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Tuesday, September 30 2008

If the pilgrims of the Mayflower could see us today, I think they would be proud of their descendants. Thanksgiving is a time of family and food, two things to be thankful for, even in the modern world. Even though making a good dinner is only a small part of this important holiday, it is big part of the fun. Usually most families meet at one of their relative's house, make a turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, greens, finishing it off with pumpkin pie. This is the menu that everyone expects. However, why not surprise your family this year with something of a hint of that traditional meal, but with a modern and interesting twist.

Let's start with a traditional desert (since it is always fun to start off with something sweet), and make it into an interesting addition to your holiday extravaganza. How does Banana Sour Cream Bread sound? Banana bread is one of those American classics that seem to make an appearance at every holiday, every bake sale, and every social event. Its popularity makes it a great place to start your experimenting. Banana sour cream bread uses all the same ingredients as banana bread, so you can use your own favorite recipe, plus one container of sour cream. This gives your banana bread an extra kick of flavor, with a very moist and savory texture. To make it even more delicious, line your pan with a dusting of sugar and cinnamon, giving it a fairy-like sheen as it comes out of the oven.

Now, you are going to need to wash down this savory desert with a homemade drink (because even the drinks need to be home-style on Thanksgiving Day). Why not use your cranberries for a better purpose than cranberry sauce? Making a cranberry punch will accentuate your other dishes without overpowering your cooking delights. My favorite recipe for cranberry punch uses cranberry, white grape, and pineapple juice, plus ginger ale, and a pint of orange sherbet ice cream. The ice cream gives the punch a little more thickness and mass to keep them coming back for more, while the ginger ale gives it the bubbles and fun all punches deserve.

And finally, the turkey. The turkey is not only the main dish; it is the center piece of the table. Try baking your turkey with a cornbread dressing. Cornbread is as traditionally American as anything else. To make this dressing, bake your turkey, and when you take it out of the oven, smother it with butter. After it cools, take your favorite cornbread recipe and paint the turkey with as thin or thick of cornbread batter as you desire. Your family is guaranteed to love it.

If you would like more information on preparing your Thanksgiving meal, or would just like most information on cooking in general, visit http://www.cdkitchen.com/ today!

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 29 2008

Gourmet cooking is a style of food preparation that deals with the finest and freshest possible ingredients. This means that to enjoy authentic gourmet food you must prepare your food immediately after purchasing the fresh ingredients that will comprise your meals. Not only do you want to purchase the freshest ingredients when cooking gourmet meals but you also want to insure that you are purchasing ingredients of superior quality.

Those who excel at gourmet cooking and food preparation have many options available to them. From catering to opening up their own restaurant these talented individuals who are entrepreneurial in spirit often do quite well in the world of business if their talent is sufficient.

When it comes to cooking gourmet food the two rules mentioned above are the only hard and fast rules. Everything else is purely a matter of adventure and taste. Now this doesn't mean that any and everyone can become a gourmet cook simply by going out and purchasing the finest and freshest of ingredients and throwing them into a pot. There is some degree of art involved when it comes to gourmet cooking and a large degree of skill that is necessary in order to achieve these culinary masterpieces.

You should also understand and be prepared to discover that fresh ingredients are not always available so there are times when compromises must be made when cooking gourmet meals. For this reason you capitalize on what is in season and plan your meals accordingly whenever possible. One important quality when it comes to cooking gourmet food is the layering of flavors. You should be able to taste the meat or seafood as well as the vegetables, herbs, and spices that comprise your skillfully prepared meal.

You should not however rely on taste or aroma alone when cooking gourmet foods. As I mentioned above gourmet cooking is a large degree skill but there is some degree of art involved. For this reason, presentation is a key component of the gourmet dining experience. Through a few freshly chopped herbs on the plate before placing the food or top the food with appealing and aromatic herbs that will compliment the flavor of the meal you have prepared. Present the fruits and vegetable sides in a visually appealing fashion rather than simply tossing them onto a plate.

With proper presentation even foods that were simple to prepare can take on the flavor of a gourmet feast. This is something you should keep in mind whether your cooking plans for the evening involve the gourmet or the every day. The thing about gourmet cooking is that it is to some degree more art than science. This means that there is always room to improve your skills and stretch your limits as a cook. There will always be the next great challenge or the 'what if' when it comes to flavor combinations.

In fact, some of the greatest foods began with someone asking, "What would happen if I added this?" Always ask what if and always seek to improve your skills. The good news if this is an avenue you wish to pursue is that there are often gourmet cooking classes offered at gourmet food shops in your area. Some colleges or local community programs will also offer these sorts of classes for a few if you are interested. This means that there are almost always opportunities to broaden your experiences with gourmet cooking and expand your horizons.

