Tag Archives: cooking

Healthy Eating

5 Apr

This is going to be a new section in the food blog about healthy eating – it’s about time right?

I’ll be posting photos of healthy food along with recipes and information about healthy eating, gotta have some good healthy food, the more the better, I know I’m working on it, hopefully some of the info here will help inspire others too.

Chicken Soup For The Soul

12 Sep
Grandma always said, “Chicken soup is good for you!”
When it starts to get colder and the weather is dreary and dark,  it makes for a nice setting to make a large batch of chicken broth.Cooking up a batch of broth always warms the entire house with a very nice aroma that lasts all day long as I slowly cook the broth on the stove for hours on end. Chicken broth is nice to have around – it’s used in a wide variety of recipes for soups and sauces that we make.

I like to make a big batch of broth and freeze it in small containers and jars to have on hand whenever a recipe calls for it. Sure I can (and do) use the packaged broth and the cubes to make broth, but to me, having home made broth is the absolute best, and its fun to make.
Chicken broth is good to make when you have left over chicken or turkey bones and parts from a prior dinner – why waste them? Make a good batch of chicken broth and you can get more bang for your buck out of your poultry and you’ll have some home made chicken broth on hand when you need it.
I found that occasionally the supermarkets have chicken on sale and you can get a whole chicken or parts (thighs etc 4-5lbs) for around $5 or $6 dollars, which will make about 5 quarts of broth.
My favorite, and what I consider a good basic recipe, is the one by Alton Brown. It’s got a good foundation and I like his ideas for techniques to get the most out of all the flavors.
Grab a very large pot that can hold 2 gallons of water, and a steamer basket
Here’s the recipe which can be found on the Food Network website

Ingredients

4 pounds chicken carcasses, including necks and backs

1 large onion, quartered

4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2

4 ribs celery, cut in 1/2

1 leek, white part only, cut in 1/2 lengthwise

10 sprigs fresh thyme

10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems

2 bay leaves

8 to 10 peppercorns

2 whole cloves garlic, peeled

2 gallons cold water

Directions

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Set opened steamer basket directly on ingredients in pot and pour over water. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the stock with a spoon or fine mesh strainer every 10 to 15 minutes for the first hour of cooking and twice each hour for the next 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.

Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes.

Use as a base for soups and sauces.

Cooking with Spices

20 Aug

Spices for taste

Spices are what make our food preparations better tasting – the mixtures and results are the science of culinary art. There are so many flavors, hot, sweet, salty and more. The mixtures and concoctions of spice blends are endless.

Wikipedia has a great description of spices:

spice is a dried seedfruit,root,  barkleaf, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavour, colour, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth.[1]

Many of these substances are also used for other purposes, such as medicine, religious ritualscosmetics,  perfumery or eating as vegetables. For example, turmeric is also used as a preservativeliquorice as a medicine;  garlic as a vegetable. In some cases they are referred to by different terms.

In the kitchen, spices are distinguished from herbs, which are leafy, green plant parts used for flavouring purposes.  Herbs, such as basil or oregano, may be used fresh, and are commonly chopped into smaller pieces.  Spices, however, are dried and often ground or grated into a powder.  Small seeds, such as fennel and mustard seeds, are used both whole and in powder form.

For this dinner I made Sri Lankan Beef Curry (recipe below). The blends of the spices coriander, cumin, fennel,tumeric, black pepper and salt made for a savory beef with a nice texture and heat added with the coconut milk and minced jalapeno’s. This is one very tasty dish that I highly recommend everyone try making at least once.

Recipe from myrecipes.com

YIELD

8 SERVINGS (SERVING SIZE: ABOUT 2/3 CUP BEEF MIXTURE AND 3/4 CUP RICE)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red jalapeño peppers, minced
  • 3 cups light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 (1 x 3-inch) lemon rind strips
  • 6 cups hot cooked basmati rice

PREPARATION

Cook coriander, cumin, fennel, and turmeric in a small saucepan over medium-low heat 7 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally.

