Thursday, January 31, 2019

Hearty And Hot Meals

This is the type of weather that requires calorie rich meals to keep you warm. There's something about a soup or pasta that's not only comforting but also fortifying . What's great is when they're homemade with familiar ingredients.

Melissa Clark , and Yotam Ottolenghi know this and made  soup and one pot pastas the theme of their columns in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Ms. Clark devoted her A Good Appetite to lentil soup. This is an easy cook, as most soups are.It's minimal and straightforward yet complex with addition of rosemary and garlic. Onions are  first cooked in olive oil in a medium pot. It's then taking any kind of stock, chicken, beef or vegetable along with the lentils and thyme to simmer. The fun part is pureeing it all with an immersion blender until the desired consistency. It can be thick and chunky or thin and satiny. Another fun part is topping it. Ms. Clark  suggests radicchio tossed with some olive oil and parsley.However if greens aren't your thing, then crumble bacon on top. A dollop or sour cream or Greek yogurt would work well. Into crunch? Then try toasted pumpkin seeds, dried seaweed or anything crisp. You can also have browned veggies such as browned leeks or onions. It can be good just left unadorned, with slices of toasty Italian bread and a small green salad on the side.

Another cold weather must eat is Yotam Ottolenghi's one pot wonder dishes. These are recipes that use a roasting pan in a whole new light. His may not be the easiest to make, Chef Ottolenghi wants to create flavor and texture bombs that add components in different stages.It's playing with temperatures, or scattering a garnish or a salsa at the end to liven it up. The recipe is a one pan pasta with harissa bolognese. This combines both North African and classic Italian. Harissa is a combination of tomato paste married to a variety of spices such as cumin, caraway, coriander and hot chiles, It will give the dish a more arrabiata vibe.Chef Ottolenghi adds more cumin and coriander for a really intense taste. Onion, tomatoes, and carrots are blitzed in a food processor and added to the meat , Pecorino Romano  and Parmesan cheeses harissa and tomato paste. The oven is first set at a scorching 475 degrees F for the meat and then it's dropped to 375 F after the first twenty-five minutes.It's then breaking the meat apart with a spoon and adding both chicken broth and heavy cream. The pasta is added. This is coarsely chopped manicotti or canneloni. Push as much pasta as you can under the surface and bake twenty five minutes more , until the pasta is tender. Stir in parsley and  more Parmesan and Pecorino Romano until the top is crisp about eight minutes more.

These frigid times demand hearty and hot dishes. Warm up with a fragrant lentil soup or a spicy harissa pasta bake. They are perfect for chasing away the effects of this polar vortex.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Super Bowl's Super Restaurants

Atlanta will be buzzing this weekend, thanks to the Super Bowl. The town will be filled with  not only Patriots and Rams fans but with fans of the city's sparkling dining scene. Down home Southern cooking will have its' own battle against Nouvelle Southern cuisine.

A Southerner herself, Kim Severson wrote about this vibrant city in today's New York Times Food section. Atlanta, she writes, has always been a city about money. It's a thriving metropolis, not a sleepy Southern town and it attracts all sorts of workers from around the globe. There are immigrants from Mexico, India, South Korea and Vietnam. The influx feeds a mix of cuisines many of them represented along a stretch of road, Buford Highway. Two favorites are Yet Tuh where diners can feast on homey Korean grandma food such as bubbling pork soup and Food Terminal where diners can have a wide variety of Malaysian soups and barbecues. Next to it are a Chinese barbecue joint and a Viet-Cajun seafood restaurant along with a tofu house So Kong Dong that features Korean soups and barbecues. Atlantans also go mad for the heavily Cuban influenced seafood heavy Watchman's

Many of the city's biggest names in food have a presence here, Hugh Acheson,a Canadian born chef who adapted well to Atlanta has Georgians hooked on his coffee and fat squares of toast slathered with fresh local cow's milk cheese and jam at his Spiller Park. There is Anne Quatrano who brought  the farm to table movement to Atlanta  twenty-five years ago who now is bringing Gulf seafood to the area thanks to her second eatery W.H. Stiles Fish Camp. Atlanta is also a big breakfast town. Ms. Quatrano will open Pancake Social sometime soon but there are also much loved Java Jive, Highland Bakery and Homegrown, the last serving the ever popular pancakes and chili cheese grits. There is also the classic Waffle House. The original has been turned into a museum in nearby Avondale Estates. There is still traditional Southern food.For those who crave barbecue there is B's Cracklin Barbecue where pit master Bryan Furman turns out whole hog barbecue using heirloom breed hogs. Traditionalists will like The Busy Bee Cafe which has been around since the 1947 and has every kind of down home dish from fried chicken to peach cobbler.

People will be heading to Atlanta for the big game this weekend. They should take a break ad discover the city's vibrant restaurant scene. The town is chock full of amazing restaurants from traditional to exotic  a sure victory with food and restaurant lovers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Super Bowl Healthy Challenge

This Sunday will be a salute to all things greasy, salty and fatty. Super Bowl parties are usually full of bowls of anything bacon-y and cheesy followed by creamy and sugary sweet.  Here's a challenge - can a Super Bowl Party be full of low calories treats with out any threat of artery blockage?

The answer is yes. You can throw a healthy and fun Super Bowl party, with a variety of flavors and textures. Sliders are usually any game day must. Think oven baked or grilled instead of fried. This takes away  frying them in grease. Another healthier choice is veggie burgers,  Gardein has the best with only 130 calories  seventy less than a regular beef one. One must is the hamburger bun  yet it's usually loaded with carbs and calories. Try Sara Lee's eighty calorie whole wheat ones instead of Hawaiian's 220 (!!!) calorie ones. Add soy cheese or feta which comes in at only seventy calories. For variety use hot sauce or sprinkle hot pepper to change it up. Hot dogs are another game day must.  Yet one Oscar Meyer hot dog has 140 calories, twice that of a Morningstar Farms veggie dog, Serve these with chili sauce or vegan cheese for a tasty and healthier alternative, You can even make bacon dogs thanks to the company's fake soy bacon strips. These taste like the real thing so guests won't be missing out on it. Chicken tenders and wings are a Super Bowl tradition however go vegan with the lower calorie vegan versions from Gardein and Morningstar Farms. As for dips for these and baked potato chips use the super healthy unflavored Greek yogurt as the base.

Can you serve salad at a Super Bowl party? Yes! The key is to make it interesting. One of the most flavorful is tabbouleh, the Middle Eastern salad that has bulgur wheat as its' base. Add chopped tomatoes ,cucumbers and spring onions. Garlic, mint and parsley give it its' intense flavor.It's moistened with fresh lemon juice and virgin olive oil. Tabbouleh is a refreshing palate cleanser after steaks and chicken. If you want to try a  spin on Mexican food, then go for a taco salad.Make  it with ground turkey and beans, corns and cubed avocado. Scatter shredded low calorie cheedar on it and serve with a salsa vinaigrette. The last is just adding a generous cup of salsa to a simple olive oil and cider vinegar . Smoked paprika gives it some zing.  Seafood is not really part of the Super Bowl tradition however shrimp salad is not only different but a welcome change. Make one that's richer in taste than calories by combining cooked shrimp with avocados, onions and tomatoes. The salad is splashed with just lime juice and dashed with pepper flakes.Of course make sure there are bowls of veggies and low calorie dips scattered around the viewing area.

