Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reindeer Food Recipe

Many families leave cookies and milk for Santa, but what about his reindeer? Sprinkled on the lawn on Christmas Eve, Magic Reindeer Food leaves a glittering path--and a sweet snack--for Rudolph and friends.

An inexpensive stocking stuffer, Magic Reindeer Food makes a great classroom or Secret Santa gift. Package this simple recipe in zipper food storage bags, and add a free printable gift tag to make Magic Reindeer Food easy to make--and to give.

Reindeers get hungry too! Mix up some oats, coconut, cranberries, and almonds as a healthy snack for Rudolph and the gang. Come on, he can only eat so many carrots!

2 cups uncooked, rolled oats

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 Cup honey

1/2 Cup brown sugar

1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 Cup dried cranberries

1/4 Cup sweetened, flaked coconut

1/4 Cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray foil with a non-stick cooking spray. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until thoroughly combined.

Spread a thin layer of mixture on prepared sheet. Bake 10 minutes until oats or a golden brown. Cool to room temperature to allow oats to harden. Break into bits and enjoy.

Makes 3 cups

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How to cook the perfect Turkey bird ? for thanksgiving dinner ?

We were going to give you just 20 simple turkey-cooking tips, but we realized there are far too many turkey questions, so instead we created this comprehensive "Handbook for The Perfect Turkey." It's still very simple and easy to follow, but we think it addresses more of the complexities of why turkeys come out properly cooked, overcooked and unfortunately at times, undercooked (itself a health hazard). If you follow our advice, you'll end up with the best turkey you've ever eaten, no matter whose basic recipe you're following. Here are the chapters and questions you'll find included in The Global Gourmet's Perfect Turkey Handbook:For uniform cooking results, the USDA recommends cooking the stuffing outside of the bird. If you insist on stuffing the turkey, stuff loosely and follow the steps below.

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Check the wrapper to see how much the turkey weighs and determine approximate cooking time (see chart below). Remove the giblet bag from the breast and remove the neck from the turkey cavity. Wash the turkey inside and out and pat skin dry with paper towels.

2. Mix stuffing and lightly fill cavity. Allow 1/2 to 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. It is safer to understuff than to overstuff the turkey. Stuffing expands during cooking. Refrigerate any leftover stuffing and bake in greased casserole during the last hour of turkey roasting time.

3. Place turkey breast side up on a rack in a shallow (about 2 inches deep) roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer in thigh (see Turkey Safety: Using a Thermometer). Add up to 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan, if desired.

4. Cover turkey loosely with a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Cooking time takes longer for a stuffed turkey. For example, a 20 pound stuffed turkey will take 4 1/4 to 5 1/4 hours to cook. (See timetable below).

5. Remove the foil cover after about 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking to brown the skin. Brush with vegetable oil to enhance browning, if desired.

6. A whole turkey is done when the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the breast, the wing and the stuffing. The stuffing must reach 165°F or higher, if it is not, return it to the oven and continue cooking.

7. Check the internal temperature of the stuffing. Insert the thermometer through the cavity into the thickest part of the stuffing and leave it for 5 minutes. Or use an instant red thermometer which will register the temperature after 15 seconds. The stuffing temperature will rise a few degrees after the turkey is removed from the oven. If the center of the stuffing has not reached 165°F after stand time, return the turkey to the oven and continue cooking.

8. Allow turkey to set 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving to allow juices to saturate the meat evenly.

USDA Roasting Timetable for Fresh or Thawed Turkey at 325°F.

These times are approximate and should always be used in conjunction with a properly placed thermometer.

8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

The USDA does not recommend cooking turkey in an oven set lower than 325°

Chapter 1. Buying a Turkey

What size turkey should I buy?
Is it better to buy one large turkey or two small ones?
Should I buy fresh or frozen?
What about turkeys that have been injected with fats and seasonings?
What about turkey parts and frozen stuffed turkeys?
Chapter 2. Storing an Uncooked Turkey

How long can a whole turkey be kept frozen?
How long can a fresh turkey be kept refrigerated?
Chapter 3. Thawing a Frozen Turkey

Thawing Rules
Thawing Methods
Turkey Thawing Charts
Chapter 4. Stuffing (or Not Stuffing) a Turkey

Is it best to cook the stuffing inside the bird, or separately in a baking dish?
If I do want to stuff the bird, what's the best way to do it?
How much stuffing do I need?
Do I need to close up the cavity after it has been stuffed?
Chapter 5: Preparing the Turkey for Roasting

Preparations Step-by-Step
Stuffing & Trussing
Do I need to truss the bird's legs, or can I just roast it the extra effort?
Chapter 6: Roasting the Turkey

Roasting Step-by-Step
How do I keep the breast meat moist when cooking?
Chapter 7: How to Tell When It's Done