Combine toasted spices, black pepper, salt, and beef in a large bowl. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, ginger, garlic, and jalapeños; sauté 3 minutes or until onions are tender. Remove onion mixture from pan. Recoat the pan with cooking spray. Add half of beef; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef. Return onion mixture and beef to pan; stir in milk, vinegar, and rind, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours or until beef is very tender. Discard rind. Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

How much protein do you really need?

15 Aug

By Sarah B. Weir and Lori Bongiorno
Posted Mon Aug 8, 2011 2:04pm PDT

Guess how much protein is in a juicy, 8-ounce cheeseburger washed down with a milkshake? This single meal contains two to three times as much as most people need per day.

It’s no great surprise that Americans chow down on a lot of protein. We love beef and consume about 67 pounds per capita annually (that’s four times the international average). The popularity of low-carb regimes such as Atkins has also made meat the go-to food for dieters.

In fact, the average person eats about double the amount of protein that their body requires, according to the results of 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to fulfill your daily protein requirement

The human body uses protein to repair damaged cells and to build new ones. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU and author of What to Eat, estimates that the average adult man needs about 65 grams of protein a day and the average adult female needs about 55 grams. Some sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization say you can maintain a healthy diet with even less.

What does this actually mean in terms of food choices? The National Institutes of Health explains that most people can meet their daily protein requirement by eating two to three small servings of a protein-rich food a day.

Examples of a single serving of protein include:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 2-3 ounces of red meat, poultry, or fish (about the size of a deck of cards)
  • ½ cup of cooked dried beans such as black beans or chickpeas

Whole grains, seeds, and some vegetables also contain protein, so consuming enough is not difficult even if you don’t eat meat. Vegetarians and vegans can easily get what they need by balancing complimentary proteins such as corn and beans or rice and tofu. Nutritionists used to recommend combining foods at the same meal, but research now shows that is unnecessary.

Are there drawbacks to eating more protein?

Eating large amounts of red and processed meats is associated with higher rates of heart disease and cancer, and most nutritionists such as Marion Nestle recommend cutting back on meat, especially on fatty cuts.

However, it’s less well known that your protein choices can have a substantial impact on the environment. Meat and dairy production requires tremendous amounts of fuel, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, and generates greenhouse gases. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) recently published Meat Eater’s Guide points out that if you ate once less burger a week it would be the environmentally-positive equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.

Meat is also expensive. Not all proteins are created equal — neither at the doctor’s office, nor the cash register. Here’s a comparison of three typical proteins:

Porterhouse steak
Serving size: 4 ounces
Protein: 22 grams
EWG carbon footprint rating: 2 nd worst out of 20 analyzed
Cost: 4 dollars
Fat: 22 grams
Saturated fat: 9 grams

Farm-raised salmon
Serving size: 4 ounces
Protein: 22 grams
EWG carbon footprint rating: 5th worst
Cost: 3 dollars
Fat: 10 grams
Saturated fat: 2 grams

Lentils
Serving size: 1 cup
Protein: 17.9 grams
EWG carbon footprint rating: best
Cost: 20 cents
Fat: zero
Saturated fat: zero

Many people find meat to be a delicious and satisfying component of their diet that they don’t want to sacrifice. But if you want to save money, eat a nutritionally sound diet, and are concerned about the impact meat and dairy production has on the planet, consider reducing your consumption.

Here are some tips from the EWG’s Meat Eater’s Guide:

  • Reduce portion sizes by eating one less burger or steak each week, or participate in Meatless Mondays by skipping meat (and cheese if you can swing it) just one day a week.
  • Choose the healthiest protein sources when you can. Beans, low-fat yogurt, and nuts are all high in protein and low-impact.
  • When you do eat meat and cheese, eat the highest quality that you can afford. (One way to save money is to eat less, but better quality meat and dairy products.) Here’s a guide decoding the labels, from cage-free to grass-fed.
  • Don’t waste meat. Uneaten meat accounts for about 20 percent of meat’s greenhouse gas emissions.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian or go to other extremes. These small changes will help reduce your impact, while providing plenty of protein in your diet.

