Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The New Must Have - The Quarter Sheet Pan

Sheet pans are now  must have items.They're used for cooking whole dinners which unfortunately means overcooked meat or sides. However a smaller version is out , the quarter pan, and it's making waves in the home cooking society.

Melissa Clark wrote about them along with giving some good recipes in today's New York Times Food section.A sheet pan is ubiquitous kitchen necessity these days. Many home chefs swear by it , loving the fact they can cook any meat and veggies together. There's a problem with that. The meat , especially if it's a roast can take longer. Veggies then burn or dry out which ruins the meal. An easier solution would be having two separate pans in which the foods can cook at their different rates. Two different sheet pans means also taking one out when it's done and turning up the oven temp for the other , without worrying about over cooking. Also meat fat won't run onto the vegetables, making them safe for vegans and vegetariansThey're basically a thin but sturdy tray about 9 by 12 inches as opposed to the full sheet pan's 13 by 18 inches. Four can fit comfortable in any oven as well as the dishwasher. Another plus is they're only ten dollars so buy a couple and if you're worried about them not fitting, they're stackable. Again, they'll come in handy for the holidays when they're doing double duty as cookie sheets.

Ms. Clark gives two very tasty recipes. One is cumin roasted pork chops and Brussels sprouts. The chops are smeared/rubbed with a fiery sweet mix of cumin,brown sugar , black pepper and red pepper flakes. It should then sit for at least twenty minutes and then refrigerated up until overnight. The Brussels sprouts only have to be tossed with sage along with extra virgin olive oil with just salt and pepper. The other recipe is sausage with broccoli accompanied by homemade tomato sauce and ricotta. This is a little more labor intensive because you have to make the sauce on the stovetop. The meat and broccoli are cooked in a 450 degree Farenheit oven. The sausage should be laid out on the pan after its' been pricked with a fork (use the sweet or hot Italian kind). The broccoli is tossed with red pepper flakes for heat and bite along with olive oil. Flip the sausages and remove the broccoli after fifteen minutes of cooking. The broccoli is then tossed with sliced garlic. Return them to the oven for five minutes until the sausages and broccoli are browned and the second is tender. Serve with ricotta and tomato sauce. Ms. Clark recommends serving with a crusty Italian bread to sop up the sauces.

Sheet pan dinners are the recipe of choice nowadays. Make it easier by using two quarter sheet pans. It gives  a tasty full cooked meal with two perfectly cooks dishes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Your Sauce Guide

Pasta with sauce is one if the simplest and possibly the most delicious dishes to make. What create a memorable bowl is the sauce itself. Whether it's the springy basil or a rich marinara , what goes on your spaghetti or lasagna  is the the ingredient that makes it.Yet don't get stuck in a rut. There are so many different kinds out there. You can have one type of pasta three different ways and each time it will be unique.

If you're a novice home chef, you may want to stick to the easiest.which is burro or butter. This is simply melted butter , either warmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over a low flame. Some add fresh parsley and/or onions but that's up to you. Just plain butter is good, especially if it's Kerrygold, Pasta con burro is a late night treat, especially at all night trattorias where young Italians go after the movies. Another no fuss sauce is aglia olio.This is a little more involved but worth it. It's thinly  slicing six (!) garlic cloves and sauteing them in half a cup of olive oil. (I  actually use a little more than half a cup). Peperincino  or red pepper flakes are added for heat and bite. Again using these are a matter of taste.If they're too fiery just sub in a grind of fresh black pepper. The pasta and the sauce must be cooked at the same time. If not the garlic will burn and will taste bitter.A cup or more of the pasta water also has to be added , mostly to thin out the sauce and add some salinity to it. This sauce should be served with spaghetti, but it also works with rigatoni and penne too.

Tomato sauces are any pastas best friend. You can make them over a stove pot or in a crockpot.I prefer the last because the slow cooking lets all the flavors meld together and gives it a richer, deeper flavor.The basic sauce calls for first sauteing sliced garlic  then adding tomato sauce and paste. Chopped onion give it that unique, fresh flavor while dark honey gives the entire sauce a certain mellowness.The last is up for debate. Many home and professional chefs will either add refined white sugar - no - or grated carrot - acceptable. I've added sugar to mine when I didn't have honey and it just gave the sauce a kind of candy like taste. Dark honey is is the best. It has more flavor - and more nutrients than light or golden honey. Bolognese sauce is the same but ground beef is cooked first with the garlic. Some Neopolitan chefs throw in ground pork. For a leaner sauce, try ground turkey. One of the hardest and most complex is pesto. Some think this is just  ground basil but it's so much more.. It ground basil leaves blended with walnuts and pignoli or pine nuts.. Only the best olive oil is used (Bertoli is recommended) and all the ingredients are put through a food processor or blender. Parmesan cheese is then added later. It's the only sauce that isn't cooked.It's not only good with pasta but also excellent with chicken and grilled steak.

There's a whole range of pasta sauces to try. Vary it with a traditional Bolognese or a simple aglia olio. It's a great way to expand your palate and sauce knowledge.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Perfect Diabetes Cookbook

It is hard to plans meals.It's even harder when you have a condition like diabetes. Luckily there's a new cookbook out there to help plan meals . This is a boon for those who have to search for meal ideas or are frustrated by the usual recipes. These are light in calories and rich in taste.

Linda Gassenheimer and The American Diabetes Association wrote this fascinating  The 12 Week Diabetes Cookbook.Ms. Gassenheimer has a website , Dinner in Minutes along with the cookbook No Fuss Diabetic Desserts. along with several other cookbooks.that center around one pot dishes, chicken and smoothies. Her book is  down to earth and it feels like a friend giving kitchen advice. The introductory chapters are howtos on how t shop, along with weekly budgets and the ingredients and gadgets you need. There is a shopping list with the must haves such as meats and seafood, bakery, condiments, produce, and staples. The book isn't divided into chapters but into weeks. What I like about it is how the cost is also included in the recipe. The most a meal can cost is around  $9.23, most are the cost of a fast food meal. Every week starts off with a shopping list for the week. This is perfect for those who want to do their food shopping in one fell swoop.The recipes also have a helpful hints section and a countdown of what to do. I would have liked to have seen dessert recipes too, because this is as just as important as the main meal.

Ms. Gassenheimer has a wide range of recipes and is big on repurposing the meat. Pork tenderloin is made Monday night and remade as pulled pork on Wednesday. All meats and seafood figure largely in the weekly meals. There is a tasty lemon pepper salmon and linguine with Italian salad. Red meat lovers will enjoy the spicy coffee rubbed steak along with Mediterranean steak with minted couscous.
Italian, Mexican, and Chinese food are also represented. Home chefs can prepare healthier versions of shrimp and mushroom pizza and the vegetarian Mexican Fiesta Bowl,chock full of avocadoes, black beans, corn  and tomato. Stay home and cook Mu Shu pork wrap with stir fried bok choy. Filipino and Indian cuisines are also in here to vary up the cooking.There are plenty of homey recipes too, perfect for a chilly night in. Try turkey pot pie or meat loaf with orange flavored barley. Another great aspect is that there's no fancy ingredients or spices. Everything is affordable and familiar and easily found in any supermarket.

