Monday, April 30, 2018

Cooking Vegan With Gardein

Running a vegetarian or vegan home kitchen is hard. What do you sub in for protein? How do you make a plant based meal appetizing? The answer lies in Gardein, a company that makes a variety of faux meat products. Use their products and any home chef can expand their meatless repertoire.

Gardein was started by a Canadian chef twenty-five years ago. He had a vision about using the power of meatless dishes t create a healthy version of fast food. The company  strongly believes that eating plant or soy based meals will help the planet and cut down on the global need for killing and eating animals.It is a great company. I discovered them , looking for some kind of change from other brands of veggie burgers and chicken nuggets.  What I like is their variety. They have soy fish  and crab cakes which the other types don;t have. For a fish  lover like myself, this is a huge deal. I can have a Friday night fish and chips dinner, without hurting any sea life.Theirs tastes exactly like cod, especially with the crunchy  beer batter coating.Another plus is that Gardein has a variety of beef flavored soy. It's not just burgers and crumbles. They have steak tips which can be used for all sorts of recipes.The company also has hot pockets and has just introduced skillet meals  which is kind of like Hamburger Helper with the addition of  "meat". I 'm hoping they expand their breakfast foods line. Right now they only have a hot pocket , filled with  scrambled "eggs and sausage", red peppers and spinach.  and a sausage patty that can be used in sandwiches or as a side to eggs.Hopefully faux Canadian bacon and bacon are on their radar.

Still Gardein is my go to main ingredient. I love their variety and t enables me to create all sorts of dishes.An easy and tasty recipe is sauteing the beef tips with minced garlic in olive oil. I could end it there and serve it with mixed veggies however I add a tablespoon of soy sauce  and steamed pea pods . It's ladled over flavored rice (namely white rice cooked in vegetable broth). It's delicious and filling, and definitely more tastier than using the real thing. Gardein's ultimate beefless burger tastes so much like the real thing, that any carnivore would give up beef patties for this. It has the same juicy mouth feel and mineral flavor.. Another favorite is the Mandarin Crispy Chik'n. I served it with edamame for a PF Chang's vibe.Again it was so flavorful  and the feel was very much like the real thing.I  would  love to try the Chipotle Lime fingers, a perfect Saturday dinner served with french fries and home made cole slaw. The only hiccup is their crab cakes.They're  a little too fishy along with being a bit too peppery.Since they're meant to be hors d'ouevres, they should be served with some kind of sauce. I just had them plain, I should have made some kind of cocktail sauce to compliment them to balance out the over crablike taste.

Gardein's products are a must have for any vegetarian or vegan kitchen. They can be used in a variety of dishes, being the perfect subs for the real thing. Try any of their faux meats or fish  for a tasty, healthy meal..

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Best Of Barney's Bites

With shopping comes an appetite. Luckily there are stores like Manhattan's famed Barney's that have  a restaurant that satisfies hungry shoppers. Now there's a new cookbook, full of great recipes and stories by its' chef. Mark Strausman. Now affectionados of the eatery can recreate their favorite dishes and relive the Barney's experience.

The Fred's At Barney's Cookbook (Grand Central, Life and Style Publishing 2018) is a compilation of all three restaurants located in New York City and Beverly Hills. The store itself was started by Fred Pressman,hence the restaurant's name.   It started out as simply a men's suit store and expanded to include women, children and home goods There was a need to have a place where shoppers could sit and eat in order to keep them in the store. Enter Chef Strausman who also created the famed Campagna. His background is international , having apprenticed in Germany  and working in A-list restaurants both in the city and East Hampton. His recipes are easy enough for a novice chef  however and there should be no qualms in making the various dishes. The book is divided into four simple sections, lunch  dinner, brunch, and dessert along with an opening chapter on Chef Strausman's background and a history of Barney's. A plus are the green blocks that have all sorts of useful information, from what constitutes rare,medium and well done along with what vegetables are perfect for vegetable. stock.  There are pictorial how tos on how to cut vegetables as well as folding a towel in the "Escoffier way" to act as a pot holder.He also  offers sweet anecdotes  about each dish along with tips on how to cook the dishes.

For those who love Fred''s  the book starts off with their popular French fry recipe along two dipping sauces , the famed aoili and a zingy Sauce Calypso. Beginners to the kitchen will appreciate the recipes on the different kinds of stock as well as how to make clarified butter, pesto and homemade croutons.  The lunch recipes are both New York classic and California trendy.  There is the club salad, rife with radicchio, frise and Romaine lettuce along with roast turkey breast and oven baked bacon . Both coasts of Fred 's fans will love the avocado toast topped with Pico di Gallo and sunflower seeds.  Dinner recipes include balsamic chicken, inspired by Chef' Strausman's time in Switzerland and tuna with soy and a balsamic glaze. Of course there is pasta, from spaghetti to fusilli to ravioli
 and two kinds of pizza One celebrates Emilia -Romangna that has four kinds of cheeses plus aged vinegar and the beloved Pizza Margherita, with basil and mozzarella gracing a homemade crust. Home chefs will love the variety of the brunch recipes. There's scrambled eggs covered in cheese fondue along with the classic Eggs Benedict. Recipes for  accompanying driniks such as the Bloody Mary are also included. Desserts vary from the simple fruit plate to the decadent tiramisu and  chocolate souffle cakes with orange compote.

Fred's At Barney's Cookbooks are for those who love the eatery along with shopping at the store  and for those who enjoy good food and desserts. it's a great book, filled with history  and recipes
 Like the store itself, it appeals to all tastes.

Friday, April 27, 2018

A Seller's Party

Ever since the dawn of selling cosmetics , women have been creating parties and teas around their sales pitches. It's still the same today, whether at home, selling lipstick or in a local salon selling jewelry or nail stickers. There's nothing like having fun hors d'ouevres as you're shopping and trying out samples.

Many sales people feel that a wine party - and whatever they're selling is always best. From a seller's point that's true. Potential customers have a buzz on, they're laid back and careless with their credit cards. I feel that this is not the greatest way to promote a product or a brand. It's taking advantage of guests. Besides , what happens the next morning  when they wake up sober and realize they've bought a pricey pair of earrings or enough make up to paint all of the Kardashians?  Keep drinking to a minimum. (Also keep in mind that the party host is responsible if the guests drive drunk.) An easier solution would be white wine spritzers. Have plenty of  sparkling water and various diet and regular sodas around  too..If it's a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, then think mimosas or Bellinis  - a few sips of champagne or any sparkling wine mixed with peach nectar. Of course if it's more sales talk, then serve coffee with  flavored creamers along with a variety of different teas.

What to serve?Keep it light. Friends and family are not there for a meal but for shopping. One of the easiest is different kinds of bruschetta. This is a simple make , which requires just toasting slices of oil brushed Italian bread with various toppings. It's easy to whip up the tomato topping which also had chopped onion , garlic and chiffonaded basil. Vary it with a pesto topping, which is  just a basil based sauce that also has pine nuts and olive oil added.Another idea is charcuterie platters and loaves of sliced French bread. Include various cold cuts from mortadella to sliced turkey along with  small boats of aoli sauce and mayonnaise.For a really low fuss table, set out two or three cheese plates with cubed cheese and crackers. Guests can nibble as they peruse the goods offered and shop.Another no- nonsense idea is just cake and coffee.You can make it yourself if it's a small group or opt out for a larger. store bought cake for a larger one.  Fancy butter cookies would also be a nice choice, paired with a fruit platter.

