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Tuesday, April 29 2008
Pasta is usually associated with Italy, even if it's cooked all around the world, in different ways. But is always leads to Italian life style.
Years ago the Italian "mammas" used to make pasta by themselves. Nowadays (things have changed) they usually buy it for everyday use in the supermarket and used to make at home ravioli, tagliatelle and some other specialties for festive occasions.
It looks like a loss, but it's not! Of course we want the "mammas" to keep the tradition, but now anyone can cook a good dish of pasta without needing to have extra time to make pasta at home. The Italian kitchen is turning more natural and easy, without losing its characteristics, allowing all of us to prepare tasty and easy dishes, as the following "pasta al pesto".
Pasta has no season, but its sauce has!
Springtime in Italy is a real "feel and smell" season, as we begin to go out often and when the weather allows, we also eat outside very often.
All these circumstances led us to recognize the season's aromas and uses. One of these main aromas it the basil one.
It is widely used in Italian cuisine, but during springtime it reaches its best, and it matches salads, tomatoes' salads and also pasta sauces.
One of my favorite pasta recipe is Pasta al pesto.
The original recipe originated in Liguria (note: Liguria is an Italian region) and uses troffie, a kind of fresh pasta that you can maybe find at your market. But you can use penne (or any other pasta you prefer!) also the long ones are good, as spaghetti, bavettine and others.
What you'll need for 4 people:
Friday, April 25 2008
A Mother’s work is never done. It is time to honor Mom for all the loving things she does every single day. Have you thought about how you will celebrate Mom? I have the menu planned for the entire day. Just a little planning and Mom will not have to step a foot in the kitchen all day long.
First of all, print out the recipes below and make your grocery list. Shop for your groceries on Saturday before Mother’s Day. Don’t forget to pick up some flowers for Mom. Once you come home, make the Buttermilk pie, Baklava Mini Bites and your Strawberry Soup. After you finish with the desserts and soup, prepare your Melba toast and toast your pecans. This will help with your Mother’s Day meal preparations easier.
On Mother’s Day get up early and prepare a wonderful breakfast in bed for Mom. This should take about 45 minutes to prepare.
For breakfast you will serve:
Cinnamon French Toast
4 eggs, beaten
Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon in a shallow, wide-bottomed bowl that is large enough to accommodate a slice of bread. Grease a griddle with melted butter or margarine. Heat the griddle to 350¡ (medium-high heat). Dip a slice of bread into the egg batter, coating both sides. Remove the bread and place it on the hot griddle. Brown the bread on both sides, cooking each side about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with maple syrup. Makes 6 servings
Variation: Top with maple syrup and berries of your choice: strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.
Spiced Bacon Twists
1 cup light brown sugar
Arrange oven racks in middle and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 350̊F. To make clean-up easy, line bottom of a broiler pan with foil.
Place a sheet of waxed paper on shallow tray or counter. Place brown sugar, mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne on waxed paper and rub together with your fingers until mixture is evenly blended.
Dip bacon strips into sugar mixture, coating evenly. Twist each bacon strip several times. Arrange about half the slices in a single layer on rack of broiler pan. Bake 30 minutes or until bacon is almost crisp and sugar is bubbly. Carefully place hot bacon strips on a piece of clean aluminum foil to cool slightly before serving. Repeat with remaining bacon slices and sugar mixture. These may be served warm or a room temperature.
Makes about 24 servings.
4 Tea bags your favorite tea from our Traditional Teas Collection
Steep tea and lemon rind in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, almond and vanilla. Serve hot
Lunch will take about one hour and thirty minutes to prepare. For lunch you will serve:
12 chicken thighs or your favorite chicken part, skin removed
In a casserole dish, heat oil and saute onions until tender. Add chicken and saute until it is light brown on both sides. Add tomatoes, ketchup, carrots potatoes and beer. Season with dashes of salt and pepper and cook covered for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and add thyme and cornstarch. Stir and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Add peppers and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve on a decorative platter.
Note: The cooking process removes the alcohol and leaves the yeast flavor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil until translucent but not brown. Add rice and stir until the garlic olive oil is well mixed into the rice. Add water or broth and raise heat to high. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking until water or broth is absorbed. Stir frequently. Serve in a decorative bowl, or surrounding the chicken on a large platter.
1 pound broccoli florets
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
*To toast pecans, place in small skillet. Cook over medium-high heat 1 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring constantly
1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Combine cheese, mayonnaise, water, lemon juice, garlic, Worchestershire sauce, pepper and mustard in small bowl; mix until creamy. Combine lettuce and dressing in large serving bowl; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with croutons. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Baklava Mini Bites
1/2 cup butter
Place baklava slices onto ungreased baking sheet, cut-side down. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes; remove from baking sheet. Serve warm or cool.
Makes 28 servings.
Serve Mom’s favorite beverage with the meal.
Your light dinner will take about 30 to 45 minutes to prepare. For dinner, you will serve:
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.
Melba Toast Recipe
Serve Melba toast with soup or salad.
1 long thin loaf of French bread
Slice loaf into 1/4-inch slices. Spread slices with butter then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place on a cake rack or other rack over a baking sheet, so drips will be caught and air will move around the slices.
