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Friday, October 30, 2009

Best Cookies: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

by: Donna Monday
These cookies are a delightful chocolaty twist on the traditional oatmeal cookie.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 ½ (1 oz.) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs, chocolate and vanilla; continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until well mixed. Stir in oats and chocolate chips by hand.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2-inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Do Not Overbake.

About the author:
© Donna Monday
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Italian Cuisine: A Trip to the Island of Sardinia

by: Troy Pentico
The island of Sardinia perhaps most quickly conjures up the idea of sardines. A small island off of the western coast of Italy, it certainly incorporates seafood in to much of its regional cuisine. However, Sardinia has such a rich and various history that it bears little resemblance to the traditional idea of Italian cooking. Like many other Italian regional cuisines, Sardinia’s regional taste is often a surprise for a palette that is expecting red sauce and parmesan cheese to be the beginning and end of traditional Italian cooking. While it is a region of Italy, Sardinia’s history is shared with explorers of many European nations, such as Greece, France, and Spain. This diverse history of people shows in the traditions and culture of this isolated island destination.

While, being an island, seafood, especially shellfish, plays a large part in the regional cuisine of Sardinia, very few Sardinian meals do not incorporate lamb, a rich resource in the mountainous inland of the island of Sardinia. In addition to the lamb’s meat, a favorite of Sardinian chefs, very few meals are complete without the company of sheep’s milk and wild fennel. Stews and roasts are popular choices for the people of Sardinia. Looking at any Sardinian recipe, it is easy to see that the cuisine of this hilly island is a veritable stone soup of the many different cultures that have passed through the island over the years.

The seafood traditions of the Greek isles can be found in the mussel stews and roasted lobster dishes that keep the island’s fishermen busy. Malloreddus is a Sardinian pasta that can be found in many stews and pasta dishes accompanying chicken or rabbit basted in fennel or saffron. Malloreddus is a grooved pasta that very much resembles gnocchi in taste and texture, and is made of semolina flour and sometimes seasoned lightly with saffron, while most gnocchi is made with potato.

Stews are very popular in the regional cuisine of Sardinia, and even meat and poultry dishes are served in rich cooking sauces that could just as easily be served as soups. For this reason, accompanying a Sardinian entrée with a hearty crusted bread or a side of potatoes makes for a very filling meal. Pasta, in the traditional sense is not as large a part of Sardinian cooking as in other regions of Italy. The pastas of Sardinia are more commonly associated with Middle Eastern cuisine. Hearty grains and fusilli more commonly accompany the dishes of Sardinian regional cuisine, as opposed the lasagna, spaghetti or linguine that Americans more commonly associate with Italian cooking.

Between the diverse history of Sardinia’s people, from France to the Middle East, and the various different landscapes and resources that can be found throughout the island, it is hard to put Sardinian cuisine into one category. One thing is for sure though, while you will find many different types of food on the island of Sardinia, it is unlikely that you will find anything like it anywhere else in the world.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Japanese Cuisine

by: Troy Pentico
Tempura, sukiyaki, sashimi, sushi – even the words used to describe the most basic of Japanese dishes are exotic and beautiful. Japanese cuisine is easily one of the healthiest in the world, with its concentration on fresh fish, seafood, rice and vegetables. The pungent sauces and delicate flavors of fresh foods complement each other beautifully, and the methods of presentation turn even simple meals into beautiful events.

The Japanese have easily a dozen different names for rice, depending on how it is prepared and what it is served with. The most common meal is a rice bowl, a bowl of white rice served with various toppings or ingredients mixed in. So popular is it that the Rice Bowl has even made its way into the world of Western convenience foods alongside ramen noodles. Domburi is a bowl of rice topped with another food: domburi tendon, for instance, is rice topped with tempura and domburi gyudon is rice topped with beef. The Japanese adopted fried rice from the Chinese, and a century ago, when curry was first introduced, developed Kare Raisu, curry rice. It is now such a popular dish that there are many fast-food restaurants that serve several versions of it in take-away bowls.

Besides white rice served as a side dish, Japanese cuisine also features onigiri – rice balls wrapped in seaweed, often with a ‘surprise’ in the middle, and kayu, a thin gruel made of rice that resembles oatmeal.

As an island nation, it’s not surprising that seafood is featured in Japanese cuisine. Sushi and sashimi both are raw fish and seafood with various spices. Impeccably fresh fish is the secret to wonderful sashimi and sushi, served with wasabi and soya sauce. The Japanese love of beauty and simplicity turns slices and chunks of raw fish into miniature works of art. Fish sliced so thin that it’s transparent may be arranged on a platter in a delicate fan that alternates pink-fleshed salmon with paler slices of fish. Sushi is typically arranged to best display the colors and textures to their best advantage, turning the platter and plate into palettes for the artistry of the chef.

Traditionally, meat plays a minor role in the Japanese diet, though it has been taking a larger and larger role over the past fifty years as Japan becomes more westernized. Beef, chicken and pork may be served with several meals a week now. One of the more popular meat dishes is ‘yakitori’ – chicken grilled on a skewer and served with sauce. A typical quick lunch might include a skewer of yakitori and a rice bowl with sushi sauce.

In an interesting twist, Japan has imported dishes from other cuisines and ‘Japanized’ them, adopting them as part of their own cuisines. Korokke, for instance, are croquettes adopted from those introduced by the English last century. In Japan, the most common filling is a mixture of mashed potatoes and minced meat. Other Soshoyu – western dishes that have made their way into Japanese everyday cuisine include ‘omuraisu’, a rice omelet, and hambagau, the Japanized version of an American hamburger.

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

Soul Food

by: Troy Pentico
The history of American soul food can be traced all the way back to the days of slavery. More often times than not, the slaves were given the most undesirable part of the meal, the leftovers from the house. Pairing this with their own home-grown vegetables, the first soul food dishes were invented. After the slaves were freed, most of them were so poor that they could only afford the most undesirable, inexpensive cuts of meat available to them. (The leftover, unwanted parts of a pig such as tripe, tongue, ears, and knuckles). As in the days of slavery, African-Americans used their own home-grown vegetables and things they could catch or kill to complete their meals.

In the modern United States, soul food has truly evolved. It has become part of the African-American culture, bringing family members together on all occasions from birthdays to funerals, to spend time together preparing meals. The history of soul food is mainly an oral one; recipes were never really written down so while two families may be preparing identical meals, chances are that they don't taste very much alike. Different ingredients, cooking methods, and techniques go into preparing soul food meals, causing the end results to come out differently.

One of the most obvious and widely-recognized characteristics of African-American soul food is the fact that hot sauce and more intense spices are incorporated into meals as often as possible. For this reason, soul food is not for those who can't take the heat or are prone to heart burn!

Another characteristic of true African-American soul food is that nothing is ever wasted. Having originated from the leftovers of just about anything. Stale bread was quickly converted into stuffing or a bread pudding. Over ripe bananas were whipped up into banana puddings, and other ripe fruits were put into cakes and pies, and leftover fish parts were made into croquets or hush puppies.

Sunday dinners are definitely the times when soul food is most commonly seen on tables. Sunday dinners are a time for African-American families to get together to prepare and partake in a large meal. Sunday dinners normally take up the entire day (normally following a church ceremony), and family members come from far and wide to partake in this meal together. Sunday dinners took place in the form of potlucks, also, where various family members contribute a dish or two and form a big, fine meal. Collard and mustard greens, kale, ribs, corn bread, fried chicken, chitlins, okra, and yams are all excellent examples of African-American soul food that might be found at a Sunday meal.

Soul food is not generally a healthy option for a person that must monitor their diet. Fried foods are generally prepared with hydrogenated oil or lard, and they usually tend to be flavored and seasoned with pork products. Since this may be what contributes to such a high percentage of African-Americans that are significantly overweight, soul food preparation methods are now slowly starting to be refined, bringing a lot more healthy options to the table. Rather than the increasingly unhealthy pork products, use of turkey-based products is becoming more and more popular as time passes. The fried foods that are so beloved of the culture can now be prepared using a lower fat canola or vegetable oil.

