Wednesday, October 31, 2018

I Gave Out Healthy

It's Halloween and Sweetie - my sweet girl -  and  I want to wish you a Happy Halloween. her idea of a perfect treat involves tuna. I can't give that out

                                         So I went with these. I went healthy instead of wicked.
These are Crispy Apples from Crispy Green. Crispy Green is a company that freeze dries fruit, from apples to pineapples(!) to bananas and every other fruit in between, The result is a fun treat packaged in handy snack bags.Best of all they're healthy along with being only thirty-five calories a bag. I've had these and love them.
They can be mistaken for potato chips. What I love - and I hope my trick or treaters will is the crunch. Apple Crisps have the same crispy, crunchy texture as any savory snack. Crispy Greens are wonderful for those dieters longing to satisfy their primal need to crush something between their teeth.

Do I regret giving out healthy for Halloween? No. If it opens at least one kid's or parent's eyes to a healthier snack or treat, then they were definitely worth handing out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Super Pasta To Try

A bowl of pasta is not only delicious but nourishing, It's full of the good carbs and niacin, the perfect dish for a chilly fall day. Explore Cuisine has reinvented this centuries old dish and amped it up by adding beans to the recipe. The result is a super  pasta with a super taste.

Explore Cuisine has redefined pasta. They manufacture such kinds as below:
They also have rice pastas,in the fuslli,rigatoni and macaroni shape.I like the idea of red lentils and was excited to try the penne which is a favorite too.
This is what it looks like uncooked.
It's kind of a reddish  - orange in color. Would it taste bean-y. Cooking it like regular pasta will tell. I boiled it in slightly salted tap water as I would do with the wheat kind.
It only takes eight to ten minutes to cook al dente.
Did it have a beany flavor? Only slightly It' also still had a pale orange flavor. However it tasted like regular pasta with my Mom's homemade sauce recipe.
It was delicious. The only problem is that two ounce box only serves two people. You will need another box for a family of four. I did have leftovers which will be cooked with a butter sauce tomorrow.

As the temps drop, think Explore Cuisine beans and rice pastas. They are the perfect nourishment for chilly days and nights. Try them with different sauces and veggies for a total healthy treat.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Gourmet Gift Baskets The Perfect Gift

Even though Halloween is only two days away, it's not too early to think about holiday presents. One of the best one - even for Thanksgiving is a gift basket. There 's always a treat for everyone, from candy loving kids to cheese loving grandparents.A basket full of goodies is the perfect family gift.

What's the best place to go? Hands down, its's Gourmet Gift Baskets. This Exeter, New Hampshire family owned company has been shipping all sorts of sweets and savories for the last ten years. The company covers all events from the joy of a new baby to losing a loved one. There are even towers of food to celebrate newly wed couples and new neighbors.Another plus about Gourmet Gift Baskets is that you can even order flowers for Valentine's Day. along with several other occasions. The Thanksgiving  gifts are perfect, especially if you can't attend a family gathering. There are even apple and pumpkin pies which will be appreciated on a busy holiday cooking day. For a really lux gift send a bottle of Veuve Cliquot to a tired , over worked home chef. Even more impressive are their holiday towers. A perfect gift for any foodie is the $200 mega basket of every snack imaginable.There's chocolates, pretzels and even trail mix. This will last well into January .Another impressive present is the cookie basket. It has every sweet bite from chocolate chunk brownies to whoopie pies. Gourmet Gifts also sells healthy baskets too , full of low calories treats like wheat crackers and popcorn.

 I recently received their Halloween Witch's Baked Goods. Below is their chocolate chunk brownie
peanut butter and chocolate chip. The cookies were tasty and I liked the variety. The chocolate chip were buttery with a homemade taste as were the oatmeal raisin, that didn't have that many raisins. One of the best were the sweet, buttery butterscotch blondies were were a lovely blend of sweet and creamy. The peanut butter ones were also tasty - surprising for me  because I'm not overly fond of them. The cookies arrived , individually wrapped in cellophane so each bite was fresh. I also liked the box which will be used for either Halloween decorations or my embroidery and sewing gear.

What to get the food lovers and oenophiles in your life? Anything from Gourmet Gift Baskets. They have a wide variety of treats and drinks that can suit any taste. Put them high on your list when holiday shopping.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Sweet Reading From The NY TImes

Ever wonder what 's behind the science of candy and flavoring it?Or what people around the world like? Or how it's even made. Spoiler alert. Tomorrow's New York Times Sunday magazine is devoted to candy - all's their version of a big bowl of Halloween treats.

The articles are interesting and not , from a foodie's a sweet tooth's perspective.There are pieces on how candy is made along with that curiosity from Finland - salmiakki - salted licorice. Samin Nosrat who usually writes for the Wednesday Food section has an interesting article about tasting a candy's flavors. It's an eye opening account of sampling different flavors and how he rediscovered green Haribo gummy bears, his least favorite turned to his new most favorite. even more eye opening is Mark Binelli's venture into the world of salty licorice. (you can find it on Amazon, surprisingly Lolli & Pops doesn't sell it - yet).This mix of anise and either hydrogen chloride or hydrochloric acid is not for the faint of heart. It's can be eye watering at times and throat cleansing, something the author found out. Another article - more of a pictorial  features scenes from a Brazilian candy factory  which is riveting with pictures of how fillings and lollipops are made. Read about  food writer and famous chef, Tejal Rao's article about how the simple Kitkat Bar took over Japan. They turned making it into a high art with such wild flavors as banana and wasabi .They even have a dark chocolate one that would be a big seller here in the States.

Yet it's the piece on international candy that's the star of this issue. Most of the countries of the world are represented with a picture of their favorite sweet and a small write up. Twizzlers is the US's most  eaten treat.(although many would argue that, preferring Hershey's Kisses or DumDum Lollipops). Some international goodies have been in America's mouth for years. One stand out is the rich and creamy Baci from Perugina. This classic came about in 1922, when Luisa Spagnoli, gathered up leftover hazel nuts and put them atop whipped milk chocolate and nuts. Spanish favorite Chupa Chups, those wildly flavorful lollipops have been the darlings of celebrities like Madonna and the common folk. Unfortunately Canada's favorite Coffee Crisp, a kind of coffee flavored KitKat has yet to make it here, Some candies, like India's Pass Pass Pulse reflects the country's taste. These are raw mango flavored lozenges with a masala bomb - a mixture of strong spices that have a sulphuric taste. Even wilder  is Durian candy from Malaysia. This is made from a foul smelling fruit that gives the candy a bizarre combo taste of custard and garlic.Ghana  and South African actually prefer pastilles and licorice instead of the chocolate grown there.

Candy is dandy. We all know that. The Sunday Times Magazine explains why everyone around the world thinks that.

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Whiff Of Citrus

This is the time of year when pumpkin spice and maple reign supreme flavorwise. However we're all overdosing on them right now  as the two saturate everything from coffee to even butter!. A summery whiff of citrus would be good right now. Luckily we can still get lemons, limes, and oranges and create refreshing sweet and savory dishes.

The inspiration came from Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. Her take on lemon cake has almonds plus a glaze. No mace or cinnamon or cup of maple syrup inn sight.What is truly interesting about this recipe is that the lemons are boiled not zested or juiced. However she missed the zest's light flavor so she added it.There is also a lemon glaze, made with more fresh lemon juice. She has made it with a combination of lemon and lime juice.A lime cake is another breezy choice.It's an easy mix of a regular scratch cake with the addition of fresh limes and fresh lime juice.Some lime cakes also have the addition of lime gelatin to enhance the flavor as well as the color. You can use these recipes however a more natural recipe is the one with just the fruit itself.Lime cookies utilize the fruit's juice and these are a refreshing change up from the usual fall cookie .Oranges are another citrus that add to any dessert. Make a refreshing mousse  with them , perfect after a heavy Sunday roast.Orange buttercream icing will liven up plain vanilla cake or cupcakes.An orange pound cake is a great fall bake, perfect to take as a holiday dessert.

