Saturday, August 31, 2019

An End Of Summer Food Fest

If you live in the Lodi,New Jersey area, you're well familiar with the Labor Day Saint Joseph's Feast.It's to celebrate the area church ,Saint Joseph of Naples. Neopolitans and Sicilians brought the saint to the small country town of Lodi, in Northern Bergen County.Now fourth and fifth generations are in charge of this amazing food fest.

As you can see, every Southern Italian festavale has a zeppole  stand.Dried puffs of dough are deep fried and then heavily dusted with powdered sugar.

Another perennial is the torrone and chichi beans.They are dried and salted chickpeas.

Parishioners are in charge of some of The food stands.You can get every Southern Italian dish, from sausage and peppers to my favorite pizza.Filipinos make up the new generation of Saint Joseph church goers.This is from a Filipino stand- one potato cut and fried on a stick.
Along with one of my favorites.
The treat truck.Tonight a candy apple.Tomorrow popcorn and cotton candy.Maybe a grape SnoCone.

This is the seats on for feasts and fests all over the country.Take advantage of the fun food offerings.It's a delicious way to contribute to a parish and community.

Friday, August 30, 2019

A kick Of Watermelon

It may be the end of watermelon season but thanks to a new drink, you can have it year round.Wonder Melon is a new drink, that's not only good for you but tastes good too.
To be honest, I was a bit skeptical. Homemade watermelon juice can be a bit bland.Kayco, the company who makes the drink has decided to punch it up.One has the addition of cucumber which is refreshing. The other flavor is the watermelon mixed with lemon and cayenne, a nod to the lemon and cayenne pepper diet drink.Both possess clean, crisp flavors, which will appeal to juicing buffs. I can see Wonder Melon bottles gracing lunch boxes and late summer beach hampers.
Wonder Melon is a juice with a texture between thick and thin.Again, it 's just perfect with ice but you could also fizz it up with seltzer.For a kicky kind of ice, pour some into a Slushie cup.I guess Wonder Melon would also be good as a base for a few cocktails like the watermelon margaritas.Could you make a kind of Bellini with them? Yes, for a buzzy brunch drink. Save the bottles too.They'll  make cute candle holders, thanks to watermelon like shape.

Keep summer with you all year long with with bottles of Wonder Melon.They're fresh , with the definite taste of the season. You'll be reminded of balmy days and warm nights when the temps start dipping.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Chef's Diary

To look into a chef's  heart, look into their daily schedule. It is a whirlwind of planning, shopping  preparing and cooking. It is also a diary of an artist, someone who constantly creates and tweaks classics. It's a fascinating look inside , especially if it's by Clare de Boer. You can learn from just spending one day in her life.

That's what the New York Times Food section did yesterday.British born de Boer gave Times readers an interesting peek inside her kitchen. The section asked her to keep a journal for one week in July of what she made at home and not at her restaurant, King in Manhattan.,It was actually a story of two kitchens - her home in Brooklyn and her weekend place near Dover Plains, New York , a bucolic Duchess County hamlet.She cooks not only for herself but for her husband, Luke Sherwin, and his family.Although he's not a chef, more of founder to companies Block Renovation and Casper, he contributes recipes as well. I loved this diary. It gave me a lot of ideas for recipes and got me excited about adapting them for fall produce.They're relatively easy to recreate and would be perfect at any end of summer gathering. They're not fancy. You can find them at any farmer's market or grocery store.Like me, you can even adapt them for the upcoming autumn harvest, subbing in apples and pears for berries.

What are the recipes? The one that intrigues me most is the frangipane. This is a mix of almond flour, butter and egg yolks. It's then mixing them and slathering the mix on slices of buttered sourdough bread. Chef de Boer then piles sugared stone fruit such as peaches, plums and apricots.The slices are then baked for twenty to twenty-five minutes and afterwards broiled for only one to two minutes. It would be good with apples and even pears subbed in , topped with vanilla ice cream or plain cream. Another have to try recipe is the sformato, an easy kind of a souffle. It's combining the kernels of six ears of corns, and combining it with ricotta cheese and four whole eggs.Fresh basil leaves and lemon juice zing up the flavor.It's fluffiness comes from separating the eggs and whipping the whites into a meringue,What a great brunch dish this would be, especially with toasted and oiled Italian bread. One of her recipes, chicken baked in bread dough sounds amazing. Chef de Boer didn't list the recipe but you can find similar ones online. Her other recipe was a chicken with pepper and vinegar along with her husband's BLT one - the last a perfect Saturday lunch.

Chef de Boer gives us an interesting insight into her world. There is just more than shopping, prepping and cooking. There is creativity and thought - along with fun - the most vital ingredient in cooking.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

My Mochi An New Take On Ice Cream

Can pastry and ice cream exist together? Yes, if it's My Mo Mochi ice cream. It's an interesting take on an Asian treat, combining a world favorite with an old concept.
The idea starts with enrobing blobs of ice cream around the Japanese rice dough mochi  .It's a gooey, chewy dough.The company My Mo takes this recipe and expands on this.They have a variety of different flavors from the appropriate green tea to the trendy dulce de Leche. 
Of course I had to try it.
It was different.The dulce de leche was creamy and  flavorful.I liked the surprise of caramel in the middle.What was a bit off putting was the mochi.The texture, with the ice cream was a bit gooey and even saggy in texture.Maybe I should have tried the chocolate instead..Maybe if My Mochi had put the mochi  in the middle, it would have tasted better.Again, it's an acquired taste.