Use a Meat Thermometer
My turkey comes with a plastic pop-up timer. Can't I use that instead?
How accurate are "recommended cooking times"?
How can I tell when the turkey is done?
USDA Timetable for Turkey Roasted at 325 degrees F.
Chapter 8: Making the Gravy

Rules for Making Gravy
Making the Basic Gravy
Additions to Gravy
Chapter 9: Carving the Bird

Basic Carving steps
Removing the Thigh, Drumstick & Wings
Carving the breast
Chapter 10: Storing Leftovers & Food Safety After Cooking

Storing leftovers
Reheating leftovers

Monday, March 23, 2009

2009 food trends

If you’re a homebody who enjoys making a big pan of macaroni and cheese, or eating a hearty, homemade stew instead of going to a fancy restaurant, congratulations: You are among the trendiest people in the country.
Comfort foods, simple meals, home cooking and recession-proof dining will be the buzzwords in the food world for 2009, according to trend-spotters and market experts. But fear not, foodies. The 2009 forecast isn’t all about meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The new year also will see the rise of Asian noodles, Peruvian dishes and drinks, ginger, cactus, certified fish, affordable wines, garam masala flavors, smoked flavors, maple syrup, organ meats and the growing use of eggs at lunch and dinner, not just as a morning staple.
Say farewell to molecular gastronomy, with its dehydrators and foams, and auf wiedersehen to elaborate restaurant concoctions that require five garnishes and three sauces. Even chefs will economize and embrace simpler, more cost-effective foods.
“There’s been a tendency among American chefs to pile as many ingredients on a plate (as possible), using the maximum number of cooking techniques. These showoff antics peak just before every economic collapse. In recessionary times, they’re now forced to cut back on both ingredient costs and the labor required to fabricate froufrou,” said Michael Whiteman of the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., a food and restaurant consulting firm in New York.
“That’s one reason so-called comfort food starts appearing on menus and on home dinner tables. Another reason, of course, is that in stressful times, braised and baked items are more comforting to the soul than grilled-and-garnished dishes.”
Turning to comfort foods in a recession isn’t a new phenomenon. But this year’s culinary “cocooning” also is driven by the desire for simple pleasures.
“It’s driven partially by finances. But this time it’s more ‘I’m staying home not because I need to but because I want to,’ ” said Lynn Dornblaser, senior new-product expert for Mintel, which tracks consumer trends. “It’s more of a positive choice than a reaction or a feeling of fear: ‘I have my big TV, my gourmet kitchen, so I’m staying home.’ ”
And those who are staying home are looking to prepare satisfying, economical dishes, said Tanya Steel, editor in chief of Epicurious.com.
“The recession already has affected how we eat and feed our families. The search terms on Epicurious are skewing to common ingredients – pasta searches, chicken searches,” Steel said. “People are cooking at home. It’s the way to get the most value from your dollar.”
Steel also said that complicated, science-experiment food is out and simple food is in. “Intellectual ‘head food’ … is done,” she said. “It was an important revolution, gastronomically speaking, but at the end of the day people really want food they know and flavors they understand.”
So what are some foods, flavors and culinary trends we’ll see in 2009? Here are several, gleaned from a variety of trend reports:
• Breakfast: If you like eggs at any hour, you’re in luck. Look for more restaurants with all-day breakfast items. Fried or poached eggs on top of dishes (the classic French frisée salad, for example) also will be more popular.
• Asian noodles and soups: With raw-fish prices increasing, noodle bars are becoming the new sushi joints, sporting ramen, udon and soba noodle dishes. Noodles in broth, such as Vietnamese pho and Southeast Asian laksa, will grow in popularity.
• Certified fish: Concerns about overfishing have led restaurants and suppliers to buy from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, a London-based non- profit that promotes sustainable fishing practices. Avoiding vulnerable species, such as bluefin tuna, Chilean sea bass and swordfish, is part of the effort. Walmart has pledged to make a full switch to certified fisheries by 2011, according to JWT, a trend and branding expert.
• Gluten-free products: Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten, a protein found in rye, wheat and barley, affects only about 1 percent of the population. But gluten-free products are now considered chic, said Ann Mack, director of trend-spotting for JWT. “It’s perceived as healthy,” she said. “You’re seeing more celebrities talking about it in the magazines.” Stars are using gluten-free products as diet aids, she added.
• New flavors: Look for lavender, persimmon, star fruit, garam masala and chimichurri flavors to crop up in food products and on menus. “We’re still looking for new things,” said Mintel’s Dornblaser. She added that cactus, in both food and drink, will make its way from the Latin market to the mainstream.
• Peru: It’s the next great foodie destination, according to Bon Appétit magazine. Peruvian cuisine’s flavors and ingredients will influence restaurant menus. Move over, caipirinha and mojito: The Pisco Sour, made with the Peruvian national spirit, is the hot new cocktail.
• Ginger drinks: Ginger beers and cocktails also are hot new sippers, according to Epicurious. Spirits become more popular in recessionary times, Steel said. “One of the areas people are not cutting back on is liquor,” she said. “People are drinking more. They’re spending less on the actual bottles, but they’re drinking more. Bars are not being hit like restaurants.”
Will these trends blast off like yesterday’s sun-dried tomatoes? That remains to be seen.
What is clear is how much the economy will affect the way we eat, shop and spend our restaurant dollars. Cheaper cuts of meat, pasta, beans and economical prepared meals from the supermarket are signs of our recessionary jitters. Supermarket sales are growing, as is traffic on their Web sites.
Steel said: “People are looking for coupons and using them.”
It’s not all doom and gloom for restaurants, though. Bi-stros boasting affordable, filling fare are making a comeback, Whiteman said. Menus featuring spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, pad thai and rigatoni carbonara may escape the sting of the Dow.
Also look for more small, tapas-style plates, Whiteman added.
If there’s one exciting dining trend to emerge from our diminished dollars, it’s the “underground restaurant,” according to the Baum & Whiteman report.
These “black market” eateries are unlicensed, one-night-only dining ventures staged by skilled cooks in warehouses, garages, cellars, vacant nightclubs and personal dining rooms. They usually feature a set menu and are BYOB.
What Whiteman calls “gastronomic speakeasies,” they are mushrooming because they’re fun, usually affordable and offer a “sense of adventure,” he said.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The World’s Top Chef, Ferran Adrià, at Documenta