Sweet Potato Sausage Balls
3 cups biscuit mix
Combine all ingredients well. Shape into balls and place on greased baking sheet with sides. Bake at 350̊ for 20 minutes, until brown.
Cold Strawberry Soup
2 pints pureed strawberries
Mix all ingredients and serve chilled.
1/2 cup butter
Cream the butter and sugar; add the egg yolks, beating after each addition. Beat in flour and buttermilk; add the lemon juice, lemon peel, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Beat the egg whites until stiff; fold into the filling.
Pour the filling into the pie shell; cook in center of a preheated 325̊ oven until the custard is set and slightly brown, about 1 hour. Serve with berries, fresh fruit, or dessert sauce.
Even if you do not like buttermilk, you will love this pie!
At the end of the day, prepare Mom a wonderful bubble bath. Give her a couple of magazines and light a few candles in the bathroom. Let Mom enjoy her leisure bubble bath and reflect over her day of being a Queen.
Wednesday, April 23 2008
Planning economical meals will not only stretch your grocery dollar but can also produce more nutritious and interesting meals. Some of the suggestions in this article will help you save money in your weekly food budget while cooking tasty and appealing food for your family.
This article is not going to be about saving money by sacrificing quality or variety. Meals need to be tasty and enjoyable; and satisfaction in cooking comes from sharing excellent food that contributes to a sense of comfort and connectedness with those we love. Some articles about eating on a limited budget will urge you to give up (or save for special occasions) some of the foods that you consider important for your well being. So, it is important not to economize in ways that will result in boring or inedible meals, unhappy and hungry diners, or a depressed cook. It is possible to save money and still have pleasing food on the table as well as coffee in the morning and treats when needed.
First of all, consider the likes, dislikes and dietary requirements of those in your household. You want to cook food that others will look forward to eating; and make mealtimes stress free and relaxing. For instance, it is false economy to buy liver because it is on special at the supermarket if no one will eat it. This is an extreme example, but you get the point.
On the other hand, make an effort to broaden the variety of food choices and decide together to try at least one new dish each week. Initially, it is a good idea to stick to nothing out of the ordinary rather than exotic choices. The more people involved in cooking in your household, the more everyone will buy into change. Some families like to have kids cook one meal a week; or, if you are a two person household try to share some of the cooking.
When planning economical meals you should also take into account how much time you have available to cook as well as how much you like to cook. Retired folks or those who work in the home may make different menu choices than those who are away all day. Whatever your circumstances, you can save money on your food selection. Buy a slow cooker if spending lots of time in the kitchen is not an option or an interest.
Slow Cookers are extremely versatile and use much less electricity than an oven. You can put all the ingredients for a meal into the cooker in the morning and come home to a ready to eat dinner. Because the food is braised at low heat, less expensive cuts of meat will be tender and delicious when cooked by this method.
Probably, the key to success in saving money on your grocery bill is menu planning. While it takes time in the beginning to get into the habit, the payoffs are worth it in the long run. Not only will you save money; but your meals will have more variety. And, no more last minute panic about what to cook for dinner.
Keep track of what you spend on food for a couple of weeks. Include last minute and impulsive purchases. Also consider how much food you throw out in leftovers or spoilage in an average week. Check the calendar and consult with others in the household about activities for the week that will affect meal planning. Read up on the specials at your supermarket. Ask members of your household to contribute ideas about what they would like to eat.
Use the resources of the internet and cookbooks to find recipes that feature economical dishes. Explore the cuisine from other countries for new food ideas. When planning your menus make sure to incorporate leftovers into a future meal. Compare what you spend on groceries when buying according to your menu plan with what you previous spent. Hopefully you have saved money and reduced waste.
Watch for the next article about economical meal planning, focusing on food buying and preparation tips, to help you save money in your weekly grocery budget.
Monday, April 21 2008
Asparagus is a delicious vegetable, a meal side dish but in addition to being good tasting, asparagus is full of nutritional benefits that are good for you. Rich in folic acid, potassium, fiber and other vitamins, asparagus is a low calorie, fat-free food that is also low sodium and cholesterol free. With all of the bonuses that come with adding the vegetable to your recipes, there's no reason not to give asparagus a try.
When and how should you select and prepare fresh asparagus? Asparagus has a rather short growing season that goes from April to May. Although you can find asparagus year round, May is the month where you can find the best choice in produce markets. Make sure to look for stalks with closed, tight tips and bright green color from top to bottom of the stem. After bringing it home, store fresh asparagus in the refrigerator and use within 2 days. Preparation is simple. Holding the base of the stalk firmly, bend it and the end will break off at the tough part that isn't good eating. You can then either leave the asparagus stalks whole or cut into pieces or diagonally. To cook, heat to boiling in about half an inch of water in a large skillet. Reduce to medium and cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetable is tender crisp. This is just the basic method of cooking asparagus. Canned asparagus is also easily prepared in a variety of casseroles and other family recipes. There are many very wonderful recipes to try using asparagus; here are a few. Enjoy!
Cheesy Asparagus Casserole
2 tbsp butter
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Add soup and cheese; cook until cheese melts and mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Layer half each egg slices, asparagus spears, and cheese sauce in a lightly greased 10x6x2 inch baking dish; repeat layers. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes. Serves 8.