A sales party is the time for shopping and eating. What's more enjoyable than buying a new lipstick or fancy bauble followed by good food.It's the perfect get together.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Spring-y Take On Pasta

This is the time of early harvests. One of those is peas. Their , fresh, green flavor is a harbinger
 of the bounties to come. They are good on their own. Paired with pasta,they become almost magical, bursting with a sweet earthiness.

David Tanis knows this and wrote about the pairing in his column A City Kitchen in yesterday's New York Times Food section,.Right now peas in pods are finally making an appearance in farmer's markets, here on the East Coast. (the West Coast have been enjoying them for the past few weeks). Peas have always gone well with pasta.They add color and zing to a cream sauce, while giving it a fresh, garden-y taste. The addition of pancetta gives Mr. Tanis'  sauce a salty smokiness, another perfect foil  that adds an interesting note.Pancetta , especially the unsmoked kind should be found at your local grocery but if you can't then just add in regular smoked bacon. Pancetta is usually sold in cubes or lardons and Mr. Tanis recommends simmering them in water for a minute or two. Doing this tomes down the smokiness and renders the fat. He also adds mustard green which were also found at his outdoor market. as for the pasta, any would do but papperdelle is the best. The sauce clings to the ribbon like pasta Either buy it fresh made or the imported dried version in boxes. if you're
adventurous enough, use your pasta maker and create those silky ribbons.

Making the sauce is easy.Everything is cooked in one skillet and afterwards the pasta is added to it.
The sauce  is bursting with not just the peas but also with the flavors of fresh basil,mint and parsley leaves. These three have to be put in either a mortar or mini food processor and mashed into a coarse pesto like paste. Mr. Tanis also adds green garlic shoots , also found in farmer's markets right now. Both the green and white parts should be used and finely chopped. As for the peas , four cups should do it. They and the garlic shoots are added to olive oil and should be sizzled but without turning brown. The pancetta is then tossed in   along with half a cup of water. Add the mustard greens
, then the herb paste along with a cup of fresh ricotta and the zest of one lemon. Boil the pasta, drain
mix into the sauce.. Transfer to a platter or individual bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.If you want to change it up, use fettucini or tagliatelli.instead of the papperdelle.

Take advantage of the harvest that come with Spring. Right now it's peas. Try them in a creamy sauce that pair well with robust pastas.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Utah Mecca Of Hawaiian Food

Utah is known for many things - great skiing, the Great Salt Lake and great Hawaiian food. It's true. This landlocked state is now famous for producing  island treats It's like a taste of a sunny paradise in the middle of the mountains.

Priya Krishna, a regular contributor and author of Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks, wrote this unique and interesting article for today's New York Times Food section.She interviewed the force behind the Hawaiian food movement, brothers Kalani and Kimo Mack. Their restaurant , Mo Bettahs (it means the best in  local  Creole Pidgin dialect) is in Salt Lake City and it's one of the most popular out there How did the food get there in the first place? Thank the Mormons. The first missionaries went to the islands in the 1840's , trying to convert islanders to their religion.It is why now Polynesia is rife with them.The islands host six temples and several church sponsored schools. Many modern missionaries are sent there for two or three years and develop a taste for Hawaiian food.They miss the variety and different flavors. Mo Bettahs satisfies that culinary  itch  The brothers came into it by happy accident. Mormons themselves, they moved to Salt Lake City in 2008 because the cost of living was cheaper than the islands along with being Mormon. There were no job prospects and the brothers were more beach bums than academics. They brainstormed coming up with ten ideas, including selling tents and  creating kiosks for people to download Ipod songs.

The third idea - running a restaurant resonated with them. There was only one problem - the Mack had no clue on how to run a restaurant but knew they wanted to make their favorite foods. Fortunately they had their Hawaiian - Korean mother's recipes and their work experience at the exclusively Hawaiian chain, Zippy's  One menu must have was the  popular plate lunch , consisting of a multicultural meal of meat, rice and macaroni salad!It was a staple of the 19th century sugar plantations, Other dishes offered are chicken katsu, a kind of fried chicken with a panko crumb coating.and kahlua pork, shredded pork  butt  seasoned with liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt.There's also the more familiar shrimp tempura and pulehu steak, a strip rubbed, again, with Hawaiian sea salt, garlic and sugar. What's surprisingly is there is no shaved ice - the cool treat the Obamas made popular and haupia, a kind of custard made with coconut  milk,cornstarch, sugar  and waterMaybe the brothers will expand their menu to include these in the future or even set up a separate but connected stand  Still Utahans love the food, thanks to Kalani's campaign on Facebook and the missionaries longing for Hawaiian food. There will be six more branches opening up in Utah and one in Idaho. Nevada and Missouri are also on their radar too.

Utah seems like an unlikely place for katsu chicken and pulehu steak,. Yet the Mack brothers are making sure it's a standard  in a landlocked state.It's a chance to enjoy paradise in the Beehive State.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pereg Flours - A New Way Of Baking

Using an old fashioned recipe is sweet. Using old fashioned white flour isn't. It can lead to bad allergic reactions along with gluten based stomach problems. Luckily, there is Pereg Flours that allows home  bakers to bake without any worries or doubts.

Pereg is known as an alternative flour company, even though they also sell soups , bread crumbs and pasta among other healthier foods.It's one of the oldest , starting by the Pereg family in 1906. The company has a full range of gluten free, carb free, allergy free flours. These are perfect for those dealing with all sort of wheat related problems. The flours range from the ancient grains such as teff and quinoa to plaintain, coconut and banana. Old standby's like buckwheat are also sold along with the trendier almond and chickpea. I thought I'd give Pereg Flours a try and got the quinoa. This doesn't have the carbs of regular wheat and it's healthier.I thought  why not pancakes.I took the Lazy Cat Kitchen recipe and tweaked it a bit.
This is the quinoa flour. It has a custardy yellow hue and a silkier texture than regular flour.
A teaspoon of baking powder was needed as was a teaspoon of baking soda/
They were sifted together to look like this

Now it's time for the liquids. The Lazy Cat recommended a plant milk. I chose coconut milk, for both the low calories and creaminess. 

Two teaspoons of lemon juice were added to create a catalyst with the baking powder and baking soda. This creates a leavening effect that gives the pancakes lift.
Four teaspoons of maple sytup (actual maple syrup not the watered down version) gives the batter a subtle sweetness.
Vegan butter , made from coconut oil but tastes exactly like the real thing was used for frying.
The pancakes came out  OK not as robust as regular pancakes.
The taste was green and plantlike, Imagine the scent of freshly cut grass as a taste and you have quinoa. Before frying I added a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt to bring out the other ingredients' flavors.Of course I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and more maple syrup were poured over them.
 Next time I'll try Pereg's Buckwheat to maybe whip up a batch of blinis.

Pereg's Flours bring in a whole new era of baking. They'll help home bakers wean their families away from traditional wheat flours and embrace a healthier diet. Try their flours in any baking recipe and see the difference.

