Search Blog Content

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cooking is an art as well as a necessity of our lives. It can bring great joy to both the cook, as well as those who partake of the well-prepared meal and it can also be a valuable and nutritious addition to our overall health and well being. One might think that cooking and science have little in common, yet that is simply not true, as cooking offers a wide variety of opportunities to teach science to our young. By sharing quality time cooking with our children, they can learn valuable lessons not only in the ethic of work and responsibility but also in the area of science.

Experimenting In The Kitchen

Simple scientific experiments can be conducted within the comfortable confines of ones own kitchen and the end results can be edible! What an approach to science! Yet because the students are learning in a comforting and enjoyable atmosphere, it is not like the stifled book-learning approach to science. Cooking offers the child a hands on and tangible experience, while at the same time teaching them a life skill they can use daily. Children from kindergarten to college can gain practical applications and life-long knowledge by using this approach. Some example of fun experiments parents can incorporate include making candyfloss and ice cream. Making ice cream, for example, allows the exploration of the freezing point of matter. One can also talk about the role of temperature, whipping and foaming during the process. Children can learn a wide range of science concepts while they enjoy the learning process. What is more is that they get to enjoy a tasty treat at the end of the process.

Difficult chemistry concepts such as radiation, convection, conduction, energy and carbohydrate chemistry may seem overwhelming to many students, yet exploring and appreciating these science concepts during our food preparation can makes it a fun and exciting adventure. For a start, one can study the various forms of heat transfer and their different roles it play in the cooking process. With regard to specific foods, milk and dairy products can be discussed as you use them in your cooking, such as how the cows produce milk, what milk is made of, the nutrients within the milk and the difference between fermented and non-fermented products.

Plants can also be easily incorporated into our discussions. Cooking vegetables is a science itself. Even preseving them, such as kimchi, is an excellent introduction to food nutrition and preservation. By the way, talking about kimchi, in it lives a host of live organisms which one can conduct experiments on. Moreover, it also gives you an excellent opportunity to talk about Korean culture and food. Concepts such as osmosis, pH value, density of the food, as well as dissecting the vegetables to identify plant tissue and structure can be explored too.

With the wide variety of creative ideas for experimentation, the kitchen is a wonderful learning laboratory for people of all ages.

Source: Free Articles

About the Author:

Kelvin Ho is the webmaster of "". He loves cooking and teaching students how to cook. Pick up cooking tips and resources at

Tips for Cooking Lobster

While it is true that if you can boil a pot of water, you can cook a Maine lobster - you have to make sure to avoid over or undercooking the lobster. Here's some tips for steaming, boiling and grilling lobster.

Steaming lobster
The ratio of lobsters to the pot is important; a 4-5 gallon pot is ideal for steaming 6-8 pounds of lobster. You should put 2 inches of salted water in the bottom of a large pot with a steaming rack on top of it. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Put in the live lobsters, one at a time, cover the pot, and start timing. Re-arrange the lobsters halfway through cooking.

Cooking times - (based on the lobster-to-pot ratio mentioned above)
1 pound - 10 minutes
1-1/4 pounds - 12 minutes
1-1/2 pounds - 14 minutes
1-3/4 pounds - 16 minutes
2 pounds - 18 minutes
2-1/2 pounds - 22 minutes
3 pounds - 25-30 minutes
5 pounds - 40-45 minutes

Boiling lobster
Fill a large pot with water with 3 quarts of water per 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of lobster. Add 1/4 cup of salt for each gallon of water. Bring the water to a boil and put the live lobsters in the pot one at a time, do not cover, and start timing immediately. Stir the lobsters halfway through cooking.

Cooking times - (based on the lobster-to-water ratio mentioned above)
1 pound - 8 minutes
1-1/4 pounds - 9-10 minutes
1-1/2 pounds - 11-12 minutes
1-3/4 pounds - 12-13 minutes
2 pounds - 15 minutes
2-1/2 pounds - 20 minutes
3 pounds - 25 minutes
5 pounds - 35-40 minutes

Pre-boil your lobsters in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes then remove the lobsters and plunge into a large bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain the lobsters and store in a refrigerator if you do not plan to grill them right away.

Place a lobster on its back on a cutting board. Then, using a large sharp knife split the lobster down the middle. Remove the black vein from the tail, the tomalley from the body and the sand sac located near the head. You can baste the lobster meat with some oil or butter and then grill the lobsters flesh side down for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the flesh is just beginning to look opaque. Turn the lobsters over, baste with more oil and continue to cook for 4 to 5 minutes longer, or until the lobsters are thoroughly cooked.

Source: Free Articles

About the Author:

Author Barney Garcia is a proud contributing author and enjoys writing about many different topics. Please visit my web sites @ and

Friday, December 18, 2009

What To Look For In Cooking Schools

As they say, the greatest way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Is it any wonder why most women painstakingly toil and learn the art of cooking? Hence, most people who know how to cook would normally teach the others who do not know. They started having some sessions with every dish being taught every time the supposed to be teacher to his or her supposed to be student. As the time went by, this kind of teaching the others howto cook had been an invigorating activity. And so, gradually cooking schools were built, maybe with those who first taught cooking.

I. Culinary Schools - A Brief Rundown

Since its inception and practice, cooking schools had continuously provided their students, first, with the basics of cooking. Thereafter, they advanced to the next level until their students had the confidence to progress their learning on their own. The first sessions of classes incooking schools before are not as organized as it is today. Nevertheless, the growth of the cooking schools can be traced back to the very first informal session they had before. Since then, cooking schools gradually develop into a more organized way of teaching somebody how to cook.

II. Choices

The problem is too many cooking schools. As a potential student, of course you will want to attend the very best learning institution that you can.

1. Is it accredited?
In most instances, it always takes a certificate in order to prove one's worth to an employer. In this case, a good cooking school should be accredited, and not just by so-and-so company but a valid accrediting agency. From its accreditation, you can now tell its length of service in the business. So those who have been in the business for at least 6 years are good enough, right?

2. Do you need a job right away after your training?
If so, then it's best to choose cooking schools that can give you career advancement right after your training. Good cooking schools require their students to have on-the-job-training within restaurants and hotels. In turn, it will be good exposure for you especially if you want to work for them in the future.

3. Are you particular with the student-teacher ratio?
If so, then choose a cooking school that offers at least a maximum of 15 students per instructor. This is to facilitate ease of teaching and improve better comprehension among the students. A smaller class size is better especially if the session includes mostly of a one-on-one approach.

4. Do you have a tight budget?
Normally, good cooking schools cost a lot more than the typical cooking schools. So, if you are really determined to start your cooking lessons, it's a must that you have the budget for it. Otherwise, you might just end up with a cheap one but cannot give you the right techniques as far as cooking is concerned.

5. You need a good instructor for a good cooking school, right?
That is, if you really want to know how to cook effectively and professionally. So, it's best that you check on the background of the instructors in the cooking school that you chose to enrol with. Find some helpful information if they are good enough teach you the art of cooking.

6. Proximity
Can you endure a long ride going to the cooking school? If not, then it's best that you choose a good cooking school that is located within your locality. This will give you a shorter time for commuting.

7. Is it private or a public?
If you go for public cooking schools, you might save a hefty amount of money because they are cost cheaper than the private ones. But then again, the quality of the school facilities and instruction may suffer because the government may not have allotted a budget for the school.

Source: Free Articles

About the Author:

For more great Culinary School related articles and resources check out

Making Cooking An Enjoyable Experience

The art of cooking is a joy for many people, while some seem to dread it like the plague! Many factors contribute to this love or hate relationship that so many have with cooking; personality traits, prior cooking experiences, knowledge passed down from one generation to the next. Some non-cookers have simply never been taught properly in the ways to prepare food. Others simply were not interested in learning because their mother, father or other guardian always did the work. Yet, cooking can be made into an enjoyable experience with a bit of creativity and some knowledge
on the process. Those who cannot even boil water can learn, and with time, even become experts in the art of cooking!