Asparagus with Lemon Sauce
1 ½ lbs fresh asparagus spears
Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Cook, covered, in a small amount of boiling water until crisp but tender. Arrange in a serving dish. Combine egg, butter, sugar, and cornstarch in top of double boiler; bring water to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until thickened. Add lemon juice; cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour over asparagus and sprinkle with lemon rind. Serves 4.
Sunday, April 20 2008
When you think of Mexican food, do tacos come naturally to your mind? Well, Mexican cooking includes much more than fast food. There are many different varieties of Mexican cooking that have been influenced by other areas of the world such as Southwestern and Tex Mex and California Mexican styles.
If you are going to begin cooking Mexican foods, you should be sure that you have all of the ingredients needed to cook them. Mexican foods use special ingredients. The more common ingredients include corn, peanuts, avocados, cacao (chocolate), shrimp, tomatillos, tomatoes, potatoes and beans. Some of the more specialized ingredients are:
Cilantro, (also called Chinese parsley) is the name given to the leaves of the coriander plant (Coriandrum sativum). It used to be difficult to obtain but cilantro is now available in nearly every grocery store. It is best when used fresh. Usually, the leaves are torn off from the stems for guacamole or salsa.
This is a dried corn grain that is cooked with lime and ground into a paste. This paste is then dehydrated into flour. Mexican tortillas are made from this flour. You do not need to make tortillas from scratch, however, because they are widely available in supermarkets. Although many cooks believe that making fresh corn and flour tortillas is a rewarding part of Mexican cooking, many people prefer store-bought tortillas because it is much easier than using a long process of pressing each tortilla individually.
Ancho Chiles are dried Poblano Chiles and are used in chili or marinades. Another type of Chile is Guajillo Chiles. It's a bit spicier, and best used in soups or stews.
Common Mexican dishes also vary according to region and family influences. There are many Mexican dishes that can be cooked easily by a novice chef. Many of these may be familiar to you from the many Mexican restaurants that abound.
The "salsas" (or sauces) in Mexican cooking are very common. It seems that no two salsas are made the same because each has been influenced by previous generations in a family. Pico de gallo is a cold salsa that contains chopped fresh chiles, tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
A Chile pepper is filled with pork, beef, cheese, or other fillings, which are dipped in beaten egg and fried. They are served in a thin tomato broth.
A flour or corn tortilla filled with cheese (often a Mexican-style soft farmer's cheese such as Queso Fresco), beef, chicken, or pork.
The Chalup is a corn tortilla, fried into the shape of a bowl shape and then stuffed with shredded chicken, pork , beef or beans. It is normally topped with guacamole and salsa.
Enchiladas are made with corn tortillas that are filled with meat, and cheese, and rolled (or stacked), and covered with chile sauce and cheese.
The Taco is a corn tortilla fried into a curve that holds cheese, meats, cheeses or beans covered with chopped onions, chopped lettuce and a salsa. A "soft" taco is made of flour tortillas rather than corn and was made popular by the American fast food "Mexican" restaurants.
Give Mexican cooking a try. You may find yourself cooking it more and more often as your family asks for it.
Friday, April 18 2008
A lot of people make convenience foods when they eat because that's all they're comfortable with. It seems to be the simplest thing to do. But all those convenience foods typically come with the price of added sodium and fat. They just aren't as good for you as cooking for yourself.
If you don't cook regularly, it sounds pretty intimidating. Lots of people think they can't cook because they haven't done much at all in the kitchen. But some basic ingredients work with most foods: Olive oil, lemon, garlic and pepper.
Salt can help too, of course, but you don't want to overdo it. Most people get more than enough salt in their diets anyhow. And if you don't like garlic, you probably aren't going to use it.
I always say to use olive oil because it is one of the healthiest oils out there, and it has a very light flavor. It's not going to overpower your meal.
Most vegetables you don't even have to do that much, although the flavors really come out with a little seasoning. The quickest way to prepare any vegetable is to boil it until just tender. Do not boil into mush - that's the mistake too many people make. Boiling too long ruins the flavor and much of the nutritional value.
But there's much more you can do to a vegetable than just boil it.
They do well in the oven. Stir fried. Steamed. Grilled. Each method brings out a slightly different flavor, and if you drizzle a little olive oil on and sprinkle a little crushed garlic or pepper on, you have a nice, simple flavor.
You can do similar things with meats. The acid in the lemon juice can help to tenderize it just a touch, or you can mix up a marinade. My basic marinade is a mixture of olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and whatever seasonings appeal. The beauty of it is that many cuts of meat love it if you leave them soaking in the marinade for hours, so you can cook when it's convenient. Say... first thing in the morning before you head out to work.
Or if you want a very simple marinade, soak the meat in Italian salad dressing. Very simple and flavorful. Italian dressing goes very well with chicken.
Simple meals have an appeal all their own. It's not just that you're saving yourself a lot of stress trying to keep up with 4 pots on the stove top and another dish in the oven. Simple flavors can really work well together.
Thursday, April 17 2008
All cooks learn tricks and techniques in the kitchen to create cooking shortcuts or to enhance a finished product. Here are some tips to make food preparation more efficient and enjoyable.
