Saturday, March 31, 2018

My Big Easter Tofu Extravaganza

Easter dinners are always special and a challenge when you have vegetarians in the house.What happens to that heavenly baked ham? It becomes tofu - namely tofu baked in the style of ham.

I found this recipe during a search. I had scoured my local Stop & Shop for the Gardein Holiday Ham loaf. Nothing. Not even the turkey one. I guess those are made ar only Thanksgiving and Christmas. I bought a block of Nasoya Hard Tofu, hoping to find a recipe. Bingo! It was a Washington Post entry by Joe Yolan about a spin on a  recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowicz. It's part of The Superfun Times vegan Holiday Cookbook. I added some of my own spin on it.

First here is the tofu,
This is what you should have,  Then it's wrapping the tofu brick in paper towels 
Doing this soaks up the water (because tofu is basically a sponge).I double wrapped it in two paper towels. Then to squeeze more water out of it, I put a can of soup on a plate over it.
In the meantime, I made the marinade. It takes three tablespoons of grated ginger

You need a ginger grater for this, A hasp or a micrograter can work too.
This was probably the hardest part of it. Four cloves of finely chopped garlic are also added.

Now for the orange. Ms. Moskowicz recommends blood oranges which I could not find. I subbed in D'Angelo which have more or less the same tangy sweetness as the blood oranges. Both the juice and the zest had to be used. I started with a micro grater or hasp, Bad idea I used a regular grater. The orange looks like a shaved peach,

Use a heaping tablespoon of zest and  1/2 cup of juice. This is mixed with two tablespoons of maple syrup and four teaspoons of low sodium soy sauce. Also add two tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk everything together
The tofu was then cut into blocks. I was able to get five
Then covered in plastic and marinaded in the fridge for two hours.
 Cover with foil. Bake in a 375 degree Farenheit oven  for twenty minutes.
Take the foul off. Flip the bricks and bake for another fifteen minutes.

And this is the finished product served with mashed , soy buttered cauliflower.
It was very good but very labor intensive. Next time. I'll just use orange juice and marmalade along with ginger paste. Still it was pretty tasty - the perfect Easter meal for ham starved vegans.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Thoughts

Good Friday is a day of reflection and thinking of others. It should be very apparent this year with the protesters and LGBTQ bans from certain chain restaurants. They need not just our support but  alimentary support too.

If you're a restaurant owner think about donating food to your local demonstrations. Sandwiches  and small salads will be fine along with cold bottles of water. If it's more organized, think about getting together with a few other restaurant owners to form a buffet.The hot dishes will be appreciated if there's rainy or cool Spring weather.Even chains such as McDonald's or Wendy 's can participate.

As for tolerance, everybody should be allowed to eat where they want to eat or order a wedding cake.  Think about tolerance and how the New Testament emphasizes that. Protest eateries and shops that promote exclusion. A big enough backlash can close down one place.

Be thoughtful for this Good Friday and practice tolerance and acceptance all year round.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The New Kitchen Must Have The Egg Spoon

Every year , or more like every few months there's some kitchen gadget or device that capture the cooking community's eye. This time around it's the egg spoon.. This simple fusing of metal is causing quite a stir , both with professional and home chefs. Is this new addition worth it?

That's the question regular contributor, Kim, Severson, wrote yesterday in The New York Times Food section. What is it exactly? Imagine a mini frying pan with a long handle that allows  you to hold  it over a campfire or hearth fire,It has a primitive  look, like what our ancestors cooked with two hundred years ago, The egg spoon is sort of reminiscent of  the scoop Mel Gibson's character in  2000 movie  "The Patriot" used when melting his son's tin soldiers into musket balls. Alice Waters,the famed chef, and Slow Food innovator had the first one,specifically made for her by Angelo Garro., after she saw one in  William Rubels' The Magic Of Fire: Hearth Cooking :One Hundred Recipes For The Fireplace or Campfire. A female blacksmith. Ms. Lovell now forges them for Ms. Waters" daughter, Fanny Singer for her website Permanent Collection. The price is a whopping $250 which is part of the backlash against it.Yet it is selling out, probably due to the fact that Ms. Singer is the only one selling it.Not even Etsy, the purveyor of all things unique has it . Neither does Amazon which sells all sorts of kitchen gadgets.

This rare culinary bird has caused quite a lot of controversy. Many see it as the height of indulgence and privilege., especially with the price. However those against should take into consideration that it is hand wrought and made of a sturdy iron.The price could drop if other companies such as Williams-Sonoma, make one of their own. Samin Nosrat, who contributes regularly to the  food section of New York Times Sunday magazine , says that a $300 sous vide is more elite than cooking an egg over an open fire. Also five percent of the profits go to Waters' own charity, The Edible Schoolyard Project, which provides schools with gardens and the know how of caring for them. Despite all this, the egg spoon still can rile . Ms. Waters used six cords of wood to cook one egg for Leslie Stahl in a 2009 Sixty Minutes piece. People saw that as a waste of wood. It also has sparked a feminist debate, fueled by the current MeToo movement. Some feel that if a man had promoted it , it would have been received better, but because a woman introduced it, received criticism. Even Anthony Bourdain, who first fueled the egg spoon war concedes that there is a bit of sexism, but make chefs have created much sillier and worse.

What is the fate of the egg spoon.? A good one, if the price goes down. If not, then it' will just be another expensive cooking gewgaw only chefs can afford.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Artisanal Food Magazine

It should come as no surprise that food magazines are now indie and artisanal. After all,most foods are, Why not the magazines that feature them? It's a new food trend that may just be a permanent one.

Tejal Rao, the famed chef and, cookbook writer wrote about them in today's New York Times Food section  It's a movement that arose from frustration. Many of the people, creating these  are stymied  by what they see in the long established cookery magazines. There are ones that recipes cater more to novices than seasoned chefs or the ones that are so corny and homey that it hurts to read them, despite the fact that some actually do print pretty  good recipes. Many of these indies combine lifestyle with cooking as Jarry, one created by Lukas Volger and Steve Viksjo.It celebrates the meeting of food and queer culture.It gave an L.G.B.T.Q. spin on food. Unlike other food magazines, there's an article on designer , Zac Posen who also has a cookbook out as well as a culinary tour of Milan. Dill magazine, created by only (!) twenty year old Shayne Chammavanijakul on South Asian noodles along with flavors and dishes . There are some interesting recipes you wouldn't see in standard lifestyle or cooking magazines.The wittily named Toothache was created by pastry chef , Nick Muncy, for chefs. It may be the first of its' kind because it offers recipes in technical terms not ones for foodies or home chefs .

Is it easy to create a artisanal magazine? Like food blogging it does require a large chunk of time to come up with ideas and format. , It is also costly unlike food blogging, which just requires signing onto a free  blog.A print magazine needs ink and paper along with contributors to create an issue. This requires money, easy to get from a publisher , not so from an independent one. Dill's creator, Ms. Chammavanijakul had to work nights at Chipotle just to pay her contributors.Family and friends also chipped in with financial and editorial support. Staffs on these artisanal issues tend to be small. Sometimes it's just a staff of one or possibly two doing everything, from layout to promotion. The circulation also is very small. Readership could only be around one hundred and fifty subscribers.Pricing is also high.Dill is nine dollars an issue. Toothache is a whopping twenty dollars for two biannual issues.Yet, unlike, the mass produced food magazines, these come with saturated ink drawings along with original articles that would appeal to a more experienced crowd.

These new artisanal magazines may last as long as their more established counterparts. They show a side of cooking and food not always seen. This may be more than a trend. It may be the start of an entirely new publishing phenomenon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Greatest Book Of Grilling

Despite the cold temps and occasional snow flurry , it's Spring and that means grilling season is here.It's time to get the grill ready to go.before you do , there's a phenomenal book , chock full of all sorts of on the grill recipes , from appetizers to even dessert - yes, dessert!

Char-Broil's Great Book Of Grilling (Fox Chapel Publishing 2018) is a compilation of recipes from the folks at Char-Broil Grills.The company is well known for its' wide variety of gas and charcoal grills along with electric and portable ones. Charbroil also has an extensive line of both oil-less fryers and BBQ smokers. The company is also innovative, creating a line of hybrid grills that incorporate both gas and charcoal. Charbroil is all things outdoor cooking so it makes sense that they have a cookbook all about the cuisine. Novice grillers will appreciate the first chapter which explains everything  from the difference between barbecuing and grilling( the first is a slower method of cooking),to infra-red frying.A big plus are the cooking table times for the various meats and fish. Following this , there should be no under cooked meat . There is also pages on pantry essentials such as brown sugar and ketchup and tips for creating the best tasting burgers, chops, wings and even fruit slices. A very important section is dedicated to grill safety.It's full of such wise tips as grill in a well ventilated area and wearing "safe clothes" such as no hanging shirt tails, frills or apron strings.Another  important section is grill maintenance and how to clean the various grates with different cleaning implements and soap.