Monday, April 23, 2018

All Foods British

Today is a double day of celebration in England. It's not only St. George's Day, he of  dragon slaying but also celebrating the soon to be named prince, William and Kate's third child.Celebrate with tasty British food - and no  - that's not a joke. British  food has been transformed to rival that on the other side of the Channel.

One quintessentially British food is clotted cream. It's sometimes called Devonshire or Cornish cream and it's essentially cow's milk heated in a warm bath. Creamy curds then appear and these can be spread on scones and muffins.Amazon sells it but it can also be made at home by cooking whole cream i a very cool oven  175 degrees Farenheit for twelve hours. It's delicious on crumpets which is where our English muffins come from. Mixed with mustard it makes an excellent sauce for steak. It's also a part of a cream tea, Brits piled it onto scones along with a thick layer of strawberry or plum jams. Teas themselves are a lovely way to celebrate a new baby or as a light afternoon meal with friends. Start with a variety of teas for a lovely light beverage to wash down those scones , petit fours and some savory sandwiches such as egg salad and watercress.Another big English favorite is the picnic. It's not the dinky, wrapped sandwiches and a bag of chips. This is an elegant affair with a wicker hamper and china. The utensils are not plastic but actual metal. Food is usually a cold chicken with sausage rolls and potted shrimp on the side. The last is spiced shrimp, laced with paprika and a mix of ground ginger, mace and nutmeg.It's sealed with butter and served with crusty brown bread.

Our Sunday dinners of roast beef and ham originated with the early and wealthy English colonists. The big Sunday dinner still holds sway over most families.It's ususually roast beef served with the buttery yummy Yorkshire pudding,a kind of popover baked with the juices from the roast.along with eggs, flour and milk. A green vegetable such as broccoli or peas is also served with it to round out the meal. Dessert could be fresh strawberries in season or a Victoria sponge rich with strawberry preserves and whipped cream..Another well beloved British meal is breakfast  A breakfast fry up is usually bacon, sausages and blood  pudding, a type of sausage made with oatmeal and pig's blood. There are eggs with it, usually fried, poached or scrambled White bread also is fried in the bacon grease , although grilled  oatcakes replace it in the Midlands. Baked beans are also included along endless cups of milky tea.The countries of the former British Empire has impacted their diet as well. The most popular takeout or take -away is Indian food. A Friday or Sunday night treat might be curry or samosas with a cool lasse to drink. Chinese food is also a popular choice as well in the UK.

Celebrate Saint George's Day and the birth of Baby Cambridge with a cream tea or a Yorkshire pudding.The British know how to cook and produce delicious food.  Try a recipe  and enjoy the flavor of Britian.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

How Green Is Your Kitchen

Earth Day is tomorrow and people all over the world will be evaluating what they can do to reduce their  carbon footprints. It's also time for home chefs to examine their kitchens and see if they need to make any "green" adjustments.

One of the most used resources in any kitchen is water. We need it to wash fruits and vegetables , along with our plates and utensils.It quenches our thirst  when we're thirsty and is often an ingredient in both savory and sweet recipes. Yet do we respect it? How many times do we just let it run as we seek the exact temperature? This is one of our worst habits. If you're hand washing dishes, use a small plastic basin like what you'd use for leftovers to wash the dishes. Then do a quick rinse to get the soap off. Don't let the water run. As for dealing with a parched throat, the best bet is put ice cubes in a glass before you fill it with tap water.  The ice will instantly chill it. and that way  you're not wasting water.As for cooking , get the exact measurements - not that you're throwing away any overage. washing fruits and vegetables are always a must however this also creates water waste. Use a large bowl for any kind of produce washing however scrimp on the water. Due to the pesticides used, you can't repurpose the water. It does have to be dumped down the drain.Another idea is using vinegar to clean skins and even rinds.Wipe down with a towel afterwards.

Paper and plastic are big components of a home kitchen. Our food comes in both. What to do with those boxes and containers afterwards? Any box should be put in the recycling paper bin or bags.This includes cereal and microwave foods boxes along with any cookie paper bags or pie boxes. Those paper bags from the grocery can be repurposed to hold the flattened boxes along with newspapers. Milk and ice cream cartons, made of wax coated paper do need to be thrown out with the regular trash. The plastics lids, however ,can be put into the plastics. As for plastics, whether they're bottles or cupcake holders, they all belong in the plastic recycling bins. You can repurpose  your water bottles by refilling them with tap water. Any straws can also be used for a second and even third time.. Just wash and dry them. What about those cracked plastic and glass containers? Do you just toss them or use them for a different purpose? Small ice cream bowls can hold dry snacks such as nuts pretzels or potato chips. The larger ones can be used as fruit bowls or even to hold rolls for dinner.The same principle goes for cracked glass , although this last does come with a caveat. If there are sharp edges, then you'll have to throw it out. A jagged edge can produce a nasty cut on the fingers.Just remember to toss the glass into the plastic bin. Many towns recycle the two together.

Is your kitchen as green as you want it? Use this Earth Day weekend to re-valuate your family's habits. Changing them may help save the planet in a small but very important way.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hi Mountain Jerky The Perfect Snack

Now that the weather is finally warming up, it's time to head out on hikes and picnics. What goes with these? Beef jerky, especially Hi Mountain'seasonings'tasty  bits of dried beef. They're the perfect take along for any trail blazer.

I like Hi Mountain' Seasoning's products. They're primarily known for their rubs but they also have a line of jerky that makes for a nice nosh or can even be added to dishes for some zing. The company originally had jerky curing kits where home chefs can make their own. Now the company has a new line of ready made strips.
Above is the pepper, coated with a ground black pepper. This is an eye opener that reminds me of the Italian cacciatore with its' heat. It may be jerky but I can imaging frying this up with eggs for a take on bacon.I can also seeing it cut up into tiny bits for a spinach salad.
The hickory flavor is  mild, perfect for pairing with veggies .It could even go with a sourdough bread and a chunk of cheddar for a quick meal during a hike or day at the beach. I like the mild flavor and it hickory flavor.
The mesquite flavor is a sweet , smoky treat and again it's the perfect bite for a hike. It has the mesquite's sweet  earthy flavor, heightened by the addition of sugar.
Of course,there's the original.
It has the beef's strong mineral flavor without all the bells and whistles.It's a nice garlic-y flavor  thanks to the addition of the spice and again I could see adding this to any egg dish or even topping burgers with it  for a chewy, meat lover's meal.

Hi Mountain Seasonings' jerkys are the perfect take along for hiking. They're also fun to incorporate into classic recipes. Try the flavors today for some chewy, tasty fun!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Calm Yourself With Risotto

Kitchen work is soothing work to some. There's something zen about stirring polenta or grating chocolate. The same is true with risotto. The constant stirring, usually in a figure eight  is both calming and comforting.It's one of the most relaxing tasks for a home chef.