Best Burgers in the U.S.

10 Aug

According to Fine & Wine magazine these are the best burger places in the USA.  I am not at all surprised to see the first place on the list…. California’s own In-N-Out! Congrats!

The burger, America’s quintessential comfort food, can now be enjoyed in an impossibly endless number of ways. There are round-the-clock burgers at 24-hour-roadside joints and ephemeral late-night burgers sold out in mere minutes; burgers grilled in hundred-year-old cast-iron broilers and burgers steamed in state-of-the-art ovens; burgers crafted from Kobe beef imported from Japan and burgers made with Black Angus beef from just down the road; burgers innocuously topped with melted American cheese and burgers piled high with crumbly, statement-making Roquefort cheese. It’s clearly a great time to love the burger. Here, we’ve singled out the 25 best burgers around the country.

By Ratha Tep, Lawrence Marcus

California: In-N-Out Burger

Best Burgers in the U.S.: In-N-Out Burger: Cheeseburger

In-N-Out’s Cheeseburger. Photo © Jess Lander

Signature Burger: Cheeseburger.

Even superstar chef Thomas Keller is a fan of the West Coast chain—and with good reason. The cooked-to-order burgers are made from Harris Ranch beef and served with hand-cut fries. For a messier, more indulgent experience, order your burger “Animal Style” for extra sauce and chopped grilled onions. in-n-out.com 

New York City: Minetta Tavern

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Minetta Tavern

Photo © Sylvia Paret.

Signature Burger: Black Label Burger (topped with with caramelized onions).

Minetta Tavern’s excellent burgers use a beef blend—dry-aged rib eye, skirt steak, brisket and short rib—from famed purveyor Pat La Frieda, and buns from Balthazar Bakery. minettatavernny.com 

Atlanta, GA: Holeman & Finch

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Holeman & Finch

Photo © Jeff Moore.

Star chef Linton Hopkins announces “burger time”—10 p.m.—with the ringing of two bull horns; that’s when two dozen grass-fed beef burgers are up for grabs and consistently sold out within minutes. The burgers are also available on the Sunday brunch menu. holeman-finch.com 

Arlington, VA: Ray’s Hell Burger

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Ray's Hell Burger

Photo © Robyn Lee.

Signature Burger: Basic Beef Burger (served in a brioche bun).

There’s no sign, yet dedicated fans—a certain president included—come here for the freshly ground burgers with and complimentary toppings like grilled onions and mushrooms sautéed in sherry and Cognac.

Boston, MA: Craigie on Main

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Craigie on Main

Photo courtesy of Craigie on Main.

Signature Burger: Beefburger.

Star chef Tony Maws adds bone marrow and dehydrated miso to his Bar Burger, and cooks it in a low heat CVap oven, followed by a quick char on the plancha. craigieonmain.com 

San Francisco, CA: Zuni Café

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Zuni Café

Photo © Bill Holmes.

Signature Burger: House-ground hamburger (served in a grilled rosemary focaccia).

Instead of traditional cucumber pickles, legendary chef-owner Judy Rodgers accents her burgers with thin-cut zucchini strips pickled in apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds and turmeric. zunicafe.com 

New Haven, CT: Louis’ Lunch

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Louis' Lunch

Photo © Michael Franzman.

Signature Burger: The Original Burger (prepared with a combination of chuck and sirloin beef).

Many restaurants claim to be the birthplace of the hamburger. Louis’ Lunch, in New Haven, Connecticut, since 1900, is a leading contender. The meaty hand-shaped patties are grilled on antique cast-iron broilers over an open flame. louislunch.com 

Memphis, TN: Dyer’s Burgers

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Dyer's Burgers

Signature Burger: Dyer’s Cheeseburger.