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

Chicken Stock

by: Tim Sousa
The basis of a good soup is usually a good stock. Once you know how to make a good stock, you can use it for an almost endless variety of soups. This is a recipe I use for chicken stock that's easy to make, and tastes delicious. I usually make extra, and freeze what I don't use.

1 Whole Chicken, about 3 pounds

8 cups water

2 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into large chunks

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3 sprigs of parsley

1-2 sprigs of sage

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 sprigs of thyme (please, no Simon and Garfunkel jokes)

2 tsp. salt

Cut the chicken up into pieces.

Put the chicken, and the rest of the ingredients into a large kettle, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 3 hours.

Remove the chicken, and place in a bowl to cool.

Pour the stock through a colander lined with cheesecloth, and chill.

When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and the bones, and freeze or refrigerate the chicken for another use.

Skim the fat off of the stock, and refrigerate, freeze, or use immediately.

Yield: About 6 cups of stock, about 4 cups of chicken.

Don't feel constrained by the ingredients and amounts listed in this recipe. You can use other herbs for a different flavor. You could add ginger peels and lemongrass for an asian flavor. Just let your imagination run wild.

You don't need to use a whole chicken either. You can buy the bone-in chicken breasts, and remove the bones before cooking. Then just put the bones in a plastic bag, and put them into the freezer. Then when you're ready to make the stock, just take the bones out and use them in the stock.

Once you've learned to make this chicken stock, you can use it as a basis for many different soups... chicken noodle soup, cream of chicken soup, peanut butter soup... again, just let your imagination run wild with it, and enjoy!

About the author:
Tim Sousa is the webmaster of,an online recipe library featuring original recipes, as well as several recipes contributed by readers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Healthy Eating Shopping List

by: Kathryn Whittaker
Healthy eating starts with careful planning and organization. Since fresh produce has a very limited shelf life, regular grocery shopping is a must. Creating a menu for the week and writing out a shopping list will save you time and money; while helping you stick to healthy recipes. Local health food stores and farmer markets are very money-wise solutions. Plus, frequent visits will allow you expand your culinary horizons as well as mingle with other health-concerned people.

Healthy eating means using fresh ingredients and gentle cooking methods without adding any artificial ingredients and fats. Healthy eating requires a lot of cooking, since take-out food often contains too many refined fats and artificial seasonings. However, with modern appliances you will discover that cooking is no longer an annoying chore reserved for special occasions, but an exciting part of everyday life.

So which products should we buy when we actually decide to begin eating healthy food? Here’s what your weekly shopping list should include.

Vegetables. All vegetables should be eaten young, when they are tender and not coarse. Vegetables are best bought from fresh food markets or seasonal, when they are sold in boxes or baskets. Supermarket vegetables are often genetically modified or have been picked green and ripened in boxes when traveling long distances. Sprouts and brightly colored vegetables contain the most vitamins and antioxidants.

Fruits. Again, the trick is to buy seasonal fruit, since exotic fruits have often traveled long distances and ripened in their boxes, not on trees. Local, naturally ripened or, better yet, organic fruit are the best choice for the health-conscious cook.

Herbs. Aromatic herbs and spices can be used fresh or dried. The best idea is to plant the aromatic herbs in pots on your window and use them fresh whenever you need them. To preserve flavor, you can buy spices whole and use them freshly ground.

Cheese. Although cheese is quite rich in fats, cheese is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Buy only fresh cheeses in small quantities and try to eat them at once, since gourmet cheeses don’t have a lengthy shelf life.

Eggs. Buy only organic or free-range eggs, and shake them before buying to ensure freshness.

Fish and shellfish. The best way to buy fish is fresh and unfrozen. Again, most of the fish in supermarkets comes from fish farms where it is fed with artificial substances, and this fish cannot be used in healthy recipes. Pink salmon and other popular kinds of fish will most likely come from a fish farm. Shellfish is a more healthy choice, since shrimp, for example, does not live in chemically polluted water. When you boil mussels, discard those that do not open.

Meat. For truly healthy eating purposes it’s better to skip meat entirely, since it’s almost impossible to find meat that comes from an environmentally and health conscious farmer. Most of the meat in supermarkets has enormous quantities of growth hormones and antibiotics. The best meat for use in healthy recipes comes from small farming communities or organic farms.

Grains. Whole wheat and whole grains should become a staple of your healthy eating routine, because many healthy ingredients are contained in the grain shell. Rice is the only exclusion from the rule, because, even though the rice grain shell is removed, many nutritional elements still remain in the rice grain.

What we eat become a part of us. So make your kitchen a starting point for your new healthy eating habits, and enjoy preparing healthy meals.

About the author:
Kathryn Whittaker writes articles on a number of different topics. For more information on living a Healthy Lifestyle please visit for additional Healthy Lifestyle articles please visit the following article page

How to Begin Wine Collecting

by: Dakota Caudilla
Some people collect wine for money…and some people collect wine because they have a passion for wine. Irregardless of whether you’re collecting wine for profit or for pleasure, collecting wine requires some investment. Enjoying wine is a completely different thing from collecting wine, bear this in mind.

When it comes to collecting wine, one of the most important thing to consider is where you’re going to keep the wine. A substantial portion of your investment towards your wine collection hobby is in ensuring that there’s a suitable place to store your wine. The motive is to ensure that the wine collection will increase in value, not decrease. Believe it or not, the storage and the way the wine is kept make a world of difference.

Wine that is kept, collected and protected in suitable condition will age nicely and will turn into vintage wines. However, if your wine collection is not properly cared for, well, you’ll know. The quality of the wine collection will deteriorate and a wine expert will be able to tell that your wine has been ill-treated.

First of all, do extensive research on the many different types of wines there are in the market. Some wines are meant to be kept and stored over a long period of time, some are not. Books on wine collection should be bought and if you’re at all serious about wine collection, spend some time reading through them and understand the different types of wines and the way that they should be kept. If keeping and reading books on wine is not your ‘glass of wine’, you can do your research on the internet. Either way, there’s a wealth of information on wine that you can find. Explore, absorb and remember.

Once you understand the way each type of wine should be kept, it’s time for you to design and construct the place where your wine is to be kept. This depends on the kind of wine you intend to keep there, of course.

And after you’ve built your wine ‘cellar’ (bear in mind, sometimes, wine cellars are not necessarily built in cellars), you should start purchasing wine; wine that you like. One basic thing to remember is that wine is differentiated with the provenance of the vintage. The better the storage, the better the quality. The better the quality, the higher the price. Before you buy wine, ask the seller for an authentic certificate. This may sound so trivial but it’s important if you want to know and be sure that you’re purchasing high quality wine. This is especially important if you’re making a bulk purchase of the wine.

In collecting wine, you would want to strive for a balance between New Age wine from Australia and Chile and with Old World Wine from Europe. Bear in mind that ready-to-drink wine is not suitable for long-term safekeeping. Dessert wine is also best opened and consumed within a short period of time. Know the difference before you start collecting wine.

About the author:
Dakota Caudilla, journalist, and website builder Dakota Caudilla lives in Texas. He is the owner and co-editor of http://www.creative-cooking.comon which you will find a longer, more detailed version of this article.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Choosing Foods For Your Special Event

by: Sintilia Miecevole
Choosing the right menu for a special event can be just as important as choosing a location. Food can communicate a theme, convey a feeling or set the mood of an entire night. If you are planning a high-class extravaganza, hot dogs and beer might not be appropriate. However, they might be the perfect choice for a birthday party at the lake. Taking great care in planning a menu shows your guests how much you appreciate them, and a great meal can help make a special day even more memorable.

If you are planning a birthday party for your child, an interactive meal can be a fun activity for your guests. Rather than slaving away in the kitchen all day or spending countless dollars ordering pizzas, you can save time and money by letting the guests make their own special creations. One fun idea is to prepare a multitude of toppings and let the children make their own bagel or English muffin pizzas. They will have a blast piling on strange combinations of toppings, and they will enjoy feeling like grown-ups in the kitchen.

