Category Archives: Cooking

Five ways to use Saffron

Norfolk Saffron producer Sally Francis reveals her top tips, tricks and recipes for making the most of the flower.

Reblog from: The Telegraph ♦  By: Sally Francis

Never throw saffron threads whole into your cooking. To get the most from your it, crumble the required number of threads into a small container, or ideally grind them in a pestle & mortar. How fine you grind saffron is up to you. Saffron is known as the sunshine spice, and the finer the saffron, the more uniformly yellow the food will be. Coarsely grinding or simply crumbling it into pieces 1-3mm long looks great in pilaus as it gives a yellow background colour with hotspots of rich orangey-red. Continue reading Five ways to use Saffron

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Sauteed Bittermelon with Egg

By: Sherry Sorono | We call it “Ampalaya”. In the Visayas Region of the Philippines, they call it “Amargoso” because of its bitterness. In Southeast Asia like in India, Pakistan and Banladesh; they call it “Bittergourd” or “Bittermellon”. Photo credit: Tastebuds Unlimited by Beth Celis

Ugly they are! and bitter too. But it is that bitterness that health expert s claim rids the body of its toxicity. We have gotten around that bitterness issue by concocting so many recipes, versions and twists in dealing with it.

Chopped in thin slices, its innards are scraped away by a spoon and then the slices are sprinkled with a little salt and after they are mixed in a mixing bowl, they are squeezed to take a little f that bitterness out.
Continue reading Sauteed Bittermelon with Egg

7 Old Myths About Cooking Pasta That Need to Go Away!

There are many myths about cooking pasta that simply aren’t correct and yet they persist. Read on for a few that we would like to see disappear! Photo credit: ouritaliantable.com

Oil in the water. Don’t add oil to the pasta water. It will only make your pasta slippery, causing the sauce to run off.

Drain well. Don’t drain every last bit of water off of the pasta. A little water is often good for the sauce and sometimes you will even want to add more (see ‘saving a scoop of water’ in this post.)
Continue reading 7 Old Myths About Cooking Pasta That Need to Go Away!

Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers’ Market

Why shop at a Farmers Market?

Access to fresh, locally grown foods, for starters. That may be one of the best reasons, but there are many more. Farmers markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season. This means produce is at its freshest and tastes the best. The food is typically grown near where you live, not thousands of miles away or another country. Shopping at farmers markets also supports your local farmers and keeps the money you spend on food closer to your neighborhood.
Continue reading Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers’ Market

What? White Rice Better Than Brown?

A Reblog from: TheHealthyHomeEconomist | By Sarah  Thanks to Manang Kusinera for the link!  

My last videoblog titled Healthy Chinese drew some comments from folks questioning my choice of rice. Why was I using white basmati rice instead of brown?  Isn’t brown rice the healthier choice, after all?

Ok, I’ll spill the beans, rice.   Here are my reasons …

Truth is, neither my husband or myself have ever enjoyed brown rice.   Every time we eat it, it just seems to not sit very well in our stomachs.  It, well, uh, sits like a brick for lack of a better word.
Continue reading What? White Rice Better Than Brown?

Sweden Becomes First Western Nation to Reject Low-fat Diet Dogma

Sweden has become the first Western nation to develop national dietary guidelines that reject the popular low-fat diet dogma in favor of  low-carb high-fat nutrition advice.

The switch in dietary advice followed the publication of a two-year study by the independent Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment. The committee reviewed 16,000 studies published through May 31, 2013.

Swedish doctor, Andreas Eenfeldt, who runs the most popular health blog in Scandinavia (DietDoctor.com) published some of the highlights of this study in English:
Continue reading Sweden Becomes First Western Nation to Reject Low-fat Diet Dogma

Health Benefits of ” Mint ”

Mentha (also known as Mint, from Greek míntha,Linear B  mi-ta)is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family).The species  are not clearly distinct and estimates of the number of species varies from 13 to 18. Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally. Many other hybrids as well as numerous cultivars are known in cultivation.
Continue reading Health Benefits of ” Mint ”

The Language of Food

chit juan 2By Chit U. Juan | On a recent trip to Legaspi City in the southeastern tip of the main island of Luzon in the Philippines, I was to attend a dinner with academics who were guests and speakers at the 3rd International Colloquium of the Bicol University Graduate School. As soon as we reached the mall, the rain poured and there was no way I could even alight from the car to join my party. Instead, we made a quick decision to join the dinner of Father Jovic and my colleagues at the Social Enterprise Development Center where I sit in the Board as an Independent Director.

So in the rain we went to find this special place called Iking’s or Mr. D’s Pizza as it is written on the menu.
Continue reading The Language of Food

Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Za’atar Roasted Eggplant

A Reblog | By: kabcphotography | In Tel Aviv, with 85 degree weather,  its hard to say that its Fall. As much as I love long summer days filled with the beach and watermelons, I truly miss the feeling of Autumn. I miss apple orchards and pumpkin patches and the scent of warm spices.