Try the Super Bowl healthy challenge. You might be surprised at how much you and your fellow fans will love the change. A healthy change.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Your Super Bowl Shopping List

With  the Super Bowl less than a week away ,it's time to plan your game day shopping list. Will you go the appetizers only route or plan a winter barbecue with ribs and burgers? It now the time to decide.

One of the first items you should write down are sturdy paper plates. Chinet has the best and sturdiest paper plates that can stand up to the sauciest chili or ribs. If you're planning on a lot of different dishes, then get the plates with three compartments. Another must? Sturdy plastic utensils. Buy extra packs because a few knives and forks  will surely wind up in the trash or recycling bin. Napkins and wet wipes should also be right up there.You don't want to bring out the good stemware so have plastic glasses and cups for beer and if the party wants it - coffee and tea afterwards. If you want glasses that can last well after the Super Bowl, then go to Target. They have an excellent selection of tumblers from regular plastic to clear plastic tumblers that look like cut glass.Each glass is between 79 cents (!) and two dollars for the clear plastic.Parties produce trash so make sure you have plenty of hefty trashbags to handle the mess.Another should buy is plastic containers for any leftovers or take homes. Buy these in different sizes to accommodate however many leftovers there might be.

As for foods, ask yourself what do you and your guests want? Is it just going to be chili  and chips or something mor?. Even a dish like chili requires planning.Do you make one of the alarm ones or a mild one that people can add pepper flakes and hot sauce?Will it be ground beef, turkey or soy? Do you serve it over rice, polenta or tortilla chips?. If you're going for a more heartier spread, then there's the choice of meats. Do you go for the fun and sloppy  fare such as wings and ribs - or more contained foods like hamburgers and grilled steaks. If it's the last make sure you have enough charcoal or gathered twigs (which you can get on a walk through your local woods. Then there are the sides. Do guests bring them or do you provide all of them? What about the nibbles. Remember to include two or three flavors of chips,  and different kinds of tortillas, and pretzels. You can also write down popcorn, both plain and kettle flavors too. Always have soda on hand and seltzer too for those watching their weight or who just want a clean crisp, for dessert, ask yourself if you want to bake or just buy cake, If you bake, then get the mix and the ingredients for the icing along with the decorations.

Planning any party , including a Super Bowl one can be daunting. It helps to have a game plan to get you through the shopping. Then it's onto the store for the kick off of shopping.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Internet As Cookbook

Are home chefs using the Internet a bit too much? It seems that way, thanks to blog like this one along with Pinterest and Instagram. Will the cookbook go the way of Blockbuster and coal stoves.

Thanks to the invention of the information highway cooking with Internet recipes has gotten easier. There's literally every recipe on the World Wide Web even ones I thought were only unique to my family (they're not). It's so easy to type in any type of recipe and what seems like thousands pop up. The other day I wanted to make the M&M cookie  my Mom had made for me as a small child.. I remember the recipe  being in Life Magazine in one of the ads for the candy. Now type it in the search bar and every kind comes up. I was hoping for the original recipe, but wound up choosing one that produced monster cookies. They were delicious but not what I was really going for. For my holiday cooking I had to do a second check on Brussels sprouts because I had half forgotten my mother's recipe for them. It was one of those times I longed for a family recipe book. Someone else's recipe is not the same as one passed down from generation to generation. Don't get me wrong. I rely on the Internet for most of my info, but it would be nice to open a book and get what I need from it.

Which brings me back to the question - are we relying too much on the world for our cooking techniques instead of books written by real chef?. My tween years were spent in many a bookstore and the book section of department stores (yes, that was a section back then, along with wine and home repair sections in stores such as Macy's).There was nothing like poring through exotic themed cookbooks  with glossy pictures of dishes photographed on villas or fancy beaches or restaurants. The recipes were straightforward. Anyone could create them. What I liked were the explanations of the dishes along with their stories and histories. They were more than just cookbooks. They were kind of like encyclopedias. Some even had room to write notes in along side the list of ingredients. There are still cookbooks like that out there, one in particular is one by Sheila and Marilynn Brass, Their Heirloom Cooking (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishing ) has a wonderful collection of classic recipes plus a folder in the back for your own ones.  They, like many other cookbooks have information and vital advice about how to shop and what to have. You really can't get that from the internet.

Will the upcoming generations wonder what was an actual cookbook? I hope not. There should be cookbooks with crucial information and lots of beautiful glossy pictures.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Moore's Does It Again

Just in time for the Super Bowl , Moore's comes out with a new sauce - a creamy ranch buffalo wing sauce.
I thought it would be super spicy - Moore's does have that reputation. Yet despite the fact that cayenne is one of the ingredients, the bite is relatively mild.Since it's made with ranch dressing it can also be used as a salad dressing and a dip for veggies. I already know that I'll be using it as a dip for my tempura green beans for next week's Super Bowl Feast. For now I  used it on Gardein's soy chicken tenders.
Of course I used my air fryer.
As always it perfectly air fries the pieces until they're nice and crisp, perfect for the sauce.
How is it with the tenders? I liked that  the creaminess and mildness didn't over power the chicken. Sometimes a sauce is so strong that you have to scrape it off the food. Not here. I really like this sauce a lot. Another plus is that it has a lot of natural ingredients such as buttermilk and cayenne peppers. I would even try it with Gardein's fish fillets too and drizzle it on roasted veggies too.

Moore's Sauces and Marinades are perfect for any party or meal. Definitely try this creamy and surprisingly mild sauce on everything from crudites to chicken wings and tenders. It's the perfect addition to any fun food.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Fish And Couscous

What do you do about midweek cooking. It doesn;t have the exciting ring of weekend dinner parties with friends.There's none of the breezy casualness of a Friday take out or quick bake pizza. The answer is liven it up by one classic yet literally eye opening recipe and a traditional one with an ingredient popular in another country.

Thank Melissa Clark and David Tanis for their takes on fish and couscous respectively in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Ms/ Clark goes old school with cooking red snapper with its' head intact. This may cause some squeamishness in some, yet it is popular in European and Asian cooking.  Her column, A Good Appetite is an argument about using the entire body because it leads to a more flavorful meal. It also makes it impossible to overcook it  along with drying out the meat. Many home chefs find it difficult to cut . Ms. Clark suggests diners go at the fish from one side, namely the belly. All that will be left are the head , spine and tail ,looking like a cartoon cat devoured it.. Also to make it more desirable is the glaze. It's combining three citrus fruits, lemon, lime, and orange with tamari  and butter  The fruit is placed inside the fish cavity, infusing it with a tropical , tart flavor and more lime juice is added for the sauce. Ms. Clark suggests serving it with cilantro sprigs but you can try any green as a light salad on the side.