The recipes are mouth watering. Carnivores will drool over the Bloody Mary London Broil which is London Broil with zippy Worcester sauce and tomato juice along with the Montreal Grilled T-Bone which comes with a fiery Cajun sauce. For tradtionalists there is beer-can chicken.It comes with two rub recipes, one spiked with cumin and coriander and a fiery sweet one, rich with sugar and cayenne pepper. There's the simple but packed with flavor with Grilled New York Steak.It's just brushing them with melted butter or oil. Poultry lovers will also enjoy the grilled duck breasts with sweet potato fries and BBQ turkey wings cooked over cherry wood chips. Pork and lamb are also represented Affectionados will enjoy the pulled smoked pork with the tongue seairng mop sauce and lamb chops with rosemary and cumin. For those who prefer seafood there is the delicious rainbow trout stuffed with lemon, shallots and herbs.A tasty twist on a salad is Cajun grilled mahi-mahi with avocado slices.Sides and desserts are also here, with some component being cooked over an open flame., A pool party would be more fun with  grilled and stuffed potato skins or grilled scallops with prosciutto. End with grilled peaches with raspberry puree or grill baked chocolate chip cookies.

Before you know it, warmer weather will be here and that means firing up the grill.Have the Char-Broil Great Book Of Grilling on hand. It's loaded with recipes that will keep your fire going until tailgate season!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Revamping The Classics

Classic recipes are just that - classic. However sometimes they need updating or varying to add more zing and flavor or to make them healthier.After all change is good. Change keeps a recipe going for the next generation.

The idea came to me after looking at the original recipe for Tollhouse Cookies in today's New York Times obituaries. Yes, obituaries. The Times is doing a salute to famous women that were ignored or barely written up when they passed. One was Ruth Wakfield who left us forty years ago. Thanks to her , home baking was never the same. She invented chocolate chip cookies by adding smashed dark chocolate to a buttery brown sugar snap. It took off like crazy, thanks to Nestle's creating chocolate chips to suit the recipe. Many have not wanted to redo this classic but sometimes an update helps. For a healthier bite try subbing in carob chips which have a similar taste to chocolate.One of the earliest variations was subbing in M&M's for the chips. Then there is the flip chocolate chip , chocolate dough and white chocolate chips.The basic sugar cookie is also getting an upgrade with the addition of vegan butter and whole wheat flour.A truly colorful alternative is the addition of colorful sprnkles or jimmies to the dough. These amps up the fun in a simple classic. Brownies, always a must have , have also been tinkered with to create a more delicious treat. Coconut, marshmallows and a variety of nuts have been added over the years along with dried cherries, cream cheese and even cranberries!

Savory recipes also have gotten upgrades over the years. Take pasta aglia et olio, pasta with garlic and oil. For years it was served with fettucini, spaghetti or angel hair pasta These were all good but try the sauce with rotelli or shells.It works perfectly because the roasted garlic gets caught in the curves and lifts the flavor of the pasta itself. The same can be said for pasta con burro, , usually served with long strands. Try it with a chicken ravioli or tortellini, Mole sauce, that Mexican classic , made with cocoa powder and chile peppers. is usually served with chicken but it can also be a great foil for beef such as London Broil or pork. It can even be used as a sauce for a burger for a change of pace. Side dishes can also be varied for a fun twist.Cauliflower , always made into a soup or breaded for frying can be riced to create a fun new dish. It's just putting broken florets into a food processor or mini chopper and pulsing them until they resemble couscous. Add spices or just butter for a tasty and fun side. The same can be done to broccoli too. Instead of the usual broccoli salad, think a riced one. with olive oil and garlic. The process is simple. Cut the florets and stems into workable pieces and drop into a mini chopper. You make have to work in batches if you have a big bunch.

Change is good. Changing a classic is even better. Take basic recipes and tinker with them to create something more delicious and new.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Planning The Perfect Spring Brunch

Spring is the perfect time for an airy brunch, full of good food and good friends and family. It's also a great time to appreciate the abundance of  Spring harvest, full of freshness and flavor. Create a Saturday or Sunday one that reflects the season.

One of the first things to do is decide whether it's going to be an indoor or outdoor one. The temps are rising. It would be a shame to stay indoors when there are balmy breezes outside.  However keep in mind that the weather is iffy. There could be rain - or even an April snow shower - or the  opposite. -  a hot, sweaty day, Be ready for these last minute jabs  from Mother Nature. The next is the guest list. Do you want an intimate grouping of just four or a much larger one of fifteen or twenty. A smaller brunch doesn't require  the variety a larger gathering would. Larger brunches will require more structure. There may be a savory first course and salad followed by a light dessert. Also  a more intimate gathering can be held in the dining room or the patio. A bigger one, like a baby or bridal shower brunch needs seating plans. Can it be held in the garage if it's too hot a day or the yard? Do you borrow tables or rent them?  Another question is can you handle it yourself, or will you require the spouse and kids to help out? Or enlist a few friends to help with the cooking, serving and cleaning up. Then there's the plates and utensils. Hosts can get away with using their  regular luncheon plates and knives and forks. Paper plates and plastic utensils is a must for groups of five or more.

Since brunch is a combo of breakfast and lunch, think eggs as the star of the meal. A Spring frittata is the perfect main course for entertaining your cadre of friends. Make it rich with asparagus , tomatoes and onions. Serve it sliced with toasted and oiled or buttered Italian bread Set out a  sparkling wine or better yet, champagne. Of course Bloody Mary's and  mimosa's are always welcome. After all, it's a relaxing get together. You could even serve a tomato and mozzarella salad on the side.For a different kind of dessert think the Italian fried pastry twists - crostoli. - a staple at many Italian bakeries.These are light and airy , made from fried pie dough and dusted with confectioner's sugar. . The meal can also end with bougies, a Piedmontese pastry stick,  a denser version of the crostoli, but still just as delicate. For a bigger gathering quiches, especially the mini variety a,re always welcome. You can have the classic Quiche Lorraine but also think of a  shrimp or crab one, Vegetarian friends can enjoy   spinach or again the veggie of the season, asparagus ones.Serve with  nice, crisp Spring greens salad and crusty French rolls. As for dessert, think, small, The British fairy cakes are perfect for an outdoor gathering. They're smaller than cupcakes and just have a drizzle of glaze on the top. Bakery made petit fours are another nice ending, also with candied almonds in pretty pastel colors.

Spring is brunch season. Start planning your perfect one. It could be big or small.It's the perfect way to celebrate warmer weather and balmy - hopefully - seasons.

Friday, March 23, 2018

When Holidays Collide

Many families now have two or even three religions being practiced in their households. This year, Easter and Passover are almost simultaneous , with Orthodox Easter occurring a week later. With all these come some sort of dietary restriction, Can a home chef cope with all of these? Surprisingly yes.It does take some thoughtful planning but it can be done.

The first night of Passover happens on the Christian Good Friday. This is normally a time to eschew any meat except fish. What happens when the two religions are observed? Serve fish. The most commonly made one is gefilte fish , a kind of croquette. You can use salmon, or red snapper for a more flavorful mix. Gefilte fish can also be baked into a loaf bound together with four eggs and matzoh meal. Celery and onions give it a nice Spring freshness. Another idea is the whole filet itself for a more substantial meal. Think of combining salmon with both lemon and orange juice, spiked with garlic and dill. It can also be cooked in a garlic and coriander sauce. What happens when some of the family observe Greek or Russian Orthodoxy? Their's is a strict Lenten diet. Unlike Catholics and Protestants, they can't even have fish with spines  along with other meats.Only vegetables are allowed and they can only be boiled, not sauteed or fried. Oil, butter, and even margarine are forbidden. Boiled vegetables such as the meatier sweet potatoes or potatoes are allowed. These can be mashed and combined with other veggies to create a substantial mash.

Easter is also the time of bread and cakes. So many holiday breakfasts start off with a slice of egg bread.Unfortnately this can be awkward for some in a household that don't celebrate the day.Mmatzoh brei can be made. This is a variation of French toast with the cracker being first soaked in water then in egg. Serve it with maple syrup or honey. Matzoh can also be turned into a fun, crispy snack with the addition of kosher for Passover margarine, chocolate and brown sugar. Named Matzo Crack because it's highly addictive and tasty, it's even perfect for an Easter party.One dessert that transcends the two holidays are macarons. These can even be made with aquafaba - bean water from chickpeas  - to satisfy Greek Orthodox Holy Week laws. Dye them (using Kosher for Passover dyes) in delicate Easter egg colors such as pale pink , robin's egg blue and lavender. These can even be dusted with cocoa powder or sanding sugar to look more festive.

