The Food

Food for Lovers

Food image regarding an extreme case of spicy food not appropriate for date.

First date. Always makes you both nervous and excited at the same time. And always the same questions comes up: Where to go,what to do, what to say, how long to stay… But eventually no matter how you see it, it seems that dinner, either as "just dinner" or as an event that follows or precedes something else (eg drinks or movie), is the most popular first date choice. And for a good reason too. It has several advantages: brings you close, you get to spend time doing something familiar to both and has a very specific duration 1-1.5 hrs. Deciding, however, on dinner as first date does not mean that you are done. Now actually comes the tough part. Where to go, what to eat, what to say. I am not a date coach or a dating expert. I am a foodie. Over the years I developed a set of rules that makes dining-out from a necessity to an experience.

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Sweeteners: Know your Sugar(s)

Sugar types: Raw sugar, partially refined, refined, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar.

The white substance that it's flavor has been coded on our DNA as the most desirable flavor, the last few years it has been blamed for every dietary disease. I am talking of course about sugar. The crystallized molecules of sucrose, that carry with them not only the sweetest flavor, but also the most densely packed energy. Energy that once was essential for survival, now is converted to undesirable fat in our waist and hips. In the vast world of diets, and nutritional information, many alternatives have been suggested as a healthier sweetness source. I am not talking about the aspartame, or the Splenda. Those chemical options taste horrible. I am talking about raw sugar, molasses, brown sugar and many more.

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Culinary Metrology

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On cooking the primary reason for success is inspiration, in baking is measuring. By that of course I don't mean that measuring is not required in cooking, but deviation from the original ratio of ingredients can be forgiving. And equally when baking inspiration is a key but deviating from the recipe ratio even for very little, will immediately cause inconsistencies in the outcome or even complete failure. So at the early age of baking and cooking the ratio and dosing of the ingredients became very significant and the cooks or the housewife will employ their homemade measuring device that will ensure that the quality will be consistent. Nowadays one more parameter became important temperature! In the modern kitchen, there are so many ways to measure something that you must have PhD in metrology. Join me to navigate to the wonderful world of metrology. No PhD required.

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Greek Christmas Cookies: Kourampiedes

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Every country or nation that has more than 50 years exposure to Christianity will have a special dessert that made exclusively around the Christmas time. Greece is no exception, and since it had embraced christianity for almost 2000 years the number of desserts for the occasion is huge. However, the one that is closer to my heart, because is delicious and also is what my grandma used to make every christmas, is the Kourampies (κουραμπιές, koo-ra-byies) that is a crumbly almond cookie dusted in powder sugar. Simple ingredients, humble cookie and big flavor. Although the Christmas reference of the cookie for most of the people comes from the white dusting of sugar, that resembles the snow, for me it is more the relation of the humble beginnings the cookies with the humble beginnings of the Messiah.

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Homemade Grenadine Syrup

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One of the most used syrups in the mixology world is the Grenadine. It is the syrup that is used one in a large number of cocktails like the Jack and Rose, Tequila Sunrise, Sea Breeze, Roy Rogers, Pink Lemonade and Shirley Temple. As the name denotes, it is a pomegranate flavor syrup, that is sweet and tart making it the best additive to balance cocktails, specially those made with hard alcohols like the tequila or brandy. The Mott's brand "Rose's" is by far the most commonly used grenadine in the United States. Until sometimes in the 80s it was made with pomegranate. However, now it is a mixture of high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, FD&C Red #40, natural and artificial flavors, and FD&C Blue #1. Yes you read it right. There is no pomegranate in the recipe anywhere. It is a glucose (or corn syrup if you prefer) and artificial colors. Not that I share the prejudice of many with the red dyes or artificially colors, but why something that is associated with the sweet and tart flavor of the pomegranate completely lacks it? Dear readers, mixologist and food hobbyists it's time to take the king of flavored syrups back. It is easy to make, has a thousands uses and darn it, it tastes good.

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Summer Food: Eggplant Napoleon

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The summer is almost over (with 2 weeks left to it), but the summer food does not have to go. Summer comes with all these fresh veggies at their peak of ripeness giving us endless possibilities for creative cooking, that does not have to be confined in the salad making. In this recipe I am making a dish that is largely inspired by a Raw Food class I recently attended in New York City. The class is regularly offered in California by Gisselle Gordon, but if you are lucky you might catch Gisselle in one of her trips. My views on Raw Food as a diet perspective are outlined in the previous posts, but regardless the fact that I largely disagree with the claims, I cannot overlook the taste aspects of it especially what it comes loaded with fresh ingredients in a way you have never seen before. This is actually a great way to few all these diets, focus on the taste and the appearance of the food, don't dismiss them just because you don't agree with their claims. It is called being open-minded, and in the culinary world it can take you very very far.

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Live thin or die trying – Part II: Diet Showdown

Healthy Eating

In the previous post we saw a brief history of the diets and the evolution of the dietary habits. The important questions answered were the ideal weight and the concept of calories. At the end what we saw was a comparative study of the various diets according to the US News articles. From the discussion that preceded the ranking it became evident that there are two trends in dieting: restricting calories, or restricting certain foods, primarily carbohydrates. And we were left right there, hanging from a few more important questions. If the calorie intake is so crucial to the weight loss how can we see how much we need and you much we must take to maintain or lose weight? What diet is right for you? It is time to answer these questions. Please note however, that I am not a dietitian nor a lawyer, I just know math and moth usually never lie. Always before starting a diet or a serious dietary habit talk to your doctor.

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Live Thin or Die Trying – Part I: The History of Dieting

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That's an awful title for a post. Especially at a cooking blog where the daily activities include a large number of indulgences with decadent deserts and rich dishes. However, it seems that it is the motto that society seems to like. I am not going to be cynical and discuss how the super thin models is the image for men and women projected by the media, I think that this blog has already made it clear that this is not what we care about. But it is true that there is an overwhelming pressure of people to look thin not by their peers but mainly by themselves. And that need, as every need that has to do with the self-esteem, has given rise to millions of solutions. From magical pills, to magical work out equipment and the grant jewel of them all; the diets. In this post we will see the history of dieting, some of the different diets and learn the fundamental mechanism that make us lose (or gain) weight.

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Lavender Rosemary Lemon cookies

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In this blog I don't usually make deserts. But when we do, they are amazing. Today I chose to make a simple cookie with big character. Cookies are not just a baked good that we eat. Making cookies is just a part of the process that makes a house a home. The moment the air is filled with the amazing aroma of the baked goods that is based on butter herbs and spices it becomes so much more homey, familiar and inviting. In this attempt I am making a somewhat odd, but familiar combination. I am inspired from the spring that finally decided to dawn up on us after a long and cold winter. I blend the aroma of spring herbs like rosemary, lavender and lemon to a cookie that has a mould texture and crumbly appearance.

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Quinoa Salad

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The last few years there is a growing number of grains that have hit the market. Many of them have been around for a while (a few thousand years) but their nutritional value was hardly been recognized. In their majority they emerged as an alternative to the existing grains that recently have been under the gun for not being as healthy as we though they were. A major concern is gluten. Gluten is a form of tough network of proteins that is created by the cross-linking of gliadin and a gluten with the help of water. Both gliadin and a glutenin are in abundance in many grains, primarily in wheat, rye and barley. Several people have a immunogenic response to it, in which the body recognizes several molecules (gliadin in this case) as an intruder. This is causing a cascade of effects that can lead to unpredictable results. This is considered part of the Celiac Disease and is not recognized as an allergy due to the unusual response of the body ranging from stomach cramps to joint pains.

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