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Monday, December 17, 2012

Choco-Related Recipes Using Chocolates from Everywhere


In a nutshell, French chocolates are known for their subtle taste and intricate chocolate designs, while the Swiss are known for their share of chocolates that have the distinctly known milky, smooth texture. The Swiss even have massive manufacturing companies that distribute these favorite treats all over the world. The Belgian chocolates, on the other hand, are known for their flavorful taste and inventive designs ideal for concocting choco-related recipes. Remember, the Belgians were the ones who revolutionized the praline and nougats that we love?

These three have very distinct taste, and for chocolate lovers out there who know them by heart, I am certain they will have neither qualm nor difficulty telling each apart. Really, it should not matter where these delectably enjoyable goodies of sweetness come from; the only sensible thing to know is that we can enjoy these fabulous creations wherever they come from. After all, they are still the same chocolates that we love, and they will always give all chocolate lovers the same tingly and delectable sensation bite after bite! Try these two chocolate-related recipes and see the goodness of chocolates in every kind of recipe!

 BRANCHUMS' CHILI with Chocolate

Ingredients:
1 lb. beef stew meat, cubed
½ lb. pork, cubed
4 tbsp. oil
1 ½ c. onions, chopped
1 c. green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. of minced garlic
1 tbsp. of chili powder
1 ½ tbsp. salt
½ tsp. of thyme
½ tsp. of cumin
1 ½ c. of water
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
½ oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 (30 oz.) can kidney beans
3 c. chopped rind

Method

1. Brown the bite size pieces of beef and pork cubes in 3 tablespoons of oil.
2. Add rest of oil, onion, green pepper and garlic.
3. Cook until soft but not browned.
4. Stir in chili powder, salt, thyme and cumin. Cook 1 minute.
5. Add water, heat to boil.
6. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
7. Stir in tomato sauce and chocolate.
8. Simmer uncovered 25 to 30 minutes or until thickened.
9. Serve chili on bed of beans and rice.

Recipe#2
POT ROAST WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE

Ingredients:
3 lb. rump of veal or bottom round roast
3 tbsp. of olive oil
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tbsp.of flour
1 bay leaf
1 c. of water
1 lg. of sliced onion
1 1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 c. dry of white wine
1/2 tbsp.of vinegar
1 tbsp. of grated bitter chocolate

Method:
1. Brown the meat in olive oil in a fireproof casserole or Dutch oven.
2. Add the garlic and onion and cook until they are soft.
3. Blend in some flour and salt and stir until smooth.
4. Add the remaining ingredients except for the chocolate.
5. Cover and simmer gently for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
6. Remove meat, add chocolate to sauce and cook until thickened and smooth.
7. If much liquid has cooked away, you may add water to make about 2 cups.
8. Add salt to taste.

Surprising as it can be, these delectable dishes using a wide array of chocolates from places al over the world were born from many years of experimenting in the kitchen. The nutty, creamy flavor of bittersweet chocolate is perfect for any kind of dish you might want to concoct as of the moment. Try these chocolate-related recipes at home and make it a family recipe everyone in your family will truly surely love!

Friday, August 31, 2012

How To Cook For A Vegetarian This Holiday Season


Are you worried about cooking for a vegetarian in your
family this upcoming holiday season? Well, worry no more.
This article will tell you exactly what you need to do
and know before you start cooking this holiday season.

You can start off by finding out what type of vegetarian
your guest is. For instance, if she is a strict
vegan, then there’s a chance she will not eat food
that contains honey or yeast; however, if on the other
hand, she is a "semi" or "pseudo" vegetarian, there is a
chance she will actually eat the meal as it is prepared,
including the meat. And if she’s a lacto-ovo-vegetarian,
she might eat anything with eggs and milk, but will
probably avoid meat dishes.

If you talk to the vegetarian in your family before you
prepare your holiday meal, you should consider asking the
following five questions:

1. Do you eat certain types of meat or none at all?

If the vegetarian in your family will eat certain meats
(generally fish, chicken, and turkey), then you should
consider preparing that as a side dish or asking them if
they would like to bring a small dish of it for their
own meal.

