Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boston Creme Pie
As a child I remember Boston Creme Pie being one of my favorite desserts. We had a bakery down the street from where I lived and they had the best pies ever. Although, its been awhile since I tried it I came across the recipe in the Food Network from the Show Sweet Dreams. Boston Creme Pie consists of plain sponge cake layers, filled with cream filling, often topped with confectioner's sugar or thin chocolate frosting.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pastry cream, recipe follows
Ganache, recipe follows
Pastry Cream Filling: 2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream, boiling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high speed and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch greased pie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Pastry Cream Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)

Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. To assemble pie, remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on a serving plate or board, and spread with the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Pour chocolate ganache over and down the sides of the cake. Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Creme Brulee French Toast
This is a delicious breakfast French Toast which I made this morning. I prepared everything and essembled a night before and put it in the refrigerator. This morning I took it out and let it stay at room temperature for about a half hour and than baked it. I had a few friends and family over and even though I made a double batch it was finished in no time. Enjoy!

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 (1 inch thick) slices Hallah
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Remove crusts from bread, and arrange in the baking dish in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, orange brandy, and salt. Pour over the bread.

Cover, and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove the dish from the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature.
Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and lightly browned.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

White Bean and Vegetable Stew

Serves 6 to 8
This vegetarian stew can be made up to a day in advance and reheated—just add the radicchio and the basil purée right before you reheat the stew.

12 ounces dried cannellini or white beans(1 3/4 cups)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
small onion(about 4 ounces), thickly sliced
1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
12 baby artichokes(about 1 3/4 pounds) 1 large bunch fresh basil(4 cups loosely packed leaves)
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 large leeks(2 pounds), white and light-green parts only
2 teaspoons minced garlic(from 2 large cloves)
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup dry white wine
3 small heads radicchio(about 1 pound)

1. Pick over beans, discarding any stones or broken beans, and rinse. Place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water by 2 inches, and bring to a strong boil. Remove from heat, and let stand 1 hour, covered. (Alternatively, beans can be placed in a bowl, covered with 2 inches of cold water, and soaked overnight.)

2. Drain beans, place them in the saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Tie peppercorns in a small piece of cheesecloth, and add to beans along with bay leaves and onion slices. Return the mixture to heat, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until beans are very tender, 35 to 40 minutes, adding 1 teaspoon salt about 10 minutes before beans are finished cooking. Remove from heat, set aside, and let beans cool in their liquid. They can be cooked and refrigerated in their liquid up to 2 days in advance.

3. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water. Cut lemons in half, squeeze juice into water, and add lemon halves. Trim about 1/2 inch from tips of artichokes, and pull off tough outer leaves. Trim stems to 1/2 inch, and trim off dark green outer layer of stem. Slice artichokes in half lengthwise if small or in quarters if large. Use a small sharp knife to remove the purple choke from artichokes—if the choke is not purple, it is not necessary to remove it. Place prepared artichokes in the bowl of lemon water. Set aside.

4. Remove basil leaves from stems, discard stems, and wash leaves thoroughly. Drain and lay leaves out on paper towels, blotting away as much water as possible. Place basil in the bowl of a food processor, add 4 tablespoons olive oil, and process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer purée to a small bowl, cover immediately with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration, and refrigerate until needed.

5. Cut leeks into 1/2-inch rounds, and place in a large bowl of cold water. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to rid them of any dirt and sand. Lift out of the water, and drain in a colander.

6. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cook until fragrant and tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Drain artichokes, discarding the liquid and lemons, and add to leeks along with wine. Cover, and cook until artichokes begin to become tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover, and cook until liquid evaporates and artichokes are tender, about 5 minutes more.

7. Meanwhile, cut radicchio heads into 1-inch wedges without removing the core; it will hold the leaves together. Drain cooked beans, reserving cooking liquid. Remove and discard bay leaves, onion slices, and peppercorns. Add beans, 2 cups of the cooking liquid, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper to leeks and artichokes. Cook until beans are heated through and liquid has thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in radicchio wedges, and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the basil purée. Serve immediately with the remaining basil purée on the side. Source:Martha Steward Living

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chocolate-Hazelnut Kisses: Baci D'Alassio

3 cups whole raw hazelnuts
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus additional unsalted butter for baking sheets, optional 1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder, sieved
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 or 5 egg whites, at room temperature
3 ounces semisweet chocolate

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer in a shallow pan and place them in the preheated oven, turning every now and again, until lightly toasted and the skins begin to blister, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, working in batches, rub them between the palms of your hands until the skins loosen and fall away. (This will take some time and not every bit of skin will rub off.) Chop the hazelnuts coarsely.