For a more formal occasion like a holiday party, finger foods can be great for mingling guests, and they can be great topics of conversation. The obligatory finger sandwich can be spiced up by adding your own special pesto or cheese spread to an already tried and true recipe. Experiment with different ingredients in the weeks prior to the party, and test them out on your family. You will know when you get the reaction you are looking for, and you might end up spending much of the party writing down your recipe for your guests.

Planning a menu for a wedding can be quite stressful, especially when you are not sure exactly how many guests will be attending. The rule of thumb is that too much is better than not enough, even if it means having a lot of food left over at the end of the night. You can choose to have a buffet-style dinner, or you can have a set menu for your guests. It is important to consider your guests with special dietary needs. You should have vegetarian and low-sodium alternatives to your main courses, and you should have a heart-healthy menu for those who must avoid foods with high fat contents.

Before attempting a large-scale meal, you should make all of the dishes several times to perfect your recipes. Your goal is to have guests asking for more even after it all runs out. Test your creations on a variety of people and make adjustments according to their suggestions. When cooking food from your own recipes, it is important to remember the details of what you did every time you make it. That way you will know what went wrong when something turns out horrible, and more importantly what went right when you receive raving reviews.

Planning portions is the most important part of catering your own party. Though most recipes tell you how many people they will feed, it is best to err on the side of caution. If a recipe feeds eight, you might want to count it as six or seven, depending on how many guests you expect. Plan that half of your guests will want to go back for seconds. If you know that one dish will be a favorite, be sure to make extra. Though the green beans may be the healthier option, you can usually bet that the cheesecake will go a lot quicker. Keep in mind that the greater the variety, the more people you will please, so even if you are a steamed vegetable lover, you should probably prepare some beefy options for your less than health conscious guests.

About the author:
Sintilia Miecevole's resourceful and most interesting site http://www.fufood.comprovides you with all kinds of food information such as cooking sites, great recipes, meal ideas, catering, nutrition, gifts, organic, cooking advice and much more. Be sure to visit http://www.fufood.comand enjoy the best of food!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Looking for the best sourced help pertaining to dessert recipes.

by: Tom

When you're seeking better information about dessert recipes, you'll find it difficult separating superior information from inexpert dessert recipes proposals and support so it is wise to recognize how to qualify the information you are often given.

Find dessert recipes
Your relevant result is a click away!

Here's a few tips which we believe you should use when you are searching for information concerning dessert recipes. Please be aware that the guidance we put forward is only pertinent to internet help on dessert recipes. We don't really offer any advice or guidance for conducting research offline.

Look for dessert recipes
Find dessert recipes at one of the best sites the Internet has to offer!

A good hint to track when you are presented with information and advice about a dessert recipes website would be to confirm the sites ownership. This may divulge who is behind the site dessert recipes identifications The quickest way to work out who owns the dessert recipes web site is to find the sites 'about' page.

All highly regarded sites providing information about dessert recipes, will nearly always have a 'contact', or an 'about', page which will list the people behind the site. The particulars should reveal major points about the site owner's capability. This means you can conduct an appraisal about the vendor's insight and appreciation, to give recommendations about dessert recipes.

Chinese Food

by: Marci Crane

now holds a popular place among the entire population of the world. You can find a Chinese restaurant in every major city and in many smaller areas of the world as well. Why is Chinese food so popular? Is Chinese food healthy? What is the history of Chinese food?

The History of Chinese Food
The history of Chinese food1 is an interesting one. Unlike many cultures the Chinese believe that the preparation of food is an art and not simply a craft. The art of cooking Chinese food can include dishes and food preparation techniques which are difficult to develop and may require the expertise of a chef with lots of experience. One such technique is noodle pulling (scroll down to the bottom of the page to learn more about this technique). Noodle pulling requires skill and lots of practice and results in a delicious noodle dish. This article will refer to noodle pulling later on, but for now, let’s go back to the history of Chinese food.

Chinese food and the way it is prepared is very much influenced by the two major philosophies, which influence the entire Chinese culture. These dominant philosophies are Confucianism and Taoism. Both have these philosophies have influenced the way that the Chinese people cook and the way that they enjoy their food..

Confucianism and Chinese Cuisine
Confucius was the man behind the Confucianism beliefs. Among many other standards Confucius established standards for proper table etiquette and for the appearance and taste of Chinese food. One of the standards set by Confucius (you might have noticed this at an authentic Chinese restaurant) is that food must be cut into small bite size pieces before serving the dish. This is a custom that is definitely unique to the Chinese culture.

Knives at the dinner table are also considered to be a sign of very poor taste by those who embrace Confucianism beliefs. The standards of quality and taste that Confucius recommended required the perfect blend of ingredients, herbs and condiments--a blend which would result in the perfect combination of flavor. Confucius also emphasized the importance of the texture and color of a dish, and taught that food must be prepared and eaten with harmony. Interestingly enough, Confucius was also of the opinion that an excellent cook must first make an excellent matchmaker.

Taoism and Chinese Cuisine
Those who follow the Taoism beliefs focus on the health benefits of particular foods vs. the presentation of the same. Taoists search for foods that will increase their health and longevity. They search for foods that have healing powers. Many times these benefits were often referred to as ‘life giving powers’. For instance, the Chinese found that ginger, which can be considered to be a garnish or a condiment was found to be a remedy for upset stomachs or a remedy for colds.

Is Chinese Food Healthy?
Chinese food, when authentic is probably the healthiest food in the world. Some restaurants, which are not authentic, prepare their menu with highly saturated fats or with meats that contain unhealthy amounts of animal fat. These Chinese restaurants are not recommended and they are both neither authentic nor healthy.

Good Chinese food however, is prepared and cooked with poly-unsaturated oils. Authentic Chinese food does not require the use of milk-fat ingredients such as cream, butter or cheese. Meat is used, but not in abundance, which makes it easy for those who love authentic Chinese food to avoid high levels of animal fat. Many believe that authentic Chinese food is really the ideal diet.

Chinese Restaurants in Every Part of the Nation
Whether it is in a Tennessee Chinese Restaurant to a New York Chinese restaurant you are going to find culinary dishes that are both healthy and delicious. Savor the flavor with Chinese food!

1 The majority of the information found in this article can be referenced at the following website:

About the author:
To find out more information in regards to delicious Chinese food, or noodle pulling in Tennessee, visit

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Washington BBQ Restaurant

by: Marci Crane
Looking for a that will knock your socks off? The Porch is a Washington BBQ restaurant that will take care of those sweet and smoky BBQ cravings and will top everything off with some sumptuous desserts. Before we introduce the Porch’s menu however, let’s talk a little about the history of BBQ.

The History of Washington BBQ
Well, first of all, BBQ did not originate in Washington, as you can probably guess. After all, man has been cooking his meat over an open fire ever since the caveman days. However, the cavemen were not loading on the A-1 or Teriyaki either—so where did the BBQ traditions that we are familiar (i.e. backyard, sauce, etc.) with begin?

The Origin of BBQ: Where did it begin and what about Washington BBQ?
The theories are many and varied when it comes to the origin of BBQ. Some of the theories say that barbecue originated in the west, some say that it was in the southern United States, and some even claim that it originated in Europe. My favorite version1 of the origin of BBQ—and one of the more believable ones--is the western cowboy version. However, before we ‘dig in’ to the history (or the legend) we should probably define what real and true BBQ is:

BBQ is the process of slowly cooking meat over wood or coal. The wood or coal cannot be too hot (about 200 degrees is perfect) and gas does not count! Those who use gas grills today will have to face the facts and realize that a gas grill….grills… does not barbeque, although there are those who insist that it is really the sauce that classifies meat as barbecued meat.

Whatever definition you prefer to accept, here is the Western cowboy origin of BBQ:

The Origin of BBQ: Washington BBQ didn’t start in Washington
In the late 1800’s there were many cattle drives that took place. Those who drove the cattle were cowboys and those who were in charge of the cowboys were the cattle barons. The cattle barons, like so many businessmen, scrimped when it came to paying (or in this case) feeding their employees. The cattle barons would supply the cowboys with the tough meat portions. These tough meat portions were referred to as brisket and were not exactly appetizing. The cowboys found however that if the meat was left to cook very slowly over wood or coal that in 5-7 hours the meat would make a delicious meal. This however, leaves us with the question of where the tradition of sauce came from.