Cooking With A Purpose And A Plan

Often, we stumble into the kitchen and open the refrigerator only to stare into it blankly with no idea of where to begin. We just want something, and we want it now! Yet, cooking with joy is obtained when there is a purpose for your cooking and a plan to help you. The purpose for cooking could be that you want to provide healthy, whole and nutritious food for your growing children and your husband or wife. You want them to have the healthiest bodies that they can, and you have a desire to see them thrive. This motivation can serve to give you joy in your cooking experience, knowing that you are giving them the best that their bodies deserve.

Another great way to begin to enjoy cooking is to have a plan. Having a meal planned out in advance takes the stress and struggle of deciding away from last-minute preparations. Planning helps to ensure that you will have the right ingredients on hand in order to make your dish, and you will not be frustrated with coming up with a meal and then give up. With a plan, you can calmly prepare the meal even while listening to music or talking to a friend on the phone. This will help you be more relaxed at dinnertime as well.

Having the right attitude toward cooking goes a long way in making it an enjoyable experience. It is true that some tend to be more natural when it comes to food preparation, but that is no excuse for not attempting to cook a healthy meal. Anyone can learn to cook simple and tasty meals for themselves and their loved ones each day. Do not let a long-standing distaste for cooking sway you into sticking with your TV dinner rut. This is not only bad for your health but it is an expensive way to eat. Letting your children help you in the kitchen can also create fun as well as become a great learning experience for them.

With all the easy and exciting ways to simplify your life, cooking should definitely be a part!

Source: Free Articles

About the Author:

Kelvin Ho is the webmaster of "". He loves cooking and teaching students how to cook. Pick up cooking tips and resources at

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Philippines Food and Drinks Market: Emerging Opportunities

The Philippines has emerged as one of the rapidly growing food and drinks industries in the Asian region over the recent past. The country is characterized by various factors, such as its growing young affluent population, rising disposable income and rising consumer awareness regarding health and safety concerns. With these factors, the demand for health food and drinks is surging high, says our new research report, “Philippines Food and Drinks Market: Emerging Opportunities”.

The country exports foods to several countries, including the US, Europe and some Asian countries. However, the ongoing financial turmoil is forcing the country to look at alternative destinations such as the Middle East and Africa. In line with this, it is striving hard to get a share of highly lucrative global halal food industry, explains the report.

This report is an in-depth study that evaluates the past, current and future market trends in the food and drinks industry of the Philippines. This report has been made to help clients in analyzing the opportunities, challenges and drivers critical to the growth of the industry.

The research provides detailed overview of the consumption patterns of the Philippines in various food segments like consumption of milk, fruits, vegetables, meat etc. The beverage segment talks about the type of beverages, their sales and consumption patterns among the Filipinos.

It also offers an insight into various emerging segments in the Philippines food and drinks industry. Some of these include halal food industry, organic food, food exports, processed food etc.

The report provides five-year industry forecast (2009-2013) on various food and drinks segments. The forecasts are given on:

- Consumer expenditure
- Meat
- Fruit
- Vegetable
- Fish
- Milk
- Coffee
- Alcoholic drinks
- Soft drinks
- Bottled water
- Wine market

Key player profiling

This report gives the brief profiling on the major players in the Philippines food and drinks industry, including San Miguel Corporation, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Pancake House, Inc., and Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc.

For FREE SAMPLE of this report visit:


Article Source:

About the Author:

About RNCOS: RNCOS, incorporated in the year 2002, is an industry research firm. We are a team of industry experts who analyze data collected from credible sources. We provide industry insights and analysis that helps corporations to take timely and accurate business decision in today's globally competitive environment.

Dry Aged Beef A Delicious Obsession

Whether you are eating a sirloin steak, a sirloin tip roast or some other cut of beef, the fans of dry aged beef will travel far and wide to get the taste that they love. Usually dry aged beef that is aged over two weeks can create much higher prices for the consumer. But if you love the taste, texture and tenderness of this process, whether with sirloin steaks or a sirloin tip roast, you will pay the difference. Today, because of meat companies that sell on the internet, it is simple to have this delicious dry aged beef delivered right to your door.

When a cut of meat is about to be created into dry aged beef, it is placed in an exact temperature and humidity. Whether it’s sirloin steak or some other cut of beef, the moisture from the meat evaporates concentrating the flavor greatly. The natural enzymes break down the tissue which allows a much more tender piece of beef to emerge even if it’s a sirloin tip roast. Finally, after weeks of observing this meat, the butcher trims the crust off of the meat that has built up over the weeks. This leaves a piece of beef, whether it’s a sirloin steak or another cut, costing more because of this process.

After the above process is culminated, the dry aged beef will have a much stronger flavor than wet aged beef which truly becomes addicting. Along with the incredible flavor, the beef is very tender and the texture melts in your mouth. Also, some dry aged beef is aged for 2 weeks while others are aged for 3 or more. The longer the cut of beef is in this process, the stronger the flavor it will have.

Many people who have become dry aged beef lovers will not eat anything but beef or steaks aged with this process. To them, this method is superior to any other and they demand their sirloin steak or other cut of beef to have this distinct flavor and mouth watering tenderness. Of course, there are those who would disagree, but the majority of people that have grown to love this taste find that they cannot eat anything but dry aged beef. Just be aware that all beef is not created equal and you might just find that beef aged this way is your new obsession.

Article Source:

About the Author:

For more resources regarding Mail Order Steaks or even about Filet Mignon Cut and especially about Buy New York Strip Steak please review these pages.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Find A Sushi Bar Anywhere You Live

You must go to a sushi bar if you are a person who always enjoys unlike international meal. A sushi bar is not a regular restaurant; it is just like any other modern western bar or pub.

Meant for group socialization and finger meal, a sushi bar allows for good meal to be served without it taking up space. With entertainment, be it shows, television or sports, the sushi bar blends western and eastern cultures.

However, it is main to realize that there are many differences between a sushi bar in Japan and a sushi bar in the United States or Canada. A sushi bar in Japan is a fast meal style eatery, where sushi is moved along a conveyor and is selected by guests. The guests then pay for their sushi based off of the color or size of the plate they have selected.

In western settings a sushi bar is just another grill or a regular bar or a closer example might be sushi restaurants themselves. In United States or Canada few sushi bars offerpresent previously prepared sushi foods you just need to pick and pay.

If you are a regular customer of American sushi bars, you may get astonished by visiting sushi bars in Japan. Japanese bars are more conventional and unlike American sushi bars, their sushi is usually very unlike and adherent to conventional and non vegetarian sushi styles. For example; octopus, squid and other sea meal mostly accompanied the sushi which can be terrible for those who are not easy with seameal.

The major dissimilarity in sushi restaurant and sushi bar is seating arrangement and the way in which they work. Lots of people regard sushi bars inexpensive and faster than the sushi restaurants. That is why sushi bars usually preferred only for delivery or take out and their sushi dishes are inferior to the sushi dishes which are available at standard sushi restaurants.

A variety of condiments accompany sushi dishes which can be used according to your choice. Soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger are the most common secondary items for eating sushi.

A conventional green tea called Ocha is usually taken with almost all the sushi foods. Sake or Ocha has been served at American sushi restaurants. As the status of the restaurant gets higher you might have Sake alternatively. Japanese usually give preference to Mecha over Ocha, which is also a loaded green tea.