Melissa Clark wrote about this in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Her A Good Appetite column was devoted to it and the woman who inspired the piece.  Ruth Rogers, chef and owner of the River Cafe in London loves to stir her rice.The motions and rhythms soothe anxiety - and Ms Clark was anxious about creating Chef Rogers' recipe for nettles risotto. The recipe is part of a brand new cookbook River Cafe London which salutes the restaurant's thirtieth anniversary. It also celebrates the eatery's classic recipes updated for a new generation of home chefs.The nettles risotto is one of the trickiest to make. nettles are those sharp stingers that hurt when touched with bare hands. Dealing with them in a home kitchen means the rubber gloves have to come out. Luckily spinach can be subbed in  They have a rich mineral taste  like the other and taste wise they can easily be interchanged. No one will know the difference.

Ms. Clark's accompanying recipe reflects this change. There are eight packed cups of spinach involved. These are stemless because it could make the risotto stringy.Another reason why she wanted to make the rice dish is the taleggio. This is a creamy, sharp cheese from the Alpine region of Lombardy that's added last to the dish. Like most arborio dishes this one is also labor intensive. The spinach has to be placed in a colander and has to have boiling hot water poured over it to wilt the leaves.Then the water has to be squeezed out with a dishtowel before the leaves are being transferred to a food processor.There is also celery , onion and garlic that need to be cooked too.The rice is added to this as is three quarters of a cup of dry white wine and either vegetable or chicken stock.It will take fifteen to twenty minutes for it to be ready. The spinach puree and taleggio chunks are them added and stirred into it.If you want it a bit simpler then cut out the cheese and serve it with a sprinkling of Parmesan.Just remember to keep stirring or the rice will stick.

If you're looking for good food and relaxation then go for spinach risotto with taleggio. It's a soothing dish to make if you;re stressed. Even if you'e not , it's still a great dish to make on a cool Spring night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Recipes From A Potato's Birthplace

We tend to think of potato recipes as being North American,cooked with a European influence.There's fries and scalloped style, mashed and latkes. yet there were recipes for them long before , in the tuber's birthplace - Peru. These have been around forever and are still an integral part of the area's cuisine.

It was a fascinating article along with recipes in today's New York Times Food section, Madhur Jaffrey, an award winning actress for her part in Shakespeare Wallah, and now a food writer wrote this after visiting Peru and observing the different potatoes grown there. They come in every color and texture, from reds, blues, and purples to yellows and pinks. What is really interesting is that the interior textures can change just by putting them out in the sun. This turns them softer and silkier. Their shapes vary, they're not those elongated , lumpy ovals. Some are shaped like a puma
's paw while other are in the form of an alpaca's nose or a cat's claw. There are new varieties being discovered all the time. There are even potato banks, that store seeds for 1,300 (!) varieties .Peruvian chefs are always on the hunt to find new strains , the more to experiment with along with new ,indigenous herbs and plants to cook them into. The potatoes are not the bland tasting ones we're used to. They even have their own aromas, smelling sometimes like funky bean curds or cheese.

Ms. Jaffrey got to try the potatoes in a variety of dishes. At the Sumaq Hotel in the quaint southern Peruvian town of Aguas Calientes where Machu Pichu is she samples a potato cake The  spuds are cut mandoline thin and layered with bacon and cheese. There is also Papa a la Huancaina, which many consider the country's national dish  Potatoes are boiled, sliced and put with sliced, hard boiled eggs on lettuce leaves . Olives spike up the dish and then dressed with a Huancaina sauce. This last has the native long pepper , aji amarillo. Huancaina sauce can easily be made here too, if you go to a South American grocery store. It contains the pepper along with garlic and onion blended with mozzarella and hard boiled eggs.. Ms. Jaffrey also includes a recipe for a Peruvian cheesy potato soup that has two kinds of potatoes, chufos , the dried variety and russets.if you can't find chufos, just add more of the other These's also celery , carrots and squash along with feta's served with a dollop of uchucuta sauce which is a kind of salsa verde. Peanut butter and  more feta give it a smooth, creamy texture ,perfect for blending into individual bowls of soup.

Potatoes in their original dishes are not only a taste of history but a treat. Get away from the European influences and try them in a variety of Peruvian dishes. it's a great way to bring out their mild flavor and silky texture.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Super Greens,Super Recipes

Kale, spinach and anything leafy green has been both literally and figuratively shoved down our throats for the last decade or more. The problem is many have not been offered tasty recipes with them. It's just been the usually smoothie or juice . That's about to change.

Kale is good in juices and smoothies.It adds vitamins and nutrients to them. Yet wouldn't it be nice to mix it up with  good pasta instead of coconut water or apple juice? Surprisingly those leaves can be turned into a delicious pesto, perfect with any kind of short or long noodle.It 's simply taking two cups of kale and that pesto staple, basil,  ground together along with pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese.It can be also made with all kale .Just increase the amount used to two and a half cups. This is from the Kristine's Kitchen blog. I would add a dash of pepperocino flakes for some bite too.Anther idea is cooking roasted tomatoes with chopped kale along with garlic and the hot pepper flakes. Shallots and garlic are also added for more flavor. It's supposed to be served with rigatoni but a long pasta like spaghetti or fettucine would work well with it. Kale is a great base for salads too.It's wonderful paired with any fruit such as strawberries or dried cranberries. Like any green, it can benefit from a joining with sliced tomatoes , along with olives for more flavor and a simple vinaigrette. You can also add some more super foods such as broccoli and sliced peppers for more flavor and crunch.

That other super green, spinach, is also delicious in hot and cold dishes. One of the best is when it's stuffed inside crepes. This elegant meal is mostly labor intensive on the crepe part. After all the batter has to be made the night before and then literally brushed on a hot oiled or buttered pan. The spinach itself is usually cooked in a roux with some extras such as mushrooms and bacon. This can also be the filling of Julia Child's famed spinach pie which is kind of a spin on Beef Wellington. One of the most delicious marriages is eggs and spinach. Nothing beats a true French spinach omelet. This involves rich , maybe not so good for you add ins such as shredded Swiss cheese butter and milk. Of course you can just add spinach to the eggs. Made another way with garlic and you have a tasty spinach frittata for lunch or dinner. One of the best  salads is with spinach,, hard boiled eggs and bacon, topped off with a creamy blue cheese dressing. I make mine healthier by using the soy version of the bacon and the blue cheese also soy. It's a tasty blend that works as a main meal or a side dish.

Think of those super greens as super ingredients. Kale and spinach work well in hot and cold dishes, adding the same dose of nutrition. They're far better in these than in juices and smoothies.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Etsy's Sweet Side

Many know Etsy as that cool place to buy cool artesanal jewelry and hand crafted home design ware and clothing. Others (such as myself) use it for handmade mineral cosmetics and lotions. Yet many - incluing me -didn't know that you cn buy all sorts of home made treats. Yup, Etsy is also the coolest treat store too.

I first stumbled upon Etsy's sweet side while probably looking for homemade fudge. The food and beverage section is hard to find.It's not obvious as it is on other web sits such as Amazon or Target You have to first go to Home and then the Food And Drink . There are all sorts of categories, from soups, to herbs, spices and seasonings to baked goods to candies. There's even a section on recipes. The last can be a money maker for any home chef.A Scottish home chef is charging  almost three dollars a recipe for a kind of vanilla fudge called tablet (and as we all know we can get this free on any candy making or Scottish heritage website). Someone else  is charging for vintage cherry and strawberry recipes as well.I'd rather get the actual item than the actual recipe. Home chefs can buy ingredients such as ground capiscum and vanilla beans  along with all kinds of salts and garam masala. Here you can even find the ingredients for making gin.

