One of the most popular drinks produced by the famous Starbucks coffee houses is the Frappuccino, an iced coffee beverage designed for those who would rather cool down on a hot day instead of drinking a traditional cup of hot coffee. Over the past few years, Starbucks has distributed a bottled version of the drink to stores and supermarkets around the country. After noticing that a few other people had developed an affinity for the drink, I looked at the ingredients list on the bottles and decided to try making my own “copycat” version to see if I could bring the taste and flavor close enough to the original to qualify it as an acceptable alternative.
Lutenitza is a traditional Bulgarian relish that is often used as a spread with bread or toast, and may also be used as an accompaniment to foods such as grilled meats, meatballs, or even chips (fried potatoes). Variations of lutenitza, including ajvar and pindjur, are popular in the Balkan countries of Serbia and Macedonia. Traditionally lutenitza is prepared and stored in jars as a way of preserving surplus vegetables during the winter.
I first discovered lutenitza while browsing through the international foods section of our local Big Lots store. After noticing that it was made in Bulgaria and included ingredients that were similar to vegetables that I was already growing in the garden, I decided to give it a try. Although it is essentially a combination of vegetables (typically red bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and occasionally carrots) minced and mixed together, lutenitza has a distinctive taste derived from the grilling or roasting technique used to cook the vegetables and facilitate removal of their skins. Salt and sugar are usually added to enhance the overall flavor.
This recipe for Thai Chicken Curry was sent in by Swati Varma and is supposed to take about 30 minutes of total preparation time. I remember occasionally cooking and eating something similar to this a few years ago, but it had fewer ingredients and was simpler to prepare. It was made from a seasoning packet sold under the Sun-Bird brand (cost ranged from 55 cents up to about a dollar) and called “Thai Red Curry”. According to the instructions on the back of the package, the only ingredients required other than the seasoning packet were the chicken (cubed, boneless, skinless), some water to mix the seasoning with, and some sliced red bell pepper. It was suggested that the water could be substituted with coconut milk “for a more authentic taste”. In my experience the coconut milk made a pretty big difference to the final taste and was much preferred.
Many people use spices when they cook because of the flavor they add to food. Spices definitely make meals taste more interesting. However, they do more than just make the food that we eat taste better. Most spices actually have manifold health benefits, and they have been used for thousands of years to treat various ailments. Read on to find out more about five of the most beneficial spices.
Hors d’oeuvres have gained widespread popularity. They are the main focus of many menus. In fact, many people opt to use a combination of these small, tasty morsels as complete meals. These are wise decisions because they are more economical and are a good way to cut down on food waste. Homemade appetizers are preferable because they are unique and fresh. Anyone can make a huge variety of these fabulous gems like the professionals using only one basic ingredient.
Ravioli are delicious little stuffed pasta squares that can be filled with just about anything that is edible. Of course, the most popular stuffing for ravioli is cheese, but you can fill them with mushrooms, spinach, butternut squash, marinated meats and so on. You can even experiment a little, perhaps use some cooked, diced apples with cheese for a stuffing with a browned butter and walnut sauce.
The point is that the possibilities are endless, but many people avoid making their own ravioli because it seems like a lot of work. Making ravioli can be tedious, but you can use shortcuts to make it a little easier on yourself. No matter what, you are going to have to carefully stuff those little pasta squares. However, you can avoid making your own pasta or even buying the dough and rolling it out. The trick is to use wonton wrappers that you can usually find in your supermarkets produce section.
What greater delight is there in life than a delectable piece of gourmet fudge? Nothing compares to the sensation of a juicy morsel of fudge melting on your tongue and infusing itself into your very being. Even when it is not particularly well made, perhaps a little overcooked or gooey, fudge beats all but the most exotic confections.
What, then, is the best way to make fudge? Should you opt for a quick and easy method or strain your muscles to achieve fudge perfection? If you add nuts, which is the best choice?
When someone mentions caviar, what is the first thing that crosses your mind? Do you think of Russians or the bourgeois? Most people know that caviar comes from fish eggs; however, not all fish eggs are caviar. What is this delicacy? Where did it originate? How should it be served?
Caviar is the processed, salted roe (eggs) of a fish — primarily sturgeon — and is usually served as an hors d’oeuvre. Traditionally, this delicacy is associated with the upper class or the royalty of Russia and eastern European countries. However, many nineteenth century American saloons served it as part of free lunches. (Being salty, it probably encouraged their patrons to buy more beer.) Depending on the quality and source of the roe, caviar is quite accessible to everyone. Still, two groups often avoid sturgeon-derived caviar: kosher-observant Jews and Twelver Shi’a Muslims. These sects require their seafood to come from scaly fish.
Pasta always ranks high among the world’s best-loved foods and as any seasoned chef will advise, perfect pasta should be cooked al dente. In literal terms, al dente means “to the tooth”. Figuratively speaking, the expression refers to pasta cooked to the point where its texture may be described as firm and slightly chewy but not crunchy.
This may all sound very simple and self-evident to dedicated foodies and disciples of fine Italian dining who simply know the pasta is done “when it’s done”, but there are those among us who need a little more help. Here are a few tips for serving perfect al dente pasta for “the rest of us”.
This article by Edward G. Foden introduces people to the idea of making their own sausages. Many of us have heard some version of Otto von Bismarck’s famous quote, “laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made”, so perhaps it is not surprising that most homemakers and even keen amateur cooks have never attempted sausage making in the belief that it is beyond their capabilities. This is largely a myth, however; with a little bit of planning and preparation, it is possible for you to take action and begin sausage making at home.
Have you ever wondered about exactly what goes in to your favourite sausages? Have you ever worried about the quality of ingredients in those sausages that your family cannot get enough of? Whilst expensive sausages purchased direct from your butcher may only contain the very best ingredients, the cheaper mass-produced varieties may not. The only way to ensure that your sausages are both delicious and nutritious is to make them yourself. If you are thinking that sausage making is some kind of mysterious butchers’ art and well beyond the average cook, prepare to think again! Read on and discover why it is fun, easy, and satisfying to make your own sausages at home.
Over the past 11 years, I have developed a holiday tradition of sorts by making occasional loaves of cranberry nut bread beginning in November and usually running through the period of Chinese New Year. The idea actually came from a recipe on the back of a package of Ocean Spray cranberries that I had purchased back in 1998. The final product ended up being surprisingly tasty and easy to make, so for most years I have cooked batches of one or two loaves whenever the cranberries are available in our area, which is usually during the winter months. This year I finally remembered to save the recipe from the back of the package, so I have reproduced it below for those of you who may be looking for it.