillet has to sit in a 450 degree Farenheit oven before the batter is poured in.It a richer version of the basic pancake recipe using more milk and eggs.It puffs up and is served with everything form lemon and powdered sugar to maple syrup.

Pancakes are the best defense on a cold January morning. This ancient recipe is still on trend thanks to being hearty and rib sticking. Make them your first meal , complete with butter and drenched in maple syrup.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Can Food Unite Us?

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day for unity and inclusiveness. Unfortunately we don't have that thanks to a racist and divisive administration. That task now falls to us. How do we unite? Over a good meal or even just a coffee.

Now , more than ever we have to sit down with neighbors, coworkers, and our kids" classmates and teachers. Churches, synagogues and mosques have to gather together as well. The best way is through a meal or even a bake sale. Schools should offer Saturday luncheons or dinners where parents and kids can get together and bring up topics from bullying to prejudice. The meals don't have to be elaborate. A pot luck menu can be arranged with everyone following religious dietary laws  as well as being sensitive to vegans and those prone to food allergies.Another great food idea is that the families bring their traditional dishes so others can expand their palates. Kids can experience dal or kimchi as well as understanding why going meatless is so important to vegetarian classmates.It's also a good time to bring out the fruits and veggies and have parents start a dialog about healthier school lunches.The same idea can be applied to places of worship.It's an important  idea to expand not only the palates  of older members but  also broaden their horizons. The more they know about a religion, the less they are to judge and pigeonhole.

This same idea can be applied to the town's police forces as well.Many throughout inner cities and even some suburban towns regard the police with suspicion. It's time to come together with a lunch or dinner at a community center or school. Again, this creates an open dialog for all sorts of subjects. It also gives kids a chance to see cops not as their enemy, but as people  just like them. Towns can definitely give this a try , especially during the warmer months.Many municipalities do have a Memorial Day or Fourth of July picnic where everyone gathers over hot dogs and soda. They should have this once or twice a month  from May to October. These would  unite a town. Again volunteers can make various foods from their backgrounds to create an all inclusive internationally driven get together.A forgotten group of our society is our elderly. Nursing homes would welcome the community to come and share a meal with their residents. It also is a boost for the young because they get a first hand look at people who have made history and lived during some of its' most memorable times.

Can a meal help unite us? Most assuredly yes. It's just a question of planning an all inclusive lunch or dinner where all are invited.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Big January Clean

Now that the holidays are over , it's time to clean out the kitchen. A snowy weekend in  means time to assess what you have, what needs to be thrown out and needs to be repurposed. It's a great way of figuring out what 's good and what's not.

There may be some baking ingredients left over from last month's big bake off. Chocolate chips can still be good and reused in everything from sundaes to rice puddings. Sprinkles can be scattered over ice cream or hot chocolate. Check to see if any leftover nuts are still good to eat. These are the first to go rancid . If that's the case toss. Cake mixes can last up to anywhere from a year to three years while cookie mixes can be used within twelve months. It's also a good time to evaluate all those cans. Canned beans usually can last a long time.If you have a few cans and  tomato sauce then think about making . chili This is a great dish to also get rid of any left over roasts. Tins of tomatoes can be repurposed into making sauces for future pasta dishes.Any extra boxes of pasta can go either Italian or Chinese, depending on the ingredients. you have around. It can also go into a fun spaghetti pie . the fridge needs to cleaned out too. Those cocktail olives from the your Christmas party probably should be tossed by now Check condiments too.Mayo can only last two to three months while ketchup lasts longer at eighteen months.

Luckily stale bread, crackers and snacks can be tossed to the birds and fact you can go to any big parking lot and feed the gulls and land birds as well as hitting your local beaches to feed gulls and other sea birds. Leftover bread can be turned into a tasty bread pudding, perfect for a frosty day.Old fruit and veg can also be thrown out to any raccoons and possums in your neighborhood. The same goes for cereals.  Just remember that cereal can last up to six months.  Another idea is turning them into fun treat bars.It doesn;t have to be just Rice Krispies. Cheerios can also be used. Add some leftover chocolate chips or sprinkles for color and taste.They can also be crushed and used to coat chicken for chicken fingers or fried chicken  Any rice cereal can also surprisingly be  used for coating fish for a perfectly crunchy coating. If you have a lot of oatmeal,yes, it makes for a good  hearty breakfast but it can also be used for cookies as well as for crisps.Use it and any leftover flour from holiday baking to make oatmeal bars. Make it healthy with the addition of honey and wheat germ.

