Friday, December 21, 2012

Person of the Year 2012


For me, the Person of the Year would have to be Martha Payne from Argyll, Scotland.

Disliking her daily school lunch menu (as we all did) and even going as far as taking daily photos of the awful stuff and posting it to her blog, Neverseconds, she has single-handedly turned it into a campaign not only for better fare in her own school, but to feed hungry children in Malawi

So needless to say the book (pictured above) on how she did it would be a terrific gift to a special someone on this year's holiday list.

Watch this video clip about this amazing young girl:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Global Crisis In Dining Out

Bartering has been around for centuries as an alternative to money, but an unending recession has increased its existence as cash-strapped firms trade services through intermediaries to cut costs and reach out to new clients.

And in Florence, Italy customers are allowed to exchange vegetables and used goods for a traditional Tuscan dinner, in a way to encourage people to dine out despite the recession.

"We decided to open a restaurant, a gathering place for those who like to go out despite the crisis," said a local restaurant owner. "Many cannot afford to go out to dinner in the evening and don't have enough money to last to the end of the month. So we decided to go back to the old barter system."

Sure, many of us who grew up far "less" than wealthy here in the good ol' U.S.A would probably say keep whatever you have, cook your own meals AT HOME and suck it up. But dining out has apparently reached such a global crisis level that people are willing to barter for the privilege…or, um, the "right," whichever way you tend to look at it.

Anyway, read more here

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

Happy Autumn!

Well, crikey and bloody hell... let me just say that like the majority of us Yanks who love the hit British PBS series Downton Abbey, yes, it's true. We'll just we have to wait until January 2013 for Season Three to catch our next dose of "Crawley" fever.

Lucky Brits. I'm told it's airing across the pond this fall, probably, right this very moment. Yeah, I know, right?  Ballocks!

Anyway, it seems that while we're waiting, we can at least eat like the inhabitants of the stately manor, courtesy of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines.

From Lady Mary's Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding, it features over 150 recipes in twelve chapters from elegant dinner courses, to tea time snacks, to sustenance for the staff. This cookbook, written by the same author of The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, is guaranteed to have you  curling  your stiff upper lip while dishing it up like Mrs. Patmore -- in no time.

Read more about it here

Also, if you're not already a fan of this outstanding series,  take a quick peek at some of the Crawley excess  I mean, "lifestyle" here:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Grilled Fruit Cocktails

Cocktails are never far from the grill in summer. But now, bartenders are closing the gap, grilling fruit to incorporate rich, caramelized flavors into their drinks.

“It didn't take long to come to the conclusion that we should use the kitchen’s big, beautiful grill surface and caramelize some fruit,” says Marshall Altier, bar manager at New York’s Jbird. “Imagine eating a caramel candy versus a lump of sugar. Multiply that times the flavor of a ripe pineapple or peach and you start to see how caramelized fruits can change the entire flavor profile of a drink.”

For experimenting at home, Altier suggests superripe, juicy and sweet fruits like peaches, nectarines and his current favorite, pineapple, which he’s now using in an off-the menu Grilled Pineapple Crush.

Read more here and enjoy. See you back here in September.
Happy Summer!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Sugary Drink Theory With A Donut Hole

New York City's Honorable Mayor Mike Bloomberg defended his simultaneous support for a super-sized soda ban and National Donut Day this past Friday, claiming that his obvious flip-flopping on the issue is: "not that ridiculous."

"C’mon!" he snapped, as NBC's Today show host Matt Lauer grilled him on the apparent ridiculousness behind celebrating a holiday for fried dough -- as he tries to stop New Yorkers from guzzling sugary drinks.

"One donut’s not going to hurt you," Bloomberg said. "In moderation, most things are OK." (Really? And of course the same would not hold true in the case of the occasional 7 Eleven Big Gulp, Mr. Mayor??)

This somewhat skewed antithesis of "fair and balanced" also has some New Yorkers fuming about the City Hall plan to bar restaurants, theaters and delis from selling sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces. Again, for those New Yorkers who'd want these sweetened beverages as the mayor puts it : In moderation.