If you're into mochi hybrids, then try this.It's different and flavorful.Try My mochi today for a marriage of two classics.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Baby Nutritionists

With school starting during the next few weeks , it's times to talk about the ABCs of nutrition. It's important to teach those little scholars about what's good to eat.The earlier they know, the better their futures, without obesity and sickness.

Parents with their eldest or only children going off to kindergarten or pre-K have it the luckiest and the easiest.Their little ones have not heard about snack or lunch swapping yet.Sliced peppers and tomatoes will still have appeal as will cubes of low cal cheese. Emphasize that healthy food leads to being smart and better grades. Also stress that potato chips and candy are fine at parties but not at lunchtime. This will be hard so it,s important to make the  food fun.Start with lunches or snacks at home.There are food cutters that come in all sorts of shapes from dinosaurs to hearts.Amazon has the best selection with prices ranging from eight to fifteen dollars.The more advanced kits also have fun animal topped forks and picks .Remember that these can also be used on such fall fruits as apples and pears. Another must do is taking the baby nutritionist shopping.Get him or her acclimated with the produce section. Show them the different kinds, try samples if they have them. Ask for their input when it comes to choosing.Always praise.Never criticize.

Here is the big poser: can you raise a baby vegan? The answer is a surprising yes. A child can live without meat.Just remember they do need vitamins and some protein.Children expend more energy per pound and need to take an equal amount or more in.Try to have healthy proteins such as almonds, nut  butters, and avocados. Try cut out almond butter sandwiches on whole grained vegan breads.Create fun guacamole for afternoon snacking.Show them the different types of nut butters on your next grocery trip. If they're intrigued by sunflower seed butter, buy it. butter.It's a nice alternative to the other butters and expands their palates.During the same trip introduce them to the avocado section. Let them feel the different textures and see the differences between ripe and green ones.Baby vegans also need Vitamin B-12, iron and calcium.The first can come from soy milks, veggie meats and non sugary cereals. Soy milk comes in chocolate flavor so you can interest them that way.Iron comes from vitamin C products and calcium can be found in fortified orange juice.

A baby nutritionist is easy to create.Get them interested in healthy food from pre K and kindergarten.They'll eat better and you'll feel better.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Authentic Health A Guide To A New You

This is the time for transitions.We're changing our diets, We're  changing  our easy , summer  days for weeks and weekends of non stop activity.It's a perfect time then for a better lifestyle. Can it be done? Yes, thanks to a new book.

Dr. Gus Vickery has written a new how to book, Authentic Health: The Definitive Guide (Morgan James Publishing 2019).Dr. Vickery, who is an MD with a family practice in Georgia, believes that it's self modification and will that can change a person's life - and diet.His ideas do resonate but I feel that he may be jumping on the latest diet fad - fasting.A normal fast, from night to breakfast is fine by extending it to lunch can be distracting and hurtful. Read this chapter with caution.Embrace the other recommendations and chapter. What is excellent about the book is Dr. Vickery is also a doctor which means he includes chapters on physiology. They help readers understand how the body works and how it sends messages, letting us know when we're on and off track health wise.Another excellent chapter is on sleep and getting the proper amount of it. This is the one to read,especially with the upcoming season and our addiction to our devices and late nights. Another must read is the one on getting out and actually playing - whether golf or just for a swim. Type A types may want to

Since this is a diet book, there are chapters devoted to what to eat. There are no recipes save for 
a smoothie recipe.Dr. Vickery  does have a list which is broken down into three categories.There are proteins, oils and  fats and oils.Recipes can be created by taking a protein like chicken then mixing it with kale and spinach.Use a fat like grass fed butter or ghee along with spices to cook with . The doctor prefers and strongly advised buying organic meats.Some dairy is allowed such as cream cheese, surprisingly , along with  whole fat Greek yogurt and milk. He also emphasizes the need for fiber and omega fatty 3s.Its not just for fish for the last. You can also sub in leafy green veggies too. There is the usual warnings against soda and alcohol. He does approve of tea and coffee because both can be ingested in moderation. Just stay away from sugar, use honey instead along with vanilla and cinnamon.Wheat is taboo but if you feel like having pasta occasionally do so.

Changing your habits for a better life is a great idea.Use Dr. Vickery's book to do so.  Authentic Health The Definitive Guide is your transformation  go to for a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Back With Caution

I'm  back and it comes with a caution. The blog was not on holiday.Thanks to a person's carelessness,I had a throat infection and cold, one of the very worst. Unfortunately, even though it's summer, we still need vitamins and all the produce we can eat.

Tomatoes are a must have if you're sick. One, they're loaded  with nutrients and two they're versatile. They're also light. A good tomato salad is easy to make. Just take a couple of vine ripes, slice and then cube. Put into a bowl with minced garlic, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Add fresh basil or oregano for more flavor and serve on slices of super crusty Italian bread. I like the fact that they can mix with eggs for a uovo e pomidori easy meal. For an easy meal with a lot of protein , stuff beef steaks or again vine ripes with a mix of tuna in water, and chopped celery. Nix the mayo. If you're sick, you're not going to want it anyway. Cauliflower and broccoli are also chock full of necessary Vitamin C. Try to get them riced. Stop & Shop has them mixed together. They are wonderful sub in's for traditional rice. Add some olive oil and lemon juice and you've got a great meal or side. Sliced carrots and peas can be tossed in for color and flavor.