January is the time for cleaning out. Evaluate what you have. . decide if it can be repurposed or thrown out. Cleaning out will make for more room and a tidier kitchen.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Urge For Summer Food

Sometime in January or even February everyone gets a hankering for summer dishes, whether they be salads or ice cream. It could be that the cold weather is getting to us or we just miss those flavors. Don't deny yourself that grilled burger or ice pop. Go for it  - despite the temps

Who doesn't miss a juicy flame broiled  burger? You can still barbecue if the weather is crisp and cold. Fire up the grill, using any charcoal left from the previous summer. Wood chips can also be used too to give more flavor. The same goes for ribs and chicken too. Think of this method when you're busy with Super Bowl cooking too. If it's too snowy, sleety, or rainy, then use an indoor grill. There are some very good ones out there such as the Hamilton Beach or Proctor Silex . The  George Foreman Grill also has a panini press for sandwiches. If the weather thaws a bit then think of a picnic at your favorite park or beach. Even if the temps dip, you can still pack hoagies and salads, but also include a thermos of hot soup or hot beverage to warm you up. Salads too can be made. You don;t have to wait til Memorial Day to b real out the slaw and macaroni salad. The winter provide Savoy cabbage, a much more tastier leaf than the average cabbage.You can make it the same way as your warmer weather slaws. Macaroni salads are also welcome along with potato salads. In fact, these would be the preferred dishes for a pot luck football party.

The winter strangely also brings a taste for ice and ice cream. You can still have popsicles. Stores still sell them however you don't know how long they've been in the freezer section. Make your own by using molds and juice. Better yet try the Zoku Slushie Maker. This cup takes any drink and turns it into a refreshingly chill slushie. Use already made coffee drinks for a refreshing afternoon snack or a Pepsi for a bracing treat after grueling housework.If you;re on a healthier bent. then
use fresh juice r smoothies to pour into the chilled inner cup. For some reason we crave ice cream when the weathers gets frosty. Indulge yourself. Cones can still be bought so have fun with them.They're a rainy day treat . Dip the cones tops in melted chocolate and sprinkles for added flavor. Waffle bowls are a summery treat and they can be adapted for winter cravings. Hot fudge or hot caramel can always be poured in top. Hot fudge is easy to make and it's so good on something as simple as vanilla ice cream. The same goes for caramel sauce It's just three ingredients - butter , heavy whipping cream and sugar. Both sauces can also be drizzled over fruit or that most summery of cakes - the pound cake.

Indulge those summer cravings with summer foods. It's a nice break from heavy winter flavors and foods. Go for the burgers and ice cream while the weather is still chilly.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Strong Lure Of Poke

One of the best things about growing up in Hawaii is poke, a centuries old fish dish that has been refined over time. Sadly for good poke  you do have to visit the islands. That's what Food contributor and restaurant reviewer ,Ligaya Mishan did, . She went back to her beloved home state in search of the best dish.

It wan an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times Food section. It's hard to get authentic poke in the States, especially in the New York area. It is a fish based dish, more of a side or a snack, according to Ms. Mishan. Poke originated with the indigenous Hawaiians, calling it i'a maka according to Martha Cheng in The Poke Cookbook. It was either kneaded with the fingers and called lomi or cut into sticks called poke. Salt was added to preserve it as well as crunchy seaweed,lima, for texture and  more brine . Buttery kukui nut hearts or inamona.Local fisherman caught the fish from shallow waters along reefs.The texture changed .The fish flesh became more like a poi like paste. The Seventies brought a change of tastes and Islanders started to want ahi or yellowfin tuna splashed with shoyu or Japanese soy sauce. This  reflected the influence of the Japanese to the Islands , first coming as early as 1868 to work on the sugar plantations.