Article Source:

About the Author:

Serena Pulman Find more info on sushi bar menu and japanese sushi bar.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Discovering The Benefits Of Slow Cooking

By: Matt LeClair

Getting dinner ready day after day can become a tiresome and repetitious task that you may very well become tired of doing after a long period of time. There may be days when you simply dont want to deal with having to get something ready for your family because youre too tired or you dont have the time to devote to the task. In these cases, you may want to consider slow cooking something. There are many benefits to slow cooking including saving you time, locking in the flavor, and providing flexibility to your mealtime.

Slow cooking has many benefits for you and your family and one of the main benefits that we can all make use of is being able to save a little time by slow cooking your meal instead of preparing it another way which requires to devote all of your attention to that process. When you slow cook your meal, all you need to do is prepare the dish in the slow cooker and the let it cook on its own. You dont need to constantly watch it, and you can come back to it when the required time needed for your dish to cook has expired. At that time it will be ready to serve and you wont have to worry about cooking anything else to go with it. Your family will appreciate the quick meal, and you will appreciate the trouble saved by not having to babysit the meal while it was cooking.

Another benefit to slow cooking is that when you slow cook something, there is less liquid lost because of the sealed environment. Your food will be more moist and flavorful than if you were to cook it in a conventional oven or a microwave. The slow cooking process allows the moisture to be locked in so it does not evaporate. It simply collects inside the compartment where it is absorbed by the food being cooked. This means that your meats will be more juicy and tender.

Finally, when you slow cook your meal you dont have to serve it immediately after it has finished. You can leave it sit and your family can help themselves to it when they have the time or when they are hungry enough to eat. This is a huge time saver for you because you now are not required to set the table or prepare side items for the meal. You can just sit back and relax and let your family enjoy the meal at their own pace. What could be better than that?

Article Source:

About the Author:
For information on the slow cooker cookbook and other great products, visit

Excellent Meals For Cold Days

By: Matt LeClair

When you think of winter, you think of cold temperatures, snow covered roofs, icy roads, slipper sidewalks, and much more. There are also a lot of activities that come to mind when you think about winter such as snowmobiling, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, sledding, and more. But how often do you think about what types of meals can be served to help lift your spirits or warm you up during the winter months? Im guessing this is not something that you spend a lot of time on. The truth is there are a lot of meals that can be made that are delicious and are great for warming you up on those cold days.

Chili is one dish that immediately comes to mind when I think about winter foods. Nothing warms you up better after a cold day of play out in the snow than a nice big bowl of steaming hot chili. Thick and hearty and full of great ingredients, chili is the perfect solution for warming up your cold hands and body after being outside for long periods of time. Chili requires very few ingredients and can be made in just a few simple steps. You can increase recipe sizes in order to make extra amounts of chili that can be frozen and then served later on. As many of you know, chili is just as good served leftover then it is when it is fresh so it never hurts to have some stored away in the freezer.

Soup is another great dish that can be made to help beat the cold of the winter months. With so many different types of soup recipes available, youll have an endless supply of options at your disposal for making soup. Soup is not only good for warming you up after being out in the cold air, it is also a great pick me up when youre sick and not feeling your best. Im sure youve been told to eat a bowl of chicken noodle soup when you were feeling down in the dumps. Soup can also be made in bulk quantities so that it can be frozen and served at a later date. If youve got the room in your freezer, you can pour your leftover soup into ice cream pails and freeze it that way. Simply let it though and the reheat it when you want to serve it.

Some other classic dishes that are great for winter months include any type of casserole, lasagna, pot roast, beef stew, and chicken chili just to name a few. These dishes all help to warm you up and make you feel better during those cold winter months.

If youve been out in the cold for a long period of time and want a hot dish to warm you up, or if youre just not sure what to make your family for dinner on those cold winter days, try some of the dishes that have been mentioned in this article. Youll be thoroughly impressed with how much your family likes these meals and youll also find that they all taste just as good reheated as they did when they were first cooked. These meals will definitely be able to warm you up on frigid winter days.

Article Source:

About the Author:
For information on stainless steel coffee makers and other great products, visit

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Choosing Healthy Foods For A Healthy Life

By: Rodger Haroar

Every year nearly thirty billion dollars is spent on diet products in America, many of which aren't actually verified to be effective. Instead of spending money on pills, powders, and formulas you can buy healthy foods to help you reach your weight loss goals. Studies show that there are over a dozen foods that can effectively satisfy your appetite while taking care of your sugar, salt, and fat cravings. These foods will also boost your metabolic rate, helping you to drop weight naturally. Also, the best foods offer the greatest nutrients and disease battling substances to guarantee a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Basically, healthy foods fill you up and taste good. One of the most satisfying breakfasts you can have is a simple bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon. Not only will you be nourishing yourself with whole grains, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and antioxidants, but also taking in only 110 calories and 2 grams of fat. Adding less than a teaspoon of cinnamon to your oatmeal everyday is beneficial in regulating insulin, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in persons diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

A healthy lunch is obviously a salad because it is low in calories with a lot of vitamin C, E, folic acid, lycopene, and carotenoids which fight disease. Beans are shown in many diets to be good at decreasing appetite with weight loss while maintaining a stable low blood sugar level. Some less often talked about appetite suppressors include tofu and chicken noodle soup. You might not think about hot red peppers when it comes to weight loss; however a study in Japan verified that the substance capsaicin supports appetite suppression and makes the metabolism higher.

The best foods to eat as a snack vary from pears to nuts. Based on what the FDA says, a medium sized pear contains six grams of fiber and an apple contains 3 grams of fiber, with either one of these being a snack option that will help you feel full. While nuts may be higher in calories than other foods (just a handful has 165), studies demonstrate that people who snack on nuts stay slim and healthier. People who consumed 500 calories of peanuts daily did not eat as much at mealtime, had an 11% quicker metabolism rate, plus they had additional disease fighting advantages. For example, walnuts have omega 3 fatty acids that battle cancer and only 10 to 20 pecans daily have been verified to decrease the risk of heart disease.

You need to drink the best drinks in addition to consuming the best foods. There isn't anything as good for your body as eight cups of water daily. This fluid lubricates the body and cells, rejuvenates the skin, and supports digestion. A very effective weight loss drink is milk. Many different studies have results that show a diet high in calcium encourages fat burning instead of fat storage. Green tea promotes higher metabolism, fat burning, and LDL cholesterol reduction, as well. So paying attention to foods and drinks that are high in nutrients and disease-fighting elements will not only help you maintain a healthy weight, but also live a long, healthy life.

Article Source:

About the Author:
When Chef Rodger Haroar needs commercial restaurant equipment parts he knows hell find what he needs at National Band Saw. Roger highly recommends the quality replacement parts at NBS to anyone looking for anything from Hobart meat slicer parts to breadmaker parts at lower prices than the original manufacturer.

Chicken Gumbo Soup

By: jimmyd

Chicken gumbo soup, the name itself can be deceiving. I've seen it made from everything including Campbell's gumbo soup mix. Now, we all know that's not real chicken gumbo soup, but it sure makes a quick meal. Obviously, you need chicken, preferably skinless and cut up in smaller pieces.

For the gumbo part, we're going to need a roux. That's nothing more than equal amounts of lard, oil, or butter mixed with flour. When mixing the roux on heat, make sure you don't stop stirring. If you do, it will burn very quickly and you'll have to start over again. This is critical. There are several stages you'll go through with your roux. It will start out almost a vanilla color and the more you stir and the hotter it gets, it will continually get darker. Ideally, you want it to get a very dark chocolaty color.