Citrus can play a huge part in livening up savory dishes. Lemon chicken is one of the most famous savory dishes that is boosted by citrus.It only requires a tablespoon of lemon juice. Roasted chicken can also get jazzed up by stuffing a lemon inside the cavity and brushing a mix of lemon and garlic on the skin. Potatoes can also get zinged up with the fruit. Mix it with mustard for a fun shake up to a classic side. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice  makes broccoli and green beans sparkle with flavor and is a nice change up from the usual butter and cheese sauces. Lime is always associated with Mexican cooking.It livens up chicken and beef fajitas and can take guacamole to a whole new level. It's also great with seafood. Think grilled shrimp with chili and lime for an eye opening combo. For a low calorie , yet flavorful meal, grill salmon with a basting of lime ,cilantro and honey. If you want a sweeter flavor, think oranges. The most famous is orange chicken is the Chinese version, spiked with ginger, vodka and the Chinese wine Shaoxing, Of course the most famous is duck a l'orange which is a melange of flavors from fresh orange juice to coriander and cumin. Scallops are also good with an orange marinade. The bright citrus flavor enhances the fish's inherent sweetness.

Use any citrus fruit as the antidote to all that cinnamon and maple. A dash of lemon, a squeeze of lime, and a squirt of orange presents a refreshing change up to sweet and savory dishes. Try them today for a zestier , breezier taste.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

When Ocean Meets Grain

Pasta on its' own is a treat. Pair it with seafood, from tuna to shrimp and it becomes a special meal. It's a simple no brainer match. The flavors complement each other, with the strong brininess mellowing thanks to the grain's mild flavor.

Master chef and cookbook writer Yotem Ottolenghi wrote about this pairing in yesterday's New York Times Food section. He was inspired by his latest cookbook, Ottolenghi Simple published last week.It features recipes that are multilayered yet comforting along with tasting good.It's  easy cooking yet sophisticated enough to serve it for a dinner party.One such dish is pearl couscous with shrimp and clams. He combines seafood with such aromatic herbs and vegetables like tarragon and fennel. cherry tomatoes are added as is tomato paste. The grain is pearl or Israeli couscous. The grains are bigger in size than the regular one but cooks up the same way. Its' mild taste is a perfect foil for the variety of flavors and it balances out the shrimp and aromatics.Chef Ottolenghi stirs it into the mix of  charred cherry tomatoes,  lemon ,cooked fennel, and chili flakes Pernod, an anise flavored liqueur is added.As he describes it ,it 's sort of like a paella made with barley grains instead of rice. Could a home chef make this with rice or orzo?What about regular couscous? I don't see why not . Cook it separately and add it later as with any grain dish.

Chef Ottolenghi also offers up a more traditional pasta and seafood recipe.His is a shrimp Bolognese, a riff on the classic Italian meat sauce.It's first mixing the peeling king prawns -you can use shrimp - since their flavors are the same - with fennel, onion, garlic and chili flakes.All of this are pulsed in a food processor until the fish are chunks As with the other recipe, tarragon leaves and lemon are fried with the spiced, cut shrimp.Tomato paste, cherry tomatoes and Pernod are also added for flavor.wait until the tomato paste is brown and stick before pouring in the alcohol Again be careful with the Pernod ,carefully pouring it in. It may flame so be careful. Chicken or vegetable stock is added ( this is a personal preference but vegetable stock is more in line flavor wise with the other ingredients) Chef Ottolenghi uses tagliatelli, a thickly cut ribbon pasta but you could use fettuccine or the drinking straw like bucatini.

Mix seafood with grains for a great flavor combination. The brininess is tamed by the couscous and pasta's mildness. The result is an interesting flavor, heightened by tomatoes , herbs and Pernod liqueur.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Spin On Southern Barbecue

Kentucky is known for many things - hot browns from Louisville,bourbon from the various distilleries across the state and their version of barbecue - well sort of barbecue. This fiery bite of pork shoulder is only known in the mid and southern part of the state - but it is catching on quick.

Steven Raichlen , the king of American barbecue and host/chef of such PBS shows as Barbecue University, Primal Grill, Project Fire , and Project Smoke wrote bout this variation of barbecue for today's New York Times Food section. He went to southern Kentucky to try this tasty and tongue searing roast.It does have roots, as other barbecues, in colonial America  where traditional barbecue was a favorite of George Washington and originated with the cooking of the enslaved. However this one is different from other roasts . There's no chopping or shredding. The meat isn't slow smoked.It does require to be thinly sliced and then put into the freezer before slicing.The meat also needs an electric bandsaw - a mean looking cutter that was a regular fixture in butcher shops until the Twentieth Century. As for the dip, that's unique too to Monroe County too. According to Anita Hamilton Bartlett, owner and chef at her restaurant,R&S Barbecue, her grandfather had told her that the recipe came from an old enslaved camp in Cave City, where his ancestors were enslaved. It's an hour northwest of them but the recipe probably migrated south as people searched for better lives. The most perplexing question is why pork shoulder.It could have originated in farm country. Pork shoulder is quick to cook and calorie dense , perfect for hungry field hands after a day of picking tobacco leaves.

The sauce is what makes it, although the pork shoulder on its' own would be delicious. The dip is made first, with distilled white vinegar,cayenne pepper, and kosher salt. Ketchup and mustard are also added along with butter and lard - yes lard. Home grillers may balk at the large amount of butter - two sticks - and half a cup of lard used.According to Mr. Raichlen it is vital to the recipe. Lard reinforces that sweet porky flavor along with keeping the steaks rich and moist.He also recommends subbing in more (!) butter if lard isn't available. The true recipe has brown vinegar which is merely distilled vinegar with caramel coloring. The barbecue sauce is cooked over a stove top and will be slathered onto the meat whilei t's still hot. Take out the grill if it's been put away for the season. The pork shoulder will be cooked on a grill oiled with vegetable oil. It's then taken off the grate and dunked in the sauce and finished grilling about three to five minutes each side. Do a second dunking with the cookd meat and served with a side of sauce. There's also a BBQ egg recipe which is pickling hard boiled eggs in the barbecue sauce for a week in the fridge. The butter and lard will congeal into a crust. Break this and drain the sauce. The extra sauce can be reheated and used for pork, chicken or steak.

This tasty variation of barbecue is a nice change up from regular ones. It may be fiery but it's a great chill chaser on an autumn night.Try it for a different spin and for a flavor that's both spicy and rich.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Good Versus Healthy Halloween Treats

Everyone wants to be the house with the good treats.It's a badge of coolness and a feeling of smug pride. Yet what is good? Is it gooey, cavity inducing sweets or nutrition  packed fruit or pretzels. That's the question. What the best goody to give out.

Ask any kid and they'll tell you , candy is best. We all know that. Yet what's the best candy health wise to give out?.Dark chocolate , whether kisses or fun sized bars are one good option. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants.Its also less sweet than the milk variety. If you do want to hand out candy bars then consider Almond Joys and Mounds. These coconut rich treats have eight calories a piece and the Almond Joys also have fiber thanks to the nuts. . A piece is only around eighty-eight calorie and less than six grams of fat. Think Tootsie for another treat. Both the tiny rolls and pops are low in calories A tootsie roll is only seventy calories while the candy filled lollipop is just sixty. Both have zero grams of fat. If you want to give out something colorful think Smarties or Sweet tarts.These tart little discs have no fat, very little sugar and hardly any calories. A Smarties roll is has only twenty five while a small pack of Smarties has only thirty. Hand out three or four rolls or packs to each trick or treater and you're golden.Twizzlers are fun too  - and better yet low in calories They're also chewy too, so it'll take some time to eat and digest them.