Garlic: Garlic tends to burn easily so it is advisable to add it last when you sauté it with onion or other vegetables. To peel a large quantity of garlic easily, you can bake the whole bulb in the oven at 300F until the individual cloves start to open. Garlic will make yeast less active so use caution when adding it to bread recipes.
Spinach: When cooking fresh spinach, wash it thoroughly and then place it in a skillet on medium heat and stir gently until wilted. The water on the leaves from washing is enough to cook it. Serve with butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Basil: Basil will quickly spoil if refrigerated. Store it at room temperature by placing the basil in a glass with only the stems in the water, just like you would a bouquet of flowers.
Soy Sauce: Soy sauce can be used to flavor and color gravy. Just add a couple of teaspoons in place of the salt when preparing your gravy.
Mashed Potatoes: To make mashed potatoes fluffy, add a pinch of baking soda along with the milk and butter.
Hot Peppers: Wear disposable rubber gloves when dicing hot chili peppers to protect your hands from burning. And be very careful not to get any juice near your eyes. If you are cooking a dish that calls for hot peppers and want to make it milder, remove the seeds since they contain the most heat.
Fish: Soak frozen fish in milk before cooking to get rid of the fishy taste.
Zest: Recipes sometimes call for zest which is the finely grated rind of lemon or other citrus fruit. For convenience, store the skins of lemons and other citrus fruits in the freezer for when you need to add zest to a recipe.
Cheese: If there is mold on the outside of cheese, just cut off the moldy portion before using. Cheese can be frozen although the texture will be different after freezing. In that case, it is excellent melted.
Homemade Soup: Soup can be thickened by blending a portion in your blender and adding it back to the pot. Soup will be more flavorful if you sauté the vegetables such as onion, celery and carrot in olive oil before adding the stock and other ingredients. When you have small amounts of leftover veggies, gravy, meat and pasta save them in your freezer to add to homemade soup.
Browning Meat: Dry meat well with paper towel before cooking to help it brown better.
Herbs and Seasonings: When using your slow cooker or cooking any dish for a long period of time, add fresh herbs about an hour before the end of the cooking time. Dry herbs and spices can be added at the beginning. Be cautious when using seasonings because flavors will become more concentrated during the cooking process, and you can always add more if necessary. When cooking beans, always add salt at the end or they will be tough.
Pasta: Cooked pasta should not be rinsed unless it is being used in a cold dish.
Rice: When you are too busy to pay attention to rice cooking on the stove, cook it in the oven instead. Use the same proportions: 1 cup of rice for 2 cups of water; place in a covered casserole dish and bake for 45min-1 hour at 350F.
Hopefully, these tips will be helpful and add to your cooking enjoyment.
Wednesday, April 16 2008
The hypnotizing experience of wine or beer after meals is hard to be described in words, by making the right choice about the drink you can enhance your pleasure of drinking by leaps and bounds.
Most people associate wine with food than the beer, as beer is often thought of to have less value, as most of it is inexpensive, while the perception is different for wine. And many bar accessory manufacturers and owners of home bar accessories stores would vouch for the generally held view. While, this may perhaps be true in some parts of the world, all beer might not be thought of as something that's not as fine as wine.
Wine: A couple of surveys were conducted and it was found that many people opted for wine after food, perhaps because of the perception associated with it, or simply the love of the drink. Whatever the reason wine was thought to be perfect to go along with meals. So the beer seemed to have taken a hit.
Wine Glasses: It does rid the mind of effort when we decide for wine over beer and settle down with the decision, but this simply is an illusion. Once it's known which drink's to be devoured, the importance of wine accessories kick in.
The Stem: Though often neglected, it's the stem of wineglasses that holds the key to the taste. In case you choose to hold the bowl and not the stem, you run the risk of ruining its taste by passing on the body heat in to the drink. White, red or any other kind of wine begs to be held from the stem.
The Shape: It's now a well established fact, that for the most part it's the aroma that leads to and enhances the taste of wines. Just as there are different kinds of the drink so are the glasses that go hand in hand with them, a slight mismatch and you risk losing out on pleasure.
Meant for red wines the Bordoux glass is tall with a wide bowl and directs the drink to the back of the mouth. Cabernet and Merlot are two of the most suited wines for the design. Then there's the Burgundy glass that has a wider bowl to accumulate the aromas, it's great for wines such as the Pinot Noir.
Narrowness is the prime characteristic of white wineglasses, while not as slim as the champagne flutes, they feature straighter sides. Their slender design and the longer stem, both aid in keeping the wines cool.
Finer Points: Still finer intricacy of wine drinking entails not filling up the glass to the brim, rather keeping it till the broadest part of the glasses' anatomy. This allows for the aroma to concentrate at the top thus intensely appealing to the nostrils and augmenting the flavor manifold. Large glasses are often associated with fun and are simply great for red wines, whereas the smaller ones let you appreciate the finer nuances of fine wines.
Beer: Perceptually, beer might be thought of as not matching up to the finer standards of wine. However, there isn't much of a difference between the two, as both comprise alcohol. Moreover, the distinction further fades away when you make beer from quality ingredients just like you do with the wines. Additionally, if you make a wine out of low quality constituents it too might turn out to be bad.