Now, to help from keeping the roux from burning, you need to add what they call the "Holy Trinity" of gumbos, this being chopped onions, celery and bell peppers. I don't know why they call it the holy trinity, because there is no such thing, but that's a whole other subject! When this is all added to the stock, it will thicken. That's why this name is deceiving, chicken gumbo soup. Soup usually means liquidy and the gumbo will be somewhat thick.

Then there's always the question of whether or not to add Andouille sausage or not, and another consideration regarding okra, because to be genuine, both of these items are necessary. There are also spices and herbs to be considered, to each his own, but I've learned that to be authentic most, if not all the above ingredients are necessary.

Article Source:

About the Author:
Throughout my research, I have found a book with videos that I've used to make my own gumbos and highly recommend it to anyone looking to make that perfect gumbo. I have two videos and one recipe relating to chicken gumbo soup on my page at : Http://www.Squidoo.Com/chickengumbosoup and I highly recommend looking at http://www.Gumborecipe.Info. This one has a FREE recipe from a New Orleans chef and also 8 more recipes and videos to boot!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Italian Recipes - How about a dinner in Rome?

by: Jonathan Teng
If you are wondering what to prepare for dinner tonight, then you can always try these easy recipes. It’s quick and affordable.


Meal: Chicken Spaghetti

Salad: Spinach Salad

Dessert: Lemon Sorbet

Chicken Spaghetti


1 cup Chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 cup Water
1 tsp Dried oregano leaves
3/4 tsp Dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp Dried marjoram leaves
1 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Dried rosemary leaves
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1 Bay leaf
1 (8-ounce) can Tomato sauce
1 (8-ounce) can Tomato paste
1-1/2 cups Cut-up cooked chicken or turkey
4 cups Hot cooked spaghetti

Heat all ingredients except chicken and spaghetti to boiling in 10-inch skillet; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken. Cover and simmer 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Serve sauce over spaghetti.

Note: All three Italian recipes in this article yield 6 servings.

Spinach Salad


2 or 3 cups Raw spinach
3 slices Bacon
1 whole Avocado, sliced
12 strips Pimiento
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Italian olive oil
1/4 cup Vinegar
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Instructions: Wash spinach well, and remove stems. Dry. Fry bacon crisp and then drain. Chop or crumble into small bits. Toss the spinach with remaining ingredients.

Lemon Sorbet


2-1/4 cups Fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 tbsp Grated lemon zest
4-1/2 cups Simple syrup
Simple Syrup:
3 cups Sugar

6 cups Water

Instructions: Combine the ingredients and freeze in an ice cream maker. Alternatively, place in a bowl set within a larger bowl holding ice cubes and salted water. Beat the mixture with a portable mixer or wire whisk for several minutes until it begins to be thoroughly chilled. Cover and place in the freezer until frozen, stirring occasionally.

Simple Syrup: Place the sugar and water in a stainless steel or enameled saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve lined with a damp cloth. Cool.

About the author:

Jonathan loves eating! If you are like him, then you definitely need to visit The special place where Jonathan reveals 3 BIG secrets to make any recipe a pure success!
For more free recipes and cooking tips subscribe to his free newsletter:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Supporting Local Flavors

by: Scott Schirkofsky
In the last 10 years Americans have seen a boom in local food markets and for good reason. While Americans continue to buy more fast food, they still expect perfect ingredients and they are finding them.

So why are they turning to their local markets more and more? In a nutshell they want fresh, healthy produce with great flavor. There are numerous other benefits to buying local products and it would seem Americans are now rediscovering what their local growers have to offer.

Care for fresher ingredients? Locally grown items are usually harvested 1 or 2 days before hitting the market making them significantly fresher then traditional store bought ingredients. For those folks lucky enough to live in rural areas, many of your local ingredients may be available to you the same day they are harvested. Produce flown in from other parts of the country or world is considerably older given that on average they travel 1,500 miles to get to your dinner table. These products may be harvested before they are ripe because of the delay in getting the product to market. Given that produce loses nutrients quickly, a recently harvested crop is preferred for its ripeness alone.

Local food is often safer, too. Even when it’s not organically grown, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms about using chemicals. While biotechnology companies have long been experimenting with genetically altered produce, small local farmers do not have access to these seeds and most would not use them even if they did have access to these seeds. For those consumers opposed to using genetically altered produce, locally grown produce will offer the best product.

When you go to a local market you get a chance to see the grower and talk to them eye-to-eye. You get to see their reaction when you ask them if the use chemicals. You get to see how proud they are of what their hard work has produced. And you get to see that happiness in their eyes when you support their farm with a purchase. This opportunity to meet the growers in person goes a long way in creating a sense of community and maintaining tradition in addition to supporting local growers financially.

As we have become wrapped up in the conveniences of the corner grocer, we seem to have forgotten how valuable our farmers are to our local communities. If you grew up in a rural area, you most likely remember the vast open space and picturesque countryside the crops created. As long as the small local farms exist this open space will not be developed into commercial property. Why is this important? Aside from maintaining the beautiful landscape, it is also most cost effective for the region, supports a cleaner environment and affords wildlife a greatly desirable sanctuary.

On average almost four times as much tax revenue is spent on services for a residential area then is spent on services for farms, forest or open space. For instance for every $1 collected in taxes from a residential area, almost $1.20 is spent on services to support that area. Conversely, only $.34 is spent to support rural area for each dollar collected. Because farms contribute more taxes then they require in services, local farmers make for a surplus in tax revenue. In addition to the lower cost needed to support rural areas, they also help to clean 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry.

By continuing to support local growers today, you are ensuring that they will be around tomorrow. In fact more and more non-chain grocers are carrying locally grown products. They must, it’s what consumers are demanding.

Try buying local flavors. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

About the author:
Scott Schirkofsky is the chef and owner of At Home Gourmet. You can find more recipes, cooking tips, spice blends, food and beverage articles on his highly recommended website: http://www.athomegourmet.comand

The Secrets To Successful Cooking

by: cusine dumatre
Cooking is the process of using heat to prepare foods
for consumption. Many common cooking methods
involve the use of oil. Frying is cooking in hot oil,
sautéing is cooking in a small amount of oil, stir-frying is
a Chinese technique of frying quickly in small amounts
of oil in a wok, deep frying is completely submerging
the food in large amounts of fat, etc.

As people have become more health conscious,
preparing foods in oil has become less desirable. With
the advent of nonstick cookware, sautéing can be done
at lower heats using vegetable broth and fruit juices
instead of oil. Stewing refers to cooking slowly in a
small amount of liquid in a closed container. Slow
stewing tenderizes tough cuts of meat and allows
flavors to mingle.

Another slow-cooking method is braising, in which meat
is first browned, then cooked slowly in a small amount
of liquid in a covered pan. Poaching is cooking food in
liquid below the boiling point, while steaming is cooking
food that has been placed above boiling water.
Roasting means baking in hot dry air, generally in an
oven. Baking refers to cooking in an oven and differs
from roasting mainly in its reference to the type of food
cooked-for example, one bakes a cake, but roasts a
chicken. Another form called broiling means to cook by
direct exposure to heat, while barbecue refers to
cooking marinated food by grilling.

Dining with others is one of the most common and
frequent social activities. It can involve a family dinner,
a meal with friends, or form part of a ceremony or
celebration, such as a wedding or holiday. More and
more people study cooking in schools, watch how-to
programs on television, and read specialty magazines
and cookbooks. In fact, cookbooks as a group outsell
any other kind of book except for religious works.

Cooking is the act of preparing food for consumption. It
encompasses a vast range of methods, tools and
combinations of ingredients to improve the flavor and
digestibility of food. It generally requires the selection,
measurement and combining of ingredients in an
ordered procedure in an effort to achieve the desired
result. Constraints on success include the variability of
ingredients, ambient conditions, tools and the skill of
the person cooking.

