Thursday, May 31, 2018

An Icebox Cake With Snap

Icebox cake is the de rigeur dessert of the summer. It 's the perfect end for a barbecue or even better  a warm weather birthday. It's a cool creamy treat, easy to assemble with already made ingredients. Now there's a new recipe with a snap to it.

Melissa Clark wrote about her creation - strawberry gingerbread icebox cake in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Usually America''s icebox cake consists of the ultra chocolate wafers mortared together with Cool Whip. Her version subs in Nabisco gingersnaps  "glued" together with a strawberry mascapone creme and topped with more strawberries, this time macerated with sugar, lime and ginger.Home chefs can use the chocolate wafers,also made by Nabisco. The taste is that of a chocolate covered strawberry - just omit the ginger and lime.Just remember, she warns, don't use any sandwich cookie like an Oreo. The middle stuffing will not soften and the cake will have hard, sugary pockets standing out in a sea of fluffiness. Another cookie that is good to use is the Nilla wafer. The effect is the same as the gingersnaps. Most of these cakes are held together by heavy whipped cream but marscapone. It's sturdier and mixes well with the strawberry puree. The final touch is  the macerated berries , with them being marinated them in white sugar, ginger and lime.The last adds a zing to a normally sweet treat.

One of the best aspects of making any icebox cake is that it doesn't require any skill. It's just layering  and building it up like bricks and mortar (not so with the Famous Chocolate Wafers. These have to be stood up to form a log)You could even increase the amount.Ms Clark has eight snaps per layer and the cake is four layers high. It could easily be expanded to serve a large crowd.Could graham crackers be used? Maybe not for this recipe but they can be a component for other icebox creations. Could home chefs change the fruit? Yes, but I'd use a tart fruit like blackberries simply because the cream is very sweet  thanks to the addition of a quarter of a cup of confectioner's sugar. Raspberries are another good choice thanks to their tartness.  What about mascapone? Many grocery stores only stock it occasionally. A good substitute is a homemade mix of  sour cream, cream cheese and heavy whipping cream.Blend together until smooth and use as the recipe directs.

A strawberry gingersnap ice box cake is a cool way to usher in the summer.It's different and fun full of spice and kick. Make this new hot weather classic to end a barbecue or celebrate a summer birthday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Shyness and Sweetness Dolester Miles

To win the  James Beard award for pastry is an amazing feat. Usually the honor is bestowed on famed bakers whose' creations are known world wide. This year it went to a shy, self taught pastry chef from Alabama - not New York or Chicago or LA. The winner , Dolester Miles, is making a big impact in an understated way.

She was the subject of an article written by Kim Severson in today's New York Times Food section. Her recipes and work beat out ones by Margarita Manzke and Meg Galus. She had been nominated twice before but it was the third time that worked. She was in disbelief when her name called. It was a victory not just for her but for the restaurant where she worked , Highlands. It is a pricey restaurant located in Birmingham , Alabama .Chef Miles was not unlike Doria Ragland, Meghan Markle's mother - a secondary character in a larger , predominantly white narrative who emerged as an African-American beacon. Talent knows no color. Ms. Miles grew up, surrounded by excellent bakers she was taught by her mother.Cora Mae Miles, and aunt. Her aunt, Queen Ester Harris was the kind of woman who might make nine cakes , with them all going to people in nursing homes. Her brown sugar poundcake was a favorite growing up. The recipes were passed down, along with baking advice.

Surprisingly Ms. Miles background was not initially cooking, She studied computer science at college and left when her daughter arrived. It was at this time that Frank Sitt, the chef and owner of Highland came to Birmingham. A Southerner, himself, he invested in the community around him, Ms. Miles started working for him in 1981, starting off as a pantry chef dicing and chopping fruits and veggies. Chef Stitt soon recognized her talent with butter and sugar and soon she was creating such desserts as polenta pound cake tiramisu  for his Italian restaurant Bottega and blueberry cobbler for his French eatery Fonfon along with afters for Highlands. She is known for her coconut pecan cake, a take on the Southern coconut cake and her lemon meringue tart.  The recipes are featured in The Times article and they're a treat for home bakers. The cake and filling is loaded with coconut and is moistened with a simple syrup.The lemon meringue has white chocolate melted into it for a different vibe along with a buttery crust.  Both recipes are light and fluffy, the perfect dessert for a summer weekend dinner.

Dolester Miles is a quiet champion, yet her creations speak volumes. She represents both modern and traditional  Southern baking.It's a prize winning meld.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Debugging Your Kitchen

Warm weather brings about bugs. Kitchens become meccas for ants, flies and the occasional roach family. Many home chefs have to deal with this by product of higher temps. It is annoying but luckily can be brought under control with the right products.

The dilemma facing many a home owner is how to humanely get rid of these "visitors." Sure, you can use commercial ant sprays but do you want to? Insecticides have strong and always chemical ingredients. These require gloves because of their strength as well as diluting the powder or liquid with the recommended amount of water. Some leave a powdery white residue that could prove to be harmful to children and animals.Ant bait ,used for lure, is a granular sugar like substance that are filled with poison. A more humane and safer way to go is using natural repellents.Lemon juice works well. The sugar loving insects will be repulsed by the fruit's intense sourness.Another natural cure is cinnamon. You would think the spice's musky sweetness would attract them but that' s quite the opposite. Home chefs scatter it along with ground cloves around doorways and windows. Cinnamon oil can also be used. You can also use freshly picked peppermint leaves along with peppermint oil to repel them.

Roaches are year round and even worse to get rid of than ants.Again you can use roach spray and traps. There is the classic Raid which comes in sprays and foggers, It and similar products have a chemical known as pyrethroids which cause paralysis in bugs.Other chemicals used are carbamates and organophospates which render certain amino acids inactive. These cause the bugs to die.One dosing may be great however home chefs need to be very aware that constant use of these insecticides can cause problems in humans and companion animals.Again the best path is the all natural one.A better idea is putting cedar chips in the corners of your kitchen. A classic that has worked for decades is the bay leaf. You can buy them in your store's spice section and strew the leaves where the walls meet the floor.Flies are not so much in a summer kitchen but they are  a problem at outdoor picnics and barbecues. The easiest is having electronic pest devices on the tables. These emit a high pitch sound that scares the bugs away from the food.

Don't let the bugs of summer bug your cooking. Use all natural  remedies to get rid of these critters.It makes for easier and cleaner work.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day -Remembering Our Warriors

As always we remember the young men and women who have died in battle for this country. Yes, that is proper.however we need to remember those still with us. What can we do?

Help out at VFW halls along with inviting both old and young vets over for a meal. If there is a newly discharged service person in your neighborhood. treat him and his family to a home cooked meal or even gift certificates to his or her favorite restaurant. Offer to babysit the kids so that a soldier or sailor can enjoy a romantic evening out with their spouse. Get the neighborhood involved in throwing a celebratory block party for these brave women and men. For older vets, who re alone,invite them over for a evening of their favorite foods and stories for the kids. They are living history and have seen it unfold first up in the theaters of war. Take them food shopping or go shopping for them.

They have given so much for us.Give something back - a meal - even a cup of coffee to them.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Making Those Dogs Bark

Memorial Day kicks off the barbecue season and that means a season of hot dogs. What's so great about this summer standard is that they can be zinged up with all sorts of extra. They're not just plain dogs anymore. They're something special.

A hot dog has a relatively bland taste that can go with any other flavor. Bacon lovers should think about wrapping the slices around them to create a salty,  crunchy treat.You can even dunk the dogs in barbecue sauce and then put the bacon on.To really elevate them, add some sharp cheddar. You can buy Sargento's to sprinkle or just buy a block and grate at home. If you want a fancy cheese dog then spread Brie on them and put on a toasted croissant (you'll have to break the dog in half  so it fits better on the crescent shape)Vegans can also enjoy this treat by using the Morningstar Brands veggie dogs and their fake bacon. In order to get it pliable and bend-y just microwave the soy strips thirty seconds less . If you want crunch then microwave it according to directions and just crumple it on the dog. You can also have a dairy free cheese dog too. There are several brands of vegan cheese that can top your hot dogs. One of the best is Ciao, This is a buttery tasting faux fromage that would off set the vegetarian dog's saltiness.