The 12 Week Diabetes Cookbook is a great cookbook for chefs, following a specific diet. It is varied but not extravagant. This is the perfect book for those watching their diets and budgets.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Kitchen Clean

One of the most annoying aspects of a kitchen is it's forever dirty and messy. Stoves get used every day as do plates . However thanks to old fashioned cleaning methods and new fangled gadgets, the most used room in the house can always be sparkling and bright.

Everybody has to do dishes - whether by hand or by dishwasher.  It helps if you have a dish detergent that gets rid of grease and sauces along with leaving a gleaming finish. For dishwashers many opt for Cascade ,  while others are looking into more natural types such as Seventh Generation.The last has no dyes or fragrances, perfect for those who have allergies. For those who aren't as lucky to have a dishwasher, there's Dawn dish soap. This is a favorite of mine (and yes, I still wash  dishes by hand.I have the old fashioned notion that hand washed dishes and pans are somewhat cleaner) I like the way it thoroughly rids surfaces from chocolate to  tomato sauce.It's also gentle on skin which is important during these raw winter days.It cuts down on chapped skin, Dawn is so mild that it's been used to clean birds that have been unfortunately victims of oil spills Another plus is that it comes in a wide variety of scents, from lavender to a refreshing waterfall scent.For those who do their own manicures, wash hands in Dawn before putting on  nail  polish. It gets rid of any  body oils and makes the color stay on longer.

Vinegar is a time honored classic , used for more than one hundred years. It's is wonderful on windows, cutting through soot and dirt.White distilled vinegar can get rid of any stain  - no matter how greasy or grungy. The insanely fun gadget Angry Mama below) uses it to clean the interior of

 the microwave. I bought her at What On Earth, a neat catalog company that specializes in the fun and the fantastic. Vinegar and water are poured into her body. and then heated for seven minutes in the microwave. This produces a potent steam that comes out of the holes in her head.From there the moisture is wiped away, along with grease or food particles with a paper towel. The vinegar also deodorizes the microwave, taking away any lingering odors. Let the liquid cool and it becomes an excellent cleaner for the stove top.

It pays to have a clean kitchen. There's nothing more disgusting than a grungy one,. Luckily there are so many soap, cleanserss and gadgets that can help.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Impromptu Cuisine

Inspiration is all around if you're a home chef. A bag of frozen veggies could turn into a salad. Leftovers can be elevated to a tasty meal.It just takes  creativity and the willingness to try to make a delicious meal.

This happened to me tonight.It was just going to be a simple cup of soup for a Friday night. However the leftover soy chicken strips from the other night looked too beckoning. I decided to crisp them up in margarine with a heady dash of Sylvia's lemon pepper seasoning.This is a great seasoning to have around.It elevates the real thing and the faux poule too with a rich ,lemony flavor and a hint of salt.The flavoring would be good on barbecued chicken too. What goes with lemon chicken?  Any kind of veggie.I opened my freezer to find Stop & Shop's frozen broccoli. I had been saving the package for a broccoli salad but saw it and thought why not make it now. These are steamed florets so they needed some oomph.All it took was a toss in olive oil flavored with minced garlic. It turned into the perfect hot salad, amped up by a good sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. What started out as a blah idea for a Friday supper turned into something much better and much tastier.I just looked into the fridge, assessed what was there and let creativity take over.. It's amazing how the fridge can act as a canvas.

Anyone can create a meal like this.Leftover London Broil can be chopped up and added to an already mixed salad to make it more substantial. Add a mushroom gravy to the slices and serve over rice for another hearty meal. Chicken can be repurposed into a yummy Mexican dish with the help of a home made mole sauce.I like the idea of frying it up into crispy pieces and flavored with spices.I could have used a mix of rosemary and garlic too for a Mediterranean vibe. Sliced grape tomatoes would have been added for color and kick.Tomatoes are another ingredient in creating an impromptu meal. Slice them and then saute them in a mix of butter, olive oil, and garlic.Cover with breadcrumbs and more minced garlic and you have the mouth watering tomatoes Provencale.They are also good in a lunchtime pain bagnat,, the Southern French sandwich.This could be an impromptu meal , because besides tomatoes, it also has hard boiled eggs, any veggies and tuna stuffed into an oiled loaf of French bread.If you don't have tuna, sub in anchovies.Serve with a good red wine for a truly Gallic feel and end the meal with grapes.

Impromptu cooking is a fun way of testing a home chef's creativity. It makes you assess what you have and  the possibilities. It just takes a spark of creativity to make a meal with what you already have in the kitchen and the fridge.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

One Ingredient , Two Recipes

One of the best aspects of any food is its' versatility. It's a bonus if a home chef can prepare it a
variety of ways. One day it can be a roast, another day ot can be used in a salad. Salmon is this ingredient..It can be prepared in a plethora of different recipes with different ingredients each time.

Salmon was the subject of a new series by master chef and baker, Yotam Ottolenghi for yesterday's New York Times Food section. Its' theme is taking one ingredient and preparing two ways. One is a quick one that can be whipped up in a trice while the other is  a more involved recipe, reserved for speecial occasions and holidays/The first installment is about salmon and Chef Ottolenghi goes to the tips of Europe. One is from  Norway, the other from Sicily.The first is a laxpudding, a homey mix of salmon ,cooked with potatoes and dill. This is the more elaborate recipe that also has saffron and anchovies along with five egg yolks (!) and half a cup of heavy cream.It's an elaborate recipe that uses up a pound of  skinless salmon fillets and five ounces of thinly cold smoked salmon. A custard has to be  made using the yolks and cream along with cornstarch ,lemon zest and almost two cups of milk,.The spinach is fried with basil as the potatoes are oven baked on a parchment paper lined pan.The two salmons are also mixed together The gratin is then assembled by layering all these ingredients ,starting with the potatoes followed by the spinach and then the fish. The egg custard is poured on top of this and baked for 25 to 30 minutes. A sauce of fried capers is then drizzled over the finished bake.\

The other salmon recipe is an easy cook. It's a quick pan seared fillet and a cooked relish  made with typical Sicilian ingredients of currents, olives and pine nuts. Pan searing it is the best way to appreciate the salmon' flavor. The recipe starts with soaking the currents for twenty minutes and then setting them aside. its then onto the salmon. Rub the fillets with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and a good grind of fresh pepper. leave it to marinate while making the relish. Heat half a cup of olive oil and fry the celery and pine nuts in it.Turn off the heat to avoid burning and add the capers and their brine. Also add a generous pinch of saffron ,its' water and  olives. The salmon fillets should be heated in a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium high heat until the oil starts to shimmer. . This means it should be cooked right before the oil starts to smoke. The salmon is placed skin down in the pan and fried until the skin is crisp. Flip and then repeat on the other side. divide the fish onto four plates and  serve with the warm relish spooned on top. Celery leaves can be scattered on top for decoration.