While patiently waiting for soup season to kick in, I’ve prepared a light, whole grain salad filled with mediterranean flavors.
Continue reading Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Za’atar Roasted Eggplant

Cooking for Spring in Green and White

There’s this period somewhere between winter and spring: the sun is out, weather is getting warmer, tulips are shyly showing their first leaves, but mounds of snow are still melting slowly. You feel for lighter, fresher food but can’t let go of comfort dishes yet.

With spring coming more than a month early in Quebec, some of my friends are already barbecuing away. Mine is still hidden in the shed so I turned to ethnic foods, dishes with flavors infused by the sun.

One of my favorite go-to snack foods is hummus. I have bought too many containers of this creamy dip to count, gradually personalizing it by adding a bit of lemon zest, a dash of spicy olive oil – until my parents gave me a shiny new food processor (I had managed everything with a hand mixer until then) and I figured I could whip up my own.

The first quality of a successful homemade hummus is its creaminess. After researching a while to find out how to achieve this, I discovered two steps are essential: peeling the chick peas and emulsifying the tahini with the lemon juice before adding the rest of the ingredients (more about this last tip in the recipe below). Peeling the chick peas? Yes, I admit I hadn’t noticed preserved chick peas are all wrapped in a very thin translucent peel that’s in fact easy to remove. I read about this a bit doubtfully, opened a can, and lightly squeezed a chick pea between my fingers: it slipped right out of its peel. When you peel one, you think – how is this making a difference? But when you see the mountain of empty skins after you’ve removed them all, you understand that it can really just help to avoid a grainy hummus.

Let me be clear: you can just pour your chickpeas out of the can and into your food processor (after rinsing them of course), it will still be pretty creamy. But really, it only takes a few minutes to remove the skins and it makes a big difference. Try it once and you can tell me about it afterwards.

So my hummus would be our appetizer, and for the main course, I flipped through my saved to-try recipes and found one which not only fitted my green and white spring color scheme, but was a twist on a Mexican classic: a White Turkey Chili. A chili is a pretty heavy and flavorful dish I love to devour in the heart of winter (a bit ironic considering the Mexicans created this recipe without ever seeing any snow falling from the sky), so this “lightened up” version would be a perfect way to end our first 20 degrees spring day (that’s about 68°F, not bad huh?).

I saved the original recipe from Everyday Food magazine and adapted it to our tastes: swapped chicken for turkey, added a bit of spice and a lot of lime. We ate it with oven-baked scoop-shaped tortillas and a refreshing white beer. Delicious and sunny indeed!

The Creamiest Hummus

Makes about 3.5 cups

1 19-oz can (about 2.5 cups) of organic chickpeas, skins removed
1/3 cup organic tahini
Juice from 2 lemons
2 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper (or black pepper)
1 or 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
More water to taste

To serve:
More olive oil
Roughly chopped rocket leaves or flat-leaf parsley
Black pepper
A sprinkling of fleur de sel
Home made pita chips, sliced veggies

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Peel the skins off by lightly squeezing the chickpeas between your fingers – it’s really easy. Discard the skins.

Combine the tahini, lemon juice and first 2 tablespoons of water in your food processor. This will emulsify (or cream) your tahini, making it smoother and lighter. This is one of the key secrets to a creamy hummus, you have to blend these ingredients together very well before adding anything else. Add the garlic, salt, cumin and white pepper and give it a couple more pulses.

Add in the chickpeas 1/3 at a time and blend well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of your bowl as needed. Once all the chickpeas are blended in, add the olive oil and let it run for a few minutes. At first your hummus will seem grainy but it’ll get right. Add in a little water until you reach your favorite consistency.

Once I get my big batch of hummus done, I put it in an airtight container and when we eat it, I take out just the amount I need and season it a bit more. My favorite thing is to add a small bunch of chopped rocket leaves – I know this is not traditional and maybe a bit weird but the peppery rocket leaves really add an interesting depth to the hummus. I pour some really good extra-virgin olive oil (the one you keep for special occasions) on top and freshen the flavor by sprinkling freshly ground black pepper and a bit of fleur de sel.

Serve with pita chips, oven-baked chips, pretzels, chopped vegetables with celery or zucchini, or even big green olives. Drink with a refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a locally brewed white beer.

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This is a reblog from Food Noveau by Marie Asselin
http://foodnouveau.com/2010/04/recipes/cooking-for-spring-in-green-and-white/

9 Spices With Super-Healing Powers

By: Megan Kempston, Caring.com staff writer  <||>  Have you checked your spice rack lately? Spices and herbs can do a lot more than add pizzazz to your cooking — they can also promote heart health, fight cancer, reduce inflammation, and more. Here are nine super spices and herbs that are good for you and taste good, too.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a nutritional powerhouse, with antioxidant properties that keep cells safe from oxidative stress and dangerous free radicals. Antioxidants help fight such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s.

What’s more, cinnamon is a powerful weapon against cardiovascular problems. Cinnamon helps the hormone insulin work better, which reduces blood sugar levels. That’s great news for the one in ten North Americans with type 2 diabetes and the millions more with prediabetes. Keeping blood sugar low can help treat diabetes or even stop it before it starts.