The legendary patties here are pounded thin before they’re cooked in a cast-iron skillet filled with grease for a deliciously crisp exterior.dyersonbeale.com 

Chicago, IL: Custom House Tavern

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Custom House Burger

Photo © Tuan Bui.

Signature Burger: Custom House Burger (short rib, sirloin and ground pork patty topped with aged cheddar cheese and shaved onion, served in a sourdough brioche bun).

The “Custom House Burger”—available only on the lunch and bar menu—comes with house-made steak saucecustomhouse.cc 

Miami, FL: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Photo courtesy of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.

Signature Burger: Black Angus Burger (served in a brioche bun).

An optional topping for star chef Michael Schwartz‘s Harris Ranch Black Angus beef burger: house-smoked bacon. michaelsgenuine.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filleting Salmon

7 Aug

While at Costco yesterday we were looking to buy some salmon.  They have farm fillets, wild fillets and to our surprise they had whole salmon for $4.99 a pound.  We decided to get the whole salmon and I would fillet it myself.

This is about the biggest fish I’ve purchased and I figured I would fillet it and smoke half and save the other half for grilling etc.

This was my first time filleting a salmon and I think I did ok.  Made two very nice fillets and managed to get all the ribs and pin bones out a-ok.  Even manged to scrape the bones and get a cup of meat for the cats to enjoy, they went nuts over the fresh salmon bits.

The whole salmon at Costco


Ready to begin filleting


The carnage aftermath


Two nice fillets

Food as Art – Photography

7 Aug

I like to take random photos of food that looks good, I like the vibrant colors, the appeal factor, etc. Sometimes food just makes for a very good photography subject,  just as I wrote about in yesterday’s article – food is art.

This section of the blog titled “Food Photography” is where I’ll be posting photos of food that I’ve taken from events, restaurants and from my own cooking.

Here are today’s photos:

From the Folsom Farmers Market on Sutter Street

Spice Mix (photo from home)

Photo taken in the late afternoon while enjoying a nice cold beer at Samuel Horne’s Pub
 

Favorite photo from The Kitchen, with Chef Noah
 

Photo of the vegetable section at The Nugget Market

Smoking Salmon

3 Aug
The BBQ Domain

I’ve been into BBQ’ing since I learned to play with matches and roasted my first hot dog over an open flame on my moms bbq in our backyard. I still remember that day, I burned the hot dog to a crisp, but I liked the crunchiness, it tasted good. What did I know? I was only a kid.. I’ve learned a lot since then…

I love to BBQ/Grill/Charcoal/whatever you want to call it, I think it’s some kind of neanderthal trait in our DNA that makes us desire to cook meats over an open flame…. it’s a lust for fire that seems to always mesmorize us so much when we’re sitting around a campfire at night staring at the dancing flames.

As we all know there’a a lot more to BBQ’ing then just slapping some raw meat on top of some burning coals. There’s direct and indirect cooking, there’s charcoal types, gas and propane and then there’s smoking...

Smoking meats is a different and very unique way to cook meats and create incredible flavors.

There’s a saying that must always be followed when smoking meats – do it LOW and SLOW. That means smoke the meats on a very low heat (150-250 degrees at the most).

I have an electric smoker box (pictured to the left) that works ok but I’d prefer the big green egg.

Last weekend I made some smoked salmon using the following recipe for brining.

Ingredients
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns
2 large salmon fillets (pin bones removed)

Directions
In a bowl, mix together salt, sugar, brown sugar and peppercorns. Spread extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the fish and top with an equally long layer of plastic wrap. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the plastic. Lay 1 side of the fish skin down onto the rub. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon. Place second side of salmon, flesh down onto the first side. Use the remaining rub to cover the skin on the top piece. Fold plastic over to cover then close edges of foil together and crimp tightly around the fish.

Place wrapped fish onto a plank or sheet pan and top with another plank or pan. Weigh with a heavy phone book or a brick or two and refrigerate for 12 hours. Flip the fish over and refrigerate another 12 hours. Some juice will leak out during the process so make sure there’s a place for the runoff to gather.