A multifaith household can be problematic during the holidays. Yet there are ways to deal with this . It's just being creative and thoughtful, keeping in mind ancient traditions and dietary laws.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Provencal Passover

The Avignon region of southern France is rife with history and tradition. This also applies to food and the traditional dishes associated with this season of faith and belief. To the Jewish community of Avignon, the Passover dishes take on a special meaning.

Joan Nathan, a regular contributor to the New York Times Food section and export on Jewish cooking wrote an informative and intriguing article on the community at Carpentras. since Roman times, Jews have lived in this Northern Provence town and will now be celebrating Passover at the Carpentra Synagogue, first built in 1367/ It is one of the oldest synagogues still in use and will welcome some with roots in African Judaism.Carpentrs a became the center of Jewish life in 1306 when the Jews were expelled from the Kingdom of France.Like other nearby sanctuaries of Avignon and Cavaillon, the town was under French rule but the Contat Venaisson under the command of Pope John XXII. His Holiness decreed that the Jew would be welcomed as refugees. Thanks to the initial 1,000 Carpentras was known as 'Petit Jersusalem. They still sadly  had to  contained be in a ghetto, which was locked at night. They had their own butchers and bakers which now the slaughterhouses and ovens along with the ritual baths are being excavated. Some things have changed. Most of the younger generation have moved to the larger cities and townspeople have to travel to Marseilles for kosher meats.

The holiday foods has both Jewish and Provencal influences The cuisine is Jewish dishes were adapted from local foods according to the laws of kashrut, or Jewish religious dietary laws. Gilberte Levi's Haroset, the sweet paste that represents the mortar that built the pyramids has dried  apricots, figs, raisins and chestnuts, reflective of the harvests of southern France. She will also serve veal stuffed with Swiss chard, with the last being a popular ingredient of the region. Her Haroset is easy to recreate It not only has the chestnuts but also almonds, pine nuts  and walnuts.She adds in the traditional apple along with cinnamon and fresh ginger. The fruit used can be dried because sweet Kosher wine will moisten it. The provencal veal breast stuffed with Swiss chard also has rosemary and garlic, not too far in ingredients from an Italian Easter lamb Cote du Rhone,a  dry red is also added for moisture.

Carpentras  will celebrate Passover ,using ancient recipes and traditions of both France and Jerusalem. The food will reflect centuries of lives led there. It is a reminder of their contributions to Provencal life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Maryland's Specialty stuffed Ham

Mention dishes associated with Maryland and anything with crab will come to mind.However there's one county, surprisingly a peninsula, that has a delicious specialty - stuffed ham. This dish is a big holiday one, popular for the upcoming Easter one.

Kim Severson wrote about this traditional dish of St Mary's County in today's New York Times Food section. It's one of America's most regional recipes, right up there with Jersey rippers (deep fried hot dogs) Cincinnati chili  and Robeson county collard greens. Every family in the county made stuffed ham. whether for Christmas, Easter and even Thanksgiving.Unfortunately it's disappearing thanks to a younger generation either moving away or having smaller families. People turned to family owned stores like the famed Dent's . It takes stamina and skill to boil about twenty pounds of cabbage and the Dents had this for two generations.The owner, who sadly died in his sleep not long ago, put the stuffed ham in egg rolls and on top of  pizzas .His cordon bleu chicken, traditionally stuffed with ham was filled with the St. Mary's County kind.  Another small store Murphy's Town and Country also makes the famed dish , around four hundred a year. Most go to church dinners but many still grace a large family's table. . The recipe could be a cousin of an old Lincolnshire dish chine in which a brined shoulder of pork is slashed and stuffed with herbs. It was boiled in a muslin case. It's more likely  to be derived from an Afro- Carib dish though, according to Joyce White, a Maryland food historian.Enslaved West Africans would season greens with onions and red pepper and stuff them into jowls or whatever piece of pork they had.

What makes this ham so special?It is the stuffing It is a combination of curly kale mixed with collard greens and watercress.. Yellow onions and scallions are also added along with black pepper , cayenne,and red pepper flakes for kick. Mustard and celery seeds are tossed in as well.It is not for the faint of heart novice chef. It does take more than a few hands. The original recipe, first published in 1834, called for smoked ham. This one requires the meat to be corned or having kosher salt rubbed on the surface, Place the ham in an unreactive  pan after salting or corning.. A glass one which won't react with the salt so stay away from aluminum or copper pans..cover it tightly with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for a few days. The day before it get's stuffed, rinse off the salt and soak the ham  in cold water over night in the fridge.The stuffing is chopped cabbage along with the onions and kale.. The ham should be boneless when stuffed. Think butterflied with the meat being splayed on the sides.The ham should also be slit to hold the stuffing. It will be packed in the greens as it's placed into a cheesecloth  "sack". Themmeat is cooked ,fifteen minutes per pound. A small ham could take about an hour and a half , a larger one could take three to four hours. after cooking, It's then drained in colander and chilled in the fridge for six hours before serving. It' s usually served on soft potato rolls ro slices of white bread.

Stuffed ham may be a Saint Mary's county specialty but any body from any other part of the country can also make t. It's a delicious blend of ham and greens, spiked with peppers. Try this traditiona dish and see what generations have raved about for decades.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Wedded Bliss of Marshmallow And Cereal

Whoever thought of mixing Rice Krispies and marshmallows was a genius. There's nothing like a buttery square  - or two - or three of the amalgam along with a glass of milk or coffee.The best part - they're easy to make.Even a five year old kid chef can whip up a decent batch.

This American classic really is a classic. The squares or buns, as they're sometimes called were first made in 1939 by Malitta Jensen and Mildred Day at the Kellogg Company's home economics division as a fund raiser for Camp Fire Girls. Many years later, in 1995,  the company mass produced them for the public. They're called treats here and in Mexico while the Canadians and the Brits called them squares.Kellogg's has also offered a breakfast cereal based on them. They may have stolen the recipe from Mary Maltby's  1938 cookbook It's Fun To Cook which was slightly different. Hers was a mixture of  butter , sugar, molasses,  puffed wheat cereal and surprisingly vinegar.Ms Day didn;t like using the molasses, claiming it was too sticky to work with and subbed in the marshmallows. Kids had to wait for two years, until 1941,, when the recipe was first published on the box. Day was celebrated in April of 2001 when Iowa State University created  the world's largest Rice Krispie treat. It  took eight hours to construct and used 818 pounds of cereal , 1,466 pounds of marshmallows and 217 pounds of butter. This giant treat was twelve feet long, six feet wide and two feet deep. The whole state of Kansas could have munched on it. Its' final weight was 2,480 pounds, In 2010 the record was broken by Californians who made a whopping 10,460 pound treat!!!!

(Lucky is in the background, contemplating this human treat)
The recipe is pretty basic.It's one package - about ten ounces - of marshmallows melted with three tablespoons of butter. Add six cups of the Rice Krispies and stir until well coated. Using a buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press the mixture into a well greased (use butter) 13 x 9 x 2 pan. Cool and then cut into squares. The microwave version is faster. Just zap the butter and marshmallows on high for two to three minutes.Always use butter  - never margarine for the classic taste. You can sub in marshmallow creme though which won;t compromise the flavor.. There is a luxe version .that requires an entire stick of butter !!  It's Karissa's from her blog Sweet As A Cookie blog. Not only is it drowning in the good stuff there's also  a teaspoon of vanilla paste added for more flavor. I am raring to make this one but adding my own spin with using a drop of Neilsen-Massey's vanilla instead of the paste to the mix.. I may even commit sacrilege by adding the teeniest pinch of sea salt to offset all that sweet. Another aspect is that the treats can be adapted for any holiday. Right now there are recipes  on the website that feature the mixture  cuts into festive flowers and Easter eggs. Both are fun treats to any kid-centric Easter party. It's just adding food coloring to the marshmallows for the different colors and then cutting them out with greased cookie cutters.. The Rice Krispie eggs can be dipped in dark chocolate to offset the sugariness. and then dipped in pastel colored sprinkles.