If you would rather go the vegetarian route,then the recipe from David Tanis' A City Kitchen. His is a take on the classic Middle Eastern dish, updating it with feta. It's the perfect meal for a cold day. Pearl couscous,more  similar to pasta than semolina, is cooked with the always fun grape  tomatoes and chickpeas. The last gives this vegan dish a boost of protein while the tomatoes add color and flavor. The addition of balsamic vinegar , garlic and scallions give the tomatoes a savory and sweet taste. Updating it with feta gives the dish a creaminess and tang.The last depends on what kind you buy. The Greek tends to be the saltiest and most intense in flavor.. If you want to go milder, Mr , Tanis suggests trying feta from France or Bulgaria. Taste it first , before you add it to the pan. If' its' too salty then just give it a quick rinse to rid it of the salinity. There's also cumin and lemon zest for more of a Middle Eastern vibe. It can be topped with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar along with more herbs and a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Whatever one you choose, they're great for livening up a weekday meal. Try a glazed snapper for a warm sunny flavor. For a warm cozy  and exotic dish, whip up a bowl of vegan couscous. Both add zing to meal time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Perfect Pantry

What makes a pantry perfect? By having   the necessary ingredients on hand. Surprisingly stocking one seems to be a lost art. Luckily there is a how to for both the novice and experienced home chef.

Julia Moskin tackled my favorite subject in today's New York Times Food section. A well stocked pantry is a must.As Ms Moskin writes a truly functional pantry is the key to more and better cooking. The contents have to fit the home chef's real world cooking style and skills.A traditional English and American pantry just had dry ingredients like flour, sugar and bread. These were stored well away from the heat of the stove or ovens. There was always a larder for cured meats and the foods preserved in it and a buttery for cider, beer and wine barrels called butts. Now all of these - even the alcohol can be stored in a pantry.The list has been expanded to include such modern samples like lemons and yogurt which can be stored in a modern pantry - the refrigerator. Keep in mind what Ms Moskin has is not a prescription but a proposal. What goes into your pantry is up to you but it is good to have a jumping off point.

The list is divided into three categories :essential, expanded and expert. It is definitely a keeper guide, especially for those just starting out in the kitchen. The essential list contains simple oils like olive and canola and the three vinegars. For produce make sure there is garlic, onions and potatoes. The freezer should be filled with veggies, meat and berries. The expanded list has more complex oils like coconut and sesame. Sherry is added too.The sauces run the gamut from hoisin sauce to anchovy paste and harissa. The spices have become more exotic, growing from peppercorns and red pepper flakes to garam masala and Chinese five spice. The grains and starches include panko crumbs and rice noodles. The expert is for the worldlier chef. The oil variety has been expanded to walnut and avocado along with fancier vinegars like tarragon. The dairy selection includes ghee, creme fraiche and aged cheeses such as Gruyere and blue cheese. Lamb sausages,merguez and edamame are for the freezer and baking has everything from bread flour to sparkling sugars.

A well stocked pantry is a chef's best friend. No matter where you stand experience wise you should have ingredients at hand. It makes for better cooking and eating.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Life With The Air Fryer

I have to admit that I didn't know what to do with the Power Air Fryer I received for Christmas.My first thought was it's too big and  I'll use it as much as I will that cookie press I bought. Boy, was I wrong!

It turns out this gadget is handy and sometimes better than the oven.I was skeptical at first, wondering if I was going to use it or would it just collect dust. . The air fryer  was what my kitchen was missing. I definitely warmed up to this huge  pod, a little bigger than a Keurig coffee maker.In actuality, it's just a smidge larger than my crockpot and fits quite nicely on my kitchen counter. Another plus is that it has a timer that beeps when the food is done or needs to be turned. To be honest I use it more than my oven now.There's no need to  empty it of the pots pans, and cookie sheets that are conveniently stored inside of my stove. . It is a snap to clean - unlike the other.
 The two "frying " baskets are just emptied of crumbs (read eaten - they're the most delicious part) and then washed in just warm soapy water. To be honest, all the foods that require oven cooking taste better somehow in this amazing machine.It may be the hot air that encircles each piece. I've noticed that Gardein's tofu chicken nuggets were much tastier and crunchier, without any grease. The Power Air Fryer turned Golden"s veggie pancakes into extraordinary golden discs, perfectly cooked with a crispy french fry like exterior.

Having it has expanded the cooking experience. I have air fried Stop & Shop's spring rolls in it. They turned out to be golden without the usual oily after taste.I've bought spanokopita , the small Greek spinach pies that can be cooked in the fryer. I do want to try homemade potato pancakes as well. There is a recipe book with it, that features the usual and not  so usual. It shows how to properly frozen onion rings and fries, along with homemade mozzarella sticks. There's also the intriguing mac and cheeses, a perfect recipe for left over baked macaroni,What's surprising is that the book - more of a pamphlet really - has recipes for beef empanadas and blooming onions.  The next model up has accessories like baking pans and you can bake anything in it.There is even a web site with all recipes air fryer, from shortbread (!) to lamb chops.The recipe for air fried breaded mushrooms look interesting and would even make a good main course. I definitely want to try the banana chips and the air fryer tofu, made crispy with brown rice flour.

The Power Air Fryer is here to stay. I really love this machine.It's versatile and a good alternative to the oven.There's so much to do with it - so much to make.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Thermos STAT

The temps are Arctic frigid. You're wearing what seems to be five layers of clothing and you're still shivering. It's time to bring the heat - whether temperature wise or taste. It'll keep winter's icy chill at bay - hopefully.

One thing is certain during this frigid days  a hot meal is everything.We need fortification for those frosty drives to school and work. Ditch the boxed cereal. Think piping hot oatmeal or farina with a hot tea or hot coffee to wash it down. This is the time for a calories be damned breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast.If you still feel guilty, then go with poached eggs, they're not fried just boiled accompanying soy bacon. Sub in whole wheat or even pita for regular white bread. As long's as it's toasty and can keep you full and warm. Another hearty idea is a breakfast strata. This casserole type dish combines what we love about the first meal and the density of a dinner.If you've never made one before then go for the simplest recipe. The night before layer thick slices of white or whole wheat bread in a greased square baking dish. Beat four eggs and half a cup of milk along with oregano or thyme, Refrigerate overnight. The next morning preheat oven to 350, pop the strata into it Bake for half an hour and then sprinkled on shredded cheddar and bake for five more minutes. Cheese should be melted and the strata nice and puffy, Serve with strong hot tea or coffee for a body warming breakfast.