Consider the case of craft beer, it can very well be compared to a good wine. And even the people who took the surveys didn't show much difference in their preferences when they were presented with superior beers. Similarly, exotic beers from places other than North America too present the consumer with an awesome experience, such as the Belgian sour beers with fruit added.
Beer Glasses: If you thought of beers of not being as fine as wines and that the glass you drink it in doesn't matter, then you bet you were dead wrong. Principles similar to that of drinking wine apply to beers as well. Enriching the drink's flavor by preserving the temperature and directing a deluge of ethereal aromas through to your nostrils are the two paramount considerations.
Wheat beer glasses comprising varieties such as the Pint glasses, Pilsner glasses, Beer steins are narrow in the middle and progressively broader at the top to hold rich froth and also to captivate aromas to enable a spellbinding olfaction.
While the Pints come with conical, jug and flared tops the Pilsners are created for effervescence and clarity. Flute glasses, Goblet, Snifters, Tulip glass, Stange & Becher and more types of beer glasses are all meant to squeeze out the daintiness of beers, whether common or exotic.
Finer Points: When it about beers, not just the glassware but the serving temperature and how you fill up the vessel also matter. When pouring beer it's important not to tilt the glass, rather the key is to pour it in two to three takes, and after each take wait a while till the drink settles down. This also helps to make the experience less harsh and smoother. While the chill is good, frozen beer means all you money goes down the drain as you wont get any benefit from the aromas, so mush essential to the flavor.
Wine and beer, both being alcohol, may have the benefits associated with the compound. Moderate alcohol consumption has been correlated with less risk of cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.
Surveys and tips 'n' tricks aside, what you order after meals, perhaps depends a lot on the quality of the drink. Whether it's wine or beer, your personal preferences too rule the roost. If you're confused because there are too many options, then it might be quite fruitful to seek the advice of a sommelier as they are the experts and might give you al lot more insight about the quality of the drinks that would go along with different cuisine. Whether wine or beer, to enjoy the experience is the key and if you've made the choice after giving it a thought, the pleasure of wine or beer drinking will prevail throughout the spell and afterwards.
Tuesday, April 15 2008
Here is a recipe that stands out above all other tilapia fish recipes. It is easy to prepare, and tastes delicious. The sweet flavor of the coconut and nice crunch of the macadamia nuts really gives the tilapia fish a family pleasing taste. You could also use other mild fish in place of the Tilapia.
My family doesn't typically like fish. But, when I found a good price on tilapia fish at my local supermarket, I couldn't pass it up. I did a little experimenting in the kitchen and came up with this recipe that I thought might go over well. When I served it, they all loved it. This is now my favorite of all my tilapia fish recipes. My husband who doesn't even like fish even requests it once in a while!
Simple Caribbean Tilapia Fish
4-6 Tilipia fish fillets (fresh or thawed ok)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
1 (8oz) can pineapple tidbits
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease lightly. (Or spray with cooking spray)
Place butter in large bowl and add tilapia fish- toss fish to coat; set aside. Combine macadamia nuts, coconut and breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Place fish in nut mixture and coat evenly. Place fish on baking sheet without overlapping.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or just until fish is opaque throughout. Serve with pineapple tidbits. (Or if you would like to spend more time- make your own pineapple mango dressing)
I hope you enjoy this great tilapia fish recipe. This is a great recipe for get your family to eat more fish.
Kathy Bloom enjoys spending time in the kitchen developing dishes to delight her family and friends. She has many simple recipes that she is proud to share with you
Monday, April 14 2008
You invest a lot of time and money into the steaks for a special occasion and when dinner time comes, they are tough. What happened? How can you cook steaks as tender as your favorite restaurant?
The first step to cooking a good steak is to choose the right grade of steak. Here are the grades for beef used in the United States.
USDA Prime - The top quality beef is graded USDA Prime and commands top prices. USDA Prime grade meats are sold to the restaurant industry and specialty markets and are not as likely to be found at your local grocery chain.
USDA Choice - The next grade of beef is USDA Choice. USDA Choice is tender, flavorful and only slightly lower in quality than USDA Prime. The meat is well marbled with fat and will be tender and juicy when properly prepared. USDA Choice makes up about 70% of all graded beef and is readily available in your supermarket.
USDA Good - USDA Good graded beef is an acceptable grade of beef that has only minimal marbling of fat. It is leaner, and will not be as tender as USDA Prime or Choice.
Next, look at the color and texture of the meat. A good steak should be firm to the touch, moist, and bright in color. It should be well marbled with thin streaks of white fat throughout and a thin crust of steak on the outside. In our fat conscious society, we tend to look for lean cuts of meat, but the thin streaks of white fat marbled throughout the meat are the key to a tender juicy steak.
The most tender and juicy steaks come from the sirloin, the short loin, and the rib. These steaks include the sirloin steaks, porterhouse steaks, t-bone steaks, rib steaks, delmonico steaks, and the filet mignons. Steaks containing bone will weigh more than those without, but the bone adds flavor to the steak.
Aging is a desirable process that intensifies the flavors and makes the meat more tender. Aged steaks are more expensive and usually only found in high end supermarkets and specialty markets. An aged steak is recognizable by its darker color.