Etsy also has a wide variety of ready made treats.You can try a huge flavor assortment of cupcakes at the Mississippi based The Dessert Cafe. They also have brownies , from plain to mint to a wide range of oatmeal cookies. I stumbled not on fudge- but on handmade flavored marshmallows from Sweet Jumbles in Jersey City.
These are the strawberry. I also bought the coffee as well as the peppermint (which looks like bloodied gauze) I thought about popping them all in hot cocoa bit they're huge, pillowy types.I have bought chocolate graham crackers which I may make  fancy s'mores with soon.

Etsy is the place for finding all sorts of gourmet goodies. Yes, you can get one of a kind Spanish leather bracelets and lotions that smell like spun sugar. You can also real spun sugar too.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Vegan's Garden

Spring and summer are the best time to be vegan. This is when gardens are bursting with all sorts of veggies and fruits. It’s also the time to think about growing the needed proteins a meatless diet demands. A vegan garden should have every and any kind of harvest to satisfy even the strictest herbivore.

A true vegan garden starts with the very beginning. Decide what you want, and when you want to harvest it. Of course, you’ll have to grow beans for the protein but which ones. Kidney beans are versatile, being used in everything from chili to bean burgers however they do pose a problem. Their harvest is in early autumn. The same goes for fava beans. They do not thrive in very hot climates , preferring a Mediterranean one with mild temps with occasional rain. They also take four to five months to harvest, so again, they’d be ready in the fall. The best beans are the pole beans, namely string beans, which work very  well in salads and as a side. They are quick growers, only taking two months to mature. What about chick peas, those vegan workhorses? Well, for starters, they're not peas or beans but legumes and cool weather growers. Luckily they are frost resistant so you could plant them in late September and expect a December harvest. You may want to try lima beans instead. Just as nutritious , they're easy to plant and tend. They do take three months so plant now for an August harvest.

Many vegans go for the super greens such as kale and spinach. Kale  can be planted from early Spring to early summer. The seedlings need to be thinned after two to three weeks of growth because the plants grow to a mammoth size. The average kale plant is anywhere from two to three feet with a two to three foot spread. They do require  a lot of land.Most vegans usually eat a lot of it so growing an abundance is not such a big deal. The other , spinach, can be planted right now. It's surprisingly a cool weather plant but can grow well in late Spring or early summer. They're versatile in the sense that the seedlings can be planted in either full sunlight or partial shade. They do thrive in sandy soil and need to be watered once a week. One of the pluses is they're the first for harvest so you can have a salad within weeks of planting . Of course vegans should think about tomatoes, Like beans, they're crucial to a vegetarian diet and lend variety to the diet. Before planting , study the different types. If you're more into sauces, then grow plum tomatoes. Enjoy a sandwich or focaccio with the aptly named beefsteak. If you enjoy them as a snack then think about growing cherry ones. You also have to decide whether to grow them from seeds or pots with young plants too.

A vegan garden may take work but  the harvest is worth it. They'll add to the diet and create a variety of different dishes. Plan today for a summer full of veggies.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Dainty Bites

With shower and outdoor tea season  in full swing , it's time to think about dainty bites, those sweet little two bite cakes that are perfect with tea or punch. Surprisingly, they're just as easy to make as they are to eat.

Petit fours are the classic dainty bites.Many home bakers are put off ,one by their small size, and two, French name, One of the simplest recipes, from All Recipes just requires a sponge cake base. It's basically two of everything, from egg yolks to cups of flour to two teaspoons of baking powder.If this is too daunting , then use a cake mix. The frosting can be a buttercream or melted white chocolate similar to  the little cakes that Swiss Colony sells. The last is more elaborate because it needs corn syrup for gloss and body  Fillings are usually some kind of jam , lemon curd or orange marmalade. Remember the cake does have to be sliced so that there's three layers. Some home bakers shave off the cake's top layer for a more even surface. Another idea is soaking the layers. This is simply using a pastry brush to brush liqueur over them to give a boozy zing. That's up to you. Some more experienced bakers do tiny buttercream roses on top. If you're not that adept, then use real violet buds or any kind of sprinkle . Candy confetti will do just fine. Clear a place in the fridge to set the icing and keep the petit fours cool.If you're serving them outside, try to set the table in a shady spot so the icing doesn't melt and slide off.

Fairy cakes are primarily a British treat, being the star of many a child's party. Yet they can be a lovely accompaniment to the petit fours.They're a smaller version of a cupcake (think mini cupcake)usually made up of a sponge cake with an icing. The famed baker and Great British Baking Show judge, Mary Berry, has several excellent recipes for them. There is one that 's a basic sponge cake with a simple confectioner's sugar icing. A chocolate one  has the taste of a brownie and is topped with a sculpted swirl of dark cocoa buttercream icing. There are even   plain ones, sans, icing , flavored with only chopped apples or jam. These would be the perfect foil for those fancier frosted bites. because of their simplicity.Of course the most popular dainty bites are macarons. These, too, can be daunting for home bakers.The recipe is pretty simple though and you can make a vegan one using aquafaba or bean water, the liquid that chickpeas  come packed in. The consistency is similar to egg white and makes a very good and delicate treat. They do require a lower temp oven to bake than macarons made with egg white.. Macarons can be dyed in a variety of pretty colors and flavored with everything from lavender to chocolate to fruits, They also make cute favors for guest to bring home.

Dainty bites are the perfect sweets for an outdoor tea or brunch. They have the right amount of flavor without being overpowering. Serve them with iced teas or tea punches for the perfect Spring Sunday gathering.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Perfect Mac and Cheese

It's the fantasy of every kid and foodie alike - the perfect baked macaroni and cheese. There's nothing like the melding of all the good stuff, pasta, and cheddar whisked with milk.Is it hard to get this culinary unicorn? Not at all.

Alison Roman, author of the new cookbook, Dining In wrote an informative guide on making the best version in yesterday's New York Times Food section.It may be a simple dish in some more experienced home chefs' eyes  but it does require a lot of thought and care. She gives detailed how tos on selecting the perfect ingredients. The noodles used should be any tubular ones from elbow macaroni to tubes such as ziti, penne, and rigatoni. She also suggests a better, new on the scene cavatappi, This is a curly , ribbed noodle that's longer than an elbow.It's perfect for stabbing with a fork and holds the sauce expertly.It's also thick which guarantees against mushiness.Spaghetti and fellow long noodles such as fettucene and linguine are frowned upon but there are recipes for them and using them might provide for an interesting change. Ms. Roman suggests boiling the pasta in water that's "salty as the sea."This ensures that the noodles will have flavor throughout. They also have to be cooked al dente because then they can cook in the oven. They'll still release starch that will thicken the sauce and also their flavor will deepen.