Fresh fruit is important if you have a virulent summer cold. This is the time that you really crave ice, thanks to rough, sore throat and the nasty heat. What you can do cut up chunks of strawberries and peaches, add a bit of water (or even flavored water) and puree. This can be done by immersion blender or food processor. Pour the fruit into a slushie cup and  - voila - instant Italian ice. It's actually closest to the earliest versions of true Italian and Roman ice where real fruit purees were used. You can also pour the mixture into ice pop molds and have later as a dessert or snack. Another idea is layering fresh fruit in a creamless parfait. Stay away from any dairy when you have a summer cold. Ice cream and frozen yogurt unfortunately do produce phelgm. Try whipped frozen banana instead to sub in for any ice cream. Another sub in aquafaba meringue if you want to fool with making it.

A summer cold is pure hell. Eat right to keep it at bay. Use the produce of the season. It's your best medicine.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Jamie Oliver article

Still on vacation but I have to tell you guys about the Jamie Oliver interview in today 's New York Times Food section.It was an interesting lunchtime read.

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Short Summer Break

Hey, the Pantry will be closed for a short summer break.It's time for me to enjoy the hot weather and cool ocean before pumpkin spice season kicks in.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Are Food Courts Still A Thing

Anyone who came of age in the Seventies and Eighties had to have hung out at a mall food court. It's where you could get a burger or taco, a scoop of ice cream or a slice of pizza. However with the dwindling amount of shopping centers in this country, are they still going strong?

Shopping malls were the center of everyone's universe, thanks to cars and credit cards.Friday and Saturday nights were the most visited.If you were lucky you lived in a county that allowed shopping on Sundays.One shared aspect of  all of them was the food court.this was either a circular or square area, either in the basement or roof top of the mall.They made eating convenient.There were no anchor store restaurants to deal with;they always had that stuffy, old lady vibe ,thanks to the - well - old ladies who dined there.The food court offered  exciting s menu options without being too costly.Food courts gave many their first taste of Japanese  or Mexican. Some may have had their first veggie burger or crepe after shopping for something.Then food court cuisine started to creep into our home menus. There were machines to make curly fries and recipes for smoothies.They even changed with the are  and the growing need for better and healthier fare.We all thought they were going to last forever.That was until big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart exploded on the American shopping .The computer age happened and it was hello to at home shopping goodbye to that trip to Macy's or Sears.

There are still malls out there,especially where I live in New Jersey.Many builders however opted for a fancier outdoor type of  center, reminiscent of the first shopping malls.There are the ubiquitous  Starbucks along some kind of heath conscious eatery.The food is always trendy, from fish tacos to acai bowls.There's a certain amount of what's call chi-chi.These eateries may offer respite after a few hours of shopping but there's not the small town feeling that food courts surprisingly had.The chains that were once part of mall life such as McDonald's and Sbarro's are now single standing buildings on highways.If a mall has a popular chain eatery, it's usually set off to the side as In And Out Burger at New Jersey's Bridgewater Commons and Tommy Bahama 's at the state's Woodbridge Mall.They don't have kids lingering about.It 's just going in for a $15 burger.There is some hope though for food courts. Crepes du Nord is now seen in several malls, sort from the food court.Burger King has updated it's menu to include the Beyond Burger while McDonalds has restyled itself to resemble a space age bistro with table service.

Malls may be losing in popularity  but they are reinventing themselves.Food courts are following too.They'll both be around, with a new updated look.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Ban On Baking

Home bakers can make a pretty good side business , using their home kitchen as a commercial one, women - and men have launched whole empires by using their humble stoves and pans. Except if you're in New Jersey. The Garden State doesn't not want home food industries to grow.

This was an interesting subject in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. Amelia Nierenberg,  who usually writes for The Boston Globe wrote this informative piece. Many people  - from Famous Amos to Mrs Fields started in their homes. There were no regulations which allowed them freedom to thrive and grow. I'm sorry to say this is not happening here in New Jersey. The state has this rogue law that restricts home bakers like Heather Russinko from selling her elaborately decorated cake pops. It states that it's illegal to sell homemade foods for profit. Fines can go up to $1,000. What does Ms. Rossinko do about this? For one thing she can only donate her creations to bake sales or just simply give them away. This doesn't apply to just baked goods, it applies to everything from homemade meals to candy . The law is based on a 1906 sanitary code that used to be in all the states. However many of them got rid of the law yet home kitchens have to have occasional safety inspections along with having a cap on the amount of money made.

In the last decade nineteen states , including Washington D.C. have moved to allow home businesses. The industry is thriving, with sales reaching a whopping twenty billion this year alone. This is small comfort to New Jersey entrepreneurs wanting to grow their businesses. She and the New Jersey Home Bakers Association has been lobbying Trenton  for the right to sell home made goods. A bill that would have allowed this has passed three times in State Assembly. Yet State Senator Joe Vitale, the Chairman of Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee has never put it up for a vote? Why? There are much more important issues at stake. The Home Bakers association did get their revenge by suing the state health department saying the ban violates the equal protection clause in the New Jersey Constitution.They also enlisted an influential ally - the Institute for Justice a non profit libertarian public interest law firm out of Arlington, Virginia. The group has already started the National Food Freedom Initiative in 2013 to challenge laws related to food. Hopefully New Jersey will be like Wyoming and North Dakota and have food freedom acts. These allow home entrepreneurs to cook and bake foods without any restrictions whatsover.

Home bakers  will still have to wait for the restrictions. Hopefully their wait will be a short one and restrictions  will be  lifted. They have delicious food and an audience hungry for them.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fruits of August

Summer might be winding down but August is still bursting with fruit. Take advantage of this when you go to your local farmer's markets or just to farms for an afternoon of picking. There are so many amazing dishes you can make with midsummer's bounty. Enjoy them.