You may want to go the fun and healthy route instead.Apples and pears are always good, Think a bowl filled with different kinds such as Fujis and Granny Smiths  along with Bartlett, Bosc, and Anjou pears.Pretzels are always good. They're low in calorie and fun to munch .Keep in mind that some kids do suffer from gluten allergies so have the gluten free variety on the ready. You can go entirely gluten free or go half and half with packets of regular pretzels. What about Goldfish? Luckily Pepperidge Farm does have a gluten free version that's just as tasty as the original,They 're actually puffy - which are even more fun to eat and their flavors are buffalo wing,mega cheese and cheddar bacon.  You can buy Halloween themed packets or make your own. A few moms and dads may feel granola bars are also a great give out.If you decide on this  just be super careful with what you give out. Keep in mind many have nuts and that's lethal for kids with nut allergies.Try 18 Rabbits brand which is wheat, nut and dairy free.They come in such flavors as Caramel Apple, Chocolate Banana, Mango. and Chocolate Cherry Kind brand is also very good.with such yummy flavors as vanilla blueberry, salted caramel, and maple pumpkin seeds with sea salt.

What to go with for next week? That's up to you - but keep in mind what those trick or treaters parents want.for their kids. Be cool, but be wise too.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A New Sweet Treat Tahini Bars

For years  Americans have only associated tahini with savory foods such as hummus and tzattziki sauce. Yet it can be made into a sweet gluten free treat that's the perfect sub in for energy bars and  candy.Absolutely Gluten Free has added three flavors of tahii based energy bars to their roster of gluten free savory and sweet products.

Absolutely Gluten Free is a familiar name for those who have celiac disease. The family owned company has produced such tasty dinners as gluten free and dairy free pizzas along with crackers and flavored flatbreads for snacking and parties. Their sweet products include coconut macaroons  along with brownie and blondie bites. They went all natural with raw coconut chews loaded either with cranberries or cocoa nibs. Now their latest venture includes a spin on the classic Middle Eastern candy halvah,Theirs is the version made with tahini and sugar as opposed to the kind made with semolina and some kind of nut butter.It is all natural  and comes in three flavors , vanilla, cocoa and pistachio . The cocoa has cocoa nibs which is more beneficial than chocolate chips since they  stimulate the brain's neurotransmitters to release euphoria, The pistachios also have health benefits. They 're good for digestion as well as help  in preventing macular degeneration. The bars are one hundred calories a serving

The big question is how do they taste.? First it does take some getting used to the texture. The bars have a very crumbly, sandy texture  that quickly melt into a cream.It's a very sweet treat but the added flavors dial that down. The vanilla isn't that strong. It's very delicate. The cocoa nibs balance out the tahini perfectly. without it being too overpowering. The pistachio is crunchy and creamy with a light , nutty flavor.

If you want to discover the creamy richness of tahini or just need a gluten free energy bar then Absolutely Gluten Free Tahini bars are for you.They're so flavorful yet healthy. Try them and become addicted.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Of Swans And Birthday Cakes

I have never used this blog to write about my birthday which is tomorrow. Instead I've dedicated my birth day blog to another 21ster, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Early Romantic poet and Shakespeare critic.I've written about scones and clotted cream, and after ten years of lauding the fruits of Devon, maybe it's time for a change. No surprise there.

What was a surprise was in tomorrow's New York Times Sunday Magazine (delivered the day before) was the recipe for my Mom's signature dessert  cream puff swans.These are airy confections that she first got out of a recipe from one of my Seventeen Magazine when I was in high school or college.These were tear drop shaped puffs of the always impossible to make choux pastry. She had to pipe the necks which were thin exaggerated question marks. To give them that cygnet look the domes of the puffs were sliced off and cut in two to make the elegant wings. My Mom made a simple vanilla pudding , boosted with Cool Whip (I think) to complete the light airy, taste. This was spooned into the empty shells. The necks were inserted as were the wings, the last at an angle to show a swan preening. Then there was the dusting of powdered sugar to bring the elegance up another layer. They were like eating clouds. They were fun. Everybody in the family instantly fell in love with them, from my grandfather's cousins to my own, younger ones. They were the requested pastry at graduations and parties. The necks were always eaten first, followed by the wings and then the bodies.I hope Gabrielle Hamilton's recipe for them gets the same kind of love and adoration.

I miss those swans. I miss those days. Tomorrow is my first birthday without my Mom It doesn't feel like a celebratory day that deserve the mini birthday cakes I always bought from the Acme or Stop & Shop. I don't know what it feels like - maybe a recipe without the flavor - yes that's it. I'll be in New York on my special day, I'll go to a fun bakery and get a quartet of cupcakes (not too much - this food writer is on a strict diet.)They'll be chocolate ,for sure, with buttercream icing - not as good as mine though.Still, it's not the same with her not here physically. Birthdays for all us used to be fun. It was either our favorite meals made  (mine was risotto Milanese , the saffron drenched risott from  Italy's Lombard region) or a trip to the city for lunch or dinner at a favorite restaurant. We celebrated with a variety of different cuisines, from Belgian to Mexican to Japanese. Different dishes were ordered and shared. Gifts given and opened. Dessert then appeared and we dug into everything from creme brule to matcha ice cream. I miss those meals and the laughter that came with them

Birthdays are always with us.So are good food memories. I'll always cherish those of my Mom's choux swans  and of our birthday get togethers

Friday, October 19, 2018

Crazy Grapes

Grapes have always been a fun snack and a neat addition to dessert plates. Now there are some new hybrids that are going to ran up the excitement around them. These will definitely be the new favorites.

I discovered one strain while food shopping at the Stop &Shop. There are only so many peaches one can eat, and as much as I love them, they can be tiresome. The grapes beckoned  - and these were not just any grape. They were long tubular ones, sort of looking like pudgy little fingers. They were the Moon Drops, a pretty name for a pretty fruit. The grapes' color is a rich deep purple - think a midnight mixed with eggplant. They're the size is about two Concord grapes long with blunt, rounded ends. The flavor is sweeter than the average grape,think homemade grape jam. Sweet but not cloying. They are an offshoot of the common grape - vitis vinifira and the name was trademarked by The Grapery,a California based grower. Their odd shape might make people think they've been genetically modified   but they're not. The breeding technique did require human intervention howeve. An embryo rescue occurred, This is when the breeding process involves pollinating a flower and then growing the embryo seed in a laboratory test tube. Eventually the seedling is planted in soil and grown in the traditional manner.Unfortunately they're not really good for jams or wine. Eat them fresh , by themselves or with cheese.

Another crazy grape causing a buzz is the cotton candy grape. This hybrid is yet another product of The Grapery., and have been out since 2011 (I'm late to the party with these). They look resemble "white "or the pale green variety save for one important aspect - they taste exactly  like cotton candy. How is this possible? Again, as with the Moon Drops, there was no GMOs or even sugar injections to boost the taste. It seems it was a hit and miss with flavors.The growers didn't set out to create that particular one. Consumer testers gave them that name. Warm, they have a caramel or toffee flavor but chilled, as they were first eaten - and the cotton candy taste comes out.Again, like their unique  cousins, they can;t be made into jam or wine. Just eat them as a fun dessert when they're in season,. Supermarkets usually sell them during their harvest months of August and September. Another wild globe from The Grapery is the teardrop grape. This is a deep purple chili pepper looking grape that were originally named Witch Fingers which would be a cool name for them around Halloween. Like their cousins, they're best on their own or better yet on a cheese or charcuterie  plate. Harvest time for them is mid Spring, around June.