Chili and hot dogs are meant for each other. A pot of homemade chili would go well with grilled dogs. If you have to spend more time at the barbecue then just make it in a crockpot. In fact it will be better because the slow cooking time allows for the spices and chilis to mellow .If there's no time, then buy a can of chili. Again, vegans can also enjoy this taste, thanks to vegetarian meatless sort. Put as much as you want on your dogs. Some famed hot dog hang outs like Rutt's Hut in Clifton New Jersey also puts onions in their chili sauce. You can do this for both the homemade and canned chili. Just add a small chopped  white onion to the chili and cook up.Since  hot dogs are essentially German, think about adding sauerkraut as a topper. The homemade is popular right now , thanks to foodies and hipsters jumping on the fermented food bandwagon. It's just taking shredded cabbage, pounding it to extract the juice and brining it with salt and the juice for a few days.. This is much more flavorful than the canned kind however if you don;t have the time, use the store bought.Zing it up with some freshly ground pepper. Of course relish is a must.If you''re ambitious think about making it. Relish is a mix of red and green peppers  mixed with cucumbers and onions. These are then cooked with a brine and a paste made with granulated sugar, cornstarch and vinegar. Everything is poured into pickling jars to ferment,

Think of your hot and veggie dogs as blank canvasses. Add bacon or relish, cheese or sauerkraut or combine these to create a unique flavor. Be creative and come up with a new kind of hot dog.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Diet Updated

Can we change the way we eat with relaxation and meditation? Is it possible to make for compulsive eaters to overcome binging? A diet book claims it can. Yet can it?

That's the premise of  Dr. Nancy L. Bryan's newest book, an updated version of  Thin Is A State Of Mind:The No Stress Weight Loss Guide (CompCare Publishers 1980). The book was first published in the beginning of the 1980's so some of the phrases and ideology are dated. To be honest the first twelve chapters were like gobbleydegook . The only chapter that actually made sense started very late in the book, at Chapter 13.The author goes on about biofeedback and cybernetics which for some over eaters does make sense. She uses a lot of her own experiences along with her own behavioral modification  to transform from fat to thin. The problem is that each person is unique - what may work for one dieter may not work for another.  Then what? The book also has some antiquated ideas about loving and hating oneself which, again to be honest, would not really fit a millennial's self view. Dr. Bryan writes a lot about hating oneself  - about hating the clothes fat people would wear and how that affects an over eater's personality . However , thanks to more acceptance , especially in modelling and magazines, plus sized women are embraced.  The only bonus in the first twelve chapters is that she does recommend that dieters treat themselves to other indulgences such as manicures or clothe shopping - anything that give the spirit a boost.

As I've written earlier, the real crux of the book starts at Chapter 13. Here, Dr. Bryan  explains about  abnormal metabolisms along with ergotropic and trophotopic metabolic pathways. There is also mention of cell nourishment which is crucial to losing weight. She explains the Pritikin and Atkins diet and a hybrid of the two. The South Beach Diet. It was created by cardiologist Dr.Agatston in 2003 and it focuses upon regulating metabolism. What would be better for readers, however, is a complete list of foods they can eat as well as including some recipes. If anything , readers will either sign up at the South Beach Diet website or buy the cookbook. Nutritional guide charts  should have been included as well. Dieters want to know what foods to eat right off the bat . Also how to they curb cravings?That should have been expressed in more detail as well along with how to switch bad for you foods with better choices. It's one thing for a dieter picking up this book and  reading how to deal with eating, it's more important that they have some kind of template to plan their meals and snacks.

Thin Is A State Of Mind The No Stress Weight Loss Guide may be right for some compulsive eaters.A better suggestion would be reading the book and also reading any book connected to The South beach Diet. Together they may prove to be the solution to losing weight and eating healthy.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Summer's Best Part Two

Yesterday the New York Times Food section published the best of summer foods. The sections main writers  from Sam Sifton to Julia Moskin weighed in on what was summer's best. We covered the best fruits  - watermelon rules - as always along with the best fries - surprisingly McDonald's Today the rest of the list is dissected and commented on. What's the best hot dogs, road trip foods ice cream and veggies? Find out here.

Sam Sifton covered hot dogs and sausages. His is an international list  that ranges from the North African merguez, spiked with harissa and cumin to the back yard friendly bratwurst. Also on his list summer sausage and andouille, rounded out by the German weisswurst and Latin America's morcilla. As for hot dogs, themselves, he really doesn't have a favorite or recommendation. I would say for the real kind  try Nathan's and for veggies dogs, always go with Morningstar Farms which tastes like the real thing, especially when grilled. Ligaya Mishan brings the healthy to the list with veggies. except there are only two choices - tomatoes and corn. These are the harvest of summer, and they're versatile Tomatoes can be the juicy , ripe middle of a mayo slathered sandwich or a key component in salsa crudo. Corn too, can be just as multitasking. It can be the base of chowders and salads. Unlike tomatoes, as Ms. Mishan's daughter pointed out , the ears bring people together Families gather to shuck the corns, removing the husks as strands of corn silk drift down to the floor.  Corn is also communal with people stretching across the table to roll their right from the grill corn in butter.Are there other summer veggies? Yes, carrots and radishes, both as versatile  but notably not popular.

Then there are the road trip snacks, Times regular contributor , Kim Severson gives her list. There is the roller hot dog which is a hot dog warmed on those descending rollers (I wonder what Sam Sifton thinks of them) Corn nuts and those Combos, cheese stuffed pretzel nuggets are also up there. There's also the bad for you stuff like beef jerky and pork rinds. These should be the locally made kind, she advises. The same goes for potato chips.She recommends the lard fried Gibble's from Pennsylvania and Alabama's Golden Flake  Her number one? The surprising choice of Mexican Coke. It's made with cane sugar  which gives it an old fashioned flavor. What would go with it? Ice cream! Tejal Rao gives her selections for summer's best. Hers are pretty straightforward. There is the classic Good Humor strawberry shortcake,It's a marriage of artificial strawberry and cake crumbs. - although to be honest Good Humor's Chocolate Eclair bar is twice as good. There's also the firecracker popsicle, a patriotic tribute of food coloring and fructose vying with the ultra classic Fudgesicle. Klondike Mint Chocolate Chip  Ice cream Bar along with Good Humor Giant Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich are also mentioned. Her number one is the Chipwich sandwich a mouthful of sweet ice cream and cookie, mine would have been her number five - Nestle Drumstick Little Drums With Choclately Swirls, simply because it had that nib of chocolate in the cone to prevent drips. It's always a fun surprise.

Are these the best of summer foods?Or are there better ones. It's up to you. What are your choices for the best  of summer foods? Rippers from the local hot dog stand? Cotton candy and shaved ice, form your boardwalk/ Or homemade ice cream from your favorite creamery? Don;t be afraid to share.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Summer's Best Part One.

What are the best foods of summer? Is it crispy fries eaten at the beach? Watermelon at a family picnic? Or the stuff bought at a rest  stop on that all important road trip. If you don;t have an answer, then go to the New York Times Food section. The section weighed in on what's the best nosh during the summer months.