The first step to a tender juicy steak is choosing the right cut of meat. I hope that these tips will help you next time you decide to invest in a nice steak. Choose the best cut of meat available and look for the thin marbling of fat that indicates a tender steak. If you cannot find or afford the better cuts, then investigate marinating the meat to increase tenderness.
Friday, April 11 2008
What is Barbecuing?
If you're reading this, then it's pretty safe to assume that you are interested in learning how to prepare a killer barbecue meal without pulling your hair out of your head.
First lets get somethings straight because there are at time misconceptions about the term 'barbecue'. A lot of people associates barbecuing with anything cooked on the grill. This however is not so and there is a difference between barbecuing and grilling. Unlike grilling when barbecuing the meat is not applied directly to the heat but is rather on a low temperature heat to achieve maximum results.
What should also be understood is that barbecue is not a dish but rather a method of cooking.
A process whereby a large cut of tough meat is cooked by the smoke of a hardwood fire at low temperatures (210 degrees or less) for a long period of time, with doneness determined by the meat's tenderness. Chris Schlesinger, Foreword to Smoke and Spice
Though barbecuing is normally associated hardwood fire or charcoal it is also common to barbecue on a standard grill. As a matter of fact there are some techniques that can be used to achieve some pretty admirable results with a standard grill. There are a lot of people who thinks that the stuff cooked in the oven or Crockpot soaking in a barbecue sauce is a form of barbecuing, however it is just plain old baked or stewed meat. It bears no resemblance to real BBQ whatsoever, so don't kid yourself.
In the process of barbecuing, the temperature is normally at about 225-250 degrees, and this very slow magical process breaks down the connective tissues of the meat and turns tough cuts into the most delicious tender food on earth. Just imagine that bite of that tender pork chop, my my.....
The exterior of the meat caramelizes, which produces an intensely flavorful crust or, as we like to say in BBQ circles, "bark." (If "caramel" implies sugar to you, you're exactly right. All meats contain natural sugars that darken, or "caramelize," when heated, and that's what makes up your BBQ's bark.) Since the meat cooks in low indirect heat, very little of the natural juices in the meat boil off. Your BBQ is therefore tender and juicy, pink in color, and smoky in flavor.
If you have tried to prepare a barbecue meal and it didn't work out for you don't give up. All you need is a step by step guide to show in detail what to do: from choosing the right meat cuts down to the seasoning(dry or wet) to storm up that tender juicy meal.
Tuesday, April 08 2008
How about wine food pairing all in one bowl?
In the dog days of summer, when the heat and humidity rise, what better way to lift the spirits of your friends and neighbors than an impromptu party to cool off a bit? One of my very favorite hot weather treats is a cold champagne soup with diced ripe mangoes. Truly decadent! Fortunately, we have a mango tree in the neighborhood that supplies the whole street with sweet, Florida mangoes.
I like to use Freixenet's Cordon Negro Brut. It is a crisp, dry sparkling wine that has a soft, smooth flavor and pairs beautifully with the juiciness of the sweet ripe mango. The Freixenet also works great with ripe, full flavored peaches as the fruit addition. Serve this wonderful soup into cut crystal bowls and it will knock your guest's socks off! YIKES!!
Pair the soup with warm from the oven croissants and fresh creamery butter, what could be better. Many times I cheat with the croissants and use the dough from the tube and just pop them in the oven as the guests arrive . The best part is they only take a few minutes to bake. Cloth napkins seem to add a touch of richness, after all we want this to be a special treat, and add fresh cut flowers as a centerpiece. Your guests will think you spent hours on preparation. I won't tell!
How about dessert? Summertime always offers up such terrific bounty when it comes to fruit and berries. Big, juicy strawberries dipped into a melted healthy dark chocolate are always a winner. Be sure to melt your chocolate carefully in a water bath. Perhaps you are even lucky enough to have one of those new chocolate fountains, they work great, too. I always leave the stem on for added color and it also makes a great handle on the berry to keep your fingers from getting burned! Let the berry cool off on waxed paper and then present them to your guests on your favorite platter. This is a super, make ahead, dessert that can be done a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
You definitely want to pair chocolate with a red wine. For the dark chocolate dipped strawberries try a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot from Concha y Toro. This Chilean wine is bold enough to stand up to the dark chocolate and bring out the best in both the wine and the dessert. YUM!
Now as your party starts to wind down, you'll want to offer your guests a cup of coffee. The Austrians invented a coffee beverage called a mélange. This drink is served throughout Austria in all the coffee houses and is a fifty-fifty mix of coffee and milk with a foamy top. Traditionally, they serve this with a glass of sparkling mineral water on the side. Add sliced lemons on the table for those that like a bit of citrus with their water and you have a delightful end to a wonderful party. Remember to get out all your fancy glasses and crystal, they don't even have to match to make it festive! Garage sales are a terrific resource for items like this.
Wine Food Pairing is not difficult. With just a bit of pre-planning you can show your guests what a terrific host/hostess you are and enjoy the party right along with your friends! CHEERS!
Monday, April 07 2008
Everyone loves a barbecue, including vegetarians. Barbecues (BBQs, barbies or braais depending on where in the world you are) are almost perfect social gatherings, where you and your favourite people hang out in the fresh air, shoot the breeze and prepare to eat delicious food. Any occasion can be celebrated with a BBQ:
• Major (or minor) sports events
• Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, home comings, going away etc
• The fact that it's Friday or Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday ...
