Friday, August 31, 2018

Summer's Bounty Still Going Strong

Even though everyone is talking about fall,getting ready for school and Halloween (!) it is still summer.  There  is still time to cook outside and enjoy what's left of the warm weather bounty.Put away anything fallish  - at least for a few weeks.

Tomatoes are the most popular foods of the summer.. With the way our weather is nowadays, the red gems will be growing until October.Take advantage of them in any cooking method possible.One of the easiest and most delicious is pasta crudo. This is simply cut  fresh tomatoes mixed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. It's a raw sauce that's "cooked'  when added to hot pasta.Another summer dish that's perfect for this transition period is ratatouille. This Provencale treat is making good use of tomatoes as well as any bumper crop zucchini and onions. Melissa Clark has elevated this recipe to resemble a prettily colored pie in her column A Good Appetite In Wednesday's New York Times' Food section.. Her take was a Southern tomato pie but amped up with caramelized onions and sliced eggplants. It's more of  rich quiche thanks to the egg and Gruyere cheese added.If you just like tomatoes, then make them Provencale . This is a skillet full of sliced tomatoes  sauteed in garlic and olive oil. The tomatoes have generous mounds of spiced breadcrumbs on them.There is also tomato jam for those who want a spicy condiment to their meats and veggies. It's an easy cook, with boiling and simmering Roma tomatoes with such spices as cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Many home gardeners are also reaping those ripe squashes and zucchini right now too. One of the easiest recipe is sauteed squash coins that make a great side to grilled chicken and fish.It's just simply slicing the gourds into half inch thick rounds and sauteing them in a mix of olive oil,butter and minced garlic. Kids will love zucchini boats, the perfect meal after an exhausting first day of school. Make them really fun by adding a lasagna filling with a ready made tomato sauce.It's just scooping out the squash's middle after they've been cut in half, leaving a quarter of an inch of flesh on all sides. After brushing the boats with olive oil. it;'s just layering on the cheese,store bought sauce and ground beef or tofu. The boats can also have a Mexican twist by subbing in the sauce with such spices as chili powder, cilantro and cumin. There may be some peppers growing yet in your garden. These make great snacks, when they're sliced and  deseeded however they're great stuffed with rice and ground beef.Hollow them out , and also add tomato sauce along with Worcester sauce.Garlic and onion powder are added to give it zing.

Don't follow the rest of the crowd.It's still summer. There's still time to enjoy the bounty of this glorious season.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Move Over Red Delicious

There's a new star on the fall cooking horizon - the Gala apple. It's dethroned America's favorite apple the Red Delicious. Yet is it as tasty and versatile as the other? More important can you cook and bake with it? Is it as versatile as other apples?.

This was a subject in today's New York Times news section, by Niraj Choksi, today where the Red Delicious was parsed out analyzed.It seems consumers are disenchanted with its' mild taste and mealy texture, People want something more vibrant in flavor and mouth feel. Galas have a sweeter flavor and a crispier, crunchier texture.Apple  lovers,  home chefs and bakers want one that will be appealing and vibrant.There is another prediction that the Galas will be deththoned by the newest apple on the tree - the Honeycrisp. number five on the most popular  list  -which has only been on the market for thirty years. The tart and sassy Granny Smiths are number three on the list followed by Fuji . The R ed Delicious has been around since the late 1890's, a hybrid evolved from European apple trees.Its' cultivator ,Jesse Hiatt, an Iowa farmer was initially reluctant to grow it ,allowing one tree to thrive on his property.He entered the fruit, which he called Hawkeye into an apple competition and won, He ultimately sold the rights to the Stark Brothers, the contest's hosts . They renamed it Delicious. The red came about to differentiate from the West Virginia Golden Delicious.

For decades the Red Delicious was the star of the fruit world. It was pleasing to look at, with its' distinctive and five pointed base.It became a symbol of America and schools.appearing on all sorts of Americana kitsch. However people were growing dissatisfied with its' mild flavor and limited usage. This is another reason  why the Galas are gaining in popularity is that they're better suited to apple based dishes such as applesauce and homemade juices.Both are OK for snacking although kids may prefer the Galas strong sweetness. Both are juicy and would go well in salads.The Gala is more colorful with its' skin a blend of  yellow and red swirled with pink and orange spots. This would make ti stand out in any tossed green dish.For those who are loyal to the Red Delicious, there are several recipes that highlight their taste.Try them as crispy fritters dusted with cinnamon and sugar or in a buttery, crunchy crisp. Granted, they don't have the impact of say Granny Smith apples when paired with caramel  but the slices are still good dipped in it. They can also be dipped in marscapone cheese, spiked with nutmeg.Red delicious can also go the savory route when sharing a plate with pork chops

Will the Red Delicious apple ever be number one again? Maybe- of cultivators can improve on its' taste or texture. It could even come in on its'own again once people tire of the upstart Gala variety.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Restaurant Season

There's nothing like late summer in New York City. There's an anticipatory air as a new season ushers in the arts sports and , of course eating. There is a whole slew of new eateries along with some interesting new dishes and creative chefs flexing their culinary talents.

This keeper issue has the spotlight on so many different restaurants, from Nigerian to British country classic. Food section greats such as Florence Fabricant and Julia Moskin went not only to eat and review but also to talk to the chefs themselves. What is happening on the New York dining scene these days? For starters Manhattan isn't the only borough with good eats. Hipster outposts such as Greenpoint in Brooklyn and Queens will be hosting new dining spots. Yes the heart of the city still has some interesting choices.One area, once considered a city dead zone for dining, is the upper west side. A Food section staple, Florence Fabricant got to explore some eateries there/ famed chef,Marco Canora is opening a branch of his famed Brodo, a take out dedicated to selling nothing but bone broths. Leonti, operated by chef Adam Leonti, who worked at the esteemed Vetri in Philadelphia. His place will feature a sparse menu consisting of a pasta of the day plus four main dishes such as black bass with crushed tomatoes. There will also be a seafood restaurant, The Flying Fisherman, with dishes by chef Juan Carlos Landazuri. It's also owned with Jeremy Wladis and will have an adjunct take out, Fish on the Fly which features lobster rolls.

The globe is represented in the city too. British chefs are making an impact on the way New Yorkers and tourists eat. Bluebird London, at the Time Warner Building, where the restaurant Voce was, offers such contemporary interpretations of classic British dishes such as Cornish chicken pot pie, fish and chips and classic roasts. D&D and Rhubarb, two London staples  will be making their debuts here along with the famed chop house Hawksmoor. Senegal cuisine will be the cuisine to talk about thanks to Chef Pierre Thian.  His restaurant, Teranga, the Wolof or Senegalese word for hospitality will feature natural dishes made with sorghum and millet.along with vegetable laden stews. His menu will highlight completely vegan and gluten free choices as well.Hipsters cannot function without a brewery and there a few  new ones that will become regular meeting places for them.Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso has opened up Evil Twin brewing New York City.It will have three venues to sip. There will be an intimate indoor bar, a gravel lined beer garden and a large year round greenhouse.A permanent food truck from Fette Sau will offer such tasty treats as smoked brisket and more. The season will also feature a new restaurant from Ian Schrager and Zabar's heir Oliver Zabar, with his restaurant Devon, named for his mom.