Cinnamon may also help prevent Alzheimer’s. A study in 2011 found that an extract from cinnamon bark inhibited the formation of amyloid plaques in mice with Alzheimer’s. It even helped restore cognitive levels and correct movement problems in the animals.

How much: Cinnamon’s health benefits make it worth adding to your daily diet — and cinnamon’s sweet, warming flavor makes it easy. Aim for a quarter to half a teaspoon most days of the week.

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle a little on fresh fruit, a steaming bowl of oatmeal, or a scoop of peanut butter, or add to fish, chicken, or lamb dishes — especially with cumin and chili powder — for a Middle Eastern slant on your normal fare. No time to cook? Sprinkle some cinnamon on your morning coffee or tea for a nice antioxidant boost.

Tip: You know that stuff in your cinnamon jar? It’s probably cassia, not cinnamon. True cinnamon, often labeled “Ceylon cinnamon,” has higher levels of antioxidants, so seek it out if you can.

Sage

If you associate “sage” with wisdom, you’re not far off — the spice has been shown to help with memory and mood. A study in 2005 gave essential sage oil to healthy young volunteers and found that participants tended to remember things better and feel both more alert and calmer after taking sage.

_______________________________  Read more >

Bloglink:   http://www.caring.com/articles/spices-with-healing-powers 

My First Time Away from Home

A Reblog | Steph’s Shenanigans <>Up until I was 23, I lived at home with my parents.  I was sitting comfortably in a rent-free home with all the food I can ask for.  I was going to school and working part-time.  All the money I made from my job was to pay for my cell phone bill, going out, and buying crap food that was terrible for me.

Throughout most of high school and pretty much all of my undergrad, I lived off of chicken fingers that were pre-cooked, packaged, and frozen: with a side of sweet and spicy Thai sauce, of course.

Because of the inconsistent schedule of university and working nights, I was on my own for a lot of meals.  Mom started to give up when she was making two different dinner dishes a night to accommodate my picky eating habits.  But in all fairness, it got to a point where a lot of what we were eating at home was a lot of the same meals and unhealthy ones at that.  There was a lot of fried meat, potatoes, and homemade French fries.  Of course, the logical conclusion I came up with in my late teens to early twenties was to just either eat those chicken fingers, warm up frozen pizza, or go out and buy fast food.

When I started to hang out with my friend Chris, those habits just got worse.  We were studying hard (at this point I was in teacher’s college), working part-time jobs, and having really late nights.  We would order from KFC and have them deliver to us, go to McDonald’s late at night, heat up all sorts of frozen, pre-packaged foods, and more.

After teacher’s college, I decided to try and find a job away from the GTA and I moved to Ottawa with my fiancée, also named Chris.  Mom’s main concern? I was either going to starve to death or I’d be wasting all my money on junk food and eating out.

Just to give you some clarity, my “cooking skills” consisted of making killer scrabbled eggs and putting food in a toaster oven and forgetting about it until I heard the timer’s chime.  I tried making an orange chicken once with my mom under heavy supervision.  That was when I felt like I had a lot of time on my hands.  ONCE.  I always avoided cooking because it took too much time and effort, ingredients we didn’t have in the house, and it took me away from my all-important TV-video games-internet I had set up in my room.  Cooking is boring.  Sure, I was always vocal about my disappointed about what was on the menu, but I never did anything about it because I was still able to get by.  Mom’s super foreign and European attitude was to always make sure your family ate, so I knew I wouldn’t go hungry.  Because I was the last child to leave home, I was able to be a brat and get away with it.  Mom was, mostly, accommodating.

Mom and pretty much everyone who knew me was convinced I was done for.  Moving away from mom’s cooking, starting to pay for rent and other bills, meant the end of this spoiled child.  As the years leading up to my departure went by, I told everyone (and was convinced myself) that once I was thrown into a situation that I was unfamiliar with, that I would successfully adapt and figure it out.  No one really believed that I would change overnight and decide to start cooking, something I had always loathed.  Why cook? Spending hundreds of dollars at the grocery store in one shot, when it’s just a $7 snack here and $15 meal there.

Well, I moved.  Luckily I had Chris with me and I got away with not cooking for a few months.  We compromised.  He cooked and I would do the dishes.  I did laundry and he would fold the clothes.  It was sweet, sweet living.  Then we moved out of our first apartment and into a house with a dishwasher.  The compromising was over. I had no leverage.  We were still doing a lot of frozen pizzas, chicken fingers, and the sort, but once our schedules became a little more stable, we started to explore the kitchen.

I was now forced to help cook. I started demanding healthier meals and Chris was just not as lenient as mom.  So I started to take over our side dishes…

* This is just an introduction to my blog.  My posts won’t be this long again.  I just wanted to give a little bit of background as to why it’s important for me to keep a record of how I start to mature as a cook.  Expect to see photos of some meals I’m proud of, meals by others, ideas, tip and tricks, etc.  I don’t know what will come up on this post, but just believe it will be about food, somehow.

Bloglink:  http://mmmlowbudgetfood.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/my-first-time-away-from-home/