But the mayor said what they really should do is thank him for his anti-smoking, anti-fat, anti-sugar crusades — when they’re on their deathbed.

Which as you guessed it, begs the question: Does the honorable mayor sometimes go a bit too far (as well as flat-out contradictory), to be "thanked" for his efforts? Please, I invite you to discuss.

And that's because clearly, as a total non-lover of the mayor and many of his unequally biased policies – I am certainly "not" the one to comment.

In any case, whichever side of the debate you're on, read more here

Then, watch as Matt Lauer takes on Mayor Mike Bloomberg in this Today Show clip:

Friday, May 04, 2012

Ghalia Mahmoud: Egypt's Answer To Rachael Ray

Ghalia Mahmoud has become an unlikely celebrity chef in Egypt with her 90-minute television show  broadcast on the 25 January satellite channel, and created in the wake of the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

"Under the previous regime, you wouldn't see anyone like me on television," she says. "The chefs on TV were bigger than movie stars and spoke English and French. - who would appreciate me?"

Reports have it that the Mubarak regime preferred only to present a veneer of sophistication, to gloss over the hardships to which it subjected so many of its people. But reality, Cairo is said to be immense, overcrowded, and mired in poverty, and Mahmoud hails from an area that exemplifies all these things. But with her newfound TV popularity these days, this has all changed.

Like I said, picture Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, or any other TV food show star becoming so influential, that people begin calling on them -- to run for Secretary of State.

Read more here

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Wine Opener of Your Dreams… (Or, Not)

I would imagine you could open that Easter bottle of wine...probably in the time it takes to cook the entire Easter meal with one of the oddest looking contraptions I've seen in a while.

Clearly, it's one of those inventions you simply stare at, then ask the question: "Um, but why?"

Anyway, cheers, bottoms up, and watch this video clip. (Corkscrews sold separately if all else fails.)

Friday, March 02, 2012

Hunger Games For the Cause

Like so many others who read this awesome dystopian novel written by Suzanne Collins, needless to say I'm a huge Hunger Games fan. But just before this phenomenal story hits the big screen later this month, Feeding America has joined forces with the cast to fight hunger right here in America.

And if you already think you know hunger, then feel free to take this little hunger quiz. Trust me, you'll be surprised.

 Catch a peek at the video clip here:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Serious Eats. (Seriously)

It seems the good folks at the Clarkson Potter imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House have done it again by publishing what I consider a must-have for the on-the-go cookbook shelf titled, Serious Eats: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Eating Delicious Food Wherever You Are.

I picked this one up a few days ago, and just as described, it's  368 full-color pages and simply one impassioned study of favorite eats from across the country—from food trucks to fine dining and everywhere in between. (Ah, food trucks…what would the congestion of downtown Manhattan be without 'em?) It also covers the best pies and sliders and brisket and croissants and fried chicken, as well a. 50 recipes developed by J. Kenji López-Alt. and  mouthwatering photos from Robyn Lee.  Not to mention tales from the road,  introductions to many of the fine folks making this fine food,  and theories on oatmeal and American cheese, pizza ovens and sandwich construction…and more.

This of course is along with a few classic Serious Eats website  gems you've seen before such as the heralded: Hamburger Fatty Melt.

*Ahem* I think this one's a keeper. Buy it here

Friday, February 03, 2012

Super Bowl Suds


There's certainly no doubt that Super Bowl Sunday is a great day for beer drinkers.
And as with football itself, there are some unwritten rules (always have been -- always will be).

 First, aim to please a crowd, so stick to familiar flavors. That means nothing overly sweet or sour.

Second, serve brews that will complement, not overwhelm, your dishes.

Third, since the game lasts many hours, pace the food and the boozing. Avoid high-alcohol beers—you don't want the lightweights to fall asleep...or worse.

And finally, offer some sort of variety so there's something -- for everyone.

So with that said, here are five beers sold nationwide that represent a healthy mix of light/dark, can/bottle, domestic/foreign, and familiar/obscure. And yes, they all work with pizza.