Using a nut mill, blender, or a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind the hazelnuts to a fine powder. (If the nuts do become oily, pass them through a sieve to break up any lumps.) Place in a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar.

Add the butter, cocoa, honey, and vanilla and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add the egg whites, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add only enough of the whites for the dough to take on the consistency of a loose paste or spritz cookie dough. Do not worry if all of the egg whites are not used.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them with butter. Spoon the hazelnut mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a No. 6 star tip. Pipe out rosettes 1 inch in diameter onto the prepared sheets, spacing the rosettes about 1 1/2 inches apart. You should have about 60 rosettes in all. Let the rosettes sit, uncovered, at room temperature overnight.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the cookies in the preheated oven until firm to the touch but still moist inside, 8 to 10 minutes. When they are done they will not brown and may even look undercooked, so you must test by touch. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler placed over simmering water. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Gently turn half of the cookies top sides down on a flat surface and spread about 1/2 teaspoon chocolate on each of the upturned bottoms. As each cookie is coated, press a plain cookie onto the chocolate, bottom side down, to form a "sandwich". Lay the cookies on their sides on a tray or flat plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Store in a covered container, at room temperature, for up to 1 week.
Source:The Il Fornaio Baking Book by Franco Galli

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chicken & Rice Soup with Egg and Lemon (Kotosoupa Avgolemono)
This soup is a favorite with the Greek families. In Greece chicken soup is known as a traditional remedy for colds and for hangovers. The Greek variation of this soup is avgolemono, cooked with, lemon juice, orzo, and eggs.
1 small chicken
12 cups of water
1 cup of orzo
1 egg yolk
juice of 1/2 a lemon
sea salt
ground pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Clean chicken.
Place the chicken in a large stock pot and add water to cover. Bring to a full boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the top. When the foam stops, reduce heat, cover the soup and simmer until the chicken meat is falling off the bone, (depending on weight, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours).

Remove the Chicken from the pot and set aside.
Strain the broth, return to the pot, and bring to a boil. Add the orzo, salt, pepper, and olive oil to the pot, reduce heat, and simmer until the orzo is done, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
While the orzo is cooking, bone the chicken and cut the meat into pieces.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk with one cup of water and add the lemon juice a drop at a time. When the lemon and egg have blended, add cup of soup to the mix pouring very slowly stirring briskly (this process is very important) to blend well. If the hot liquid is added too quickly, the mixture will curdle. When the mix is fully blended, stir the soup and pour in the egg-lemon mixture slowly, and shake the pot gently to distribute. Do not stir.
Add the chicken meat to the soup and serve.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ricotta Fritta: Ricotta Fritters
1/2 pound almond macaroons
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 pound fresh ricotta
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon water
2 cups fine dried bread crumbs
Oil, for frying
Whipped cream
1 cup honey
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Preheat the fryer to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the macaroons and process until finely ground. Add the sugar, cheese, cinnamon, and 2 of the eggs. Continue to process until incorporated. Form the cheese mixture into small balls, about a tablespoon each. Roll the balls in the flour, coating completely. In a shallow bowl, beat the remaining 1 egg and the water. Dip each ball in the egg wash, letting the excess drip off. Finally, dredge each ball in the bread crumbs, coating completely. Fry the balls in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Place a dollop of the whipped cream in the center of each serving plate. Lay the fritters around the whipped cream. Drizzle the fritters with the honey. Garnish with confectioners' sugar.
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse
Most Expensive Restaurants in the U.S. from Forbes.com
Americans are hungrier than ever to eat out. Last month, they spent $36.2 billion in restaurants. This year, they are on track to spend $511 billion, a record high.
Alex: $114 Las Vegas

This French restaurant in Steve Wynn's Wynn Las Vegas now outpaces Picasso as Sin City's most expensive restaurant. Atlantic halibut with borlotti beans, roasted pork chop and veal tenderloin are three signature dishes available à la carte; the tasting menu includes sweet corn custard with caviar, seared sea scallops and foie gras with roasted figs.
For more information, call (702) 248-DINE.