Alison Roman is doing just this as she gave us some amazing recipes in yesterday's New York Times Food section. For those who don't want to deal with elaborate dessert recipes - don't sweat, literally. She provides four , simple and unfussy recipes that will  equally. please both the sweet tooth and fruit lover. There is the classic cobbler - the perfect dessert for a barbecue along with a blueberry (and yes you can still get them fresh) corn meal shortbread tart, frozen melon with crushed raspberry and lime and a summer pudding with blackberries and peaches. The cobbler and tart are easy bakes. The cobbler's topping is shortcake, enhanced with flavor from butter and whole cream. The filling is a salted apricot sweetened with honey.Flaky sea salt is scattered on top to counter balance the sweetness. Serve with vanilla ice cream, freshly whipped cream or cream fraiche. The blueberry tart is a cinch with a simple crust that's also put on top like coffee cake crumbs.The blueberry filling is just the berries mixed with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and light brown sugar.

One recipe sure to be a summer favorite is frozen melon that's first pureed and then laced with lime juice for zing along with two tablespoons of granulated sugar. It's then transferred to a shallow baking dish. .Once frozen it's then scraped out granita style into bowls. It should look like fluffy pink bruschetta . Top each serving with raspberries, and using a spoon or fork , crush them into the ice.. Ms Roman adds sumac and sea salt. Instead of the sumac, try a mix of a basil mint pesto on top. The last recipe, a summer pudding is more of a trifle - or fruity tirami su. The base can either be a brioche loaf (easily found at any grocery store, pan de miel , honey bread or Pullman bread. It's then cooking first the peaches and then the blackberries along with preparing the cream. It's then layering the ingredients in a springform cake pan. First the bread, with no gaps in the base layer, followed by the cooked blackberries and their juices, followed by the peaches and theirs. A layer of whipped cream is spread on top of them and the process is repeated a second time. The pudding is then covered with Saran wrap, place a plate on top of that and  a medium weight can. You could add a sprinkle of peach schnappes or blackberry brandy to the juices for a boozy twist. Add granulated sugar and more berries for decoration.

Take advantage of August's bounties of fresh fruit. They're perfect in easy recipes that can end any barbecue. It's still summer, there's still produce. Go for it while they're still here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Very Very Peri-Peri

One of the hottest food trends right now is peri-peri chicken. This spicy mix, originating in Brazil is taking over the world.Now America has fallen in love with this fiery flavor, thanks to Nando. Unfortunately this chain restaurant is only in the Washington D.C. and Chicago areas. Luckily I can get the sauce and their spice infused mayo and have my own peri-peri experience.

For those not familiar with the flavor, stick with the medium. What I love about it is the vinegar tang at the end. The ingredients that Nando's uses is Peri-Peri or African bird's eye chili from Mozambique. It's blended with onion, lemon, garlic, oil and salt.
 The hot is also an eye opener. I would suggest trying the garlic on a variety of meat - not just chicken. Zing up hamburgers and veggie burgers as Nando's does. I liked the medium hot as a dip for my nuggets, but it was also good bringing interest to an updated Piedmontese rice salad.
This was a veggie mix of cauliflower and broccoli rice blended with vegan mayo, carrots and peas. It was tasty but needed a bit of fire. Just a very small portion (half a teaspoon) did it. The fire and tang brought out the flavors and gave this traditional salad a much needed kick.
If you don't have a Nando's by you, go out and buy one of their sauces.The sauces will give fire and fun to any food. Try them for a different , delicious spin.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Summer Stock Up

No one ever really thinks as the summer as a time to stock up. It's mostly the season for fresh fruit and vegetables it does pay to stock up now that  we're heading into hurricane season and tornadoes are making unlikely appearances on the East Coast. Every home should have some kind of kitchen  food emergency kit.

Usually during bad storms, areas are evacuated and families are relocated to school gyms and even hotels and motels unaffected by the weather. However there are a few hardy sorts that refuse to leave, heading to their basements. Either that or they return home a day or two after evacuations. Unfortunately there's usually no water, gas or electricity. One of the most important items to have is water - lots of it. Try to get two or three twenty-four or thirty-two packs of bottled water. (Just be careful. Some grocery stores do impose limits on how much you can buy).You can also purchase the gallon containers of water too.  Remember to also include a few bottles for pets too and for bathing if the situation is dire. Other liquids to have are baby formula and milk for the older kids. Buy juice boxes as well, for something to have with meals. What about coffee and tea? Could you use your grill to heat up water for them? If you have the gas and the charcoal, yes. They may be the fortification you'll need to deal with damage assessment and clean up.

As for other foods, think canned or dried. Canned beans can be eaten straight out of the can. Mix them together for the ultimate protein boost. You can also do the same for canned veggies too. Keep in mind that canned tomatoes are the most healthiest. Green beans and corn are also right up there. If you're still craving protein, then eat tinned  tuna and salmon along with mackerel. Tuna is versatile so it can be turned into a salad with tomatoes and green beans. You can also crumble crackers on it to make it more filling. Beef jerky is another recommended meat while you're waiting for power to come on again. One of the best is Krave because it's branched out into pork and turkey along with having such flavors as chili lime and cracked peppercorn. Peanut butter is another must have. Spread it on crackers if bread is heard to come by. Any baked goods may be hard to come by during this time. Stick with crackers such as Ritz or Saltines and use that instead of bread. As for breakfasts granola bars and trail mix can work until you're able to get milk for cereal (although you can just eat it dry, washed down  with water).

This is the time to stock up. Summer weather is just as unpredictable as the rest of the year. Be prepared and food ready when  hurricanes and tornadoes make a warm weather visit.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Crock Pot In Summer

Should you employ cold weather cooking methods and techniques during the dogs days of summer?In most instances the answer would be no. However there is the crock pot. It actually is a blessing during these steamy days.

