May 302012
 

I enjoy traveling all over the world and South America was one of my latest stops. It is one of the must-dos among travel agents today also.Argentina is South America’s second largest country, snugly situated between the Andes mountain range, the Pacific Ocean, and the South American countries of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile. Being situated in such a manner, Argentina is exposed to many different cultural influences from all directions, including countries all the way across the Pacific. Spain took it upon themselves to permanently settle in the country in the late 1500s, and remained there until Buenos Aires formally emancipated themselves in 1853. One of the most remarkable differences between Argentine Cuisine and exotic cuisines from around the world is the heavy influence that the cuisine of the Italian and Spanish cultures had on it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 182012
 

 

Here is some basic knowledge for cooking with eggs.

The easiest method of tell how old an egg is, is to put the egg in a dish of water.

If it sinks and lies horizontally – very fresh.
If it sinks but tilts slightly – about 1 week old.
If it sinks but stands vertically – older, stale.
But if it floats – it’s off and be careful not to crack the shell.

Some people prefer brown eggs and some white. But nutritionally they are the same.  The yolks will also vary in color depending of the diet of the hen.

Best Way to Boil Eggs

Do you find your eggs crack when boiling? Well, follow these simple steps for the best way to create a perfect boiled egg.

Use 2 week old eggs and ensure they are at room temperature. Make a pin prick in the rounded flat end of the egg – this allows any steam that might build up to escape. Use as small a saucepan as possible, so the eggs fit in snugly – you don’t want too much space otherwise, they may bounce around and crack.

Bring to the boil but only simmer do not boil vigorously. Follow these tips and you will have a perfect boiled egg.

For frying and poaching, use as fresh an egg as possible. When the recipe calls for eggs to be separated, use fresh eggs as well. But if you want easy to peel eggs, use the older ones. And when it comes to scrambling, fresher is best, but older ones will do.

Hope these basic hints are helpful.

May 142012
 

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For various reasons in our society it is now more common than ever to find people that only need to cook for themselves. Use this as a time to try new and exciting cuisines. I have found that it’s best when cooking for one to continue to use the amount of ingredients called for to serve 2-4, then you can freeze the leftovers and have individual meals for later. This allows you to enjoy the fruits of your effort several times. Remember you are what you eat; so allow this to be a time to spice up your mealtime. I think you’ll find this adventuresome spirit will translate into other areas of your life, too. Pre-mixed rubs and seasonings are an extremely easy and help keep life simple and food delicious.

So Buena Petit to you as you set off on your adventure.

May 112012
 

To make a really cool, relatively simple cake for your boy follow these instructions:

Rainbow Train

Bake four mini-loaf cakes using your favorite cake mix. (about 3-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches each.)

Ice each one smooth – one with red icing, one with blue icing, one with green icing, and one with  yellow icing. Use the cake iced in red as the engine: Make a smokestack for the engine with 2 large marshmallows. Frost them together with green icing. Attach the marshmallows to the top of engine with a toothpick. Using green icing, attach a piece of white curly ribbon or candy on the top of the smokestack for smoke and attach two white or yellow gum drops to the front of the engine for headlights. With a spatula, place a small mound of yellow icing on top of the yellow car; add small chocolate chips to resemble coal. Place two or three small plastic cars on top of the blue car.  Stick small stick candies, such as licorice pieces on top of the green car to resemble metal parts. Decorate the sides of the cars with various small hard candies for decorations. For wheels: With icing the same color as the car, attach 4 large candy discs, such as peppermint swirls, to the bottom of each car. Connect the cars with one-inch licorice whips or pretzel sticks.

Your boy and his friends will enjoy all the extra candies! Have fun!

May 082012
 

Two of my favorite things – Rachael Ray and Dancing With The Stars. Did you know that my hubby & I took ballroom dancing lessons – once upon a time. She is so amazing. I don’t watch her talk show but maybe I should record it. I just happened to stumble across this video while practicing embedding video into my posts! Enjoy.

Here is a coupon for her site.Rachael Ray Free Shipping On All Orders!

 Posted by at 2:09 pm
May 072012
 

While enjoying a fantastic glass of your favorite fine Italian wine with dinner, consider also using the nectar of the gods as an ingredient in your favorite dish. Cooking with wine has never been more popular and endless recipes abound that incorporate all different types of wine into favorite dishes and unique spins on classic cuisine. When you cook with Italian wine, the alcohol evaporates, so the dish will be appropriate for individuals unable to consume alcohol, underage eaters, or individuals who do not wish to imbibe any alcohol. Many international dishes include wine, especially Italian, French, and Spanish favorites. You can use any type of wine or alcohol to cook with, but Italian wine has substantial fan following when it comes to cooking with wine. Whether you want to add a unique flavor or a powerful zest to your dishes, adding your favorite Italian wine will have everyone raving over your cooking skills and the dishes you serve.


1. Choose Good Quality Italian Wine
The key to cooking with wine is to choose good quality Italian wine. Just as quality directly affects the drinking enjoyment of a glass of Italian wine, the quality will also affect the end taste of dishes that are prepared using wine as an ingredient. Remember, quality wines are not necessarily the most expensive wines, so avoid associating price with taste. It is safe to say that if you enjoy drinking a particular vineyard’s wine, you will also enjoy cooking with the same wine.

2. Cooking with Red Wine vs. White Wine
Also, you should carefully choose an Italian wine appropriate for the dish. Generally, the recipe you choose will come with the appropriate Italian wine included, but the traditional rules for serving wine with food applies to including the wine as ingredients with food. Many individuals choose to cook with white wine for a tangier, crisp taste and choose red wines for heartier dishes, including those filled with tasty cuts of meats.

