Saturday, September 29, 2018

Fall's Latest Trends

Falls brings about everything new, from TV shows to fashions. What we eat and drink are no exception. There are some new products and celebrity driven trends that are on any foodie's radar.

Two of the latest trends are pictured below.
One is Bubly, a refreshing new seltzer. To be honest it made its' debut a couple of months ago. There are a variety of flavors and unlike other seltzers are flavored much more strongly than other seltzers. I first became aware of them when I would buy their strawberry flavor for rides down the New Jersey shore. The taste was amazing - as if I had squeezed fresh strawberries in plain seltzer. It was refreshing and delicious , especially for an hour to an hour and a half trip in solid Sunday traffic. When my Stop & Shop offered their twelve box cans on sale, I snapped them. up. The cherry flavor was crisp, think regular cherry soda without all that cloying sweetness. (it made a phenomenal base for egg creams.) Their lemon and lime was also very flavorful and I 'm looking forward to trying their grapefruit. and mango. Another trend is whipped cream made with different milks. Living in a vegan household, makes having certain foods difficult. One of them is whipped cream, the type you spritz on sundaes and hot cocoas. I tried Reddi-Whip's new vegan creams. in coconut.  The taste was slightly like that of an Almond Joy .Unfortunately the trademark ruffly look didn't come out and it kind of looked like vanilla pudding on my coffee. Maybe the almond milk one will be better.

For those wanting a better non-dairy whipped cream  try  this Soyatoo Rice whip.It does have a slightly boiled rice flavor but it holds its'. shape once it's squirted out.
Hershey's has come out with a chocolate and even a peanut butter whipped cream which I can see on ice cream, Death By Chocolate or even cupcakes.Reddi-whip already has a chocolate whipped cream which has been out for some time.Some celebrities  that are trending for the fall food season may be using any of these for their dessert recipes. One big trend right now is Chrissie Tiegen, who just recently published a cookbook. Hungry For More.Her banana chocolate bread looks amazing, especially since she pairs it with salted butter. Another celebrity with a cookbook is the ever practical Joannna Gaines whose Magnolia Table has a juicy homemade chicken pot pie recipe.   (both recipes can be found in the latest issue of People Magazine.

It's fall and that means new food trends and products. Try them for novelty's sake . They may just be your family's new favorite.                            

Friday, September 28, 2018

Carolyn Robb Royal Chef Extrodinaire

 Royal chef Carolyn Robb , has cooked for the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall s well as as for William, Harry, and their mother , Diana. Her new cookbook, The Royal Touch Cookbook, (ACC Editions 2018) highlights some of the princes' favorite sweet and savory recipes along with her inspiration for the book, her mother's family ones, and ones she's made for her daughters. It is a fascinating recipe book, complete with royal notes, from Prince Charles and Diana, along with the recipe for the groom's cake Prince William and Catherine Middleton had at their 2011 wedding reception. Below is my exclusive interview with her.

·  Welcome to Foodie Pantry! My readers would like to know what inspired you to be a professional cook and a baker? · My mother was a fantastic cook and my father was amazingly green fingered, so there was always wonderful fresh produce growing in the garden. As a child I was fed delicious home-grown home-cooked food which had a big influence on me and I loved being at my mother's side in the kitchen - learning from her and helping her. The older I got the more I knew that I wanted to be a chef!

·  Who was your biggest culinary influence  growing up? Definitely my mother!

·  Did you attend any cooking academy and if so which one and where? Yes - I attended the Tante Marie School of Cookery in Surrey.

·  How did you get into the professional side of cooking and baking? Whilst I was at university I worked in a coffee shop and restaurant and then I spent a ski season working in a hotel in Switzerland - this experience reinforced to me that I wanted to. cook professionally.

·   What is the new cookbook about and what inspired you  to write about it? . It is a collection of 100 of my favourite recipes drawn from my childhood, my time as a royal chef and from the present when as a mother I love cooking for my daughters. It is a project that my mother and I discussed doing together, but sadly we never got around to it so it is written in her honour.

·  You’re famously associated with the House of Windsor. How did you become involved with them and when did HRH Prince Charles hire you? When I was at cookery school I was invited to go to Kensington Palace for an interview with TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester - I worked for them for 2 years before being hired by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1989.

·  I see from your cookbook, you also knew Diana. Did you ever meet Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who is also famously known for her excellent meals? I cooked for Princess Diana for 4 years and yes, I did also meet and cook for The Duchess of Cornwall.

·  What were the prince’s favorite dishes and desserts? Prince Charles loved dishes made from his home grown vegetables, and in the winter he enjoyed game. Home-made ice cream and fruit from the garden was a favourite dessert. 

·  You also cooked for a young Prince William and a young Prince Harry. What were their favorites growing up? The young princes enjoyed traditional British food such as roast chicken , roast beef and Shepherds pie.

·  Have you cooked  and baked for the latest generation of royals, namely Prince George and Princess Charlotte? No.

·  And of course, the wives of Windsor, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Have you met them? No.

·  Did you ever cook or bake for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh? Yes I have.

·  I’m in the New York metropolitan area, where everything royal and British is adored and admired. Have you ever thought of opening up a restaurant or tea shop in Manhattan? I would love to open a tea shop, especially as baking is my great passion. I had not thought of Manhattan as a potential location, but I would never say never!

·  What is your advice to this upcoming generation of chefs? Choose your produce and ingredients carefully, use local products wherever possible and cook simply and in tune with the seasons .

·  And the last “I have to ask” question – what is your favorite savory recipe? Your favorite sweet one? There are so many things that I love, but the Pea and ham risotto in my book brings together my favourite Italian dish with a very traditional English combination - Peas with ham.  The sweet recipe that springs to mind is my 'Coffee caramel pecan streusel triangles'  whch I created as a way of combining vanilla, coffee, caramel and pecans my 'can't do without' sweet ingredients. Perfect served with coffee or as a dessert.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sheet Pan Dinner Without The Star

Meat, whether, it's' beef, chicken, fish, or pork is the main course and main reason for a sheet pan dinner. Yet what happens when there is no meat. Then let veggies rule supreme. They can create a tasty dinner on their own.

Melissa Clark tackled this in yesterday's weeknight cooking issue in The New York Times Wednesday Food section.What is the protein in a meatless sheet pan dinner? Beans.  They can be crunchy and golden or soupy and soft like they are in chili.Cooking them in an oven is a snap be cause you don't have to worry about them browning.Ms. Clark gives a delicious recipe for tostadas with roasted black beans, These are cooked with canned sliced tomatoes and a chipotle chile in adobo sauce. This may a bit involved because you also have to roast yellow and red peppers. The two pans are put in 400 degree F oven for half an hour. Both have to be tended to often with the beans being stirred every ten minutes or so.The tortilla are added with a third sheet pan. This is just to crisp them and it only takes five to seven minutes. It's them piling the beans and peppers on the tortillas and topped with crumbled queso fresco along with cheddar For more flavor Ms. Clark suggests making cumin salt which is cumin salt and lime zest mixed together and sprinkling that on top. A squeeze of lime is optional but gives the tostadas a fresh zing.