Grapes are a nice addition to any table - no matter what the time of year. MoonDrops are big right now. Enjoy them at a fall  picnic or gracing a cheese platter full of Bries and cheddar.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Spotted Pig's Me Too Movement

The Spotted Pig has been one of the trendiest restaurants in New York's Greenwich Village. Everyone from stars to politicians, famous foodies and infamous chefs have eaten there. This starry site had a dark side - one of harassment and assault. The real story is coming out now.

Julia Moskin and Kim Severson wrote this extensive and in depth interview with the Spotted Pig's former chef, April Bloomfield, in yesterday's New York Times Food section.It's a tale of metereoric success. warring egos, incredible talent and magnetic personalities. Chef Bloomfield arrived in New York City in 2003, an innocent,  eager to work in Manhattan, then as it is now a mecca for chefs with talent. She had come from London's famed River Cafe, hired by Ken Friedman, who wanted to start a British style gastropub in New York City. There lay the first problem. Mr. Friedman had more experience in the music industry than he had in the restaurant one. He was able to lure in the glitterati which fueled the Spotted Pig's popularity in the early 2000.'s. Then the restaurant won its' first Michilin star. Chef Bloomfield had to deal not only with nonstop cooking but with the kitchen and waitstaff. She ran it like a martinet, berating both young chefs and waiters.She ignored or brushed off claims from female employees about Mr. Friedman's behavior that ranged from groping to asking them to send nude pictures of themselves.She claims she was not told of these wildly inappropriate  episodes. She also claims that the staff was directed by him to conceal the extent of his abuse.

Yes, as an employer she should have reported him.As a woman she should have been more sympathetic and faced Mr. Friedman head on , with the staff at her side. Yet even though they were partners, in not only The Spotted Pig but also The John Dory and the Breslin, she seemed intimidated by him. To be honest , he was the dominant one in the partnership. From the start, when she just worked for him, he threatened to revoke her work visa over something as simple as mildly disapproving over his choice of prints for the restaurant's interior. His personality was explosive . Maybe it was easier  for her to keep her head down and concentrate on her dishes.Chef Bloomfield did try to broach the subject with him. She had confronted him about his verbal abuse and unprofessional behavior. As with any relationship, she thought she could change him. He would agree and promise to do better but reverted back to his old ways. There was still rampant harassment. She could only concentrate on what she could control - her cooking. That made employees who were still being intimidated , furious. Some did not want to talk to Ms. Moskin or Ms. Severson , emphasizing that they didn't want to make their former boss look redemptive.

Will Chef Bloomfield be able to redeem herself in Los Angeles? It is a new start - yet one that has a history.  Will she be able to get past it with her cooking and new restaurant The Hearth And Hound? Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Return Of Newark Cider

New Jersey has in recent years, been known for their wines and champagnes. Yet another heady beverage is making a comeback -  Newark Cider. This clean tasting fruity brew is being made in state again and is gracing tables as it did in George Washington's day.

Rachel Wharton, a food writer and editor at  The New York Daily News took a break from her newspaper to write this piece for today's New York Times Food section. Newark cider was a great favorite of colonial New Jersey.It was also the treasured choice of George Washington who called it "the champagne of ciders". For decades cideries graced the Newark ,New Jersey area, thanks in part to the vast amount of apple orchards located the various hillsides bordering the town. They were perfect for growing fruit. The slopes have cool nights and warm days which protect the fruit from frost along with helping to accumulate flavor and sugar. The apples, themselves, are descended from the four varieties that make up the brew. Campfield, Povoshon, Granniwinkle and Harrison, the most celebrated of the quartet are the ones used. Together they create a crisp clean cider with notes of caramel and brown sugar, thanks to the Poveshon.Yet it is the Harrison apple that makes the cider sing.They have both the astringent tannins and high acidity that give the drink its' very rich, sugary flavor.

The entire Jersey cider industry was ready to be consigned to history  however it was revived to Charles Rosen.This former chief executive of a Manhattan advertising agency that dealt with other liquors, Svedka Vodka and Mike's Hard Lemonade, wanted to reintroduce this staple of Revolutionary New Jersey. He invested all his money in the business , long gone thanks to first urbanization  and then Prohibition.In 2011 he was looking to effect change in the state. It was then he was handed the magazine Edible New Jersey which had an article about the history of Newark Cider.The article's author, Fran McManus offered a suggestion at its' end - the apples were being grown in other states - why not bring  them back home? Mr. Rosen decided to give it a try. In 2015 he planted several thousand hard to find vintage cider apple saplings. While waiting for these to grow , he produced mainstream ciders such as cherry -cranberry with apple juice bought from other orchards. There is a new Champagne style cider made entirely of Harrison apples, found when his lawyer, Thomas Villardi, came upon a deserted cider mill in Maplewood NJ and with it , the trees. There is also the Ironbound Cider Company that has a tap room and tasting room where New Jersey sourced ingredients are turned into delicious dishes that go perfect with the cider. It's located in Asbury ,New Jersey, just a skip away from the Bridgewater Commons Mall.

New Jersey is known for many things. Cider will once again be one of them. New Jerseyians will enjoy this heady brew  the same way George Washington did.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Your Peppery Pepper Guide

Without peppers our diets would be bland and our palates bored. They  liven up any recipe, with both color and zing. Yet there are so many. It can be confusing to a home chef about what to use and in what dish. They're easy to figure out once you know what they are.

First of all there are bell peppers namely green and yellow and hot peppers. The bells, those brightly colored gems, have zero heat,on the Scoville Scale which measures the heat of capiscums. It came about to measure and in a way warn home and professional chefs about a pepper's fire. Keep this in mind when using the very hot sort.. Also keep hands that have handled them away from your eyes. It can cause damage and pain. Flood the eye area with milk, (some swear by a mild shampoo) and completely rinse out. The same goes for hands stung by the heat. Rinse with water. Soak in cold milk. As for the peppers ,there are many out there.It depends on what you're making.So many  cuisines rely on this hot fire for their signature dishes. The Szechuan province of cuisine was one of the first to introduce super fiery dishes to the American public. Surprisingly there not peppercorns but dried berries from a cousin of the rue tree. They can bring a tear to the eye Hungary , one of the few European countries with a fiery cuisine, gives us the Hungarian pepper. a waxy  jalapeno looking capiscum that can be used to spike up salads and marinades.Of course there is paprika which comes in eight different varieties and levels of  very mild heat (they're actually dried  red bell peppers that have been  ground up).Try the famed Chicken Paprika for a tasty dish that'll warm you up on a chilly fall night. Paprika can also be used in beef and poultry rubs too.

 Mexican cuisine seems to have the most variety of peppers. There are many to choose from and it depends on the recipe - and also your taste. Serrano chiles, are small and green,It's used for spice and flavoring as well as garnishing. Jalapeno is the one that Americans know the best. It can either be red or green but the red has a sweeter taste.Poblano is seen in authentic Mexican restaurants and is a dark medium green chile. They're usually stuffed with chorizo and different Mexican cheeses -perfect for holiday appetizers. Habaneros are also popular but they are lethal. They can be interchanged with the five alarm Scotch Bonnet, one of the hottest peppers on the planet.It's a tiny lantern shaped bulb that can change any chili or fajita recipe. Approach these with caution. A better pepper would be the chile de arbol which is used to make red pepper flakes. Another "cooler" alternative is the chipotle. This is medium-small wrinkled brown chili that has a unique smoky flavor that's been compared to bacon's.It's a dried jalapeno but with less heat.If you're thinking about making mole sauce, then use the chile negro or pasilla, a long dark brown chile that's ground up. For milder flavors try the ancho .It's a dried poblano with a mellow , earthy flavor, not unlike the chile negro or pasilla pepper.