The diversity of cooking worldwide is a reflection of the
myriad nutritional, aesthetic, agricultural, economic,
cultural and religious considerations that impact upon it.
Cooking frequently, though not always, involves
applying heat in order to chemically transform a food,
thus changing its flavor, texture, appearance, or
nutritional properties. There is archaeological evidence
of cooked foodstuffs (both animal and vegetable) in
human settlements dating from the earliest known use
of fire.

While cooking if heating is used, this can disinfect and
soften the food depending on temperature, cooking
time, and technique used. 4 to 60°C (41 to 140°F) is the
"danger zone" in which many food spoilage bacteria
thrive, and which must be avoided for safe handling of
meat, poultry and dairy products. Refrigeration and
freezing do not kill bacteria, but slow their growth.

About the author:
cusine dumatre is the owner of
N Cooking
which is a premier resource for Cooking information.
for more information, go to

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top Must-have Items In My Kitchen

By: brekal677

Top Must-Have Items in My Kitchen

Before I even talk about my food, I have to bring you to my must-have tools and the basic stuff in my kitchen. These items are good to have, and I'm not going into a panic mode if I don't have them. But it brings a little bit of convenience when it comes to playing-with-food!

Krok, glorious krok! - my stone mortar

If there's anything that I'm proud of, that would be my krokhin, or stone mortar from Aangsila county - a hilly town on Thailand's eastern seaboard where high quality mortars and pestles are manufactured because of the high grade of its stone.

Stone mortars come in different sizes, from a baby size of 2-3 pounds all the way to a very large size that weighs up to 50 pounds for household use. In the old days, they could get much bigger with industrial use. Now, I doubt that any food industry has somebody manually grinding or pounding any ingredients since they all have gone the hi-tech route. The big mortar that I own weighs 25 pounds. It's sturdy, very durable, and I use it for various kinds of things.

This is my grinder, kneader, mixer, blender, cracker, and much more. No electricity, and a great work out for my arms and shoulders! I use the stone mortar for grinding herbs and spices for curry paste. Somtum, curry fishcakes, shrimpcakes, meatballs, and dumplings - even guacamole are made with this mortar. Depending on the amount of my dipping sauces, I alternate between the large and the small mortars.

The krok won't work without 'Lookkrok' or stone pestle

I have with me five different sizes - three stone pestles and two wooden ones. The wooden ones are used for something that doesn't need a lot of 'pounding' such as somtum - the papaya salad and its variations of fruit and veggie salads which cannot take a lot of 'beating'. I have a wooden krok still packed in one of the boxes since we moved back to the US. It will stay there until I need to use it.

An electric rice cooker - it's not a must, but is so convenient if you can put your hands on one.

When we lived in Thailand, we had a Thai brand rice cooker, 'National,' and it did a wonderful job for me. But somehow I had a hard time finding a National rice cooker in the NY-NJ-PA area that is large enough to fit the size of my growing family. Because of that, I had been cooking the long grain scented Jasmine rice from Thailand right on our stovetop, and even prided myself on the expert I've become! It did take away a space on my much too small stovetop, though. (The previous owner of the house had a small family of three.

And, yes, one of these days, I will build a kitchen of my dreams!) Then, sometime last year, my husband spotted a large enough rice cooker, and although it wasn't a Thai brand, he bought it so I wouldn't have to toggle my stove surface space. It's been cooking rice just fine, but is not capable of handling 'sticky rice' - gluten rice - which features regularly on our menu since I often make somtum - papaya salad, laab ghai - a famous North-east chicken dish, (or pork or beef - which will make it laapmoo or laapnua) nuanamtok - similar to steak salad, and, grilled chicken - ghaiyang. So, I still cook my sticky rice in the microwave.

A knife that fits well into my hand

I know that there's a separate knife for every different purpose. For me, I found out, after several sets of good expensive knives and a lot of cheap knives, that I end up using just one particular knife all the time - my all purpose knife. Now, I don't go carve a melon with that - but I cut, slice, chop, julienne and flatten all my vegetables and my meat from the same knife (yes, I wash it after every cutting job).

You chop and slice your food all the time and you must understand how inconsistent in size your ingredients will turn out if your knife isn't right for your grip - and the inconsistency in cutting will play a role in the outcome of your dish. The pain factor due to discomfort from a wrong-fitting knife can also be quite overwhelming on a long, bad day. I don't want to make my family feel miserable because I use a knife that doesn't fit me, therefore, in choosing a knife, what is most importantis not about using the sharpest knife made of a certain material and a high price tag, but, rather, how a knife fits my grip.

A wooden cutting board

The best cutting board comes from a full grown tamarind tree. It's strong and sturdy and works well with a cleaver. Well, I don't own one here. But since it's highly likely that I will not use a cleaver to chop any meat with bones any time soon I have settled on a regular, rectangular-shaped cutting board. One thing of which you are already aware; always make sure that all wooden equipment is cleaned very well after each use.

What's a stove top cooking without a large frying pan - with a deep bottom- or a wok?

Although I must say it's so difficult to find a pan that is deep enough, or a wok that is large enough, for my deep- frying, or even making my simple yet delicious kaijiew-omelet. I use a cast iron wok and am not one hundred percent happy. The design is important since we want it to heat up evenly. This will have to be it until I find a wok of my dreams.

Wooden spatulas

Again, it's all about how they fit my hands. I use two spatulas, almost always, to stir-fry large amounts of food. I like mine to be flat with only a little curve that meets at the end. The ones I've been using are getting quite beaten up. Again, I have been searching for something similar to replace them, and so far nothing has come up. I like wooden tools because the wood, unlike the harshness of the metal, feels 'soft' in my grip, yet strong enough to lift heavy food. What a great way to exercise my arms!

To recap

Although the core of my cooking is really Thai, I am very innovative when it comes to my food creativity. As I start introducing some simple dishes (Please, I am not capable of complexity in anything but the stuff inside my own head!), I hope that you will come to the undestanding that you, too, will start exploring and have fun with your own creations. Lifestyles today make us keep going non-stop and applies a steady stream of stress on us already. It's up to us to reverse the process and start enjoying and appreciating. Be on the lookout for my first dish! Enjoy your creations, and since it's your own, name it, too!


Article Source:

About the Author:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Lowdown On Barbeque

by: Kirsten Hawkins
Barbeque, in the southern and Midwest parts of the United States, consists of slow-cooking meat over indirect heat. Chicken, beef, pork, sausage, ham, and ribs can all be barbequed – even mutton is sometimes barbequed, at least in Kentucky. With so many ways to make so many dishes, the perfect way to make barbequed meat can be a regional “bone” of contention.

In Memphis, Tennessee, barbeque is almost a religion. Barbeque ribs – most often pork, are cooked for long hours, until the meat is so tender that it is ready to fall off the bone. The city bills itself as the pork barbeque capital of the world, and has over one hundred barbeque restraints to back up that claim, many of whom participate in the annual pork cook off that is listen the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest pork barbeque contest anywhere.

The contest, part of the celebration called “Memphis in May”, draws some 90,000 cooks and spectators. Competitors come from fifty smaller cook offs sponsored by the main contest. It even runs a series of training seminars for potential barbeque judges. Good barbeque, they say, is all about being tender, without being too mushy, and being smoky, without being overpowering.