The Food sections heavy hitters, Pete Wells, Sam Sifton, Julia Moskin KimSeverson , Tejal Rao and Ligaya Mishan weighed in on several summer staples from fruit to fries, veggies, along with picnic staples such as hot dogs and icy treats along with gas station goodies. There may be some disagreement out there from readers and foodies.Everyone has his or her warm weather favorites that they swear by or have always been a part of their lives. Yet some curious eaters many try their suggestions and discover something tasty along the way, Pete Wells covered  fruit  His picks are raspberries,peaches blueberries,  cherries, and at number one watermelon. They are all good and good for you.Peaches are my summer go to, although the others are also perfect  - not just for their nutritional value but also for their versatility.I agree with Mr Wells that the berries and the peaches are great in crumbles, betties and buckles.However we differ on watermelon, He wants to turn that luscious pink flesh into a salad with feta and tomatoes. My favorite way of eating it - cut into  wedges , straight from the fridge. There's something about sinking one's teeth into cool, refreshing sweet pulp - especially on a hot day

Julia Moskin covered the fries. They are a big part of our summer eating,particularly beach eating. There's something about  crispy fries, with a fine layer of sand and salt on them - or better yet, eating them with sea salted lips.  She  lists shoestring ones last, comparing them to hot hay  not enough meat and too much crunch. There are  disparaging words about their opposite - steak or plank fries, These are too much potato and not enough crunch. Of course, there is criticism about the curly ones too,,usually bought at state fairs and some food courts.Ms. Moskin feels that French fries should be eaten in bites and not lowered into the mouth like a drone payload, She also does not like the dusts or flavored salts that people douse on these ringlets.Surprisngly she likes waffle fries, (she uses them as an interesting base for sunny side up eggs) They're good for holding pulled pork and melted cheese, As much as I love crinkle cut fries, she does not. She does  give my favorite, Nathan's a pass, These are the best, crunchy on the outside, meaty inside. Her number one? McDonald's - simply because they are the perfect shape and color. I would have gone with the boardwalk ones or the Euro , truly french frites, served in a spiral cone holder . The last is a must at almost every SoHo cafe in New Yorkn usually accompanying  moules, Belgian style mussels steamed in garlic and white wine.

Tomorrow , we 'll go through the best hot dogs, ice cream, gas station goodies and that summer staple, veggies. Will what's chosen be your favorite. Come back and see.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Adding Oomph To The BBQ

We're officially at the start of barbecuing season. There's something fun about outdoor cooking, yet those burgers, dogs and ribs can be boring. Spike them and the traditional sides with different and new flavors It'll make for an exciting meal at the picnic table.

Hamburgers are a staple at any cookout. The best kind to make are the ones with chopped meat. With this you can add anything and everything to make them tastier. One crazy idea is putting an ice cube in the middle of a patty. Why? It melts, giving the burger a nice  juiciness .It won't have that dry crumbly, sticks in your throat texture. If you 're making these , remember just stick to salt and pepper as seasoning. Nix the onions. You want to have the full , flavorful juicy meat experience. Another filler is butter, which not only makes the hamburger juicier but also richer in taste.Use a knob of butter for a Wisconsin butter burger style let it melt on top. Another method is  first make balls out of the chopped meat, then add a teaspoon or small knob of butter.It would then be flattened and ready for the grill.If you and your family and friends like spicy burgers, then add a anywhere from 1/4 teaspoon ton one teaspoon of chili powder.If you want a different kind of heat, then add a drop or two of sriracha. Burgers can also get a lift by what 's placed on top of them. Instead of the usual tomatoes and lettuce, try a slice of avocado, or better yet, guacamole. Just spread on a thin layer so that the rich flavor doesn't overpower the burger. Another , healthier choice is wilted spinach and kale that's been sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes.

Ribs are always on the menu at almost evrey  barbecue. The usual rib sauce consists of mixing ketchup with molasses and zinging it up with a dash of hot pepper. Instead think about adding bourbon to the mix. This requires two to three tablespoons  of it mixed in along side  apple cider, vinegar, and apple cider.Apple butter is added to this as a fruity sauce with a kick.Another variation has garlic and tomato sauce mixed with orange juice and ketchup. Sides are just important at a barbecue as the main dishes.Cole slaw is ever present at any cookout or picnic. Instead of glopping it with mayo, try a homemade salad dressing such as French or ranch. A healthier spin is using plain Greek yogurt zinged up with roasted garlic and lemon. Roasted corn is always welcome. Give it a Mexican twist by sprinkling cotija cheese on it.If you can't find this tasty Mexican fromage, then sub in Parmesan. It's first rubbing the ears with butter and then sprinkling the grated cheese on them.Potato salad is always a big treat. Instead of the usual German  - which is very good - try the more Mediterranean Sicilian style. Instead of mayo add olive oil and rice wine vinegar.Green olives and red onions round it out. A variation of this has tuna capers and a squeeze of lemon.Make it and pretend you're at the beach at the Taormina coast.

Barbecue season is here. Don't settle for the ordinary. Go out of the box and create a memorable,exciting cook out.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Sips Of Summer

With warm weather comes thirst. We need a cool glass of something, whether we're on the beach or in the backyard. Luckily, there's some new brands out there offering a cool drunk of something new and different.

One sip of summer is appropriately called Sipp. These are sodas that have a trifecta of flavor.made with organically grown flavors Beth Parentis created these refreshing bubblers. The ginger soda has hints of vanilla and lime, taking it a notch up from the usual ginger ale. I love their lemon married to elderflower and tarragon. The last gives the drink a refreshing bite at the end. Other flavors include ruby red grapefruit paired with honey and rosemary.,Another favorite is  the pear mixed with green tea and honey. Pear soda is rare but delicious.Blood orange soda has lime and jalapeno - not what you'd expect yet a perfect sip for any barbecue. Poland Spring , long known for their refreshing spring water, is now offering carbonated waters. These are not sweet yet have the invigorating flavors of various fruits. They run the gamut from black cherry to the citrus flavors, of orange, lemon, and lime. There's also strawberry and strawberry lemonade as well as a lemon-lime mix. They come in cans and bottles , perfect for long road trips or picnics.

BAI  which has given us tasty and zero calorie fruit ades over the past few years have also expanded in the sparkling water department. As with any BAI product, the ingredients are all organically grown and Fair Trade sourced.There is almost every flavor, from Bolivia Black Cherry to Lambari Watermelon Lime and Waikiki Coconut Lime. The flavors are intense like that of any fruit soda but without all the artificial flavors and colors. They're the perfect go to with sandwiches or just as a refreshing sip on a hot day,Pepsi has jumped on this bandwagon too, creating the artesanal Bubbl'r. It's also chock full of Vitamin A too for extra oomph.  It comes in the usual trendy flavors like pomegranate acai and blood orange but then it veers off into the unusual - like Mango Mingl'r and Cranberry Grapefruit Sparklr. along with Passion Fruit Wond'r. Pepsi has also bought Starbucks which explains the proliferation of bottles of their cold brew coffee.Chilled , these are great pick me ups that can be mixed with milk and chocolate syrup for a  boost. I like them iced with just a few grains of brown sugar. It's also a nice alternative to iced tea.

Summer is coming and with it the need for a cool drink. There are so many new ones out there that would go perfect as a thirst quencher. Try them in a tall glass ,full of ice.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Marriage Of Tastes

When Meghan Markle married her prince. it was not just a marriage of souls and hearts but a marriage of tastes. Yes, we have a lot in common with the Brits including some foods. Not much though. It should be interesting to see the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex adapt to each other's cuisines.

The one thing Harry and Meghan have in common cuisine wise is the big breakfast. We got the whole idea of eating meats with eggs along with griddle cakes or pancakes. Most countries around the world, especially on the Continent, start the day with just a roll and coffee.We have adapted some of that here, thanks to Starbucks, offering us versions of cafe au lait and cappuccino. Yet we still turn to the UK for our morning inspiration, with mounds of bacon, ham and sausage gracing a dish of eggs. Lunch is a mash up of American and British. The newest royal couple probably had the treat of McDonald's hamburgers and fries growing up but Meghan was also influenced by SoCal living . Her mother is a yoga instructor so there was probably a push for healthy food with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. She probably continued this with fresh salads or smoothies for lunch.The English Sunday lunch would never work in a town where appearance is everything. Even an every day lunch consisting of fatty sausages in flaky pastry would be too rich  and caloric.This is not an arugula salad with a squeeze of lemon.