2. Will you use serving utensils that have been placed in dishes
containing meat?

Some vegetarians experience severe gastrointestinal stress when they
consume meat and grease from meat, so it is a good idea to find
out whether or not they can do so ahead of time. If they can’t,
you can simply put out one utensil for all non-meat dishes and
ask that guests do not cross-contaminate.

3. Do you eat foods that contain milk and eggs?

As I mentioned above, lacto-ovo vegetarians will eat milk
and eggs, but other sub-categories of vegetarian will not.
Some  wont do it for health reasons; others wont for
ethical reasons. Whatever the case, you can get around this
problem by either creating more dishes that do not contain
milk and eggs or by using egg replacer, which you can find
at most supermarkets, and milk replacements, such as soy
milk.

4. Do you eat honey and yeast?

Some vegetarians do not eat honey and yeast for ethical
reasons. If you find out that the vegetarian in your family
does not eat honey and yeast ahead of time, you can either
prepare alternate dishes or ask if they are willing to
bring an alternate dish.

5. Would you like to bring your own main dish (to replace
the turkey, ham, etc.)?

Many vegetarians eat popular meat-replacement dishes,
such as "tofurkey" and "veggie burgers." Your guest will
probably be more than willing to bring her own meat-
replacement dish if you ask.

To reiterate, there are a number of things you should take
into consideration when you cook for a vegetarian
this holiday season; however, the single most important
thing you can do is actually approach the vegetarian
and ask how you can accommodate her and if she would
like to cook with you or bring her own dish.

If you keep this in mind, your holiday meal will be a
success with everyone - even the vegetarian in your family!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Delicious Companion To Good Health: The Olive Oil Story









The health benefits of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet has become more than a novel observation. Clinical research is substantiating healthy benefits, but the gourmet tastes and flavors are bonuses well worth mentioning too.

“The… patient should be made to understand that he or she must take charge of his own life. Don’t take your body to the doctor as if he were a repair shop.” -- Quentin Regestein

Highly favored as a cooking oil, or for use in a variety of classic dressings, olive oil is being touted in some quarters as a delicious companion to good health. Research on the health benefits of olive oil is impressive, so is the affects of the Mediterranean diet.

Recent Findings

Olive Oil as a Cholesterol Reducer

Compared to American cuisine, especially the snack and fast foods prevalent in the US, the Mediterranean Diet has intrigued the medical world. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published findings that indicate the introduction of olive oil into our regular diet has demonstrated a reduction in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). This is significant because once LDL cholesterol has oxidized it often results in artery rigidity and accompanying heart disease.

Olive Oil in Cancer Prevention

In a comparison study at the University Hospital Germans Trias Pujol in Barcelona there seems to be an indication that the health benefits of olive oil may also be useful in the prevention or slowing of cancer cells. In the study, lab rats were introduced to a carcinogen that resulted in cancerous tumors. The study provides evidence that a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil prevents colonic carcinogenesis reducing precancerous tissue which resulted in fewer tumors when compared to a controlled sample of rats ingesting foods containing other types of cooking oils.

Researchers at Oxford University in England have seen indications that olive oil may actually be as good for our digestive system as fresh fruit and vegetables in preventing or reducing the incidence of colon cancer. While red meat seems to be linked to the development of colon cancer, fish and olive oil seemed to reduce the incidence of colon cancer. The reasons behind this phenomena are still being considered, but it is believed that the olive oil may help regulate the bile acid in the stomach while increasing useful enzymes within the stomach that contribute to optimal colon health.

Olive Oil and Heart Health

The American Heart Association has also noted that consumption of olive oil has “clear health benefits”.

Olive Oil and Lower Blood Pressure

By substituting virgin olive oil for other fats within your diet, the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates a substantial reduction in drug dosage requirements for the management of high blood pressure. Initial findings indicate dosage reductions could be as high as 50%.

Additional Findings

By lowering the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) there is an increase of the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). The antioxidant effects of olive oil have also been widely reported and are effective in reducing free radicals within the body that may prove to be a causal agent in pre cancerous and cancerous growth.