Peppers are a wonderful addition to bland dishes. They heighten the other ingredients while maintaining their own taste. Try them in various dishes now.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Cooking Shortcuts You'll Love

Everyone loves a shortcut, especially in home cooking in baking. It makes for less stress and less work The end result is more or less the same - without a headache or two.There should be no guilt in not sticking  the original recipes. The chefs and bakers who created them probably had a hack or two up their sleeves as well.

Cooking hacks or shortcuts have been around ever since early man put water in a bowl and boiled it over an open flame. There have been a number of commercial shortcuts created in the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the first was the dessert Jello, followed by instant gravies and mashed potatoes.A easy hot lunch or dinner shortcut, is picking up sliced turkey, Stovetop Stuffing and jarred turkey gravy.Make the stuffing, heat the gravy and serve with the meat. Add a side of steamed veggies for a filling hot meal. One of the most delicious dishes any home chef can make is quiche. However it can be a pain to make, especially the crust. The easiest solution is premade pie crust. Everyone from Pillsbury to Stop & Shop have excellent ones.I just made Ione's Zucchini Pie, from Heirloom Cooking With The Brass Sisters. The recipe is labor intensive, with zucchini being grated and onions being chopped. My days are busy so making a homemade crust is a lot of work and time. I asked the sisters if it was all right to sub in an already made crust. The answer was yes and I used Stop &Shop's brand . The crust was light and flaky which shattered upon biting. I plan on using it when I make quiches for the holidays,

One of the best cooking hacks is the bouillon cube.Instead of cooking chicken and beef bones for hours to achieve the perfect Paleo broth. you can just drop two or three cubes in boiling water for the base of soups, bisques or sauces. A couple of bouillon cubes in water can be the basis for chicken or beef noodle or minestrone.Surprisingly there is even fish bouillon cubes that you can use for chowders and bouillabaisse .The chicken and beef add extra flavor to gravies too, including turkey gravy.Another hack is steamed veggies. Most of us grew up with them being steamed in a pot. Unfortunately one  glaring side effect was mushy, tasteless vegetables . Nowadays  it's bags steamed in the microwave for a few minutes and the result is a fresh tasting carrots, peas and broccoli to name a few. Open a can of cream soup ,  pour over them and you have a tasty side that only took minutes to create. Home bakers have been using short cuts for years.For those who love creating a cake or icing - like myself - cake and cookie mixes are a godsend , especially when there is serious cooking to do also. Icings- and pre made candy decorations are also a blessing , especially around the holidays.

There's nothing wrong with a cooking hack, It saves times and cuts down on the stress.Use one or two to make cooking and baking a lot easier  and a lot less complicated.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Season For Hot Pies

One of the best aspects  of fall cooking is creating delicious and filling hot savory pies. They can be rich with meat and gravy for meat lovers or chock full of veggies for vegetarians. Either way, a steaming wedge loaded with flavor is the perfect warm up on a nippy October day.

Savory pies can take a lot of work. If you're thinking of baking one ask yourself if you have the time to make a crust or just buy one.One time saver is buying already made pie dough  Pillsbury is your best's premade but has a nice homemade taste to it.However if you want create your own you can. There's absolutely no difference between a sweet pie and savory one crust unless you wish to add dry herbs for more flavor. As for the crust , that depends  on the home baker you talk to.Some use lard,others  butter, while some use a combination of the two. Vegetable shortening can also be part of the recipe as well. All need ice water. You can brush the pie bottom with beaten egg before beating. This can also be done to the crimped crust and pie top. If pie crusts aren't your thing, then think of shepherd's pie. This British classic is topped with mashed potatoes. For the ultimate classic taste use mashed russet potatoes  to top lamb or ground beef, peas and corn. Make a side dish of gravy to pour over the slices.

Now for the fillings. Again it can veer towards the traditional or vegetarian.Meat pies started as a way to reuse leftover roasts. You can do that too although you can also buy any kind of filling fresh. A traditional one is beef. This is a hearty one, perfect for a chilly night. The filling can be London Broil bought from your supermarket's deli or even beef tips. The last will require some braising in a Dutch oven before adding it to the pie.Another way is ground beef for a less chewier version. As for chicken, any part is good. Try mixing the white and dark meat for more flavor.It can be shredded or cubed. You can also do the same with leftover turkey too.Braver home chefs may want to experiment with a fish (!) pie. A rather decadent one for dinner parties would be the lobster one, rich with Pernod and cream. What do all these pies have in common? Vegetables which are the basis of a vegetarian pot pie. Potatoes are a staple.Usually the smaller Yukon Gold ones are the best along with peas and sliced carrots. The onions are always sauteed before adding. To make a meatless pie  a bit more heartier add some cauliflower and broccoli along with mushrooms and sweet potatoes.

A hot savory pie is a great dinner on a chilly night. Make your own, rich with meat or veggies. Then savor the steamy goodness they can bring to a fall supper table.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Comfort Of Food

Food is magical. It can bring families together for a brief moment of harmony. A bite can trigger so many memories of good times.A recipe can bring together generations and even friends.It's amazing what a simple dish can do.

The one action that unites us with every creature on the planet is eating.We share our food with family, friends and even animal companions. Sharing lets them into our world and vice a versa. One of the best things is having a neighborhood buffet(and yes it can even be done on a chilly autumn days.) Also adventurous home chefs can try their hands at making za'atar and tamari. Have everyone bring a dish that means something to them,whether a family one they made with their mom or grandmother or the most
 successful meal they ever made. Dinners with are another way of sharing. A girl's night in  could consist of fun foods such fajitas washed down with slushy margaritas or homemade pizza with a variety of toppings. Crack open a good bottle of Pinot Grigio to go with it. It's a great time to dish on bosses and coworkers and diss those annoying family members. Finish with tiramisu and coffee  to gear up for the ride home.

Sometimes just a picnic for two is all that's needed. If you have a friend or relative who has suffered any kind of loss, time away from his or her house can be a blessing. Make their favorite recipes for lunch or dinner and then provide a good listening ear and a warm plate. Think a Sunday afternoon at the mountains or the beach. The weather in some areas is perfect for a brisk outdoor nosh, Pack a picnic basket with sandwiches, chips and something to drink. If it's a bit nippy think about a thermos of soup or filling it with hot coffee or hot tea. End with fruit of the season, such as crisp apples and/or pears. You can even include homemade cupcakes or ones from your favorite bakery. Another idea is going to a coffee shop and just sit outside to talk or people watch. Sometimes a person who is hurting just   wants to talk to  reminisce and seek out advice. He or she may need more than a shoulder to cry on. Spoil them with a cappuccino and a sweet treat.