Rice Krispie treats are not just an American classic but American comfort food. Buy them or make them. They're just a delicious marriage of cereal and marshmallows with a kiss of butter.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Know Your Tofu

To any non vegan tofu is tofu. It's that icly soy stuff that serves as a stand in to real meat and dairy. Yet , there are several different and delicious kinds that can turn a limited meatless diet into an unlimited buffet.  It's amazing what it can do  - and mimic.

First of all what is tofu? The most basic description is that it's a curd made from soy.Many have been introduced to it years ago under the unappetizing name of bean curd . It has been around for two thousand years, first being made during the Han Dynasty in China. The name tofu means fermented  or bean. It's made from coagulating soy milk with magnesium chloride and pressing out the curds.The amount of time in pressing determines what kind of curd it is.The process can be over in about fifteen to twenty minutes. Just remember that the longer it's pressed the firmer it will be. There are various types.Block tofu is what's found at grocery stores. This is also called "cotton tofu" due to the fluffiness of the curds. Soft tofu is the kind that's pressed in the least amount of time. It's primarily used for desserts.It's not recommended for frying because it could break apart and splutter out of the pan.Medium firm tofu is the best for braising and boiling.  Don't stir fry or pan fry it. It will break apart in creamy little pieces. The most versatile is the firm block kind. It can be battered, boiled , baked, pan fried, stir fried and deep fried.If you want a crusty , crispy kind, then go for the extra firm. These can be turned in kabobs or General's Tso's tofu.

Tofu can also have a soft and silky mouth feel. This is silken tofu and it, too, is a popular, kind, often found at many supermarkets.It's made in a similar process to block tofu except that the soy milk is coagulated without curdling the milk. It's also left unpressed so every cake retains its' moisture while cooling. Because curds never form, any kind from  soft , to extra firm has a smooth and silky appearance  If you want to make sauces and dressings, then try soft silken.It has the consistency of a poached egg.It can even be used as an egg substitute. There is firm silken tofu which cannot be confused with the  firm or silken kinds. Firm silken is made from a thicker form of soy milk. One of the most delicate kinds is fresh silken or custard tofu.It can turn pretty quickly so try getting it fresh from the manufacturer. Don/'t buy the mass produced ones. The flavor can be flat and bitter. It can't be cooked but it can be served with miso and scallions for a savory treat or mixed with agave syrup for a sweet snack. for those who love spicy , there is the Chinese Five Spice tofu which is a  dark purple in color. Smoked tofu is another tasty dish. It's smoked first in tea leaves giving it a light hue and smoky flavor. There is also deep fried tofu called aburaage  that's puffy and sugary.Tofu can be sold in pockets  or inarizushi. Both can be used for snacking while the last is good in salads.

Don't be put off by this versatile soy product. Tofu can be made into everything, from dinner to dessert. start cooking with  this versatile ingredient now.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Jazzy Foods From The Jazzy Vegetarian

Everybody's gone green thanks to today being Saint Patrick's Day. Imagine going ecologically green all year round, thanks to being a vegetarian. You can, thanks to a new cookbook by the famed jazzy vegetarian, herself, Laura Theodore. She has created another fun cookbook , full of flavorful and filling meat, egg and dairy free dishes.

Ms. Theodore's latest cookbook, Deliciously Vegan (Scribe Publishing Company 2018) is a spin off of her famed PBS and radio shows "The Jazzy Vegetarian". This is her third cookbook that features her eco friendly dishes and treats.  She has also written Vegan Ease and The Jazzy Vegetarian's Classic Cookbook. All these are perfect for those omnivores transforming into herbivores. What's great about this newest is that the recipes can easily be made for a party and not even the meat eaters would complain about the lack of beef, chicken or fish on the menu.The book holds her story of  how she went from being a jazz singer (as well as a child actor) to a vegan chef. Chef Theodore actually has six jazz CDS under her belt (you can buy her album What Is This Thing Called Jazz? at Amazon) and could have easily turned to a career solely focused on music. However she is also an excellent cook and baker along with being a fervid vegan.This cookbook is full of good recipes and good advice. I love her section on lists, especially the one on egg substitutes and what to sub in for cheese. Novice home chefs will appreciate the two ingredient  dish list for quick vegan meals. she also has an extensive list on essential ingredients such as wheat flours along with nuts and seeds. She also has a list for what spices to sock up on., because flavor is key in creating a successful vegan meal and dessert.

The book,itself,  is divided into section, from breakfasts to baked treats and puddings. Another plus is the variety which is important if you want to have a vegan or vegetarian kitchen like I have. I know I will be making her delicious looking mini quiche cups ripe with tofu and vegan cheddar cheese along with potato and spinach frittata, made not with eggs but with rolled oats and tofu.  The smoothies are perfect pick me ups too,loaded with a happy marriage of fruits and veggies. Cooking a vegetarian main dish is always a problem. That's going to change with the addition of gingered portobello steaks spiked with fresh ginger and cayenne pepper along with a tasty loaf made with pecans, sunflower seeds and zucchini.The Sunny Black Bean Burgers will definitely become a staple, They are rich with walnuts and fresh onion and get a kick from marinara sauce. The sides are geared towards these main dishes. The red potato and cauliflower mash would be the perfect foil for any of Chef Theodore's dinner loaves. Colorful Confetti fries is a mix of russet and sweet potatoes, dusted with chili and garlic would be perfect with the burgers for a fun Saturday night dinner.  Most home chefs think baked goods can't be made with out eggs, butter and milk, but they can. Home bakers and muffin affectionados will love maple-coconut muffins with sweet grape filling., made with bananas and non dairy  milk to sub in for the eggs and regular milk.Her Better Than Apple Pie Crisp will surely be the new apple pie. in many a vegan household. .Im excited to try her Crazy Coffee Chocolate Mousse made creamy with tofu and non dairy milk. There is also the tasty chocolate, almond and cherry clusters, ideal for parties and gift giving.

It's easy to go green with  Deliciously Vegan. It makes going vegan fun  with delicious meals,drinks and tasty treats. Buy it today and start on a healthy diet., full of good food

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Sweetness Of Sugarcrafting

Any serious cake decorator will tell you about sugarcrafting - the art of making sugar flowers, leaves and stems for cake decoration. It is one of the hardest cake arts to conquer, requiring a steady hand, delicate tools and determination. It also helps to have a comprehensive how to book on the ready. Luckily there is a brand new one , written by famed British cake decorator, Alan Dunn. This is the must have book in any baker's library.

Alan Dunn's Sugarcraft Flower Arranging (IMM Lifestyle Books 2018) is the definitive cake and flower arranging book for hardcore cake enthusiasts. Mr. Dunn has been creating amazing sprays of gum paste flowers and leaves for over twenty-five years. His website has several how tos along with merchandise to sell. Access to his tutorials is $12.45 a month, but it lets s home bakers view and study his tutorials (Mr. Dunn is like a UK version of Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro)on everything from shortbread cookies to icings. It can be a bit expensive to join which is why buying the book is a better choice. It  is divided in three sections : flowers, sprays and arrangements and cakes. Home bakers not only know about sugar fauna but also about h9ow to arrange them in realistic displays..Mr. Dunn gives the recipe for how to make the gum paste(he also gives the name of ready made gum paste sticks which makes decorating that much easier) along with pictures of all the tools needed - and there are many.)  What was needed however was a recipe for a cake - even a simple vanilla one. He does recommend using a fruit cake which is great for British tastes -not so much for the Americans,

The pictures and hows tos are stunning. Every known flower and leaf is in the book. Looking at them, you feel cheated by creating cakes with just rosebuds and buttercream leaves. The exotic Madagascar stephanotis is featured along with the South American Masdevallia orchid and the South African Brunia head seeds.There are the much wanted roses, always in demand. Mr. Dunn explains in in detail how to create them. For novices there is the dischidia,  a delicately leaved vine that doesn''t require the same amount of work as a bloom or the North American winterberry, a cousin of holly, that a round ball tinted deep red. I loved the flower arranging section. Mr. Dunn dosn't make it all about the cake. \The sprays and arrangements would look lovely on a table or even a coffee table. These are the sugar flowers and leaves but thanks to his masterful hand , they even make the real deals pale in comparison. The book is a godsend for those freelance bakers who include wedding cakes in their repertoire. There are beautiful sugar bouquets in many lovely color combinations. cascading down cakes .Any couple would love a three tiered masterpiece  topped with silvered roses or deep violet anemones.

Alan Dunn's Sugarcraft Flower Arranging is the perfect book for the hardcore cake decorator.It shows how simple sugarpaste can be turned into magnificent buds and blooms. Home bakers must have this book in their library and try their hand at coping Mr. Dunn's masterpieces.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Where Does Your Produce Come From

Ever wonder where those January strawberries came from? Or those tomatoes that  you ate last month and during this one? Probably not from the US. Think Mexico, Centra andl  South America and even Australia and New Zealand. Produce is not all American anymore - and with it comes a whole host of problems and dilemmas.