Always have a hot drink in the car during this weather.As much as you need bottles of cold water in the summer, you need either tea , coffee or cocoa. You can have a thermos or stop in at your favorite coffee shop.You'll also feel more alert too. Definitely go for a hot lunch. If you're worried about diet, then stick with a hot , light soup and plain tea. You can also add fire  Try a dish with heat. One favorite is pasta arrabiata or angry pasta. This is the perfect dinner dish too,Most of the recipes for it call for a quarter of a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes, but if you want real fire, then add half a teaspoon. Chili is another perfect lunch  or dinner. You can even make extra to create an  office meal for yourself. A pinch of hot pepper can do the job unless you want to go into alarm territory. Then it's time to get out the jalapenos.As for drinks, a hot after dinner  tea is always good, but you can make chai and spice it up with cinnamon . Mexican hot cocoa is not only hot but can be fiery with the addition of pinch of red pepper powder. You can also add this to any chocolate cake, cookie and cupcake recipe along with chocolate frosting to give it some sweet heat.

This is the time to bundle up and fortify yourself against these freezing days. Dress warm. Eat hot. It's the best defense against frost and frostbite.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Binge Faves

With snow and cold weather here , there's only one thing to do. Binge!!It's great to stay in all day and catch up with favorite shows and eating . What you binge on is up to you You can go healthy or decadent, that's up to you. Either way, just set out a bowl and grab the remote.

What would be a healthy binge? Veggies and fruit.,There;'s nothing as refreshing as a platter of bite size vegetables with some kind of dip.Some stores such as Acme and Stop ; Shop sell bowls of cut vegetables with dip. It's also easy to make your own. Go light with a tangy vinaigrette made with oil and lime juice instead of lemon.Add some cilantro and hot pepper for heat. You can also go for a creamy dressing. Mix tahini sauce  with lemon and a tiny bit of dark honey or chopped dates for an interesting dip. Tired of all the low calories. Then go full on healthy decadent with a homemade French dressing. It's combining  low calorie mayonnaise and ketchup with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Longing for something crunchy? Get yourself an air fryer. This is a podlike mini oven that can crisp up fries and onion rings without all that oil. It's also good for cooking crunchy crispy  chicken tenders  and fish fillets, both the real deal and the soy kind. For those with a sweet tooth, try Crispy Green Crispy Fruit. These are  packets of air dried fruit  that are very low in calories but high in flavor and crunch. The apple  and pine apple pieces are the most addictive and are perfect for an afternoon of binge watching

Of course there is the decadent side of binging. You can make your own or order in sliders from White Castle.Have a side of fries with aoili mustard or go really calorie crazy with chili cheese one.You don't have to make your own spicy pot (although you're snowed in so why not)Open a can of
Hormels or Campbell's brand an zap it in the microwave.As for cheese, go for Kraft's Olde English. You can also buy Sargento's or Kraft's shredded cheddar mixes.Another fun binge food is pizza.Don't try to eat a whole twelve piece by yourself!That would be too bingeful!.Go with an individual pie.Stop & Shop sells single serve ones as does Red Baron. If you're not watching your weight, then finish with a hot fudge sundae. Of course there are chips and dip, but you can also splurge by making spinach dip. It's a pretty easy mix of sour cream, frozen or fresh chopped spinach and mayo. As for sweets, of course cookies. Get the Nestle or Pillsbury ready bake , bake ,cool and enjoy. Enjoy those with a soothing cup of tea or a liqueur spiked coffee.

If' it's a snowy day, stay in, Binge on your favorite programs and foods. Indulge yourself on this day off.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Your Blizzard Pantry Must Haves

Yet again there's blizzard coming to the East Coast, namely the New York City area.Unless you live in the sunny, summery Southern Hemisphere, this is snow season. That means one thing: a well stocked pantry  - and fridge.Be prepared for a  few days without the grocery store.

Grains are important in a winter pantry. Have boxes of favorite pastas on hand. These can be a main meal, or even go into soups . Also there's nothing like a hearty penne or spaghetti lunch or supper on a cold, snowy day. Rice is also a must have. It's good as a side but also can be incorporated as part of the main meal to give it more substance. Mix it with stew or even thin soups like tomato and minestrone.Barley and bulgur are also good to have in your winter pantry. Bulgur can also be used instead of oatmeal for breakfast as well.Oatmeal is another must along with farina. You can  get a box of the flavored packets or a canister of plain oatmeal  that can be used in baking bread and/or cookies.Should you also have flour? It will come in handy if you're planning on making pizza dough  or roux bases. A snowy day usually means baking so do have a bag of it along with other baking must haves such as baking powder and baking soda.As for the already baked stuff, it helps to have a loaf .Bread can be used in making sandwiches, grilled cheese and French toast.Grind it into crumbs for baked macaroni and cheese topping along with thickener for soups and breading veggies and meats.

Should you include canned meats in the mix? Yes! Canned tuna can be used for salads and casseroles along with that cold weather fave tuna melt. Get a few cans of tuna fish in olive oil. You can make a sunny salad Nicoise with it , a perfect meal to help imagine warmer climes.You may also want to stock up on the lower calorie salmon which is versatile to use in such hot dishes as croquettes and pasta sauce.Another must have is canned chicken which can easily be turned into chicken a la king. A winter pantry should have a small variety of canned vegetables too.You can also stock up on bags of frozen ones too. These can be made into sides but also salads if you have the odd craving for something cold. Corn can also be tossed into corn cakes and corn bread. Canned or frozen spinach can be turned into a dip for movie or football binging. Have a few cans of fruit too. You may want to finish a meal with a fruit cocktail or peaches as a side to pound or angel food cake. Dried fruit or fruit crisps are also good to stock up on. They're perfect low calories snacks when the boredom munchies hit.

Make sure your pantry is well stocked for the stormy,  snowy weather ahead. Have the basics. They'll go  along way when you can't make it to the grocery store.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Restaurant And The Sea

There's no doubt that locavore restaurants are affected by their surroundings. If the bounty is abundant , then the eateries thrive. If not, they have to become creative and look  to other locally sourced ingredients. It becomes an incredible task if the source is environmentally challenged.

This is the case of San Francisco eatery, Angler, which was the subject of Tejal Rao's Critic's Notebook in yesterday's New York Times Food section. she interviewed chef Joshua Skenes, who opened this local restaurant in the waterfront Embarcadero area of San Francisco. Chef Skenes is redefining  the San Francisco fish house, thanks to a tightly edited menu. He has pointed out  he isn't the only one in the area. Many seafood lovers are being redirected to lesser known but just as delicious seafood options.Why is this? Blame it on climate change and the ocean's temperature changing because of it.In a published study from just last week researchers found ocean temps had broken record highs in the last few years. This changes everything, from the water's acidity to  breeds of fish heading towards colder waters.This is happening all over , especially off the New York City coast. The Dungeness crab, that lives in Northern California waters, has been infected with domoic acid, a neurotoxin produced by ocean warmed algae.The levels are so high in the shellfish that there's a delay in catching them.