These recipes highlight  salmon prepared two different ways.. The gratin would be a perfect meal for guests or even for a dinner party. The pan seared one can be used as an easy week ay meal after a hard day'of work . Both are perfect in bringing out the fish's sweet brininess and delicate flavor.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

An Alaskan Chef's Dilemma

Imagine not being able to buy certain veggies and fruits during the winter. Menus would change. Cooks would have to come up with substitutions or worse - just cross out certain dishes. It's a problem right now in Alaska, They're going through an annual food drought right now.

Julia O'Malley, an Alaskan herself, wrote this informative piece in today's New York Times Food section.Ms O'Malley is also the creator of a blog centering on life in the country's most northernmost state where she provides recipes and tips.As she knows,fresh fruit and vegetables are rare . Even a tomato is a rarity . Unlike grocery stores in the Lower 48, Alaskan stores are not restocked on a daily basis There's no nearby greenhouses or even an app to help them.They have to wait til the summer with days that last well into the night. Farmers markets then appear and explode with zucchini the size of small dogs and a wide variety of greens.It's a bountiful time where recipes call for fresh produce and meals have the added flavor of a garden. Right now, Alaskans are living off last year's harvest of gnarled carrots and dry skinned beets. This may be a thing of the past thanks to indoor farming happening on the frozen tundras.Alaska Natural Organics and Vertical Harvest Hydroponics are bringing fruits and vegetables to chefs and home chefs during the long cold winters.

It still isn't easy. Until the farms start mass producing Alaskan home chefs, especially, will be challenged. Many grocery stores still get their products by sea, shipped from Seattle.after it's traveled from Mexico and California. It spends about a week in a container on a boat. The end product is not palatable. Tomatoes are not an appealing red, but rather pinkish and watery  Avocados are hard on the outside but rotten on the inside. Prewashed lettuces don't have a bright ,springy aroma, they smell like decay. Fruits and vegetables come only three times a week to the chain grocery , Fred Meyer.There are problems of keeping foods fresh while trying to keep their costs down. Delays are regular occurrences. Some chefs are lucky in the sense that they  know a "peach guy" someone who cana get them fresh fruit at seventy dollars a pop. Some bring back fruit and veggies from trips.Many such as blogster and cook, Kim Sunee, make do with what they have. The answer is creativity. Use what you have in new recipes that make the most of the limited ingredients.Many other chefs are following this, Carlyle Watt of the Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop  in Anchorage knows this all too well. He masters what's left in the root cellar like blackening carrots  and finding the perfect potato.

Give Alaskan chefs credit . They can take what they have and turn it into an exciting and delicious dish. It's hard work but the results are worth it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Just A Bowl Of

One of the easiest meals is one involving a bowl and a slew of good for you ingredients. It's not only an easy lunch or dinner to whip up but also a nutritious can be made fresh or with ingredients. Another plus is that even novice chefs can create something delicious and complex.

Bowl meals are not new. Most of Asia have some form of this.One of the most famous and one that's gaining speed here in the States is bibimbap. It's a mix of fresh stir fried veggies and rice,topped with a fried egg. what is good with this is that it can be customized. Cabbage lovers can add both savoy and bok choy . Those who enjoy crunch can add some raw peppers and carrots. Meat lovers can tip it in their favor with extra chicken, beef, or pork, while veggie lovers can add extra greens such as kale and fiddlehead ferns,Bibimbop also gets some zing from Korean hot pepper paste or gochuchang. Rice is the base ,of this melding the flavors all together while being the grain requirement. For the dish, the veggies should be julienned however if you want to chop everything in bigger chunks you can. The same idea for the gochuchang. If it's too fiery then sub in soy sauce. It's still make the dish flavorful but won't have that mouth numbing bite. You can also get rid of the eggs as well and sub in rice noodles for the rice.

For a simpler bowl you can't get much simpler than polenta mixed with butter and Parmesan cheese. It's tasty, and filling, an easy hot meal for after a hard day's work. Again it can be varied. Sliced sausage can be added along with grape tomatoes and mushrooms.Shrimp goes surprisingly well with the grain and you can easily add it to cooked polenta. Chicken is another meat that can give the corn meal a boost.Even  left over polenta can be transformed into a tasty bowl , being reheated in the microwave with tomatoes, butter and/or cheese.An American spin on it is a grits bowl. This can even be made for breakfast with the addition of cheddar and butter. Like bibimbap, it can be topped with fried eggs for more protein.Breakfast sausage or bacon can also be tossed in. A grits bowl is also a good lunch or dinner bowl. Chicken and gravy could also work with it,. One of the simplest bowls to make is just taking plain white rice, topping it with beans and then build on it with meats, tofu and/or veggies. Black beans in sauce , topped with shredded cheese is  a tasty dinner. Stir fried steak and veggies , soaked in soy sauce would be a great topper for any wild rice variety.

A bowl meal is a filling one. It's also fun because favorite ingredients are added to create something unique. It's a chance to get creative with a simple container and just grains, proteins and veggies.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Presidential Influences

Do our leaders influence the way we eat? Have they always? The answer is probably yes. US presidents and their First Ladies give us ideas and inspiration about cooking and eating. Many home chefs have imitated and copied cooking styles and recipes from the White House.

Most of our presidents had simple tastes. George Washington was a man of his times, preferring a dinner of mutton washed down with Madeira wine. Did that influence his countrymen? Maybe. Maybe not. Many wealthy landowners enjoyed what he did. There was roast beef and ale along with tables laden with cakes, pies and early forms of cookies. Perhaps some housewives imitated Martha Washington who seemed to love baking, She was known for her Great Cake, a brandy and Madeira soaked fruit cake topped with a rich fondant icing. Surely she also created steamed fig puddings, a nod towards her and her husband's English heritage. It was Thomas Jefferson who made a big impact on the way wealthy 18th Century Americans ate. The third president was a gourmet and world traveler. The upper classes got to enjoy ice cream as it became the dessert of the moment.It could have been served with waffles, a treat Jefferson discovered  on a trip to Brussels where he bought a waffle iron to take home.His guests probably swooned over the Parmesan he brought back from Rozzano Italy.Jefferson also loved pasta and also had a pasta machine. Dinner guests may have even brought home  homemade spaghetti and linguine to enjoy and share.

Dolley Madison, James Madison's wife was also another culinary force in the White House. She ,more than her husband, James was known for her layer cake with caramel icing. It was probably the talk of D.C. with many a home chef trying her hand at this new idea. Most presidents until the Gilded Age were more influenced by fellow Americans. Teddy Roosevelt may have been a Rough Rider but he was from a family that ate elegantly simple  meals . It was a time for rich sauces and expensive cuts of meat.He was one of the first presidents that ate fried chicken and  snacked on cookies. He enjoyed bacon for breakfast - a taste that definitely had an impact on American breakfasts.As the Twentieth Century progressed, the century itself influenced the way the White House ate. The Great Depression of the Thirties brought about a frugality to the White House kitchen, Eleanor Roosevelt made sure American favorites such as doughnuts and bread pudding were served during the spartan times.. Jackie Kennedy reintroduced French cuisine which many home chefs snapped up, thanks to her and Julia Child. The last influential presidential couple were Barack and Michelle Obama. They both introduced healthy but delicious eating to Americans and made us fall in love with .veggies again.