New York and its boroughs are magical in late summer. Enjoy a day or night at a great restaurant . The choices are wide and varied.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Grill Clean

The grill is one of the most used cooking appliances of the summer. As the season is more or less winding down, it's time to start scrubbing off all that char and grease if you haven't already. Give  it that sparkling pre season look after being used so much.

The first question home grillers ask is what kind of cleaning solution should I use. You could go natural or pre made sprays.That's up to you, and just how messy your grill is. Many people swear by vinegar which does an excellent job of stripping the bars of any charred orts and baked on grease.It also doesn't leave behind any harmful residue that can can get on your food and make you and your family sick. The best vinegar to use is either white or distilled vinegar or the apple cider one. Mix one cup of water to one cup of vinegar and pour into a spray bottle. Some home chefs prefer using just lemon juice. It can be combined with everyday salt (use Morton's  not the expensive sea salt) to create a cleansing scrub. Combine one tablespoon of salt with the juice of two lemons and then rub over the grate. Wash off with a wet rag.If your grill needs some serious cleaning then go with a spray or solution, Some of the better ones are Goo Gone which thoroughly cleans grates along with Weiman barbecue grill cleaner. This one cones with a reusable scrub pad and handler.

How do you clean a grill?  First of all, make sure that all the dials are shut off. You don't want to accidentally set yourself on fire, especially if you're cleaning with a manufactured solution or ammonia. Also turn off and disconnect the propane tank. Loosely cover the heating elements with a big piece of tin foil. Use a grill brush to scrub the insides walls above the elements and then remove the grill pan and empty out any residual grease into the trash. Drop the pan into a bucket of soapy water and let it soak.It's now time to clean the grate and rinse off the drip pan. Lean them against  the garage or fence and scrub them clean. Thoroughly rinse off with the hose. Now it's time to clean the elements. Toss the foil and scrub them with the brush. If your grill has a cabinet, open it and using a whisk brush, sweep  out any leaves or debris. Grab a few stainless steel wipes (these can be bought at your local supermarket), clean the grill's exterior and cabinet's interior.You can put the grill cover on to protect it from any atmospheric dirt.

As the barbecue season winds down, give your grill a thoroughly needed wash. It has been through a lot of cooking and mess. Let it shine with a good cleaning.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Cool School Night Dinners

Schools have either begun or will begin next week. Kids are going to be drained thanks to hot temps and long school days. Same thing goes for parents who have to make a rib sticking dinner in a steamy kitchen. The best bet for surviving - cook cool.

One of the easiest dishes to make on a hot day is salad. What is great bout it is there's really no set recipe.Add whatever you want , and that also includes extras and dressings.A hearty one is a chef's salad. Start with a buttery Bibb lettuce and then start tossing in what your family wants.Classic ones called for julienned strips of ham, chicken and roast beef, but you also try sliced turkey and Italian cold cuts such as mortadella and prosciutto. Cheeses also can be a part of .For some zip add Monterey Jack or a sharp cheddar.Also add slices of avocado and hard boiled eggs for more substance.Cherry or grape tomatoes add zing. Another fun and filling salad is taco. The only cooking is sauteing the ground beef with the spices . Mix with cheddar cheese and  sliced beefsteak tomatoes, and top with avocado slices. What dressing goes well with it? Catalina dressing which can be store bought or made  at home. You can also try a hot pepper vinaigrette . Just add red pepper flakes or a teaspoon of chili powder to a simple vinaigrette.

Don't be afraid to serve sandwiches at dinner. After all, they're the easiest to make, especially after a hot draining day.A hero is a fun dinner,a build your even more entertaining. Start out with a variety of long rolls, from white to whole wheat. Then lay out three or four different cold cuts. You can even include tuna in oil for some variety. A second layer can be slices of of tomatoes or peppers along with some crunchy lettuce such as iceberg or Romaine.Sprinkle with either a simple dressing, mayo, ketchup or mustard.For vegetarians, think of one just layered with tomatoes, slices of smoked mozzarella and a drizzle of both olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The third meal could be a cold soup.One of the most famous is gazpacho.It's a savory blend of tomato sauce,cucumbers  green bell peppers and white onions. Puree all these together in a blender along with garlic and lemon juice. a host of spices , from tarragon and basil to parsley. Sugar and vinegar are also added and the whole thing is refrigerated for two hours before serving.Vichyssoise is another mouth chiller.There is some cooking involved but it's just sweating the leeks and onions. Then it's just adding some potatoes and cream for its' signature silkiness.

School is starting but it's still summer. Have a cool meal for your time together.It'll feel refreshing and delicious - a perfect way to end a steamy school or work day.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Free Range Snacking

We're a society that's overly protective of or kids.There's not an hour of the day when they're not monitored. Instead of teaching them even a whit of independence, we  breathe down their necks. Yet there's one area where we tend to be ore free range - snacking.

There's a reason why childhood obesity is high here in the States and following right behind us is Britain. There are way too many snacks and temptations.We may fret who they're on line with which is valid - yet we tend to look the other way with treats. Granted, some obesity and extra pounds may be due to metabolism and genes however some of the blame has to go to snacking and the accessibility of junk food. Shopping lists may reflect our healthy choices and wishes yet kids, especially tweens will have other ideas. Many go for those bags of chips and something sweet to drink. Some, who have been raised on just relying on bottled water for hydration with stick with that. Yet , most kids , mimicking their elders , will glug down a Red Bull or some other highly caffeinated drink.Or they'll go for a large , sugary latte, laced with either chocolate or caramel syrup and topped with a large blob of whipped cream. Then there are the ice cream parlors such as Sixteen Handles where large scoops are encouraged along with covering them with calorie rich toppings such as whipped cream and candies.

So what's a parent to do? It sounds like the tritest answer ever but set a good example. Snack and eat healthy foods at all times. Yes, that hidden box of chocolates or Hostess cupcakes help during the rough times. Yet what happens when the kids catch you and think it's OK to go treat crazy when they get a bad grade or their team loses?Save the cakes and cupcakes for special times like birthdays and holidays. Emphasize that a sweet treat could mean a nice, cold plum, nectarine or peach plucked from the fridge.Also, even though this has been stated time and time again, make fruit fun. Have fruit kebabs where you can skewer strawberries with melon and pineapple chunks.Layer it with Greek yogurt and homemade sugar free granola for a tasty parfait. Introduce them to extra dark chocolate if they still crave it. Try the seventy to ninety per cent for the older kids. Younger ones can start out with semi sweet which is thirty-five per cent. Be warned though, - all chocolate contains caffeine and should be eaten sparingly. Once a week is fine.