3. Why You Would Boil Wine
Even though water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, alcohol has a much lower boiling point, around 175 degree Fahrenheit. For this reason, you can quickly remove alcohol in Italian wine, in fact, approximately 40 percent of the alcohol is boiled out in approximately 15 minutes. Eventually, the Italian wine will turn into a thick syrup if boiled long enough. This syrup is perfect for use as a glaze with meats or vegetables. Once the alcohol has been evaporated, the flavors are emphasized. Also, alcohol, including Italian wine, brings out the flavor of tomatoes and other ingredients. Consider adding a bit of white Italian wine to tomato sauces to bring out the flavors.

4. Cooking Wine – A Bad Idea?
There are a variety of cooking wines on the market, but you should avoid these products, since they are of lower quality than a fine Italian wine and usually contain a high amount of sodium. However, if you are a collector of fine Italian wine, save these delicious drinks from the heat, since the alcohol will only be evaporated and the importance of the wine will be lost. There are a variety of quality Italian wines on the market that are perfect for cooking.

5. Cooking Tips for Red and White Wine
Choose rich, fruity wines for dessert dishes and strong white wines for sautéed or baking dishes.  Also keep in mind the red wine will turn your chicken purple, so when cooking chicken or fish, white wine is probably best.

May 042012
 

Cuba has a rich heritage that is influenced by the Moors, Spaniards, French immigrants fleeing uprisings in Haiti, and Africans. As these various influences came together, a distinctly Cuban flavor and style evolved, which is reminiscent of country peasant styles of cooking. Traditional Cuban dishes tend to be simple, yet hearty. Fussy, heavy sauces are unusual and deep-frying is simply not a favored cooking method. The island nation, naturally, uses a great deal of seafood in its cuisine, which encourages the use of simple cooking techniques and spicing that is meant to enhance, not smother, natural flavors.

The most common spices used in Cuban cuisine recipes are garlic, cumin, oregano and bay or laurel leaves. Sofrito is also popular, and used in a wide range of dishes, from those of beans to those of meats to those that are  made from a base of tomato sauce. A typical sofrito is made of green pepper, onion, garlic, oregano and black pepper fried in olive oil until the pepper, onion and garlic are soft and translucent and the flavors blend to  perfection.

The dense, nutritious, energy producing vegetables commonly used belie the African and native peoples’ influence on the cuisine of Cuba. Yuca, malanga, boniato, and plantano are among these, and are often simmered together with complementary vegetables and served simply, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped fresh onion – a satisfying, strengthening and simple dish for a hard working people.

Meats are often prepared using island flavored marinades that use lime juice or the juice of a sour variety of the orange as a base. Then, the meats are roasted or simmered very slowly with spices, often for hours. Beans and rice are an essential part of most meals, with black beans being well known as a Cuban specialty.

Cuban cuisine is also notable for its baked goods, which include a variety of turnovers. Some are filled with spiced meats and other types feature a particularly Cuban blend of cream cheese and guava paste. Flan is among
Cuba’s most beloved dessert items.

In Cuban dishes, the subtle flavors of healthy foods are enhanced by cooking and spicing methods designed to bring out the best in each component of a dish. The culinary traditions of Cuba are a delight to the tongue.


May 032012
 

Bring on those summer picnics! This is just as tasty as it is colorful.

Ingredients

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • A few ribs celery and leafy tops, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated then grinded into a paste with salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped, a few sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Combine chick peas with onions, peppers, celery, garlic, red pepper flakesand rosemary in a medium bowl. Dress salad with vinegar and oil, salt and pepper.  To add some carbs to this colorful meal, try some of the savory variations of  Beer Bread Mix 

 Posted by at 7:23 pm
May 022012
 

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Cast iron cookware has been used for centuries to cook meals, wash clothes and as wall ornaments in a home. The benefits of using cast iron cookware are truly evident to people who love the outdoors because cast iron cookware holds up well when exposed to all weather elements. Any rust that forms is easily removed and the strong metal surface is often not affected by any type of cooking temperatures.

Most people love cooking with cast iron cookware because of the resilient cast iron metal promotes even heat distribution. Some people enjoy cooking with cast iron cookware because it can be used inside the oven and can withstand a variety of heating levels without causing damage to the shape of the cooking pan. Cast iron cookware is also liked because it travels well and can produce many edible items.

The various shapes of cast iron cookware allow people to bake, boil and roast foods without fear that any foods will be over cooked. Cast iron cookware shortens the cooking process and allows cooks to utilize the interior space of an oven more effectively because cast iron cookware sets are manufactured for this purpose.

Many people enjoy cooking cornbread in large cast iron skillets because the corn meal browns evenly on top and on the bottom. There are many styles of corn bread that can be cooked at one time and this is especially helpful if a family prefers to eat wedges of cornbread for an evening meal and sconces for an afternoon snack. The pre-shaped forms for sconces allow cooks to provide elegant morsels for guest at a dinner party.

Cooks truly appreciate the benefits of using cast iron cookware when it is time to clean up after dinner. Even the hardest baked on foods can be easily removed with a limited amount of soaking. Maintaining a smooth interior surface in a cast iron pan can be accomplished with a steel wool pad. Many cooks have learned through years of use that cleaning all surfaces of cast iron cookware will render better results if a consistent circular motion is used on the cooking surface.

Cast iron cookware maintains a pitch black metal surface at all times. Since cast iron is prone to rusting, cooks have found that oil will keep rust from forming. Any type of oil can be used on cast iron cookware and many cooks will choose to store cast iron cookware with a rich layer of oil on it so that it will be ready for use each day. Cast iron cookware is a good value for the money because it will last for many years and many cast iron pieces have been passed on to many generations of families.

 

 

 

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