Masa: $446 New York City

This Japanese restaurant, where the sushi is flown in directly from Japan, achieved legendary status almost immediately upon its opening in 2004. With a prix-fixe menu that starts at $400 per person--not including drinks, tax or a mandatory 20% tip--only the best-heeled can make Masa a habit. Bar Masa offers similar dishes, like baby squid with curried salt and Kobe beef with yuzu pepper, at a bargain $15 to $20 each.
For more information, call (212) 823-9800.

The French Laundry: $254 Yountville, Calif.

Some of chef Thomas Keller's iconic dishes have migrated from this Napa Valley locale to Per Se, his outpost in Manhattan, but purists swear that the nine-course dégustation menu in The French Laundry's small stone building is the ultimate experience. The restaurant features American dishes with French influence, like roasted lamb with sweet carrots and pearl onions; reservations must be made two months to the calendar date in advance.
For more information, call (707) 944-2380.

Alinea: $168 Chicago

Alinea chef and owner Grant Achatz trained with Thomas Keller, but left to open the sleek, futuristic Alinea in May of 2005. The mini-dishes, served in a 12-course "tasting" menu or a 24-course "tour," feature ingredients so brightly colored and creatively combined and presented, they are like artful science experiments. Peanut butter and jelly is a peeled grape covered in peanut butter and a paper-thin layer of brioche, and rabbit is accompanied by the "smell of burning leaves." Dessert choices include red pepper taffy and licorice cake.
For more information, call (312) 867-0110.

The Herbfarm: $152 Woodinville, Wash.

This romantic, farmhouse-style restaurant serves nine-course, Pacific Northwest menus that rotate every few weeks to reflect the best seasonal ingredients. Five or six wines will be served with your meal, many of them straight from the 21,000-bottle wine cellar, which features an enormous collection of Oregon and Washington wines. This week, a "Mycologist's Dream"-themed menu will include wild mushrooms from throughout the region.
For more information, call (425) 485-5300.

Read more Expensive Restaurants Forbes.com

Friday, October 20, 2006

REALLY?; The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients in Food

People have long suspected that the radiation microwave ovens emit can destroy nutrients in food. According to most studies, however, the reality is quite the opposite. Read more New York Times.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Halloween Vanilla Shake

These drinks look frightening, but they're actually quite sweet. Melted chocolate painted inside the glass makes the faces. A ghostly white vanilla milk shake is topped with piped whipped cream.

Boo-Nilla Shake How-to:
For 12 faces, place 1/3 cup (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high until melted, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes; stir. Using a small brush, paint chocolate inside glasses (if it hardens too soon, microwave 20 seconds more). Let set a few minutes before adding shake. Prepare glasses up to a day ahead, but don't fill until ready to serve.

Boo-Nilla Shake Recipe
Makes six 8-ounce servings This recipe can be doubled easily; make it in two batches if it won't all fit in your blender.

1 cup whole milk
2 pints vanilla ice cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

1. Blend milk and 1 pint ice cream in a blender until smooth. With machine running, add remaining pint ice cream, 1 scoop at a time; blend until smooth. Pour milkshake into six 8-ounce glasses decorated with chocolate faces, filling them 3/4 full.

2. Put cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add confectioners' sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. Pipe spiral mounds of whipped cream on top of milkshakes. Serve immediately.
Source:Martha Steward Living

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stuffed grapeleaves with rice - (Dolmades yalantzi)
Dolmades is a Greek appetizer delicacy wrapped in vine leaves. This recipe yields approximately 70 pieces.