Food unites us. It always has. It is the the great comforter and tie that connects us all.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Aleppo Peppers A Syrian Treasure

Syria's vicious and long civil war has made many forget about the country's cuisine. It was well known for its' bulgar and kefti,hummus  and parsley salad. The country was also the top producer of the Aleppo pepper, a fiery spice that gave the food its' kick,

Tom Verde, an expert on Islam and Middle Eastern history wrote this informative piece about Syria's contribution to the global culinary table. The Alepo pepper is part of the capiscum family, and grows in pods. The result is a naturally oily pepper that is first partially ground and then  coarsely ground with olive oil and a bit of salt. The mix is then left to completely dry out which results in ruby red, slightly salty flakes that can keep well in the freezer thanks to the oil.Due to the fighting and bombing, acquiring the Aleppo pepper is hard, especially for Syrian home chefs and restaurants here in the States. One restaurant owner, Nidal Hajomar, owner of Aleppo's Kitchen in Anaheim, California has to rely on his wife's parents for the spice. They still live in Khalidiyah, in northwestern Aleppo and can still buy fresh peppers. They make the mix at home and ship it to Mr. Hajomar. The pepper ,though , is now being cultivated in the States, in Virginian nurseries, the Midwest and Southern California. Home chefs can buy it at their local spice shops or Walmart. They can also be grown in your backyard too. You can either  buy the seeds or young plants at various nurseries.

What makes the Aleppo Pepper so special? The taste. According to Chad Lowcock,  owner of Race City Spice Works says that the flavor is slightly tomato-y, with a background sweetness. He has created a chutney like sauce called Roasted Aleppo and Cayenne Shaata,  the last a medium hot combination of of cayenne, fresh garlic and the dried flakes from Turkey and Greece. The blend is then hydrated in red wine and fresh Aleppo  peppers from local markets are  roasted and added.Other chefs like its' taste - a departure from other chilis thanks to its' fruity and citrus-y flavor. There's a bit of sweetness to it which makes it perfect for sauces along with for marinated and raw fish. Syrians use it for more traditional dishes such as hummus, kebabs and muhammara, a red pepper dip that 's both hot and sweet thanks to pomegranate syrup. You can try these but you can experiment with it by adding a shake or two into ground beef for Syrian meatballs but also try it in such traditional dishes as tabbouleh and hummus.

Aleppo pepper is a reminder of delicious Syrian cuisine. It can still be used in traditional dishes, yet also can spark up new ones. It truly is a treasure that needs to continue , despite the strife.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Patti Jinich's Chalupa Moment

Would it surprise anyone that famed Mexican chef, Patti Jinich , has never been to a Taco Bell, She hasn't - and with good reason. Why settle for mediocre fast food when you can create the authentic , tastier version at home.Yet, as the intrepid food authority she is , she went

Kim Severson wrote about Ms. Jinich's first trip ever to the Taco Bell near her home in Chevy Chase,Maryland.It did not go well. She, Ms. Severson and two of her three sons made  a visit to this staple of American fast food.Like Chinese- American and Italian -American dishes, Taco Bell's offering are a pale version of what is actually cooked in Mexico.It's kind of like how we overly  celebrate Cinco de Mayo,which is  just a small holiday there. Ms. Jinich ordered nineteen (!) items to try,all suggestions from her fans. The first was a  ground beef taco in a soft tortilla.Maybe it needed salsa. She tried all four of Taco Bell's salsas  on it and that didn't help.Then there was the chicken chalupa which Ms Jinich declared to be only marginally better. She could see being super hungry and eating it then. The one that finally got her approval was the Dorito Locos Taco Supreme. You have to wonder if she got the Mexican pizza sauce and red strips - the last questionable. (it could be dyed red taco strips). She briefly wondered why is it would called supreme which  is nothing more than an upgrade of sour cream and chopped tomatoes. In the end , her youngest son, Julian or Juju got sick from the food.

It's no wonder. As he told Ms. Severson. he has the best Mexican food at home. Why should he go to Taco Bell. He is right. His mom was beneficial in bringing , true Mexican food from the many different regions to American kitchens. Cooking is in her blood, thanks to her family, especially from her father who ran two restaurants in Mexico City. It did take her a while to grow into it, being a serious and studious child who grew up to receive her master's in Latin American studies at Georgetown University. She wrote policy papers for Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank focused on Latin America and the Caribbean. From there she realized she was more interested in food research than policies.Ms. Jinich enrolled at  night school the L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda Maryland and  new career opened up for her.After creating a culinary program on Mexican cuisine at the Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington DC. After conquering crippling stage fright it was onto TV. She went first to the Food Channel, which was not for her and switched over to the more serious PBS station. There she could not only introduce Americans to true Mexican cuisine but also the history of such classics as flan and dulce de leche. Her cookbooks, a must for any cooking enthusiast, show the real side. rich with chorizo and native chiles.It is certainly not the garishly colored, intensely flavored Taco Bell offerings.

Ms. Jinich hopes Americans discover real Mexican cooking. It is one flled with ancho chiles and mole sauce. It's not one loaded with cheese and strange ingredients.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hot Fruit

As much as we love to take a bite out of an apple or pear, there's something about  cooked fruit that's  lush and satisfying. Heat brings out the flavors, caramelizes the inherent sugars and creates a custardy texture. It turns an ordinary drupe, pone or berry into something special.

Apples are big right now. Many feel the best way to cook them is baked into a pie.It's a delicious way to have them, especially when the pie is warmed up and served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. However if you're not a big fan of crusts, there are two suggestions. One is a galette,a more rustic , yet surprisingly elegant tart. It's an open pie ,with the crust folded only an inch in, showing off apple slices usually arranged in a swirl pattern. The crust is the same as any lard based one and the filling's ingredients are the same as an apple pie's - cinnamon. sometimes' that's omitted so the cooked apple taste shines though. Sometimes the entire galette is brushed with apricot jam to give it a beautiful shine. The second idea is just make the filling - kind of like a chunky apple sauce in your slow cooker or crockpot. It can not only be served as dessert, but omit the cinnamon and serve it as a side to pork roast or pork chops.Of course baked apples are always a lovely fall dessert. You can bake them with brown sugar , cinnamon and butter but for a more sophisticated spin try them Piedmontese style with a filling of Marsala , butter and a pinch of sugar for each apple. For a fun Halloween party, think baked apples stuffed with caramel and chopped walnuts.

Pears are another fruit that are delicious when cooked. One of the most popular recipes is poached. Usually red wine is added along with orange peel in the cooking to impart more flavor. White wine can also be used. The fruit can also be baked in a galette, Try it with a buttery tart crust instead of a pie crust. Grocery stores are still selling peaches right now. Go for them, to get the last taste of summer. One of the most delicious is pesche ripiene Piedmontese. This is a big dessert in all of Piedmonte. It's stuffing sliced pitted peaches with crushed amaretti cookies with the chopped peach stones and butter. They're then baked with peach liqueur such as Schnappes . They're so delicious that you don't have to serve them with whipped cream although some home and professional chefs add a dab of marscapone cheese next to them. Peaches can also be baked as well with cinnamon and some kind of nut. This makes a great side to butter pecan or vanilla ice cream. Cranberries are the quintessential fall berry. Yes you can cook them into a sauce that goes well with turkey but they also can star in a sweet trifle recipe. Layer them with buttery pound cake slices and a cream cheese/whipped cream filling. This would even make a great holiday dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Cooked or baked fruits are more sophisticated way to serve fall's bounty. They become more complex and flavorful, thanks to baking or slow cooking. They go beyond being apples and pears, peaches and cranberries and transform into memorable tastes.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Squash For Dessert

Now is the time for all things squash.It's can be sauteed with garlic , baked with butter, and stuffed with breadcrumbs. It can also be the basis of cakes and sauce too. Now you can have it with a cup of coffee or tea for a sweet snack or dessert.