Whether this is your first time considering gourmet cooking or you are an old pro, keep in mind that skills can be learned over time with the proper motivation and an open and honest desire to learn. If you want to learn more about gourmet cooking there is really nothing to stop you from doing so other than yourself. The Internet, your local library, and many bookstores across the country have countless volumes of information that can help you get started on your journey to gourmet cooking bliss.

For more information all about cheese and everything you want to know about it please visit our site http://www.kitchencheese.com

Darso Rhadika the owner site How To Lower Blood Pressure With Wine And Cheese and write article for http://spicyfoodresources.blogspot.com

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:16 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 25 2008

Recreating your favorite restaurant foods at home can be both fun and cost-effective. Cooking Mexican meals are a great fun and if you have a taste for spicy and flavorful then making Mexican at home might be the perfect adventure for you.

Why not try recreating your favorite Mexican meal today? Everything from tacos to quesadillas, enchiladas to burritos can all be made from home. A favorite Mexican treat of homemade guacamole or salsa can also be created from scratch and they are extra yummy.

Next time you're at your local Mexican restaurant take into account what items you truly enjoy, make a mental note of what ingredients those items include so that you can purchase those foods at the store to create the meal yourself. Or, you can go online and research for recipes for these dishes giving you a better idea of what ingredients you will need to make the meal. Next, make sure to add those ingredients to your grocery list for your next shopping trip. Finally, plan a time to make your meal and begin this great experiment.

Be sure to make note of which recipes turn out great and which you might need to find a few pointers on, before making it again. You might even want to talk to someone who works in your local restaurant so that you will have a better idea of how they do it. I'm sure they won't give you all their secrets, but they might give you a tip or two.

Mostly, re-creating your favorite meals, whether Mexican or other, it can often take a few tries before your dish lives up to the expectations you have from eating the same dish out at your local restaurant, but soon you'll realize hey, you can cook this too, and it taste just as good, maybe even better.

Recreating Mexican meals can also be fun for a family night or even a party with friends. It is the type of meal where everyone can get involved. Start out with chips and salsa, move on to building your own tacos, supplying all the ingredients and finish off with a make your own margarita bar. You could even try your hand at "frying ice cream", another favorite found on many menus at Mexican restaurants.

It truly can be a load of fun trying your hand at being a chef. Give it a try today.

Wendy Wood is the owner of Mommies Magazine and New England Mamma, two blogs bringing together moms that love just that, being a mom. Stop by and join in on the fun with other moms.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:20 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 23 2008

As this winter drags on, our spirits can be nourished by comfort foods. A great wine pairing with these dishes are the hearty and rustic reds of the Southern Rhone Valley in France.

The Rhone Valley in France stretches from the center of the eastern side of France to southern France. This valley is divided into two distinct wine regions, simply called the North and South. The Northern Rhone Valley lies just below the Burgundy region and has a cool climate. The grape vines are planted on steep slopes overlooking the Rhone River and has soil that is mainly granite and slate. The Southern Rhone Valley offers a stark contrast. The climate is warm to hot, and is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean Sea. Hot gusts of wind referred to as "Le Mistral," are prevalent and have two positive affects. These winds cool the grapes at night to help preserve the grapes acidity levels and dry the grapes on the vine, to reduce mold and mildew.

The Southern Rhone Valley is considerably larger than the Northern region and the vines tend to be planted on the valley floor. The Southern Rhone Valley's major wine appellations (called villages) include Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras and Gigondas. Of these, the most celebrated village is Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape's terrain is covered with softball-sized round limestone rocks that dominate the vineyard's landscape. These rocks help hold moisture in the soil and impart a limestone minerality that is the trademark of these wines.

The French use two general terms to describe a wine's style - "elegante" (wines of finesse and subtle flavor) and "savage" (wines that are bold, more in-your-face). Chateauneuf-du-Pape reds definitely fall into the second category, as these wines are dense, earthy, spicy and bold. With this style, they pair well with a hearty stew, game, grilled meats, heavier pasta dishes (Bolognese sauce for example) and peasant-style breads. Hard-aged cheddar and nutty Swiss Gruyere cheeses pair especially well with these wines.

Picks

Here are my Chateauneuf-du-Pape Value Wine Picks

(with suggested retail prices):

• Domaine du Grand Tinel - $22
• Domaine des Relagnes - $22
• Clos du Mont-Olivet - $30
• Cuvee du Vatican - $30
• Bosquet des Papes - $35
• Clos St. Jean - $37

Bill Garlough is a Level 1 Master Sommelier and an owner of My Chef Catering in Naperville, the winner of the U.S. Chamber's 2007 Small Business of the Year award. For more from Bill Garlough's Perfect Pairings visit My Chef. Bill can be reached at wineparings@mychef.com

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:42 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 23 2008

As this winter drags on, our spirits can be nourished by comfort foods. A great wine pairing with these dishes are the hearty and rustic reds of the Southern Rhone Valley in France.