Another protein Ms Clarks suggest is tofu or tempeh. Start with these, add vegetables, some kind of fat for browning and any seasonings you like. One of her favorites is tofu marinated in tamari - soy sauce without the wheat  added. She then coats the squares  in cornstarch and baked until they're crunchy  The veggies Ms. Clark suggests is sweet potatoes. They're cut into wedges  that turn velvety in texture however broccoli and mushrooms . She also recommends not spraying the pan to make it easier to flip them.It would take away the crunchiness and inhibit the browning. I would say use it because it makes it easier to turn and to wash the pan afterwards.Another idea is chickpeas  which is like a fun appetizer when they're roasted. Ms. Clark pairs them with cauliflower and roasted lemons. Again she uses two sheet pans to cook. The cauliflower, tomatoes and jalapenos are cooked on on pan with oil and salt while the chickpeas and fingerling potatoes have been roasted on another, after they've been doused with a spiced oil, rife with turmeric and cumin,

Sheet pan dinners are an easy cook after a busy day. What's great about them is that they can be veggie centric as opposed to meat. The veggies and beans can provide a tasty and simple, easy to make dinner.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Week Night Issue

Cooking on a week night can be a chore.It's prepping and cooking food after a busy,hectic day that probably started at six or seven AM. High calorie, empty nutrition take out looks good around this point.Don't despair. There is a way to have easy home cooked food that both delicious and nutritious. Thankfully the New York Times Food section has come to the rescue.

The section's heavy hitters, such as Julia Moskin and Melissa Clark., offer suggestions and recipes to not only get you through the Monday through Friday slog but also deal with busy weekends.There's even an article by Rosie Schaap on minimalist drinks that can ease the sting of tiredness and a demanding family.One of the best recipes for a weeknight comes from Ms. Moskin in the form of chicken franchese.It's an easy recipe (that also can be made with tofu chicken as well) that's delicious without the stress of too much work. Chicken breasts are easy to cook. They can made made in  little time and please a hungry horde.They're also low fat, perfect for those watching their weight. However there is that chance that they  can also be dry, tough and tasteless. That's where chicken franchese comes in. This is an American classic, with no roots in Italy whatsoever.It was originally made with veal and might stem from similarly made classics such as piccata, Marsala and saltimboca. Basically,a thin cut of meat gets a thin coating of flour and then it's browned in oil with a drizzle of instant pan sauce. It can be a challenge because the chicken must be cooked in a flash or it will become scorched. The sauce must be quickly made or it can go cold really fast too.

Franchese is a lot more forgiving according to Ms. Moskin.It has an egg coating to keep it moist and a plentiful pan sauce to keep it comfortingly warm. This is a European custom seen famously in Wiener schnitzel and fritto misto. The sauce can be made a few hours ahead and the cutlets can be cooked at a more leisurely pace. Chicken cutlets are easy to whip up.It;'s first creating a batter composed of two eggs. milk, salt and pepper. The second coating, the flour is put in a separate bowl. The breasts are first dredged in the flour, shaken to get rid of any excess then dipped into the egg wash. They 're then fried in oil for about four minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. When finished, wipe the pan with paper towels and return to the stove.If you're adding the lemon slices  (and why not - they add color to the dish) fry them in oil until the edges are slightly brown,The sauce is made from butter and white wine along with  freshly squeezed lemon juice and chicken stock. The cutlets are then added and they'll add to the sauce thickening. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a nest of plain linguine or  steamed vegetables such as green beans or broccoli. that go well with the lemon I would serve both the pasta and veggies , possibly asparagus.

Weeknight cooking needn't be extra work.It can be an easy and fun way to end a hard day. whip an easy drink, chicken franchese and enjoy the meal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Flavor Star

How do chefs get the flavors right? How do they balance sweet with sour? Or add a dash of unami in a dish? They may have help - not just from the spice rack but also from the flavor star. It's appropriately named because for many chefs and home chefs it's their guiding North Star.

The Flavor Star is a chart showing the five flavors - salty, sweet, bitter, sour and unami, that savory taste usually associated with meats. namely steak.Using the chart can help in leveling a recipe's complex array of flavors , along with improving a dish's taste.Flavors can enhance each other. For example add a dash of salty to sweet and you've got a sensation. Home bakers for centuries have known that a pinch of salt brings out a cake's sweetness, Ramp that up a notch - add a dash of sea salt to chocolate chip dough or caramel and their sweetness plus other flavors such as chocolate and butter intensify. Here's an experiment you can try that exemplifies it. Take a heaping teaspoon of a caramel, topping - Smuckers is the best - and sprinkle some small nuggets of sea salt on top. Now eat the whole dollop, Yes, you do taste the salt, it's the first thing that hits you  - but you also taste the sugar and cream as if for the first time. Another example is the addition of something sweet to a salty tomato sauce.Without sugar, honey, or even carrot slices, the salt might be too tangy and even unpalatable.With the sweeteners, the sauce  is mellowed, savory without any lingering harshness of flavor.

You can download and print out the chart if you want. It's easy to remember what to do. If a savory broth  is too blah or bland, then give the dish a dash of soy sauce or miso. Anchovy paste is both unami and salty It is wonderful on steak (as any Piedmontese chef will tell you) . It brings out the meat's rich mineral flavor. It also brings out the flavor of vegetables, such as Savoy cabbage and Swiss chard. For a tasty sauce for these and even London Broil, make bagna calda, a Piedmontese "hot bath" primarily made of anchovy fillets., butter, olive oil, and garlic. The food's flavor will be the best you've ever had and you'll wonder why you didn't try this sauce before. As for foods being too bitter, a dash of sweetness helps. Even vinegar such as balsamic and apple cider can cut a savory dish's sour taste. You can also stir in a drop of maple syrup or dark honey too. If you don't have those then ketchup or barbecue sauce will do. Sour balances out spice and sweetness. If a dish is just too hot them  flick a teaspoon of sour cream or yogurt on top of it. As we all know spicy also helps both sour bland and even sweet bland. A chocolate cake with a kick of chili pepper makes for an exciting dessert. It just using the flavor star for a memorable bite.

 Make the Flavor Star your North Star. Use it to create memorable meals, desserts, and treats.  They'll be remembered for their incredible tastes.

Monday, September 24, 2018

It's Apple Season

With fall comes apples along with the myriad of recipes. What is great about them is that they can be a snack , a side or a dessert. They're perfect for any meal from breakfast to lunch to dinner.Be creative and brave with autumn's gems!

What you pick decides what you make,If you bring home baskets of Golden Delicious apples, then realize that they're best for apple sauce while Honey Crisps are better for eating fresh and to put into salads.Most of the varieties are good for snacking. Think about pairing slices with peanut butter or even better pair it with slices or cubes of sharp Vermont cheddar. A fun snack or dessert is the tart Granny Smith slices with a caramel dip. You can buy it or make your own using brown sugar and sweet cream. Some recipes call for cream cheese for extra creaminess along with a dash of brown cinnamon for extra bite.You could also just microwave caramels such as Kraft' s with a spritz of water added in for smoothness.Fresh apple slices are also perfect added to any breakfast. Slip them in to hot oatmeal or cold rice puffs for more flavor and fiber.A fun weekend breakfast or brunch dish is a Dutch baby. This is a giant (think skillet size) pancake baked in the oven and then sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar. Apples can even be added to French toast as a topping or baked inside a French toast casserole.