Will Meghan ever adopt to the lush English suppers? These are lavish meals, rich with roast beef and gravy soaked Yorkshire pudding. This last is a popover made with three eggs and the beef's drippings. There are veggies, usually the meal is called meat and two veg. These are typically carrots, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. The last is a staple and is cooked in a variety of ways..The most popular is chips, our French fries ,fried in fat. They're best served with fish, usually cod or plaice coated and fried in - what else - chip fat or lard. Do the English  eat California healthy at times? Yes, chicken but it is served but with mashed potatoes and gravy.Meat pies are another British  favorite. Pot pies, which is where ours come from,are usually filled with steak and kidneys, or fish. The last is popular in the romantic , sea surrounded county of Cornwall (of Poldark fame) Stargazey pie which would create shudders in the States is a pie of sardines, eggs and potatoes. Little fish heads, namely pilchards , stick out of the crust, gazing at the sky - hence the name. Will Meghan like it? Or ever taste it? Maybe , if she and Harry head off to Truro or Mousehole in Cornwall.

Meghan and Harry have married each other 's lifestyle's and eating habits too. Let's hope the California girl adds more fresh fruits and veggies to the prince's diet. It'll be a nice change up from traditional fare.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Royal Breakfast

Tomorrow most of us Yanks will wake at the crack of dawn to watch one of our own marry into the British Royal family.How do we celebrate? By having a Brit breakfast - or at least one influenced by the United Kingdom

A British fry up breakfast is a great but heavy way to greet the day. It is an eye opener that does require mostly frying.It starts with meat. Most English like breakfast sausages, one made of pork called a banger. The best we have here is the Jimmy Dean sausages and for vegetarians - Morning Star Farms. Some like bacon - our bacon called streaky Irish with it. The bacon provides the perfect fat for frying up the other components.Every breakfast plate usually has one or two eggs, always cooked sunnyside up.This way the eater can dip either bread or a sausage into the yolk.About the bread. it cannot be toasted. It has to be fried, in the bacon drippings, or if that's all used up, butter.Iit shouldn't be too soggy with oil, A minute or two in the pan should do wouldn't be a fry up without that Brit staple - beans. Heinz is the popular brand. Tomatoes give it some bite and also are a perfect foil for the meat and eggs. Usually the beefsteak kind are used but try the vine ripe for a sweeter , more vibrant flavor.Another must have is the vinegar laced HP sauce..It's kind of like a tart version of Worcester sauce  which can be used.If that's too intense at five in the morning, switch to ketchup.

Some Americans may feel that eating a huge meal that early may be too much. Try a Thomas' English muffin instead. These are based on the English , crumpet, a spongy kind of muffin brought to the US by Samuel Bath Thomas, from Plymouth in 1879. Slather clotted cream, another UK treat, on them, and then your favorite jam or marmalade. Clotted cream came from the Phoenicians who traded tin in Cornwall.It's cooked milk but has a wonderful buttery , nutty flavor. If not , try Kerry's Irish butter on a hot, toasty English muffin. Slather a rich , flavorful jam on top such as Aldi's Specialty Selected blackberry. You could celebrate the Scottish way with oatmeal.Don't go crazy with cooking the old fashioned rolled oats.. A packet of the instant will do.It may be too late to bake up a loaf of oatmeal bread but many stores do sell it. Toast up a few slices , slather on butter and that other English must have - marmalade. Tea is another must have. Coffee just won;t do.. One of the best is Typhoo tea which can be bought in the international section of some supermarkets like Stop& Shop.It's been around for over one hundred years and has a lovely , mellow flavor. If you can't find it, then go for Earl Grey or Lady Grey tea.

Celebrate an Anglo-American wedding with a Brit breakfast. Go wild with a full on fry up or nibble on an English muffin. Either way, it's a great way to enjoy Harry and Meghan's big day.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Classic Cookbook Returns

 Indian food has always been misrepresented, There's either overly spiced curries or dishes , tinted in strangely bright neon colors. Luckily a classic cookbook ,Sameen Rushdie's Indian Cookery is coming to the States. This British classic shows Indian cuisine in its' true light, flavorful and subtly spiked with various curries and herbs.

Tejal Rao, a famed chef specializing in the cuisine herself, conducted this interview with Ms. Rushdie in yesterday's New York Times Food section.If her last name sounds familiar , it is. Her brother is Salman Rushdie,the amazing award winning writer of the controversial Satanic Verses. His book came out the same year -1988 - as her cookbook. Hers was just as groundbreaking as his. It combined recipes with history and politics.The Rushdie's decision to stay in the mostly Hindu India when fellow Muslims relocated to Islamic Pakistan  is reflected in their diet. They ate meat and Ms. Rushdie often brought it to school in a country where vegetarianism is part of the religion.It was confusing she admitted , and complex. Her tiffin, a compartimentalized lunch box had ,foods influenced by British colonialism. It was half Indian and half English, and it ruined an ancient and delicious cuisine.

It also provided the basic frame of her cookbook. Ms. Rushdie rebelled against those colonial era recipes and set out to write a cookbook that was about real Indian food. As a working mother in 1980's London she was outraged by the myths and cliches surrounding Indian cuisine which was established during colonial rule. She aimed to dismantle the stereotypes that shaped outsiders' perceptions of the Subcontinent.It was a monolith of mouth burning flavors or the stuff of cheap lunchtime buffets. Authentic Indian cuisine wasn;t all greasy, overcooked or tinted in bright colors The perception had to change. Influenced by such cookbook writers as Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey and Elizabeth David, her book took on a clear , matter-of-fact tone  with a precise, unfussy approach. She reclaimed the story of Indian cuisine along with sharing her family's North Indian recipes.. There's one of her father's favorites, slow roasted lamb rubbed first with yogurt called sabut raan, Fragrant spices such as coriander,, cardomon and cinnamon are made into a marinade for the meat. It's served with fried onion, cilantro and lemon slices for a tasty, juicy dinner roast

Sameen Rushdie cookbookd is being reintroduced at the right time. Americans long for authentic recipes . Here they are, simple and ancient recipes with the purity of Indian heritage.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Art Of Procrastibaking

It's much more fun to bake cupcakes than it is to clean the bathroom. Or knead dough instead of mowing the lawn. If you feel this way, you're probably a procrastibaker someone who opts for baking over mundane chores. You're not alone. There's more than a baker's dozen of them out there.

The great Julia Moskin wrote about this new trend in today's New York Times Food section.It probably was always a hobby(?) or vice (?) but Instagram gave it legs. It spikes in the weeks leading up to a annual rituals of anxiety like exams, tax day and Election Day.There's also a rush in seeing one's work praised and lauded on Instagram too.Let's face there is absolute fun in baking confetti cookies or making a great pie than there is in handling spread sheets or trying to finish writing that chapter. Many writers have taken to it (Not me- if I want to bake I'll wait til Christmas or someone's birthday), feeling it helps in the writing process. They enter a flow state which allows for more creative thinking.In a way, it's no different than heading to the local Starbucks or Panera for a coffee. One writer, Mia Hopkins, a Los Angeles based writer of racy romance novels,procrastinates by baking pies.It's helps in getting her out of an occasional writer's block Ms. Hopkins always go to pies.There more stimulating to the senses than other bakes. There's kneading the dough, slicing the fruit and crimping the crust. This gets her out of the tangle of words and into the real., allowing her to recharge.

Writers aren't the only procrastibakers. Med students are known for it too. Rachel Courville, a veterinary student at the University of Missouri has baking sessions along study ones. Dedicating a few hours to mixing, baking and decorating is like a mini vacation away from hours of memorization
and worrying about  about passing grades.It's hit the UK too. London medical student, Jonathan Martin wants recipes with many steps. This allows him and other procrastibakers to actually get some work done and give the illusion of efficiency. This would be sourdough bread which requires several proofings and final rising. He also likes the multi step millionaire's shortbread which is layers of shortbread baked and then topped with homemade caramel and melted chocolate. There's a window of time between the shortbread cooling off and making the caramel that allows for studying and chores.Surprisingly professional bakers are also procrastibakers.Erin Gardner, a pro decorator  in New Hampshire bakes recipes that require no thinking such as cookies, brownies and scones. This down time also allows her to get creative with chocolate flowers and stacking cake layers in
new ways.