There are many places to find the real deal in Oahu. Ms. Mishan likes Foodland's, a local chain. Theirs is made with ahi and shoyu. The recipe for the stores is overseen by a CIA graduate, Keoni Chang. He uses sea asparagus, truffle oil and gochujang, a savory and sweet red chili paste used in Asian cooking. It becomes a deconstructed California roll poke with the addition of avocado, sriracha and furikake - a Japanese seasoning consisting of chopped sesame seeds , seaweed and dried fish mixed with MSG , sugar and salt.. Another well made poke is from the Japanese born brothers Junichiro and Ryojuro Tsuchiya . Theirs is sold at the back of  Kekaulike Market in Chinatown. Their flavors are that of their native country , Ahi, bought from the nearby famed Honolulu Fish Auction is flavored with salted plum and spiked with the fiery wasabi. They also honor the Hawaiian version by spiking it up with lima. For those curious about poke, there are several recipes on the web you can try,Beginners  can use Allrecipes or What's Cooking America's versions.The recipe is not for the leery. Raw tuna has to be used.

Poke is a Hawaiian classic that's best eaten in the islands. It's a delicacy that can be replicated at home, if done properly. Yet's it's best eaten under a South Pacific sun, as Ligaya Mishan knows.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Most Perfect Chef

A good chef is hard to find these days. They're usually embroiled in some kind of sex scandal or reported for abuse. Something with their food may be off or that they're just divas. Not so with Angie Mar, current owner chef of the famed Beatrice Inn in New York's Greenwich  Village. She brings a devoted way of cooking and managing  to the eatery which is rare these days.

Another famed chef and  New York Times  Food contributor,, Tejal Rao wrote about her in today's  issue. Chef Mar took over the  restaurant from Vanity Fair editor, Graydon Carter in 2016, transforming it from a celebrity hot spot for drinks to an eatery that has foodies and food critics buzzing.It's becoming the destination to go and eat in Manhattan.The food is  lush, harking back to an era of Diamond Jim Brady and Edith Wharton. There are thick , marbled  cuts of meat with rich , sticky sauces that harken  back to Escoffier's time.Diners eat off of vintage and antique plates that Chef Mar picked up on her trips to London. The silver and crystal are also from there, so guests can feel like they're dining at a posh Edwardian restaurant.Servers are graceful yet serve with gusto.The one recipe given with the interview is venison and trotter pie., redolent with garlic, thyme and , of course, red, gamy venison and pig's feet, A marrow bone sticks triumphantly out of the pie's center, and this too is meant to be eaten or gnawed upon.

Restaurants are in Chef Mar's blood. Her aunt , Ruby Chow opened up the famed Seattle restaurant that bore her name in 1948 ,It took her a while to discover her culinary calling, working in real estate in Los Angeles. A decade later she and her cousin, Melissa Merrill Keary went in together buying  The Beatrice Inn. Several other family members also work there as well. She is not like other chefs who only think of themselves or worse harass and belittle staff. She gathers up her crew after the restaurant closes and they discuss what they did right and what they did wrong..More like a mom than a boss, Chef Mar gives them immediate feedback.They also share notes on their favorite chefs Also they discuss what new dishes should be called.It goes through a series of weekly workshops that she runs with her sous-chef Nicole Averkiou and head chef Ed Szymanski. They throw around potential names as she writes them down on paper with a Sharpie.

Chefs have been getting a bad rap these days, thanks to their egos and arrogance. Not so with Chef Mar. She is genuine, a throwback to a more simpler but elegant time, much like her and the Beatrice Inn.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Lolli and Pops A New Fashioned Candy Store

Everyone of a certain age  has memories of their local candy store. It was a place to enjoy favorite treats and to try new concoctions. Sadly they went the way of Main Street America - that was until Lolli & Pops came along.This is an old fashioned candy story with a modern twist.