Of course apples can also liven up a lunch too. A few crisp slices in any salad makes it special. Use two different types such as the sweet Golden Delicious and the crunchy Roma, Try one that just has apples and cherry tomatoes. Spike it up with chilis and peppery mesclun greens.  Think of adding slices to a chicken salad, whether it's made with greens and last night's leftover roaster or one with mayo and raisins. Apples can be used as a side dish for a dinner as they are in Germany. Many German pork dishes comes with a side of sauteed apples. The apples' sugars break down the complex proteins of the meat, making it easier to digest. It also is a great foil for the pork's distinct flavor. You can easily make an applesauce in your crock pot or pressure cooker and use it for roasted pork or pork chops. An easier spin is sauteed apples. This is just simply sauteing the slices with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. Add cornstarch to thicken it. Sauteed apples are even good reheated with the pork as the meat's savory juices mix with the apples. Of course , anything with apples is the perfect dessert. Think an untraditional one with a cheddar crust. This is a bit more flavorful than the average crust. Or go sweet with a caramel walnut loaded apple pie. Baked apples are another great dessert. Go elegant with ones poached in a sweet red wine or fun with ones stuffed with caramel, butter and chopped nuts.

This is apple season. Use them in any recipe or as a sweet , fiber filled snack. They 're delicious any way you serve them.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fat Filled Fall Drinks

The temps dip and the first thing we reach for is --- a pumpkin latte. We down it like it's ice water on a hot day.The same goes for the peppermint mocha's which ride in on the pumpkin spice's coat tails.To be honest, all we're drinking is fat. Think of these quaffs as liquid cake and you might not be so quick to glug them down.

The average pumpkin spice coffee is anywhere from 300 to 400 calories. It's not much if you treat yourself to it once a week but have three or four times a week and then watch the weight gain. A better choice would be just a regular no bells and whistles cappuccino that comes in at only 120 calories. It's just as flavorful, especially when there's a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg on the top.Another idea is a simple black coffee.It's actually better because you get to enjoy the rich flavor without the hindrance of chocolate or caramel syrup and whipped cream. Hot tea is another zero calorie choice. Starbucks subsidiary Teavana is also being offered in all their locations. Try a hot , fruity tea instead. If you're stressed a soothing cup of chamomile is a better beverage than a caffeine laden espresso shot. A real dilemma is hot cocoa. This is a comfort drink and fortifier after  a hard day at work on a busy Saturday and Sunday. It will be high in calories however they can be cut with the right choices. Skip the whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Hot chocolate has a froth of its' own.Also  asked for two per cent milk instead of whole and keep the size down to a kid's mini cup.

Just as seductive and loaded with calories are the frappuccinos and frozen hot chocolates. These are basically liquid cake. They are tasty and refreshing , especially after a warm fall Saturday morning spent on the soccer field.One with all the works is close to five hundred calories!!! That's  one hero sandwich with the works.It can also be two lean pieces of steak too. Even just limiting these sweet coffees to the weekends, can cost one thousand calories. Is the flavor worth it? If you want an icy pick me up settle for a cold brew. Again, Starbucks has theirs , and one in particular the Nitro Foam
Cascara which has only eighty calories and gives a satisfying kick. A plain cold brew is even better with only five calories a glass.As for iced tea, just have a plain  unsweetened one with a slice of lemon.Many tea and coffee shops can turn their hot brews into iced ones. Think about having an iced peppermint or jasmine for a refreshing break. Some coffee shops, such as Dunkin Donuts, still sell their frozen hot chocolate. Stay away from these lethal sips.Some can reach up to nine hundred calories!!!!. If you want cold chocolate, opt for Silk's Chocolate Cashew Milk boxes at ninety calories a box. These can be brought anywhere and are even a great drink at home.

Don't fall into the pumpkin spice latte trap. Pick a sensible hot or cold drink that has zero to very little calories. Remember , they/'re just as refreshing and comforting as their high calorie counterparts.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Healthy Weekend Treats

Now that weekends are the only carefree, fun days , it's time to go wild with eating and snacking. Not too wild, though. There are some dishes and meals that are not only good to eat but good for you.It's easy to create a  fun, snacky meal or dessert loaded with vitamins, nutrition and flavor . It's just picking the right ingredients.

Pizza is always a weekend must.It's fun to make at home especially with toppings and a chewy crust. Make it healthier version using cauliflower as the crust. This is perfect for kids who have gluten and wheat allergies.It's just pulsing a cauliflower head and then steaming it for fifteen minutes.It's then stirring in an Italian cheese blend along with an egg for binding .You could also sub in coconut flour for the Italian cheese blend. As for toppings, think wholesome and fun. Sliced olives and onions are a great combo. Another fun idea is taking yellow, green, and red peppers and julienning them in a crisscross pattern.If your family does want meat , then think soy pepperoni for a more nourishing bite. You could also crumble fake or soy bacon  right before serving for crunch.If there's a party or team get together, then think about making mini or bite size pizzas.Serve these with another healthy nosh  portobello mushrooms. You'll have to get the smaller or baby ones. It's then rubbing them with a spicy dry rub before cooking . They can be grilled on an outdoor grill on an indoor one. If you have the time bake whole wheat slider buns along with having a fillings bar full of fun veggies such as avocado wedges and sliced cherry tomatoes.

Weekend treats always include some kind of sweet. Kids love a good sundae. Give them the same amount of excitement, without all the sugar and fat.Sub in banana "ice cream" for the real deal. This is just slicing bananas and then placing them in sandwich bags.These are then put in the freezer overnight and then the next day, they're pureed ,using a food processor. The result is a creamy , frozen dairy like treat that can blended with peanut butter or cocoa powder. Top with a healthy refined sugar free chocolate sauce using chopped dates, almond or cashew milk and cocoa powder. The sauce is made by blending the dates and milk together in a blender and cooking over a low flame til thickened. One and a half teaspoons of cocoa powder is added for the flavor. This sauce can also be used in sodas, malteds and milkshakes too.Another fun idea is an ice cream less sundae. Use a variety of different fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Layer with the homemade chocolate sauce and a non dairy topping you can easily make with coconut milk and vanilla.You could also bake healthy versions of Oreos , chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. It's just using unrefined sugar and spelt or whole wheat flour.Include the kids in this too to  acclimate them to healthy baking.

Weekends are meant for fun and eating. Yet it doesn';t mean to go hog wild with sugars , carbs and fats. Make healthy and fun treats. It's easy to give the kids something exciting and nourishing.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kakigori -Ice For All Year Round

We may be on the cusp of fall but pastry chefs are turning out mounds of delicious ice for dessert. Kakigori or Japanese shaved ice is hot right now as American chefs are adding it to their dessert menus, It's a different take on a frozen treat but just as satisfying and delicious.

Tejal Rao, a regular contributor to the Wednesday New York Times Food section wrote about this trend yesterday,Kakigori is different than Italian ice in the respect that it's fluffy and light as opposed to dense and packed. However like Italian ice, it was once reserved for the noblity and the ice brought down from the mountains,specifically from frozen lakes. It began during the Heian period, from the Eighth Century to the Twelfth. Now every Japanese family has a kakigori machine according to Norie Uematsu, a pastry chef at the Cha-an Teahouse in the East Village. She, herself, makes it, all year round , Kakigori is more similar to the Hawaiian shaved ice than to Sno-Cones (although all three are relatively similar) The difference is the texture Kakigori and to a lesser extent, shaved ice has a fluffy melt in your mouth texture. Snow cone ice is gravelly and pebbly, There's a definite  crunch to it.because of it's texture, Snow -Cones have all the flavor at the bottom of the paper cone.Shaved ice hold the syrup so every spoonful is highly flavorful.Depending on where you are, shaved ice is more prevalent, being sold at roadside stands and trucks. Snow Cones are usually sold at carnivals , state fairs and oceanfront boardwalks. Home chefs can buy kakigori or shaved ice machines and serve the treat year round.