Washington BBQ with Sauce….Did it Originate in the South?
As mentioned above, many sources indicate that the tradition of barbecued meat marinated in various sauces originated in the southern United States before the civil war. Pigs were abundant at the time and were one of the staples of the south. Traditional BBQ made it possible to use every part of a pig and with sauces make it taste like a delicacy. Barbecue became an important part of religious, social and political functions. Barbecues also seem to be the kind of meal that both the rich and the poor alike can appreciate.

Washington BBQ Restaurants Today
Today those who live in Washington and others from around the nation thoroughly enjoy a good old fashioned backyard barbecue. Washington BBQ restaurants have also become a regular part of Washington fine dining and entertainment. After all, not everybody has the time to barbecue, but they still want that sweet, smoky irresistible flavor that people have now enjoyed for decades.

About the author:
For more information in regards to The Porch, a barbecue restaurant, or to obtain coupons for the Porch please feel free to contact The Porch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brinkman Smoke N Pit Professional and Grill King Smoker Reviewed

by: Judy Simpson
Brinkman grills have always been popular among grillers during the summer. We are going to take a look at two smoker grills, which are popular not only in the summer, but you can smoke meats as well during the winter.

The Brinkman Smoke N Pit grill smoker can handle up to 25 pounds of food. This will allow you to barbecue plates full of steaks, burgers, chicken, and more. It is cmpact so it is easy to bring to a picnic, tailgate party, or on a camping trip.

The Brinkman Smoke N Pit grill smoker is designed to last for years, giving you many seasons of cooking enjoyment because its constructed of heavy-gauge steel construction with hinged lid and welded body. For precision cooking this smoker uses adjustable side air vents and smokestack damper which work together to regulate heat and smoke.

Our next Brinkman smoker grill is the Brinkman Smoke N Pit Professional Horizontal Charcoal Wood Smoker N Grill. It uses an offset firebox. A charcoal fire is built inside the firebox for indirect cooking.

Air rushes into the firebox, then through the cooking chamber where the hot air and smoke slow cook the food. An adjustable air vent in the firebox and the smokestack work together to regulate heat and smoke.

The Brinkman Smoke N Pit Professional Horizontal Charcoal Wood Smoker N Grill is easy to clean up due to its three porcelain-coated barbecue grills, and three steel charcoal grates.

About the author:
Read more barbecue grill reviews here
and read our
Weber Summit Silver A review.

How to Create the Perfect Backyard Barbeque

by: Dakota Caudilla
Planning the perfect barbeque is easy. Just follow these five easy steps towards creating a memorable barbeque.

1. Because good company is what makes or breaks a successful backyard barbeque make sure you organize your guests first. Send out invitations or call as much in advance as you can to guarantee that the people you want to come will be able to come.

2. Choose a theme and decorate the backyard and your home to suit that theme. Match tablecloths and napkins. Add candles and fresh flowers. A backyard barbeque needs a theme to induce a fun mood amongst guests and to make it memorable.

3. Plan the menu. Check to see what your guests are bringing and cross those items off your list. Make a list of what you need (don't forget insect repellent) and do all the shopping the day before so that ingredients are fresh and so that the morning of your backyard barbeque can be dedicated to food preparation. Make sure you purchase the highest-quality meat products you can find. And select vegetables, such as corn, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms. These vegetables are perfect accompaniments for a barbeque.

4. In the morning (or the night before) marinate the meat. A simple marinade that includes soy sauce, barbeque sauce and garlic is perfect. Stock your cooler with cold drinks.

5. By the time your guests arrive you should be dressed and ready. Music should be playing to add ambience, salads and other starters should be laid out and ready, and the fire should be kindled.

About the author:
Dakota Caudilla, journalist, and website builder Dakota Caudilla lives in Texas. He is the owner and co-editor of which you will find a longer, more detailed version of this article.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coffee Makers For Different Coffee Types

by: Peter Mason
There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning, stumbling to the kitchen and finding your favourite coffee brewed and waiting for you. Of all the drinks in the world, coffee seems to have universal appeal. But if you have ever travelled you quickly discovered that one person’s coffee can be quite different from another’s.

A World Wide Business—Coffee Types

Coffee is grown on five different continents and dozens of countries around the world. There are coffee plantations in Columbia and much of South America. There are hundreds of plantations in Africa. The growing region expands to the east and west including the West Indies, Sumatra, and Java.

All of the coffee growing regions are in tropical zones within 30 degrees or so of the Equator. While all coffee grows in bean form, there are different types or varieties of coffee plants, hence the many different coffee types.

Roasting and Brewing

Although plant variety can affect the taste of coffee, the way it is handled following harvesting has a great deal to do with the flavour as well.

Some coffee beans are naturally roasted. These generally produce the darker and bitterer tasting coffees. The sun does the roasting and then the grinding and brewing take care of the rest of the flavourful attributes.

There are many different recipes for a great cup of coffee and variations on how they are served. The cooking methods require specific kitchen gadgetry to help make the best rated coffees.

From Coffee Makers to Cappuccino and Espresso

There are different types of cappuccino, espresso and coffee makers on the market. Each of these appliances is designed to make specific coffee types. Cappuccino is a rich, dark coffee whose recipe originated in Italy. It is a milder version of Espresso, but not as light as “city” coffee.

Espresso is made by high heat and pressure which produces a thicker and more potent cup of coffee.

This is usually served in much smaller cups and quantities because of how strong it is.

Electric machines are making their way from the restaurant into many home kitchens. The cleaning and care including the job to decalcify are made easier by the popularity of stainless steel appliances. There are coffee makers also that do all of the jobs of creating the perfect mug of coffee right on your counter top and even while you sleep. The grind and brew combination machines are the ideal way to get the freshest cup of coffee possible.

Decaf and coffee types that contain caffeine can be equally as appealing to the taste buds. An important fact to remember is that just because a coffee type taste strong, it does not necessarily contain more caffeine. On the other hand, a decaf cup of coffee will taste and smell just as good, but without the health concern of having too much caffeine. The process with all of the new recipes available at coffee shops, restaurants and even at home, it is possible for anyone to make the best rated coffee around. This includes caffeine and decaf varieties.

About the author:
Peter Mason publishes many news and information to the news section of his publication Peter is publishing from coffee makers cappuccino machines and other areas in this field.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The History of Chinese Cuisine

by: Liz Canham
In China, food and its preparation has been developed so highly that it has reached the status of an art form. Rich and poor, the Chinese people consider that delicious and nutritious food is a basic necessity. There is an old Chinese saying “Food is the first necessity of the people”.

This art has been cultivated and refined over hundreds of years. Legend has it that the culture of Chinese cuisine originated in the 15th century BC during the Shang dynasty and was originally introduced by Yi Yin, it’s first Prime Minister.

The two dominant philosophies of Chinese culture both had extreme influences on the political and economic history of the country but it is less well known that they also influenced the development of the culinary arts.

Confucius emphasised the artistic and social aspects of cookery and eating. The Chinese don’t gather together without involving food - it is considered to be poor etiquette to invite friends to your home without providing appropriate food.

Confucius established standards of cooking and table etiquette, most of which remain to this day. The most obvious example of this is the cutting of bite-sized pieces of meat and vegetables during the course of the food preparation in the kitchen, rather than using a knife at the table which is not considered to be good manners.

Confucius also encouraged the blending of ingredients and flavourings to become a cohesive dish, rather than tasting the individual components. Harmony was his priority. He believed and taught that without harmony of ingredients there could be no taste. He also emphasised the importance of presentation and the use of colour, texture and decoration of a dish. Most importantly, cooking became an art rather than a task to be endured and certainly he was instrumental in promulgating the philosophy of “live to eat” rather than “eat to live”.