I discovered this fun paeon to all things sugary on a trip to my local mall. I hadn';t been to it in a long time.(three years!!!) and was curious if it had changed. It had and one store stood out  -Lolli & Pops, It looked intriguing .It smelled heavenly.The aroma of chocolate lured me into this Candyland of a shop. At first glance it looked like James Candy in Atlantic City. There were homemade sea salt caramels, homemade marshmallows, cocoa dusted truffles and rich bars, filled with peppermint or nuts. Those alone were dazzling but other treats caught my eye . British sweets such as the tangy Wine Gums and creamy Maltezers, There were marshmallow gummy treats from China along with rice candy (!). Mexican Chupa Chup lollipops shared the spotlight with German Kindereggs.There's a whole section dedicated to gummy bears  with even a giant seven foot bear in the middle of the display.. Every color, every flavor was there  in plexiglass tubs waiting to be put in plastic bags to take home.Not to be outdone, there was a section devoted to American classics, that is a shrine to every Yank's youth  Cow Tales, those brown and white wonders share a shelf with those crazy Eighties Pop Rocks and traditional Necco Wafers.You can satisfy a Smarties craving at Lolli & Pops too..

Chocolate is big here. I  bought the dark chocolate covered dried cranberries. but had the choice of other milk and bitter  chocolate goodies. The cranberries were tasty with the right amount of chew and glossy chocolate. Next visit ,I'm definitely buying the chocolate covered blueberries. Other fun aspect of the store is that you can also buy macarons in almost every flavor imaginable.Again these are on my radar to try and to gift. They also have rich petit fours - definitely unusual for a sweet shop. Alongside of these are hand dipped caramels , bonbons of every flavor and orange slices.It wouldn't be a candy store without candy bars.Lolli & Pop's have ones that have toffee laced through them as well as ones riddled with almonds and peppermint.Some are filled with unusual flavors such as pretzels and potato chips. The store even has its' own hot cocoa, sold in quaint old fashioned milk bottles.Again another fun thing on my radar.What is great about Lolli & Pops is that they also make up  amazing gift baskets. They are reasonably priced and reflects every candy and chocolate lover's passion.

Lolli & Pops are the new old fashioned candy store. Chocoholics and sweets lovers will have a field day here. They really will feel like a kid in a candy shop.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Crock Of Goodness

This was the Christmas when I received my first (!) crock pot.
It's a small  one, meant for cooking meals , desserts or even snacks for two .The brand is Crockpot  bought at our local Target. It's something that I wanted after covering a New York Times Food section piece on the Instant Pots. Those have a variety of settings and can do a  wide array of different slow cooking methods. Unfortunately they were 1) too expensive - I didn't want my family to spend seventy dollars on a gadget I'll  onlyuse a few times a year and 2) something that's going to take up most of my kitchen table. This one was inexpensive - only$8.99 and small enough I can effortlessly put on my kitchen counter.The crock is also super easy to clean. I don;t have to wrangle a large pot in my sink.I also don't have to deal with heaps of leftovers either.It makes enough for two which is perfect.
Of course I had to get Linda Larsen's The Complete Slow Cooking For Two

 (Sonoma Press)I love this book. As you can seen from the crock picture, I'm making her apple-pear sauce. I've always wanted to make apple sauce. There are some legendary stories in my family's culinary history and I wanted to add to them. Besides it 's a low calorie dessert that I made just a smidge healthier by adding agave syrup. I am planning on making chili soon in this along with a tasty sounding Indian cauliflower-potato soup along with rice stuffed peppers.There's a great tomato soup recipe that I'd love to make as well. Rice pudding comes out at its' creamiest when slow cooked and Ms. Larsen's book has several recipes I want to try. her lemon rice pudding as well as her  chocolate cherry lava cake. There is even some yummy sounding bread puddings too.

This crockpot is going to change the way I cook meals and make dessert.It will definitely be incorporated in my routines. I'm  looking forward to trying more recipes and  sharing them.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Cabin Fever Recipes

January is the month to stay indoors. Between monster snow storms and negative temps, it doesn't pay to go outside - which means time indoors. Instead of bingeing on TV or playing games, think kitchen. There's a lot of fun foods to cook and bake.