We need to be more restrictive with our food censorship. As we try to filter  out all the bed elements in kids' live, we need to do the same with food and drink. It won't be easy , but then neither are the other aspects in a kid's life.

Friday, August 24, 2018

That First Lunchbox

Lunchboxes will always hold a special place in kids' hearts. Little ones facing a full school day need the comfort of a well stocked lunchbox. Unfortunately it sometimes has moms stumped, especially when their eldest is the first to being the full school day.

First, mothers shouldn't freak out. Pack what your kid likes, even if it is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For these and any other sammies, think about cutting them  out with cookie cutters or buying sandwich cutters. Pottery Barn has such shapes as bunnies and cats along with airplanes and trains.They're not expensive being priced anywhere from $2,50 to $7.50 a cutter. One thing to remember is that create sandwiches with whole wheat and/or whole grained breads. Everyone , from Panera  to Pepperidge Farm have some excellent ones. If moms are good with baking, then think about baking loaves, filled with oats, honey and love.Many little ones love wraps.These are fun to make and fun to eat. Have the little scholars help create them. Again ones made from whole wheat would be preferable however if your little gourmet prefers tomato basil or spinach herb , then use them. Again be creative with fillings. Shredded mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and pepperoni  can make for a wonderful cold pizza. Or try egg salad with just a hint of curry for something different.

Another fun idea is subbing the lunch box with a Bento one. This Japanese import - which can easily be bought at Target - is gaining in schoolyard popularity.It has four sections that can easily hold the main dish, along with veggies,fruit and a snack. Think string cheese or peanut butter with apple slices for protein along with grapes and carrots for sweet and crunchy sides. Another idea is hummus with pita chips,Pair with apple slices and celery chunks.If the kindergartener or first grader still wants a lunchbox with inside verve ,consider some fun alternatives. Try stackers, which is a Ritz cracker with a cut out slice of meat and topped with cheese Again use cookie or sandwich ones to cut out such meats as low sodium ham and turkey and cheeses such as a mild cheddar or American. To make them fancy, add a little blob of mayo topped with a pitted olive.Ants on a raft will definitely insure the  little one's popularity. This wild bite is nothing more than peanut butter spread on Saltines and topped with raisins Edible emojis  are a great lunches. Take rice cakes, smear cream cheese on them and create faces , from sliced vegetable bits such as grape tomatoes, peppers, carrots and celery.

Fill your little one's first lunchbox with memories of fun and good foods.They'll love what you've made. It'll be the talk of the lunchroom.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Briny Summer Treat Of Clams

No matter where it is in summer, there's nothing so welcome as seafood. Clams are a special pleasure , picking up spicing along with maintaining its' taste of the sea.One way that highlights this is steaming them. It's also easy cooking especially during these humid days.

Allison Roman highlighted these gems of the sea in yesterday's New York Times Food section. According to her clams are the best bivalves.Eaten raw, they are brinier, milder and cleaner than the oyster (both are natural water filters and there can be a residual taste of whatever they've filtered) Steamed, they're better than mussels because juicier, meaty and less fishier in flavor. Clams are wonderful cooked in a pool of toasted garlic oil, mixed with an acidic white wine. Larger clams can be picked from their shells and coarsely chopped. They could be then returned to the broth  with the addition of celery and chorizo. Ms. Roman spoons all of this on toasted crusty bread. she reminds home chefs to think small. Littleneck clams, the ones she recommends using , can come in all different sizes. They should be between the size of a grape and an apricot. However Manila clams, are also good. They are the smallest and would work well in the recipe. Another choice is cockles. These are a small clamlike bivalve that can be easily subbed into any clam recipe.

The recipe can be labor intensive for those not used to prepping seafood. Use a natural bristle kitchen brush or a brand new kitchen sponge to scrub the clams under running water. After they've been scrubbed and scrubbed again,let them sit in a bowl of cold water. This will allow any residual grit or sand to free itself from the shells.It'll just settle on the bottom of the bowl and can easily be tossed in the yard (the sand may clog up the drain). It's then heating up the oil, butter, and chorizo. If the last is too spicy  , consider plain sausage or better yet, bacon. as the butter melts and the pork renders its' fat, then add garlic and cook until it's turns a light toasty golden brown hue.Its then adding wine which should be very dry. Ms. Roman advises against using anything that's not overly oaky, sweet or creamy. Add two large stalks of  celery cut into thin strips, on the bias and cook until its' a bright green. Now it's time to toss in the clams and shake the pot so that they settle nicely. let them steam open and release their juices. Any unopened clam is considered dead and should be thrown away. serve the clams in a bowl over parsley chives and celery leaves. Serve with lemon and lime zest and pair with a , hot crusty slice of bread that's been rubbed with olive oil.

Clams are the perfect summer's night treat. Steam them with white wine, garlic, and butter. Enjoy their brininess and sweetness with crusty bread. It's a welcome flavor during these warm, balmy days.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Salmon And Climate Change

Undoubtedly climate change has affected the way we eat. Droughts and flood have brought prices up on many fruit and vegetables . Now the disaster is spreading to our oceans. Not only will our seas be filled with algae blooms, certain species will be disappearing.

Julia O'Malley, a famed freelance writer who writes primarily about Alaska covered this in today's New York Times Food section. The red salmon is disappearing thanks to the waters heating up in one of the coldest rivers on the planet.It wasn't that long ago that fishermen would reel in seventy or eighty salmon during one fishing trip.Neighbors and friends would benefit from these, with fridges being filled with ZipLoc bags full of the fish. Grills worked overtime, with filet after filet being served at cookouts. Not anymore.Now hours pass before anyone catches even just one.The Copper River which yields the popular red salmon has had its' smallest salmon run in thirty-eight years according to Garrett Evridge, an economist  with McDowell Group. This Anchorage research and consulting group has been following  fishing trends. They also found that other rivers have had the same problem.State wildlife managers have closed rivers to sportsmen so enough salmon could reach their spawning grounds.

How has this affected the state's economy? Tremendously. In one rural Aleut fishing town, Chignik on the Aleutian Peninsula,the fishing fleet has sat idle as have locals who freeze and smoke the fish caught. Lack of fish means they'll have to buy super expensive groceries instead of eating the fish along with needing food aid during the colder months.Home cooks , such as Christine Taylor of Anchorage, will have to calculate the cost of buying ingredients and wonder if they can afford them, instead of relying on weekend fishing.Also most recipes center around the red salmon, a fish with raspberry colored flesh and a taste saltier than the regular kind. There's also the experience of catching them, and the whole process of unloading their four wheelers and setting up the fishing poles. Concerned scientists, like Bill Templin, the state's chief scientist for the state's  commercial salmon fisheries know that it comes from the ocean warming which creates a toxic algae. This can create starvation and  illness in not just salmon but other  species such as whales and shellfish.