On the other hand, Tao encouraged research into the nourishment aspects of food and cookery. Rather than concentrating on taste and appearance, Taoists were more interested in the life-giving properties of food.

Centuries on, the Chinese have discovered the health-giving properties of all sorts of roots, herbs, fungus and plants. They have taught the world that the nutritional value of vegetables is destroyed by over-cooking (particularly boiling) and in addition have found that things with a great flavour also have medicinal value.

Home cooked Chinese food is extremely healthy, even though much of it is fried. This is due to the use of polyunsaturated oils (used only once and discarded) and the exclusion of dairy products. In addition the inclusion of animal fat is minimal because portions of meat are small.

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About the author:
Liz Canham:

As well developing her Asian Food and Cookery and Travellers' Tales websites, Liz seeks to help newcomers to the world of internet marketing with tools, tips and training from her website.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Recipe for Rye Bread

by: Kit Heathcock

The more I make bread, the more I am convinced of the importance of the kitchen being in the best position in the house. When we designed and built our house, I was determined that the kitchen should have a view and be on the front of the house. Now that it’s six-fifteen of a summer morning and I’m up early, kneading bread, because we’ve run out again, I’m especially happy to be looking out over a sun-soaked landscape to the distant mountains. Every time you make bread you’re guaranteed a good ten minutes of contemplation as you knead it, the mechanical rhythmic activity frees the mind to wander or switch off…very therapeutic. Having a view thrown in as well is just an added bonus.

I haven’t always made bread. It is a comparatively recent development. Making jam was the first breakthrough into self-sufficiency, then came the day when our local supplier of rye bread, who made a loaf that (miracle of miracles), all the children would eat, decided to switch recipes and use caraway in it…instant rejection by the whole family.

We’d stopped the wheat bread to try and help my son’s allergies and found it helped most of us, so apart from the occasional indulgence of fluffy white bread, I wanted to stay off it. There was no alternative; I would have to take the leap into bread making. The main reason that I’d resisted was that it seemed to take so long. First the mixing and kneading, then the rising, then knocking down and forming loaves, a second rising and finally the baking. Who could keep track of all that in the chaotic life of a three-child family?

So eventually I take the plunge, turn to my friend Nigel (Slater, not namedropping but he and Nigella (Lawson) are ever-present in my kitchen, in book format of course) and find a foolproof recipe for a white loaf, simpler to start off with white I think. Well the first try produced a reasonable, if huge, loaf, though my son still remembers that it was a bit doughy in the middle. Second try, I got two pretty perfect loaves and I was on a roll.

Now to find a recipe for rye bread. It seems that 100% rye is usually made by the sour dough method and I couldn’t see my family going for that, so settle for a half and half rye/whole-wheat recipe… triumph. Ok, my son the food connoisseur complained it was a bit too sweet, so next time round I reduced the amount of honey, but this recipe has been our staple diet ever since, and I am now truly ensconced in my kitchen, looking at the view, every other day, while I endeavour to keep the supply level with the ever increasing demand.

Any way, finally to the recipe:

500g rye flour
450g whole-wheat flour plus more for kneading
50g plain flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 10g sachet of instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons oil
670 ml milk
125 ml water

Warm the milk to lukewarm. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and put in the yeast, then honey, then oil, pour on the warmed milk and water and mix. When it gets doughy turn out on to a well floured surface (it will be extremely sticky) and knead for 10 minutes. You will need to keep adding flour as you knead. It is better for it to be too sticky than too dry – you can always add more flour, but too dry will make a dry, hard loaf. After 10 minutes, put it back into the bowl with a plastic bag over it and leave in a warmish place for two hours or so. Then knock down, firmly pressing out the air, but not over kneading, then form into two or three loaves on a baking sheet, cover again and leave to rise for another hour. Then bake for 30 minutes at 190C until they sound hollow when you tap on the bottom of the loaf. Cool on a wire rack

So how do I keep track of the bread making, in between school runs, mealtimes and the rest? Well I don’t always. There are times when I optimistically start the bread off, leave it to rise and four hours later remember about it, knock it down, forget to switch on the oven so it has had an extra day or so in rising time by the time it gets cooked. It does seem to be very forgiving though – whatever you do to it, you do generally get bread out at the end, it may not always be the perfect loaf, but then variety is the spice of life after all. There was one time it hadn’t quite finished cooking by the time I had to do the school run, so I asked my husband to take it out in ten minutes….. By the time I got back we had a very useful weapon against intruders. We didn’t eat that one…I think it was ryvita for lunch…!

Good luck with yours.

About the author:
Sometime flower photographer, keen observer of the resonances of life and fulltime mother. Born in the UK but now living on a farm in the southern hemisphere. Contributor to the creation and maintenance of http://www.aflowergallery.comone of the homes of chakra flower art.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to Cook a Really Crispy Duck or Chicken

by: Hans Dekker
How to Cook a real Crispy Duck

If you’re like me you love the skin on the outside of duck, if it’s crispy. The texture of the meal can totally be changed with a crispy skin.

The secret is to make sure the duck is scored across the front and salted heavily.

This helps dry up the skin and makes for a super crispy skin. You will not be the only one that enjoys this Crispy Duck Recipe, but everyone else at your dinner table.

Take the duck that you’re going to use for your main dish make slits in the breast with a knife and poke with a fork. Salt the breast heavily use your discretion and taste. You can use this method for any recipe you can think of.

Just use the cooking instructions from the recipe you are using. Place the bird breast down on the baking pan and cook like that for about ¾ of the total time that the recipe says to cook it for, making sure to drain the fat from the bird, usually by sticking it with a fork under the wings and legs.

During the last ¼ of the cooking use the broil on the oven to finish cooking up the breast. This should make the skin crispy while the duck is still moist. Since this way of cooking can be used for almost any recipe for crispy duck recipe you have, it gives you more choices for the texture you want to use for your meal.

Cooking is all about mixing things up and building your own ways of cooking and recipes.

Also since you are slitting only the fatty layer of the bird you can use that to tuck away some hidden seasoning. Try tucking your favorite herbs into the slits under the skin, as the fat melts away it’ll trickle down and out of the bird but first it’ll seep into the meat.

This can add a new dimension to the meat, making it even more succulent. Taking these tips you should be able to use your imagination to come up with many more combos. With crispy duck recipes you can add extra flavors and also add a whole new texture to the dish.

Use these two together to try out new things, using the crispy skin to add texture to an otherwise smooth meal. So the next meals with duck you cook try out some of these combos, just using your taste and imagination. There are thousands of recipes in books and the internet to mix and match with.

About the author:
Hans is author of Steaks, Seafood and
Barbeque Recipes

3 Non-Traditional Ways to Prepare Your Holiday Turkey

by: Chef Phronc

Deep-Fryed Turkey

3 gallons peanut oil for frying, or as needed
1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
1/4 cup Creole seasoning
1 white onion

In a large stockpot or turkey fryer, heat oil to 400 degrees F. Be sure to leave room for the turkey, or the oil will spill

***** Side Note *****

How to determine the amount of oil you need:

The easiest way I've found to determine the amount of oil you need is to place the turkey into the fryer and fill with water until the turkey is just covered. Remove turkey and allow to drain, pat dry with paper towels as well. Make note of the level of water in the fryer. Discard water and dry throughly. Fill frying vessel with oil to the level as noted above. This should help in preventing hot oil spill overs.

***** End Side Note *****

Layer a large platter with food-safe paper bags. Rinse turkey, and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Rub Creole seasoning over turkey inside and out. Make sure the hole at the neck is open at least 2 inches so the oil can flow freely through the bird. Place the whole onion and turkey in drain basket. The turkey should be placed in basket neck end first. Slowly lower basket into hot oil to completely cover turkey. Maintain the temperature of the oil at 350 degrees F, and cook turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove basket from oil, and drain turkey. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; the internal temperature must be 180 degrees F.

Finish draining turkey on the prepared platter.