2 lbs onions, finely cut
2 cups olive oil
2 cups rice
2 lbs grapeleaves
Sprigs of dill
Sprigs of parsley
Juice of 2 lemons
Drain the grapeleaves. Sautee the onions in half the oil until they get a golden color. Add the rice, salt, pepper, parsley, dill and spearmint and half a glass of water. Cook until the water is absorbed. Use a tea spoon to count the portion of the rice mixture required for each leaf. Place on each leaf the appropriate portion of rice and then fold each leaf to make a little parcel. In a large sauce pan place the grapeleaves one close to each other. Put a plate on top of them in order to prevent them from opening. It is better to cover the surface of the saucepan with some grapeleaves to avoid burning of the dolmades during cooking. Add the remaining oil, 2 cups boiling water and the lemon juice. Cook in low heat. The grapeleaves are served cold with strained yoghurt.


Step 1: The grapeleaves in this picture have been preserved in the freezer. When the time comes to be used, you should remove them from the freezer and let them drain in a colander.

Step 2: This is the first step of the folding process. The grapeleave is placed with the surface that had the stem to face up. Notice also where exactly the portion of the rice mixture is placed.

Step 3: The folding has started from the one side.

Step 4: then fold the left and right leaves.

Step 5: and finish folding by rolling the grapeleave to a cylinder.

Step 6: Cover the surface of the saucepan with some grapeleaves.

Step 7: This is the best way to fit the dolmades into the saucepan. When all the grapeleaves have been placed into the saucepan cover them half way with oil and water and boil them until rice is cooked.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Electronic Gadgets for Your Kitchen
Touchless Trash can
This can does not require any contact at all. It has a built-in smart chip that opens the lid when you are six inches from the infrared sensor, then closes it three seconds after you leave the sensor's range. Or you can press a button to keep it open for an extended period of time.www.touchlesstrashcan.com

Combination Microwave / Pizza Oven
DaewooThis unit is a microwave with an oven on the top that can fit a 12-inch pizza. Place the pizza on the removable non-stick serving tray, then push the frozen pizza button and in a few minutes your pizza is ready. Model: KOP 131OST www.e-daewoo.com

Egg & Muffin Toaster
This appliance from Back to Basics poaches an egg, toasts a muffin and heats a breakfast meal all with one button.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Seafood Tips
1. Choose clams with shells that are steely gray, not chalky white, which is a sign of age. If the clam is open, pinch the shells together. If they don't stay closed, discard the clam. Never use clams with cracked shells.

2. Buy lobsters that are lively and that have hard, dark shells, and don't believe the myth that small lobsters are sweeter than large ones.

3. Select fresh, firm whole fish with red gills, clear eyes and smooth, unblemished skin with a bright sheen.

4. Buy fillets that are moist, with shiny, almost translucent flesh. They should be firm and have a clean sea smell. Never buy fish that is sitting in water.

5. Keep fresh fish and shellfish refrigerated at all times. The coolest part of most refrigerators is at the back of the bottom shelf, which should be 38° or lower.

6. Cut fish with a very sharp knife; the fragile flesh can tear easily.

7. Make stock using the well-rinsed heads, bones and trimmings of haddock, cod, flounder, sole, bass or halibut.

Salmone Aromatico
Spice-Rubbed Salmon
A combination of dried herbs and spices gives the salmon a distinctive Mediterranean taste. If you don’t like cilantro, use Italian parsley instead.
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
grated zest of 1 lime
4 salmon steaks (6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 lime, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a mortar or spice grinder, combine the paprika, fennel, coriander, cumin, caraway, peppercorns, salt, and lime zest. Crush or process until coarse. Pour onto a plate and rub the salmon in the mixture, coating all over and pressing on all sides so the mixture adheres.
Heat the olive oil in a 14-inch sauté pan over a medium-high flame. Add the peeled garlic and cook 30 seconds. Discard the garlic. Add the salmon and cook until it is browned on both sides, about 2 minutes, turning once. Place in a roasting pan and roast in the preheated oven until it is firm to the touch and no longer translucent, about 10 minutes total. (Thicker pieces will take longer to cook through than thinner ones.) Serve hot, with the lime wedges. Serves 4 Recipe from Rustico cooking

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cheddar vs Chili Baked Potato
A baked potato can be a filling lunch. But you can do better than topping it with butter and sour cream. Just a half-cup of either chili with beans or shredded cheddar cheese packs enough oomph to make a medium baked potato delicious. Each has its benefits—fiber from the chili beans (9.3g) and calcium from the cheese (207mg). And though the chili spud has half the fat of the cheese version, it also has half the protein.