Additional health benefits of olive oil may be found in a Mediterranean diet which explores the varied uses of olive oil in both food preparation as well as additional balanced meal choices. Combined, olive oil and appropriate food choice seem to enhance the overall health of those subscribing to the Mediterranean diet.

Final Word

While studies remain ongoing, it is encouraging to note that something that has long been noted for good taste may also be a link to positive health benefits and longevity of life. An adaptation of the Mediterranean diet may be a healthy, yet palatable change well worth considering.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

5 Ways to Make Your BBQ a Memorable Family Event



Since Americans in the South began roasting pigs publicly, Barbecues have been a staple of North American living. For many, grilling becomes a routine mealtime activity, while for the most devoted grillers, summer is ruled by massive barbecue parties. But grillers do not have to choose between boring repetition and outrageous get-togethers: every barbecue can and should be an exciting family event. Here are 5 ways to make your routine evening barbecue a more unique experience:

1) Who said you have to stick to meat? Much can be done with bread and fruits over an open flame. To make this into a fun activity with your kids, use cookie cutters to make the bread and fruit into shapes. You can decide on themes like “animals” and “letters” or ask that each shape be different from the others! Then, let your kids decide which toppings they would like to put on. Add cheese, onion and various spices to bread and cinnamon and honey to fruit.

2) Try foil-wrapped surprise meals. Place different combinations of chicken, fish and vegetables with sauces and spices in foil packets. These cook in less than 20 minutes and lead to no-mess, lip-smacking results. Children will love the surprise element and can easily switch packets. You can even ask your family for combo suggestions before the barbecue, or draw ingredient names out of a hat to create new meal ideas. 

3) A little variety goes a long way. If you tend to stick to the same old beef burgers and pork wieners, why not try grilled pizza or salmon steaks? Similarly, try to mix it up with condiments and seasoning. Sick of ketchup? Try salsa instead. Look online where you’ll find hundreds of easy recipes for barbecue rubs. These give your food that extra pizzazz and prevent the mess and drip that comes with barbecue sauces.

4) Barbecues don’t have to be rushed. In fact, barbecue devotees will tell you that today’s quick broiling is an insult to the term, which should represent a process of slow cooking on low heat. You can find many slow cooker recipes online, and the wait is a great opportunity to pass some quality time with your family and friends. Entertaining backyard activities include creating an outdoor canvas to paint on or playing backyard bowling with household items. 

5) Mom said not to play with your food, but there’s always an exception! Barbecue games are great fun and tasty at the same time. In the game Glutton, each player gets a certain amount of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese or any other side dish. Various kitchen utensils are put in a box and the players blindly pick a few. On the go, they begin to eat their dish with the items that they took out. The first to finish his or her food wins the prize!

Finally, don’t fret! Far too many people get lost in the details of planning the perfect barbecue party and forget to enjoy the social atmosphere and delicious food. So kick back, bask in the relaxing sun and prepare for a summer of unforgettable barbecues!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Brief History of Pizza: The Dish that Conquered the World

Pizza, the way we know it today, is a derivation from focaccia (from the Latin word for fire), flat bread that has been prepared since antiquity in different forms and garnished with herbs, olives, fat, raisin, honey, and nuts.

The word pizza in Italian identifies any type of flat bread or pie—fried or baked. Although you’d find many types of pitas or pizzas around the Mediterranean, it is in Naples that pizza in the form we know it today first emerged, after the tomato appeared on the table in the 1700s. Naples has many records of pizza since around the year 1000; the first mentions call these flat breads laganae, and later they are referred to as picea. In those times, pizzas were dressed with garlic and olive oil, or cheese and anchovies, or small local fish. They were baked on the open fire and sometimes were closed in two, as a book, to form a calzone.

 In Naples is also where the first pizzerias opened up, with brick wood-burning oven, covered with lava stones from the Mount Vesuvius. The chefs of those times ignored pizza because was considered a poor people’s food, but the new combination with the tomato, when it entered the kitchen around the 1770s, must have raised some curiosity, even in the royal palace. Ferdinand I Bourbon, King of Naples, loved the simple food of the people and went to taste the pizzas made in the shop of Antonio Testa. He liked it so much that he wanted pizza to be included in the menu at the court. He failed after the opposition of his wife, Queen Maria Carolina. His son Ferdinand II also liked all kind of popular food and he loved pizza to the point that he hired Domenico Testa, son of the now famous Antonio, to build a pizza oven in the royal palace of Capodimonte.