Luckily locals are hopeful that the salmon will return. That depends on how we treat the oceans ans work furiously and non-stop to halt climate change. Then the rivers' bounties will be plentiful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Vegan Dorm

What happens when your little meat eater grows up and decides to become vegan? Go with it.College is a time when many kids reevaluate their lives along with finding causes to support. Or there's a friend or a love who's into tofu. Whatever the reason, support them and help them stock their kitchen.

Many parents will worry about the lack of protein. Don't be, Beans provide it along with fiber and a variety of other nutrients.If you're worried that all your vegan baby will eat is burritos, think again. Chickpeas are one of the most versatile beans  out there.They can be the base of salads as well as be turned into creamy hummus and falafel.Save the liquid or aqua faba they're packed in for vegan meringue cookies, and eggless mayo. Remember that any bean can be turned into tasty burgers. What is great about homemade ones is that they can be spiced up with everything from chili  powder to curry. Carry this one step further to create a vegan meat loaf. It will be just as delicious as the real thing along with having the same solid consistency.It makes for a good weekend meal, heartier with the addition of mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and a green veggie, If your your scholar has a more lenient diet, then consider bean scrambles made with any kind of bean, eggs  and veggies. It's a great way to start the morning or have a simple lunch.

Of course when most people hear vegan or vegetarian, they instantly think of tofu. Just remember that they are different types, from silken and firm to extra firm and sprouted. Know them in case you get called for advice.Silken tofu is mostly used for desserts (think a vegan cream pie) and sauces.It's smooth and has a pudding like texture. Firm  and extra firm hold their shapes and are great for stir fries and slices. They also crumble well which makes for excellent scrambles. Sprouted tofu is the same as regular except it originates from sprouted soy generally has more calories than the regular but also more protein. Another way of eating tofu is the premade packages by Morningstar Farms and Gardein. Both companies have every meat substitute available from burgers to bacon. Morningstar has excellent bacon which can be part of breakfast or crumbled into a spinach salad. Gardein has a whole gamut of vegan dinners. A favorite is their fish fillets that have a delicious beer batter on them. Serve them with fries for a good fish and chips dinner. Their hamburgers taste like the real thing as do their beef tips.Gardein's chicken scallopini is wonderful with spaghetti and sauce.

College is a time of breaking away from childhood and what came with it. Don't be alarmed if you scholar goes meatless. Embrace it. You may learn to love it yourself.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Juice Box Controversy

School  will be starting soon and kids from pre-K to college will be thirsty. That's when many parents turn to juice for a way of hydrating their kids.Yet is it a good way of replenishing fluids or will it make them chunk out? Therein lies the problem.

What should parents do?Do they switch the kids cold turkey to spring and sparkling water? Do they mix juice with seltzer or water? As with anything, moderation is the key. Keep it to a minimum as with soda and chocolate milk. They shouldn't lose their interest or taste for water or plain milk. all three beverages should be served in rotation.  Another way to avoid "juice addiction" is waiting to introduce little ones to it. Experts say hold off until the first birthday. Also avoid serving it in a bottle. Keep in mind that strictly drinking juice can cause a host of physical problems. Toddlers may not have the sturdy stomachs as their elder siblings. Imbibing too much can cause diarrhea thanks to fructose in the drink. Another problem is tooth decay. Little ones have a tendency to suck on a sweet tasting straw longer than their older counterparts. This can lead to serious enamel damage in developing teeth.If they have to drink it (meaning if they're on the verge of a tantrum) then let them drink it from a sippy cup.They can take less harmful slugs. Also you can slip in an ice cube or two to dilute the juice.

What about the older ones?The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that toddlers should only get half a cup of juice a day while four to six year olds should only drink half a cup to three quarters of a cup a day. Seven to eighteen years old should just have one cup a day.This is good however older kids have minds of their own and will probably drink  more when they're with friends or playing a sport. There's also the possibility of them drinking sodas, sugary lattes and caffeine laced sports drinks.In this case a box of fruit punch is the lesser of all the evils. One way to make juice more enticing is to cut it with seltzer to create a fizzy soda. Fill half a glass with any flavor, from cranberry to grape and top off with either plain or flavored seltzer. Another healthier idea is buying lower in sugar juices.Many brands like Ocean Spray and Dole offer them along with Stop & Shop. The taste is actually more refresher thanks to the lack of sugar. If the kids still want flavor and fizz , then think about making tea soda. Steep any flavor two teabags overnight. Add cold seltzer in the morning and them flavor with mint or fresh fruits like lemon or strawberries.

Juice boxes are an important component of the school experiences. Make it as healthy as possible with lower sugar juices or added seltzers.They'll feel better as will you.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Mixer Time

It's amazing what a fridge,, freezer and pantry can yield up. A home chef can whip up anything , from meals to snacks to desserts.It's just being knowledgeable and creative along with being fearless.Let the spirit move you.

One of the best mix in's is cheese, especially Sargento's.Their bags of shredded cheddar, mozzarella and Mexican blends are perfect for adding creaminess and flavor to omelets and salads. For a fun and tasty brunch or lunch idea, combine chorizo with Sargento's Mexican shreds and beaten eggs.It makes for a delicious and spicy omelet which can even be turned into filler for a sandwich. One tasty idea is a "cold' pizza. Stir Sargento's mozzarella shreds with sun dried tomatoes and olive oil. Add a dash of oregano and spoon over slices of Italian bread. It's the perfect Friday or Saturday night supper on a hot August day. The dried tomatoes with olive oil is also great mixed with finely chopped yellow onion. Add cubes of Italian bread for a take on the classic Neopolitan bread salad.Any color of chopped pepper is a great mixer. Cook it up with sausage or even serve it cold with salami.Another versatile mixer is canned corn, either plain or fiesta style. It can be added to instant potato soup for more color or flavor or fried with onions and turmeric to create a tasty side dish or snack.

Sweet odds and ends can also be combined to form a treat.One of my favorites involves broken Nabisco chocolate wafers, strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.It's layering  the wafer bits with the fruit and topping with aerosol whipped cream for my take on Eton Mess (which I have made too with the wafers, my aquafaba meringue disaster and whipped cream) The same principle can apply to Nabisco's Nilla wafers and blueberries for a different blend of sweet and fruity. Clever home chefs can create their own personal trifles by filling a sundae dish or with layers of leftover pound cake and whatever ice cream is in the freezer.It's a great  way of getting rid of those last scoops.You can also do the same with Eggo waffles and ice cream.Blitz any M&M's or Juniors Mints in  a mini chopper and mix into the ice cream  for a true treat. Want something a bit more healthier? Then chop up strawberries and bananas and layer them with ice cream for a yummy parfait. Toss in some granola for  crunch and texture for an entirely different spin.