Grilled Whole Turkey

12 pounds whole turkey
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon paprika

Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect medium heat, and lightly oil grate. Rinse turkey, and pat dry. Place turkey breast side down on the prepared grill. Sear turkey on both sides until skin is golden to dark brown. In a large roasting pan, mix together the water, bouillon powder, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, parsley, and paprika. Place turkey breast side down in the roasting pan. Scoop the pan mixture over the turkey. Cover tightly with foil and place on grill. Grill 3 to 4 hours, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180F. Remove turkey from grill and let stand 15 minutes before carving.

Smoked Turkey

1 turkey 8 to 22 lbs., fresh or completely thawed
Sweet Pickle Brine (recipe to follow)
Maple syrup

Sweet Pickle Brine:

1 gal. water
2 1/2 cups salt, rock, pickling or canning salts are recommened
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Lquid garlic
1 oz. pickling spices

Mix well. You may need to adjust the amounts depending on the size of your bird. This recipe should suit you fine for an 8 to 12 lb. turkey.

Rinse turkey thoroughly with cold water, drain and pat dry. Prepare sweet pickle brine. Brine turkey according to the following schedule,
8 to 12 lb. bird 3 days, 13 to 16 lb. bird 4 days, 17 to 22 lb. bird 5 days. Remove from brine; rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry. Allow to dry in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Lock wings behind back and tie legs and tail together. Baste turkey with maple syrup before putting in smoker and every 2 hours while smoking. Position turkey on cooking grill. Smoke cook until done.

The best way to determine doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey (the breast) the internal temperature should read 180 degrees F.

Smoking food is more an art than a science; this recipe is not intended for the novice. Allot of factors go into determining the cooking time for a particular food when smoking.

Cool turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving to enhance the smoked flavor. You may serve the turkey right away if you wish.

About the author:
Frank Flohr (aka Chef Phronc) is passionate about cooking. Frank serves up a full plater of cooking tips, recipes and culimary information on his blog at the hidden "Chef" inside you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kitchen Pantry - A Cook's Secret Weapon

by: Ronald Yip

Doing any job is easier when you have the right tools on hand. One of a cook's best tools -- and secret weapons -- is having a well-stocked kitchen pantry.

Cooking is much simpler if you know that you've already got what you need on hand, and aren't going to have to run to the corner market every time you want to fix a meal.

Having a well-stocked pantry is also the secret weapon especially when unexpected guests drop by.

You'll be able to make every guest feel special and welcome because, whether it is appetizers for four or dinner for ten, you can handle it with style and panache. In fact, your reputation -- and your sanity -- will be assured, because with these things in your pantry, you can put together beautiful and tasty food that is beautifully presented in just minutes, simply and easily.

Here is a list of basic ingredients that should be in any well-stocked pantry. (One great way to stock your pantry is to buy one or two things on the list each time you go shopping, rather than trying to get it all at once. If you watch the sales and take advantage of seasonal buys, you'll be able to save money as well!).

Remember to rotate everything in your pantry on a regular basis, and adjust the items on this list to suit your family's likes and dislikes.

Herbs, Spices, Extracts and Sauces:
- Salt (Sea and Iodized)
- Pepper (Whole Peppercorns, Black, White and Red)
- Nutmeg (Ground and Fresh)
- Cinnamon (Ground and Sticks)
- Pumpkin Pie Spice (Ground)
- Allspice (Ground)
- Cardamom (Whole and Ground)
- Ginger (Whole and Ground)
- Curry (Ground)
- Garlic (Fresh and Ground for Emergencies)
- Mustard (Ground)
- Bay Leaves (Dried)
- Rosemary (Fresh and Bottled)
- Thyme (Fresh and Bottled)
- Sage (Fresh and Dried)
- Sweet Basil (Fresh and Dried)
- Parsley (Fresh and Dried for Emergencies)
- Cumin (Ground)
- Oregano (Dried)
- Onions (Flakes for Emergencies)
- Vanilla Extract
- Maple Extract
- Almond Extract
- Lemon Extract
- Orange Extract
- Soy Sauce
- Cooking Wine or Cooking Sherry
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Sesame Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Citrus Vinegar
- Teriyaki Sauce
- Barbecue Sauce
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Tabasco or Other Hot Sauce
- Chili Sauce
- Steak Sauce
- Packages of Salad Dressing Mix
- Packages of Dried Onion Soup Mix (Or Other Flavors)
- Soup for Sauces (Cream of Chicken, Mushroom, Celery and Cheese)

For Baking:
- All Purpose Flour
- Self-Rising Flour
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Pancake Mix
- Yeast
- Sugar
- Confectioner's Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Sugar Cubes
- Molasses
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Yeast
- Cornstarch
- Honey
- Cocoa Powder
- Unsweetened or Semi-Sweet Chocolate
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Butterscotch, Caramel and other flavored "chips"
- Nuts (Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Hazelnuts and Cashews)
- Marshmallow Cream
- Vegetable Shortening (Regular and Butter-Flavored)
- Sunflower Oil
- Maraschino Cherries

For Appetizers or Adding "Something Special" to Meals:
- Peanuts in the Shell
- Salted Peanuts
- Mixed Nuts
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- A Variety of Crackers
- Black and Green Olives
- Canned Mushrooms
- Palm Tree Hearts
- Bottled Asparagus
- Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Bottled Salsa
- A Variety of Chips and Dips
- Cheeses (Traditionally, 3 to 5 are served, from hard to soft, mild to strong. Find flavors that mix well together, and serve cheeses from different animals and different countries)

For Everyday Meals:
- Bullion Cubes and Powders (Chicken, Beef and Vegetable)
- White Rice
- Long Grain and Wild Rice
- Brown Rice
- A Variety of Pastas
- Barley
- Bread Crumbs
- Croutons
- Tomato Sauce
- Tomato Paste
- A Variety of Canned Tomatoes
- A Variety of Canned Beans (Black, Red, Kidney and Garbanzo)
- Dried Beans (Pinto, Chili and Kidney)
- Canned Tuna, Chicken, Crab and Clams

For Desserts:
- Canned Pineapple (Chunks and Slices)
- A Variety of Canned Fruits
- A Variety of Jams or Jellies
- A Variety of Cake Mixes, Brownies and Frostings
- A Variety of Packaged Puddings
- All the fixings for Ice Cream Sundaes or Banana Splits
- Applesauce

In the Refrigerator:
- Milk
- Eggs (Or Egg Substitutes)
- Cream (A staple for many Mediterranean Dishes)
- Butter or Margarine
- Yellow Mustard
- Brown Mustard
- Dijon Mustard
- Ketchup
- Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing
- Cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss, Feta, Parmesan and Jack)
- Cottage Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Green Onions
- Tomatoes
- Cilantro
- Salad Fixings

In the Freezer:
- Whole Chicken
- Steaks
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Beef or Pork Roast
- Stew Meat
- Hamburger
- Pork Chops
- Pieces of yellow, red and green peppers (Chop up any leftovers each time you use them and throw them into a bag in the freezer. They will add color and flavor to bland dishes)
- Frozen Bread Dough (Make your own or store bought)
- Frozen Rolls (Make your own or store bought)
- Frozen Pizza Dough (Make your own or store bought)
- Frozen Baguette
- Broccoli
- Spinach

With these ingredients in your kitchen, the only thing you'll have to worry about when it's time to cook is which recipe you want to try!

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About the author:
Ronald Yip is an internet marketer for six years, also has a passion for cooking. Please visit RecipeseLovers - http://www.recipeslovers.comfor more information and articles on recipes, cooking tips and all about food.

Szechwan Cuisine

by: Kirsten Hawkins

The cuisine of the Western region of China is well-known for its spiciness, but many Western palates overlook the complex interplay of savory, sour, hot and sweet flavors that underlie the fiery spice of the Szechwan pepper and other spices that give the Szechwan cuisine its characteristic burn.

For decades, most of the world was familiar mainly with Cantonese cuisine, and thought of it as ‘Chinese cuisine’. In reality, though, China is an enormous country that encompasses nearly every kind of climate imaginable. The amazing variety of foods, spices and climates have led to many distinct styles of Chinese cuisine. Szechwan cuisine, originating in a steamy, sub-tropical climate, includes smoked, pickled and spiced foods, as well as foods spiced with a heavy hand for both preservation and flavor.