Pizza became very popular, earning its place in Neapolitan folklore. Simple and economical, it turned into the food for all people, even sold on the streets, as shown in many illustrations of the time.

A famous episode extended the popularity of pizza beyond the limits of the city of Naples. It was 1889, and Margherita, queen of Italy, was visiting the city. She was told about pizza and wanted to taste it. A famous cook by the name of Don Raffaele, helped by his wife Donna Rosa, was invited to cook pizza at the royal palace. They prepared three pizzas, typical of that time: one with cheese and basil; one with garlic, oil, and tomato; and one with mozzarella, basil, and tomato. The queen, impressed by the colors of the last pizza, which resembled the national flag, preferred that one. Since then this pizza is known as Pizza Margherita, and Don Raffaele is credited with its invention, even if we know that it already existed for a long time.

At the beginning of the last century, with Italian immigrants, the first pizzerias appeared also in the United States, where pizza has become a mass phenomenon. Yet, even today the best pizza is found in Naples, where it is rigorously made with buffalo mozzarella. Superior pizzas are considered those obtained by moderate variations of the simplest and most popular: Pizza Napoletana with tomato, garlic, oil, and oregano; Pizza Margherita; Pizza Marinara with tomato, anchovies, capers, and olives; and Pizza Four Seasons, divided in four quadrants, each dressed in a different way. Pizza with hot salami, the American pepperoni pizza, is instead found in the Calabria region south of Naples, where this type of hot sausage is produced.


Monday, February 20, 2012

3 Ways To Cook The Perfect Rice


Rice may be cooked by 3 methods, each of which requires a different proportion of water. These methods are boiling, which requires 12 times as much water as rice;  the Japanese method, which requires 5 times as much; and steaming, which requires 2-1/2 times as much. Whichever of these methods is used, however, it should be remembered that the rice grains, when properly cooked, must be whole and distinct. To give them this form and prevent the rice from having a pasty appearance, this cereal should not be stirred too much in cooking nor should it be cooked too long.

BOILED RICE  - Boiling is about the simplest way.  Properly boiled rice not only forms a valuable dish itself, but is an excellent foundation for other dishes that may be served at any meal. The water in which rice is boiled should not be wasted, as it contains much nutritive material. This water may be utilized in the preparation of soups or sauces, or it may even be used to supply the liquid required in the making of yeast bread.

BOILED RICE (Sufficient to Serve Eight)
1 c. rice ; 3 tsp. Salt;  3 qt. boiling water

Wash the rice carefully and add it to the boiling salted water. Boil rapidly until the water begins to appear milky because of the starch coming out of the rice into the water or until a grain can be easily crushed between the fingers. Drain the cooked rice through a colander, and then pour cold water over the rice in the colander, so as to wash out the loose starch and leave each grain distinct. Reheat the rice by shaking it over the fire, and serve hot with butter, gravy, or cream or milk and sugar.

JAPANESE METHOD - Rice prepared by the Japanese method may be used in the same ways as boiled rice. However, unless some use is to be made of the liquid from boiled rice, the Japanese method has the advantage of being a more economical way of cooking this cereal.

JAPANESE METHOD  (Sufficient to Serve Eight)
1 c. rice ; 1-1/2 tsp. Salt; 5 c. boiling water

Wash the rice, add it to the boiling salted water, and boil slowly for 15 minutes. Then cover the utensil in which the rice is cooking and place it in the oven for 15 minutes more, in order to evaporate the water more completely and make the grains soft without being mushy. Serve in the same way as boiled rice.

STEAMED RICE - To steam rice requires more time than either of the preceding cooking methods, but it causes no loss of food material. Then, too, unless the rice is stirred too much while it is steaming, it will have a better appearance than rice cooked by the other methods. As in the case of boiled rice, steamed rice may be used as the foundation for a variety of dishes and may be served in any meal.