For those thinking about buying a shaved ice machine, try to emulate the Japanese masters of this dessert/treat. You could buy different flavored syrups or you could alp it up. Yoojin Chung, the general manager at Stonemill Matcha in San Francisco serves the traditional ujikinoki , with green tea or matcha flavoring with a topping of red bean paste.Homemade coffee jelly(!) and soft mochi, soft Japanese rice cake top it..Cha-an Teahouse has been serving this kind as well as other flavors. Chef Uematsu developed  a white peach flavor , wrought from poached peaches and other fruit and decorated with house made peach gummies cut into star and heart shapes..Marc Johnson, chef de cuisine at David Chang's  Los Angeles based Majordomo used citrus, namely blood orange and grapefruit pieces layered with the ice.Now he's putting a Mexican spin on it creating a frosty version of horchata.Rice pudding is put at the bottom of the bowl, followed by coffee syrup and a strong brew made with horchata a ground milk like beverage made with tiger nuts. He hid pockets of caramelized sweetened milk and whipped cream. This was similar to the kakigori Ms, Rao tasted at the cafe Kuriya Kashi Korogi at the University of Tokyo The ice had fresh soy milk and sweetened condensed milk layered with whipped cream. There were stripes of red bean paste and topped with a sweet and salty puree of fresh edamame.

Kakigori is definitely the rising star of the American dessert scene. It elevates shaved ice to new levels, with it's unique flavors and toppings, This ice will be hot all year round.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Rise Of Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing has become an American classic , much like burgers and fries, or apple pie. Except unlike those it's everywhere - from our veggies to pizza - yes - pizza. This simple dip has not only taken over our kitchens but our lives as well. It's  as much a part of our culinary landscape as Thanksgiving turkey  or apple pie

Julia Moskin wrote about everyone's favorite dressing in today's New York Times Food section.Americans  love this uniquely American dressing.In fact in Europe ranch is simply known as American, that's how much it's entwined in our culture and identity.The reason for this lies in the dressings truly US' roots. It was first created in Alaska, by former plumber Steven Henson, a Nebraskan from Thayer Nebraska. He was on a construction crew and sometimes cooked for his fellow workers. In that part of the US, fresh ingredients such as dairy, herbs, garlic and onions were hard to come by. They had to come in powder form which served as the basis of ranch  dressing. by 1954, Mr Hensen and his wife , Gayle, had bought a ranch north of Santa Barbara California which they renamed Hidden Valley. There was a guest ranch house and a steak restaurant also on the property with the latter becoming more popular. The reason - a creamy , garlicky, spicy salad dressing. According to their son, Nolan,  diners were bringing mayo jars to be filled with it. Ranch dressing was being poured on everything, from steaks and veggies to salads. The senior Hensens created much easier to carry   envelopes of the dried ingredients to be mixed with buttermilk or mayonnaise at the diner's home The base for ranch is not a new idea. French onion dip is a precursor as is Mediterranean aioli and Middle Eastern toum.

It took until the 1980's for the dressing to become nationally known.It has spread eastward in the Seventies however it wasn't until 1986 when Doritos introduced Cool Ranch Doritos that ranch became a phenomena. Everyone loved the cool flavor and crunch and the chips opened the door for ranch to go from salad topper to dip. People were dipping french fries into it, chips and even using it on Buffalo wings replacing blue cheese dressing.As for the pizza and ranch marriage, it was Domino's Pizza who first used it on their wings. Consumers then realized it went well with their leftover pizza crusts.Before long the Millennials were dunking whole slices of the pie into it.There was resistance at first , but now Domino's and other pizza chains offer pies drizzled with it. Even upscale fancier places such as Emily's , owned by chef Marc Hyland and his wife , EMily offer ranch  topped pizza. Because of it's popularity - it was voted America's favorite dressing - other eateries are making their versions of it.Williamsburg Brooklyn's Samesa offers a Middle Eastern version made with labneh,a thick yogurt alongside chicken wings crusted with the zesty za'atar. Parcel 32 in Charleston, South Carolina has a cumin buttermilk aioli  while at Compere Lapin in New Orleans jerk roasted corn is served with ranch infused bread crumbs, thanks to chef Nina Compton's creativity.

We love ranch dressing. What's not to love?It's a mix of cool and spicy that goes well with everything. It definitely is the star of the American culinary scene.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dog Food For Thought

Our fur babies are sometimes the last we think about when it comes to nutrition. Yet, their health and diet is just as important or even more so than ours. Luckily there's a new cookbook - yes cookbook for dog parents that can guide them to feeding their pups better. Use it and there's a guaranteed difference.

Dr. Judy Morgan, a vet, and her husband, Hue Grant, wrote this informative and interesting book. Yin And Yang: Nutrition For Dogs, (36 Paws Press) It's based on the Chinese belief of yin and yang. There are diets for humans based on these principles, in which certain conditions such as diabetes and  arthritis are lessened  thanks to eating fresh foods and herbs. What is great about this book is that it's chock full of tables and guides. There is a page on how much to feed your dog based on his or her body weight. Another plus is the complete list of toxins . from chocolate to raw salmon and trout. This page should be Xeroxed and taped on every dog parent's fridge. Dr. Morgan and Mr. Grant also have a page debunking popular myths regarding certain meat and veggies. Parents will also be surprised that their pooch's coloring figures in greatly in what foods to give . The second surprise is that the dog's tongue also factors into what to cook for him or her.Also where the breeds originated are also part of the dietary factor.. For example, Huskies, , Malamutes and Samoyeds need what's known as cooling food. while Chihuahuas and Chinese Crested must be fed warm foods  such as goats and chicken as their ancestors were fed.

Do you need to be a good cook to use this book? No. You should be a conscientious one. Some of the ingredients you can find in your local grocery store. Some may take a trip to the butcher's.There are dishes that require rabbit or venison meat. (No worry, Google where to buy them in your area and pages will pop up).The instructions are super easy .It's just mixing such ingredients as butternut squash and turkey with salmon and parsley , and then cooking it all together in a loaf pan.. There are also fancy ingredients like portabella mushrooms and sardines along with everyday ones such as celery and chicken gizzards. Are there dog treats? Of course! Dr Morgan does recommend giving fresh fruit and veggies. Most fruit like melon and bananas are OK along with carrots and celery which can be cut into bite sized nibbles. There is a recipe for dehydrated treats along with ginger cookies spiked with cinnamon. Pup parents  can even make a fruit cake for their fur kids,It's loaded with antioxidant rich cranberries and blueberries. There's even a recipe for the trendy kale chips that owners can steal for themselves.

Yin And Yang ,Nutrition For Dogs is the must have cookbook for all dog parents. Using it will  make your pooch  happy and healthy, with a constantly wagging tail. That alone is the reason to buy this book.

The book can be found at

Monday, September 17, 2018

Greek Cuisine from Ancient To Modern

One of the oldest, established cuisines in the world is Greek. Its' recipes ,much like  Italian and Chinese, date back to antiquity and still have a lasting effect on 21st Century cooking. It is varied, reflecting its' relationship to the sea in the south and the Balkan Mountains in the north. The result is a cuisine, rich in flavor and ingredients.

The country's cuisine dates back 4,000 years.It's considered the forerunner of European cooking, as it spread its' culinary influence to ancient Rome The earliest dishes were fraught with frugality and was founded on the Mediterranean triad of wheat, olive oil and wine. Early diets were primarily vegetarian with meat rarely being eaten. It changed when Byzantine cuisine became prominent and offered tastier , spicier fare. Various cheeses  were introduced as were eggs. Omelets were a popular dish among the commoners. Nutmeg became a staple as did basil and lemon, the last two figure heavily in today's cuisine. Modern Green cuisine uses the most spices of any Mediterranean cuisine. Modern home chefs use everything from dill to oregano and mint. Dishes may also contain bay laurel along with garlic and onion.Northern Greeks use cinnamon, usually reserved for sweet dishes in many recipes calling for meat.  Fennel or anise is also used in some dishes too.