I discovered this over the weekend when I  used mine to make homemade sauce. I don't create elaborate sauces when the temps rise. Salsa crudo, made with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil is more apt for a summer meal of spaghetti or penne. Yet it does make sense to use a crock pot during the hottest times of the year. There's no standing by a hot stove , stirring sauce in an even hotter pot. It's just adding the ingredients and adjusting the temps for a long or short cook. it was perfect. it was just check every hour with a quick stir and taste and then go on to other things. The sauce was perfect and a nice treat after  jarred sauces on pasta. Can you make other summer time recipes in a crock pot or even an Insta Pot? Yes ! The one recipe I'd love to try is ratatouille. This can be made either on a stove top or even baked in an oven. I've had both and they're both delicious. A crock pot version. Now , that's intriguing. It's all about the layering, as it is with the oven kind.There are the same ingredients except with the puzzling addition of sugar. I would just add honey, as I do with the sauce and chili.

Of course you really can't make hot dogs and burgers in a  crock pot but you can make a chili sauce that would work well with both. It's taking tomato sauce and brown sugar and slow cooking it with vinegar and allspice. There's also the addition of ground beef ( you can make a vegan version for soy dogs. Just use Gardein's soy crumbles) and cayenne to spike it.Remember crock pots are great for making soups. Think a summer one when barbecue becomes tiresome. Add the  bounty of the season such as zucchini, fresh corn,along with fresh tomatoes and bell peppers, onions and eggplant. The base is vegetable stock which can be home made or from those Ox Eye bouillon cubes. Your crock pot can also help with all those tomatoes your garden has been yielding up. Use it to make home made sauce for the fall and winter dinners ahead. Vary it with some fresh picked basil. Also use the tomatoes for fresh made tomato soup. The crock pot is ideal for it. You'll have a perfectly cooked soup while you sit in the sun with a cool drink.

Use your crock pot during these hot days. It provides hot meals while letting you enjoy a few laps in the pool or an afternoon sunning. This is the way summer cooking should be  no sweat literally.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A Beautifully Curated Cookbook

Once in a great while a beautifully crafted cookbook gets published.Rustic ,Joyful Food: My Heart's Table (Sourcebooks Publishing 2019) is one of those books. It is chock full of good recipes and stunning photographs of the various dishes. It may have humble and homey recipes but it is really a shining gem every home chef should have in their library.

The chef behind the book is Danielle Kartes,a food stylist and  former restaurant owner created this beautifully written and photographed book. It would make a lovely hostess gift, especially for home chefs who enjoy cooking and collecting cookbook. The photographs are stylish and are true pieces of art, bringing to mind the works of Rembrandt and Monet. Of course there are the usual introductory chapter on pantry staples which is a great boon for new home chefs, starting out on their own. Chef Kartes calls them building block and they are the basics that should be in every kitchen. Another plus is at the end of the book where there is a section for simple basic like simple syrup and fresh whipped cream. I like this chapter because the recipes can be used in other recipes in the books or my own. She has a sun dried tomato pesto one, perfect on slices of toasted Italian bread. There are several easy vinaigrette recipes such as the refreshing strawberry basil one and the sweetly zesty signature citrus dressing. Her from scratch salted toffee sauce would be great layer in  homemade ice cream cake or poured over a slice of homemade butter pound cake. The other chapters are divided in appetizers, main courses, soups and sides and ends with sweets.

The recipes are down to earth , with no fancy ingredients that require trips to fancy specialty shops.Some of the appetizers listed can be used for the main course.One is a rosemary and bacon flatbread that takes store bought flat bread topped with bacon and mozzarella.There is also a how to on assembling a cheeseboard, incorporating both sweet and savory components. Chef Kartes also includes popular hot dips such as a creamy artichoke and spinach one and pico de gallo. The soup section has the classic tomato soup, the perfect lunch or dinner on both hot and cold days.Another highlight is her French onion topped off with a mix of Havarti and Parmesan cheeses. The main dishes are pure comfort foods.A good dish , especially on a cool rainy summer day, is the classic chili with grass fed beef and tomatillos. Serve it with her garlic and cheddar cornbread.Quiche lovers will enjoy the caramelized leek and bacon tart, rich with twelve (!) eggs. For sides there is the parchment  paper vegetables and  brown butter carrots. The sweets section features such treats as homemade graham crackers and the unique chocolate white chocolate chip cookies. She even includes  popsicle and almond bark recipes too. I love that she includes a chapter on drinks There are boozy ice cream floats along with healthy blackberry mint water.

Rustic Joyful Food - My Heart's Table is an absolute gem of a cookbook. Buy this book, not only for the mouth watering recipes but for the beautifully curated pictures.  They are true artistry , food not only for the body but for the soul as well.

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Eat Live Thrive Diet

It is a Herculean task  once we hit a certain age . Women, especially,  have a tough time once they hit their forties and fifties. Don't despair. There is a new diet and lifestyle that help with nutrition going to the body and the soul. It's time to get on the eat,live thrive diet.

Danna Demetre and Robyn Thomson wrote about it in their new book Eat Live Thrive Diet : A Lifestyle Plan to Rev Up Your Midlife Metabolism (Waterbrook Publishing 2019). Once a woman hits menopause, it's incredibly hard to lose weight. She also gives up. This book offers a solution in which she'll not only feel better physically but also spiritually.  The authors have gone through the diet and philosophy themselves. Ms. Demetre is in her mid-sixites while Ms. Thomson is a decade younger. Both have had backgrounds in mentoring and as coaches . They know what works. There are chapters devoted to the three kinds of diets women, along with men can try. What is interesting is how they show going about to find out the diet that works for an individual. It's sort of like an allergy test, with all sorts of foods being tasted and tested. The reaction is recorded and that food is eliminated. Then there are three diets or levels a reader can go on.  Level One is just ridding oneself of all sugars and grains. Level Two is much more intense with even potatoes and beans. Level Three is even more strict. Both Ms. Demetre and Ms. Thomson take it one step further with body brushing, where you brush your body with a hair brush to stimulate your blood flow and eliminate toxins. Level Three also requires participants to practice box breathing as well.