Negra Modelo, Mexico

Negra Modelo, Mexico

($9 per six-pack)
5.4 percent ABV
Corona may be the best-selling nondomestic beer in the USA, but Negra Modelo, first brewed by Austrians in Mexico in 1926, is a better choice if you're thinking about food pairings. With its copper color, Negra pours darker than most lagers. It is sweet, with hints of nuttiness on the nose, and has a refreshingly potent carbonation. A hoppy bitter finish adds complexity. Lime wedge optional.

Cold Recipe Pairing: Hot Recipe Pairing:
Guacamole Taquero
The beer's caramelized malty sweetness cuts through this dish's tart tomatillos, creamy avocado, and spicy chiles.
Turkey Nachos
Negra is strong enough to stand up to the jalepeño sour cream but doesn't overwhelm the lime-tossed turkey or bell peppers.

Sam Adams Light, United States

Sam Adams Light, United States

($9 per six-pack)
4.3 percent ABV
Unlike many other flavorless and appallingly watery light beers, Sam Adams Light shows real depth: toasty/bready aromas, gentle spiciness, and even a hint of tropical fruit. With only a slight trace of bitterness, this is a malty, crisp beer that goes down smooth. As an alternative to Bud, Miller, and Coors, Sam Adams Light is perfect for fans of mindless chugging and ideal for folks who are watching their weight. Note, however, that with 124 calories per 12-ounce bottle, this isn't exactly a 55-calorie beer.

Cold Recipe Pairing: Hot Recipe Pairing:
Chile-Rubbed Shrimp with Avocado Corn Cocktail
Sweet, malty characteristics of this Sam Adams contrast nicely with the grilled shrimp and its corresponding chile kick, while the smooth creaminess of the beer mirrors that of the avocado.
Bratwurst in Beer
It's a classic tailgate/grilling pairing. Cook the mild-flavored sausage in Sam Adams to bring out perfectly complementary flavors.

Dale's Pale Ale, United States

Dale's Pale Ale, United States

($9 per six-pack)
6.5 percent ABV
Thanks to Oskar Blues Brewery, fans of hops, IPAs, and canned beers have had Dale's to rave about since its debut in 2002 when the company launched its canned beer business. With its hazy orange coloring, citrus flavors, and notes of pepper and pine, the stuff certainly stands out in a crowd (it's won numerous awards). And because it is the Super Bowl, there's the inevitable horseplay—"catch this!" and "toss me one!" come to mind—making these cans perfect for the day's event. Not only do cans protect beer from light and oxygen better than most bottles, they're easily transported (lighter and more compact than bottles), and don't shatter when dropped. No fumbling here.
Cold Recipe Pairing: Hot Recipe Pairing:
The bitter hops cut right through the salami and mortadella, while the caramel maltiness serves as the perfect contrast to the salty capers and olives.
Garlic-Roasted Potato Skins
Dale's citrus and pine notes balance out the potato skins' highly aromatic butter and garlic flavors.

Guinness Extra Stout, Ireland

Guinness Extra Stout, Ireland

($10 per six-pack)
5.0 percent ABV
Contrary to popular myth, Guinness is not necessarily stronger in flavor than other beers, nor is it more alcoholic. Thus, it is a perfectly acceptable brew for Super Bowl Sunday, especially when paired with dishes that use stout in the recipe—of which there are many. The Extra Stout pours an oily black and boasts a combination of dry, smoky/toasted, and bitter flavors (some enthusiasts also detect hints of coffee and chocolate), and is known for its thick, creamy head. Fans in Ireland, where Guinness was born more than 200 years ago, have traditionally consumed it alongside either a ploughman's lunch (think cheese, pickles, and bread) or heartier roasts and beefs stews.
Cold Recipe Pairing: Hot Recipe Pairing:
Spiced-Up Grilled Cheese
The toasted malt flavors of Guinness have long been matched with hard-to-pair sharp Cheddars, but the stout will also stand up to the chipotle chiles and molasses in the recipe.
Chili con Carne
The beer brings out the smoky flavors in the chili, and you can even use Guinness as the "one bottle of dark beer" in the recipe.