The Rhone Valley in France stretches from the center of the eastern side of France to southern France. This valley is divided into two distinct wine regions, simply called the North and South. The Northern Rhone Valley lies just below the Burgundy region and has a cool climate. The grape vines are planted on steep slopes overlooking the Rhone River and has soil that is mainly granite and slate. The Southern Rhone Valley offers a stark contrast. The climate is warm to hot, and is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean Sea. Hot gusts of wind referred to as "Le Mistral," are prevalent and have two positive affects. These winds cool the grapes at night to help preserve the grapes acidity levels and dry the grapes on the vine, to reduce mold and mildew.

The Southern Rhone Valley is considerably larger than the Northern region and the vines tend to be planted on the valley floor. The Southern Rhone Valley's major wine appellations (called villages) include Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras and Gigondas. Of these, the most celebrated village is Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape's terrain is covered with softball-sized round limestone rocks that dominate the vineyard's landscape. These rocks help hold moisture in the soil and impart a limestone minerality that is the trademark of these wines.

The French use two general terms to describe a wine's style - "elegante" (wines of finesse and subtle flavor) and "savage" (wines that are bold, more in-your-face). Chateauneuf-du-Pape reds definitely fall into the second category, as these wines are dense, earthy, spicy and bold. With this style, they pair well with a hearty stew, game, grilled meats, heavier pasta dishes (Bolognese sauce for example) and peasant-style breads. Hard-aged cheddar and nutty Swiss Gruyere cheeses pair especially well with these wines.

Picks

Here are my Chateauneuf-du-Pape Value Wine Picks

(with suggested retail prices):

• Domaine du Grand Tinel - $22
• Domaine des Relagnes - $22
• Clos du Mont-Olivet - $30
• Cuvee du Vatican - $30
• Bosquet des Papes - $35
• Clos St. Jean - $37

Bill Garlough is a Level 1 Master Sommelier and an owner of My Chef Catering in Naperville, the winner of the U.S. Chamber's 2007 Small Business of the Year award. For more from Bill Garlough's Perfect Pairings visit My Chef. Bill can be reached at wineparings@mychef.com

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:42 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 22 2008

Need a quick, easy, healthy meal for your family? Here is a menu that has delicious fish ready in less than ten minutes in the microwave. Vegetable curry is a tasty vegetable dish ready in around twenty minutes. You can even throw together this simple Kansas cherry cobbler which only has to bake for thirty minutes. This meal will get you in and out of the kitchen quickly allowing time to spend with your family.

QUICK AND EASY MICROWAVE RED SNAPPER

4 red snapper fillets (may use haddock)
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 1/2 tsp dill weed

Cut fish into serving-size pieces; place in an ungreased shallow microwave safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Drain liquid. Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, mustard, and dill. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the mixture over the fish. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Pour remaining sauce over fish.

VEGETABLE CURRY

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 to 1/2 tsp curry powder depending on your taste
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 lb fresh grean beans, washed, trimmed and cut into pieces
1 lb yellow squash, cut into 3/4-in thick pieces

Heat oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook just until onions are softened. Add ginger, curry and salt. Cook for two minutes. Add tomatoes, stirring until they are coated with the spices. Add broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir beans into mixture and cook approximately 10 minutes until beans are just tender. Add squash to skillet, cover and simmer until squash is tender but still holds its shape, about 8 minutes.

KANSAS CHERRY COBBLER

1 stick butter
1 cup Equal Sugar-Lite
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 cups pitted cherries
1/2 cup Equal Sugar-Lite
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in an 8-inch square baking pan. Mix 1 cup Equal, flour, baking powder, salt and milk until smooth. Pour mixture over melted butter in pan. Pour cherries over top of batter. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Equal over the very top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

For more of Linda's recipes and diabetic information go to http://diabeticenjoyingfood.squarespace.com
Visit her vintage recipe blog at http://grandmasvintagerecipes.blogspot.com

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 19 2008

Beef stew is the perfect meal when you need something you don't have to "watch" constantly, when the weather is cool, or when you just have a longing for "meat and potatoes". This recipe is one from my vintage recipe collection. It was an old newspaper clipping I found in my mother's recipe box after she passed away. Give it a try. You have your meat, veggies, and bread all in one dish.

BASIC BEEF STEW

1/4 cup corn oil

2 lbs boneless lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion

5 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

6 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces

3 potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 (10-oz) pkg frozen peas

1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water

Flaky Biscuits (recipe follows)

In large saucepot, heat corn oil over medium heat. Add beef, half at a time; brown on all sides, turning frequently, about 5 minutes. Add onion; stir frequently for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in water and seasonings. Bring to boil; cover, reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Add vegetables; cover and cook 30 minutes or until beef and vegetables are tender. Restir cornstarch-water mixture; stir into stew. Stirring constantly, bring to boil over medium heat; boil 1 minute. Place biscuits on top of stew. Place uncovered in 450 degree oven 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned.