This book also has a spiritual side and Bible verses are seen quite often. It will give dieters a better and more positive outlook on their bodies and self image. Another religious facet is fasting which I've tried to do when I read the book. It's a good way of purifying the body and allowing the digestive system to take a break. There is also a chapter on sleep which is vital in losing weight., Again I've tried a few of Ms. Demetre's and Ms Thomson's suggestions for a good, restful night. There is a chapter on exercise, but again this is not a heavy duty regimen. It's tailored to individual and takes into consideration age and body type. Of course this is also a recipe book and there are a variety of different dishes for the different levels.There is even a chapter on salad dressing which they recommend bringing to restaurants.Breakfast recipes are grain free. Most are power smoothies, designed to take you to lunch.There are pumpkin spice pancakes made with coconut flour and sweetened with pure monk fruit extract. The main course  recipes are hearty and can even be served at a dinner party. They all are delicious from the roasted free range chicken with rosemary , chives and garlic to easy baked salmon over spinach. Even the kids will like the turkey taco wraps and slow cook chili. There are treats too, such as sorbets, cakes and cookies, along with muffins that can be easily made.Dieters will appreciate the inclusion of a chocolate truffle and chocolate bliss squares. Even mocktails are including for healthful imbibing.

Eat Live Thrive  Diet: A Lifestyle Plan To Rev Up Your Midlife Metabolism is a definite must have for those wanting to lose weight.The entire program will ensure not only healthy eating but healthy living. Embrace the philosophy for a better life.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

True Blue Bouillabaisse

One of the French Riviera 's most defining dishes is bouillabaisse. This thick fish stew defines what the flavor of Mediterranean  cooking is all about - a cornucopia of seafood mingled with a vast garden of herbs and spices. Where to get this amazing dish? Marseille - where cooking and eating the soup like stew originates.

Elaine Sciolino, a sometimes contributor to the New York Times Food section wrote about bouillabaisse in yesterday Food section. she had the lucky chance to enjoy the sun and sand of the area along with finding the perfect bowl.Ms Sciolino may have been the only one craving the dish. Very few Marseillaises eat the famed soup at restaurants. If they do, it's usually at home, from a family recipe.They would rather have either  pizza from food trucks or go to the city's North African restaurants for couscous.It is one of the area's earliest dishes, originating from the Greeks who colonized Marseille in 600 BC.  The recipe stems from kakavia and evolved from a supposed
 dish of the gods (Venus , the Roman goddess of love turned it into a sleeping potion for  her husband , Vulcan, while she dallied with her lover, Mars) . Local fisherman embraced it, adding the plentiful rockfish to the recipe. Their descendants turn up their noses at it. Bouillabaisse , they have discerned , is only for tourists. There's a rumor throughout France that the recipe has gone the way of coq au vin or blanquette de veau, traditional mid 20th Century dishes.Ms . Sciolino admits that finding it was somewhat of a quest.

Even though bouillabaisse has been served since the 18th Century, it is hard to find a restaurant that serves a good one.The port area makes up mediocre ones for tourists while the fancier and known eatery Le Petit Nice, creates a deconstructed  one, thanks to its' famed chef Gerald Passedat. Ms. Sciolino headed to the small resort community Carry-le-Rouet twenty miles northwest of Vieux Port. Since it requires expensive ingredients and is difficult to make you have to order it two days in advance. The chef,  Christophe Thullier prepared his the classic way. His stock was from tiny and gutted rockfish along with tomatoes, fennel, a mix of spices, olive oil and water. It's boiled for twenty minutes until it's thickened and then strained through a sieve. At the same time five types of rockfish is marinated for five hours in a blend of white wine,  and olive oil. Thyme, rosemary, saffron, paprika are added along with a  lot of garlic and more saffron.The fish is thrown into the broth at the last minute. The broth , however was served first , with slices of crusty and toasted French bread. The fish is served secondly and mixed with the broth. The soup is opaque and gritty, with the fish settling at the bowl's bottom.Still, it's worth the trip. Can it be made at home? Yes, but it may not be same as what's made in the south of France.

If you want to get the real bouillabaisse, then head to Marseille. It is worth the trip,not just for that, but the other recipes Provence has  to offer. The lure is strong , like the aroma of a good soup.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A Vegan Approach To Butchery

A vegan surrounded by meat? Sounds strange yet that's what's happening with a new generation of butchers. Vegans know more about the meat industries and its' many cruelties, then any old school meat man or woman. They can actually bring a kinder, gentler approach to how meat is.

Melissa Clark,who writes A Good Appetite column in the Wednesday New York Times food section , wrote about vegan or ethical butchers in today's food section. They want to revolutionize the current US food system. Their shops sell meat from animals bred on grassland and pasture, with an emphasis on animal well being, environmental conservation and less wasteful  whole animal butchery. This is a complete turn around from the industrial like factory farming. It has constantly been criticized for its' overuse of antibiotics,, waste and inhumane treatment of animals. The outcry has been strong, however, and some butchers are changing their practices. Yet, it is not enough, according to the more ethical ones.The system needs to be re-evaluated and redesigned.How did it all start?Namely with Michael Pollan, the writer (and brother  and son of Tracy and Corky Pollan). His  2002 article in the New York Times magazine exposed the abuse of factory farmed beef cattle and his subsequent 2006 book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.

