Showing posts from September, 2015

Canadian Candy Bars

About a year ago I was in Toronto with some journalists, including one from Germany. He had been to the US many times but it was his first trip to Canada. He remarked that he thought Canada would look different somehow. The truth is, when you travel to Canada from the United States, it doesn�t always look very different. Especially on the surface. The U.S. has a lot in common with Canada, but there are some subtle (and not so subtle) differences. One difference? Candy bars! 
The candy bars in question are made by Nestle and Cadbury, but they are not the same as candy bars in other parts of the world, and none of the ones I brought back from my last trip across the border are available in the US, not that I know of anyway. I�m not much of a candy bar fan, and these are everyday, available-in-the-supermarket candy bars, but I still think it's fun to try something different now and again. 
So what are they like?

The Coffee Crisp is my favorite. It�s light and crunchy, a bit like a Kit K…

Wine Folly Book Review

Because I used to develop recipes to pair with wines (for a now defunct online wine retailer) I have quite a collection of wine books. The book I probably use the most these days just to learn about wine is The Wine Bible, by Karen McNeil. I am eagerly anticipating the next edition, due out next month. However another book came across my desk recently that I am really enjoying. While by no means comprehensive, it does really get at the important stuff, especially when it comes to enjoying wine, not just geeking out on it. 

Wine Folly, The Essential Guide to Wine is just that, a book that includes the fundamentals of wine�such as how wine is made, how to read a wine lablel, a glossary, how to taste, pair and serve wine, profiles of popular and under the radar wine varietals, regional maps and and more. It uses lots of infographics, data visualization, icons and imagery to help simplify the information. I particularly appreciate that is goes beyond the standard oft repeated information. …

Do You Need a Kitchen Scale?

I never understand when people say they can�t cook. If you can follow a recipe, you can cook. Although not every recipe yields great results. One problem is accuracy. In creating recipes for clients I generally measure and weigh ingredients. Weighing is always more accurate. So it makes sense that when following recipes with weights, that readers should use weights too.

Of course not all recipes are written with weights, but that's changing. Some prominent cookbook authors, especially bakers, are using weights in their recipes and in particular the metric system. I talked to once such baker and cookbook author, Alice Medrich. She collects James Beard awards for practically every book she writes and approaches recipe testing much like a scientist. Her latest books are Flavor Flours and Seriously Bittersweet, Here�s what she had to say about using scales. 
1. When did you start using grams in your recipes? 
I got used to grams in Europe in the 1970's. I  didn't switch from ounc…

Goat Cheese Giveaway!

The first time I went to Paris I discovered a tiny little cheese shop that I swear was dedicated 100% to goat cheese. There were goat cheeses of all sizes and shapes, some with rinds others covered in ash and others wrapped in leaves. It was like a whole new universe of cheese. A delicious one.

Fortunately these days there is a wide range of goat cheese, both domestic and international available in the US. There are fresh soft fluffy cheeses, gooey triple creme style cheeses and drier aged goat cheeses. To learn more about goat cheese as well as great pairings, head over to Culture Cheese magazine. Today you'll find my post with two recipes--one for Scallop Selles-sur-Cher Crostini and another for a dead simple Five Spice Fig Compote with just 5 ingredients.

I am giving away 5 French goat cheeses so you can test, taste and create your own recipes. You will also receive a package of tried and true recipes for inspiration and trivia cards so you can learn a little bit of his…

Global Grub Pad Thai Kit

I generally don't review cooking kits since I'd rather cook something from a recipe instead, but there are exceptions. Try as I might, I cannot make my own tamales from scratch taste quite as exquisite as the ones from Global Grub. I'm pretty sure it has to do with the mix of chiles in package.

Which brings me to the lastest cooking kit from Global Grub, Pad Thai. It�s all about the ingredients. There are a lot of recipes for Pad Thai out there and more often than not they use ingredients that just don�t belong in it such as ketchup, rice wine vinegar or honey. For more authentic versions, check out the recipes in Pok Pok by Andy Ricker or Thai Street Food by David Thompson (which also includes the fascinating history of the dish).Or even easier, you can use the latest Pad Thai kit from Global Grub. Having tried the kit I can vouch for it. Along with rice stick noodles, the kit contains tamarind, fish sauce and preserved radish which you might not have on hand but make all …

All about Hatch chiles

A few weekends ago I went to a Hatch chile roast.Hatch chiles are a very prized New Mexican variety. They are available fresh from August through September and once roasted, they can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 years. They are very high in vitamin C�one medium chile has as much as 6 oranges. 
There are 5 or 6 different chiles that are marketed with the name �Hatch� and they are each named for the valley they are grown in. The most common Hatch chile is the NuMex 6-4 Heritage, which was bred for flavor, heat level and size at New Mexico State University. They are fleshy, long and narrow. Not generally eaten raw, roasting really brings out their flavor�they are smoky but also have citrus, herbal and vegetal flavors but with distinct heat. You can get mild, medium, hot or extra hot Hatch chiles.
A year ago I was sent some hot chiles from The Hatch Chile Store and it has taken me a year to use them. They are really, really hot so a little goes a long way. You might think I had learne…