Presidents and Americans have influenced each other's eating habits for two  and a half centuries.Is there an impact? Probably yes, depending on the president.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

When The Home Chef's Away

It’s always wonderful when a home chef gets to go away and have a holiday. However what happens to the family left behind? Do they try to cook for themselves or live on fast food? The best bet is leaving care packages for them.

Chili is one of those make and freeze foods. It’s easy to whip up whether on the stove top or in the crockpot. Store in Tupperware or plastic containers, Reheat with just a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out. Sometimes chili can get thick . Zing it up a bit with some tortilla chips or cornbread squares. Mole sauce , another Mexican treat can also be made and then stored for another day. What’s great about mole is that you can pair it with grocery store rotisserie chicken for an easy and delicious meal. Tomato sauce is another excellent recipe to make for the family. If you;’re busy packing, then just use the crockpot to make it. It’s easier and the result is a rich mellow sauce, perfect for pasta or gnocchi. Stock up on a variety of pasta too. The kids can have a choice of rotelli , spaghetti or ravioli to pair with it, You could even vary the sauces, Have a container of the meaty Bolognese and the vegan marinara.

Casseroles are also easily whipped up and frozen. Eggplant parmesan is a hearty dinner , liked by everyone.It’s just breading and frying eggplant slices and then layering them alternately  with sauce and a blend of grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.A tasty dish, full of meat and veggies is ham, broccoli and potato casserole. It had the bonus of frozen French fries and cubed ham. It’s also dotted with florets which will please parents that the kids are eating their greens. Roll ups are easily freezable and reheated. They can be made up of such good for you  ingredients like spinach and cabbage. Imagine lasagna stuffed with baby spinach and cheese, easily created and easily popped into the freezer for later consumption. Cabbage rolls are a great way of  dosing the family with Vitamin C.Stuff it with turkey, onion and baby carrots. Tomato sauce takes away the meat’s dryness as well as giving it more flavor.

When the home chef’s away, the family will still eat well. Fill the fridge with tasty sauces and casseroles. They’ll be well appreciated .

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fish And Chips The Perfect Friday Meal.

One of the benefits of a Lenten diet Is eating more fish.Mostly many go for the safe and sensible kinds of grilled salmon and seared scallops. However – there is one dish that defines a fish dinner – fish and chips. That East End favorite is a great Friday night meal.

Mention fish and chips and images of London come to mind. Many ,including us Yanks, think it’s the quintessential British food. It actually isn’t, first arriving in Britain with the Sephardic Jews around the 1600’s. The influence was the Portuguese pescado frito, deep batter fried fillets which the Jews cooked on Friday night to eat on their Sabbath – Saturday. Potatoes didn’t come into the mix until the Columbian Exchange of 1492. Fish  - mostly cod and sliced spuds were the food of the working classes throughout coastal Britain. Charles Dickens was the firs t to mention chips in his 1859 masterpiece A Tale Of Two Cities. A year later the first fish and chips eatery or chippy opened in London.They were first sold and still are sold in old newspapers with a good dousing of malt vinegar. The Americans discovered it thanks to the seafood companies of Mrs Paul’s and Gorton’s, however their offerings are a pale imitation of the real thing.They have what’s known as fish fingers  - which are fish sticks while the real deal is huge triangular pieces of plaice a type of North Atlantic fish.

Fish and chips is a relatively easy dish to make. You do need a  fryer however a regular skillet will work just fine.  Use the oven for a healthier version.Start off with the potatoes. They need to be fried first. Russet potatoes are the bet choice for the chips. Peel them and cut them into fries the size of your index finger. First fry them for only two or three minutes then remove from the hot oil. Let them drain thoroughly. Now it’s time for the fish, Combine flour and baking powder along with salt and pepper. One cup of milk and one egg are also added to create a batter. Let the mixture stand for a good twenty minutes. Dredge the fillets in  this until they are thoroughly coated and fry in preheated oil. (you can use the oil from the potatoes) When the fish is frying, add the chips for the last five minutes  until all are golden and crispy. Malt vinegar is the condiment of choice however it is a bit eye opening if you haven't had it before.Ketchup and tartar sauce are your best bet. For a true English experience serve it with mushy peas  - mashed peas with butter and cream.

Get your Brit on with homemade fish and chips. It's a tasty and fun meal for a Lenten Friday night supper. Make it and enjoy a taste of the United Kingdom.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Perfect Meal

Yesterday the New York Times Food section had published two recipes for the perfect Valentine's Day dinner and dessert. Upon closer inspection both could make a great weekend meal. Thanks to both David Tanis and Melissa Clark , home chefs can make and bake something not only for their sweethearts but for their sweet families.

David Tanis of A City Kitchen gives us the meal part -  simple rib eye steak and potatoes. Double it's perfect for a family of four.He recommends gettng one large steak which will have juicier results when cooked.Also skip the supermarket and head to the butcher's for a perfect cut.Prepare it simply with generous dashes of salt and pepper along with some roughly chopped rosemary and a little garlic.Cooking it is easy too, especially if  you have a cast iron skillet.Heat over a flame and then pop the entire skillet into an oven to roast. Let it stay there  until the meat's interior temp reaches 120 degrees Farenheit (have a meat thermometer on hand for this).Of course a steak this good deserve to be paired with the best of the spuds. Mr. Tanis suggests peewee ones which are even smaller than the baby ones. They're boiled in heavily salted water and then tossing them with melted butter, garlic, lemon and parsley.It doesn't get any better than this.

Actually it does. Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite is devoted to homemade chocolate cookies with white chocolate and dried cherries. The flavors are a perfect marriage of sweet and tart.It's based on a favorite cookie of hers from a Manhattan bakery. Those were saucer sized dark chocolate ones, rich with  white chocolate chunks and pecans.They reminded her of the corner brownies, gooey in the middle and crisp around the edges.Hers is a grown up version, housing dried cherries to offset the sweetness. Also to make it a bit more interesting is adding melted bittersweet chocolate chips. If that's too much, Ms. Clark then suggests reducing the amount of granulated sugar used. Unsweetened Dutch cocoa is also used in the recipe along with a pinch of sea salt and vanilla. It is a tad more labor intensive than the average homemade cookie recipe. The dark chocolate and butter are first melted together in a saucepan or even in the microwave The sugar and eggs are also beaten separately until the mixture is pale and foamy. The other ingredients are added t this until a dough forms. Sea salt is sprinkled on top to cut the sweetness and bring out the other flavors.

Put these together and it's a delicious meal for the family.The simplicity is a complex wedding of  flavors that work well. Nothing beats a steak and potatoes with a dessert of home made chocolate cookies.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Comeback Of A Historical Rice

One of the greatest contributions to American cuisine is the African gift of rice. Many varieties were brought over and some, unfortunately, have been bred out of existence. Now a missing strain has resurfaced, connecting us to our culinary past and the African-American experience.