While the Szechwan pepper, a fruit that grows in the Chongging province, has always been used in Szechwan cooking, most agree that it wasn’t until Christopher Columbus brought the chili back from his travels. Besides the flavors that sear the mouth, Szechwan cooking uses an interplay of flavors to create the full impact of a dish. Hot and Sour Soup, for instance, when prepared properly is neither exclusively hot, nor ultimately sour. Prepared with sorrel, lemongrass, tofu and other spices, its first impression is the heady, rich scent of roast meat and sour lemon. That aroma is belied at the first touch on the tongue – the soup is salty first, though not intensely so. The subtle blending of flavors melds, changing in the mouth to mildly sour – the sorrel and lemongrass making themselves known. It is not until the mouthful of soup has been swallowed that the fire sets in as the chili oil finally seeps into the taste buds.

This is not unusual for Szechwan cooking. The first mouthful of Kung Pao chicken seldom brings tears to your eyes. It is only as you chew and swallow and take yet another bite that the true heat of the dish begins to assert itself. Double Cooked Spicy Pork seems almost bland at first, with the flavors blending subtly in the background until the intense fire of the chili oil in which the pork is fried suddenly flames in your mouth.

There’s more than fire to Szechwan cuisine though. Smoked meats are common, and the smoking often makes use of unusual materials and flavors. Szechwan Tea-Smoked Duck is a delicacy that combines the flavors of citrus and ginger and garlic, juxtaposing them with a long, slow cooking over a fire laced with oolong and green tea leaves. The result is a succulent meat that melts in the mouth and leaves behind a hint of gingered orange.

One tradition of Szechwan cuisine that is becoming more common in the Western world is the Szechwan Hot Pot. Similar to a ‘fondue’, a Hot Pot is more an event than a meal. Chunks and slices of raw meat, seafood and vegetables are offered to diners at a table that holds a ‘Hot Pot’ – a pot of chili oil over a flame. Each diner selects their food and dips it in the chili oil until it is cooked. Often, hosts will also offer a pot of simple broth for those guests who prefer a more bland meal, or can’t tolerate the spiciness of food fried in chili oil.

Savory, rich and spicy, Szechwan cuisine is cuisine based on intensity – intensely hot, intensely sour, and intensely 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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Evolution Of Pizza

by: Kirsten Hawkins

Trying to trace the history of the first pizza is a surprisingly controversial subject. Some claim that this popular food is based on early unleavened breads served in the early centuries in Rome. Others trace a connection from modern pizza back to the pita breads of Greece.

It's fairly well established that the first pizza as we know it today was created by a man named Raffaele Esposito from Naples, Italy. Esposito's creation was designed to honor the visit of Queen Margherita to Naples in 1889, and he decorated it with the colors of the Italian flag, using white cheese, green basil, and red tomatoes (tomatoes, which had arrived from the west about 60 years earlier, were originally thought to be poisonous, but by Esposito's time they were already embraced by Italian cuisine).

As the years passed and the turn of the century came about, Italian immigrants brought this recipe with them to America. The first pizzeria was opened in America in 1905. It remained popular almost exclusively among immigrants until the end of World War II, when American soldiers returned to their home soil and brought back a love of the pizza they had discovered overseas. With that, the pizza boom in America began and this food became a mainstream meal instead of an underground Italian snack.

The concentration of Italian immigrants in New York in those olden days explains the fact that many people feel you must visit New York to get true pizzeria-style pizza. It's where the pizza got its American start, after all. And nobody who has experienced New York style pizza can disagree. New York is famous for its pizzerias, where a true slice of pizza consists of a thin, wide crust loaded with plenty of toppings and marinara and smothered in heady Italian seasonings. A side of garlic bread and some heady pastas and tortellinis usually round out the menu. Pizzerias in New York are not for the faint of heart.

In the early 1940s, the city of Chicago, IL took pizza in a different direction. It is believed that the first pizzeria in Chicago was Pizzeria Uno, opened in 1943 by Ike Sewell. Sewell's pizza creation was a new twist on the old New York standard. He created what is known today as deep-dish pizza, where the pizza is sunk low into a deeper pan, and the crust is allowed to rise in thick bubbles around the edges. People flocked to Sewell's pizzeria, and a whole new way of looking at this favorite food was born.

To this day you can find yourself in some pretty heated debates if you argue with a New Yorker or a Chicagoan about what constitutes authentic pizzeria-style pizza. But whatever crust style you choose, pizza is a unique food with a foggy past and a definite appeal that has lasted through many incarnations.

So you're lucky enough to find yourself in New York or Chicago, or any city for that matter that has a true pizzeria, complete with checked tablecloths and plenty of garlic on the menu, indulge yourself in an old tradition and order a slice. After all, its tradition.

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.

Quick and Easy Recipe

by: Ronald Yip

Another day, another dinner to prepare. Are you having a difficult time finding easy to prepare meals that can satisfy your growing family?

You want to give your family the best, but time is in short supply and preparing a healthy meal has become a chore. Too often take out or frozen dinners have to do. Is there a way to combine healthy eating with convenience?

Healthy Family Meals - Better for Children, Easier for You
Yes! Quick and easy recipe, new methods of cooking and easy to prepare staples can change your eating habits and lead to a better eating style for your family. According to the 'Kid's Health' Program created by the Nemours Foundation, family meals are an important part of developing healthy habits in your kids.
Eating as a family will encourage your kids to eat healthy foods like whole grains and vegetables. It will discourage unhealthy snacking and even make them less likely to try smoking, alcohol or marijuana.

But how do you plan healthy family meals on a tight schedule? Here are some ideas to start:

Does your family love lasagna? Maybe you thought that it was a labor intensive dish that just doesn't fit your lifestyle. Cheesy and full of fat, perhaps it's not even a wise choice. However, lasagna is actually one of the most versatile meals to prepare - and with instant (no boil) noodles, it doesn't even have to be a big job.

There are lasagna recipes for vegetarians, low-carb, low-fat and even diabetic diets. Lasagna noodles now come in instant, no-cook preparations that cut time and energy when making this hearty dish.

For lasagna or other pasta dishes, try using whole wheat pasta and shredding carrots or zucchini into the meat sauce for an easy way to up the nutritional value. Using lean ground beef or even substituting with ground turkey or chicken can make for a surprising, yet nourishing result. Buy bottled pasta sauces for even faster preparation - many grocers carry a wide assortment that will add variety to your dishes.

Looking for an elegant chicken dinner? Don't forget about frozen skinless chicken breasts. Baked in the oven with a dollop of salsa and shredded cheddar on top makes for a healthy alternative to frying or heavy sauces.

Need ideas for a side dish? Why are you wasting time cutting and washing lettuce when you can pick up a prepackaged bag at the grocers? Not to say it's the cheapest method, but it definitely helps busy families put nutrition ahead of convenience when planning a meal.

Have you ever tried steaming vegetables in the microwave? Fresh or frozen veggies make for another easy side dish when they're popped into the microwave for a few minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of water and cover with a paper towel, an easy AND healthy alternative to frying or boiling.

We're all concerned about our children eating healthier foods. Regular family meals will encourage kids to develop healthy eating habits - an important key to good health later in life. By making meal time less stressful you can focus on the joys of spending time together instead of the hassles of preparing healthy family meals.

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About the author:
Ronald Yip has been an internet marketer for six years. RecipesLovers.Com is created out of his passion for cooking and is about All Recipes Info Products. Cooking is a Work of Arts.
Please visit:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Prep the holiday meal quickly and save money

(ARA) - If the holiday meal is at your house this year, you could completely stress out over the menu and ingredients, spending hours and plenty of money in an attempt to feed everyone the perfect holiday meal. Or, you could plan ahead, save a few dollars here and there, and enjoy the holiday.

As the host of PBS-TV's "Flavors of America," Chef Jim Coleman has plenty of tips on how to properly prepare for the holiday meal, and make your job easier.