Ribs commonly come “wet,” that is, with barbeque sauce of some kind, usually mild and sweet in Memphis and basted on before and after cooking, or “dry,” with a dry rub of herbs and spices that is applied during or right after cooking. Regardless of which style is favored, the taste of the meat should come through – this is what separates good barbeque from something lathered with barbeque sauce and put in the oven for a few hours.
In Missouri, there are not one, but two predominant styles of barbeque, both of which favor beef, which is not surprising given the history of both Kansas City and St. Louis as “cattle towns.” They share a tomato-based sauce that is added after cooking, and can be replicated by mixing ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Interestingly, Missouri’s Ozarks are the source of almost half of the charcoal briquettes produced in the United States.

Kansas City, like Memphis, has a large number of barbeque restaurants and hosts several annual competitions. However, it is particularly famous for its sauces, which are thick, rich, tangy, and spicy. The sauce is basted on during the last few moments of cooking, and more can be added thereafter. Dry rub, too, is common on Kansas City style barbeque.

In St. Louis style barbeque, ribs are the flagship dish. These famous spare ribs are a rack of ribs with the chine bone and brisket bone removed. They are cooked with a sauce that is less vinegary, tangier and thinner than its cross-state equivalent, closer, in fact, to that served in Memphis.

Whether sweet or spicy, dry or wet, slow cooked or grilled over an open flame, barbeque is one of the most diverse of all American foods, and one to which many cities lay claim. Each has its own unique character, so get some bread and crackers, or some cole slaw, or even beans, (all traditional barbeque side dishes) and give them a try.

About the author:
Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food. Visit more information on cooking delicious and healthy meals.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

American Fast Food Restaurants

by: Mark Woodcock
As a staple of life our need to eat has developed from a basic form of simply feeding our bodies with the fuel it requires, to a complicated art of presentation and taste combined with our intrinsic need to experiment with everything we see, touch, smell and of course taste.

The ever-increasing divergence of foods that is now available to us at our local stores and eating-places only help to confuse and tantalise us into new culinary experiments and delights.

From the sandwich shop to the award winning restaurants, we can always find a place that prepares and sells the food we want at a reasonable price, although cooking or preparing food for ourselves may be a cheaper or healthier option it never seems to taste the same as our local restaurant. Most people that have cooked their own versions and varieties of local, Chinese, Indian or other international cuisine believes it does not have the same taste or texture and will often opt for a more authentic meal from their local restaurant or take away.

Cooking at home has become less of a choice and more of a chore. With the large amount of ready meals available, the option of spending time in the kitchen becomes less and less appealing. People are spending more of their time and money in the world of fast foods and restaurants. Although some believe this to be a bad thing it has fuelled a new market in available meals that are only a phone call away. As long as the health and hygiene departments vet these establishments and our choices are varied, of good quality and healthy their use can be a good alternative to cooking our own meals.

With the onset of fast foods and the quick cook and ready cooked meals available along with the ever increasing choice of world cuisine, the enjoyment of these different foods have opened new options to the consumer within the food market.

In today's busy world where leisure time has become more and more important, the less time spent working and preparing to eat allows us more available time for our pursuit of our leisure activities.

People who do not have the ability, time or will to cook at home now only have to pick up the phone book or click on the Internet in order to find their local restaurant or fast food retailer that will be more than happy to deliver the freshly prepared hot food ready to eat straight to their door with minimum fuss.

Although the fast food retailers compete with each other fiercely, using their special offers and cheaper and healthier alternatives to entice us to their premises, the main stay of traditional restaurants still hold an important part in our lives.

Even though these places are vastly out numbered by the fast food industry, we still enjoy sitting down in the nice comfortable and pleasant surroundings of a restaurant and dining on good quality food at a leisurely pace, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of daily life and the fast food rush.

Traditional restaurants will always offer us that pleasant alternative to eating at home, ordering take out from our local fast food dispenser or visiting their drive through or small busy café style restaurants. Not forgetting those special occasions or romantic rendezvous, these still command the need for that quiet stylish quality restaurant where we know that the food wine and service will always be excellent and the experience wonderful and charming.

About the author:
Learn the essential information for picking the right restaurant at New York Restaurants

Veganism: Not As Intimidating As You Thought

by: Kirsten Hawkins
To some people, the phrase "Vegan Cuisine" sounds like an oxymoron. To others, it sounds like the road of a hardcore food nutritionist. "Scary," was the word used by my roommate when I announced I was going to try to become a vegan. What most people don't realize is that it's very possible, indeed even probable, for a creative chef to make vegan food just as exciting and full of variety as any other type of cuisine.

What is veganism, first of all? Strictly put, veganism is a diet which contains no animal byproducts. Not only do vegans not eat meat, like vegetarians, but they also do not consume any food created by animals. No milk, no eggs, no dairy of any kind. No pasta derived from eggs. No gelatin. When you stop to think, it is surprising how much of the typical American diet is animal-derived.

All of this, I admit, can sound rather scary to the typical meat and milk lover, and certainly to the typical American who is surrounded by fast-food hamburgers and bologna sandwiches from a young age. But veganism is not as intimidating as it sounds. In fact, when the right choices in recipe and menu are made, it can be extraordinarily flavorful and rewarding.

Think of it this way: Vegan cuisine can't rely on heavy, flavorful ingredients like meat and dairy to get its flavor and substance. So what do they do instead? They replace those ingredients in a way that makes you never even miss them- with fresh vegetables, heady spices, wonderful texture combinations and delicate wheat-based starches.

One of the most uniquely vegan foods on the market, and the one that tends to scare the layperson the most, is tofu. Tofu is basically a soybean curd with a sponge-like consistency and a bland taste that absorbs whatever flavors are around it. Am I tempting you yet?

Wait. Let's try this. Imagine a dish of Italian stuffed shells, loaded with tomato sauce and basil, garlic, and oregano. Now imagine that instead of cheese, the shells were stuffed with a mixture of soft tofu, blended with fresh spinach. The tofu absorbs the Italian spices and has a delicate, creamy flavor all its own. Would you notice the absence of the cheese? Sure. Would you miss it? Not likely.

There are many recipes unique to vegan cuisine that are truly surprising in their variety and tastiness. Curry is one of the darlings of vegan cuisine, and is available in all forms and flavors. Other wonderful vegan dishes include several types of stir-fry, swimming in soy sauces and fresh vegetables; salads overflowing with fresh beans and sweet oil dressings, and many spicy and exciting side dishes and appetizers. Many people, for example, love the wonderful garlicky zing of hummus and do not realize that it's a distinctly vegan food.

Give vegan cuisine a try. Once you stop relying on meat and milk for your flavor and fullness, you might just discover a whole new world out there, where spices are abundant and soybean curd can be delicious.

About the author:
Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food. Visit more information on cooking delicious and healthy meals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wholesome cooking at home

(ARA) - We all want to eat a nutritious diet that helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases and manage cholesterol levels. The same holds true for diabetics; in fact, many of the guidelines for a balanced diabetic diet are useful for anyone who wants to stick to a healthful diet.

With all the refined sugars and processed carbohydrates found in today's grocery aisles and neighborhood markets, it's easy to see why anyone who is concerned about his or her health is intimidated by the idea of whipping up a healthy meal at home. Even though you have countless, long-forgotten cookbooks on your shelves and have visited various cooking Web sites, there aren't many recipes there that can offer you a healthful meal that won't send your blood sugar through the roof.

The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing whole grain, high-fiber foods and plenty of vegetables and fruits - the same foods that most people eat when they decide to follow a nutritious meal plan. Additionally, the ADA encourages diabetics to include "good" fats in appropriate portion sizes to reap the benefits of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. While many recipes might appear incompatible with nutritious diabetic eating, it's easier than you think to make them friendlier to a flavorful carbohydrate-controlled diet. Here are some tips:

Have a recipe that calls for a cup of sugar? Try cutting the amount in half and increasing the amount of spices in the recipe to amp up the natural sweetness.