Hitachino Nest White Ale, Japan

Hitachino Nest White Ale, Japan

($14 per 24-ounce bottle)
5.0 percent ABV
It sounds like a gamble to serve something as odd as Japan's Hitachino Nest White Ale at a Super Bowl party. But with hints of orange peel, coriander, nutmeg, and clove, this Belgian-style wheat beer has turned out to be a major hit in the U.S., and appears on beer lists at all kinds of restaurants. Kiuchi Brewery, established in 1823, only started offering Hitachino Nest in America in 2000, but the recipe likely borrows from the medieval times, when beers were brewed with spices and herbs instead of hops.
Cold Recipe Pairing: Hot Recipe Pairing:
Ginger-Garlic Hummus
Only a beer with spice, fruit, and herbs like Hitachino's can draw out the ginger and star anise while allowing the hummus to take center stage.
Sweet Chili-Glazed Chicken Wings
Though chicken normally begs for a lager or Pilsner, these wings need the beer's juicy spiciness to tame the peanut oil, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and crushed red peppers.

Read More Here 

Friday, January 20, 2012

On Valentine's Day: What Chefs Want

After spending so much of their time cooking for others, nothing says "I love you" quite like a romantic timeout from the kitchen, and having a meal prepared especially for YOU.

As such, the good folks over at Epicurious asked single chefs from across the country what their perfect Valentine's Day meal would be.

And, since Valentine's Day is one of the busiest of the year in the restaurant business, for those chefs who were polled, enjoying their dream meal on V Day really is the ultimate fantasy.

And, since I'm not a chef and no one asked me anyway, I don't mind saying that besides a preliminary gift certificate for an extreme mani-pedi at my favorite NYC nail spa (V Day red manicure, for sure), for this person who the finds herself spending a lot more time in the kitchen these days than expected, anything from the video clip annals of my forever muse, the late, great, Julia Child featuring her awesome winter stews and "comfort food" would be as close to fantasy as I could possibly get.

In any case, read more here to find out what the chefs said.

Then grab on to a glass of wine and watch as Julia shows you how to make the perfect Beef Bourguignon stew in this vintage clip.

Miss you, Julia.                                                                                     

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ginger Margarita: Not Just For Summer

I was at an after work party yesterday and I was amazed at how some things can work so well off-season -- as well as in season.

Take for instance the absolutely scrumptious ginger margarita I had last night from an expert downtown NYC mixologist.  (A super duper fancy term for one who exceeds above and beyond being just your average, ordinary bartender or barkeep). Even though I have to admit that thoughts of summer on such a cold January night in New York did in fact cross my mind, and I'd really be lying if I said otherwise.

Anyway, here's a clip with one of my favorite chefs (and mixologists), Ming Tsai, giving you the secret to a spectacular ginger margarita. Self indulgent clip spoiler: The secret is in the ginger syrup that you make yourself. 

Watch the clip. Ming shows you how.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Future of In-Flight Meals

Be honest. When's the last time you actually saw THIS on a commercial flight??
(I'm talking about the chef's hat and the smile, of course.)

Happy 2012.  I'm baaaaccck.

And as always, I'm back also promising to be a far more diligent blogger in the year 2012. (Cough, cough...clears throat.)  Okay, never mind.

Anyway, after my recent holiday travels that were solely on America's jam-packed highways this time around, I ran across this tasty morsel of food for thought:

The year is 2050. You’re on Global Airways’ three-hour flight from Los Angeles to Singapore and you’re famished. Does a robot present your dinner pill on command, or are harried flight attendants still asking “chicken or beef” and dropping rubbery entrées onto tired trays?

It seems futurists and culinary visionaries have wildly varying, mind-boggling theories on how airline meals will look decades forward, but the experts seem to agree on one thing: We’re not going to merely swallow a pill in the sky and call it supper. Because after all... where would the real fun be in THAT?

To find out more, read here.