Serves 6.

Flaky Biscuit Topping: In mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups unsifted flour, 3 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt. Stir in 1/3 cup corn oil with fork or pastry cutter. Add 2/3 cup milk; mix until dough forms. Gently knead on lightly floured surface 15 to 20 times. Divide into 6 biscuits.

Enjoy!

Linda collects vintage recipes and shares them on her blog at http://grandmasvintagerecipes.blogspot.com For more of Linda's recipes and diabetic information go to her website at http://diabeticenjoyingfood.squarespace.com where she shares recipes and information with her fellow diabetics.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:22 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 18 2008

Avocados used to get a bad rap - they have fat. Yep, they sure do. But it is the kind we need in our diet. It is a monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower your LDL (lousy cholesterol). Avocados are also an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin B6 and have twice the potassium of bananas.

Avocados are versatile, but are also somewhat fragile. You can ripen them quickly by placing them in a brown bag for a couple of days. Once ripe, however, they bruise easily so do require a little bit of tender handling and should be eaten soon after they ripen.

There are many ways you can add avocado to your meal choices beyond guacamole. Not that I don't like guacamole, because I do and can't imagine a taco or fajita without it. As an example, avocado is now a standard ingredient in California Rolls as a Sushi selection.

Salads: A favorite in our house is a marinated avocado salad: Diced red onions, quartered Roma tomatoes, cubed avocado tossed with a 3:1 mix of oil (canola or olive) to rice wine vinegar. Serve on a bed of mixed greens. It is so light and refreshing.

Stuffed: Use the avocado as a serving dish. Fill an avocado half with chunks of crab or shrimp and a drizzle of 1000 Island dressing. Consider chicken or tuna salad as a filling also.

Breakfast: My favorite in-a-hurry breakfast is a slice of whole wheat and flax bread toasted. Top with slices of avocado, spread them like butter and a sprinkle of seasoning salt. It is just perfect - quick and filling.

Toppings: I put slices of avocado on top of chili or tortilla soup. With a dot of sour cream and a sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese it is the perfect finishing touch. It is also an excellent burger condiment. I make a turkey burger and mix salsa in with the meat. Grill, melt your favorite cheese and top with a slice or two of avocado.

Sandwiches: How about sliced avocado on a Club sandwich, or a BLT, or turkey, or roast beef? You get the idea. I also make a melt sandwich - slices of sourdough bread topped with sliced turkey or chicken (tuna salad is also wonderful), thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions. Top with sliced avocado and grated swiss (Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or Sharp Cheddar work well also). Pop under the broiler and serve open face. With some fresh fruit, this is a good for you and filling lunch.

Sweets: Yes, avocado is used in sweet, not just savory, recipes. I make avocado bread (like a zucchini bread) and you would never know. I have not tasted avocado pie but the reviews are always excellent. In South America, avocado shakes (avocado with milk and ice blended like a shake) it is a fairly traditional offering.

There is still no substitute for a bowl of guacamole with fresh tortilla chips. I would take it any day over sour cream dip. But the next time you have some avocados in the house consider some of these ideas for a special taste treat.

Judy Ferril is a freelance writer in Minneapolis. Are you a stranger in your own kitchen? Do you think eating healthy means no fun or flavor in your meals? Judy is the self-trained executive chef for the Ferril family and loves to share her passion for cooking and healthy foods with others. Join Judy Ferril at Baking With Lemons. What does baking and lemons have to do with fun, flavor, and health? Come see, stretch your imagination and enjoy new tastes and flavors at Baking with Lemons and Local Food Connections for fun and healthy local food options. Judy Ferril

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 17 2008

Charleston she crab soup is considered to be the signature dish of Charleston South Carolina, and is regularly featured on the menus of many of the city's restaurants. A signature dish is a recipe which helps to identify an individual chef. It is also sometimes used to refer to a culinary region.

Charleston she crab soup is named after the female crab, which is also sometimes referred to as 'She-Crab'. These female crabs supply the important ingredient of roe, or eggs, to the soup. It is often told that crab meat from a female has a supposedly sweeter flavor. Actually, the ingredient that lends the deep flavors and exquisite color that define this delicious soup that is legendary in Charleston, South Carolina is actually the reddish-orange roe. Besides roe, the other ingredients typically include cream, crab meat, and sherry.

Roe is no longer gathered as an effort to preserve the ecological system and keep a strong number of crabs. You may wonder if it is still soup if there is no foe in the Charleston she crab soup. Of course it is as the main recipe is the same. Whenever it is possible, however, you should make this using roe and enjoy every bite. There will be some changes, but a true southerner will know the basic ingredients are the same.