One question the book raised was can a person kill an animal for food. This struck a chord with many people, including vegans and vegetarians. They had wanted to change the horrible factory farming system. For one ethical butcher, Janice Schindler, the introduction to her new profession was a live  Thanksgiving turkey at a "Kill Your Own Turkey Dinner "event at a local farm.  The "process" started with putting it in a poultry cone, a roll of metal or sturdy plastic that looking like a giant decorating nozzle. The position relaxes the animal, allowing the butcher to cut the an artery. It stuns and then they bleed. She then spent the day at the eviscerating table. Many vegan butchers that Ms Clark interviewed had similar epiphanies. That this form of butchery is not as  "gruesome" and can help the planet.It regenerates large swaths of grassland, although not all studies show improved carbon sequestration on the land. Two other problems are vitriol from fellow vegans and the price of ethical meat is considerably pricey.What's recommended is on the last , don't buy that much  of it and eat more plant based foods.

Ethical butchery may replace the mass produced inhumane way of cutting meat. Will it help the planet? Possibly? Will it make consumers more aware of what's a better way of buying chicken and beef? Absolutely.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

DIY Kitchens Can You Do It?

Like everything else ,kitchens get old and worn. Cabinets need to be updated. Sinks need to be replaced.Besides redoing the room is always a lift. There's nothing like a brand new kitchen to cook in. There is one problem - cost. Can  you afford it? Or do you think you can do it yourself.

The average cost of kitchen remodeling in the States is anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000. A usual remodel consists of upgrading your sink and faucet, installing or replacing your counter tops,along with adding a tile back splash. The biggest transformation are the cabinets. It's refacing or refinishing.  If they're really old then a complete tear out is necessary and new ones will be installed. A new oven and microwave may be installed as well. It's an expensive deal that only a home loan can cover. Many remodeling companies can redo kitchens but the price can be extraordinarily steep. You can save money by remodeling it yourself. If you're handy and ambitious , then this is the project for you and your friends. Just know your limits. DIY stores like Home Depot has classes for this. Take them. Garner as much info about reconstruction  and plumbing as you can. Don't be afraid to ask questions. You have to be well prepared before you start. One small mistake could lead to something major disaster later on.

Before you start , look over decorating sites and magazines. Get an idea of what you want. Whether you do it yourself or get a company in , have a clear vision of what you want in your kitchen. Do you want solid cabinets or one with glass panes? Then there's the question of what wood to choose. Do you go for maple which is the sturdiest  but the staining it could come out blotchy? What about the most inexpensive pine? It's pretty and rustic looking but can easily dent or scratch due to it being soft wood. Cherry is another beautiful  choice, but's it's super expensive. The same goes for walnut and oak.What kind of sink do you fancy. A double or a single basin? Counter tops are important too. There are a mouth watering array of different stones. Granite is by far the most popular yet again, it's costly. However it does add to a home's resale value. Soapstone is also popular because it can absorb water along with giving the kitchen a rich antique look. Of course there is marble, the lushest of all the counter top materials. The deep grey random veining will give any kitchen, large or small, a glam vibe. Like quartz  countertops, it's expensive and heavy. A more affordable material are the classic tiles. They're pretty, come in a variety of different patterns and add charm to any kitchen.Other choices are laminate and wood.

Do it yourself kitchens can be a rewarding and fun fall project. Just know what you're getting into. There's a lot of work but then end product is a beautiful new kitchen. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Clean Up Time

                                          When you have a fridge like this:

As you can see it's a mess. Thanks to the plethora of ants, everything, from crackers to honey , from candy to even fruit has to be put inside the fridge. This creates a total mess. The door and the ledge in front of the crisper were so sticky that the door stuck to the ledge . Thankfully there is hydrogen peroxide.
This is the magic elixir that friends recommended.  Hydrogen peroxide is the best bet in cleaning the goo off of fridges and  kitchen sinks .It also disinfects wood cutting boards along with plastic and marble ones too. Should you clean the stove with it? I will say no. Even though the hydrogen peroxide from your drug store is a whopping 97 percent water, it still is hydrogen peroxide. Use  heavily diluted apple cider or white vinegar to get rid of stubborn stains on the burners. Dish soap works well too.

I still have more cleaning to do. There's a floor that has to be scrubbed twice. Plastic bags that have to get sent to a bin at the grocery store. Cooking in a kitchen is hard. Keeping it clean and sparkling is even harder.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Home Alone Your Kitchen On Vacation

This is the time of year when millions of home chefs frantically clean out their pantries and fridges.Why? It's vacation time when kitchens are devoid of all action for anywhere from one to two weeks to even a month. Yet is all this purging necessary?

Many home chefs feel they have to clean out the entire fridge. That's where some odd dinner combinations come in, from pepper hummus omelets to a fruit salad consisting mostly of berries. Yet do you have to have a complete clean out before you leave on vacation? How long will various foods last?Eggs can last three to five weeks after you buy them. Leave them be just purchased them  if you purchased them a day or two ago. Butter is the same. It won't turn  until it reaches the fourth month mark. Fresh milk isn't so flexible. It can only last three to eight days and then toss.You can bring it with you on vacation, with the kids drinking it instead of juice and soda.The same theory applies to almond milk when it's opened.Its' shelf life is a mere seven to ten days. Again it can be drunk plain or add chocolate syrup for a refreshing sip on a road trip. Luckily soy milk can last much longer . You can open it now, go on a trip for a week and then return home to still good milk.