What can you do with this curcurbita? Surprisingly you can roast it in sections and serve with ice cream or even spiced whipped cream. It's just  cutting them into sections and de-seeding them so that they resemble cantaloupe, ,baste them with melted butter or coconut oil and then sprinkle on either pumpkin pie spice blend or cinnamon .Roast in a 400 degree oven for forty-five minutes to an hour. Serve warm with spiced whipped or butter pecan ice cream (or both!)Mash it and it can become an ice cream topping - squash sundae anyone? This requires a cup of brown sugar along with orange juice and a tiny pinch of salt, cooked with the veggie and then mashed into a thick compote.Squash bites are another sweet treat.These are Middle Eastern inspired , spiked with saffron and turmeric and mixed with a dough of mashed almonds and pitted medjool dates. The butternut squash has to be zoodled or spiralized which creates fun orange stripes running through the bites. Ground cardamom seeds are also used for more flavor. It can be put in a dehydrator however if you don;t have one , try a low oven at 125 degrees F for about half hour to forty-five minutes.

Of course you can bake squash into bars and cookies. A great recipe for bars is one topped with streusel, in a kind of marriage between coffee cake and pumpkin pie , It's a cake bottom with a pumpkin pie like filling, thanks to the cinnamon, nutmeg , and ground ginger. The streusel is a yummy mix of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and pecans. A fun way to get the kids to eat relatively healthy is to make squash cookies.The butternut squash is cooked and mashed, again spiked with ginger and cinnamon. The gourd can be a star ingredient in many different kind of cakes too. A fall dinner party can end with an elegant layer cake , highlighted with only maple and filled and frosted with a brown sugar Swiss. meringue. A great snacking cake is the butternut coffee cake. It's a spiced up pecan loaded version of  the regular kind which would be fun at a  brunch or weekend picnic. Another fun version is a butternut sponge roll filled with a fluffy light cream cheese frosting. Again maple and walnut give the cake added flavor. A different birthday party treat is butternut  squash cupcakes with caramel cream cheese frosting.It's basically the same as the other cakes but in cupcake form with caramel sauce added.I'd use Smucker's salted caramel  to give it a savory kick.

Squash is primarily a side or a vegetarian main dish. Yet it can be made into a tasty dessert using fall flavors. Try it as an ice cream sauce, cake, cupcake or cookie, Get to know its' sweet side.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Three Pronged Meal

It's always challenging to come up with a good dinner and/or supper seven days a week. What do you make as the main dish?What would make good sides?Will they go with whatever meat you cook? The best way to create a tasty balanced meal is to take the three pronged approach.This is a great way for novice home  chefs to learn about putting together a meal.

What is the three pronged approach? Pick out a main.It could be meat or tofu.Then choose  veggie and grain side dishes  to go with it.It's the classic dinner ,some kind of roast surrounded by sides.  The main dish .doesn't have to be a grand roast - chicken or turkey breasts will do just fine, especially after  a busy , tiring work day.Even hamburgers or  hot dogs work.For a fancier or special meal, think filet mignon or a juicy T-bone steak.Of course you could also pan fry skirt steaks, with some chimichurri or salsa verde  - green sauce .Fish and seafood are another choice. Both tilapia and shrimp are amenable to spices and herbs and you can create a filling yet low calorie meal with both. For a Sunday dinner at home, think a nice roasted chicken with rosemary and lemon or even Cornish game hens. The star of the dinner table doesn't have to be a roast It can also be a tangine -rich with lamb. What's good about it is that it includes the second and third prongs veggies and grains. This Moroccan and Algerian classic is rife with fruits, olives, carrots and rice.Another choice is good old fashioned stew, full of potatoes , carrots and onions. Vegans and vegetarians also have some good main dish choices.Morningstar Farms and Gardein have excellent meat substitutes. Try Gardein's beef tips in a stew or just with rice or veggies as a hearty supper.Morningstar Farms has chicken strips that are tasty in fajitas, and tacos.

Now that the main prong has been chosen, it's onto the sides.Rice or noodles are always good and they're  popular with kids. Zatarain and Goya have delicious rice dishes that can be combined with any meat or seafood.Zatarian's red beans and rice are great with beef, the real deal or Gardein's beef tips.It's spicy and full, with an extra kick of protein thanks to the beans. They also have a Caribbean rice mix along with rice mixes that will go well with chicken and shrimp.Goya also has excellent sides such as yellow rice and rice primavera. Buy their paella Valenciana , add some shrimp and create a fun Saturday night or Sunday supper.Noodles are always a great foil to poultry and pork. Make them from scratch or buy a package of that kitchen classic - Mueller's. What about the third prong? The veggies. Sometimes just plain steamed ones are the best.. A fresh ,bright flavor is like a palate cleanser, especially if the main or grain is heavily spiced or sauced. Since the stove top or oven will be used  for the meat or seafood and rice or noodles., use the microwave for the veggies. Stop and Shop's in house steamers are great for this. Their peas are perfect with a just from the garden taste. The same goes for their green beans, and broccoli. In the summer replace these with fresh picked tomatoes and/or corn.

The three pronged meal is the best way to plan a satisfying and nutritious dinner. Use it for a week night. Try a fun one for the weekend. It will help tremendously in planning a week - a month - even a year of meals.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Vegan Chicken Franchese

Julia Moskin's chicken franchese recipe in last week's New York Time's Food section intrigued me. I wanted to try the vegan version not hers - which could be vegan patties or cauliflower - but mine.

Since I couldn't use chicken stock,I subbed in veggie instead. I used three of HerbOx's vegetable bouillon cubes.
I microwaved it with two cups of water as directed. Then it was onto the base of the franchese sauce. , dry white wine, the juice of one whole lemon and six tablespoons of butter.
Of course I used Miyoko's vegan butter that I ordered from Vegan Essentials. The wine was Piot Grigio from DaVinci. These are cooked together in a medium saucepan  until the liquid becomes syrupy.
It didn't. It just became bubbly and soupy even though I cooked it for the required four minutes over a medium flame. I added the broth which was guaranteed to also thicken it. Nope.
Then it was time to cook the chicken. I used Morningstar's chicken strips I couldn;t get Gardein's chicken cutlets).
They have to be steamed in two tablespoons of water.I used half a cup.

They would up being burned and sticking to the frying pan ( the burned bits were more delicious, especially with a sprinkling of sea salt.) I served it with angel hair pasta,  a variation of Ms. Moskin's recommendation of pasta. I used Stop and Shop's angel hair.
I also added green beans  however the finished product looked like something vaguely Asian.
It either looks like a hearty Rmen soup or a vegan version of pho, the Vietnamese eefsoup.
What I learned was after research, the vegan chicken franchese is a lot different than the original recipe.
One, I should have used tofu filets,
Two. I should have used cornstarch as a sauce thickener.
Oh well, next time I'll know better.

However the greater lesson is  never be afraid to try.The recipe may turn out a disaster but you can learn from it as I did. Maybe that's the best thing about cooking this meal.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The ABC of Za atar

Ever since reading and finally tasting za'atar ,I decided to make it. It's easy thanks to McCormick's spice mix which even has the sesame seeds included . It was then just adding fresh thyme and a good half cup of olive oil (I recommend Bertoli's).

The bottle is 1.25 ounces and you will need the entire contents when making it (for a party use two or three bottles) along with an entire container of fresh thyme.
Use about .25 ounces or about fifteen sprigs. (use less if you're not big on the flavor, nut just remember thyme is an important part of the overall taste.)
Then it's tearing off the leaves using a paring knife.
Discard all the stems and add to the za'atar mix.
I poured in about half a cup of olive oil to get it to the consistency that King's Falalfel had. It'll look like a dark green paste.Stir evenly so the oil coats all the mix. You can add more oil for a thinner paste or less for a thicker one. Here's the fun part. Za'atar goes with everything.
                                             I spooned it on grape tomatoes. The blend bring's out the tomatoes'     sweetness along with making them more interesting I used about three teaspoons.                                                                        It's also good on pita. I couldn't find any so I bought the Indian naan bread,  cut it into fourths and, drizzled olive oil on top of the pieces. They were them popped into a 350 degree F toaster oven for ten minutes to crisp up
                               Then .the za'atar was spooned with a big dollop of hummus onto a plate..
Mash the two together, dip and double dip for an amazing bite.