It's crucial to use absolutely fresh crab meat. It you are able to trap these creatures yourself, get approximately twelve of them. When you're shelling the she crab and you come across a bunch of little reddish-orange balls, you are fortunate enough to have found the roe, which is made up of her eggs. Be careful when removing it, and then blend in into the soup together with the crab. Remember however when catching crabs that you must release any she crabs which have roe on their exterior surfaces.

The onions, garlic and celery need to be cooked in a heavy bottom medium sized sauce pain with some olive oil until they are clear. The next step is to deglaze the pan using sherry followed by the crab roe, bay leaf and shellfish stock. When that is done, get it to a slow simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.

Next, add the milk and simmer. After simmering for fifteen minutes, put in the rice, and cook until it reaches the desired texture. When the rice is ready, it's time to add mace, Worchestershire sauce, and some hot sauce. Take the bay leaf out of the soup, and then puree, using a blender. The soup will need to be strained through a fine sieve after it has been pureed. Finally, add the crab meat. Use salt and pepper as desired to taste.

When making the best she crab soup be sure to use high quality crab meat. Cheap crab meat that you need to take out of the shells is always mushy so don't waste your time. Crab roe however can be a bit salty, so do use it sparingly. You can freeze crab meat and it will keep well if you use a secured sealed bag.

The signature dish of Charleston, South Carolina is Charleston she crab soup. This dish is a common featured item on numerous city restaurants. The soup is named after the 'She-Crab', or female crab, which supplies the flavorful orange roe, or eggs, that consist of a chief ingredient in the soup. It's crucial that your crab meat be fresh, and so catching your own is the best way to make this recipe. If you want to end up with the best she crab soup, you have to be certain to use the finest crab meat.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 16 2008

Fish can be one of the hardest meats to cook because of the way the fish is made. Fish is a thin fish that usually doesn't take a long time to cook. Fish also need to be properly sterilized before you cook them for your family's dinner.

There are many different types of fish that you can choose for your family, and each of these types of fish have different types of scales that cook at different speeds. Depending on the type of fish will determine how fast or slow the fish will cook. Some of the most popular types of fish are Salmon, Red Snapper, and Trout. These are just a few of the many different types of fish that you could have to cook in your home.

There are a number of ways that you can choose to cook your food depending on the type of menu that you are having. Fish is one of the healthiest foods that you can eat or provide for your family. The top three ways to cook fish are usually to grill, fry, or sauté. Although these are not the only ways to cook your fish, these seem to be the most efficient ways to cook your fish.

Grilling is the first option for cooking your fish in you are looking for a healthier way. Grilling can be complex unless you understand the basic principles of how the fish actually cooks. When you put your fish on the grill, it's still cold so it will take some time to warm up the whole fish. Depending on the overall weight of the fish will determine how long the fish needs to be cooked. The thicker the fish is, the longer you will have to cook the fish on each side.

Frying your fish is also a popular way to cook your fish for dinner. The good thing about frying your fish is that you can pick many different kinds of seasonings to put on your fish to fry it. When you begin frying your fish, you should cook it evenly on both sides of the fillet. The one thing that you should understand is each side of the fish will not take the same time amount of time to cook. The first side will usually take longer because it is also cooking the inside as well as the outside.

For more information, contact the CD Kitchen at http://www.cdkitchen.com

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:58 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 15 2008

Many people think of French cooking as being fussy and time consuming, and while it is true that French haute cuisine takes food preparation to dizzying heights, most of the cooking going on in French kitchens on a daily basis is simple and to the point. After all, French people are just as busy as you are, and they too are looking for shortcuts and easy ways to get dinner on the table.

Here are three fine examples of what you might find for dessert if you were to eat at a French friend's house. Each of these is

  • Made with five or less ingredients, all of which you are likely to have on hand.hen blend until smooth. Stir in the coffee and mix until smooth again.
  • Require less than 20 minutes preparation time.
  • Will satisfy both with their elegant presentation and with their good taste

Creme caramel

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs

To make the caramel, place 2/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and wet with just enough water to dissolve it (about 1 tablespoon). Heat on medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. The sugar will boil for a while until it starts to turn brown. As soon as it starts to turn brown remove it from the heat and pour the caramel into 6 ramekins.

In another saucepan, heat the milk with the other 2/3 cup sugar until it reaches a boil. Stir in vanilla. In a sturdy bowl, beat the eggs until light. Whisk in the hot milk, slowly at first to avoid coagulating the eggs. Whisk to completely mix.

Pour (or ladle if that works better for you) the milk mixture into the ramekins on top of the caramel. Place all 6 ramekins in a large oven proof dish. Fill the dish with water to about 2/3 the height of the ramekins.