is one of the world‘s most important exhibitions of modern and contemporary art taking place every five years in Kassel, Germany. The twelfth edition of Documenta (from 6/16/07 – 9/23/07) will outsource “Pavilion G” to Ferran Adrià’s restaurant, El Bulli, in Catalonia, Spain. Two lucky exhibit goers are selected each day and flown to the restaurant to indulge in Adrià’s culinary art. Check out this amazing gallery of the chef's work from 1983 - 2005 (excluding 2002, which he took off to reflect on the previous 20 years).

Ferran Adrià began his culinary career as a dishwasher at the Hotel Playafels, in Catalonia. The chef de cuisine at this hotel taught him traditional Spanish cuisine. At 19 he was drafted into military service where he worked as a cook. In 1984, at the age of 22, Adrià joined the kitchen staff of El Bulli as a line cook. Eighteen months later he became the head chef.

El Bulli (the small bulldog) has 3 Michelin stars and is regarded as one of the best restaurants in the Western world. In 2005 it ranked second in the Restaurant Top 50. It was awarded the first place in 2006, displacing The Fat Duck in England. El Bulli has retained this title in 2007.

The restaurant has a limited season from April to September; bookings are taken on a single day in the previous October. It accommodates only 8,000 diners a season, with 800,000 people calling to try and book places - around 400 requests for every table. The average cost of a meal is €250 (US $340); the restaurant itself has operated at a loss since 2000, with operating profit coming from El Bulli-related books, and lectures from Adrià.

Adrià is often associated with "molecular gastronomy,"although the Spanish chef does not consider his cuisine to be of this category. Instead, he has referred to his cooking as deconstructivist. Adrià's stated goal is to "provide unexpected contrasts of flavour, temperature and texture. Nothing is what it seems. The idea is to provoke, surprise and delight the diner."

From The Guardian:

Deconstruction is one of the Adrià inventions that have changed the face of gastronomy. To understand how it works, let's look at what he does with a classic dish of his native land, tortilla española - Spanish omelette. First, he reduces the old-fashioned tortilla to its three component parts: eggs, potatoes and onions. Then he cooks each separately. The finished product, the deconstructed outcome, is one-part potato foam (food-foaming is another technique Adrià has given the world), one-part onion purée, one-part egg-white sabayon. One isolated component is served on top of the other in layers, and topped with crumbs of deep-fried potatoes. The dish, minuscule, comes inside a sherry glass. Adrià, with the playful irony that exists in practically everything he does, names this dish...tortilla española.

From Time:

For each of the 100 days of Documenta (it ends Sept. 23), Noack and director Roger Buergel select two people from the exhibit goers and fly them to dinner at Adrià's restaurant. For the lucky Charlies who win golden tickets to the Chocolate Factory, Adrià is an enthusiastic Willy Wonka. "This is the most beautiful thing I've done," he says about hosting the
Documenta visitors [...]

For the Flögels and El Bulli's 48 other customers that July night, the result of all that investigation and inspiration took the form of spherified olives that, when put in the mouth, exploded with a gush of intensely flavored olive oil. The liquid yolk of a quail's egg came wrapped in a hard, burnished shell tasting of candy. Citrus pulp turned into a tangy risotto.

If they hadn't been invited to El Bulli by Documenta, the Flögels would have been set back nearly $500 for dinner [...] They filed out after midnight with childlike smiles of wonder on their faces. For Adrià, their response only reinforces his core belief about cooking. "Food," he likes to say, "is happiness."