Mixing allows home chefs to test their creativity - along with getting rid of those edible odds and ends. It's amazing what a cup of this married to a teaspoon of that will yield. Try your own variations and have fun doing so,

Friday, August 17, 2018

Souvenir Recipes

One of the best things about vacations is the slew of souvenirs we take home. They can be tee shirts or shells, maybe even jewelry or salt and pepper shakers. Yet the best ones are the food memories, souvenirs perfect for our kitchens. No matter where we go, there's a recipe we're bound to recreate.

Foreign vacations mean foreign foods. It's easy nowadays to recreate dishes from across the globe. Recipes can be easily gotten and translated, thanks to the Web.If you were lucky enough to lounge on Mediterranean beaches, you probably got to lunch on pissaladiere slices or a bowl of pasta vongole .Pissaladiere is relatively easy to make.It's a short crust base topped with a yummy mixture of anchovies , olives and onions spiced with thyme sprigs. Pasta vongole is simply linguini with clams. Again homemade is an easy make. Use fresh clams (none of the canned stuff) and boil them. reserve the juice or broth.It's then cooking chopped clams in them with a little white wine, red pepper flakes and garlic. If you spent July sunning on Mikonis or Karpathos and Kos, then you may be hankering for stuffed grape leaves or dolmades. Fill grape leaves (which can be easily bought at Trader Joe's) with a tasty marriage of arborio rice and pine nuts along with raisins, chopped onions, and mint. You can  add meat, usually ground lamb.

You can still bring back recipes even if you stuck close to home. South Jersey has a variety of fun dishes and boardwalk snacks. Taylor ham, a Boardwalk specialty can be recreated in a variety of dishes.It is good on a soft roll, Atlantic City style, especially when the bread sops up all that melted butter, yet you can also have it as a side with scrambled or sunny side up eggs. Seafood is big  along both of New Jersey and New York coasts. Go to your local fish monger for fresh seafood. You can make an easy dipping sauce using just ketchup and horseradish that's perfect for everything from clams to shrimp. Boardwalk fare can be easily copied. Frozen custard is a treat and can be created on any stove top. It's an egg rich custard that's then poured into an ice cream maker. A fun, spin, popular at many shore ice cream parlors is frozen custard served in a hot waffle boat. The last requires a special machine but you can make fresh  ones with a regular waffle maker.Homemade fudge is a Jersey classic and must have.It's super simple to make, both over a stove top and microwave.Use semisweet chocolate and condensed milk for a Boardwalk must have.

A summer traveled is a summer full of souvenirs. Recreate your tastiest ones in your kitchen. It' s a way of still having the best time all year round.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Rhode Island Sloppy Joe My Spin

The recipe in last Sunday's NewYork Times magazine looked too good to pass up. Sam Sifton wrote about it .It is Matthew Hyland,'s, owner of Emily and Emmy Squared  restaurants of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Nashville.He first made it at the deli marketplace at Clements Marketplace in Portsmouth. Rhode Island when he was an undergrad at nearby Roger Williams University in Bristol.It sounded good and vegan convertible. It had to be made.I added my own spins on it.
   It calls for green peppers. I used red because they're sweeter and would work well, offsetting the spiciness of the vegan chorizo I used.
One pepper was sliced , seeded and coarsely chopped. I then added crumbled vegan chorizo.
It comes in a plastic casing  which has to be discarded. (note to self - remember this the next time you cook with it).
Chef Hyland's recipe calls for red onion. I had a quarter of a yellow one left over so I decided to use that. Of course there was garlic, finely minced.
The recipe also called for cumin seeds which I didn;t have, Powdered cumin worked just as well.
Two teaspoons.
It was all mixed together with a cup of crushed tomatoes and half a cup of water.
It was a delicious mix.Everything was stirred over a medium flame.
It cooked up very well,  like a Sloppy Joe. which it essentially it is.
It should be layered with kale or spinach and a slice of Provolone cheese but I thought the two may be too much. I did add a liberal dose of celery salt as required.It gave it a Springy green flavor.
I preferred mine on a crusty hard roll, which is what Mr. Chef Hyland recommends.

This was a great sandwich. Next time  I will layer on spinach leaves and Provolone cheese for the whole experience. It was definitely a must do and a tasty one at that too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

School Of Chocolate

Ever wonder how those glossy domes of chocolate bonbons are made. It's not an inherent art.It's actually learned and of course taught.Just like there's a School of Rock , there a school of chocolate as well.

Tejal Rao, a regular contributor wrote about this in today's New York Times Food section. She interviewed Melissa Coppel , head and master teacher at Atelier Melissa Coppel in Las Vegas. That may sound odd, One would think of a chocolatier in New York, or Los Angeles, yet Sin City is known for its' very good culinary schools and colleges featuring hospitality courses.The school is located in a nondescript  and unglamorous strip mall in Western Las Vegas where it shares a parking lot with an orthodontics office and a law firm. Yet it attracts students from around the world, from such diverse locations such as New Zealand and Trinidad. It is one of the few pastry schools in the world that teaches the art of  molded chocolate work, a dying art nowadays. As a result it is in competition with such prestigious schools as the Chocolate Academy and the French Pastry School, both in Chicago.

Chef Coppel, herself, is Columbian,born in Cali , and trained at Chicago 's French Pastry School. She is rare for a chocolatier. She then returned home and started to give classes in spring roll wrapping, dinner party planning and knife skills.Her classes were filled with cooks wanting to coking better for their employers and stay at home moms.Chef Koppel quickly realized she like teaching.She eventually finished her education in Argentina and wound up in the kitchen of L'Atelier Joel Robuchon. It was at a time when hotel pastry kitchens were shrinking and she saw an opportunity. She created such successes as chocolate bars filled with yogurt ganache and berry was served on a base of oat crunch. Another one was layered pineapple caramel with macadamia praline. Unlike other , mostly male, chocolatiers, Chef Coppel shares her methods with her students.They try to imitate her glossy, pristine domes, which will take some time to equal her. She celebrates the end of each class with a shared bottle of champagne. Luckily her chocolates will be available for sale on line in October for those who want those creative, glossy domes.

Chef Koppel is rare because she is a chocolatier willing to share the tricks of the trade. She will be responsible for a new generation of chocolate makers. Her skill is not only candy but also teaching how to make amazing bonbons

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Student's Kitchen

It's that time of year again when many college kids are packing up and heading off to school. For many , it means living off campus or living in a dorm where there's a shared kitchen.  That means cooking  even though it's quick. It also means assessing what will be needed to survive,

Luckily all kitchens are more or less equipped. Every one should have a working oven/range and fridge. What may be needed is a microwave(should have) and possibly a toaster oven (ought to have but not necessary). The first is valuable in heating up everything from hot pockets to leftovers. However a microwave is also invaluable for heating up ingredients such as melted butter or warmed milk along with cooking such dishes as stuffing and even spaghetti, The last can be boiled in one however it doesn't taste as good as pasta boiled on the stove. A toaster oven may take up room yet it is handy.It does more than toasting. It's great for making English muffin pizza giving the muffin's edges a nice crispness. It's perfect for making grilled cheese and tuna melts along with reheating leftovers such as pizza and egg rolls.Another reason to have a toaster oven is that it's easier to use at times rather than the conventional one, especially if you come home tired after a full day of work and school.