What about meats? Fresh deli meats can only last five to six days. It's good to clear the fridge of them. Shred ham for omelets or even create a chef's salad with those extra slices of turkey and roast beef before you go or make these dishes for the road. Packaged meats such as Boar's Head and Oscar Meyer can stay one to two weeks in the fridge. Italian cold cuts such as hard salami has a shelf life of two to three months. The same goes for pepperoni. Many home chefs worry about keeping fruits and veggies in a fridge for too long. Salad greens are the most delicate. They can only last three to five days before getting moldy. Green veggies last that long too. You may want to think about making a pepper or spinach omelet or salad  the night before leaving. Tomatoes will last longer  - about a week more however be warned. They can have a bitter taste as they age, especially the grape variety. A better solution would be bringing them on the road with you. Fruits have the same short shelf life. Try to get rid of them before you leave . Another solution is freezing the fruit and then thawing it out when you return.

Should you clean out your whole fridge or pantry when you go on vacation? No. Be prudent though. Keep the products that will last while eating the ones that won't. Doing so will make for a more efficient kitchen when you return.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Piedmontese Picnic

Piemonte , located in the northern and most western part of Italy has summers are pure perfection at times, especially up in the Alps. Many trek to these mountains to enjoy the fresh air and cool streams. However they're also there to enjoy something far greater - Piemontese picnic dishes.

This is the food my mother and I grew up on. Piemontese food is more like what you'd get along the French Riviera (remember that our cuisine is the origin of French cooking).One of the most famous is cold veal with  tuna sauce - vitello tonnato. The simplest version of the sauce is mashed tuna in water mixed with mayo.Capers and their brine are added along with salt and pepper. The veal is boiled - bollito - along with such vegetables as carrots , leeks and parsnips. The last you can switch it up with subbing in cauliflower and broccoli for the leeks and parsnips. Also you can nix the meat if you feel it's too much trouble to make.Insalata rizzo is another favorite - and a family one too. It's taking a can of peas and carrots and mixing it rice. Again mayo is added to give it creaminess. Capers could be added if you want more saltiness. Another picnic must is insalata di carne cruda,is a minced raw beef or veal appetizer, prepared with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. It's sort of like steak tatare and served with salad greens.

Salumeria - the Piemontese version of charcuterie - is always a big thing. There's a variety of different cured meats and a large baguette to slice for sandwiches. You could make bagnet verde, a cold sauce made from parsley, garlic, and those Piemontese staple breadcrumbs and anchovies for the meats. It's a nice alternative to aioli and plain olive oil. There is also bagnet ross, a combination of ripe tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery and parsley. Mashed anchovies and mustard are added for texture.All the ingredients are cooked and then pureed. Bagnet ross can be  chilled. Use it for dipping raw veggies or just hunks of bread. A great picnic idea is having the province's many cheeses with sliced rolls or baguettes.Tuma is a very strong, almost Limburger type cheese that would pair well with a hearty Barolo., the region's famed red wine.A less  - overpowering - fromage is Robiola, a Brie type cheese that would pair with grissini, the ultra thin bread sticks first made in Torino.

A Piemontese picnic is a sophisticated and delicious way to enjoy eating outdoors.There's a 's variety of refreshing and chilled dishes that make for good eating. Plan one and enjoy the flavors' of one of Italy most beautiful provinces.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Discovering A Culinary Gem

Doreen Gamboa may not be known to many American chefs, yet she was a force majeure in Filipino cooking.  She was not a chef or a restaurant owner. She was a food writer who not only helped fellow Filipinos fighting for a better government but also one who captured the best of her country's cooking.

Ligaya Mishan, a regular contributor and restaurant critic for The New York Times food section wrote this informative piece in yesterday's Food section. Ms. Gamboa was , in a way, unusual for a food writer.She helped the National Democratic Front, the anti- Ferdinand Marcos government in the 1980's, tending to their bullet wounds and letting them recuperate in her yard. She also fed them elaborate meals in a lush , art filled dining room as she wrote amazing descriptions of all sorts of native.Even though she came from money and always had chefs and cooks at home , she wrote about all aspects of Filipino cooking. She was no snob as she rhapsodized about a wide variety of dishes. Some put her on a par with another great food writer, M.F. K. Fisher, Her writing style could be considered poetic and direct. Ms. Gamboa once described as having "a distinctive rasp and whisper" while in another essay she cataloged the textures of the giant fluted clam. Sadly she died relatively young at the age of 67 in New York City.

Even though she wrote for Filipino newspapers and magazines Ms Gamboa is still not widely known among Filipinos here and back in the Philippines. Yet a new generation of Filipino-American chefs are looking to her writings for guidance. There's only problem. Many of Ms. Ganboa's books are out of print. Luckily, one, Tikim is coming back into print. It offers a compilation of all sorts of Filipino cooking, from home recipes to traditional street food from vendors. The book can be found on Amazon and expensive (the hardcover is $198 on Amazon while the paperback is a whopping five grand!!!!). Her works were only published in the Philippines so finding them in the States is a rarity.  ,Filipino-American chef and owner of Bad Saint, Genevieve Villamora scoured used books sites to buy up every book that Ms. Gamboa wrote. Another chef, Charles Olalia of Los Angeles' Ma'am Sir found imported copies at No Serving, an LA cookbook store. There will be  a new printing of Tikim by the Danish publisher , Brill, thanks to lobbying from Filipino chefs.

Thanks to a vanguard of Filipino chefs, Ms. Gamboa's work is now coming to light. It is a fascinating insight into centuries old recipes and the people who created them. Her light will always shine on in kitchens around the world.