Modern Greeks and their Greek American counterparts enjoy spanokopita a savory, spinach and  cheese rich pie.As with many Hellenic dishes, the base is phylo dough , a thin flaky kind of bread made with only flour,water,salt and olive oil.Also made with the dough are the popular kotopita, chicken pie and chortopita, one made with various greens like dandelion and romaine lettuce. Gyros (pronounced heros which is where we get the word from).are another treat that the Greeks are known for and have joined the American cuisine landscape. It is shaved lamb or beef and served on a fluffy pita usually with tomatoes , onions and tzatzki sauce. The last is made with salted strained or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers,, garlic and olive oil. along with lemon juice and herbs.Everyone loves baklava, sweet syrup soaked layers of phyllo dough usually filled with ground walnuts.It was brought in through the Ottoman Empire and has variations throughout the Middle East and Balkans. Another toothsome treat is kouribiedes, the buttery almond cookies that are drenched in powdered sugar. These are pure heaven with a buttery, nutty flavor and are usually made at Christmastime or for baptisms.

Greek cuisine will endure for another thousand years. It is delicious, full of spices and flavors that have endured for centuries. It's is both modern and ancient.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Macedonian Cuisine An Interesting Mix

  Macedonian cuisine is an interesting blend of flavors and ingredients, celebrating the country's long and varied history.It has tongue searing peppers, tasty kabobs and citrus spiked pastries. It's a mix of of Slavic and Turkish,  celebrating the country's resources.

I visited the St Nikola's Macedonian Orthodox Church in Totowa, New Jersey for their annual feast. I was very curious about the food, wondering if it was similar to Greek (both countries are part of the Balkans) or was it similar to Slavic. It's sort of like both and not - being unique in its' own way. There's a lot of Mediterranean influences and, thanks to five hundred years under the Ottoman empire Turkish. Middle Eastern influences are obvious  as well. Red peppers figure hugely in it and the festival  featured them.. They were roasted and pleasantly slick with oil. The taste was mild at first them the heat hit -a fire that highlighted the pepper's natural sweetness.They also had stuffed peppers, both filled with beef and rice. There was also tavche gravche or baked beans.This is not the sweet Boston version, rife with brown sugar. Garlic and hot peppers - the mouth searing  vezeni - spike up the legume's bland flavor. The Turkish influence is strongly seen in their kabobs, There were pork and chicken .I tried the chicken.The meat was flavored with vegeta, a Macedonian spice mix of turmeric, garlic powder and dehydrated carrots. I suspect they also put this on their Macedonian burgers too.

The pastries strongly showed their Ottoman heritage. There was baklava, which was not as gooey as the Greek and Palestinian versions. The phyllo dough was crisp, even though it had been drenched in a honey syrup. It was filled with a light tasting ground walnut paste.I also sampled their walnut cake which has the delicate taste of orange. They looked dense, with a packed crumb but were not as heavy as they looked. The church bakers also had a kind of jelly doughnut, popular at street fairs and in homes along with ravanija. This is a dense, eggy cake ,sometimes made with semolina and coconut , but theirs had a thick vein of chocolate going through it. Homemade tolumba  -a kind of churro, was also on sale. These are ridged tubes, made with flour, eggs, butter, and sugar and deep fried, like the Southern Italian zeppoli and soaked in sherbet, a honey  syrup. The feast also sold mastica, the kicky liqueur made from the mastic tree and rakia - Macedonian moonshine, made with all sorts of fruits, from grapes to plums to peaches.

If you're in Totowa, stop in and visit St.Nikolo's annual feast.. The food is different, both fiery and delicate, savory with spices and sweet with honey. It's definitely worth trying.

St Nikola's Macedonian Orthodox Church,
55 Wentick Street,
Totowa, NJ ( right off Rte 80  - exit is the Union Boulevard exit)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Nourishing Help

Hurricane Florence has practically decimated the Carolinas. If you are there, know that everyone from around the country is praying and hoping for your best. If you're near the the area, and want to help.then donate food. It will be greatly appreciated.If you live far away, then consider bake sales to raise funds to help.

One of the biggest ways to help is donating money. Consider Harvest Hope Food Bank which is a regional organization that supplies food to the towns of Lexington, Columbia, Greenville and Florence , South Carolina. Their website allows you to donate meals affected by the crisis. To do so just select disaster relief when you fill out their online form. A mere ten dollars can feed fifty(!) people. Donate $100 and you;'ve fed a fraction of a town. (Remember to print out your receipt and keep it with your tax data. It is a considered a tax deduction)Also remember to donate to the American Humane Society as well. They give out food and water to those displaced animals , staying with their owners in shelters.Animal shelters taking in the lost and abandoned cats and dogs also need bags and cans of food. Stores like Pet Smart have set up tables where you donate money or pet food. If you are buying food, keep in mind to also donate puppy and kitten chow as well as specifically designed for for senior cats and dogs.

Even if you're several states away, you can help. It's still summer and you can easily help the kids set up a lemonade stand. Another money making idea is the classic bake sale. This can include several of their friends or classmates to offer a variety of different sweets and treats. Also instead of one day, think of a two day sale - again to garner more funds.Try to get local news to cover it, to bring awareness of those affected by the hurricane as well as bringing in more customers. Bigger groups such as houses of worship and civic groups can throw a sit down barbecue where guests can pay for an all you can eat hot dogs and hamburgers along with salads and other sides.Restaurant owners and chefs can also get involved in hurricane relief as they did with Hurricane Maria, last year. Some of New York's best chefs flew down to Puerto Rico and fed residents and volunteers for weeks on end,. Southern chefs with Carolingian roots can also come together and cook such Lowcountry classics as gumbo, Charleston Red Rice and Hoppin John,

Florence is a devastating superstorm. There are so many people and animals that need our help and food. Donate any way you can. Help them now.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A New Spin On Spinach

Spinach as been the main or secondary main ingredient in a lot of dishes. It adds color and flavor to omelets, spark to quiches and sparkles as the star of spinach pie. Now imagine it as a condiment. Cooked down to its' essence, it becomes a must have for meat and fish dishes.

Great chef and baker, Yotam Ottolenghi wrote about pkaila (or sometimes known as bkeila).It is a cooked down condiment that Tunisian Jews make.It's a variation of cholent,the cooked down beef stew  eaten by Ashkenazi Jews.It can be cooked with the leaves or Swiss chard. It's basically frying down spinach leaves in a generous quantity of olive oil. It cooks down to a greasy black paste, basically the essence of the plant.The paste is packed with flavor, a rich blend of spinach and olive oil. There are two methods of creating this. One is chopping fresh leaves and cooking them in a Dutch oven over a medium heat in a Dutch oven. Use a wooden spoon to stir it about. Start adding oil when the spinach is almost done and releasing steam. Continue to stir and add oil at regular intervals. Do this for about one hour or one hour and fifteen minutes. The spinach should be blackened but not burned. The quicker way is taking two pounds of drained frozen spinach and microwaving it with olive or even vegetable oil Use five spoonfuls and do this for three times after microwaving the leaves for fifteen minutes each time.Once completed , puree the spinach mixture in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Store in jars , adding more olive oil before sealing.