What other kitchen items should head off to college?A good, all  purpose knife is a must. Farberware has some excellent ones and these can be used for slicing dicing and even cutting into pies and cakes. A small paring knife is another invaluable must have. It  not only skins fruits and veggies it can be used for cutting up butter and margarine sticks for baking.Good pots and pans are also high on the list. Remember, that with the proper care, they can last well into that first apartment and even into the first house. You could buy some fun but useful ones such as the omelet pan  for one or the grilled cheese griddle for one . A stock pot is another must. Use it to make large quantities of soups that can later be frozen for future eating. It's also good for pasta too. Many students are big fans of the Insta-Pot. They've seen the successes their parents have had with them. These can do everything from steam rice to braise beef.If you feel that it's too expensive (some can run close to $200 ) then just get the three quart one . Another option is the crock pot which can be had for only $9.00 at Target. It does the trick too, especially when making tomato sauce or chili,.

It's time to pack up the gear for dorm or apartment life. It's also time to pack up or buy the kitchen gear that will make cooking easier. Choose smartly.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Strange Fruit

Are we getting a bit too creative with how we grow our fruits and vegetables? Lately the old standards, especially grapes and tomatoes are not what they've been for millennia. It seems their genes have been tinkered with - to create - monster fruit?

I've noticed this with a new kind of grape the tear drop.
They 're supposed to be tear drop shaped but look like dark purple ancho chilis. In fact they were first branded as chili pepper grapes but that confused consumers. Buyers thought they would be spicy and sweet   which was wrong. The name was quickly changed to finger grapes. Again,people didn't
 like the idea of naming them after body parts.. Unlike other grapes, they can be split open to be filled with salty cheese. Tear drop grapes can also be grilled with lemon juice and oil. They are also good gracing poultry , duck and pork along with any kind of nut. Pop them in vanilla yogurt for a different kind of dessert or snack.They first came into being in 2002.

Another strange fruit is 
these multicolored grape tomatoes that look more like grapes than actual grapes. They a mix of cocktail, cherry and grape. They're greenhouse grown in Mexico and have a variety of flavors, from  very strong tomato-y to mild , sweet fruity flavor. They're a fun low calorie snack that only need a dusting of sea salt. These are for those who are already bored with the ripe , rich taste of regular grape and cherry toms. They can be used in salads, but I've put them in Aldi's pasta Alfredo, to give it some acidity. You could halve them and put them in omelets, or pair them with 
stale Italian or French bread, minced garlic, , olive oil for a spin on Neopolitan bread salad. They also can be used in any kind of kabob for color and taste.

These are strange fruits indeed. Yet they 're fun to eat and experiment with in old and new recipes. Try them for something different.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Are You Cooking School Ready?

It's the time of year when many soon to be high school juniors and seniors start thinking about careers and colleges. Some younger home chefs think it would be fun or interesting to run a kitchen or bakery. As with everything it takes a good education, to get ahead.

As with anything, research is the key. Look into culinary schools and universities around the country. There are even community colleges that offer AA or an associates degree in the subject. These are usually cheaper and in some states no tuition for state residents making under $45,000 per year. Also two years isn't that big a commitment,If you want to change over into another or related field you can after continuing on at a four year college. Another aspect to consider is whether you want to go to a cooking school or a college. Such universities as John & Wales  offers both.Having both culinary  training and business background would be appealing to a young chef  to be who wants his or her own restaurant right away. The same applies for the Culinary Institute of America or CIA where you can even earn a master's degree in food or culinary business.Of course tuition is the main issue , There are scholarships and financial aid to help. However, education shouldn't come with a price tag, yet many parents often steer their kids towards the much more affordable options.

Are there still cooking schools in the world? Yes, however here in the States, they're more likely to offer other courses as well.Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia , PA, offers a European approach to teaching cooking, with even cooking camps for younger kids and high schoolers. They even have classes abroad at both English and French cooking schools. Of course, there's Europe, namely France, where the idea was born with the Cordon Bleu Cooking Academy. This institution , first established in 1895, is the world's most famed school and a prototype for others  that have followed. It is still accepting students and has such famous alumni as Julia Child, Mario Batali, Giada De Laurentiis and the famed Great British Baking Show judge, Mary Berry. The school has also expanded to London and Florence  as well as into North American, South America, the Middle East and Asia  (strangely they don't have a campus in the US). For some future chefs this would be a dream come true, however they and their parents should take into consideration, everything from housing  to language to even safety.Parents, if you  feel your kid is ready for life abroad, this is the education for him or her. If not, look into an American school that offers a junior or senior year in another country.

Any future chefs should start researching now for the culinary school or hospitality degree that suits them. Picking the right one is key to any success. Select one that will guarantee good training and education in the food industry.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Cold Comfort

A heat wave means one thing - a aversion to anything hot and that includes food and drink. Who wants to eat fresh from the oven roasts and casseroles? Or worse , fresh from the burner soups and skillet meals. Keep it cool -  have chilled foods, from morning to night.

As much as we love a bowl of hot oatmeal and farina, it's time to think of other grains.A cooler bet is a bowl of rice or corn puffs with chilled milk. Add some blueberries or strawberries to give it a healthy vibe. Another idea is chilled melon. Cube watermelon and cantaloupe along with chunks of casaba melon for a refreshing, low calorie starter. Another low calorie breakfast, is a chilled parfait. Layer various fruits, such as pineapple and blueberries with Greek yogurt and granola for the perfect beginning on a sweltering August day.Freeze it and you have a breakfast Popsicle, every kids' dream breakfast. Instead of spooning the layers in a parfait dish, layer them in Popsicle molds. Freeze overnight. Remember these also make great desserts and snacks for them and for the adults too. What to drink with these frosty starters? Iced coffees and teas. There are many cold brew options for both drinks in your supermarket to choose from. Smoothies and fruit slushies are other cool options that go well with breakfast.

Lunch and dinner can also be chill creations. The easiest is a sandwich, of course, Make it different by trying a pan bagnat a Provencale treat loaded with all sorts of good fillings.Use a long , baguette , slice in half and then layer on sliced cucumbers, onions,kalamata olives and hard boiled eggs. Cheese and tuna canned in oil can also be added.This also makes a great weekend supper, enjoyed with a chilled glass of wine.Salads are one of those easy summer meals. One of my new favorites is a chickpea one, loaded with not only those garbanzo beans (save the liquid for baking) but chopped peppers, onions and parsley. For color and more taste I add grape tomatoes and then dress it with a simple vinaigrette. Make it three or four hours before serving for a cool, flavorful bite. You don't have to use chickpeas as the protein. Leftover chicken, grilled steak, and even tuna can be subbed in. Any leftover meat can be paired with a veggie for a tasty and substantial cool dinner. Try grilled steak and tomatoes, or minced ham with broccoli and onions. A more sophisticated take is vichyssoise , the French leek and potato soup, first cooked and then cooled. There is also gazpacho,a garlicky vegetable potage that's not even heated. It's made cold and served cold. Perfect with crusty Spanish rolls and butter.