David Karp, a pomologist or self proclaimed "fruit detective", wrote this interesting and eye opening piece in yesterday's New York Times Food section.Supermarkets have a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, now during a Northern Hemisphere winter. It's easy to get tomatoes and grapes along with blueberries and peppers./ Years ago, the only  fresh produce you could get during mid March was oranges for fruit and winter cabbage for veggies.That was it.I had to f you wanted anything else, you would have settle for canned, pickled or preserved. Now, thanks to farms in Mexico ,and the southern hemisphere where it's the height of summer, we can have a wide range of just picked . Of course this is wonderful, especially for families with growing kids and teens. A varied diet, full of fresh produce is vital to having a healthy kid.There's also other pluses too . It's sometimes fresher than the domestic kinds. Gala apples, harvested in New Zealand are crunchier than their American counterparts. Chile's pink , seedless Muscat grapes are more flavorful than locally grown ones.Imports, though , can also go the opposite way. Mexican and Peruvian asparagus tends to be fibrous and rubbery while our stalks are plumper, juicier and just more tastier .

There are a lot of downsides to these imports. They do suffer in transit.. They are perishable, after all and can arrive bruised , nicked and rotten. They could also be prematurely picked  and allowed to ripen in the store. or lose their flavor thanks to treatments  to kill pests. Mangoes, have to soaked in hot water while citrus has to be kept in cold temperatures to control any bugs that may sneak in..Another issue is the large carbon footprint imported produce can cause  which can irk eco minded consumers..Most harvests arrive here by plane which guarantees fresher ,"younger " fruit  but that also means carbon emissions and pollution. A scarier aspect of importers is that they can be connected to drug cartels.looking to launder money and diversify their operations control. Even scarier extorting  the production and packaging of certain crops mostly from Mexico, Growers and militias have fought back . The implications of cartel control has remained unclear, especially in the areas of quality, cost, and healthfulness. Imported produce also has one more damaging side effect - hurting local organic farmers. They suffer the most , especially in when their crops are in season. After all consumers go for the cheaper which is the non organic., whether local or imported.If we buy nothing but  imports , then these small or niche growers will suffer greatly.

What should a home chef do? If you value nutrition over the earth then buy the produce,If you;re more green minded, then don't. It is your choice and sadly there is no  happy middle ground.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Delicious Variety of Filipino Food

Filipino food is on the rise here in the States.It's no wonder.It's a cuisine full of rich flavors and tastes, from a milky sweetness to a mouth puckering sour.No wonder the cuisine is popular.It' 's full of exciting flavors melded together to create a  memorable taste.

Ligaya Mishan,  who normally writes the New York Times Food section's restaurant reviews, wrote this interesting article about the cuisine. Thanks to the influx of immigrants from this archipelago of seven thousand islands, Filipino foods are fast becoming part of the American culinary landscape.The cuisine is different from its' south Asian neighbors.Where their dishes are fiery , sparked with chilis, Filipino recipes are varying degrees of sour.Vinegar is a main ingredient  in many, used for centuries as a type of preservative. Since the islands are tropical, meats spoil easily, Vinegar is a way to keep them .One of their most ancient of dishes, kinilaw, possibly the precursor to seviche, is fish soaked in suka, extracted from sugar cane or sap from coconut trees or nipa palms. Another Filipino staple, daing na bangus which is milkfish, a tuna like fish, deboned. splayed and then soaked in vinegar.overnight. It's then crisped in a pan for a crunchy outside however the inside can be eaten with a spoon,thanks to the vinegar soaking.Even their version of spring rolls, or lumpia are dipped in a garlic laced dip called savsavan.

Adobe is the second flavor that define Filipino cuisine.Its' method of making and ingredients predate the Spanish name for it. At its' base it's meat being braised in vinegar and garlic for a long time. Other ingredients are added and that's when the  recipe varies.some put in a dash of soy sauce while others stir in achuete oil - made from annatto ,a peppery kind of nut. Some adobo recipes have coconut milk, sugar and even squid ink added. Every family has their own unique recipe.Funny enough it's not the national dish, despite its' popularity. That would be sinigang, a soup, according to Doreen Fernandez, born in the capital city of Manila and a food historian.. The first taste is usually so incredibly sour that it induces a shudder. The souring agent can vary according to where you are in the Philippines. Most use tamarind, a sweet -tart fruit that's usually made into a syrup to be mixed with water.It could also be guava alibangbang leaves - a type of orchid, the fruit of the sorrel tree kamia along with batuan similar to the mangosteen or unripe pineapple. Filipinos balance it out with kare-kare,  taken from Indian cooks who came with the Royal Navy.,a nutty-sweet stew of oxtail,bok choy, string beans and eggplant simmered in ground peanuts and achuete oil according to Nicole Ponseca who runs the Filipino restaurants, Malika and Jeepney in New York.

Filipino food is an interesting mix reflective of the many islands that make up the country. It can be eye opening and adventurous but definitely chock full of flavor. It's like no other South Asian cuisine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Gastronomic Love Story

Imagine the man of your dreams as being witty  and sophisticated , a great cook and gastronome.Imagine him taking you on tours as the exotic souks of Morocco and the best Michelin restaurants in Europe. Susan Washburn Buckley didn't have to imagine. The man of her dreams was the very real bon vivant Peter Buckley  - a larger than life figure who had an eye for adventure and great food. Their marriage is now the subject of Ms.Washburn-Buckley's new book and it is a wonderful, flavorful romp,

Eating With Peter  (Arcade Press 2018) is a tasty valentine to Peter Buckley, who started out as a photographer  as well as a writer He grew up in France with his soignee mother Elinor Hays Buckley, known in her own right as a socialite.,There Peter picked up his undying love for all things French , especially the food and wine. Along the way he caught the eye of Susan Washburn, who worked at her publishing company, Holt, Rinehart and Winston. They eventually married and their union led to some amazing gastronomic adventures. To be honest, I usually don't like the new hybrid of memoir/cookbook. The stories leading up to a promised dish can be tedious, but not with this book, I absolutely loved it!!!!.I couldn;t wait to see what the next exciting chapter held . Ms. Washburn   is famous for writing Young Adult books on American history She should definitely write more for adults. Her chapters are so well crafted that I felt like I was standing in the warm waters of the Caribbean with them as they dived for fresh sea urchins to eat or breathing in the exotic spices of a Fez market. I also loved how Ernest Hemingway and his wife Mary, especially the last, weave in and out of the chapters. Peter and Hemingway were friends, sharing a love of bull fighting. Ms. Washburn's style can only be described as sparkling - as sparkling as the champagne she and her husband  sipped.It is never boring , always fresh with a crisp wryness to it.

Each chapter has a recipe or a few at the end of it. Even the one featuring transporting their Bernese mountain dog, Nora to France  has a toothsome recipe for dog biscuits. The recipes excited me,I definitely want to try the gazpacho recipe  this summer. (I would love to try it now but somehow it's not the dish to have in chilly late winter). Many of the French recipes come from French  and Northern Italian chefs. Thanks to the Buckleys and their recipe for the heavenly sounding Gratin Dauphinois a l Ermitarge, a scalloped potato recipe taken from the kitchen of the famed Maurice Tuccinardi.The well known Troigrois, brothers Jean and Pierre, make an appearance as does their recipe for viand glace. It is a leaf taken from their actual cookbook so the recipe is  entirely in Frenc.h  Mary Hemingway's recipe is here also for her seviche, a delightful union of lime juice , onions and red peppers used to "cook" seafood. Peter Buckley was also a writer too  and he wrote a cookbook just on raw food, thirty years before it became de rigueur. His recipe for couscous salad is a refreshing mix of couscous cooked with lemon juice and spiked with  cherry tomatoes , chopped peppers and almonds. Both Buckleys were consummate New Yorkers and there is a chapter on the city's Union Square market as well as on the European ones . Any home chef can recreate Peter's transcendental beans recipe.There is only one dessert dish and that is Ms. Buckley's blueberry one made with a buttery French influenced crust.

Eating With Peter is a delicious romp through the world of food and adventure. Susan Washburn brings  us into that world with her amazing descriptive chapters and recipes. it is the ultimate foodie book.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Can You Be Sugar Free?