Trying a recipe that asks for half a cup of butter or cream? Puree a medium-sized avocado in a blender or food processor and add more liquid to your mixture until you get the same creamy consistency.

The American Diabetes Association recommends avocados as a source of monounsaturated fat. Avocados have only 50 calories and less than 3 grams of carbohydrates per three-slice serving (or 1 ounce). The fat in avocados is two-thirds monounsaturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, mono- and polyunsaturated fats may actually help reduce cholesterol when consumed in moderation and substituted for saturated fat or trans fat in your diet.

Try incorporating avocados into your everyday meals to reap the benefits of nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and 1 gram of fiber per serving. By using appropriate amounts in pasta sauce, dips and garnishes for your favorite soups and salads, you can include avocados from Mexico year-round in your favorite dishes to add smooth texture and rich taste without putting your cholesterol levels at risk.

To get the best taste out of your avocado, buy avocados from Mexico ripe for immediate use, or firm for creating nutritious meals later in the week. Firm avocados will ripen to perfection when held at room temperature for one to three days. When they yield to gentle pressure, they're ready for the cooking to begin.

This holiday season, what better way to use your turkey leftovers than in a healthy, delicious sandwich? Try this recipe for a turkey sandwich with spicy avocado spread. For more recipes and ideas on how to incorporate avocados into your diet, visit

Turkey Sandwich with Spicy Avocado Spread
Makes: Four servings (1 cup of avocado spread)

2 fully ripened avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted and peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce
8 slices whole grain bread, toasted
8 ounces sliced cooked turkey
1 large ripe tomato, sliced
1 cup alfalfa sprouts

In large bowl, mash together avocados, lime juice, salt and chipotle sauce. Spread on each bread slice. Top four of the bread slices with turkey, tomato and sprouts, dividing equally; cover with remaining bread slices. Garnish with sliced avocado, if desired.

Per serving: 355 calories, 22 grams protein, 16 grams fat, 36 grams carbohydrate

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vegetarian Cuisine

by: Kirsten Hawkins
Rabbit food. That’s what my dad calls vegetarian cooking and cuisine. Salads and vegetables – can’t be anything more to it, can there? Oh, but there is. Vegetarian cooking is at least as varied as ‘regular’ cooking – and in some cases, far more imaginative.

Nearly thirty years ago, Diet for a Small Planet, and the follow-up cookbook, Recipes for a Small Planet hit the bookstore shelves with a resounding thud that still echoes. While many of the theories of protein complementarily that Frances Moore Lappe presented have been proven to be naïve by further research, the basic theories of eating and the wonderful meatless – and truly vegetarian - recipes endure. The Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest followed, and then an avalanche of cookbooks devoted to the vegetarian gourmet.

Vegetarian cooking is more than just ‘meatless’. There’s an art to mixing flavors and textures in just the right combinations to create masterpieces that are as appealing to carnivores as to those who’ve eschewed meat. For Hindi chefs who practice Ayurvedic cooking, food is more than nutrition – it is a meditation, a gateway to the higher consciousness. There are three major components and six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent) to be considered in the preparation of every dish, and a meal prepared according to the Ayurveda is a feast for the eyes, the nose, the mouth and the mind.

The very best vegetarian meals are not ‘meatless’ versions of dish that usually has meat in it. ‘Meatless’ lasagna suggests that something is missing from the recipe. Anyone who has dined on spinach lasagna knows that there’s nothing missing – the blend of creamy cheese and spinach and spices is perfect in and of itself. Polenta with spicy black bean sauce has no need of meat to make it more complete – made right it melts on the tongue AND sticks to the ribs at the same time.

Even within the overall umbrella of ‘vegetarian cuisine’ there are variations. Outside Western culture, most meals have little or not meat at all – so it is not surprising to find vegetarian main dishes in Indian and Chinese cuisine, nor in Russian cooking and African regional cuisines. Many base main dish meals on legumes and nuts. Peanut and cashew soups, humus with spices and lemon, fermented black bean sauces ladled over bread and pasta and rice and couscous – Middle Eastern and African cooking offers all of those and more.

If one approaches vegetarian cuisine as a ‘substitute’ for cooking with meat, one is sure to be disappointed. It is a way of eating and cooking, of spices and combinations that can be as light and fluffy as a meringue or as dense and chewy as the best seven grain bread. If you’ve never tried a real vegetarian meal – as opposed to a ‘meatless’ or ‘meat substitute’ – the very best place to start is at your nearest Indian or Middle Eastern restaurant. You’ll be amazed at the flavors and textures – and you won’t even notice that there’s no meat.

About the author:
Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food. Visit more information on cooking delicious and healthy meals.

The Greatness Of Gumbo

by: Kirsten Hawkins
Perhaps nothing is better known as a staple of Cajun cuisine than gumbo, a spicy, hearty stew or soup whose name literally means “okra”. Called one of the greatest contributions of Louisiana Cajun kitchens to American cuisine, it came to that state with the first French settlers, who loved bouillabaisse, a highly seasoned French stew. Unable to find their usual ingredients to make bouillabaisse, they substituted local ingredients such as shrimp, fish, and okra. After a century mixing with Spanish, African, and native cuisine in the region, the step was no longer recognizable as its French precursor and was instead something completely new – gumbo.

Still extremely common in Louisiana, gumbo is also found all along the Gulf of Mexico, and is often eaten in the cooler months, when the extended cooking required to make the usually large batches of the dish will not heat up the room to uncomfortable levels.

Gumbo consists of two main components – rice and broth. The two are mixed together only for serving, and while new rice must be prepared daily, broth can be frozen and saved for future consumption.

Rice for gumbo is usually white or parboiled rice steamed or boiled with salt or a touch of white vinegar for flavor. There is some dispute over the proper ratio of rice to gumbo – “damp rice,” for those who like a lot of rice with their broth, and, on the opposite extreme, only a modicum of rice. In some areas, it is also common to add potato salad to the gumbo, either with or without rice.

The broth comes in several varieties. One of the most common is seafood, containing crab, oysters and/or shrimp. Equally common is chicken gumbo with the Cajun sausage called audouille. There is also duck and oyster gumbo, as well as a variety of gumbos made with other fowl, such as quail or turkey. Rabbit can be used for gumbo, as can the Cajun smoked pork known as tasso. Gumbo z’herbes (from the French gumbo aux herbes), gumbo of smothered greens thickened with roux, also exists, and was commonly eaten during Lent, when meat was traditionally forbidden by the Church.

Gumbo was originally made with okra, and some, especially in Southeast Louisiana would argue that anything made without okra can not rightly be called gumbo. Okra gumbos usually feature lighter meats, such as chicken or shrimp, and the okra is cut into pieces and simmered in the pot along with the meat and the three spices that form the so-called “Holy Trinity” of Cajun cooking – onion, celery, and bell pepper. Other spices, and rarely processed meats such as sausage, are then added to the mix. Contrary to popular belief, it is frowned upon for a chef to make Cajun cooking overly hot or peppery – these are left to the diners themselves if they wish to add more spices later.

Gumbo can also be made with a roux base, which has a much stronger taste and takes any sort of meat. Roux by itself is often very dark, though it can be combined with okra to make a lighter stock. Filé, a powder made of dried and ground sassafras, can also be used as a base for gumbo, though it is never, under any circumstances, combined with okra. Originally, it was used as a substitute when okra was not in season. In modern times, it is commonly added as a powder to a roux based gumbo.

Regardless of its base and history, gumbo remains a tasty staple of Cajun cooking.