Choosing the right cheese is crucial too.Ms. Roman firmly recommends using cheddar, whether sharp, extra sharp, or sharp white.Can other cheeses be used? Home chefs can use Gruyere or fontina to bolster the flavor but only use half. Remember that Gruyere is richer and fattier than any of the cheddar and could easily break up the sauce. Definitely avoid ultra mild cheese such as Montery Jack or Colby. They are fine for melting but lack the salt or tang to make the dish interesting/ A cup of Parmesan or Pecorino wouldn't go amiss but only add a quarter of a cup.It will give the casserole a deeper flavor along with saltiness without the graininess of too much of it.Also nix the bags of shredded fromage. Buy a block and grate from it. Baked mac and cheese doesn't benefit from experimentation . Keep it true to the recipe or you could wind up with a broken sauce. This is when everything separates. The taste will still be delicious but not creamy as expected. As for the other dairy, whole milk is the best. Heavy cream and half and half are just too rich . Two per cent can be used but make sure it's not non fat. This will break the sauce and cause a grainy texture. Make sure that the thickener always use a homemade thickener namely bechamel sauce.

The perfect baked macaroni and cheese can be had. Use cheddar and chunky pasta along with whole milk.It's taking the right ingredients and creating an American classic that's beyond delicious.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Never A Sundae

Are ice cream sundaes the phone in go to dessert of many restaurants? New York Times restaurant critic ,Pete Wells, seems to think so.His is a scathing, yet sometimes true assessment of a childhood favorite turned trite. After all, if you want a sundae , go to Dairy Queen, if you want an elegant dessert go to the right restaurant.

His  rant of sorts was the main article in today's New York Times Food section.He feels that this American classic is served in restaurants that have, as he puts it, a healthy sense of their own self-worth but don't have too many bells and whistles to show for it. These are the wine bars and gastro pubs along with the all day cafes and places where there is a young chef who has cooked somewhere in a chic European eatery.Chefs at these places are cagey. They won't tell you their dessert is a sundae. They'll describe it in detail, as a fancy flavored ice cream such as mascarpone  topped with caramel sauce and  a chocolate crumble for some variety. Mr. Wells expects dessert to surprise him, a sweet amuse-bouche to end the meal.It should . However that means hiring a pastry chef which is usually out of many a restaurant's budget. According to Shuna Lydon, who has worked and led some  pastry kitchens, large and small, famed and not so famed, there is more of a need for sous-pastry chefs It's thirty or forty grand less a year, despite the same amount of work, These have little or no experience with baking or with running a department that could turn out as many as twelve different desserts a night.

Mr. Wells , surprisingly does have some favorites in the sundae department. He does give high marks to NoLiTa eatery Uncle Boons that has a sundae built out of layers of coconut and other Thai flavors.It starts with a coconut gelato bought from Il Laboratorio, an ice cream supplier to most New York City restaurants. A thin coconut wafer and toasted curls of the fresh roasted fruit finish it as does candied peanuts and whipped cream sweetened with palm sugar.  Then there's chef ,John Fraser of Dovetail, spent his early years making the icy confections in a sundae shop. He has carried the idea to his other restaurants, Narcissa in the East Village and  his latest, Loyal on Bleecker Street. which has several afters to choose from.Loyal 's sundae has an array of candy to choose from.Sundaes do serve a purpose in a restaurant. It can be a shared dessert amongst friends and a nice surprise for kids who are bored with a restaurant's appetizers and entrees. Yet the question is do you really need a big gooey dessert to end a lush meal? Wouldn't a selection of petit fours and/or cookies along with coffee or tea be ample enough? Most people normally wouldn't have a big dessert at home, settling for a piece of fruit , cookie, or a thin slice of cake after a big meal. it's kind of gilding the culinary lily by having a lush tart or plated baked something.

Are sundaes just a phone in dessert? Maybe? Would it be better to create something new with ice cream ,syrup and whipped cream? Possibly.Yet to some diners and foodies , a sundae for an ending is better than no ending at all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Sargento Story

Could a funeral director do a 180 and create one of this country's leading cheese companies? Most would say no but it's actually a yes/A new book, traces the story of Sargento Cheese and the man behind it, Leonard Gentine.It's an interesting study in American entrepreneurship.

Treated Like Family (Center Street Publishers 2018) was written by  Tom Faley, a thirty year old employee, himself, of the Sargento Company. He was also involved in expanding the food company , developing many departments including marketing,consumer research, consumer promotions and new product development. He knows the company inside out, even acquiring most of the book's material from the founder himself. Sargento's is an unlikely tale , full of old fashioned dedication and hard work. The books starts off with Leonard's grandparents, Josephine and Joseph Gentine leaving the war ravaged area of Alsace-Lorraine,Chavannes-les- Grands for Wisconsin and ends with their great-great- grandson, Louie becoming the heir apparent to a multi-million dollar industry. It is Leonard, though, who is the star of the book. Mr. Faley writes this valentine for him. It all started out with an accident with a funeral director and Leonard paying off the cost of repairs by working for him. He worked hard on the journey from funeral director to mink farmer to finally a cheese company. What is inspiring is that he took the work ethic and humanitas of his first employer, Hobsen Brigsen. He applied that to Sargento, creating a home away from home for his employees.

The book is a long one, and at times, picayune There are dozens of factoids such as Leonard's kids childhood pastimes, pages on his courtship with his wife Dolores, and details of sales meetings from almost every year. Do we really care about who went on a sales trip in Chicago consumer research, Alsace-Lorraine,o in 1960 or who bought Leonard's funeral home? It would have been better if Mr. Faley has streamlined some of this. You do have to admire Mr. Gentine's tenacity and passion to create the perfect cheese company with partner Joe Sartori. (hence the name SAR  from Sartori, GENT from Gentine and the O to make it sound more Italian).What impressed me was the company's  drive for innovation. Sargento was the first cheese company to sell shredded cheese and that section was riveting about creating the first bag of it (a godsend to home chefs) and the first to mix different varieties in one package. They were also the first company to offer shredded cheese for tacos in 1969, years before Mexican food became trendy. Sargento was also a pioneer in reclosable cheese packages -again a boon for home chefs who used to have tot hrow out moldy , badly packaged fromage. Another important takeaway is how employees were always treated like family. This is a must read for any manager or future entrepreneur because it's a detailed guide on how to hire and treat employees.

Treated Like Family is an interesting lesson in American marketing and creativity.It is also a valuable one in boss/employee relations,For those thinking about starting their own companies, the bookis a definite must read.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Can Fast Food Be Diet Food

We've been constantly told that fast food is bad food. Everyone from doctors to diet gurus warn of its' side affects. Yet some places do offer healthier , sometimes lower calories . Can these smart choices help in shedding pounds? Possibly.

Many of us love Wendy's . It's  fast food that tastes almost like home made. You can eat healthy here. Their famed baked potato is only 270 calories if there's nothing loaded on top. If you want something  to top it then go for the free sour cream and margarine. The bacon cheese potato is 480 calories.. Have it with their Honest iced tea which is thirst quenching and diet perfect at only five calories. Wendy's also offers salads. One of the most filling and good for anyone watching his or her weight is the Power Mediterranean Salad which is only 250 calories for a small portion. This is a mix of  quinoa, chicken feta and hummus.If you,re craving more meat then settle on their Buffalo ranch slider at 220 calories or their grilled chicken sandwich which has 270. Dieters can  even have their beef and eat it too.Wendy's has a junior double cheeseburger that's only 280 calories.Are the other famed fast food restaurants that calorie conscious? Chck-Fil-A and KFC do have food that can fit into a regimented meal plan.KFC has a combo of grilled chicken and mashed potatoes for 430 calories. Chick-fil-a has unbreaded chicken nuggets for only 240 calories for five pieces.