"The perfect holiday party host shouldn't feel overwhelmed with staying on top of all the food preparation," says Coleman. "By planning ahead and preparing, you'll have the time and energy to get out of the kitchen and socialize."

* Start four days early:
Set your table in advance if you can or at very least, set aside the serving and table dishes you will be using. Pick your recipes and make a recipe booklet for easy reference. Plan your shopping lists as well. To help save costs, ask your guests to bring a special dish for the meal. If Aunt Betty specializes in Green Bean Casserole, ask her to bring that so everyone can enjoy it. Another family member can supply a bottle of wine. This will also help you reduce the size of your ingredient list. Scan the grocery store fliers for sales and coupons before you go shopping.

* Chop the veggies ahead of time:
Three days ahead of the party, chop all the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bread for stuffing, etc. and store them in ziplock bags. This will make the cooking time go much faster.

Make sure you use sharp knives. Sharp knives are safer to use and will help you zip through the chopping and dicing. A knife sharpener is an essential household tool - knives always dull with use. Invest in an easy to use reliable knife sharpener like the ChefsChoice Model 120 which uses 100 percent diamond abrasives and precision angle guides for a super sharp and durable edge. Call (800) 342-3255 for more information. A good knife sharpener helps save money by renewing the knives you already own.

After you chop the vegetables, throw 12 ounces of cranberries into a saucepan with orange zest, 3/4 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of honey and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Let the sauce cool and store it in the refrigerator until it's time for your meal.

* Prepare the turkey:
Two days before the party brine your turkey. Here's a recipe to use:

Coleman's Holiday Brine for 8 to 12 pound bird:

1 cup kosher salt (per gallon of ice water) approximately 3 gallons for 8 to 12 pound bird
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
5 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon white black pepper

Place turkey in a cooler then add ice cold water to completely submerge the turkey. Depending on how many gallons, adjust accordingly for salt And if using more than 3 gallons of water, use more lime, orange, onion, garlic, bay leaves, sage, thyme and pepper. Take remaining ingredients and add to brine. Stir until well combined. Top with ice cubes and leave in cool spot overnight. Discard brine after removing the turkey. Rinse turkey before placing in oven.

* Party day
When the big day arrives, adjust your day according to the time you're planning on serving the meal. Start your oven at a higher temperature (around 400 F.) with the breast of the turkey on the rack facing the bottom of the pan. If you don't have a rack, make a wreath with tin foil to hold the turkey properly. Cook for about 45 minutes at the higher temperature. Then take the bird out of the oven, turn it over and cook at reduced heat of 325 F. This should take about two and a half hours, depending on the weight of the turkey. The meat thermometer should read 180 F. when inserted in the thickest part of the turkey near the thigh.

* Serve and enjoy:
To carve the turkey, try these steps:

1. Be sure to use a sharp carving knife for best results. Sharp knives are not only safer, they will help you smoothly cut thin, even delicious looking slices without shredding the meat.
2. After turkey is cooked, cool for 20 minutes. Cooling makes the meat firmer and easier to slice. Remove and set aside the turkey legs and the last joint of each wing. Make a long, deep (to the bone) horizontal "base cut" into the breast just above the wing.
3. Slice down vertically through the breast until you meet the original base cut. This will release perfect, even slices.

With the bird cooked and side dishes prepared, all you need to do is carve the turkey and enjoy the meal and your company.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kitchen kids’ favorite ingredient: Wisconsin cheese

(ARA) - Get your kids cooking in the kitchen with a simple recipe. Start with safety. Then, add an interest in learning. Sprinkle a few simple kitchen skills. And finally, mix in great tasting ingredients, including Wisconsin cheese.

Learning to cook is not only a terrific way to express creativity, share ideas and spend time with family and friends, cooking is also an excellent way for children to explore important life-building skills such as how to prepare meals, use math to measure ingredients and discover healthy eating habits.

Even the youngest chef can help plan, create and serve delicious meals. Regardless of age or activity, children always need to work with an adult. From ages 3 to 12, youngsters can take part in numerous skill-building activities, for example:

* Three-year-olds can help wash fruits and vegetables, stir ingredients in a bowl, tear lettuce and pour liquids.

* Four-year-olds can grease pans, peel oranges and open packages.

* Five-year-olds can measure ingredients, cut soft foods with a blunt knife, set the table and make a plate of food look pretty.

* Seven- and 8-year-olds can help plan the meal, roll and shape cookies, beat ingredients with a whisk, find ingredients in a cabinet or spice rack and make a salad.

* Nine- to 12-year-olds can open cans, prepare simple recipes with a limited number of ingredients, use an oven (with supervision), use a knife (with supervision) and shred cheese and vegetables.

These tips, new recipes and educational information about cheese are all offered in a new brochure, Kitchen Kids, authored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. To download the brochure, visit

Get-Stuffed French Toast
Serves eight to 10

1 16-ounce challah or French bread loaf, cubed
1 8-ounce package Wisconsin Havarti Cheese, cut into thin slices
6 large eggs
4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 12-ounce jar blueberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange half of bread cubes in lightly buttered 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Top evenly with Havarti; top with remaining bread cubes. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, butter, and maple syrup in large mixing bowl; pour over bread mixture, pressing bread cubes to absorb egg mixture. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon over the top. Cover baking pan with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 more minutes or until lightly browned and set. Let stand five minutes before serving. Stir together blueberries and blueberry preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until warm. Serve blueberry sauce over French toast.

Cheddar Olive Pops
Makes 25 appetizers

2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon paprika
25 large pimiento-stuffed green olives

Preheat oven to 400 F. In large bowl, blend together cheese and butter with electric mixer. Add flour and paprika; mix well. Shape 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture around each olive, dipping hands in flour, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from baking sheet and serve immediately.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Kid Recipe

by: Ronald Yip
How To Teach Your Children To Cook

If you're ready to teach your children how to cook (with kid recipe), here are some simple tips for teaching them the basics, and giving them skills that will last them a lifetime!

First of all, think safety. Any child that has to stand on a stool or chair in order to reach the stove is too young to cook. Start younger children off by letting them help set and clear the table, gathering ingredients, and stirring, mixing or adding ingredients.

Next, set rules about handling knives and other sharp instruments and handling hot pans or boiling ingredients. Some parents start teaching their children to cook by showing them how to make things that don't require cooking first, and then graduating to letting them make food in the microwave.

Create a relaxed atmosphere that is fun when teaching your kids to cook. Remember what it was like when you were learning to cook? Chances are, you made a few messes and broke a few dishes. It happens. Learning to cook should be fun, not drudgery, although there are certain responsibilities that go along with the privilege, such as cleaning up as you go along, and leaving the kitchen clean when you're finished.

Start with the basics. Show your kids what the different utensils are used for, and the right way to use them. Teach them about herbs and spices, and using the right ingredients for the right dishes. Cooking is a great way to learn fractions and chemistry, and your kids might not even realize they're learning while they're having fun!

Begin with simple kid recipe that include step-by-step instructions and pictures so kids can see what something's supposed to look like while they're assembling the recipe...let success build on success.

Give your kids a chance to shine. As they learn to cook more complicated recipes, let them be responsible for planning -- and cooking lunch or dinner one night. Letting your kids plan the meal -- and even shop for the ingredients will help them to realize and appreciate the effort that goes into cooking.

As your kids become more skilled, begin including foods from different cultures. Many recipes such as French crepes or Italian lasagna are not difficult to make, and your kids will develop an appreciation for many different kinds of food.

Especially for younger children, having tools that are their own size not only make cooking more fun, but make it easier for them to participate. Kid-sized kitchen utensils can be found at many department or specialty stores.

Make sure you take plenty of pictures -- you may not realize it now, but you're making memories that someday will be as delicious as that batch of chocolate chip cookies you're baking now!
Make fun and delicious kid recipe with your family!

About the author:
Ronald Yip is an electronic engineer by profession. He became active in internet marketing since 1999 and also has a passion for cooking.
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