A snow day in can bring forth the urge to bake. Have plenty  of flour and sugar.available as well as baking staples such as eggs,milk, and sugar. Kids love cutting out and decorating cookies. Sugar and butter cookies are easy to make and cut out. They can have fun creating edible snowflakes or snowmen.If you did this for the holidays just past, then think about sandwich cookies. Vanilla cookies can have a dark fudge buttercream filling or vice versa. You could also make Lindser tortes if you have any raspberry jam.Brownies are another cold weather fave. Always have one or two boxes of mix around . They're wonderful with hot tea or coffee after a morning of shoveling snow. A day in can also mean honing your decorating skills.Spend time either on a cake or cupcakes, creating leaves and rosettes or trying new techniques such as striping or creating frosting ribbons. If you want something a tad healthier, think galettes. These are free form pies  usually filled with apples. You can also sub in pears too along with changing the crust to chocolate. They can even be miniaturized for a fun dessert.Kids can also make candy during these frosty days too. Homemade fudge is always welcome as are homemade sea salt caramels and chocolate covered pretzels.

Savory foods can also be cooked up when it's better to stay indoors. Most home chefs usually make pizza when everybody is indoors. It's what everyone loves and it can be customized with pepperoni slices or olives. Try calzones for a different spin. Their name means big sock in Italian and that's what they kind of are They are little sacks of pizza dough filled with creamy ricotta and's baked like a pizza until the dough is crispy and puffy  and then served with marinara sauce. A Mexican lunch or dinner is always welcomed, Stock up on taco kits . These are fun for kids and they can easily assemble a taco dinner. Another fun snack is guacamole . This is a great treat when watching TV or playing games.For a more sophisticated turn try mole. You can use the cocoa powder that went into holiday baking for this.It's combined with tomato sauce, cumin,  garlic and chilis. for a creamy, mouth watering sauce.It's best over chicken but can also be used to jazz up leftover pork or roast beef. Days indoors also are great to make grilled cheese. Jazz it up with tomato slices and bacon. Give it a French flair with frying up  Croque Monsiuers, This is Gruyere cheese and sliced ham on white bread and fried in butter. Give it ore of a Gallic boost with  homemade pomme frites. It's even better if you have it with  French cider or Stella Artois.

The cold weather means staying indoors. Don't get cabin fever. Bake - or cook something interesting t get rid of the doldrums. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Jewish Cooking Redefined

Mention Jewish cooking and images of chicken fat - schmaltz and oily latkes come to mind along with a heavy Eastern European influence. Healthy and international dishes never enter the picture. Until now. A new cookbook sets kosher cooking in a hipper, more worldly light.

Paula Shoyer, creator of the famed Kosher Baker blog along with being named as A Woman To Watch in 2015  has written The Healthy Jewish Cookbook ( Sterling Epicure Publishers 2017). This is a great book, a mix of traditional Jewish cooking with  modern and international twists. This is a must have in any kitchen, regardless of religion. The books starts off with a page one meal planning and introducing kids to preservative free foods. It's written in a straightforward style that many novice home chefs will appreciate.Other pluses is that she recommends using whole wheat pasta and and mixing whole wheat into recipes calling for refined white flour.She is a stalwart advocate of always  cooking with  fresh ingredients.The cookbook is also sprinkled with tips from  feeding the elderly to serving buffet style at a Thanksgiving dinner. There is extra advice on how to clean leeks and dealing with yeast. The book is divided into such sections as Appetizers and Salads, Soups and Sides. I like the fact that she puts vegetarian with fish and dairy main dishes. She also keeps kosher by separating the meat recipes in a chapter all their own

What is also striking is the globalization of her kitchen. Yes, she has a healthy and modern takes on brisket (treating it like bouef bourguignon) baked latkes and tsimme but there are recipes influenced by every corner of the globe.Home chefs will love her Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, a kosher take on pho .Dark miso paste and tamari soy sauce lend color and flavor to a home made chicken soup. There's also a recipe for coq au vin, the traditional French that has Chef Shoyer's spin. She makes this dish lighter by subbing in a white wine for a red. Lamb lovers will enjoy her Japanese lamb chop recipe fiery with jalapeno peppers and ginger.  Italian cooking is sort of similar to Jewish and she has many recipes. A cold winter warmer is her Pasta Siciliano , rich with eggplant and pasta, along with her Ribollata, bread soup. Indian and Moroccan  dal and lemtil  soup recipes also figure greatly in the book..Chef Shoyer is well known for her baking. Her dessert recipes don't disappoint. The  picture of chocolate rugelach looks heavenly as does the one featuring  her carmelized apple strudel. There are also bread recipes such as a gluten free challah and whole wheat onion one. Home bakers will flip for her rosemary focaccia which would be great dipped in peppery olive oil or marinara sauce.