This is a great dip and spice blend. I plan on using it on Gardein's soy beef tips next, and possible, added to scrambled eggs.

If you want something delicious and new, try za'atar,It's an easy mix and tastes so good. Try it on fresh veggies or spooned over crisped pita or naan breads.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Cookbook Issue

The holidays will be here sooner than you think. One of the nicest gifts you can get any dedicated home chef is recipe book. Luckily, the New York Times Food section has just put out its' cookbook issue with dozens of choices.There may even be some you'd want as a birthday or Christmas gift.

Four  writers were featured in this informative issue.One was Nik Sharma who has just come out with Season, Big Flavors, Beautiful Food. which tells of his journey from his birthplace of Indian to Oakland, California. Mayukh Sen, a James Beard winner of food writing, interviewed this creator of the food blog, A Brown Table. This is a must have for those who like the variety of different foods from all over India and celebrating his Goa and Utar Pradesh heritages. He also throws in other cuisines  as we see in his Bombay frittata, a rich creation of eggs, creme fraiche turmeric and garem masala. Tejal Rao, a Food section regular contributor, interviewed one chef , one food website editor, and one cookbook writer, about cooking for one. Chef Anita Lo, author of Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a party of One, Erik Kim, editor at Food52 which should be classified as a cookbook and Klancy Miller,creator of Cooking Solo: The Fun Of Cooking For Yourself. Usually a cookbook for singles is chock full of sad recipes. All three have dishes full of lush ingredients such as duck confit and warmed almonds. Chef Lo's also recommends using only half the veggies and save the other halves for another recipe.Also leftovers can be used over in such exciting dishes as Chef Lo's cauliflower chaat, ripe with garlic and cilantro.

The other cookbooks are just as interesting and informative.There's a semi-vegetarian one called Almonds, Anchovies and Panchetta; A Vegetarian Cookbook Kind Of  by Cal Peternell, chef of the famed Chez Panisse.It even has dad jokes and weed references along with such cool recipes as egg herb anchovy toasts and eggplant al mattone with scallions and spicy peanut sauce. The popular eatery, Los Angeles' Bestia has come out with a cookbook along with the Brooklyn hipster hangout, Emily. Middle Eastern cooking is red hot right now. For those wanting to learn about it consider buying, Najinieh Batmanglij's Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes and Kitchen Secrets which feature cooking with such ingredients as smoked rice and lemony barberries and Isreal Soul, Easy , Essential and Delicious by the highly successful Zahav  authors, Michael Solomov and Steven Cook, There's even a five minute hummus made with canned chickpeas and a lot of tahini sauce. Craziness reigns in Joe Beef; Surviving The Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts. from Frederick Morin and David McMillan. The book is full of odd and brilliant recipes from their Montreal restaurant of the same name. Bakers will love Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit, by baker,Lisa Ludvinski which has such unique recipes as rhubarb blondies and peanut butter- smoked paprika cookies.

There are many cookbooks coming out right in time for gift giving. Look through the  New York Times Food section  for ideas. You many even see some for yourself.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Salads With Purpose

Can a salad be good for you and good for the earth too? Yes it can, thanks to a new rush of salad chains that offer biodegradable packaging. The food is not only delicious but purposeful.

The New York Times Sunday Style section featured a close up of  fast casual chains Sweetgreen and Chop't, written by Jonah Engel Bromwich who writes for the NY Times' Style section explored these  trendy chains that are more in metropolitan areas than in the suburbs, There's also Dig Inn and Just Salads, with the same mission purpose and appeal to young urban hipsters.Another plus is that the chains buy local and organic produce, which helps farmers from local farms.The biggest pull, especially for the eco-conscious is the biodegradable plates and cutlery. At Sweetgreen, each site has a huge bin proclaiming that the company's utensils, plates, napkins and cups are plant based and go into the compost bin with any leftover food. Just Salad has a better idea. They have their food served in reusable , plastic bowls.Its' director of marketing, Stephen Schwartz says that they save over 75,000 pounds of plastic from being thrown out. This is a better bet, especially if the bowls are brought home and saved for leftovers.

How are the salads?It seems that greens are the urban worker's lunch of choice. Many feel that an old fashioned lunch a hamburger or a pizza slice is too heavy and it'll make them feel sluggish. Salad bowls are better. The ingredients are lighter and fit in better in  a schedule where there really are no more hour long lunch breaks. Workers order on  line , pick it up and go back to spreadsheets and clients.The choices are healthy and yet filling. Sweetgreen offers salads and warm bowls - ones with roasted chicken or steelhead  a type of rainbow trout. There are also vegan bowls too, full of curry flavoring and quinoa along with roasted tofu and portobellos. There's also make your own - which is great for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike.Just Salad goes one step further by selling the ever trendy avocado and the new hummus (!) toast, a thick slice of Italian bread slathered with hummus,  roasted tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese. Most have seltzers to drink but Chop't does sell sodas too.

Can a  salad save your diet and the world? Yes, if you go to any of these chains, from Sweetgreen, to Chop't, along with Digg Inn and Just Salad. Try them to not just good about your diet but about what you're contributing to the world.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Mediterranean Influence

In the last few years Eastern Mediterranean foods are becoming part of the American culinary landscape. It's easy to see why - with the melange of flavors and textures They can be spicy or mellow , simple or complex. The combination is a refreshing breeze of warm, fragrant air.

I discovered this at King Falafel,down the road from me in Elmwood Park, New Jersey.It's a place on the highway - Route 46 West, that I usually pass by.I went there for lunch  and had the one spice mix I've wanted to try for the last few years - za'atar.. It was served, heavily layered on warm, puffy pita.The taste was pure heaven, a dark green spread rich with olive oil and such spices as sumac(yes sumac  which also give Greek gyros their earthy flavor) along with fresh oregano, cumin, and  sesame seeds along with Kosher salt. Unfortunately King Falafel doesn't sell the mix so I will be making it at home (along with providing a how to for home chefs sometime soon. We also had this
an incredible chopped salad, rife with parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. It is a refreshing bite on a hot October day. This is my new favorite - I even took a container home for dinner.

Mediterranean cooking has been around for millennia. Some recipes such as za'atar have been around since Biblical times yet we're just discovering it now, thanks to Instagram. I'm looking forward to making my own blend and plan on using it on everything from scrambled eggs to Gardein's beef tips. It would even be great sprinkled on fries or mixed with olive oil to be used as a dip. Hummus is another Middle Eastern food that is now so common. It's also easy to make as is falafel - fried chickpeas balls. This is another recipe on my radar.It can be a labor intensive one because the chickpeas have to be soaked overnight.Another dish that's on America's culinary must try list is the hugely popular shakshouka. This is a Tunisian and Israeli version of huevos rancheros. Fried eggs simmer in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices. It's usually a breakfast or lunch dish, but can be made for a vegetarian dinner too.Cumin, cayenne, garlic and paprika, give it spark and color.It's an easy cook.

Mediterranean food is part of our American landscape. discover it, cook it, enjoy the variety of flavors and textures. It's as refreshing as a warm, fragrant breeze ,