Kim Severson wrote an interesting piece, on the long lost strain on hill rice. It was an informative read for home chefs and historian alike , in today's New York Times Food section. The rice had been thought to be long gone here in the southern coastal states however was found thriving in Trinidad. How it got there is a course in early American history It is descended from Japonica rice that first came from Southeast Asia to West Africa sometime between the 16th and
 18th centuries. It was brought here with the enslaved to the Carolina colonies. Thomas Jefferson was even a fan of this plump , colorful grain. By World War I, the rice had all but disappeared, thanks to cheaper variations coming out and the Great Migration where millions of African-Americans left the South for the more tolerant North. Hill rice, also known as upland red bearded rice and and Moruga Hill rice was found again in a small section on  the Caribbean island off the Venezuelan coast. B.J. Dennis, a chef specializing in Gullah cuisine.was stunned to find the long lost breed thriving.

Chef Dennis had heard about it through the culinary organization Slow Food USA and the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, the group that brought back another lost strain, Carolina Gold, in the early 2000's. He was in Trinidad, walking past a field of unusually colored rice when it hit him. Here was the rice long thought gone.How it got to the tropical island is another chapter in American history.It starts with the War of 1812 when British soldiers promised both land and freedom to  a small group of West African slaves if they would fight against their masters. They did and were rewarded with sixteen acres of undeveloped land in the southernmost part of Trinidad. They were called Merikans, the Creole rendering of Americans. The missing piece would be further confirmed by Trinidadian ethnobotanist, Francis Morean,a descendant of those freed slaves.Once found , it caught the attention of Glenn Roberts, founder of Anson Mills who grows artesanal rice and corm, including the famed Carolina Gold. He had eighty pounds of it shipped to the states. Chef Edouardo Jordan has tried it.It's a dry rice, better paired with a chutney or an okra stew.The Trinidadians cook it in coconut water until it becomes starchy. It's then covered with a chutney made from benne seeds, shadow benne, a green, garlic and birds-eye peppers. Hill rice will sure to be a hit with foodies and chefs throughout the country.

Hill rice is on the rise. This lost breed will be coming back in a big way. It will definitely be on tables around the US as it was 200 years ago.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

From Meat To Meatless

Many people want to go vegan or at least vegetarian but can't.It can be kind of daunting giving up the meats they love for -soy.What starts out as a noble dream to save animals and help the earth goes flat when faves such as bacon and chicken wings have to go. The best bet is to ease into the lifestyle. Don't go cold turkey when you're craving turkey.

The first step is to test yourself. Try a day or two without any red meat.This will be hard for hamburger and steak lovers. Think chicken and veggie burgers. If that works then eliminate poultry as the second part of the journey to go meatless.Some people become pescetarians - only eating fish and seafood. They still get protein but it's all from the sea  - not the land. They can still eat eggs and dairy so the diet is more of a Mediterranean. It is healthier however but can be a bit costly, thanks to the market price of some fish and crustaceans. If that's the case, then have fish twice a month or look for specials.The diet has many benefits.such as maintaining good heart health.Another perk in an all fish diet is that is staves off macular deterioration, a degenerative eye disease.It can also strengthen lungs and prevent Alzheimer's disease.Pescetarians also enjoy healthy hair skin and nails too as a bonus benefit.

Once you've eliminated most of the meats, it's now easier to wean yourself off fish. Remember that vegetarian and vegan are two slightly different practices. Vegetarianism allows for dairy and eggs, veganism doesn't. If being a vegan sounds too severe for now, than try the other. Many have a hard time giving up omelets and eggs sunny side up. Then there's the ice cream dilemma. You  do have to acquire a taste for soy and coconut milk ice cream.It's delicious but doesn't have the lush mouth feel of the real deal.Again make it a slow transition. Some vegans went the vegetarian route before completely shunning animal products. Luckily , many stores such as Stop & Shop and Acme have a wide range of vegan and vegetarian products. The most popular and varied meatless brands are Morningstar Farms and Gardein. These are my go tos for creating a wholesome and filling no meat meal.Morningstar Farms has soy beef crumbles which I use in my chili and Bolognese sauce. Their chicken strips are the backbone of my chicken mole. I've just discovered Gardein's soy Fish fillets and they're remiiscent of Mrs. Paul's. I look forward to trying their faux crab cakes.

You can go from a meat filled diet to a meat free one. It's just doing it in steps and ending at veganism. Along the way , you find new dishes and recipes that are good for you and good tasting. You'll forget aoo about meat once you do.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Braving French Pastry

One of the most elegant treats any baker can make is French pastry. It's a complicated blend of crisp layers , airy creams and  artistic decorations. They're a challenge for the home baker yet  a feather in one's toque if done. The question is can an ordinary baker make an extraordinary sweet?

Many ask themselves that.It's a long leap between cake mix cakes and mille-feulle, better known as Napoleons. The best way to acclimate yourself  to it is start off with the relatively easy recipes (and there are some).One of the easiest is crepes,. It's basically sort of like a pancake batter that has to be chilled's flour eggs milk and water mixed together and then set aside for twenty-four hours. You can buy a crepe pan for it. This is nothing more than a wider, thinner frying pan or use a frying pan or skillet. Drizzle creme Anglaise over it or serve it street style with granulated sugar and lemon juice. Another relatively easy treat is clafoutis. A plus is that it can be made with any kind of fruit, from apples to blueberries. It's basically an egg rich batter blended together - usually in a blender and poured over fruit. It's baked for only half an hour  - until it's golden and puffy.Once you've accomplished that, try Kouign Amann , the mouth watering buttery sweet bread from Brittany.It's made with the same dough as the croissant which is another pastry a home baker can master. Both require  a lot of butter because it's sealed in layers of rolled dough. It is  labor intensive , with mostly rolling out dough and butter along with shaping into the classic crescents.

Biscuit roses is another transitional level It was featured in yesterday's Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Famed baker , Dorie, Greenspan, wrote about this after baking them. They're sort of like a cross between a lady finger and biscotti.Like biscotti, it's twice baked.and like lady fingers, the yolks and whites are separated , beaten  and then joined into the dough. It''s a great way for beginners to learn about meringues  along with how to shape batter with a piping bag. After this it's an easy move to eclairs, those classic Gallic pastries. They do require a choux paste which is a delicate two step method. It's first putting water .milk butter and sugar into a two quart saucepan and bringing the mixture to a boil. Flour has to be added  slowly, stirred until everything is blended.It;s then adding five more eggs to give it that rich golden color. Just don;t make ti too hot or you'll have scrambled eggs on your hands. Choux paste can be used to make cream puffs along with the eclairs,One of the hardest pastries to make is the mille feuilles or thousand leaves. Also called Napoleon , after France's famed emperor it;'s taking a dough similar to croissant dough where it's rolled and folded several times.There' are intervals where it's put in the fridge. A simple vanilla  cream is sandwiched in the layers .The whole thing is topped off with a decorative chocolate or vanilla glaze.