Carefully place in 300° oven. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour (baking time can depend on the dishes used). The water should not boil during baking. The creme is done when it has set, which you can verify by inserting a knife.

Allow the cremes to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate in their ramekins until serving time. To serve, run a knife along the outside of each creme, than turn over onto a dessert plate.

Makes 6 servings.

Petits pots de creme au chocolat

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons strong coffee (you can use decaf of course)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (or replace this with two more tablespoons coffee

Bring the half and half to a boil on low heat. Remove from heat immediately and stir in the chocolate. Let rest for one minute to melt the chocolate, t

Beat the eggs until thick and lemon colored - about two minutes with a hand mixer. Add them to the chocolate and mix well, using the hand mixer if you wish. Add the cognac and once again mix until completely combined.

While it is still hot, pour the liquid into small dessert cups.

Refrigerate for at least two hours and even overnight if you wish. Serve cold and within 24 hours.

Makes 6 petits pots

Pommes Bonne Femme -- French Baked Apples

  • 6 cooking apples (Pink Lady give delicious results)
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • toasted slivered almonds and red currant jelly (optional)

Remove the core from each apple leaving it whole (an apple corer is of course handy for this, but a paring knife will work if you cut carefully). Place the apples side by side in a baking dish.

Mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon and spoon the mixture into the cored apples. Add two tablespoons of water to the baking dish and place in a 400°F oven for one hour. Bake until soft (may take longer if the apples are large).

Serve warm and drizzled with cream and any sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. For an authentic French touch, sprinkle with slivered almonds and add a dollop of red currant jelly.

Makes 6 servings

Kim Steele writes for the website Easy French Food, dedicated to bringing you loads of fun information on French food and culture. Here you'll find lots of other Easy French Desserts. If you are looking for a lower fat dessert try this Far Breton, a French Prune Cake Recipe featuring delicious agen Prunes.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 11 2008
The term Italian gourmet cooking isn't one that is heard often. While there are gourmet meals that you can find in Italian cooking, the meals that are the most traditional are those that are made from simple, readily available products.

In Italy, they used what they had and have. They found much of what they needed on their land or through simple markets. Today however there is a whole new world of Italian cuisine that you can take advantage of.

This upscale, Italian gourmet cooking menu is one that is still full of the traditional flavors, but often are provided with a higher quality and in many cases contain ingredients that were hard to find. You can enjoy any of them now, though. When it comes to Italian gourmet cooking you should start with the meals that you know and love. You will find that with today's products, it is all about using the highest quality foods available. For example, one of the traditional methods that is now considered gourmet is hand made products such as breads and pastas. In the world that is rush-rush, it is nice to know that you can still have hand made meals available to you. From making the dough by hand to cutting each noodle individually, this is truly perfection in cooking. And, it is what makes a meal go from regular to gourmet!

These little touches are what makes a meal really special.When you enroll in an Italian cooking school, you are likely to learn meals that come from various regions of Italy. In Italian gourmet cooking, this is often from locations such as Venice, Florence and Tuscany. Each of these locations has their own unique touches and often has their own completely different tastes. In the southern parts of the country, fish is widely used in virtually all meals. Yet, in northern Italy this was not always readily available and therefore not as commonly used. Each of those coastal areas has used their own techniques for preparing the food as well a herbs to flavor it. The combination of these aspects is what gives you gourmet Italian cooking because of how specialized the food can be.

Understanding that the gourmet cooking schools can provide you with the education that you need in terms of Italian cooking is important. You may want to learn where it started in Italy. Or, train under a professional chef that did just that or has immigrated to the United States after gaining their training in Italy. The benefit of working with the actual culture is that you can learn the intricate steps that are taught nowhere else. For Italian gourmet cooking, this is what defines quality.
Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 10 2008

Chowders are thick, chunky soups that are made from a variety of ingredients, such as vegetables and seafood. The most well known chowder variation is the clam chowder, which has clams and broth as the main ingredients - as the name indicates. Potatoes, onions, salt pork or bacon, and celery are ingredients that are commonly used in clam chowder recipes. Often, clam chowder is garnished with parsley.

New England and Manhattan clam chowder are two very popular variations of clam chowder. Clam chowder New England style is prepared with milk or cream, while Manhattan clam chowder is prepared with clear broth and tomatoes to add some color and tomato flavor.

There are countless variations of clam chowder recipes. You can find several recipes , which are prepared with different ingredients. It is really up to your own taste.