One of the worst habits  we have is eating sugar. We crave cupcakes wit sweet , gooey icing puffs,  we add more of the white stuff to already candy like lattes.We even add brown sugar  to our bacon. However that may all be changing . There's a no sugar movement going on challenging sweet tooths all over the world to give up their addiction.

Sadly we are hard wired to eat sugar. Blame it on our earliest days when a sweet flavor signified non poisonous in plants and berries. If it was sugary, like a plum or an apple , then the eater could rest easy, knowing he or she wouldn't be sick or suffer dire consequences.Then humanity  fell in love with sugar cane about 10,000 years ago in New Guinea. People got their first sugar rush and loved it. Cane syrup then was used in religious rites and as a medicine. Iit then went onto the Asian mainland where the Indians were turning sugarcane into a powder,  used mostly for healing.It went to Persia and then spread throughout the Arab world. hey combined it with ground almonds to create the addictive confection marzipan. The European Crusaders got their first taste of sugar cane during their crusades and again fell hard for it. Later Columbus discovered sugar cane on Hispaniola and that began Europe's hard core addiction with sugar.It replaced the all natural sweetener . Now we are trying to undo those centuries of sugar use. It not only puts on the weight but tricks the body  into gaining weight,. Those white grains also do extensive damage to the liver as well.The liver is the only organ that processes glucose ad eating too much will result in taxing it.It also causes extensive damage to teeth as well.

How do we curb our addictions and go sugar free? The obvious answer is give up baked goods, soda and candy. These are the easiest because the sugar in them is obvious.We can easily substitute cookies and sweets with with fresh fruit and 90 percent good for you dark chocolate. Soda can be replaced with flavored sparkling water. Hot tea and even coffee can be sweetened with honey or agave syrup.  , instead of white refined sugar . The problem is that sugar is everywhere, even in the most savory of foods.They lurk in our condiments.Ketchup has it to balance out the spices as does mayo, steak sauces and even mustard.The best bet is use spices  or herbs to flavor meats and vegetables.Salad dressing is a culprit too. It can turn a healthy bowl of greens into a sundae. Stick to a simple vinaigrette, possibly spiked with oregano or parsley.Yogurt, that much touted health food has a whopping forty-seven grams of sugar.if fruit is added Try to cut down on it or stick to plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit. Bread is another culprit, with some of  us eating it as much as twice a day everyday. Try to sub in pita bread which has very little sugar in it. Another idea is wrapping up meats and cheeses in lettuce wraps. As for toast for breakfast, think oatmeal with a trickle of honey and cinnamon .

We can go sugar free. It's a hard task but will become easier as we distance ourselves further and further away from it. The end result is worth it.  - a healthy body.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Green Kitchen

Everyone is hyper aware of global warming and what it can do to the planet. They are cutting down on ordering on  line along with buying locally grown produce. Yet to fully go green, home chefs have to rethink the way they clean,and cook. Nowadays that's pretty easy.

Water is always at the crux of conservation. One way to save is only boiling a cup of water for one cup of tea or hot cocoa. Boiling more just is a waste of energy. Another idea is keeping bottled tap water in the fridge as opposed to running the tap until you get cold water. The water is already chilled and good to go. You can keep bottled water in the freezer during the hot days of summer. One you don;t have to keep opening the freezer door to fetch ice cubes. The ice inside melts providing refreshing, thirst quenching sips. (have a few of these ready for those trips to the beach too.) Vegetables and fruit always have to be washed. Instead of rinsing them with running water , just place them in a large pan of water  and use a vegetable scrubber on the skins.Another chore we have to do every day is washing the dishes.If you have only a few from one meal, wait until the next to wash everything. You could also put all the dishes, cups and utensils in the dish rack and spray them clean with your sink's spray nozzle.Also don't prerinse dishes and cups before putting them in the dishwasher. The machine usually does a good job of it.

Not surprisingly how you cook on can also help in saving the environment, One of the easiest actions is using pots and pans the same diameter as the burner. This will not only save energy but also money.  Electric stove owners can save $36 annually while those who have a gas stove will save around $18. Also reduce  the amount of heat needed. Don't force a boil or try to cook something fast. That's what the microwave is for. Also a microwave can take up less energy than any stove.however it does have a lot of drawbacks. A better medium would be conscientiously using the stove and oven. Don't preheat unless you have to Another energy conserving idea is cooking several dishes together. This means one thing - more yummy sheet meals where the mains and the sides are all roasted together on one pan.Then there's the cook's tic of opening the door to see if everything is browning or baking well. Don't. It's a bad habit that allows  heat to go out. Instead always keep the oven window clean so  you can see clearly through it.Check the oven door seal too. A poorly fitted or degraded one can leach heat and energy  A good test is slip a piece of paper between the seal and the door.If it goes through then replace the seal or buy a new oven.

A green kitchen is a good one. You're making an effort to not only save the planet but also money. The ecology is helped and so are you,

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Perfect Cookbook For One

Cooking for just yourself can be problematic.Dinner usually consists of something frozen or taken out. It's even harder when you have diabetes.A lot of frozen and fast foods can play havoc with the body, especially if they're laden with hidden sugars and transfats.Now there's a new cookbook out that can help single home chefs.

Nancy S. Hughes, a recipe developer and consultant,  as well as being the author of other  diabetic recipe books, .has written a punchy and informative cookbook ,Designed For One (American Diabetes Association 2018) geared for those who live alone. This book really isn;t just for those who have diabetes.It can be for anyone living solo. The recipes are designed for just one person so there's no  dealing with overage.There is a chapter  about cooking for two in case a friend or family member drops by.The introduction has priceless shopping, prep information and tips. Novice home chefs will appreciate the tip on why fruits and veggies should never be stored in the same crisper as well as the one about how to wash ans store freshly cut herbs.There are also some good tips on shopping and food prepping too.Even experienced chefs may not know about the tip regarding spraying measuring spoons with cooking spray when measuring honey or syrup or the one about beating eggs in a jar The chapters are divided into dishes as opposed to breakfast , lunch and dinner,They're split into sections from fruits and vegetables to potatoes, pastas and whole grains to meats and seafood to accompanying sides. There is even a section geared to vegetarians under the heading of Meatless Mains, Yes, there is a section on extra easy desserts for one, without any tempting leftovers.

One of the biggest pluses that each recipe has is the chart abut how much fats, sugars, cholesterol and fibers are in them. Most of the dishes are low in fat and carbohydrates so there's no worry about going over any limit.The dishes are easy to whip up and they're perfect for novice chefs. A great lunch would be a Spring Green Pea salad where peas and chopped onion are blended with Spring greens , mayo, and hot pepper or even the super easy tomato avocado salad. An evening dinner or even Sunday lunch could be a pan roasted salmon with mango chutney and a side of tomato quinoa with pesto.A quick dinner could be a chili lime ear of corn with a coffee rubbed skillet steak. Vegetarians will love the Powerhouse Kale salad, made with the leaf of the moment, hard boiled eggs and chunks of low fat Swiss cheese.There's also a creamy rotini pasta with cauliflower and peas. A dinner for two  section has the perfect meal for a guest. Try the slow cooker chuck with veggies, an easy slow cooker meal that's spiked with instant coffee granules and Worcester sauce.Another great dish for two is pork tenderloin with roasted squash along with chicken spinach couscous. Of course there has to be dessert for one (or two). Ms. Hughes give us the super easy but super tasty skillet roasted pineapple and pear which is a snap to make.. A fun sweet snack is the no bake peanut butter oat balls that just require a quick microwaving. There's even yogurt dishes , such as the Anytime Banana Split Yogurt and the Raspberry Softie made with good for you yogurt and fruit, (and chocolate chips for the banana split yogurt )

Designed For One is the perfect cookbook for any solo home chef. It's  full of healthy and tasty recipes that make cooking for one fun.The food is so good  that you wouldn't want to share it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Yellow Chili Hits The States

Indian food is one of the tastiest and most fun out there.It is an experience, enhanced by beautiful surroundings and exotic aromas. Now it's going to be pushed one step further thanks to a man who can be called the Mario Batali or Bobby Flay of India - Chef Sanjeev Kapoor creator of the Yellow Chili restaurants in India.

Priya Krishna, food writer and author of the cookbook,Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks. wrote a fascinating article about Chef Kapoor in yesterday's New York Times Food section. He has created a chain of restaurants, Yellow Chili in India,  - think of it as their Applebee's.or Olive Garden along with having his own twenty-four hour food channel Food Food. He is the country's most famous chef who has not only restaurant franchises but also a whole line of cookbooks. People adore him as is the case with  the  married couple Kamal Laur and her husband, Satvinder Ghotra. They  have opened one of his Yellow Chili in Buena Park, California. It will draw in fans,mostly from the heavily Indian populated towns of nearby  Irvine and Artesia.It is also close to the famed Knotts Berry Farm so curious tourists as well as n locals  and Indian food lovers will also probably visit. The Ghotras plan on hosting Diwali and Holi festivities there too to draw in more business.They've already threw a New Year's Eve bash in the adjoining banquet room with seats going between $100 and $125 a person.