What's a seafood restaurant to do? Get creative  with other ocean bounty.It's not just chef Skenes who's exploring other catches from the sea but also chef James Syhabout of Commis in Oakland. The last serves seaweed rather than big ticket fish.Other eateries,like The Perennial ,owned by Karen
Lebowicz and Anthony Myint serves farmed sturgeon and trout, raised on vegan feed. As for Chef Skenes, he's getting into purple sea urchins at the Los Angeles branch of Angler as well as at the original. Purple sea urchins are multiplying at an eye opening rate, invading and decimating vital underwater kelp forests. There are enough of them to  satisfy customer's growing love of them. Their flavor is that of a sweet and salty custard when pureed and returned to their shells. Chef Skenes is also cooking petrale sole, that was once favored by Bay City locals. It's an ugly  flatfish with eyes on one side of its' head . That doesn't matter to him.He turns it into a filet of beauty, with almost jellied meat firmed up over a fire and lacquered with butter.  Jellyfish is also being served diced and raw with a dipping sauce.He also does amazing magic with a roasted beet and tuna tartare along with a radicchio with a dressing that sloppy and almost bloody looking. These dishes make diners forget about what's not on the menu, like the Dungeness crab.

Unfortunately, all seafood restaurants will be affected by climate change. Let's hope their chefs can become creative with everything the sea has to offer and not just favorites. This will definitely be the standard if we don't amend the damage we've done to our world.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Giving Old Spice Some Spice

One of the most needed artillery in any home chef's arsenal is a well stocked spice rack.These little bottles of flavor and fire, sweet and savory give oomph to even the simplest of dishes. Yet do you know when to toss them once they lose their spice? What do you do with all those unused bottles?

That's the question posed and answered by Jennifer Steinhauser in today's New York Times Food section. Ms. Steinhauer, who writes both about food and politics for The Times has explored a kitchen's most used area - the spice rack. We all have a plethora of them in our racks or cabinets (some of us more than others) and they can sit there for years.What she does recommend is pouring all your remaining spices into individual bottles of the same size (don't mix them). Create labels for them with painter's tape and a Sharpie.However here's a short guide  to let you know when to toss and when to keep. Ground spices such as cinnamon,curry cumin and nit meg should be thrown out after two or three years.Whole spices like cinnamon sticks and cloves can last longer between four and five years. The same goes for whole peppercorns. Dried ground herbs such as parsley, basil and oregano are only good for three to four years.

What do you do with all those spices? Ms. Sullivan suggests making a curry from Indian chef and cookbook author, Meera Sodha's Made In India: Recipes From An Indian Family Kitchen. It's a crunchy fun mix of cauliflower, cashews,peas and coconuts. The spices used are coriander , cumin and chili powder along with garam masala. There's also tomato paste and garlic along with green chile for fire.It's a great way of using these spices. The same can be said for turmeric which is also great in any curry. For sumac, the base in za'atar, she received inspiration from Cathy Barrow's latest book Pie Squared: Irresistably Easy Sweet and Savory Slab Pies. It's a sumac scented eggplant slab pie however Ms. Steinhauser nixed the dough and added the sumac to the eggplant.It's then baking it and simmering the cubes with tomatoes and chickpeas. Pomegranate molasses is used for a bit of sweetening. All spice racks have the herbes de Provence and Ms. Steinhauser used hers to season chicken breasts. along with salt and pepper. This recipe is a great way to use up rosemary, thyme and sage.

This is the perfect time to re evaluate your spice rack. Use up what you have in these recipes or others. Just don't let them sit there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Can Hearty And Healthy Coexist?

Can a hearty winter dish be also healthy? is a plate full of sauce not only good tasting but good for you? There are cold weather recipes that are both filling but light.

It's not January with out stew. Who doesn't love a bowl swimming with gravy, veggies and some kind of protein?The only problem is that it can be rich with calories and fat. A safer, yet just as satisfying dish is a vegan stew. Try one that employs traditional winter root vegetables such as turnips and parsnips.Onions, carrots and potatoes round it out and give it a backbone.You don't need meat for flavor. Add a dash of cumin or turmeric instead Instead of heavy dumplings serve with brown rice.What's also great about this stew is that it translates very well into second day leftovers.Bean stew is another hearty and healthy chill chaser.Mix white beans  or cannellini with tomatoes along with white wine and olive oil. Season with both thyme and sage to give it some oomph.This dish might be even better with crusty hunks of Italian bread but go light with the Northern Italian grissini which are between only fourteen and twenty-one calories a breadstick.

Another hearty winter dish is pasta. Who wouldn't want a bowl swimming with spaghetti or gemelli, along with meatballs?. The last can be made with low calorie mushrooms or beans and have the same spicy flavor as the real thing.Not surprisingly pasta can be low calorie Instead of the usual whole grain wheat , think ancient grains such as quinoa and brown rice. These can be found in all forms including lasagna noodles.Even this calorie rich casserole can be made can be made with quinoa and zucchini slices standing in for the pasta.Instead of ground beef and hard boiled eggs.Add red and green peppers along with spinach for color.You can also use cauliflower instead of the quinoa.Pizza  is another hearty dish, surprisingly and we all love one with a thick , yeasty crust , and topped with an overload of meat and cheese. Despite it being a great chill chaser it is loaded with calories. Lower those with subbing in a mix of cauliflower and beaten egg as the crust.Sub in low calorie mozzarella or the vegan cheese and top with healthy but tasty topping. Try oven crisped portabello mushrooms , seared  peppers and even roasted tomatoes. Craving meat? Then go vegan with soy pepperoni and bacon.

Hearty dishes can be light  in calories. They can be just as filling and delicious as their calorie rich cousins. Make them on a cold winter's day.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Mmmmm M and M's

One of the most classic American candies is M&M's. These little multicolored gems are just good on their own or in a variety of different dishes and treats.What is even more interesting is their history and their impact on the American culinary landscape.

M&M's made their debut in 1941 during the beginning of World War II. Forrest Mars Senior based them on the British candy Smarties when he saw soldiers eat them as a snack during the Spanish Civil War. The British version had only debuted a few years before in 1937. and were possibly based on the Moravian version first made in Holesov Czech Republic as early as 1907.Mars was the father of the famed Milky  Ways and Mars Bars  introduced in 1923 and 1932. The candy is nothing more than a chocolate pellet coated with hard panning, basically hardened sugar syrup. Those iconic M's? One  is for Mars - of course and and Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey's chocolate president  William F.R. Murrie. They candy was made with Hershey's chocolate which had control of all the rationed chocolate at the time.After receiving a patent for it ,Mars had the candy made in the posh neighborhood of Clinton Hill, in Newark, New Jersey. Their first customer was the US Army who saw the candy as the perfect foodstuff that wouldn't melt in the pockets of soldiers stationed in tropical climates. It was strictly  army food until the end of the war when it was finally sold to civilians. The iconic brown package came about in 1950 while the Ms came about in 1949.It was black at first and then changed to white in 1954.