Can the average home baker handle French pastry? Oui! Once conquered these complicated recipes will be as easy as a chocolate chip or scratch cake one.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Doctor That Dish!

Never be afraid to doctor up  dish, whether store bought or homemade. That extra fillip of something can turn a blah dish into something more palatable. What was once bland can be tasty and exciting. Just add a dose of this or that to bring extra life into any recipe.

That happened to me today when i opened can of Bush's vegetarian chili.It looked similar to our family recipe for it so I figured the taste was also similar. Wrong!!! The sauce tasted like  the Spaghetti-os one  (which is nothing wrong if its' bathing Spaghetti-os), with a funny kind of bland sweetness. It had lost all its' appeal in a second. What to do?Throw in a large pinch of cumin and two heaping tablespoons of chili powder. I then scattered a  few pinches of flaky Celtic  sea salt (my absolute go to in making any food better) and a few good turns of the pepper mill. After stirring it all together I tasted it . Voila! The perfect chili. It had gone from being a lunch time disaster to a tasty bowl. I ladled it over crunchy tortilla chips and it turned into a  textured, flavorful , fun meal.Basically it was adding oomph to a dull can of chili. Home chefs can also do this, reconfiguring and fussing with it to achieve the taste they want. The chili is also a great way of using up leftover roasts. Cut up steak, chicken or turkey would fare well in it., making it a heartier dish.Vegans can add Morningstar Farms soy chicken strips or soy beef crumbles.

You can also doctor up established recipes to make them your own I have done this with my Mom's chili  and tomato sauce recipes. My signature ingredient in dark wild flower honey. A dollop of this mellows out the chili  and gives the sauce an earthy sweetness.My new favorite recipe chicken mole has been doctored to create a brighter,more flavorful sauce. The recipe that I took from the All Recipes site calls for a can of  tomato soup. As much as I love tomato soup, I don't like the idea of it being an ingredient in a sauce. I prefer to use tomato sauce which is purer in taste. It marries well with the cocoa powder, adding a brightness I know I wouldn't have with the soup. Also I add a smidge more cocoa powder for a slightly more intense taste. Frosting is another recipe I doctor up. The chocolate buttercream that I made yesterday got amped up. Instead of the required  3/4 th cups of cocoa powder I increased it to a cup.The result is a dark, fudgey icing that is not too sweet. This offsets any cake' s sugariness. I also sub in light cream for milk - this gives the texture a lush  mouth feel.Instead of the usual one to two tablespoons, I increase it to a glug of it, maybe four or five tablespoons, Doing such gives it the malleability and smoothness s needed for icing it across a cake's surface.

Never be afraid to tinker with a recipe. The end result is usually  delicious, flavor filled dish. Doctor it up. It's a cure for avoiding a dull recipe.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Bonbon Cake

What could be better than a chocolate covered strawberry? A cake made like one. I had this idea pop into my head when I saw Duncan Hines' strawberry cake mix.It sounded  like a good idea......

Here is what the batter looks like, a kind of Pepto Bismal pink with dried strawberries thrown in.

It's the standard Duncan Hines, add three eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and one cup water. Bake for thirty minutes .
And this is the result. The pinkish shade can't be seen here but there is a rosy hue to the cakes. I have to admit I was nervous , considering the birthday sprinkle cake fiasco. I had nightmares of gooey batter  dripping on my oven floor. Thankfully it didn't. It was then onto the icing.
I have fallen for the Two Sisters chocolate buttercream icing.I usually add more cocoa powder than they recommend . It creates a rich, fudgey kind of icing.
The two sisters recommend mixing the confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder first.
It looks like ashes
Two sticks or a cup of softened butter cut up .Milk is usally added but I prefer light cream for a richer, smoother icing.
This is what it looks like all mixed together.

This is the iced cake. I had leftover buttercream icing from the sprinkle disaster.I added a bit too much red food color (all safe) and got this watermelon colored icing.
I should have added lard to it so I could make more defined decoaration.

In the end it turned out to be the perfect ending to a perfect dinner/ (And thank you Polly Bertos and Lili Dugan for inviting us over and for a chance to for me to make this cake.)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

That Secret Ingredient?Squid!!

Squid is one of those foods that 's either met with smiles or frowns.If done right it's a nice alternative to shrimp or scallops.Squid can be made in a variety of  delicious dishes from pasta to stew. It's truly versatile, appealing to seafood lovers who want to change it up a bit.

David Tanis wrote about it in his column A City Kitchen. in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Squid and its' cousin, cuttlefish is eaten a variety of various ways in different parts of the world.It can be sauteed in garlic, parsley and lemon for a bright, fresh taste Cooked in a rich sauce containing its' own ink, it 's at home in risotto, pasta or paella.Squid or calamari can be stuffed with breadcrumbs for a take on a popular Mediterranean dish. Want crunch? Then try the Chinese "salt and pepper' squid that has a whisper of the famed Five Spices.Many other cultures enjoy barbecued or fried squid as well. Mr Tanis reminisces about a dried squid he bought off a street vendor while visiting Thailand. It was briefly toasted over hot coals, flattened to the thickness of a potato chip and served with a spicy dipping sauce. The Spanish sell a paper cone full of flash fried cuttlefish rings called chipirones  that  are doused with lemon juice. Of course the Southern Italians have calamari. Done right it can be crispy and slightly chewy , perfect for dipping into marinara sauce.

Mr. Tanis doesn't offer a quick crispy snack. Instead he proposes a stew made with the sea creature. It's an out of  the ordinary  idea. Squid and stew usually aren't combined, yet it is popular in some parts of Spain.The Catalans usually cook it with chickpeas and tomatoes, sort of like a thick chowder. Clams are sometimes tossed in too. Mr. Tanis first ate in in a restaurant north of Barcelona. It was done in such a way that it looked like braised veal but tasted like pot roast.It's an easy stew so novice chefs can give it a try.Use a heavy soup pot and start with chicken broth, an onion, a thyme sprig and white wine. Add some carrots and turnips along with chopped leeks and peas. Cleaning it , however, is not for the squeamish. The head and innards have to be yanked out through the tail (where the tentacles are). The tail can be cut off and used in the stew or saved for calamari. The backbone or cuttle also has to removed.It's a clear bone, resembling hard plastic. The squid's skin can also be removed. It's simply tearing it away from the flesh for a cleaner look.

Squid stew sounds like a perfect dish on a winter's night. It's rich with the taste of the sea and the land. It makes for an interesting supper.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Sweet Side Of Vinegar

Vinegar is a kitchen staple. everyone has a bottle of either red wine, apple cider or balsamic. Thanks to the fermentation craze, home chefs are making it at home. This complex ingredient is actually the easiest to create. It just takes wine, cider or time.