The success of Yellow Chili depends on its' menu. The restauarnt, which is already established in Canada and Oman, features Northern Indian cuisine.These signature dishes of Chef Kapoor are hearty ones, rich with sauces and spices. One is Lalla Mussa Dal, a fiery lentil dish , spiked with Kashmiri red chili powder  a kind of cayenne and ginger. Another dish is Shaam Savera, spinach coated dumplings submerged in a thick tomato gravy. The restaurant also offers soups such as the popular Mulligatawny and tomato basil shorba or soup.American audiences would love their chaat dishes, fried street dishes reinterpreted for diners. There's chicken lollipops and fried fish patties to crunch on and share with friends. Yellow Chili would definitely appeal to vegetarians thanks to a large  list of vegetarian dishes that feature potatoes, cottage cheese. and mustard leaves.There are also sorts of curries from ones starring veggies to ones loaded with shrimp and chicken along with lamb. There's a variety of Indian breads from gluten free roti to naan along with basmati rice.. Desserts include  Phirni, their version of rice pudding.

The Ghotras want to turn Yellow Chili into a well known chain like the OLive Garden. They just may, be that successful especially with the hordes of Chef  Kapoor fans. Yellow Chili may be the next place to go for good eating.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Perfect Pot Of Rice Guide

Rice is one of the easiest dishes to make. Or is it? For many of us home chefs, it's nearly impossible to produce a pot of perfectly cooked, perfectly fluffy pot of grains.It's either sticky or overcooked. Or worse - under cooked and jarringly crunchy. Luckily there's help for us.

Tejal Rao, famed chef, and regular columnist for The New York Times Food section wrote about it today in an extensive article.Everybody cooks rice , whether for a side or for a dessert of rice pudding. Rice should be fluffy and slightly chewy , the perfect foils for gravies and sauces.One of the first crucial steps in creating perfect rice is rinsing before cooking. This gets rid of any extra starch on the rice. It means a looser, fluffier texture The technique is super simple. Just use your fingers, a bowl and cold water. The process needs to be repeated anywhere from two to six times., until the water you're pouring out is almost clear. Once it's cooked , it needs to rest.This allows the starches to cool down slightly which means the grains are firming up. DON"T stir the grains when they're hot and wet. The result is a mushy bowl of rice fragments.Wait anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes and fluff the still hot rice with a rubber spatula. (I've always used a metal fork with the same results) This is also the time to season it. Ms. Rao suggests a light salting. keep the cover on the pot until it's ready to be eaten.

What happens when the rice doesn't come out right? Ms/ Rao explores the many problems that can happen and how to solve them.If the grains are too squishy or clumpy then  there may be excess water in the pot.It could also mean that you've skipped two crucial steps rinsing and resting. Clumpy rice means that there's still starch attached to the grains or the rice was fluffed too soon.Sometimes rice can be too wet,This is probably due to it being recently harvested. The answer is just reduce the amount of water used or cook with the lid off so the water can evaporate. There is also the problem of having scorched at the bottom rice. This is due to two factors. One,the heat is too high so turn it down to the lowest setting possible. The second reason is that the pot's bottom may be too thin. Ms. Rao suggests switching to a heavier pot. What went wrong when the rice turns out stuck and starchy as she puts it.if you have rinsed it but it's still gluey, then use some muscle and a wooden spoon or spatula  to stir when the rice first comes to a boil. Doing this will release the grains at the bottom. Once you've mastered the perfect pot, you can toss in some add ins like roasted cherry tomatoes  and Parmesan cheese or basil leaves with a drizzle of good vinegar.You can even chop in green olives and blood oranges for a colorful side.

The perfect pot of rice shouldn't be an easy cook.Follow the guide and it'll come out just right. Rice is a simple dish.Cooking it should be just as simple.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Many Facets Of Egg Noodles

Egg noodles have been a kitchen staple forever. Many of our mother's and grandmother's recipes centered around them. They're still as versatile and delicious as ever. They could be the main dish or part of a side.They can even be used in desserts.Egg noodles are what you make them whether in savory or sweet dishes.

Egg noodles originated in China not in Europe as many would believe. They were first made about  4000 years ago and preserved ones were unearthed at Lajia in Quinghai ,China in 2005. They made their way to Europe where most German and Scandinavian households used them on a regular basis. Egg noodles were in savory dishes, sopping up gravy and providing the carb part of the meal. German Jews used the noodles in sweet dishes such as kugel.They're different from pasta in the sense of whole  eggs or egg yolks mixed with wheat flour and then boiled in water. Pasta can come with or without eggs. Sometimes olive oil and vegetables can be incorporated in the recipe. Noodles are generally one length and shape while the other,as we all know, comes in avariety of shapes and sizes. Like pasta, egg noodles can be bought or made at home. It's just taking two cups of flour and mixing ot with one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of baking powder . Two whole eggs are added and this is what gives the noodles their rich , sunny color.Half a cup of milk is added as well.It's left to sit for half an hour before rolling out. You can use a pasta machine to make them or a knife.It's then dropping them into boiling waiter for two to four minutes.

Whether they're home made or store bought egg noodles are a great base for so many dishes. The Swabian Germans from southwest Germany cook boiled ones with eggs for Lent. This traditional and delicious dish also has sliced peaches  on the side to cut the intensity of the eggs.Germans also use them with meat and gravy recipes. They can be used instead of the traditional spaetzle, a kind of noodle itself. Another delicious recipe is beef tips and gravy over egg noodles. The noodles' mildness is the perfect foil for the beef's and sauce's strong flavors.Try them with either beef or chicken paprikash, the famed Austrian dish, known for its spicy ' paprika sauce. Of course egg noodles taste their best in chicken soup. Nothing beats a homemade one, thick with those luscious eggy, strands and hearty chicken chunks. You can also think out of the box and put the noodles in a minestrone for a chunkier version of the original recipe. Egg noodles have a sweet side. They give body to cinnamon laced sweet casserole along with providing the base.  A lush one involves egg noodles,cherries and sour cream baked together for  truly rich dessert.

Egg noodles are a versatile staple every pantry and kitchen should have. They're easy to use and easy to create hearty dinners and desserts. Make them, buy them but definitely use them in your next dish.,

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Diet That Can Change Your Life :Always Delicious

Can a recipe book change the way you eat and the way you look? Absolutely!! Always Delicious is a book that can help in not only shedding those pounds but stopping those cravings.It guides home chefs towards a healthy and tasty way of cooking.It's a win-win situation.

Always Delicious (Hachette Book Group 2018) was written by Dr. David Ludwig and his wife, Dawn. Some may recognize their names from their first success, Always Hungry.  Dr.Ludwig oversees the New Balance Obesity Foundation Prevention Center at Boston's Children Hospital. He has also fought for policy changes in how junk food is advertised to young children. His wife , Dawn, created the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austen Texas. Like her
 husband, she has written and taught about bringing more  nutritional ingredients into the home kitchen. This book has their philosophies along with recipes that are far from the usual diet fare.The first few chapters are explanatory , along with guiding readers to the three phase program. This discipline first jump starts weight loss where grain products, sugars and potatoes for a few weeks. The second phase is reaching your new body weight set point where all natural and ancient grains are reintroduced back into the diet.Non starchy vegetables like yams and squash are allowed. Phase three is designing your personal prescription for life.The Ludwigs recommend adding modest amounts of more processed carbohydrates.It's basically forty per cent fat , twenty percent protein and forty per cent carbohydrate. There is an extensive and detailed list of what tools and gadgets to have  along with advice on fresh and seasonal ingredients. Chef Dawn also recommends decorating dishes with colorful flourishes like carrot roses. and scallions.