With Cheddar

Calories: 388
Total fat: 18 grams
Protein: 14 grams

With Chili

Calories: 304
Total fat: 7 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Source:Cooking Light

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

I was craving chocolate all day today and I came accross a Chocolate Bunt Cake recipe in Food and Wine magazine, I thought this was perfect to satisfy my craving for chocolate. Many Bundt cakes are heavy and buttery, but this one is surprisingly light and incredibly moist under its silky chocolate glaze. Strong-brewed coffee in the batter intensifies the chocolate flavor while cutting the sweetness.

Vegetable oil spray
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk; whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.

Pour the ganache over the cooled cake.Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

MAKE AHEAD The glazed cake can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Which Cows Do You Trust?

I found this article at the New York Times which Ithought was interesting.

Designed for difficult consumers, a number of dairy manufacturers are demanding less milk from their cows and charging extra for it.
The dairy group, are leaning towards the natural-foods movement by turning away from milk from cows treated with genetically engineered growth hormone.
Through labeling milk free of the artificial hormone, the dairy manufacturing can ride the reputation of natural foods, exclusive of the larger expense and particular feeds necessary to manufacture milk that can be totally certified as “organic.”As an effect hormone-free milk can be charged higher than traditionally labeled milk, but less than organic. More on the story from the
New York Times.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Homemade Yogurt

My grandmother made homemade yogurt all the time. As a little girl, I would get a kick out of watching the milk turn into yogurt.

4 cups milk
2 tablespoonfuls plain yogurt

Warm the milk to the point that if you stick your finger in it should be warm not hot (sorry this is the only way to test this. Put the warm milk into a clean bowl, now to ferment the yougurt put the 2 tablespoons of yogurt into the warm milk, mix well. Please make sure to mix this very well and cover with a lid. Then with a clean towell cover the entire bowl to keep it warm. The yogurt should be done anywhere between 8-10 hours. Then the yogurt can be placed in the refrigerator.

I love yogurt with honey, strawberries, or raspberries.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Phyllo Dough

The Phyllo dough commonly found in Greek and Middle-Eastern cooking, these tissue-thin sheets of pastry dough can be used in both sweets and savory dishes. In my family we use Phyllo Dough very often for baklava or spinach pie.

Preparing Phyllo

Thaw phyllo according to package instructions (or overnight in the refrigerator). Place rolled phyllo on a cutting board. To keep the phyllo from drying, I wet a clean dish towel and place it over the phyllo dough. As you are working with the dough you can take the towel off take a piece of the phyllo than place the towel back on top of the rest of the phyllos ( I learned this trick from my grandmother, it really helps keep the phyllo moist).

Storing Phyllo

Phyllo in unopened box can be frozen for up to a year or refrigerated up to a month (check the label). After opening, use within two to three days; keep tightly wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator (do not refreeze).

Spinach Pie

1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen spinach thawed and drained well

1 (24 oz) container of cottage cheese

1 Large or 2 small onions chopped

4 eggs

1 T. salt

1 T. flour

1/4 lb. feta cheese

Over medium heat, sauté the onion in olive oil until soft. Add spinach and water, bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put in a colander to drain. When cooled, cover and continue to drain in the refrigerator overnight.

Mix together with remaining ingredients.

Grease a baking pan with some oil, put a layer of filo dough that has been buttered or brushed with oil in the bottom of the pan. Make sure that you have enough pastry left over for the top of the pie.

When the ingredients have been well combined, spread on the pastry in the pan evenly. Then spread the rest of the pastry on the top. Butter or oil the top of the filo dough and bake in a moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Asparagus was first cultivated 2000 years ago in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. The Greeks and Romans loved asparagus for its flavor, texture, and medicinal qualities. Roman emperors were so fond of asparagus that they kept special boats for the purpose of fetching it and called them the "Asparagus fleet". While the Greeks never seemed to garden asparagus, the Romans had specific directions on how to cultivate asparagus by 200 BC. They would eat the asparagus in season as well as preserve it for later consumption by transporting it to high altitudes where it would stay frozen. Asparagus gained popularity in France and England in the 16th Century and was then introduced to North America. Native Americans would dry the asparagus for later medicinal uses. Asparagus has also been depicted in ancient Egyptian writings and was also grown in Syria and Spain in ancient times.