It fascinated famed chef and regular contributor , Tejal Rao in today's issue of the New York Times Food section.There is a steadily growing  swath of enthusiasts , from professional chefs to home ones who are creating bottles of their own. Vinegar's name , come from  the French vin aigre - sour wine yet it can be made from fruits,vegetables (!)grains and syrups. Th earliest ones were probably made from leftover wines and bumper crops, Ancient kitchens between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were the first to try the process.Before refrigeration there was absolutely no way to stop fermentation. Ripe fruit produced alcohol. It changed to the fermented liquid during the warmer months.It was not just a preservative but a flavoring agent according to Michael Harlan Turkell, a writer and maker of honey vinegars. He is the author of Acid Trip, his 2017 cookbook devoted to all things vinegar. it also formed the base of dipping sauces.Once it made it' leap it persisted into modern times. Like wine it was made in different ways all over the world.Coconut and nipa palms provided sap that could be mixed with water and sap  Saki produced rice vinegar.

Is vinegar hard to make at home? No. At its' most basic it's just fermented wine..It just requires oxygen, bacteria and alcohol.Anyone can start with ready made alcohol, a bottle of wine you had lying around, or even hard cider or saki.Homemade alcohol can be made with fermented fruit such as peaches and water. Enthusiasts also buy pH meters to read acidity, but the only other items necessary are a wide mouthed jar and a cheesecloth for straining. There is also a starter or mother that Amazon sells for around ten dollars. It 's a clear disc of acetobacteria and cellulose that forms naturally on the top of vinegar. Once mastered you can create almost any flavor. Chef Misti Norris of the Dallas pop-up restaurant Petra and the Beast, creates all sorts of acidic concoctions from local mustang grapes mixed with passion fruit, peony flowers and figs Her apartment is full of glass containers and covered oak barrels. she plans on selling them later this year. Other restaurant owners such as Jori Jayne Ende, of  Lady Jayne/s Alchemy and fish  & Game in Chatham, New York uses leftovers from carrots and tomatoes to brown bread and even tomato. and sour cherry.  Her barrels contain everything from pith and seeds to  cores and peels. . They are left to ferment in a wine base to create vinegars that she'll use in a variety of dishes such as snails.

Fermenting is the hottest culinary trend right now. Start with creating a vinegar with any favorite wine or cider. it'll be a nice addition to the kitchen pantry.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Perfect Cup Of Cocoa

Now that we're firmly entrenched in winter, it' time to enjoy a steaming cup of hot winter. This is the perfect cold weather pick me up. It not only is a sweet treat but a tummy warmer, taking away that frosty nip.

Thanks the Mayans for this chill chaser. They began enjoying it about 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. Theirs was a spicy brew being made with mashed cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers. It was poured back and forth in cups until a froth formed and drunk. The Spanish found it  bitter yet went mad for it. Thanks to it being part of the dowry for Iberian princesses. the drink was soon spread throughout Europe. The Spanish and English added sugar to make it more palatable and it was dr Hans Sloane wo added milk to the beverage when he had it during a visit to Jamaica. In 1828 dutch Coenraad  Johannes van Houten developed a process to turn chocolate into a powder. From there it was easy for anyone from any class to make a soothing cup. The best cocoa mix is still from Holland - Droste. It's this one that I recommend to make a rich European style hot cocoa. Take two tablespoons of the Droste powder and pour in a trickle of milk to make a paste. Here is where I vary it. I add light cream for a richer mouth feel. Heat a cup of milk over a low flame  for two or three minutes (not too long, or a skin will form on the milk's surface. Pour in, stir and add a tablespoon of sugar. Stir again and top with a blob of real whipped cream.

The above is more of a a liquid dessert , perfect after any meal (and maybe after a morning of shoveling the white stuff) however many Americans prefer a lighter - maybe a more watery(?) version. An American classic is Ovaltine. This Swiss (!) import has graced both British and American tables since the early 1900's. It used to have a malty flavor thanks to the addition of malt for added nutrition., however this is not so anymore. Another good mix is Nesquik cocoa powder. Generations have run to this instant mix , creating not just awesome hot cocoa but also glasses of icy cold chocolate milk. Nesquik also comes in syrup form  for a less messier version. What about those packets?.  Do they make a satisfying hot chocolate? To some purists the answer is no. Yet, they're perfect for those in a hurry, The same with those K-Pods, You won;t have the creamy mouth feel of the real thing yet they're just as delicious. Land O'Lakes has one of the best. Their hot cocoa is nicely rich and their chocolate mint is tasty. Their hazelnut hot cocoa, however, can be a bit too sweet. Swiss Miss is another popular brand and the dark cocoa flavor has a richness that's satisfying. The marshmallow lover's one is fun chock full of mini marshmallows , perfect for s movie night.

Hot cocoa is definitely the best chill chaser.Whether it's a rich Droste one or one from a packet, they''re perfect for keeping you warm/ Make it to take away the mid winter cold.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Three Fruit Rule

Is there such a thing as having too little or to much fruit?We need it year round however buy too much and it's forgotten, left to spoil in the fridge. What's the best bet? Three fruits in the house, no matter if it's summer or winter, spring or fall.

It's easier to garner fruit in the warmer months. There's so much to choose from and there's the added bonus of picking them fresh. Still having too many can  clutter up the  fridge or  kitchen table. Try to buy fruits that you know will be eaten almost right away. Strawberries and blueberries are good summer fruits. They can be cut up in salads, along with being pureed into a salad dressing. They're also good mixed together with sliced bananas in a breakfast or brunch fruit salad.Summer fruits go well with summer cakes.Always have berries on the ready for angel food cakes and trifles.If you want to vary your intake, think melons. They're always refreshing, and can be used in a variety of different drinks such as agua fresca to chilled chunks after a barbecue. Since this is the time for other melons to be sold, vary choices from week to week.The family may not appreciate your melon kick. Think about buying cantaloupes one week, and casabas the next. Since August is peach season, have a few on the table.They'll be a nice change up from the berries and also can be used in a variety of dishes too.

The fall is also a good time for varying fruit in your diet. Many people are in awe of the different  types of apples offered and want to try every one. Again the family could get sick of eating them all the time, even though they're candied on a stick  or turned into tarts. It's also pear season and they're a refreshing switch from those Fujis and Winesaps. Pears  such  as the Asian and Bosc are perfect for dipping into caramel. and excellent for poaching. Grapes are harvested at this time too. Nothing beats them  as a snack , especially when hiking on a balmy September or October day, Winter and early Spring is citrus season and this is when everyone goes nut for those extra doses of Vitamin. C. The problem with eating too much of them can cause hives. Have oranges and tangerines around but also think of pineapple too. Pommelos, those bowling ball sized grapefruit, are great because they are the highest in Vitamin C and can feed an entire family. The dilemma is they may be too much. Vary them with he new fruit cups from Dole.These are mixed  combos, such as peach and mango in slightly sweetened coconut water. They make a great dessert or even breakfast when mixed with cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.

Three is your magic number when having fruit in the house. Any three types will do the trick, in providing nutrition and flavor. It's the perfect amount for any kitchen.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Chickpeas From Savory To Sweet

Chickpeas are quickly becoming a kitchen staple. They can be used in any lunch or dinner recipe and now they also an ingredient in breakfasts and desserts. These creamy little peas are becoming the powerhouses of the culinary scene and with good reason.