STEAMED RICE (Sufficient to Serve Six)
1 c. rice; 1-1/2 tsp. Salt 2-1/2 c. water

Wash the rice carefully and add it to the boiling salted water. Cook it for 5 minutes and then place it in a double boiler and allow it to cook until it is soft. Keep the cooking utensil covered and do not stir the rice. About 1 hour will be required to cook rice in this way. Serve in the same way as boiled rice.


Good luck.
Rahul Patgaonkar
Shrikrishnadining.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

7 Steps for World Class Gourmet Coffee




For a change, a good cup of coffee would be nice. It does take some time and some energy to find a great cup of gourmet coffee these days. If you do know of a perfect coffee shop, you are one of the lucky ones. But, did you know that you can basically make a nice cup of coffee on your own from home?

Here are 7 simple steps that you can take to produce the perfect cup of coffee every time.

Start with quality. One of the most critical aspects of coffee drinking is the grade of the coffee that you start off with. If you have a favorite flavor, then purchase whole beans in that flavor. If you can do this, it will allow you to get the most fresh coffee accessible.

Grind away. Purchase a quality coffee grinder. Some of the best grinders available today are easy to use and easy to clean up. By grinding your own coffee beans, youll be able to only grind what you need, meaning that you will have complete freshness in your coffee.

Store It Right And Tight. It is very fundamental to store your coffee tightly. Air oxidizes the coffee and can make it to get bitter quickly. Metal canisters can also enable a metal taste to get into the coffee, making it taste bad.

The top solution is for a plastic or ceramic air tight container for your coffee and coffee beans. Also, store it at room temperature because the moisture in the fridge or freezer can make it go bad faster.

Getting To The Coffee

The Maker. The coffee maker that you use is also critical. No matter what style that you go with, you can get a good cup of coffee out of it if you take the essential steps to keeping it fresh.

For example, you should insure that the coffee maker is kept clean after each use. In fact, youll need to make sure that you detail clean it, with the assistance of vinegar, every so often as well. Your preferences will ultimately determine which style of coffee maker you will use. Make sure that it uses a permanent filter in it.

Even In The Water. Even the water that you use is central to the quality of the coffee you will get from it. It is essential that you use water that is free from chlorine and minerals.

Often, using bottled water rather than tap water will augment the quality of the coffee. Also, keep the water nice and hot. A good temperature for the water is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Supply The Right Amount. It is also central for you to use the right quantity of coffee beans and coffee grounds in the maker. Too many and you will have a very strong cup of coffee and too few will make it to be too weak. Follow the directions provided by the coffee producer for the best cup of coffee.

Lastly and probably the most vital aspect of getting a great cup of gourmet coffee is to make sure to enjoy your coffee when it is hot and fresh. Most restaurants are told to keep coffee for less than thirty minutes, but at home, the best coffee is the coffee that hasnt sat for more than twenty minutes.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

4 Easy Tips for Making Iced Coffee Drinks at Home




A big chill is sweeping the coffee industry as iced coffee beverages gain popularity.

According to the National Coffee Association, the percentage of Americans who drink iced coffee beverages increased from 20 percent in 2003 to 29 percent in 2004. Following the popularity of cappuccinos and mocha lattes, consumers are discovering that coffee is just as tasty - and even more refreshing - when served cold.

Iced coffee can be as easy to prepare as iced tea. A variety of options, such as flavoring syrups, cold milk, chocolate and spices, allow you to create personalized coffee concoctions that are just as delicious as those served in your favorite cafe.

Beverages such as iced vanilla mocha, iced rum coffee and iced latte are easy to make at home. Here are some tips for refreshing iced coffee drinks.

* Pour the flavoring syrup into the cup first. To complete the drink, pour in espresso or coffee, then the ice, and top it off with cold milk.

* Don't let your beverage become watered down. Cool your favorite coffee beverage with ice cubes made from fresh-brewed coffee instead of water.

* Use a machine that produces a high quality coffee or espresso. The Capresso CoffeeTeam Luxe, for example, grinds coffee beans right before brewing and allows you to control the strength of your coffee.

* Be creative. Add a personalized touch to your iced coffee beverages with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, nutmeg or cinnamon.