Procrastibaking is a fun way to blow off chores and create a yummy bake. It's a great way to recharge the batteries too, and retackle a difficult job or study for an intense exam.  The reward is more than a slice of cake or a cookie - it's regaining one's sanity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Variety Of Breads

We eat it  almost every day of our lives  but we probably don't give it a second thought. What is this food we take for granted? Bread.One of the most ancient foods is literally the staff of life yet the average foodie or even home chef knows little about it.

Bread is one of the world's oldest prepared foods. There is evidence from 30,000 years ago in Europe of starch residue on rocks used for pounding plants.It is speculated that ferns and cattails were spread on a flat rock and then cooked over a fire.Around 10,000 BC, with the Neolithic Age also came agriculture. This brought grain farming which brought bread into the human diet. Yeast was introduced  then giving early bakers leavened dough. Yeast wasn't the only rising agent. Romans used a combination of grape juice and flour along with wheat fermented with wine. In Ancient France and Spain early bakers  used the foam skimmed from beer called barm. Wheat is the most common grain used to make the loaves however ancient grains such as spelt, einkorn, emmer and kamut.That crackly, chewy crust, usually the best part of a bread is created though the Maillard reaction, using sugars and amino acids to create a browned, delicious coating or crust.It's actually healthier than the loaf's interior simply because it has antioxidants along with having more fiber too.

There are so many breads out there/ We Americans grew up on white loaf. More adventurous parents bought the butter split loaves where the tops were ridged and melted butter drizzled on top before baking.wheat bread has always been a favorite along with multigrain.A deli favorite that has been in many a lunchbox is rye. It's a loaf made from rye flour and can range in color from a light brown to a rich chocolate-y hue. Delis also sell pumpernickel . This is another rich brown bread, made with a sourdough starter and rye.It started out as peasant fare, originating in the northwest region of Germany called Westphalia. It 's the perfect foil for the thin , buttery slices of Westphalian ham.One of its' components  sourdough is a popular bread here in the States.French bakers brought it with them when they went to California during the 1849 Gold Rush.It's a white bread with a pleasantly sour taste thanks to lactic acid bacteria or lactobacillus.It's popular at such places as Panera bread Company where you can get in loaf ,roll or bread bowl form.Most people love Italian and French baguettes. These long batons are tasty for breakfast, lunch,and dinner. They make for the best picnic sandwiches and accompaniments with soup. They also turn into the chewiest and tastiest French toast too.

Bread has always been a big part of the human existence. It connects us with our earliest ancestors along with sustaining our lives.It's not just a loaf  - it's history.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Crumbing It

One of the essentials of any kitchen is a container of bread crumbs. They're not only good for coating fried foods but also acting as a filler and a topping for many dishes,.Breadcrumbs are one of the easiest things to create along with helping to repurpose  leftover bread and rolls.

Breadcrumbs are a pantry must have. They can be easily bought but also can be easily made. If you don;t have the time to take out the food processor , then buy the Progresso brand. They even have jumped on the panko bandwagon, producing the lighter,cruncher Japanese style ones. You can use their plain or for more flavor , their herb laced Italian style or  their Parmesan flavors. These last would be good for chicken Parmesan, however both flavors may be too overpowering for soups and meat loafs. Home made crumbs are another choice, and a better one. You can leave them plain or add a dash of dried oregano or rosemary. The best breads for this  are Italian and French  They produce a fine, almost sawdust like crumb that makes for excellent coating. I usually make my crumbs from Saltines or oyster crackers. Cracker meal has a richer flavor and also fries up nicely. It's usually half a sleeve of Saltines plus oregano, sea salt , and pepper ground together.It's my go to for when I make fried artichoke hearts. It also keeps well in the fridge and, since I always have crackers in the house, I 'm never at a loss.

Breadcrumbs are great for frying any kind of meat and fish. Many home chefs love to make breaded pork chops. This is an easy cook and the crumbs are great for absorbing the fat.Use cracker meal for a lighter fry up. Their flavor will compliment the rich earthy sweetness of the pork. Breaded chicken cutlets are another way to go. If you want a crisper bite go with the panko .Remember to first dip the cutlets into beaten egg and then dredge in the crumbs.You can make these a few days ahead like on a weekend when there's more prep time available .Store the cutlets  in resealable freezer bags and then they can be frozen up to one month .As easy as it is t buy a box of Mrs. Pauls' or Gorton's  homemade fish sticks or fillets taste so much better. You do have to debone and cut the fish into manageable pieces  before the dipping and dredging. For a softer "crunch' use regular breadcrimbs, for more crunch try the panko. Breadcrumbs also make an excellent filler for soups. My family recipe for the Piemontese pane pesto or panpiest calls for a cup of breadcrumbs to be added to a mix of egg and broth. It really is the backbone of the soup, give it a comforting smooth texture along  with toning down the 'egginess"/ Breadcrumbs can also be used as filler for meat loaf too. Use about one cup of dried breadcrumbs. For more zing sub in the Italian style ones.

Always have a container of bread crumbs or cracker meal in the kitchen. They're versatile and can be used in a number of recipes. Buy them or make your own for a tasty coating for meats or as a thickener for soups.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mom's Recipe

Mom's always have the best recipes. I was lucky to have a mother who loved to cook -  inheriting that  love from her parents and grandparents. She also  lived to cook and made all sorts of cuisine, from the Swabian and Piedmontese dishes she grew up on to French, Chinese and Mexican recipes from books and newspapers. Receiving cookbooks for Christmases and birthdays  were a big deal., She adored one special one, the famed  LaRousse Gastronomique.

 One of her favorite recipes was  surprisingly from Au Bon Pain, the bread and pastry chain .As we all did, she fell for their tarragon chicken spread.

Out of love and honor for her. here's the recipe.Make it for your mothers, whether tomorrow or for a family picnic.

Chicken Tarragon Salad

Two cups shredded or cubed left over chicken. (mix the white and the dark meat for a more flavorful spread)

Two to three tablespoons mayo

One heaping tablespoon of  dried tarragon. (use fresh picked if you have it)

Mix the chicken and mayo until well blended, Add the tarragon and mix it thoroughly into the spread. Add freshly ground pepper if you want more zing.

My Mom always liked the spread on buttery croissants but it's also good on crackers or any other kind of bread. If you;re spreading it on Italian or French breads, add slices of freshly cut tomatoes.It gives it a Provencale vibe.

Enjoy it. She certainly did.

Friday, May 11, 2018

All Things Artichoke

One of the most pleasant tasting vegetables is the artichoke, Its' mild sweet flavor is addictive and can add to any dish, whether appetizer, or main meal. The verdant globes are a plus to any table.

What are artichokes? Plainly put thistles, those sharp edged pretty flowers that grow wild in gardens and woodlands.It's been cultivated for food since earliest times. and can grow as high as four feet.Homer has mentioned them as early as the Eight Century BCE The Greeks called them kaktos while the Romans named them carduus, hence their cousin's name cardoon.. Henry VII enjoyed them probably believing stories of them being aphrodisiacs. French colonists brought them to Louisiana while  the Spanish introduced them to California. Artichokes have the highest amount of antioxidants of any vegetable. They also possess a chemical called Cynarine which inhibits taste receptors. That's why foods, drinks , and water taste sweet after eating the hearts and leaves. Since this is a thistle, the leaves do have to be trimmed.Melissa Clark gave a how to in her  column A Good Appetite seen in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. The pointed leaves or "petals" have to be snipped using a kitchen scissor.(or regular one if you don;t have the first) Do not trim the stems. They are just as tasty as the artichoke hearts. Using a grapefruit knife, trim away any tough outer petals. If they're thicker than a newspaper and won;t bend between your fingers, then discard. Also scrape out any purplish spikes you see. These, too, are hard to eat along with the white choke.