Other fast food places can also be advantageous too. One of the best for low calorie food with a lot of flavor is Sarku. Their miso soup is only fifty calories, a perfect lunch on a cold, rainy day. They also offer shrimp and sushi which are surprisingly hearty fare despite the lightness. Th shrimp comes with white or brown rice along with a good scoop of green vegetables. Their California roll sushi is only three hundred calories but packed with flavorful shards of crab meat and avocado. Panera Bread can also offer some low calorie  foods, despite the fact it primarily sells calorie rich breads,. muffins, and cookies. Yet their breads are between 120 and 160 calories a slice - however, it's hard to just stop at once slice. Their loaves are beyond delicious. Luckily the chain offers smaller versions of their soups and salads along with half sandwiches, Their  halved Mediterranean veggie sandwich on tomato basil bread is only 220 calories. Wash it down with ten calorie Spindrift raspberry lime seltzer. Finish it with a mouthful of their coconut macaroon at only 140 calories. Or have the last with a five calorie espresso for a quick afternoon pick me up. Panera's flavored coffees are only twenty calories a cup and you can probably get it iced as well as hot.

Fast food can also be a dieter's food. It's just choosing wisely with your mind - not your stomach. Then you can enjoy a meal out without any guilt

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Healthy Nibbles

Hungriness can be a pain. Your stomach's growling and you want a snack. There's a dilemma there. Do you eat something that's over the top tasty or do you scale it down calorie wise? The best bet is eating smaller amounts of  healthy snacks packed with flavor.

Many of us feel that urge in the afternoon between two and three. It's tempting to grab an icing rich pastry or a bag of salty oil laden chips. As flavorful as they may be , they're going to leave you still craving more snacks. Go with healthy nibbles.Brad's has come up with a line of all veggie chips.

These are the red pepper chips but there's also carrots,flax seed, buckwheat and tomatoes along with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. The taste is primarily bell pepper but the chips are tasty at only twenty-seven calories a chip. Brad's also make air dried kale which is another good nibble. Have both with a dip made from plain  Greek yogurt and dried onions.There is also pretzel chips from Snack Factory

I love their everything flavor with it's hints of garlic and sesame. Again these are only eleven calories a chip. They;'re good plain but again these can be dipped into plain Greek yogurt or salsa. The other flavors are plain and the fiery bacon habanero 

If you're craving something sweet and crunchy, the obvious answer is an apple or a pear to munch on. A better alternative is Fruit Sticks, also from Snack Factory
These are only twenty calories a stick and have the look of French fries. The company also makes, apple strawberry and apple cinnamon ones too. Snack factory has brownie , lemon tart and chocolate chip.thins to for sweet snacking. Dip the apple sticks in vanilla flavored Greek yogurt for an added treat.

Healthy nibbling can be done. Have a bag of these snacks in your kitchen or  office to ease that mid afternoon hunger.They're low in calorie but big in taste.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Getting Immersed In Your Blender

One of the best gadgets out today is the immersions blender. This magic wand can help in creating the creamiest salad dressings along with well blended sauces. It is a must for every home chef.

I have the American Collection immersion blender I bought from As you can see it’s fourteen inches long and electric. The motor is a powerful one despite its’ size.150 Watts, .

It’ stainless steel and plastic, which makes it easy to wipe off any splatters that land on the handle./

What’s amazing are those tiny but sharp  little blades. I made a salad dressing that had chunks of soy bleu cheese and those two sharp mini mini knives turned the mix of that, mayo, olive oil and  applecider vinegar into the creamiest dressing. To be honest it would rival a store bought one for smoothness . I plan on using it for whipping aquafaba into meringues and will definitely use it for my sauces ,

The only problem is cleaning the entire blender. There is a break in the plastic that indicates it can separate from the motor but this was hard to do. Unfortunately, I had to very carefully sponge wash the entire gadget. Cleaning the blades turned out to be a dilemma too, thanks to the deep well behind them. If I could have detached the bottom, it would have been much easier. What I wound up doing was wrapping a wet paper napkin around a Q-tip swab and then delicately cleaning the well. I’m going to buy a small cleaning brush so washing and scrubbing any food residue will be easier the next time around,

The immersion blender should be a kitchen necessity. It is one of those gadgets that makes mixing and blending that much easier in creating whipped toppings and creamier souls and salad dressings. This  really is a kitchen must have for any home chef.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Your Best Beef Stew Ever

Beef stew is one of those recipes every home chef should know.Yet, how to make the perfect one is somewhat of a conundrum. Should wine be added? Or tomato sauce? Slow cooker or oven? Luckily there is a recipe that can lead to stew nirvana. One taste and it will be your go to recipe.

Of course it was the famed Julia Moskin who tackled this in yesterday's New York Times Food section.Ms. Moskin has made her fair share of the dish as well as its' French and Italian cousins. bouef bourguignon, daube and peposo. Am American beef stew doesn't have the sophistication of red wine. Onions and water first flavored our earliest versions, later it was beef broth and tomato sauce. These are good  and do give the meat and vegetables a certain flavor. however they don;t add any oomph.If you are making yours with a Pinot Noir or a Cote du Rhone, remember that it has to be cooked slowly.  The alcohol, acidity and fruitiness have to be tamed so they leave a tangy, syrupy taste that pairs well with the red meat. Remember too , red meat needs slow cooking too. It helps breaking down the collagen and, muscle fibrils. You could make stew in a slow cooker. The meat does have to be well browned before putting in in.A crockpot stew is a wonderful meal to come home to but the beef doesn't have  that caramelized , textured  quality an oven cooked stew would have. Ms. Moskin prefers an oven over a stove top any day. Bake it at 300 degrees Farenheit or even lower at 275 degrees. The meat softens while the liquids and aromatics blend into a rich complex sauce.

Funny enough Ms. Moskin doesn't write about what kind of meat to use in her article. It is mentioned in the recipe , though. Home chefs should use well marbled beef stew meat, namely chuck. No other cut will work. She also adds juniper berries is part of the traditional French recipe. Where to get them? Not surprisingly Target and Wal-mart sell the dried variety. You'll only need a dozen along with two bay leaves.As for the wine, a red non -sweet one (Ina Garten's bouef bourguignon calls for  Pinot Noir or a Cote du Rhone.),preferably from the Burgundy province but Chianti can also be used.Let the meat marinate in the wine , juniper berries and bay leaves for at least two hours  and less than a day. The vegetables used are also the ones used in the traditional recipe.It's a blend of carrots, onions and a large starchy potato, preferably an Idaho. More wine is also added, usually half a bottle along with three tablespoons of tomato paste and chicken broth.Many home chefs may be put off at the idea of adding bouquet garni but this is a simple mix of thyme, rosemary, more juniper berries and whole cloves. Orange peel is also in the mix to give the dish a fresh brightness. These are wrapped in a cheesecloth and dropped in. You can also toss in cubed panecetta or ventreche, a kind of French bacon.