The Healthy Jewish Cookbook  is the book to have for the New Year. It is full of good for you recipes that any home chef or home baker can make. Best of all it marries Jewish  tradition with international dishes.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Raw Water Movement

There's a new trend that's dripping into the New Year  - raw water. It's actually not really new. Unprocessed water is what the world drank before the government took it over and loaded it with chemicals. Now many are embracing this most ancient of refreshments.

Nellie Bowles, who usually reports on the doings of Silicon Valley for The Times contributed this piece. It's an interesting one that raises a lot of questions about what comes out of our faucets and what we buy by the bottle. Since the Fifties our water has been saturated with fluoride to strengthen our teeth and reduce cavities. Many, including the owner of a raw or unprocessed water company, Live Water, Mukhande Singh believes that our water has been poisoned with these essential minerals. He believes it is a mind control drug used to create a more docile America. Surprisingly, the alt-Right agrees with him too, Alex Jones, the bombastic conspiracy theorist and founder of the right wing website, Infowars also believes such. People are starting to believe it too., with many buying unprocessed water and foregoing even bottled spring water. Again, according to Mr. Singh, waters like Evian and Fiji are what's considered dead water. There is no live probiotics in it which help with gut health and keep the body regular. Another minus for bottled water is that it is treated with ultraviolet light and ozone gas to remove "helpful " algae.

Unprocessed water  - calling it raw brings up a negative image of raw sewage - has health professionals worried. Like unpasteurized milk, it comes with a few risks, Dr. Donald Hensrud, director  of  the famed Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program has qualms about this new movement. His fears are real.Without any treatment, water has deadly and chronic risks. It is a breeding ground for Ecoli,  bacteria, viruses , parasites and even carcinogenic compounds. He points to underdeveloped countries where there is sad evidence of this.Again, as with unpasteurized milk, the very young and old are the most susceptible to the dangers Unpiocsesed water sellers do not comply with the various state  and FDA laws regarding water processing. These safety regulations allow water in bottling plants to be randomly tested to make sure that are no harmful contamenments going out to the general public. Still people are willing to take risks, Unprocessed water has a sweet taste - Those who grew up on well water will know this taste well It is also reportedly more refreshing and thirst quenching than any glass of tap or bottled H20.

UNprocessed water may be the drink of 2018. As with raw food and unpasteurized milk, it is a return to a purer source of nutrition. If it was good for our ancestors, it may be good for us too,

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Country Style Ribs For The Urbane Cook

One of the best cuts of pork to cook and eat is the country style rib. These can be made in  variety of ways. They're  a great meal on these frigid night, hearty and rib sticking. It's a nice change up from the usual winter fare.

John Willoughby, a regular contributor to the New York Times Food section and cookbook author, wrote about these beauties for today's cooking section. Country style ribs weren't so desirable years ago.It's actually not a rib for starters, more a blend of both white and dark meat..Butchers had truble selling this cut.It didn't look as lean or smooth as other pork cuts. It usually wound up in sausages or secreted in the bottom of a package labeled loin chops.Sometime in the late Sixties or early Seventies a clever Chicago butcher, Cliff Bowes, came up with the idea of fashioning these chops into s strip of ribs. To achieve this he butterflied them and cut through the ribs. Home chefs can identify them by their shape. They  are a slender section of rib that curves nicely at the bottom.Some of them have a flat ,  little two or three inch section of bone along one edge. Not to worry.It just means that the chop was cut from the section of shoulder that was adjacent to the rib. Just remember that this cut does have , more fat, more connective tissue and more dark meat.