Most of us grew up with the classic milk chocolate or peanut ones that came about in 1954. The eighties saw the candies go global with being introduced all over the world, from Australia to Malaysia. They even hit the UK where they 've been competing with Smarties.Holiday M&M's were introduced then too, with pastel candies imprinted with bunny, chick and egg symbols. The Christmas ones were colored with  red, white and green coatings, with the last one  being mint flavored. The M's were replaced with fir trees, bells and candles. The Nineties saw the ushering in of M&M Minis sold in plastic cylinders . The new century welcomed such new flavors as dulce de leche, caramel, and peanut butter.Also entering the candy scene was dark chocolate - a nice break from the milk along with white chocolate.There's also chocolate crispy and pumpkin spice that comes out in the fall. Fruit flavors have also crept into the M&M flavor mill as  well. There are coconut, orange,cherry cordial raspberry and even candy apple.! Newer flavors are birthday cake and pretzel - the last a nice mix of sweet and salty.Mars  also makes pecan pie and caramel which is sooooo addictive.

Everyone has a favorite M&M. What's yours? Mine are caramel and almond for now. That may change when I taste the dark chocolate ones again.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Parties To Chase The Winter Away

January may be a month to detox and chill out after all of December's holiday parties but it can also be a bland month too. Amp up the weekends with fun get togethers to chase the chill away. It'll liven spirits during the cold nights.

One of the most obvious and most fun is a fondue party. This is great for those who were lucky to receive fondue pots for Christmas. Fondue itself is an easy recipe.Most do think it's just dipping stale bread in cheddar, It's more subtle than that. The fondue itself is a mix of Gruyere and Emmenthaler  along with dry white wine and even nutmeg.It's simmering the  wine first (and keep in mind you can serve this too) and then adding the cheeses and nutmeg.  Cut a baguette in rough edged chunks . You can also use boiled potato chunks too.Many Piedmontese from northwestern Italy will tell you the winter is a great time for bagna calda. This is a fun dish, that uses the fondue pot in a different way. Bagna cauda or hot bath is a phenomenal blend of anchovies cooked with a mix of olive oil, butter and garlic .Some recipes call for sardines, but it's more of a taste thing,Savoy cabbage, native to Piedmomte is always used although you can add rare cooked London broil pieces . This variation originated in Paterson, New Jersey with the Piedmontese silk weavers who ran the Paterson mills. Adding meat to the anchovy sauce is amazing. The juices blend perfectly with fish sauce. End it with everyone dipping hunks of Italian bread in the pot. You can also go the sweet route and have a chocolate fondue party. Use the best bittersweet chocolate you can and heavy cream. Then put out a buffet of all sorts of fun dip ins such as cake chunks, marshmallows and of course, fruit.

Fondue parties are more for smaller,, more intimate get togethers.If you want a bigger do, then think a buffet. A Caribbean themed one can be fun, full of spicy foods and rum spiked drinks.Jerk chicken is always a favorite and it's a combination of sweet , spicy and fiery thanks to the addition of Scotch Bonnet peppers. Make up platters of both legs and wings for easy eating. Another fun finger food is a pastelito, an empanada that can be stuffed with meat cheeses ,or veggies.Croquetas are also a tasty addition. These breaded beef and parsley croquettes are a nice change up from the usual appetizers and party bites.Fill a punch bowl full of rum punch, a mix of golden rum, pineapple, orange and lemon juices. Craving warmth and margarita? Then head south with a Saturday night taco party. Set up a taco bar with both soft and hard tacos and different fillings. Try a variety such as chicken , ground beef and a sauteed veggie mix of onions, broccoli and tomatoes.Make sure there's plenty of guac and sour cream along with fixings of shredded lettuce, cheddar and red and green peppers. Scatter around buckets full of Coronas and ice along with bringing out a slushie maker for margaritas. End the night with cups of cinnamon spiked cocoa and churros. The last can be cut up and dipped in caramel and chocolate sauce.

Chase the January blues away with a rousing party. It can be a few people or a houseful. Just have fun coming together with good food and great people.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The FDA And The Shutdown

Everyone in this country is affected by this government shutdown.It's not just the workers and their families but  well -anyone who eats.The FDA , the Food and Drug Administration has been severely impacted by this ridiculous turn of events.

Roughly forty-one thousand FDA workers are at home, not receiving any pay. They and their jobs are vital to not only what we eat and drink but also what medications we take.This  program ,started by Teddy Roosevelt, due in part to Upton Sinclair"s The Jungle, the eye opening novel that damned the meat processing industry in early 1900's century Chicago.The 1906 Food and Drug Act and the 1906 Meat Inspection Act changed all that, enabling the American people to eat healthier and better.Today's FDA creates the guidelines food,drink and drug companies must follow in order for their products to be distributed along with protecting us from food born illnesses.They approve the medications we take along with pulling any questionable supplements off store shelves.They even make sure ads aren't tricking us.We rely on them not just with keeping our foods safe but also our cosmetics and soaps.

Now we're in dangerous territory. Our lives will be compromised as the shutdown continues.It is said that the FDA doesn't have enough money to begin with to get their jobs done properly. Still, they have made great strides in keeping us safe.Yet ,there will be  lapses, thanks to this shutdown.Many of our dollar stores import food and cosmetics from countries that don't have the strident rules and regulations we have.Lead based make up  along with foods with questionable ingredients will be on the shelves of many lower cost chains.The home front won't be monitored either.Selecting lettuce in the grocery store is going to be like walking through a minefield.Which one will give us food poisoning?Or salmonella? Will it be safe to buy chicken? Or beef? The FDA website recommends to be just as vigilant as ever.Continue washing meats and veg, along with cooking them at the appropriate temperatures and times.Luckily such high risk products as seafood, baby formula , and cheese will continue to be tested and inspected.

Hopefully the shutdown will end very soon.Our lives should not be put at risk because of one politician's tantrum.This needs to stop - NOW!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Warm Green Dishes

This is the time of year for hearty plates,steaming with delicious ridicule.Some may argue that it's the perfect season for venison stew or roast chicken with stuffing.Hold those thoughts.A meatless winter dish, rife with veggies is just as good - and filling.It's just how that's re cooked that makes the difference.

Both Melissa Clark and David Tanks contributed completely plant based recipes in their respective New York Times Food section columns yesterday.Ms.Clark had written about grain bowls which are an easy make.What is great about them is that you can even use leftovers to create them.Last night's rice can be mixed with onions from two days ago ,freshened up with just sliced tomatoes and ground herbs.Ms.Clark starts with farro, an ancient grain that can be cooked like pasta.The next lingredient is egg.This provides the protein.The recipe also calls for broccoli.Turnips and freshly cut radishes add crunch, A lemony tahini  sauce tops it.Hot sauce is added for more bite and heat.What:s good about grain bowls, is that you can get creative as possible with them.Sub in rice or orzo for the farro .Tofu chicken strips or ground soy crumbles can be the protein.Green beans or Brussels sprouts cam be the Green and for texture,almonds or pecans.Try a hot sauce or an aquafaba Hollandaise.