Asparagus is one of the more nutritionally valuable vegetables. It is the best vegetable provider of
folic acid. Folic acid is necessary for blood cell formation and growth, as well as liver disease prevention. Folic acid is also important for pregnant women as it aids in the prevention of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the developing fetus. Asparagus is also very low in calories; each stalk contains fewer than 4. It contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. Asparagus is a great source of potassium and fibre. Finally, the plant is a source of rutin, a compound that strengthens the walls of capillaries.

Asparagus soup

Makes about 10 cups
4 bunches pencil asparagus (about 4 pounds)

4 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for blanching water
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups Chicken
Stock Crème fraîche, for serving (optional)

1. Trim the asparagus, discarding tough ends. Cut the tips from one bunch of asparagus; set aside. Cut the remaining asparagus into 1 1/2-inch lengths.

2. Prepare an ice bath; set aside. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt and the asparagus tips. Blanch for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to ice bath until cool. Drain well; set aside.

3. In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, and bring to a boil. Stir in the asparagus. Return to a boil, and cook, partially covered, until asparagus are tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Working in batches of no more than 2 cups, transfer to a blender, and purée. Cover lid with a kitchen towel, as hot liquid will expand when blended. As each batch is finished, pass through a medium sieve set over a clean container. Place in ice bath, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Garnish with asparagus tips and crème fraîche, if desired.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Spicy Hummus: Quick Chickpea Spread

This is a fantastic dish to take to a pot luck

1 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 rounded tablespoons tahini sesame paste, found in both dairy and dry specialty foods sections A drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon (1/3 palm full) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (1/3 palm full) ground coriander
1 clove garlic, crushed
Coarse salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
Pita breads, grilled and cut into wedges for dipping

Combine beans, tahini, oil, pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, garlic, salt, and lemon juice in food processor bowl and grind into a smooth paste. Transfer to a small dip dish and surround spread with warm pita wedges. This recipe makes a great appetizer, or anytime snack.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The most cultivated of all berries, grapes are used mainly to make wine and raisins; but they’re also eaten fresh, made into jams and jellies, and they add a sweet flavor to many dishes.


They come in green (also called white), red, and blue-black, and in thousands of varieties. Here are a few that are used commercially. For eating fresh, green seedless Thompson and Red Flame (both firm and mild) are among the most common. Muscat (sweet and fragrant, greenish gold) are frequently used for making wine and raisins; Zante (blue-black, tiny, and seedless), for making dried currants; and sweet-tart, blue-black Concord grapes are used mostly to make juice, jams, and jellies.

Grapes should be plump, with smooth unbroken skins, and be firmly attached to the stems. The green ones are at their sweetest when they have a pale-yellow hue. Often, grapes are covered with a whitish “bloom,” which is a natural protection against loss of moisture and spoilage.

Discard damaged grapes, place bunch in a plastic bag, and refrigerate up to three days. To avoid destroying the bloom, rinse just before using.

Grapes, like other fruit, can be added to many types of dishes, sweet and savory. Here are a few ways to use grapes to make healthy snacks and starters.

Peanut Butter and Grapes Spread a toasted English muffin half with peanut butter, and top with slivered seedless grapes. You can also use whole-grain sandwich bread or crackers.

Yogurt With Oranges and Grapes Top plain yogurt with orange segments, sliced seedless grapes, and chopped pistachios (or other nuts).

Arugula Salad With Grapes Toss arugula with crumbled blue cheese, halved seedless grapes, and your favorite vinaigrette.

Mozzarella and Grape Skewers Thread seedless grapes, bocconcini (mozzarella balls), and sliced prosciutto on wooden skewers.