This amazing little pea , also know as the garbanzo bean has been around for 7,500 years.We modern cooks weren't the first to popularize it. Ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian chefs  also cooked with it and centuries later the Spanish brought it to the New World. It also made its way to Spain via North Africa and India, thanks to the trade routes. Chickpeas are the backbone in Indian vegetarian cooking, allowing it to be the much needed protein. The beans are divided into two kinds , desi and kabuli. The first is a small dark ball while the kabuli is the smooth creamy white one we use. Surprisingly you can start off your day off with a chickpea scramble. It's mixing chickpeas with turmeric (to give it that scrambled egg look) along with white onion and garlic.If this is too strong in the AM, just omit the onion and garlic and sub in spinach and mushrooms. A nice brunch idea is a savory muffin ,using a can of them drained with  a package of spinach. The best thing about the recipe is no flour is used,perfect for those with gluten and wheat allergies. The peas and spinach are pulsed in a food processor with nutritional yeast and Parmasian cheese, Eggs are added for binding and then the mixture is poured into a greased muffin pan. The muffins are baked the same as regular muffins  - for about twenty-five minutes.

Of course chickpeas have been used in lunches and dinners since the Neolithic Era. Hummus is a classic lunch as well as party dish and anyone can make it. What is good about the recipe is that you can add anything you want to i, from spinach to red peppers. The basic recipe is mashing the peas with lemon juice and olive oil. The traditional one calls for tahini sauce but this can be omitted. Minced garlic is added for bite. some home chefs even add sun dried tomatoes for color and to amp up the taste.Now the age old dip is entering the dessert realm.Because of its' mild taste companies and home chefs are pairing  the pea with chocolate and sweet spices. Sweet hummus dip has a stronger, texture than the regular, in a way resembling cookie dough.Use unsweetened cocoa  when making it and palm sugar.Of course the chickpea water, aquafaba has hit the baking world in a big way. Bakers are whipping in into vegan meringues  with excellent results. It can also top both Key Lime and lemon meringue pies too for a healthier spin. Chickpeas , though, shine their best in stews and soups. A hearty chickpea stew is loaded with protein and flavor. Add tomatoes along with bell peppers and onions for one that is tasty and filling. Or try it with cauliflower, spiked with curry for a different spin.Minestrone soup can benefit greatly from the addition of a can of chickpeas.A cup of them can go a long way in adding flavor to a pot.

Use this amazing little powerhouse any way you'd like, Start the day with it or make a refreshing lemon hummus for a healthy lunch, Have it for dinner or even dessert.The chickpea is versatile.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Vegan Stew Dilemma

One of the highlights of any stew is the chunks of meat bobbing in it. They give it flavor and chewiness, along with much needed oomph. What happens when its' eliminated from the equation? There in lies the problem.

That is my dilemma, I 'm a meat eater in a vegan household.There was a recipe in Wednesday's New York Times Food section by regular Melissa Clark, It was a beef and onion stew , fortified with beer. It 's based on the Flemish carbonnade. It sounds wonderful and I can imagine the marriage of earthy beef with sweet onion,.Unfortunately the neat has to be erased from the picture. Do I make it anyway with just more onions? That would be eight onions!! It would turn into a side dish at that point  do I sub in firm tofu at that point?Or add faux beef crumbles to it. That works with Bolognese sauce and chili a stew itself,.The last is the kind that lets all the ingredients shine.A spoonful of it  and you have equal flavors of the protein, tomatoes and chiles. Yet one that solely or partially relies on the meat for taste is at a loss when the lesser stars such as carrots and potatoes have to carry the dish. Probably the best bet is getting the vegan beef chunks from Vegetarian Plus which is sold at Whole Foods. Theylook like lumpy meat balls. Hopefully the taste will compensate for that along with their ability to blend in.

Another idea is to look at vegan stew recipes that focus on the vegetables.Potatoes are pretty hearty and they could be considered the "meat" if there is none. One recipe that I could try is vegan Hungarian paprika stew.It's an intriguing blend of two kinds of paprika, sweet and smoked along with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. A blob of yogurt tops it off , giving the fiery dish a refreshing dash of cool.Another potato based stew has leeks along with carrots,bell peppers and nutritional yeast.Cauliflower, cannellini beans  and kale can also be added to give it more body.Flax and chia seeds can also be added for more nutritional value. Chickpeas, the bean of the moment ,can also be the star of vegetarian stews. What I love about them is that they're so meaty and versatile. In a way they're like meat, flavoring the stew and acting as the backbone. Go exotic with a Lebanese style one, rich with za'atar and cumin. Tomato paste also are added for color and zing.It also has garlic but theis can be omitted if you want.

Yes, it would be nice to have an old fashioned beef or chicken stew.sadly, that;s a no go in my house. Luckily veggies and beans are great stand ins. They can give a rich, tasty stew, perfect on a cold day,

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Food For A Queen

What did medieval people eat? You could read scores of  articles , especially on online and discover a whole trove of info. Or you could just go to your local Medieval Times, and participate in a ground breaking show.

Kim Severson did just that in her article in yesterday's New York Times Food section. This is an interesting place, part Disney, part dinner theater - all fun. The company, started in 1973 by Jose Mortener on the island of Mallorca.His estate was the first setting for the jousting and dining and then moved to where the musical festival was held, Benidorm in 1977. American investors got involved and the first American Medieval Times was opened in Orlando ,Florida in 1983. One opened near me in Lyndhurst, New Jersey in 1990. Yes, I went with family. I remember taking pictures with the king and queenalong with eating the food with the gusto of Henry VIII.  We feasted on roasted chicken and baked potatoes  tearing  all of it with our hands. The meal was followed by some kind of apple tart and cups of tea and coffee.. It was an expensive night out then, with a thirty dollar price tag followed by ten dollars a person for pics with the faux royals. Now it's a whopping sixty dollars with about the same amount of food and drink. The only addition is the  falconry  show, that happens between the jousts.

Medieval Times has made the news recently because their show now feature a queen as opposed to a king.Ms. Severson interviewed the one from Dallas, Monet Lerner. She shares the title with two other actresses, and all feel that's empowering  to little girls. However some may have a different view. It seems Medieval Times' meals are also stars, impressing visitors. The stubby ears of corn that go with the chicken have drawn raves from diners.Stacey Freeman of the Dallas domain raves about them. They are steamed with soy butter (!), sugar, paprika and a little cayenne pepper.This is more ground breaking than spotlighting the female performers. The kitchen uses soy instead of butter or margarine which is a huge breakthrough. What is also impressive is that they also offer vegan meals.of a three bean strew with fire  roasted tomatoes and brown rice. There's also hummus and warm pita bread along with carrot and celery sticks. Dessert is fresh fruit or Italian ices, unlike the regular meal that ends with a pastry (possibly an apple turnover like in the old days) The regular meal has a tomato bisque which is kind of like Campbell's/ They still sell soda as well as tankards of wine and beer.

Medieval Times may have made the news because the queens of their castles are now the stars. What is more gronbreaking is that they're pdating their meals to suit everyone's tastes/They're not stuck in the good old days anymore.