For a definitely more heartier and more filling dish, think about David bank's garden pie recipe.His City Kitchen column features a meatless version of the English classic.The original dish is made with minced lamb and vegetables ,topped with a baked mash potato crust.If it was made with beef, it was called a cottage pie.There are even variations made with fish.Mr, Tanis ' version draws attention to mushrooms and leeks. He uses two kinds of mushrooms ,shiitake caps and brown or white mushrooms. Leeks give it a nice onion flavor too.Garlic,thyme and parsley add zing to the recipe and if you want add two tablespoons of white miso for the unami  flavor.There are two cups of whole milk added.If you want to go truly vegan, then sub in almond milk which tastes the closest to the real thing.Cornstarch is also added for thickening. It's topped with a homemade mash and breadcrumbs which gives it a lovely golden crust.If both are too much to make, use instant mashed and store bought crumbs.

There's no need to rely on heavy meat dishes this winter.Try a hearty and healthy veggie laden dish.A grain bowl or garden pie is just as delicious and filling.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Variety of Gumbos

One of the tastiest and colorful dishes in American cuisine is gumbo.This rich stew is now undergoing some tweaks and updates.Are these new versions just as good as the original? Yes!

Brett Anderson,a New Orleans restaurant critic and food writer, contributed this fascinating piece in today's New York Times Food section.Gumbo is one of the pillars of Southern cooking.It is the classic dish of New Orleans, first coming to the city with enslaved Africans in the 1700's.It's name comes from the Bantu word for okra. Like the city itself, different nationalities  contributed to the dish , making it unique.The indigenous Americans added file or sassafras  as a thickened.The French contributed roux, the flour and lard mixture that serves as the area's base.Other ethnic groups added spices and sausages,along with the holy trinity of Cajun cooking, celery, onions and

Like New Orleans, the dish is still constantly changing.Hurricane Katrina redefined the city in 2006.New ethnic groups came in, changing the city along with its '  cuisine.Gumbo takes on an Indian flavor at Saffron Nola. Chef Arvinder  Vikhu  fell in love with the dish thirty years ago after trying it in a New Orleans hotel.He gave the dish a different vibe ,enlivening  it with ginger, turmeric and ginger. A Far Eastern influence comes from the Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants that dot New Orleans' outskirts.Restaurateur Marcus Jacobs uses their flavors in his restaurant, Marjie's Thai curry gumbo.Some,such as the grand dame of Cajun cooking,Leah Chase, scoffs at this.She is the owner of the famed Dooky Chase.Hers is a traditional made with either  Andouille sausage or chicken.A few chefs have even served potato  salad with gumbo.This is sacrilege.The dish has to be served with rice although some chefs have used basmati and jasmine  kinds with it.

Gumbo is just New Orleans itself.It's constantly changing yet retains its'  roots.It will still go on, reflecting a rich and varied heritage.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Shutdown Support

We are in the middle of a rare government shutdown. Thousands of families are affected, thanks to a president bent on getting his ways. We need to support all those workers  in whatever way possible.

There are many ways to help out. Making a casserole or large shepherd's pie  is always welcome. It'll not only feed the family but also provide leftovers. Another idea is hosting family dinners or inviting the kids over for a Taco Tuesday or Meat Loaf Monday .  For a really nice treat, take them out to their favorite  restaurant. Getting together, even with the kids , is a great way to temporarily forget what's going on.It'll save on food bills for the affected families.Many families may balk at the idea of charity however there are a couple of ways around this. One is telling them you'll save them a shopping trip and shop for them. Tell them that they can pay you later when the shutdown ends. You can also give them a belated holiday gift in the form of a gift certificate for their favorite supermarket. $100 dollars may not buy a lot these days but it's enough to get the basics, from fresh fruit and vegetables to toilet paper and paper towels.If the whole neighborhood or family chips in, there could be close to five hundred dollars of gift certificates. This could last a couple of weeks  if those affected are frugal.

This idea can also apply to smaller food purveyors and restaurants.Bakeries can definitely help out with whatever overage they have. There are so many loaves and rolls  that will be turned into breadcrumbs.Even offering a free cookie or cupcake helps and brings even just a glint of  happiness.Family owned restaurants can give certain percentages off on lunches and dinners. Diners can follow suit as well.Since some food pantries will also be affected , smaller shops can donate meats, fruits and vegetables.Mid size companies that produce pasta and ice cream could also donate along with any of the artisanal  food producers.As for food pantries, a very good portion are welcoming those hurt by the shutdown.There's no shame in accepting help .It will just be temporary and food pantries can provide the sustenance needed during these hard times.

We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with those affected by this shutdown.Unlike our government, we will be there for them.We will make sure they do not want.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Rescue Mission

Some dishes flop.It's just the nature of cooking.My cabbage steaks were not a big hit.I should have kept them in the oven for another ten minutes.Another problem was that there was just too much cabbage

There was only one thing to do - turn those crispy leaves into pescoi ,Piedmontese stuffed cabbage.This dish is usually made by first cooking polenta,and then letting it cool.Once cooled it placed in cabbage leaves.These are rolled, like dolmade,grape leaves, tied with just seeing thread(always white) and then fried in butter.The rolls are then fried until the cabbage leaves turn translucent and the polenta can be seen.These are then submerged in a mix of salvia, a type of thyme,red wine vinegar and garlic.
I marinated the steaks in garlic and thyme infused red wine vinegar for two days.
It had a stronger, more pickled taste than the rolls.The polenta was needed.

I used masa harina, the Mexican cornmeal which is finer  than the regular cornmeal.I cooked up a cup of it.
Then I deconstructed a centuries old dish.Instead of being one stuffed inside the other,they were placed side by side.

I put the polenta on the cabbage leaves and magic!!!The same taste that I grew up on.The polenta's mildness was the perfect foil to the puckering tartness.I like this deconstructed way better.There's never the threat of getting thread caught on my teeth
The cabbage steaks bombed.The deconstructed pescoi didn't.This was the perfect rescue mission.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Cabbage Steak Night

Cabbage steaks are a trend too big to ignore.They are everywhere, from Martina McBride"s new cookbook to Pinterest.Of course I had to give them a try.

It starts with a large cabbage head.
Too large.
It was then sliced into  1/4 inch slices.
Placed on my largest cookie sheet.They are then brushed on both sides with olive oil, and seasoned with a good sprinkling of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
It was a large cabbage so I had overage.
This too was oiled, seasoned and roasted.Here are the results.
The crispy parts were delicious but on the whole the steaks were kind of bland.
I turned it into a deconstructed pescoi - Piedmontese pickled cabbage sans polenta.