The recipes Mr. Willoughby gives are perfect for this time of year.The first one has the braised with chipotle.. They're first rubbed with a spicy mix of cumin, coriander, ground chipotle peppers and cayenne. Cinnamon gives it it an earthy sweetness. The rubbed ribs are then braised in a Dutch oven Onions are garlic are added. To counterbalance this is orange and lime juices. The ribs are then simmered for an hour and fifteen minutes. The sauce is the ladled onto the cooked ribs along with pomegranate seeds. The other recipe has pears and sweet potatoes. This is a stew that also has fennel and onions  The spice is caraway seeds and allspice for a distinctly Slavic European vibe. The pork is cut into one inch cubes  and sprinkled with kosher salt. These ar e left to stand for one hour before. They're then dried and sprinkled generously with pepper.Again the cubes and the bones (please save them) are browned in a dutch oven. After al the cubes and bones have been browned add the fennel and onion to the pot. All the other ingredients , including the meat and bones, are then added, along with chicken stock and simmered for an hour. Guests can put a dollop of mustard on their portions of stew if they want.I'd just serve this with wamed rye bread and butter.

Country ribs are a great dish.for these cold winters night. Serve them with a spicy chipotle sauce or a mellowed stew, sweet with pears , squash and fennel. either way, they are filling and satisfying.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pomelos - The Best Citrus Fruit Ever

January is the time for citrus. Grapefruits, tangerines,clementines and oranges reign supreme  in the produce section yet there a new royal on the scene - the pomelo or the Chinese grapefruit.This beauty is not only super healthy but super tasty. It's the perfect sunny snack on a cold winter's day.

The pomelo resembles a grapefruit on steroids.Imagine if a bowling ball and a grapefruit had a child together.It would be this.:
Its" Latin name is citrus maxima or citrus grandis It goes by a variety of different names such as pamplemousse , pummelo or  pommelo. The Hawaiians call it the jabong while the British call it shaddock as they have for the last three centuries. It was named for a Captain Shaddock who introduced it to Barbados and Jamaica.. One theory about  pomelo's comes from Tamil, a dialect found on the Indian subcontinent, another is that it is a combination of pome - apple and melon. It is one of the original four citrus fruits that others derive from.It is a native of South Asia where it is eaten with salt.It's also sliced and put into salads whille its' juice is used in drinks. There is a warning however. Pomelos are famously known to lower blood pressure. Check with your doctor first if you can eat it if you're taking any blood pressure medications.It is good in cold weather because it has a larger dose of vitamin C than the other citrus fruits

I love this fruit. It's got a mild orange like flavor and it's far from being sour.  The only problem is peeling it. I was surprised to learn that the peel can be candied or dipped in chocolate. The rind is similar to an orange's, only a tad thinner.The correct way to peel it is making four to five slits in the skin  and start peeling. I usually just make one long slit and work at getting the skin off.  The problem with the pomelo is that it has a thick pink underlayer that kind of resembles compressed cotton candy or asbestos. This too has to be peeled order to get the pulp.The slices are large. One person can't eat an entire one at once. Split it and put it in the fridge for the next day It can be juiced for a refreshingly light citrus drink. It can also be turned into a granita or Slushie too. Pomelo pulp can be used in salads too, giving an orange-y sweetness to a spinach or field green ones.The juice can be used in shrimp and scallop dishes as well.

The pomelo is a huge drop of sunshine on a cold January day. Buy one and enjoy it's light and refreshing  taste. It's the perfect antidote for all this snow and ice.

Monday, January 1, 2018

10 Years Of Foodie Pantry!!

2018 marks the ten year anniversary of Foodie Pantry! I can't believe it,because it doesn't feel like a decade has elapsed. It started  from  two little  paragraphs  and grew into pictorials about cooking polenta and icing cakes. There have been interviews with famous chefs , and cookbook reviews , analyzing Times Food section  articles and delving into the history of our favorite foods. Unfortunately I have lost my greatest adviser ,my Mom, on the long trip to this point.I will miss asking her for advice or how she made a certain recipe.

The upcoming year will reflect what this poor writer has been writing about  - trends, eating healthy , and recipes. There will be posts or my new favorite  - the pommelo - the granddaddy of the orange. along with forays into crockpot cooking and turns with Mexican and Indian cuisine. The fun thing about writing this blog is that I get to explore different cuisines from around the world along with tasting  new trends and traditional dishes.

I'm grateful for all you readers and promise that  this anniversary year will be a palatable one.

Special thanks to Pete Burley and Mitch Rappel fr for letting me create this blog for their Fyxx Caffeinated Water in the spring of 2008.