Chef Ottolenghi pairs pkaila with halibut.It won't over whelm the fish but will definitely shine, Most Tunisian home chefs use the condiment to make tfina pkaila,a stew made with oxtails, and butter beans.The fish is cooked with chickpeas and the two are marinated in a spicy blend of cumin.cloves and coriander. Chef Ottolenghi also uses a mainstay of Middle Eastern cooking powdered Persian lime. You can buy it at any Middle Eastern grocery store or on Amazon. You can also make it by taking the dried fruit and roughly crush it with a side of a knife. It's then grinding the lime in a spice grinder. The fish filets and chickpeas are fried separately. They re then placed on the pkaila which has been zinged up with more dried Persian lime powder and cinnamon for sweetness and, cumin, cloves and Anaheim green peppers for zest. A lemon peel salsa is sprinkled over the finished dish for more tang. There is also another recipe,with fresh cooked spinach and cooling yogurt, along with the chickpeas and the spices and powdered Persian lime  that Chef Ottolenghi loves.

Try pkaila as a new way of having spinach. It is a great way to experience the leaves in a new and different way. It's an exciting and exotic spin on a classic ingredient.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Andrew Zimmern Culinary Supernova

The food world has many stars - namely chefs who became celebrities or became their own brands. Then there is Andrew Zimmern - the star of The Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods". He is a rock star , garnering fans as he goes on some wild foodie road trips. Yet he's as approachable as the guy next door.

Kin Severson,a regular contributor to The New York Times Food section interviewed along with followed this supernova of a true foodie and chef. For those who are not  familiar with him, Chef Zimmern has an interesting hour long food show "Bizarre Foods" on The Travel Channel. He is an affable guy, think of your neighbor or office buddy trotting around the world and eating the strangest and ickiest morsels. His everyman demeanor has made him beyond popular.He shouldn't be, according to Ms. Severson.He has tee shirts that say "Food woody "along with making a big deal about eating coconut grubs and raw pig testicles.! Social media has shredded him  along with getting battered and bruised with low ratings. Yet he persists. He is a confessor and a guide, according to his friend,Jordana Rothman, the restaurant editor at Food and Wine Magazine.Chef Zimmern has a measure of grace and honesty, apparent in his reporting that many don't have. He is a people's favorite, still covering the Minnesota state fair like the local reporter he once was.He's also opening a chain of Chinese restaurants Lucky Cricket, sort of like PF Chang's with restaurant scion, Michael McDermott whose father created Fuddruckers and Chi-Chi's

You would think he came from a Midwestern family of cooks, who shared recipes dishes but that's furthest from the truth. He is a New Yorker, educated at the tony Dalton School. His father was an ex-Navy man who traveled the world , eventually settling down to be an adman on Madison Ave. His mother struggled with the after effects of brain damage , the result from a botched surgery to remove an appendix scar. She slipped into a coma when he was away at camp and when he returned his father did not want to talk about her. Chef Zimmern started to drink heavily, despite his young age. He also became a drug dealer. Between arrests he wound up with alcohol poisoning.He took summer jobs cooking and discovered he was good at it. He worked in European restaurant kitchens during his college breaks. By the late Eighties he was working with such culinary luminaries as Anne Rosenzweig and Thomas Keller, founder of the famed French Laundry, Yet drugs and alcohol still fuled his life. Luckily he called a childhood friend who got him into a rehab center. It worked and he turned himself around. He now also lectures to inmates at San Quentin Prison, giving them hope and promise. He is the everyman who has hit bottom and rose up , helping others along the way.

There's a reason that Andrew Zimmern is the supernova he is. He is relatable in an industry where celebrity foodies and chefs aren't/ He is the everyman who loves strange foods and earthy conversations.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Meals Of Inclusion

Today is a day we should think of others ,  other nationalities, other religions ,and other beliefs The best way to do this is to have inclusion brunches , lunches or dinners. They can be held at your house or at the school or house of worship. It's not only a great learning experience but a great dining experience too,.

Planning an inclusion meal can be just with neighbors and even welcoming new ones onto your block. First think of where you want it; If you have a big enough house, you can hold it indoors.If the weather is still warm and sunny, then think about having it outside (and if there's a chance of rain, then clear out the garage and set up tables). Since the kids probably have mingled already at school, set up a table for them.Have the adults at another so everyone can meet and greet.As far as food, keep in mind people dietary restrictions. One idea is cooking the main meal such as grilled chicken  and have everyone bring a dish from their family's recipe box. These can be set family style in the middle of the table , where everyone can reach  and pass or buffet style on extra tables set in a row.. A fun  getting to know you idea is having blank recipe cards  and pens on every plate . That way people can exchange the recipes for the dishes they've brought. Also  food is a safe topic and it opens up a discussion than can include everyone no matter what their background is.

If you belong to your local PTA , float this idea to board members. A great idea of inclusion is having a food fair. or  an international fair. There can be booths set up that can featuring different finger foods  like samosas and satays, Have one or two tables that feature sweets and baked goods too. This is also a good teachable event so set up workshops where adults and kids can talk about everything from racism to bullying.There can also be games with prizes for the younger kids.If you're planning this, first decide where to have it. It could be the school gym, but if it's a beautiful fall day, spread it out to the playground. It's then writing down volunteers' names and the dishes that they'll make. Make sure it's an evenly balanced menu.You don't want to have all savory or all sweet. Another point to consider is people's strengths. Have them make what they're good at. That way there are very few disasters and mistakes. Also have the kids create a poster about the recipe and what it means to them and their families. Churches can do this too, at their Sunday lunches.Houses of worship can unite to  create an inclusion lunch or dinner.It's a great  way of having parishioners learn about other religions  from those who practice as opposed to learning about them from fanatics or politicians.

This day is a day of deep remembrance. It's also a day to think and plan an inclusion meal where we can learn about  others and tolerance. It starts with a plate of good food and good conversations.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hurricane Hoarding

September means hurricanes. The worst weather is about to be unleashed on us, even though some may not be affected that badly. Unfortunately people panic and run amok in their local grocery stores.Before doing this take a deep breath and a step back before you hurricane hoard.

The first thing to do upon hearing that a hurricane is coming is take stock of what you have already. Check to see what kind of canned goods you have and what they can be used for.Also check dates. You may have some expired ones stashed among your current collection of tins.Keep in mind that this assessing can spawn ideas on what to cook.If you have a lot of beans, they can be used in a variety of different ways.They can be used in soups or meat dishes or the main meal itself.. Mashed together you can create bean burgers or bean loaf. The same goes for canned veggies. Canned tomatoes are great in an impromptu sauce. They can also be part of a cacciatore sauce for chicken.Tinned string beans can be used in a salad along with being a hot side dish. Any veggie can be used to round out a minestrone. If you have them, figure you'll have enough ingredients for three or four days.Use them or they will go bad.

As much as you want to, be careful about hoarding dairy.It's tempting to pick up a few gallons of milk and hoard it. Yet milk needs a cool place or it could sour. What is a better idea is buying condensed or powdered milk and adding water to it. Water too gets hoarded as well. Before going out and buying several twelve or twenty-four packs, check again to see what you have. You may have a few bottles left over from summer road trips or beach days that still are potable.If they're past their sell by date, use them for washing  and get new bottles.Eggs and bread are other items that seem to be scooped up at the first bad weather report.Keep in mind that eggs are very fragile when left out at room temperature. Bacteria grows rapidly inside the shell, which can easily lead to salmonella.Unless you have guaranteed refrigeration, let them go for now. Beans can provide your family with the protein needed. As for bread, the freshly baked loaves from your grocery's cake department will turn moldy before the loaves of mass produced bread. Get the double wrapped name brands like Arnold and Pepperidge Farms. These will keep for a couple of weeks if they're properly sealed.