The leftovers, crispy bits and all are marinating in a garlic infused apple cider vinegar marinade.
Will I make cabbage steaks again?The recipe does have to be tweaked, so maybe.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Martina McBride's Harmonious Cooking

Can one person be super talented in two diverse fields?Yes, if you`re Martina McBride.This country music star is also a super nova in the kitchen.Her new cookbook is proof that she has created award worthy recipes any home chef can make and bake.

Martina 's Kitchen Mix (Oxmoor House Publishing 2018) is a fun, buzzy melange of recipes, how it's and host advice.Me.McBride,an award winning singer ,loves to cook.She garners recipes as she does songs.Music runs through this cookbook.Each chapter is introduced on a  picture of a classic vinyl lp.Since she also comes from the heartland - Kansas andNashville,her family figures large in this,She even has a page explaining who's who along with using her and her husband's family recipes.Like many of us she also copies recipes from her favorite restaurants too. The advice comes at the end of the cookbook.There is a playlist of her favorite songs, from Amy Winehouse's Rehab to John Mellancamp's Small Town with other great hits from everyone from Aretha to Mick.There are the typical chapters ranging from Breakfasts and Brunch to Desserts.Ms  McBride has an excellent chapter at the back of the book about basic recipes, ranging from garlic bread to gremolata.There are also recipes for cranberry orange relish and homemade caramel sauce.

Do the recipes hit the high notes?YES!!!! There are so many that I want to try.They all seem delicious and unique.On my to make list is her Springtime (or Anytime) Quiche rich with asparagus and ham along with a variety of different cheeses.Ms. McBride is a cheese freak so it figures prominently in many of her recipes. Her soup recipes are amazing. Ms. McBride's Very Green Broccoli Soup  is the perfect chill chased that not only has broccoli but onions and celery added and a topping of gremolata.One I'm excited about is the lasagna soup, with all the ingredients  of a homemade lasagna save the wide noodles.Smaller pasta is subbed in.There are classics reflecting such as her mom's Pot Roast with Gravy and Chicken and Potatoes with Roasted Lemon and Rosemary Sauce.These both would make for perfect Sunday dinners.For vegans there are cabbage "steaks" with eggplant tomato sauce .This is a healthy take on steak Pizziola. Sides include sauteed spinach long with sauteed kale with Parmesan and toasted walnuts. I love the dessert recipes, especially the cookies.One recipe on my radar is the no Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies along with the Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies which would rival any bakery crisp cookie.

Ms. McBride's cookbook is Grammy golden.It is chock full of all sorts of tasty and easy to make recipes. It is a harmonious book, with an orchestra of great tastes and flavors.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Flavors Of Bangladesh

Bangladesh food is hard to find even in this metropolitan area.Yet there is one restaurant that's opening the culinary door. Korai Kitchen is that eatery and it's ground breaking on so many levels.

Mayukh Sen,a James Beard award winning writer, wrote about this unique restaurant in yesterday's New York Times Food section.The restaurant is owned by Nur-E Gulshan Rahman and her youngest daughter, Nur-E Farhana Raman.It's the only Bangladeshi restaurant in the  Jersey City area and one of a handful in the New York metropolitan area.Most of this kind are found in Jackson Heights and Astoria.The Journal Square site is popular and there will be people who will be curious about it,since it is different from the many Indian restaurants doting the area.Bangladeshi food is different than Hindu and Pakistani.There is a lot of fish,thanks to the country being situated on the Bay Of Bengal.They have curries along with goat meat and potatoes.

Korai Kitchen offers a buffet to let diners unfamiliar with the cuisine, a taste of the best Bangladeshi home cooking.The family cooks bhorthas,,a mashes served at every meal.They can be made from, potatoes, tomatoes or eggplants.There is also khichuri, a mix of masoor and moong dal, the creamy lentil based dish.It is also laden with rice, onions, Chile's, ginger and garlic. Like other recipes of the region,it is also laced with cardamom, cloves,cinnamon and turmeric.Diners go mad for Nur-E Gulshan Rahman"s pumpkin shrimp curry  cut up with the traditional fang shaped blade.Dessert is the peach colored mishti doi a sweet   silky dessert made with jaggery and cardamom.

For those wanting true Bangladeshi food, go to Korai kitchen.It"s home cooking with variety.It's a trip to a Bangladesh home,where there is always love and food.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Kitchen Creativity

You don"t need to go to the grocery store every time you cook a meal or even throw together a gathering.Rely on your kitchen and ingenuity.The result is an easy cook that will free you up.

This is Alison Roman's advice in her first New York Times Food article of the New Year.Her inspiration came from an invitation from a friend with an active toddler.Ms. Roman and a friend , knowing, that this fellow cook, was strapped for time.How could she shop and create dishes with her busy schedule.They offered to  do both for her.No,the friend demurred.There was shock and awe as they saw what awaited them.She had smoked fish from Barney Green grass,a well known breakfast eatery and shop.She also whipped up jammy  eggs, vegetables tossed with scallions and a bowl of greens dressed with lemon.There was even the requisite yogurt dip and crackers.

The take away from this is that the host had set out several tiny bowls that didn't require cooking.This no nonsense approach gave the friends time to graze and catch up.Their host didn't have to run to the stove every ten minutes to check up on dishes.She didn"t have to fret about having enough or worry about  the taste.It's all about flipping the ratio of time spent working to time spent with friends and family. What would this entail? Always have ingredients that can be turned into a meal at a moment's notice.Use whatever veggies are in the crisper.These can be sliced and easily pickled,Jarred and tinned foods should also be used.Purchase something special like a roast chicken or ribs.Grains should always be at hand too.Buttered rice with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper is a nice side and can be mixed with both raw and cooked before..Also have bread handy.It can be toasted and used as a base.

Easy cooking relies not only on the cook but also on the ingredients at hand.Have a kitchen filled with the basics.Then get creative for a tasty meal or get together with family and friends..

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Be Brave This Year

There's one resolution that home chefs should make this year - be brave.Jump into new recipes.Try new taters.Buy new ingredients.

One idea is buy a new gadget (or ask for one).I love my new air fryer.
It was something I actually didn't expect but now having it has given me a ton of possibilities.It also gets me to work with panko breadcrumbs  which I've done with only or two recipes.Cooking breaded cauliflower may not seem adventurous to some but this good for you veggie has never been on my culinary  top ten list.NowI'm going to be dunking it in crumbs and blasting it with hot air.

If you have your eye on other kitchen gadgets like this, get them.I thought I would only use my immersion blender for soups, but it works well with creating salad dressings and dips.As for new ingredients,I was not one for poppyseed but baking them into cakes brought the sweet's taste to a whole new level.I'd love to try a poppyseed butter cream frosting.Roast garlic is another experiment I want to try.It's versatile that it can be  whole into a side or blended with olive oil and think for a creamy sauce for chicken.Another spice I'm going to get daring with is sumac..This is one of the ingredients in Za'atar but it can be used for flavoring chicken, steak and various salads..

It's 2019.Be bold  and adventurous with your cooking.Go where you wouldn't go before!