Artichoke dishes are always special. Ms. Clark makes her with pasta and pancetta. Leeks, lemon and dry vermouth give it a brightness The recipe calls for four to five chokes which will give the ever salty pancetta a sweetness.Chives and mint  along with parsley are also added. One of the best artichoke  recipes is one for stuffed globes. This is a Southern Italian dish, rife with cheese and sausage. It's putting a breadcrumb  and oregano based stuffing into the leaves and then oven steaming them with water and olive oil. Sausage is crumbled into the mix and and moistened with a few drops of olive oil. Pecorino-Rmano cheese is sprinkled on top of this stuffing and then the artichokes can be steamed on the stove top or in  the microwave..A more elegant way of having them steamed and then dipping the leaves in a delicate vinaigrette using red wine vinegar or lemon juice. The artichoke hearts themselves are a tasty treat. They're  marinated in a garlicky oil and come in either jars or cans. One of my favorite brands is Paesana. The flavor is delicate  and not overpowered by too much garlic. They're good on their own as a lunchtime side or dipped in herbed cracker meal and then fried in a combo of butter and olive oil.

Artichokes and their hearts are a delicious addition to any table. Use them in pasta or  just stuff them as a hearty appetizer . They bring a sweet greenness and Spring flavor to the meal.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Gadgets For Mom

What would a kitchen be without gadgets? A place where cooking and baking would be chores  not fun.These do all doodads help us with the most mundane of tasks and often elevate our ingredients to a higher level.Luckily for all the home chefs out there there is always a new one being invented.

Penelope Green , a style writer for the New York Times Style section covered  the newest and brightest in the paper's Design section today. It 's a full and interesting article, along with being the perfect gift guide for those who haven't done their Mother's Day shopping as of yet. She interviewed both Scott Goldsmith whose family has owned S. Feldman's Housewares  since 1929 and Amanda Hesser, the food writer , cofounder and chief executive of Food52, a kitchen and home website. There's also some input from Christopher Kimball, he of America's Test Kitchen fame and Milk Street. What is hot out there?Mr Goldsmith's site and store S. Feldman Housewares has a yellow silicon Food Pod that acts as both a colander and steamer/It looks  like something that's found at the bottom of the ocean.It let's you boil everything from veggies to eggs to shellfish. It does make for less messy draining and is perfect for those  who love hard boiled eggs or shrimp. He also sells onion goggles which stops a home chef from crying when slicing Bermudas.Unfortunately it doesn't fit over regular glasses. S. Feldman also sells a Pushberry a wagon wheel  looking device that perfectly hulls and slices strawberries.Avocado slicers and pitters are  big item too, thanks to more and more people making their own guac at home.

Christopher Kimball  had his own opinions on various gadgets. He has three categories for them. The first is Completely Idiotic Useless Objects. Things That Are Not Worth The Storage Space and Things That Seem Practical But You Can Actually Do Better with A Knife. He does agree that a well designed tool is immensely valuable.he feels that maybe it's not worth the effort to get specialty gadgets that would only be used once a month. He still  has bought gadgets. The BeepEgg was intrigue at first site at Chicago's annual International Home And Housewares Show a few years back. It was a cute egg shaped timer that plays music like "Killing Me Softly" when the time is up. It's a great idea for those who make egg salads or are big on poached eggs for breakfast. Another interesting gadget is the Spreadthat butter spreader that warms up from the het of the user's hands. This makes for a smoother  melty butter however the stuff melts naturally if the bread or bagel has just popped out of the toaster. Creator Howard Chiu, a former aerospace engineer, used his background to create  tubes coated with titanium  that warms from body heat. He has also expanded that to gravy warmers, ice cream scoopers and meat thaws. Then there is Kraigh and Anna Stewart who came up with reusable  silicon string to truss up chickens.

As long as there are kitchens, there will always be gadgets. Some will be fin, some will be handy  Either way they make for some interesting prepping and cooking.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Empire That Is Rachel Ray

Probably one of the best role models in the cooking world is Rachel Ray. She is lively and informative  , kind and caring. She's also a mogul with a good sized empire .From pet food to furniture  her name is everywhere. She is the template for young chefs who want it all.
This food maven was ;profiled today by regular contributor , Kim Severson in today's New York Times Food section.Ms. Ray came into the public spotlight in the early Aughts. She was bubbly and fun, different from the teacher like TV cooks like Lidia Bastianich and Martha Stewart. America warmed to her, She was your best friend with a cooking show , the one who showed you that cooking was fun and not a chore. Some , though, didn't take too kindly to this. They mocked her , even starting blogs that trashed her and her cute phrases such as EVOO - extra virgin olive oil. Yet she persisted , venturing out with a magazine, Rachel Ray Every Day which has an impressive  1.7 million (!) subscribers along with her pet food line, Nutrish. The last is unique for a known chef, It would be impossible to imagine Booby Flay or Anthony Bourdain coming up with an all natural food for animal companions.That started with a small , family owned company noticing how she gave animals a lot of attention in her  magazine and approached her. She allowed them to use her name, providing the food was inspired by her recipes.It turns out that this was the most lucrative of her ventures, pulling in 650 million dollars (!) in 2017. The mega giant Smuckers, purveyors
 of those tasty jams and jellies is buying the parent company for 1.9 billion ,largely in art because of her influence.

Despite all this, Ms. Ray does have some struggles. As she turns fifty . she is losing her grip on the prized 18-35 demographic. She is  planning digitally streamed show that have more to do with travel, music and food instead of cooking and recipes. This will have to be her future..Syndicated shows like hers on on the decline and her Emmy nominations have dried up. The brand Rachel Ray is on Twitter and various other media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Still it's not reaching the younger, money spending crowd. Many  twenty somethings feel she's only appealing to young children and grandmothers/ She doesn't have that scientific edge such as Cook's Illustrated and Wirecutter,a New York Times owned digital magazine that spends days testing baking and cooking tools.Ms.Ray's  vibe is more the chummy anti-inspirational. Her attitude is that food is meant to be shared and stored not tested , analyzed and deconstructed. still if that doesn't win over the Millennials, , she will still keep going. There are new projects in the pipeline such as a line of furniture as well as designing handbags from real leather and vegan friendly  less expensive ones. Then  there is her love of music , fueled by her husband and partner, musician , Marc Cusimano
 leader of his band Cringe. she has staged shows for the South BySouthwest concert venue in her beloved Austen Texas.

Rachel Ray will survive, The sweetness masks a toughness and determination that made her what she is today. She doesn't need the Millennials to survive. She has her brand to carry her.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Variety Of Fries

One of the foods we love so well is French fries. We have them with our breakfasts, lunches and dinners. They make a great snack, whether at a  stand or on a beach. Nowadays , there are so many . what to choose from? Which is the best?

French fries come from the Belgians but also  French chefs have made them for some two hundred years. There have been some hot  debates about their origins for the last century  A reference to them in  the Gerard family archives ,mentions potato batons being fried as early as 1680 in Meuse Valley of what is modern day Belgium.Inhabitants of the Belgian towns of Namur, Andenne and Dinant has the custom of fishing for smaller fish in the Meuse River. They were fried and eaten.When the river was frozen over, fishing became impossible so the locals cut the potatoes  into small pieces and fried them instead. Thomas Jefferson had them made in the White House in 1802 and the first recipe for them came in 1856 in Cookery For  Maids Of All Work.  The English also grabbed onto the recipe with the first chip shop  opening in Yorkshire, somewhere around  West Riding in 1854. The Germans also jumped on the fry bandwagon, in the 1850's easily pairing them with their wursts.The first frozen fries were created by the JR Simplot Company y in the 1940s; Now fries include sweet potatoes and parsnips. They can be very thin such as the shoe string or thick like the plank kind.