It's August. It's hotter than an oven full of biscuits. Cool off with refreshingly cold dishes and drinks. It's the best way of dealing with a heat wave. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A New Take On Pork Shoulder

If it's August , that means one thing - you've exhausted grilling every type and cut of meat available.However there's a cut of meat you may not have tried yet - or at least over an open fire. It's pork shoulder - usually a cut reserved braising on chill fall or freezing winter days. Surprisingly it's also perfect for summer eating too,

Alison Roman explored this new side of pork shoulder in yesterday's New York Times Food section.
Shoulder is usually reserved for braising in a Dutch oven.It's one of those cuts that gets retired during the warm weather, only to become popular in the fall when cool days arrive. Yet , this cut can be sliced into pork chop like pieces and grilled. They should be cooked hot and fast - not the typical one hour in a Dutch oven.This makes the fatty bits char and crisp, which only add to the flavor. Some may worry that this won't thoroughly cook the meat and make one sick. Not to fret.According
 to USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, pork can have an internal temperature of 145 degrees F to be considered safe. (have a meat thermometer handy to gauge the temperature). This should give you medium rare meat, perfectly pink and juicy.Flavoring them is a cinch. Try a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Another variation is citrus juice, chili paste and fish sauce. They can be marinated for up to twenty-four hours in advance.

Preparing the meat may be a  bit more labor intensive . The pork shoulder should be cut crosswise into one inch thick steaks, Ms. Roman cautions that some pieces may not stay in the steak shape, depending on the cut and shape of the shoulder bought). Season with salt and pepper, place in either a shallow baking dish or resealable plastic bag. You can just leave it at this if you want just the pork flavor. For Ms. Roman's marinade combine fish sauce, light brown sugar and sambal -  hot chili paste, garlic and half a cup of lime juice, Mix in a bowl to dissolve the sugar.Pour half  the mixture over the chops and let marinate for fifteen to twenty minutes while the grill is being fired up. You don;t have to worry about leaving it out. That's fine. The grill at this point should be "screaming hot" as Ms. Roman puts it.Once on the grill, the pork should be a deepened brown color and lightly charred on both sides. Each side should be grilled for only two to four minutes each. Let stand in a  shallow baking dish and pour the rest of the marinade. Serve with rice noodles or rice. Top with lettuce , shallots and mint. Serve with grilled citrus for squeezing.

Try a pork shoulder chop for a new grilling experience. It's get you out of the barbecue doldrums  and into exciting new territory. Don;t wait for fall to eat it. It's perfect now for a summer meal.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What Is Southern Cooking?

One of the most identifiable cuisines in the US is Southern. It's known for fried chicken and peach pie, biscuits and sweet iced tea. Yet what exactly is it? Soul food? An offshoot of African cuisine? Food of the rich? Food of the poor? Food of the whites? What should it really be called?

Julia Moskin tackled that question in an article in today's New York Times Food section. She visited Atlanta, heart of the cuisine to speak with two defining chefs, Todd Richards and Virginia Willis. Both ,like many other Southern chefs are chipping away at the stereotype of what the food  should be. More and more immigrants are pouring into the cities and coasts, fusing their recipes with these centuries old ones. There is Korean- Southern fried chicken, Vietnamese Cajun crawfish, and tacos stuffed with barbecue.Yet the question remains - just what exactly is Southern cooking?Many are reluctant to see it as a black-white divide however Chef Willis did wonder that aloud during their interview with Ms. Moskin.Many of the cooking traditions and techniques can directly be traced to Africa, invented by home chefs for both their own families and the families that either enslaved them or employed them.However Chef Richards has another take on it. It's necessarily about race but more about class and place he argues.Blacks and whites  may not have been eating together but they were eating the same dishes.

Yet soul food has come to mean black food while Southern and country refers to white cooking, even though both cuisines have exactly the same recipes.Both chefs have mirror backgrounds and food experiences.Their mothers washed collard greens and peanuts in the family washing machines (!), their recipes for potato salad are nearly identical with not too soft potatoes, hard boiled eggs, pickled relish, mayo, mustard and paprika. Ms. Moskin asked them to bring another Southern specialty  - pimento sandwiches, a filling composed of cream cheese, mayo, pimentos and shredded cheese. Both came up with their own variations.Ms Willis used it as a topping to a tomato pie,while Chef Richards added thick cut bacon and sauce from a can of Mexican chipotle chiles on toast and topped with juicy grilled peaches.Both chefs have written cookbooks, Chef Richards has Soul while Ms.Willis wrote Secrets Of The Southern Table: AFood Lover's Guide Of The Global South.Chef Richards approaches from the perspective of an African American while Chef Willis comes from a Southern white angle. Both are self taught although Willis also learned from her mother and grandmother. What they cook is Southern cuisine, just variations. It evolves constantly thanks to immigrants and new chefs with their own interpretations.

SOuthern cooking should just be known as  regional cooking.It is not black or white, rich or poor. It 's like any other cuisine, old cooking techniques being updated with new ingredients and keeping the old ones.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Grab Cooking

What happens when you're just too wilted to make a meal?Or if you don't want to trek through a heat wave to the grocery store? You grab cook. Look through your fridge, freezer and pantry and pluck out anything you can use to create a dish. It's a challenge but a fun one using whatever's on hand..

The ingredients to make a good grab dish should be veggies and meat. However cans of beans and sauce can also be included in the recipe.I tried this when I just did not feel like heading out in sweltering temps  just to get lunch. There was a can of chickpeas which was only bought for aqua faba (see yesterday's post), peppers and half an onion. Grape tomatoes,always a must have, looked appealing. Perfect to create a fun and colorful salad. The onion was finely chopped as was the pepper. The chickpeas  and tomatoes were added next as was the fresh parsley I had around.A simple vinaigrette dressing was all it needed and    voila  a refreshing , yet substantial lunch for a ninety degree day.Salads are one of the easiest grab meals because you can grab this and that to create a surprisingly hearty , yet ;light dish Vary the veggies.You can even use canned or steamed ones.Left over meats are great in grab salads. You could even make a chef's salad using last night's barbecue . Try ham in a broccoli and string bean salad. Grilled steak is good with just lettuce and tomatoes. Have ice berg lettuce? Grab it and turn it into a tasty wedge with bacon, tomatoes slices, and a home made dressing using mayo, oil, vinegar and anything else you find.