Below you find good examples:

New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients:
2 pounds clams, scrubbed and rinsed
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into strips
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 large potato, cut into small cubes
1 leave leek
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Put the clams in a large pot with some water and cook over high heat for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the clams are open. Discard any unopened clam. Strain the clams, reserving the broth. Set aside to cool down.
  2. When the clams are cool, remove them from their shells and chop the big ones.
  3. Cook the bacon until brown and crisp, then pour off all the bacon fat, reserving the bacon. In the same pot, melt the butter and saute onion until it get soft but not burnt. Add thyme, potatoes, clam broth, milk and leek and bring to boil. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
  4. In a blender or food processor blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the blended mixture in the pot. Stir in the clams, cream and bacon and season with the pepper and the salt to taste. Place the pot in the heat and slowly reheat for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Clam Chowder Manhattan Style

Ingredients:
36 live clams
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 pound pork, diced
4 onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cup chopped carrots
3 teaspoons fresh parsley
3 teaspoons basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 1/2 quart liquid (clam cooking water)
4 potatoes, diced

Directions:

  1. Place clams in soup kettle, cover with water, and steam open. Remove clams from their shells, mince fine and reserve. Strain clam liquid and reserve.
  2. Saute pork and onions in butter until onions are clear. Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes, stirring.
  3. Add celery, carrots, parsley, basil, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and soy sauce. Stir in correct amount of liquid (clam cooking water plus additional water, if needed). Simmer, covered, 1 hour.
  4. Add potatoes and simmer 15 minutes.
  5. Add clams and simmer another 8 minutes. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately with crackers.

Enjoy your meal!

To find more clam chowder recipes or seafood recipes you can prepare come to my site: http://www.weloveseafood.com

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 09 2008

Thyme is a member of the mint family. This surprised me because I don't associate thyme with mint. I think of thyme with more of an earthier scent than a sweet aroma.

There are more than a hundred varieties of thyme. We are probably more familiar with the garden thyme or a lemon thyme. There is also a honey made from the thyme flower nectar that is supposed to be a gourmet treat. Bees like thyme so watch that if you have it in your garden.

Thyme is supposed to aid in digestion, as well as have antiseptic properties. It is used in teas as well as skin care products. However, don't let this herb fool you. It has a wide range of uses in your kitchen dishes. Bouquet Garni wouldn't be what it is without thyme - one of the prime ingredients.

Stews: I make a healthy chicken stew with lots of fresh veggies, garlic, chicken broth, red wine, and thyme. The addition of the thyme is what gives the stew just that little bit of extra flavor. I also add it to my beef stew for the same reason.

Baking: Topping off a hearty meal with herb biscuits is a great treat. Add a little dried thyme and sage to the batter. A little bit will make a huge difference in the taste of those melt in your mouth treats.

Soups: When I make lentil soup, I always add a pinch of thyme to the soup. It doesn't need much, just a touch to make its presence subtly known.

Lamb: I have a great marinade for a grilled butterflied leg of lamb that includes red wine, olive oil, garlic, allspice, lemon peel, and thyme. When I serve the grilled lamb with a chili sauce, it is a taste treat to be savored. As an added note, thyme is also used in many preparations of duck. This is due to its medicinal properties aiding in digestion, especially with these fattier meats.

Vegetables: Saute your veggies with a touch of oil, garlic, lemon, and thyme for a pleasant change from the usual steaming, microwaving, or boiling.

Give Thyme a chance in your kitchen. It has so many possibilities.

Judy Ferril is a freelance writer in Minneapolis. Are you a stranger in your own kitchen? Do you think eating healthy means no fun or flavor in your meals? Judy is the self-trained executive chef for the Ferril family and loves to share her passion for cooking and healthy foods with others. Join Judy Ferril at Baking With Lemons. What does baking and lemons have to do with fun, flavor, and health? Come see, stretch your imagination and enjoy new tastes and flavors at Baking with Lemons and Local Food Connections for fun and healthy local food options. Judy Ferril

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 08 2008
The Muffuletta is a Sicilian specialty sandwich that is affectionately called The Muff. When the Italians came to America The Muff was adopted by the southern states and specifically New Orleans. The Muff was made famous in 1906 by the Central Grocery shop of New Orleans. The Muff is like the ultimate club sandwich and then some. The Muff is made of a 10 inch wide round loaf or ciabatta. The loaf is traditionally hollowed out and stuffed full of cured meats like Parma ham, Mortadella, Pepperoni, Milano and Napoli salami layered upon each other. Then add a couple of different types of cheese like mozzarella and provolone and to finish it off with an olive salad made up of sundried tomatoes, black and green olives, capers, basil, parsley and extra virgin olive oil. Ideally you make up an olive salad the day before to let the flavours marry.