The recipes are geared for the phases. Some are for all,  while others are just for the first, second or third or a combination of the two.The book is also divided into chapters revolving around the three meals. There are also ones on soups, salads and Buddha bowls , snacks and appetizers along with desserts and beverages. Chef Dawn has also included a chapter on rubs, sauces and marinades which aid in creating a flavorful main dish. No matter what phase , the recipes are tasty Breakfast can be a bacon-cheddar quiche, a perfect dish for a brunch or apple spice pancakes.  Home chefs will enjoy making the entree of summer squash  casserole that is topped with a creamy Parmesan cheese sauce. A hearty cold weather lunch or dinner dish is the Sicilian Fava Bean Soup that is rich with fennel celery along with tomatoes. Slow cookers recipes shine here too.Beef chuck roast is turned into a yummy shredded beef cooked with a sugar free Worcester sauce that's also included in the book.Side dishes are also tasty. Families will love the cauliflower couscous riced in a blender until it has the consistency of couscous.. Roasted chicken or beef would benefit from the herb roasted root vegetables.  Desserts are the tasty chocolate dipped fruit and almond coconut macaroons.Dieters will love the decadent peppermint hot chocolate and in warmer months blueberry lime mint fizz.

A diet dosesn;t have to mean deprivation. It can be tasty dishes and drinks without the refined sugars and fats. Always Delicious is that diet plan, chock full of delicious and satisfying recipes

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Oscar Party - A Glam Night In

Nothing beats an Oscar party. There's fun and excitement along with a chance to celebrate the winners and favorites. It's also a chance to have lush food,  and eat your beloved stars and directors. Get out the champagne bottles and party rich !!!.

Of course you could have foods that tie into the nominated movies. The Darkest Hour could be celebrated with fish and chips. It's a great choice but choose something a bit more decadent. Think clotted cream with strawberries or smoked Scottish salmon on Melba toast.You could also do Yorkshire pudding cups filled with roast beef  and gravy. The Shape Of Water takes place in Baltimore and you could serve crab cake sliders with cole slaw but try the more elegant.crab legs in butter.Crab legs can be bought at any seafood market or grocery store. If these are a bit out of your budget then think shrimp instead. Serve it with the easy to make champagne beurre blanc sauce. This is just sauteing champagne vinegar, and brut champagne with shallots and thyme and then adding one cup of chilled and diced butter.Chopped button mushrooms are also thrown in  for texture and flavor. Call Me By Your Name takes place in Northern Italy.  A truly posh dish is risotto with truffle oil. If this is just a bit too expensive, then just think about a Parmesan risotto laced with cremini mushrooms. Finish with a truly decadent sabayon, the Madeira laced eggy custard of Northern Italy.

Another idea is eating like the stars. Caviar can be spooned on crackers. Pair it with a dry water cracker so that the taste isn't overshadowed. The roe can be mixed with crab and put on a roasted potato slice. Many after Oscar parties will feature filet mignon. This tender cut can be turned into a tasty hors d'ouvre by putting them on crostini.Another idea is turning them into kebobs with the addition of grape tomatoes and green peppers. The meat can also be turned into mini Beef Wellingtons.They're relaltively easy to make, thanks to using store bought puff pastry.Mushrooms, shallots and onions are  finely chopped up to create duxelles which are also included in the puff. Prosciutto can be added as well, wrapped around the filet mignon before it's enrobed in dough.What to drink with all of this? Champagne , of course! You could splurge on Dom Perignon at $150 a bottle  or Cristal at a whopping $199 a bottle. For a more affordable yet still rich sip, try Moet & Chandon for $60. End with  cupcakes dusted with gold sanding sugar and the lush coffee Kopi Iwuak,which is made from a Asian palm civet's poo. Yup civet mess.,It may be gross but it's supposed to be the best in the world. If this is too gross then settle on Starbucks Rwanda Blue Bourbon blend at $24 a pound.It has a black cherry and butter flavor, perfect with Godiva truffles .

Oscar night is a time of celebrating and eating well. Toast your faves with a glass of champagne and lush, rich nibbles and treats. There's nothing like a glam night of fun!!!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Decadent and Diabetic Friendly

For decades anyone with diabetes had to be put on a special diet. It was basically a bland low calorie one that ensured no weight gain along with no taste. However that's changing, thanks to a new cookbook,It's a chance to enjoy yummy dishes packed with flavor.

Devin Alexander ,a cook and TV personality has written You Can Have It (published by the American Diabetes Association 2018.) a true treat of a recipe book.. This has been approved by the ADA , the American Diabetes Association yet the recipes can be made by anyone watching their weight along with their salt and sugar intake.Ms. Alexander is known for creating low calorie dishes and has made appearances on the NBC show  "The Biggest Loser." which has inspired her to write four books centering around the show's recipes.. The introduction is good for novice home chefs because it tells  them everything from how to wash and dry vegetables to making olive oil spray a large part of cooking. What's interesting is there's really no introduction.They have to go to her website to read it (where they can also see clips of her TV appearances and other recipes) The book doesn't have chapters, instead she has recipes grouped into lists. They're under such clever  headings as "Bet Your Going  To Love Breakfasts" and "Devinly Desserts And Sweet Sips." Ms. Alexander has even coined an adjective "Devinly" meaning she created it and it's heavenly.

The recipes are sinful in taste but puritanical in calories and fats.For a decadent breakfast try the scrambled egg with sauteed shrimp. It's a variation of Manhattan's Bryant Park Grill, sparked with pico di gallo and freshly minced garlic.Those who want a healthier start could try the bacon and egg
sweet potato breakfast sandwich where the sweet potato subs in for an English muffin.Home chefs will enjoy the London Broil, spiked with chili powder and cayenne. There is also a Japanese version that uses seaweed or nori along with sesame seeds and ginger.The childhood favorite potato chip crusted chicken has been update to have the chicken marinated overnight in buttermilk. They're also baked instead of fried  which makes them only 220 calories.Sides include a take on seasoned curly fries and homemade baked crinkle cut fries. Green are represented here too. Anyone would love the Dijon roasted Brussels sprouts made crunchy by roasting. There's also a delicious papaya slaw that adds papaya and orange juice to shredded cabbage. Desserts are here as well There's a dark chocolate pudding  made with the healthy cheese quark, zero calorie sweetener and dark cocoa powder.It's topped with Devinly whipped topping, a mix of egg whites, cream of tartar, xanthan gum, and agave nectar. A lovely dessert for company would be the Perfect Pumpkin Pie-lets,made with pre made filo shells and topped with  - what else - Devinly whipped topping.

You Can Have It  gives delicious recipes that are tasty without being bad for you. They are big on flavor and goodness., the perfect combination. They make it easy to enjoy these heavenly
dishes and treats.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

New Zealand's Secret Ingredients Sea Salt And Honey

New Zealand is primarily known for amazing landscapes, beautiful beaches and lovable people. What may surprise home chefs is that this country down under is also famed for their sea salt and honey. The company PRI - Pacific Resources International is shedding a bright light on these natural ingredients, making them now known in the States.

This very Kiwi company was actually started by an American transplant in this wondrous land. David Noll, left four decades ago , just with his guitar and surfboard. It was going to be a short stay but he fell for Linda, married her and stayed. He founded Pacific Resources International in 1987. Four years later he introduced Manuka honey to the US. Manuka honey originates from the manuka bush which has healing properties, including antibacterial properties.It also lowers cholesterol as well as treating diabetes and curing sinus, ear and eye infections. .PRI is also known for their sea salt, harvested from the purer waters of the South Pacific.It's different from other salts because after it's been harvested, it washed in brine before it's stacked in large, snowy drifts. They're something of a landmark seen from the Blenheim-Christchurch highway. The company also manufactures all natural potato and sweet potato chips in such delicious flavors as paprika and rosemary and thyme, There is also one flavored with Marlborough sea salt too.

I love this brand! Sea salt is one of my favorite ingredients and what draws me is the texture along with the taste.PRI's flaky sea salt is so light and fluffy, It is heaven on tomatoes, giving the flesh a gentle crunch and a lighter saltiness than other sea salts.It is really the perfect salt to sprinkle on scrambled eggs or a salad and it would definitely be the perfect topping on brownies and on top of fudge frosting. Another favorite is the Mesquite BBQ salt , a perfect marriage of mesquite and the sea salt.I can see this dusting a grilled steak or even chicken.I also love their chipotle BBQ salt. This is a mixture of pure fire with salt and a whiff of sweetness.This is definitely getting added to my chili and sprinkled over chicken patties.  PRI's sweets have also captured my heart. Their Manuka honey caramels are the best caramels ever! They have a dusting of sea salt on them which makes a perfect foil to the honey caramel's creamy sweetness.Their dark chocolate mint and ginger discs are also wonderful snacks, .Flavored honey is enrobed in 99 per cent dark chocolate discs.They'd make the perfect Easter candy , having the extra bonus of the healing honey.

If you're looking for a fantastic sea salt and honey, look no further than PRI. They produce great salts and honey as well as potato chips that are not only good tasting but good for you. They have so many benefits as well as being a bonus addition to any kitchen.