Stocking up for a hurricane is good. Hoarding isn't. Before you go out on a  grocery run, assess what you have. You don;t want to overstock or over buy, You may already have the food and drink you'll need.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Kitchen Cleaning For A New Year

Rosh Hashanah is upon us and that means a new year, along with sweeping out the old. For other this transitional time, it means evaluating the summer foods and ingredients. Get rid of the old,  and prep the pantry and fridge for fall ingredients.

Summer is all about the barbecue sauce. If it's still warm where you are,keep on grilling. The stuff can last anywhere between six to twelve months, depending upon its' composition. However it can also be used instead of ketchup for burgers and fries.Yet it can be added in meat loaf ,meat  balls and hamburgers. It gives the meat a sweet tang and a spicy bite, which takes ground beef out of the ordinary .Another idea of what to do with barbecue sauce is adding it to shredded pork for pulled pork or leftover roast chicken  for a take on the first.This makes a great Saturday lunch, perfect with potato chips or a scoop of potato salad.Barbecue sauce also can be a key ingredient in homemade baked beans.If you bought jerk sauce for spicier outdoor fare, you can still use it  in a variety of dishes.Like barbecue sauce it has a shelf life of anywhere from six months to a year. Add to a chicken stew for some bite and excitement or even to tomato sauce to create a Caribbean version of arrabiata  sauce.

If you have a garden, then you know about end of the season overage.Luckily tomatoes can be  turned into sauce that can easily be stored in freezer.It can also be turned into salsa and even jam.What is great about tomato jam or jelly is that it also uses green tomatoes,This is perfect if you're cleaning out the garden and have a few stragglers.Summer's herbs, especially basil can still be used or ground into pesto.If you've made several containers of the sauce, remember that it can be added to tomato sauce and even mayo.Try a pesto flavored potato salad or hummus for a different take. Make an Italian BLT with pesto mayonnaise and subbing in pancetta for the bacon.Pesto also highlights seafood and fish, Consider serving mussels with the sauce or add it to a tuna and white bean pasta sauce. That sweet summer treat, ice cream, is probably sitting in the freezer.It has one of the shortest shelf life of any summer food - two to three months only.If eating it on a chilly day gives you the shivers ,consider serving it with a hot fudge or hot caramel sauce. Smuckers has some great toppings that can easily be warmed in the microwave. Another way to get rid of it, is adding a blob of it to hot coffee for a different take on a latte.Or put it between Nilla or chocolate wafers for mini ice cream sandwiches (for a bigger bite, use the monster cookies from your local bakery)

It's a new year and a new season. Get rid of the old summer ingredients and make way for the fall..There will be more room for what's ahead.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Fancy Up Your Bake Sale

The new school year is here and with it the promise of bake sales. Sadly it'll be the same old products - cupcakes with blobs of store bought icing. Slice and bake cookies. Maybe a batch of scratch chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps it's time to fancy it up. Make elegant but easy treats that will be absolute hits and bring in more money for your cause.

Add a bit of France to your bake  sale with a  variation  of Gateau breton .This is a buttery tart made with buckwheat with the filling of  dried prunes and apricots. Melissa Clark made this , and gave the recipe in her A Good Appetite column in Wednesday's New York Times Food section.It is a tad labor intensive , because the prunes and apricots have to be cooked in rum before spreading on the dough. Still' it's about the same amount of work as a scratch cake.Also if the prunes and apricots are not to your liking, then try a hazelnut filling. If hazelnuts are hard to find, then try pecans.Another crowd pleaser is the French yogurt cake, This scratch cake looks and has the same dense crumb as a pound cake. It's zinged up with Greek yogurt and finely grated lemon zest. It can be sold in slices or make four or five loaves and sell them.Of course macarons are still hot and will definitely be a big draw to any bake sale.It's a flourless recipe made with a combination of almond meal and confectioner's sugar. One popular combination is a vanilla macaron with a chocolate ganache filling.

Italian treats are another idea. Biscotti is a well known favorite (and a chance to serve cappuccino) and relatively easy to make. It's a twice baked cookie with a simple flour and butter based dough. What is great about them is that the recipe can be varied.Add a cup and a half of cocoa powder for chocolate biscotti. Also nuts can be used to vary the flavors. To give them more oomph, dip the ends in a variety of chocolate  white, milk and dark . Crostoli, those deep fried ribbons of dough will definitely be best sellers at any bake sale. They are deep fried  dough, flavored with vanilla and lemon juice. You could sub in freshly squeezed orange juice to vary it. Most recipes usually call for them to be fried in peanut oil, however due to the large number of peanut allergies, use vegetable oil instead. As far as what to drink with these gourmet goodies,think cappuccino and espresso (although have regular coffee and tea for customers), Also have a variety of teas, from Earl Grey to peppermint and jasmine. If someone has  a Keurag machine and  there's an outlet, then use it to offer a wider variety of beverages.

Zing up your bake sale with fancier cakes and cookies. They'll not only be top sellers but will bring in much more cash than a regular bake sale. Make it fancy - and you'll reap the rewards.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Late Summer Feast

The days of summer are waning.The farmer's markets will be closing within a few weeks. The barbecue closed until the Spring.Before all that happens , enjoy the fresh produce that can accompany a good cut of steak. It's the perfect weekend meal for a lazy September weekend,

The recipes come from David Tanis and Allison Roman from yesterday's New York Times Food section. Mr. Tanis writes in his City Kitchen column about a vegetable salad, good on its' own or with Ms. Roman's steak recipe.It has a variety of different beans from coco to cranberry, along with runner or Romano beans. Mixed  in with is is grilled eggplant to give it a smokey flavor along with  sliced medium and cherry tomatoes.It's a perfect marriage of cooked and raw with the tomatoes being left as is , and served at room temperature. The beans are boiled in a combination of water and olive oil, seasoned with salt and a sprig of thyme and rosemary , or bay leaf if you want a stronger flavor. The eggplant can be cooked over a hot grill,under a hot broiler or in a dry cast iron skillet. The vegetables are dressed with an anchovy vinaigrette which brings  out all the flavors.Another idea is adding anchovy filets and then using a plain vinaigrette to dress the salads. I would add the filets - which also would go well with the steak

Allison Roman's steak comes with an unusual salsa verde. The steak is a hanger cut, recommended by her butcher.With it comes the salsa verde, made with kale, mustard greens, and Swiss chard instead of the usual tomatillos, white onions, and cilantro.The steak is  cooked in a large skillet with canola oil. It's simply seasoned with salt and pepper and seared for three to four minutes on each side until it's completely golden brown..It's then laid on the greens  to "cook them." This wilts and soften the leaves, especially the kale. Ms. Roman advises to let the meat juices mingle with them to create a rich , savory sauce.She suggests serving it with salty potato chips or steak frites, but Mr. Tanis' salad can work well with it too.Hanger steak can be expensive (there's only one per animal)so you could use a thick skirt or flat iron cut. The skirt is a thin long cut of beef from the cow's stomach.It has a rich beefy flavor, that may work better with the salsa verde. The other option is the the flat iron steak, taken from the shoulder.It's a fatty piece with a lot of marbling to it, thanks to its' location. Still it's an excellent piece to pan cook or better yet , slap on the grill for a later summer barbecue.