Grab meals can also extend to cooking too.Eggs make the best grab cuisine ingredient, Add three or four to chopped spinach leaves, tossed in some minced garlic and fry. It becomes a tasty omelet, easy  to make and easy to eat.Turn it into a sandwich by placing quarters on toasted bread. Sub in chopped green peppers and it becomes the filling for the classic Sicilian sub sandwich. Add a can of tomatoes  or fresh ones , some chopped garlic and you have the classic Piedmontese uovi e pomodori, a warm weather favorite.Make sure there's plenty of Italian bread for the last. If it's a cooler day you can combine whatever you can get your hands on for a tasty hodgepodge soup. Start with bouillon cubes and add  odds and ends in the soup pot.This is also a good time to use up those little scoops of rice or pasta.Desserts can also be part of grab cuisine. One of the most fun is the take on Eton mess. This classic British dessert  and a favorite of the brothers Windsor, is made with broken meringues, fruit and whipped. cream. I had leftover Nabisco chocolate wafers, a ton of strawberries and blueberries and whipped cream in a canister. Lsyer the cookies  even the broken ones with the fruit (you don;t have to have berries, bananas and pineapple work just as well),and top with a generous squirt of whipped cream. Sub in ice cream for whipped cream if you have any handy.

Grab cuisine is the way to cook during these impossibly hot days. Check your fridge, kitchen and pantry, grab what you can and create. You'd be surprised what you can make with whatever's around.

Monday, August 6, 2018

When Life Gives You Aquafaba

Aquafaba is one of the newest darlings on the food scene. It is the siren for foodies like myself and I was over eager to bake aquafaba meringues.How hard could it be? It seemed everyone who ever made the little puffs of sweetness had success. I knew I would too.

I was wrong.

I started with the right ingredients.
Bean water from Rienzi chickpeas.
Salt  and cream of tartar
Flavoring - peppermint
Even chocolate chips.Everything was whipped up, in first my standing mixer

I thought it was going well, although the liquid refused to get thick with stiff peaks.I then tried a balloon whisk on my hand mixer. Nothing happened.I added the peppermint extract and chocolate chips.Bad, bad ,bad idea. The fluff turned to liquid right quick.
I had to pour it on this.
covered in parchment paper.
It came out like this
A giant flat crisp. Yes,I was gutted.I wanted , cute puffy meringue kisses. What I got instead was a layer of gook.,Being thrifty.I decided to bake it as required, in a 250 degree F oven for an hour and a half. Surprisingly, the meringue pizza came out OK, with one side,perfectly crispy while the other was gooey and chewy..
What did I do with this mess? Put Eton in front of it and came up with a spin on the classic English dessert. I broke off pieces of meringue and layered it with whipped cream. Chocolate chips were tossed over it all for more flavor. It went from a disaster to a delicious and fun dessert.

I think my chickpeas and myself are better suited to this.
A tasty grab anything salad(More on that tomorrow)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

A Heirloom Cholay For The Weekend

Weekend meals are always a slapdash affair, A quickly grilled burger or tepid takeout. A better choice is an easy but very flavorful Indian choley or chole.Again , the Food Flirts, Sheila and Marilynn Brass come to the rescue with a recipe from their Heirloom Cooking With The Sisters (St.Martin's Press). The original recipe is from their English friend, Katy. She learned how to cook this from her mother, Viru, who was an expert on Indian cuisine.


1 (19 oz.) can of chickpeas
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes (I used the diced one from Tuttorosa)
2 medium potatoes boiled. ( I cheated here and microwave  boiled them)
1 tablespoon butter softened to room temperature (I subbed in I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (again I veered off and used olive oil instead)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (if you can't find them, ground cumin works just as well)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon curry  powder
1/4 teaspoon red  chili powder
1 cup chopped onions
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon or lime  juice

Drain chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cold water.(i'm saving the aquafaba for meringues - stay tuned for that)

Drain tomatoes in colander, then cut in 1/2 inch dice (or you can buy already diced tomatoes as I did). Set aside in another bowl.
Peel and cut potatoes into one inch pieces and place in a third bowl( I left the skins on  - it's a matter of taste)
Melt butter with oil in saucepan over low heat.

Add cumin seeds. Turn up heat slightly and stir with a wooden spoon until cumin seeds sizzle.

Add garam masala, curry powder and chili  powder and stir to mix.

Add onions and garlic and continue cooking until softened 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in diced tomatoes.

Add chickpeas, potatoes and salt and cook , stirring until chickpeas and potatoes are heated through 4 to 5 minutes.Remove cholay to serving dish and let cool to room temperature.

Pour lemon or lime juice on top before serving.

As with any Brass sister recipe, this was a huge hit with everyone taking three helpings each. I didn't add the citrus juice. I felt it was just as tasty without it. The spices were a wonderful mix  that worked well with the veggies. The only thing missing was the Indian flatbread naan to wipe the bowls clean.
I will be making this classic a lot in the future . It was easy  and delicious - the perfect stew for any night of the week.

Recipe page 58 of  Heirloom  Cooking With The Brass Sisters (St Martin's Press)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Heirloom Recipes From The Brass Sisters

Sheila and Marilynn Brass are the cooks with the books.The stars of the popular PBS show Food Flirts wrote two great books Heirloom Cooking With The Brass Sisters and Baking With The Brass Sisters (both published by St. Marten's Press). I tried their corn fritters and had an instant hit  - and an empty plate. The recipe is a tad labor intensive but worth it,.The recipe originated in 1910 from a woman the Brass Sisters called The Church Lady of Mansfield,Ohio. This recipe is one of her earliest, with her recipes cards spanning forty years of cooking.


1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 eggs separated
1/2 cup milk ( I used Soy Good's coconut milk. It worked in perfectly)
1 tablespoon butter melted (this was subbed in with Miyoko's Vegan Butter)
1 cup canned or cooked corn (for more color and flavor I used Green Giant's Fiesta Corn
2 tablespoons butter softened at room temperature (again Miyoko's was used here)

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cooked chives

Place flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and set aside.(the combined dry ingredients below)

Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl.
Beat in milk and melted butter.

Add dry ingredients and gently stir to combine. 

Gently fold in corn.

Beat egg whites until stiff in a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Fold egg whites into batter.

Melt two tablespoons butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.
Spoon one tablespoon batter into pan for each pancake, pressing down gently on them,once they are formed to make them thinner.
Cook pancakes until tops begin to bubble around the edges about two minutes. Turn and cook until the undersides are golden brown , about two minutes more.
 Serve immediately, topped with sour cream and chives. They can be kept warm in a 200 degree F oven for no more than 15 minutes. Store any leftovers in a cover container in the fridge. They can be refried.

I didn't  have any leftovers because they were a huge hit and eaten as they landed on the draining towel. This old classic is our new family favorite.

Recipe , page 56 in Heirloom Cooking With The Brass Sisters (St Martin's Press,2008)