BBQ aficionados develop specialised techniques that they swear by, and won't deviate from, under any circumstances. Some incorporate marinades or spice cocktails, others will only use wood, or only charcoal, while others combine the two. Wood users can be further subdivided by the wood they choose. Hickory, maple, apple, cherry and oak are favourites as they add to the flavour of the food cooked. Conifers also contribute to the flavour, but in an undesirable way and are generally avoided.
Outside gas grills or barbecues are used quite frequently in the UK and US, but tend to be shunned by Southern Hemisphere countries (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa). They're viewed as too easy and clean, and they don't impart the full smoky flavour that is the essence of a good braai.
The phrase, "You don't know what you're missing", is one that vegetarians hear all too often when it comes to outdoor cooking. Meat eaters think that they own the BBQ market and pity those who can't appreciate a good piece of meat fresh from the barbie. In fact, people dread inviting vegetarians to a BBQ because they don't know how to feed them. Vegetarians, meanwhile, roll their eyes and quietly go about sorting themselves out.
The truth is that you can cook anything on fire. Vegetable skewers, made from aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms and sweet peppers, are easy to make, and taste divine when barbecued. Instead of roasting veggies, take the same mix, wrap it in tinfoil and stick it on a fire for 40 minutes and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Even brussel sprouts, that much maligned vegetable, get a new, smoky twist that make them out of this world edible.
Experiment with marinades and spices that can be applied to vegetables as well as meats. When it comes to vegetarian barbies, your imagination is your only limit, and if you're truly stuck, try some old standbys: stick a corn cob and a couple of potatoes (sweet as well as regular) on the grill. Your veggie guests will appreciate the effort.
Braais needn't only be reserved for main meals and savoury dishes. Grilled pineapple and brown sugar is delicious, so is BBQ'd banana, you can even leave them in their skins. Serve with a little ice-cream and you're laughing. What could be easier?
For fun in the sun (and rain) you can't beat a good barbie. So raid the fridge, light a fire and tap into the good life.
Friday, April 04 2008
Have you ever eaten dry turkey or chicken? Don't even answer that. I know already. The problem with roasting whole turkeys and chickens is that the various parts aren't ready to take out of the oven at the same time. By the time the dark meat of the bird is beautifully cooked, the breast is overcooked and dried out.
There are a number of ways to avoid this unfortunate culinary result. However, this article assumes that you have already overcooked your bird. Of course, you can't uncook it. What are your options? You can serve the bird, smile sweetly and let everyone choke it down. I have done this on a number of occasions, but I don't recommend it. You can make extra gravy. This is certainly helpful. However, there is another option that will improve your meal much more.
Carve the overdone turkey or chicken into slices as you would for serving. Place them in a casserole dish. In a sauce pan, combine the pan drippings with one to two cans of chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over the sliced poultry in the casserole. Cover the casserole with foil and heat in the oven for about five minutes. This will moisten the meat significantly. At this point, you can place the slices on a serving platter and pretend you roasted it perfectly in the first place.
You can try this technique on a beef roast as well. Use beef broth instead of chicken broth. The result is not as dramatic with beef as it is with turkey or chicken, but it can improve the meat.
For pork, I use chicken broth, but that is a matter of taste. Try different broths; even vegetable broth.
Thursday, April 03 2008
I have a great family recipe for Lasagna that my Mother used to make. The women in our family have been making this wonderful dish for a very long time and it's delicious! This recipe is very versatile and works great with salad and garlic bread. This dish is great for special dinners, birthday celebrations, or even lunch time for the kids.
You can substitute any of the ingredients in the recipe with low fat, fat free or organic products. The serving size is 4-6 and cottage cheese is used in the recipe to add a rich creamy flavor and texture. It is the best Lasagna dish I've tried to date and I think will be a new favorite for you as well. It's a family favorite and sure to please everyone!
*1 box Lasagna noodles
*1-2 lbs. of hamburger meat
*1 large curd of cottage cheese
*1 bag each of shredded cheese or you can 1 pack each of cheese slices (mozzarella, cheddar & pepper jack)
*2 jars of pasta sauce of your choice (Hunts traditional is what we use)
*Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
*Boil lasagna noodles until soft for about 25-30 min.
*Brown 1-2 lbs. hamburger meat seasoning with rosemary, oregano, thyme, garlic (or you can use
*Once the hamburger meat is browned, drain the meat in a paper towel thoroughly
*Once the noodles have been cooked, drain the noodles in a paper towel thoroughly
*When the noodles and hamburger meat have been cooked and drained, spray a cooking dish with olive oil or Pam spray
*Start making the lasagna dish by layering in this order (hamburger meat, pasta sauce, shredded cheese and cottage cheese)
*Repeat until you get to the top layer (it should start to look like a lasagna dish now)
*Then add the final layer and place the dish in the oven for 45min - 1 hr depending on your oven
Let the dish cool for about 10 min. before eating and enjoy!
Wednesday, April 02 2008
Things to Consider when Planning a Dinner Party
Most successful dinner parties are planned well in advance. By doing so you will not only relieve yourself of unnecessary stress but you will guarantee that the night goes perfectly smooth and that you are there to enjoy the evening as much as your guests. The following are some items you will want to consider and plan well before the night of your next dinner party.