What's being cooked in most households? Is it frozen or fresh? Frozen  is an easy choice. It's just preheat the oven, toss a few on an oiled cookie sheet and bake for twenty to thirty minutes in a 400 degree oven.There are some very good brands out there. Stop & Shop has their own in house line of different cuts. Their crinkle cut fries bake up really well. They're crispy without being too greasy when baked along with having pretty uniform sized pieces. Ore-Ida has excellent microwave fries which actually taste as if they've been cooked in a fryer. They have a nice crunchiness on the outside and a meatiness on the inside. For good waffle fries, try the Alexia brand. The brand was created by a chef who wanted to elevate everyday sides and he has done so with both Idahos and sweet potatoes. He even has Parmesan flavored as well as rosemary, truffle oil, and olive oil and  different combinations of all four. You can make them is a bit labor intensive but worth the effort.
start with Russet or Idaho potatoes and cut first into slices  and then into batons or sticks. Let them soak in ice water over night to draw out the starch. The next day, drain the water and pat the sticks
 dry  with paper towels. Fry until they're  golden and slightly brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Fries are good whether  as a side for burgers and chicken strips or as a fun snack with a cold drink. Make them yourself or heat up a tray of frozen ones. either way , they're a meaty, crunchy treat.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Baby Chefs

With Mother's Day around the corner  a lot of little ones will want to make her something special. The question is are they old enough to cook or bake ? When can they put on the apron and wield that spatula? Is the age or a child's maturity that decides?

Surprisingly you can put a two or three year old to work in the kitchen. Mind you, it's just simple safe, stuff but it's a start. They can help you squeeze lemons and spin the salad spinner. Those tiny  hands can also aid in picking leaves off of herbs and gently mashing squash and potatoes.At the ages of four and five, their motor skills are more defined and they can focus better on tasks.The problem is they could either be advanced , doing what older kids can do or lagging, doing the simple kitchen chores a toddler can do. My advice is gauge their enthusiasm. They may be more interested in playing  so don't push them . If they're enthusiastic , then see what they're good at and give them that job to do. What can those six and seven year olds do? At this point, children's motor skills are becoming more refined so they can take on more detailed work. They can help with grating and peeling but express that there could be accidents, namely scraped or cut fingers . Dicing and mincing are ok as long as the food is a soft textured one like strawberries. They can also slice and scoop avocados and grease pans before baking. They can also zest, using a microplane grater along with rinsing canned beans

As the baby chef's become tween chefs, you can increase their tasks and responsibilities. At this point they can help in reading the recipe and teaching the younger ones their  former is up to the parent to decide if the young cook can use the stove. The best bet is breaking him or her in on the toaster oven  using an easy recipe like English muffin pizzas. These older ones can also use a pizza cutter too, either cutting into Mom's homemade or pizza parlor pies. Tweens can also be allowed to use a can opener as well as filling muffin tins with batter, scraping it from the bowls and using a mixer. Young chefs can also pound chicken, skewer food and make sandwiches and wraps. Knives are allowed but only small paring ones or ones with serrated edges. Twelve year olds can start making pancakes and scrambled eggs. They can also try their hands at microwave bacon too. Frying it may be a little too dangerous, especially with spattering fat. No matter what age they are, keep a supervisory eye on them. As for barbecuing, wait until they're fourteen or fifteen before they start pouring lighter fluid and flipping burgers.

Nothing beats a kid made Mother's Day meal. Just make sure dad or even mom is there to watch and even lend a hand. The result will be moms brimming with pride over their baby chef's first cooked meal.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Other Mexican Food

People are probably downing fajitas and margaritas like crazy today , thanks to it being Cinco de Mayo. Yet there's a side of Mexican food that hasn't been turned into American fast food.It's the true cuisine, both indigenous and European influenced, and equally as delicious as its' more popularized sibling dishes.

Mexican cuisine is one of the oldest in the world. The ancient Mayans lived in an agricultural society where they cultivated corn but also foods seen on the modern table such as tomatoes , squash, sweet potatoes and even turkey. Like the US, a variety of different nationalities arrived, mostly, the Spanish but also French ,German, Chinese,African and Lebanese. They left their mark on various dishes and influenced many a recipe. Also like the US, true Mexican cuisine is also swayed by the regions or states. A popular dish in Mexico City is the torta, a kind of hero chock full of shredded chicken or beef along with avocados and, beans.It's drowned in queso or cheese sauce and chili sauce. Some bolder Mexican City foodies hang out at  restaurants featuring pre-Columbian cuisine such as insects.Barbacoa, taken from the Taino tribes of the Caribbean is also popular. This is slow cooked beef or sheep highly flavored with onions and cilantro.This is also popular in northern Mexico where most of the dishes are meat dominated. Northern Mexicans can enjoy arrechara or skirt steak along with cabrito, roasted goat. A favorite meal is machaca, spiced shredded brisket served in flautas or smaller tortillas.

Central Mexico also has its' own cuisine. The state of Oaxaca, located on the Pacific coast and was the first area to have different cuisines mix and fuse.Still western Mexican cuisine is also influenced by the indigenous groups of  Mixtecs and Zapotecs.Its' cooking is mostly pork and chicken , highlighted with their adaptation of mozzarella cheese (brought in by the Spanish) also called Oaxaca cheese. Mole is big here and there are seven variations of this tasty chocolate infused sauce. Cocoa is big here and it's also made into a hot drink spiked with almonds and cinnamon. The state of Veracruz is perched on Mexico's Caribbean coast and the area's influence is clearly seen in the food. Papayas and other tropical fruits are turned into milkshakes called licuados. Seafood is also big here, especially shrimp along with Spanish influenced fish dishes.One of the most distinct cuisines of the country is from the Yucatan peninsula.  There is a strong French and Middle Eastern sway here although the Mayan culture is present in many dishes. More so  than any other cuisine, fruit figures prominently in many recipes. Spanish bitter oranges and tamarinds plums are popular ingredients.

Mexican food isn't just overstuffed tacos and cheese soaked nachos. Like any country's cuisine, it is full of complex flavors and textures. There are native and foreign influences marrying together to create interesting food and drink. This is Mexican food.

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Vegan's Dairy

One of the first questions vegans are asked is how can you survive without dairy? After all , milk,ice cream  cheese and butter are a huge part of our diets. It's hard to imagine life without them.
 yet hard core herbivores do. It's very easy nowadays to give up anything from a dairy.

Milk is always factors in a diet.  You can't have coffee or tea without it. Or can you? Go to any major grocery store along with Target and Wal-Mart and you'll see every kind of non-dairy milk. Soy is one of the most popular and it even comes in vanilla and chocolate. Silk is the most bought brand. .It comes in such flavors as original , dark chocolate and light vanilla to name a few.Soy is responsible for creating estrogen in the body and if you don't want it then switch to almond milk. Silk also makes this and it's a bit lighter in taste than soy. Almond milk is my go to for breakfast. Its flavor is not nutty but tastes like actual milk and it's perfect for mixing into cereals. Another favorite is coconut milk.It has the same creamy mouth feel as regular cream and four hundred calories lighter! There is a very slight coconut taste  but it dissipates when it's added to instant oatmeal .It's also the most versatile , being used in various Asian and Indian recipes.Another choice is rice milk.Rice dream brand has the most extensive and comes in different flavors like the other milks. A lesser known one, made from cashews is slowly gaining in popularity, with vegan families trying it as an alternative to soy and almond.

Keep in mind that all these companies also produce creamers, yogurt and ice cream. Silk has a variety of soy creamers with such flavors as vanilla, caramel and hazelnut, basically the same flavors as the dairy ones. The company So Delicious makes cashew milk ice cream in  such yummy flavors as dark chocolate truffle and snickerdoodle. They even has ice cream bars that would rival those of Blue Bunny and Good Humor. The company also has an extensive array of coconut ice cream and bars. The flavors are so varied that you wouldn't miss the real thing. There is even a version of Cool  Whip called Coco whip It's easy to make an elaborate sundae without even touching dairy. Yogurt lovers will rejoice in Silk's almond  and soy milk yogurts. Both types even have plain which can be subbed in for sour cream. What about butter? Most would assume that the non-dairy alternative would be margarine but they would be wrong. There is an excellent vegan butter from Myoko's Creamery in California.It looks and tastes exactly like the real is made with organic cashews, and coconut oil and can be used in everything from cooking to making buttercream icing. The company, run by vegan visionary , Miyoko Schinner, also produces vegan cheeses such as mozzarella and  cream cheese too.