This is the best stew recipe out there. It's also a relatively easy one that any home chef can make.Try it and enjoy the delicious meld of flavors form aromatics, to meat to a good Burgundy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Sweet End To Passover

One of the traditions of Passover ending is eating anything with leavening, .In the States it's pizza and brownies, but elsewhere it's an older tradition representing Mediterranean roots and recipes.It's called Mimounia the Moroccan way to end the holiday.

Ron Leiber, who usually write about finance for The New York Times has written this interesting and informative article for the paper's Wednesday Food section.Many American Jews don't know of this sweet  raucous feasting yet it's done in Israel thnaks to the influx of Moroccans arriving in the country  for the past sixty years. They do occur here , but not in many households.It began two hundred years ago but the reasons for how and why are hazy, There is a similar Hebrew word that means faith along with an Arabic word meaning good fortune or luck. There is also an etynological connection to the Jewish philosopher Maimonides and is also the name of a Berber goddess. (although there could be a connection to the Sicilian bread mouffleta) Foods such as milk, eggs wheat and fava beans are set out along with a live(!) fish  in a bowl to symbolize fertility and abundance. A typical table would have fancy marzipan, nuts  and even candied eggplants. Moroccan mint tea is served with it to offset all the  sweetness

One of the stars of the holiday is moufleta - a layered, fried flat bread similar to the Indian flatbread,chappatti. Guests cover it with butter and honey. Flour is brought over for it by non-Jewish friends and neighbors at the appointed hour,,It's kind of like pizza dough with a scant amount of
 sugar, salt and dry yeast. The dough is mixed and formed into twenty balls, slightly smaller than a tennis ball. After letting them rise, then flatten them to a seven or eight inch disc.fingers should be constantly oiled with either vegetable or canola oil. ( I would say try extra virgin olive oil, which is probably how it was first made). This keeps the dough from sticking to the hands along with the work surface.A non-stick or cast iron skillet is used to cook them,  Set it over a medium-low heat and place the dough, that now should be stretchy into the pan. Cook on one side for one to two minutes and then flip it over. Add the second moufleta and when it's bottom is golden add the third. Repeat until there are seven layers. You could also fry them up individually, as long as they're eaten hot so the butter and honey also get heated. up.

Mimounia is a neat way to welcome back leavened treats. The star of it all is moufleta, an easy to make  bread ,soaked with honey and butter. This is a true taste of the return of breads and cakes,

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easy Spring Desserts

Believe it or not , the blustery ,cold Spring weather will give way to warm days and high temps. That means easy desserts , perfect for barbecue and picnics. Good-bye to elaborate winter sweets, it's time to create effortless afters.

One of the easiest desserts is pudding pies and tarts. Jello has recently come out with a line of all natural puddings, made without any preservatives and dyes. They're call Simply Good and that's an apt description of them. They'd make perfect fillings for any pie or ice box cake,Pudding pies are a snap to make. Buy an already made crust (you can make them yourself if you're that ambitious) and fill with one of the Simply Good packets. These usually take two cups of milk but for a thicker , more set filling using only a cup and a half. Then it's just placing it in the fridge to set. One tasty combination is banana pudding in an Oreo crust .For a fancier take , decorate with puffs of Reddi-Whip and shaved chocolate. The last is an easy embellishment.Use a micro grater and dark chocolate  and grate a dusting over the pie's surface. You can do the same with a chocolate filling too. Another easy idea is individual tarts .Use the small sponge cakes , usually found in your grocery's fruit section. Fill first with an even layer of chocolate or vanilla pudding then add a second layer of sliced strawberries or peaches. If you;re using vanilla  pudding, lace it with brandy for a fun kick.

Another spring dessert idea is trifle. True , this treat is often associated with Christmas or New Year's but it can easily made for warmer days.Use fresh fruits such as strawberries and blueberries, layered with vanilla pudding or for a fruitier fix, use the banana flavor. An even cooler and tastier treat is an ice cream trifle, perfect after the first barbecue of the season. Take store bought cake, whether a sponge or pound cake tear into pieces and place in the bottom of a trifle bowl, Lberally sprinkle with brandy or sherry . Fill with French vanilla ice cream and cut seasonal fruit.,Top with berries and serve right away. Want something more decadent to chase those burgers and ribs? The try an ice cream version of Death By Chocolate.Use store bought chocolate pound cake, add a sprinkle of chocolate liqueur  such as Godiva and then a layer of chocolate ice cream. It can either be topped with more liqueur or syrup and Cool Whip. You can add either a layer of strawberries or cherries. For a simple and elegant English  dessert, think the inelegantly named Eton Mess. A favorite of William and Harry (and possibly Kate and Meghan). it's a simple mash up  of crumbled store bought meringues, any kind of whipped cream and fruit. It can be made as a trifle or as individual parfaits.

It's Spring. That means easy meals followed by easy desserts. They're a snap to make, and fun to eat.

Monday, April 2, 2018

A Spring Diet

Spring is the time for all things green - and that includes diets. It's time to shed those heavy winter dishes and think lighter and brighter. Embrace low calorie meals and a different way of eating during the warmer days.

The colder months leave us wanting heavy, gravy rich meals. This is fine. because we need more energy in shoveling snow and just dealing with frigid temps. However now that some areas are hitting sixty and  even seventy degrees , it's time to serve lower in calories foods. Luckily Spring ushers in asparagus season. One serving is only thirty calories. Asparagus is delicious when it's dressed with melted butter, sliced hard boiled eggs and Parmesan cheese. However these amp up the calories and fat. What you can do is try a low calorie cheese and margarine. As for the eggs you can scoop out the yolks if you want and just chop up the egg whites.Artichokes are also big right now. It's tempting to stuff them with oil soaked bread crumbs and mozzarella however think lighter. Imagine dipping the leaves in a refreshing lime vinaigrette where fresh squeezed limes sub in for lemons. Add some oregano or  dried cilantro for some zing. This makes a nice appetizer for early season barbecues. Dandelion greens are also in season. These can easily be picked from your yard and turned into zippy salad. Remember to wash them very well because every creature in the neighborhood could have sniffed them or worse.

Spring is the time of foraging. One of the biggest woodland  harvests right now is fiddlehead ferns. These are a dieter's dream with only ten(!) calories a stalk. Many will balk, wondering what the flavor will taste like. Not to worry. Fiddleheads have a flavor that's that some compare to asparagus, broccoli or green beans. Try them sauteed in margarine and chopped garlic. They're the perfect foil to grilled chicken or salmon. Ramps are also growing right now and they're ready for the picking. They have an onoin-y taste and again, think of them as a great side to chicken or fish. The Spring season is the start , not just of the growing season but also the grilling season. It's tempting to throw a steak on the coals and just feat. Yet the average eight ounce steak has close to a whopping five hundred calories, more if you brush it with any kind of butter.Opt for salmon instead which is only about two hundred and thirty calories. Even better are scallops with only eleven (!) calories for each one. You could even afford to brush them with butter.Serve them with morels , a wild mushroom that can be foraged. These tasty forest nuggets are only ten calories a mushroom. It's an elegant dinner , full of substance , but light and airy.

Warmer weather means a change of diet. Think chicken and fish, along with the greens of the season. It makes for a wonderful, and healthier change of pace.