Unwrap fish and rinse off the cure with cold water. Pat salmon with paper towels then place in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, 1 to 3 hours depending on humidity. A fan may be used to speed the process.

Smoke fish over smoldering hardwood chips or sawdust, keeping the temperature inside the smoker between 150 degrees F and 160 degrees F until the thickest part of the fish registers 150 degrees. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

August Food Holidays to Celebrate!

2 Aug

August Food Holidays

It’s amazing how many wild, crazy and cool food holidays there are.  Did you know  there is a National Ice Cream Day? (BTW, it’s today!) Did you know there was a National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day? And with dozens of other national food holidays in the month of August, you can literally celebrate a different dish every day of the month. Go ahead . . . why not allow the gastronome-in-you to partake of as many August food holidays as you dare to.

National Mustard Day: The First Saturday
August 1: National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 3: National Watermelon Day
August 3: Grab Some Nuts Day (pecans, walnuts, not the other kind)
August 4: National Lasagnas Day (Americanized to Lasagna)
August 5: National Waffle Day
August 5: National Oyster Day
August 6: National Root Beer Float Day
August 7: National Raspberries in Cream Day (Fresh or Raspberry Ice  Cream)
August 8: National Zucchini Day
August 8: National Frozen Custard Day
August 9: National Rice Pudding Day
August 10: National Banana Split Day
August 10: National “S’Mores Day”
August 11: National Raspberry Tart Day
August 12: Julienne Fries Day
August 13: National Filet Mignon Day
August 14: National “Creamsickle Day”
August 15: Lemon Meringue Pie Day
August 16: Bratwurst Day
August 16: National Rum Day
August 17: National Vanilla Custard Day
August 18: National Soft Ice Cream Day
August 19: Potato Day
August 19: Hot & Spicy Food Day
August 20: Lemonade Day
August 20: National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
August 21: National Pecan Torte Day
August 22: National Spumoni Day
August 22: Eat a Peach Day
August 23: National Sponge Cake Day
August 24: National Peach Pie Day
August 25: Whiskey Sour Day
August 26: National Cherry Popsicle Day
August 27: National Pots de Crème Day
August 27: Banana Lover’s Day
August 28: National Cherry Turnover Day
August 29: More Herbs, Less Salt Day
August 29: Chop Suey Day
August 29: Lemon Juice Day
August 30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day
August 31: Eat Outside Day
August 31: National Trail Mix Day

How can you celebrate a food holiday? Food celebrations are as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be. Learn about a food you didn’t know a lot about . . . Try a new recipe and make something special for a loved-one or co-worker . . . . Attend a related festival, farmers market, or restaurant.  The most important thing to do is – eat good and have fun!

Folsom’s “other” Farmers Market

30 Jul


Folsom’s Farmers Markets

The best fruits and vegetables are often not found at the grocery store, instead they can be found at local Farmers Markets, and Folsom is fortunate to have not one, but two!

Friday I went and checked out Folsom’s “other” Farmers Market that is run by the The El Dorado County Certified Farmers Market Association 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays, June 4, through Oct. 1, at Briggs Ranch Plaza in Folsom.

Featured market items include fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, berries, jam, olive oil, herbs, baked goods, flowers and local merchants.  There are about 20 vendors at any given time that participate in this Farmers Market making for a very nice variety of vendors. 

On this trip I purchased some freshly picked tomatoes, some baked garlic peas that were a gourmet snack, several very nice cheeses, and some candied walnuts. I also purchased some zucchini for a ratatouille recipe I planned to make over the weekend.

In case you haven’t been yet, Folsom’s original certified Sutter Street Farmers Market runs from 8 a.m. to noon on Sundays, June 13, through October 3, in the 900 block of Sutter Street. (http://folsomfoodie.com/2011/03/13/shopping-locally-at-a-farmers-market/)

Check out both Farmers Markets, support our local farmers.

Grown locally, sold locally and eaten locally is the unofficial motto of regional agriculture boosters.

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