Vegan's can have their non dairy  and not miss the real deal. There are so many alternatives for any dairy product, from creamers to cheese. Milk will not be missed. At all.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Heritage of Jerusalem Artichokes

The Jerusalem artichoke is one of the timeless symbols of the Roman Jews and their ghetto. It has been associated with both for centuries.It is more than a part of their  diets, It's part of their lives  - and now that part is being challenged by rabbis.

How did this all start? Jason Horowicz who covers the goings on in The Vatican and Rome for the New York Times. delved into this controversy in the paper's Food section yesterday. Blame it on the worms and other parasites found.  These creatures are considered trayf or non-kosher. They ate through the choke's tender heart and soft inner leaves rendering the globes inedible to Jews. The head of imports for Israel's rabbinate, Yitzhak Arazi says it's not politics it's just Jewish religious law.The dictate came in the middle of Passover which upset many of the Roman Jews. where the  fried artichoke has been a staple since the 1600's. Artichoke lover, and defender .Umberto Pavoncello, owner of the restaurant Nonna Betta. cites that rabbis back then must have determined that the vegetable was impervious to pests and this deemed edible.  They couldn't change a then ancient law  that would allow them to include artichokes on a whim. Not all cities have stood strong . A Milan branch of the kosher restaurant Ba'ghetto has pulled them from their menu. To be honest what's considered kosher and treyf is up to individual communities. There is no standard universal dietary  laws as there are with Islam.One rabbi, Umberto Piperno, is hoping to patent an ultrasound bug repellent that would be like an "iron dome" for growing  artichokes.

Fried artichokes can be made by anybody. Home chefs .can take the ones from the local grocery and turn them into the crispy Roman treat. The recipe included calls for eight American globe artichokes. Home chefs will need a sharp paring knife or one called a bird's beak 's knife.This has a longer and more hooked blade than the average knife. Using either one, shave off the choke's tough outer leaves until the tender green or yellow leaves appear. The thorny top also has to be cut off, namely about an inch. It's then trimming the stem near the heart,leaving about two inches of it.Plunge the artichokes into  a bowl of lemon juice and rinds  mixed with water to prevent browning.Use olive oil for frying. An electric fryer or a deep cast iron pot can be used. As the oil is heating to about 325 degrees F, take the chokes out of the lemon water and dry them. Tap the flat part against the table to loosen the leaves and them fry. Rub in salt and pepper and then fry for fifteen minutes. They should be bronze in color and a fork can easily pierce the stem.Remove them and drain well. Take out the hearts (which can also be eaten) Leave them stem side up for a few hours and then fry again, heating the oil to 350 degrees F. Fry to crisp them again and then serve with a sprinkle of salt.

No matter what they are, Jerusalem artichokes are still a delectable , light meal. No controversy can mar their delicate flavor or crisped leaves. They are a true delight, full of taste and history.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Down Home Sushi

Where's the best place to get good Japanese food?Not where you'd think. Austen Texas, once home to many a Tex-Mex place now has a large number of Japanese  restaurants. Why here? Blame it on one restaurant that started the spark.

Brett Anderson, the famed New Orleans food critic, wrote about this in today''s New York Times Food section. For a long time Austen, Texas was primarily known for its' amazing Tex-Mex  food as well as barbecue. Thanks to one restaurant,Uchi, the spark of Japanese restaurants grew. Chef Tyson Cole created the eatery due in part to his love of the TV show, the campy "Iron Chef". He also had a job as a dishwasher and server at a sushi place in the downtown part of the city.A big part is is love of Japanese food along with being mentored by Takehiko Fuse, a locally revered Japanese born chef. Uchi gave birth to Uchiko, with its' fusion of Japanese  classics and Texas standards. Chef Cole, winner of the 2011 James Beard award, has been called responsible for rewiring Austen's palate.. There are other chefs , many non-Japanese , who are also expanding the city's tastes. There is Otto Phan ,a Vietnamese Texan, along with Taiwanese Stacy Chen who moved o the area when she was a child. Then there is Paul Qui who won Top Chef in 2011 . American chef Amanda Turner who apprenticed at Uchi is coming back this summer to open up her own Japanese eatery.

Fusion food had to happen. Takuya Matsumoto and Tatsu Aikakwa, chefs and business partners came up with Loro\,a marriage of Texas smokehouse and Japanese bar food. The meat is cooked in a hardwood cooker and served with Asian inspired sauces and sides.Candied kettle corn is made with the burnt eds of brisket and togarashi, a fiery seven spice blend. Diners can get a brisket sandwich and a tofu rice bowl. They can be washed down with alcoholic slushies or beers. Even Loro's decor is roadhouse with a tea house vibe.Another restaurant , their Kemuri-Tatsu-ya also follows this philosophy. They asked themselves what if a Japanese guy came to Texas a century ago . would he be cooking at a roadhouse? Their menu offers everything from Tokyo street corn to  a hot pocket type brisket sandwich.Octopus fritters are topped with chili and jalapenos. There's a sticky rice tamale  that's filled with chorizo, beef tongue and shiitake mushrooms. Even the desserts are  fusions. Roasted banana pudding is flavored with caramel miso and kokuto crunch while the pecan pie has azuki beans in it.

Austen may be in the heart of Texas, but its' heart is in Japan.It's now the center for sushi and ramen. What is great is that it can meld with Texan tradition and create an entirely new cuisine.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Bathing Suit Diet

Now that it's May and we 're only a few weeks  - and in some areas - days - from bathing suit season, it's time to shed those pounds. It pays to eat right now as opposed to crash dieting when you're trying to fit a size 12 body into a size 8 bathing suit. Lose the flab  before you dig out the monokini or bikini.

It's tempting to make a hearty breakfast when the mornings still have a nip to them. Resist. If you do want something hot, then think of egg white omelets studded with spinach and mushrooms. Another great idea is asparagus and  a poached egg on a toasted English muffin.Poached eggs can also be tasty and low calorie when paired with mushrooms and tomatoes.If you love salads , then think about an egg salad,. This literal version has eggs, poached and scrambled paired with kale and asparagus. If having a vinaigrette is too strong in the AM then sub in lemon juice for the vinegar. Bacon would be good with it but, remember the real thing is calorie rich, A better choice is  Morningstar Farms soy bacon which is only sixty calories a serving (about twenty calories a slice). Oatmeal is always a good way to start the day. It also helps in reducing the low density lipoprotein or LPD in your body. Whole grain oatmeal  also boosts metabolism, the key component in losing weight. Try it with agave syrup and almond milk. You can also cut up apples and add cinnamon for an apple pie flavor.

What to do for lunch? Think tuna or salmon. Chicken of the Sea and Starkist have these handy packets of both kinds. The flavors include lemon pepper and sriracha which makes them ideal for mixing with salads. They're so  indulgent tasting even though the tuna is only eighty calories while the salmon is just seventy. The packets have  about seventy-four grams and are filling .If you don't want salad, then try them with plain Saltines for a light but satisfying lunch.Salad, either for lunch or dinner is always  good. Make it substantial with chickpeas , broccoli and peppers.Add some julienned strips of turkey and ham if you want to make it heartier. Remember to keep dressings light. Nix the heavy mayo based ones and make it a light vinaigrette. You can even jazz that up with crushed blue berries,blackberries or strawberries.Dinner should be a low calorie rice or bean bowl. The two can even be combined to create a good for you , satisfying supper.Use arborio rice instead of the long grain to make it special and more of a dinnertime dish. Toss in carrots , bell peppers and cherry tomatoes for color and flavor. Another idea is having salmon for dinner, Flavor  it with herbes de Provence and lemon for a more sophisticated turn. Serve with zucchini noodles or mandolined squash to round it out.

Bathing suit season will be here before we know it. Start shedding the pounds now by eating right and eating healthy. It's a great jump start to those days when less clothing is more.