About the author:
Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food. Visit more information on cooking delicious and healthy meals.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What is Nouvelle Cuisine?

by: Troy Pentico

The 1970's brought a great deal of upheaval and new ideas to the forefront, and the world of cuisine was no exception. In June of 1975, the British magazine Harpers & Queen coined a term to refer to a new type of food that was sweeping the world: Nouvelle Cuisine.

What is nouvelle cuisine? It is, in a word, the marriage of health-conscious California to traditional France. Consider it an updated version of French cuisine- flavorful food with a light-handed, healthy approach. It's difficult to define nouvelle cuisine in more specific terms because of its huge impact on the way food in general is prepared today. Nouvelle cuisine opened doors to a new generation of restaurant-goers who loved rich tastes and fresh combinations, but didn't want their bodies to pay for it later.

With this new lighter menu came a new style of cooking as well. Chefs in nouvelle cuisine restaurants used shorter cooking times and fresher ingredients, cutting down on the multiple steps that got in the way of the natural flavors of the food. In a world that was waking up to faster-moving times and stricter diets, this new cuisine caught on with incredible speed.

Like any other trend, nouvelle cuisine was often widely misunderstood and misrepresented. Depending on what regional restaurant you visited, you might have been subjected to a low-calorie meal with tiny portions and been told it was nouvelle cuisine. Many chefs and consumers alike did not grasp the concept that lighter did not necessarily mean less.

One of the main goals of nouvelle cuisine was to excite more than just the sense of taste. A skilled nouvelle chef would be able to produce a meal that was artistically arranged on the plate and contained a wonderful mix of smells, textures, and flavors. Oils and fresh spices were used extensively to bring out the natural flavor of the fresh vegetables and pastas in these meals.

The way we cook at home today owes a great deal to nouvelle cuisine. Olive oil, vinaigrette, and fresh herbs are common today in many American kitchens, mainly due to the influence of the nouvelle cuisine movement. Restaurants, too, have taken their cue: before the appearance of nouvelle cuisine, portions were heavier and larger, and consumers went to restaurants expecting to come out full, but not necessarily sated. Nowadays fine restaurants base their expertise on combining flavors, not smothering them; and on their presenting food that satisfies, not simply fills, an empty stomach.

There is still a debate on whether nouvelle cuisine has disappeared from the radar. It has certainly influenced other fields of cooking, but nobody is sure if it can be considered a movement of its own in the current times. Then again, a trend that catches on so quickly is almost always destined to develop in other ways and spread to other things, losing its identity as a separate entity along the way.

About the author:
Visit The Tasty Chef for more great tips, techniques, and insights pertaining to cooking and recipes.

Italian Cuisine: In The Heart Of Tuscany

by: Terry Lowery
When an American conjures up an idea of “Italian cuisine,” often what comes to mind is pasta, red sauce, and garlic bread. Pasta, no doubt, plays a large part in most traditional Italian regional cuisine, and few cultures know how to employ a tomato the way that Italians can. However, there are so many distinct styles and trademarks within the different regions of Italy that it is hard to lump together all Italian regional cuisine into one general type of cooking. In reality each region has a very distinct style and taste, and there is really no way to appreciate Italian regional cuisine without visiting restaurants and eateries all over the boot.

Tuscany is a region of Italy that takes up a small piece of the western coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Since a large border of the Tuscan region is coastal, seafood plays a large role in the regional cuisine of Tuscany. A coveted destination for tourists, Tuscany is overflowing with cultural experiences, with roots stemming from the Renaissance. Florence, Pisa and the busy port of Livorno all lie within this modest region. Like it’s simple but beautiful landscape, Tuscan cooking keeps things simple. Tuscan bread, for example is a saltless crusted compliment to their judiciously spiced entrees.

While many people think of Italian cuisine as being very salty and filled with garlic, onion, and basil, Tuscan cuisine uses seasoning very sparingly to bring out the natural flavors of the vegetables, beans, and grains that make up their traditional regional cooking. Chefs of Tuscany are renowned for their rice dishes, and a fish or duck dish in Tuscany is often not complete without a risotto base. They also blend wine seamlessly into these dishes, evaporating the alcohol content and leaving the fruits to mingle with the grains and filled pastas that compliment the meat and fish entrees that bring the rich and famous from all over the world to Tuscany.

Along the coast, seafood plays an integral part of the cuisine. A trademark of the Tuscan coast is a soup called caccuccio. Caccuccio is a rich soup made from a tomato and fish base. The secret is to use many different types of fish, pureed bones and all directly into the base of the soup. This soup, served with a hearty Tuscan bread is filling enough to constitute an entire meal. While the coast of Tuscany is home to many a delicacy, it is the varied nature of the Tuscan landscape that provides such variety in the regional cuisine of Tuscany.

The cattle and boars that are particular to the region, for example, make for a taste that you cannot find anywhere else, in soups, grilled dishes, and hams. While Tuscany is responsible for only four percent of Italy’s overall olive oil production, Tuscan olive trees can live to be hundreds or even thousands of years old. So while each tree produces less of an oil yield than trees customarily found in other regions of Italy, the trees have a much more rich history. This simplicity grounded in a rich tradition is only appropriate for the Tuscan region.

About the author:
This article provided courtesy of

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Culinary Traditions Of South America: Argentina

by: Samuel Murray
Argentina is South America's second largest country, snugly situated between the Andes mountain range, the Pacific Ocean, and the South American countries of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile. Being situated in such a manner, Argentina is exposed to many different cultural influences from all directions, including countries all the way across the Pacific. Spain took it upon themselves to permanently settle in the country in the late 1500s, and remained there until Buenos Aires formally emancipated themselves in 1853. One of the most remarkable differences between Argentine Cuisine and exotic cuisines from around the world is the heavy influence that the cuisine of the Italian and Spanish cultures had on it.

Startlingly enough, due to the influence of the Italian culture on the country of Argentina, Italian food staples such as lasagna, pizza, pasta, and ravioli are commonly seen on the Argentine table, at least in the country's major cities. Unusually enough (when it comes to Italian food), white bread is also common, as are side dishes made of vegetables native to Argentina, such as potatoes, egglpants, squash, cucumbers, and zucchini.

Argentina is also one of the world's leading producers of milk, wheat, corn, and meat (including, but not limited to beef, goat meat, pork, and lamb) so naturally, these things are very common in the Argentine dish. Argentine dishes are normally very high in protein, so grilled meats are commonly seen on a plate of Argentine food.

Empanadas, pastries stuffed with meat or cheese, are also an Argentine favorite. They are commonly served in Argentine restaurants, and are national favorites. Empanadas are normally eaten baked or fried, and are often served at parties or festivals as appetizers. The dessert version of an empanada usually consists of brown sugar or fruit such as apples or oranges.

In smaller cities, the foreign influences of Spain and Italy are less apparent. Milanesas, thin slivers of meat dipped in eggs, bread crumbs, and then fried in oil, are common fare in the rural areas of Argentina. Their simplicity makes them great snacks, but they can also be served as part of a meal piping hot served with mashed potatoes, or between two slices of bread as a sandwich.

The master chefs are more apt to return to the more classic, provincial style of preparing and cooking food, which bears more of a resemblance to Mexican cuisine than that of Italy. Bolder, more intense spices are used. Calling forth once more the Spanish influences in Argentina, Argentine cooks are famous for their tortillas; unlike the Mexican version of the tortilla the Argentines use potato dough, in contrast to the traditional Mexican corn or flour tortilla.

Desserts are more popular in these areas, as well. Dulce de leche (which roughly translates into "Milk Jam"), a sweet pudding of sugar and milk, is a popular dessert in Argentina. This lightly brown-colored pudding is eaten alone, or stuffed in cakes or pies. Sometimes the treat is also crystallized into a solid wafer-like candy substance.

About the author:
This article provided courtesy of