Once The Muff is made press it all down, wrap in shrink-wrap and leave in the fridge for 2-3 hours. It is best to add some added weight to compress the sandwich and so that the oils and flavours get absorbed into the meat, cheese and bread. I think the type of holed cheeses I used enhances this process. I like it warmed slightly in the oven for 5 minutes so that the fats run out of the meat into the bread and the cheese melts. This creates the ultimate warm ham and cheese sandwich or manwich might be more accurate. Apparently warming the sandwich is a big no, no for a Muffuletta. I also made mine more into a Mediterranean sandwich and not strictly Italian. I added Chorizo and Serrano ham, mainly because I couldn't get Parma ham. I also added German peppered salami and Jarlsberg and Emmental cheese. I have seen Peter Gordon do a version were he added some beetroot and carrot, I guess to put a New Zealand spin on The Muff. When I did mine I added the roasted beetroot, but not the carrot. The addition of the beetroot adds a wonderful vibrant colour to the layers when you cut into The Muff. Making and eating this sandwich is an experience, one that needs a napkin for all the juices that dribble down your chin.

Darrell writes an informal blog dedicated To Metallica, Fine Wine & Cake, Cigars, Innovative TV & Cinema. Music With Soul. And a joy of cooking.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 04 2008
Eating a vegetarian meal doesn't mean you have to buy odd grains or eat beans that take hours to cook. When it comes to quick, easy meals ideal for busy weeknights, many vegetarian entrees are perfect since you don't have to thaw or cook meat. If you're an occasional vegetarian, you already know this.

But if you tend to stick to the meat-and-potatoes routine, give a vegetarian dinner a try. These three ideas can be just as satisfying as beef or chicken, and are quick to put together after a busy day. And if you decide you absolutely can't do without meat, any of these recipes could also be a great side-dish for a beef or chicken entree.

Black Bean Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ cup chopped onion

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 small can green chiles

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup sour cream (optional)


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, green chiles, and thyme and simmer till hot, about 15 minutes. If using sour cream, add at the end of the simmering time. Do not allow soup to come to a boil after adding the sour cream or it will curdle.

Tomato Zucchini Casserole

2 large zucchini, sliced in rounds

2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, sliced

1 cup onion, thinly sliced

½ cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350°. In a greased casserole dish with a lid, layer half of the zucchini, tomatoes, and onion. Repeat layering with remaining ingredients. Sprinkle salt and pepper over, and top with Parmesan. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for about 15 minutes more to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Serve with crusty bread.

Potato Frittata

A frittata is an Italian version of quiche - and it's extra easy since there's no crust.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium-sized baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 tablespoons flour

¾ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon basil or oregano

8 eggs, beaten to blend

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper


Melt butter and oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Mix potatoes with flour. Add potatoes, paprika, garlic powder, basil or oregano to skillet, and cook, stirring often, until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Combine eggs with Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over potatoes in skillet. Do not stir eggs - instead, pierce holes in egg mixture and lift edges with spatula, tipping pan to allow uncooked egg to flow underneath until an edge forms, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, cover skillet, and continue cooking until eggs are set, 10 to 12 minutes. When eggs are set, invert frittata onto platter and serve.

For recipes and kitchen tips for the beginning home cook, visit Food for Beginners http://www.foodforbeginners.wordpress.com

Mary Thompson provides tips on setting up your kitchen, items to have on hand to make meal prep easy, and ideas for quick recipes you can make with a minimum of time and fuss.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 01 2008

Every body loves a pizza, a pie, and some fish and chips right? Well if you're trying to lose weight, then eating these meals cooked the traditional ways can do more harm than good. Here are some ways in which you can turn these traditional dishes into healthy and tasty guilt free food.

Pizza - Instead of traditional white flour bases by using a wholemeal flour bases (or if your lazy use a big wholemeal tortilla wrap). The wholemeal flour is less refined and will make you feel fuller longer and is also better for your heart. Replace fatty toppings like salami with low fat ham and/or selection of veges and top it with a sprinkle of low fat Cheddar cheese, which is tastier, meaning you can use less than mozzarella. Don't worry about using a little cheese, the calcium in cheese is great for bone strength.

Pie - Try using low fat cuts of mince meats. Replace half the meat with lentils which are lower in calories and classified as a superfood. Great for fat burning. If you create the Shepherd's pie version, mix the potato topping with a low fat cream or low fat cream cheese, for extra flavour and a lot less calories than traditional full fat cream.

Fish and Chips - Of course whatever fish you use, it's going to be good for you...but not when you deep fry it in a vat of oil and high fat batter! Instead of that simply dip the fish into fresh breadcrumbs and brush with a little oil, then grill. Replace deep fried chips with fresh and seasoned chunky oven roasted wedges. Finish with a handful of fresh veges of your choice.

There you have it! Some traditional fat builders turned into their guilt free alternatives. Most meals can be turned into a much healthier alternative, so try and experiment for yourself. Supplementing certain ingredients in traditional dishes can cut up to three quarters of the calories, so don't kill yourself by not having your favourite foods, whilst trying to lose weight, simply make them healthier! Burn more fat with more guilt free food main meal ideas at 

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 02:47 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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