A perfect late summer meal is a cooked steak with a tasty vegetable salad. Combine Ms. Roman's and  Mr. Tanis' recipes for a delicious meal Make it and enjoy the rich earthy flavors of both.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Mexican Flavored New Year

The Jewish New Year is  fast approaching .It begins this Monday with traditional foods celebrating the day, with recipes handed down from Eastern European ancestors. However the next generation adds their own spin, using the ingredients and flavors of their adopted country.

This was the subject of Priya Krishna's article about Mexican -Jewish cooking in today's New York Times Food section., She focused on Fany Gershon, the owner of La Newyorkina ,a sweet, shop, and Dough, a doughnut business. Her Mexican heritage shines through in her paleta's and doughnuts  ,redolent with Mexican cocoa, chipotle and cinnamon. It stands to reason that her family recipes also have these flavors as well.As Ms. Krishna points out Jewish and Mexican cuisine couldn't be further apart but as Ms. Gershon pointed out both are very tradition rooted , very proud and very family oriented.Of course the traditional Rosh Hashanah  platter includes apples and honey to insure a sweet new year., a round challah to symbolize the circle of life , pomegranates to signify abundance and fish heads for fresh starts at the head of the year.The Mexican influences is spice added to matzoh ball soup, apple cinnamon challah and a guajillo pepper gefilte fish.

However she still needed help, especially when she threw her first New Year's dinner in New York.Ms. Gershon had to enlist the help of the New York Times  food writer, Joan Nathan., She was excited to learn that Ms. Nathan's recipes and her grandmother's weren't all that different. Over the years the dishes were honed and polished. The first night will be spent with friends at home while the second night she'll cook a Rosh Hashannah meal at her  husband's ,Daniel Ortiz de Montellano at his restaurant , La Publica in the  Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. There will be homemade challah (which kind of is shaped like her cat Leonard.), rich with apples cooked in sugar and cinnamon.Her chicken broth for the matzoh ball soup will include garlic , cilantro and white onions. She uses white ones because they "taste" like Mexico to her. Extra chicken is added to the pot because the leftovers can be used to fill tacos and enchilada. Her store, La Newyorkina will be serving honey , chile infused ice cream instead of honey cake and rugelach that 's spiked with chipotle peppers.

Family recipes are gems to be passed down. Yet there are outside influences that creep in and make them better. It is true for Mexican-Jewish cooking, a marriage of ancient cuisines.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Put Down That Hot Latte

It may be September but it's still summer - and it's still devilishly hot.Thanks to the chain coffee shops, hot pumpkin spice and maple coffees and teas are being shoved down  our throats, despite the high temps. Forget those. Continue with the frosty and refreshing.

Many coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, have discontinued some of their summer sellers. This is ridiculous. Summer ends in three weeks.We will still have hot,steamy days that require large cups full of something liquid poured over ice.Luckily there are places that still serve coolers. Panera is one of them. You can still enjoy an iced coffee, or better yet, one of their refreshing agua frescas.These are just infusions made with prickly pear or hibiscus, light flavors that are perfect during these steamy days. Despite it pushing its' fall drinks Starbucks actually does still offer cold drinks Luckily they haven't put their popular Cold Brew coffees on the shelf. For those who want to save money, buy yourself a fancy container and make your own iced coffee.It's nice to bring to a soccer game or a later summer Sunday at the beach. A plus about making your own iced brew is that you add anything you want, from a soy or almond milk creamer  to a squirt of chocolate or caramel syrup.

This is not the time for a cup of hot cider.Instead try  apple slices infused in spring water.Slice up a Granny Smith - you could use Roma's or Honeycrisps if you want a sweeter taste and drop in three cups of cold water.For more zing add in a sliced ginger and some lemongrass. It should last up to three days. Want sparkle? Then combine the slices with seltzer. The latest one to hit the shelves is Bubbly, a flavor soaked seltzer that packed with natural juices. Try the Granny Smith slices with the cherry or orange flavors.September  is also the second season for raspberries. Try these gems in either plain or sparkling water.Add one cup of rinsed raspberries and the juice of one lemon to a pitcherful of liquid. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour and then strain out the berries. These can be reused in smoothies. Serve with mint leaves. Mint is also refreshing . Stir in a few leaves  - not a lot otherwise it will taste like mouthwash, and let set for an hour. Strain and serve with a lemon wedge for color.

Don't touch those hot pumpkin spiced lattes.It's still hot. Stick with an icy cold refresher that will take this later summer heat away.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Laboring To Feed Us

Today being Labor Day it's time to honor those who labor to feed us and our families. They include
the migrant farmers living in awful conditions with barely a roof over their heads and primitive bath and eating facilities. They work long hours tending and picking crops that eventually go into our meals.Then there are the supermarket clerks who check out our groceries. Some work five or six hours without getting a break, or only receiving a fifteen minute breather. Thank them every time you’re at their check out. Also honor them .Don’t go to the self checkouts . The more shoppers who do this eliminate the need for these workers. That means their jobs will eliminated and they will lose everything from a paycheck to their pensions.

Labor Day may mean a day off to you, but to waitstaff all over the US  it means a day of work. Granted they get time and a half and tips, but they’d rather spend this summer day with friends and family. They’d rather chill at a barbecue or beach instead of taking your order and serving them. Give them a bigger than usual tip. Keep in mind that busboys, chefs, cooks and fast food employees don’t receive tips. Treat them kindly, and tell them how much you appreciate their hours of work.

This day celebrates America’s work force. Honor those who are responsible for feeding and nourishing you.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Inclusion Dinners

One of the best aspects about kids starting school, is that their world opens up, They get to meet classmates from all sorts pf backgrounds. Even better is when the classmates expand not just your little one's world but yours as well. What better way to do this than throwing an inclusion dinner , featuring the best of of everyone's backgrounds.

Kids will always want their best friends over for lunch or dinner, especially the last.What better way to show your family recipes and traditions. It gives the younger ones as well as their older siblings an open dialog about differences and why our country is proudly called the melting pot.They can discuss their heritage and the different dishes their families make.An excellent idea is expanding the invite to the friend's parents and extended families.Keep in mind dietary restrictions and customs. If the family wants to bring one of their dishes ,let them.It's also a good time for a recipe swap, especially if what you'v served is a hit. Be open to the friend's mother asking questions about cooking and the ingredients. The family may not be familiar with some dishes and curious on how to flavor them. Bring out the spice bottles and let them try the spices you've used. A nice gesture is gifting them with  the spices used in cooking or baking.The friend's family will probably reciprocate with a thank you dinner .

What can you serve? Whatever represents your family's heritage.Keep in mind  that most foods considered US born and created actually came from other places.Also keep in mind if all their family have different beliefs. The kid may want to try a Sloppy Joe or chicken nuggets, however his or her folks may be vegetarian. If that's the case then try Gardein or Morningstar Farms meat free products. Both companies have a large variety of veggie burgers, soy hot dogs, meat crumbles and chicken nuggets.Another idea is incorporating some of the ingredients from their dishes into yours. For example bok choy can be used in salads Garam masala , a staple in Indian cooking can be used in fried chicken batter for a fun and spicy twist.Caribbean spices are not just for jerky or callaloo. Add a teaspoon of it in meat loaf or hamburgers. The idea of incorporating flavors also extends to dessert. Add rose water , usually used in Indian , Greek and Middle Eastern desserts to vanilla pudding or vanilla ice cream.

Tolerance of others begins at home.A meal with a classmate can teach you and your children about inclusion and acceptance. That's the best lesson ever..