Frozen Grapes For a quick, refreshing snack, freeze grapes until solid, about 3 hours.
Source: Food everyday

Fresh Cranberries

These tart, tangy little fruits are terrific in baked goods as well as in sweet and savory sauces.
Buying CranberriesFresh cranberries are available from October through December. You’ll most likely find them in twelve-ounce plastic bags in the produce section of grocery stores. Ripe berries are deep red and very firm.
Preparing Cranberries
Before using them, rinse in a bowl of cold water; discard any unripe ones that float to the top.
Storing CranberriesFresh cranberries can be stored in their original packaging. They’ll keep for up to a year in the freezer. Frozen cranberries can be cooked without defrosting; pat them dry before using.
Nutritional Information

Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which may help boost the immune system.

Cranberry-Pear Crisp Serves 6; Prep time: 20 minutes; Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

4 to 6 firm pears, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (6 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
Pinch salt
Vanilla ice cream (if desired)

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Peel and cut 4 to 6 firm pears into 3/4-inch pieces to yield 6 cups. In a large bowl, toss pears with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Add 1 1/2 cups cranberries and 1/3 cup sugar; toss well.

2. Transfer to six 8-ounce ramekins (or a 3-quart baking dish). Sprinkle with topping; bake until fruit is tender and topping is golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes before
serving with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

3. To make Oatmeal Crisp Topping: In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter until pea-size clumps form. Add 1/4 cup each granulated and light-brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup rolled oats, and a pinch of salt; pulse until large, moist clumps form, about 10 times.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Sage is used throughout the world but traditionally it is an important herb in the Mediterranean and temperate countries of Europe. It is especially good with roasted white meats such as chicken, and indispensable when roasting pork.
In herbal medicine, sage is used as a restorative herb to arouse the appetite. The Tuscan aqua cotta is a soup of vegetables that relies on sage for its unique flavour. The Tuscans say that their famous bean dish, fagioli all'uccelletto (beans made to taste like birds), seasoned with sage, makes the white beans taste like small feathered game.
Sage's qualities are put to good use in this preparation from Patience Gray's book Honey from a Weed: "If you soak 90g of sage leaves in 1 litre of sherry for 9 days, then drain the liquor, let it rest for a day, and decant it into a bottle through a paper filter, you have an excellent disinfectant mouthwash of Catalan extraction."

Sage is good with Butter; extra virgin olive oil; roast or fried potatoes; potato or spinach and ricotta gnocchi; roast vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato, jerusalem artichokes and carrot; aged cheeses such as parmesan, pecorino and firm goat and sheep cheeses; roast, pan-fried or barbecued meats such as chicken, quail, spatchcock, veal and pork.

Pork and sage involtini
Two of these little rolls should be enough per person for a main course. For 4 people, cut 8 even slices of pork loin about 5mm thick. Place each between pieces of cling wrap and beat gently until they are 2mm (your butcher should do this for you if you prefer). Ask your butcher to thinly slice some pork back fat; you'll need two slices per roll. Lay the pieces of pork loin on the work surface in a line then lay two slices of pork fat on top and finally a few sage leaves; season with a little salt and pepper. Roll the lot, not too tightly, and continue until all 8 are done. Fix each with toothpicks. Place

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Farmer's Markets Worth the Trip
These two farmers' markets offer unique foods amidst historic settings in cities packed with culture and activity--the perfect recipe for a short escape.

Long before daybreak, trucks rumble down streets and back into loading docks across America. Vendors pull crates of produce and carry them to stalls where they're laid out in colorful mosaics. Rows of iridescent fish lie on beds of crushed ice; bouquets of fresh flowers paint a vibrant tableau. Then the public arrives. Savvy shoppers scurry with a purpose—they know where to go for the best tomatoes, the freshest trout, and the flakiest breads. Newcomers browse the aisles, taking in the sights, sounds, and aromas.
These are America's farmers' markets. Experiencing a revival, more than 3,700 public markets are thriving throughout the country, according to the usda national directory of farmers' markets.
The following two are renowned for offering visitors unique food choices in festive, historic environments. They also happen to be in cities where activities, culture, and restaurants abound, providing plenty to do once vendors pack up their stalls at day's end.

San Francisco:
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market

Haymarket Square

To find a farmers' market near you, go to the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services Web site at