* Send invites with occasion, theme (if any), time, address and an rsvp contact.
* Confirm attendees.
* Include other items on your shopping list that you may also need, i.e. coffee, tea, mixers, alcohol, wine, candles etc.
* Polish all the cutlery.
* Check the glassware and wash and polish if need be.
* Check your crockery. Do you have enough? Is it chipped?
* Choose your table settings if any.
* Do you have enough chairs?
* Set the table for a test as you will on the day.
* Choose the music for the dinner? Play list or CD's?
* Organise candles or lighting for the evening. Do not underestimate the music and lighting, a dinner party is about all the senses not just the ones on your tongue.
* Tidy up.
* Know the number for your local taxi, or make up a spare bed or two in case some of your guests are unable to drive.
* Match wines to your menu.
* Are there any dietary requirements your guests may have? Celiac, Vegetarian, Allergies etc.
* Chill the wine.
With all of these tasks out of the way you can get back to focusing on the food you will be serving. The key to success on the food front is to plan, plan, plan and plan, and by that I simply mean the following 4 items:
Write out Your Menu
Write a Shopping List
Write a Prep List
Write a Running Order
Below is a sample menu, prep list and running order are for a dinner party, I have not included a shopping list as that is pretty self explanatory. Let's assume in this case the guests are arriving at 7:00 pm and dinner will be served at 7:40 pm.
Canapés:Asparagus and Prosciutto Bites with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
* Reduce Balsamic
2 Days Out
* Lemon vinaigrette
* Chilli lime & gin marinade
* Prepare spiced cashews
1 Day Out
* Order oysters, salmon & crab
* Blanch Asparagus
* Cut Prosciutto
* Beurre blanc prep
* Amaretto Mascarpone
On The Day
* Set the table in the morning, (that way you get this task out of the way early while you still have time).
* Pick up seafood
* Pick crab
* Clean salmon fillets if needed
* Clean oysters if needed (check for bits of shell)
* Pick spinach
* Dice avocado
* Cut baby herbs
* Wrap Salmon
* Halve peaches (leave them out of fridge now, to allow them to come to room temperature).
* Assemble asparagus bites
* Top oysters with marinade
* Sear Salmon
* Make reduction for beurre blanc
* Tray up canapés
* Clean up canapé mess
* Line up first course plates
* Serve drinks
* Dress asparagus with balsamic syrup
* Serve canapés
* Assemble crab stacks on first course plates (do not put herbs on yet)
* Preheat oven to 180
* Remove mascarpone from fridge to allow it to come to room temperature.
* Dress crab stack with a little vinaigrette
* Drizzle a little dressing around stack
* Top crab stack with dressed herbs
* Bring plates to the table
* Seat guests
* Clear first course
* Cook salmon in oven 5-10 minutes, depending on thickness.
* Prepare beurre blanc
* Line up main course plates
* Remove salmon and allow to rest
* Blanche spinach
* Plate up
* Clear Main course plates
* Grill peaches
* Finish peaches in oven
* Line up dessert plates
* Serve dessert
* Relax you've done well!!
Tuesday, April 01 2008
Wine and food should be paired together to bring out the best qualities of both the wine and food. However if a food and wine are paired incorrectly it will create a very unfavorable quality in either the food or wine. Different unfavorable qualities could include but are not limited to bitterness, overly sweet, overly alcohol flavored or metallic.
There are ways to help avoid an incorrect food and wine pairing. Anytime you pair a food and wine together they should contain similar characteristics. For instance a flavorful red wine would be well paired with a thick flavorful porter because both have very strong flavors. You should avoid mixing and pairing food and wines that have dissimilar characteristics. For instance pairing a sweet wine with a steak would create a much undesired effect. Food and wine pairings that are of dissimilar characteristics will cause the meal and wine both to be an unjoyess experience.
Wine can add a brand new element to a dish if paired properly. If you were to take a butter and garlic sauce and pour it over chicken and have that with a glass of any wine that has a citrus taste to it would accent and highlight the flavor of the herb with citrus creating an absolutely delightful meal. Always when pairing wine and food try to find a way to mesh the individual flavors together and make a dish that compliments the wine or vice versa.
Don't forget a few general rules before you go off and start prepping new meals for your wines. Combine wines that have a high alcohol flavor with dishes like barbequed meats and other dishes that have a high flavor range. If a wine is paired with a dish that has a light flavor or taste then the wine will over power the dish and at that point your dinner may as well had been the glass of wine because that’s all you'll taste. Wines high in tannin are paired well with foods high in protein or salt content but would not go well with spicy or sweet foods. When choosing a dessert wine try to avoid mixing a very sweet wine with a very sweet food as it will ruin the experience. Rather pair a mildly sweet wine with a moderate sweet dessert or vice versa to avoid over sweetening your taste buds.
Always remember your taste buds when choosing what to eat and drink in a food and wine pairing. When you sit down to take a sip of wine or bite of food it’s your taste buds that will either be in heaven or hell not mine. So just remember while taking advice is helpful if there is a wine you hate then don't drink it try something else. Make sure to smell and taste the wine and learn about different wines on your own as this will help you figure out better food and wine pairings.