Non-Dairy

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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Lentil Soup

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I am about to kick of the New Year with the probably most underrated legume of all times. Actually it is one of the most underrated food items of all time (except probably in India). Lentils! It is the one food that I used to hate as a kid and I love as an adult. As a kid all legumes were by far the worst food I could ever have. They were always served as a substitute to meat, especially during lent before Christmas, Easter or Dormition of the Theotokos (Assumption of Mary in the Roman Catholic Religion). They were usually (and by usually I mean 100% of the times) served in a soup form with tomato, garlic and the optional vinegar that very well suits them. I still, however, didn't like them because they were highly associated with the dreadful lent that meant one thing: no meat. And I am a generation Y kid. Born in the era of the fast-food globalization, the abundance of meat and wealth that spread all across Europe including Greece. And it is a shame. A big shame, because lentils are as reach in protein as meat. And of course a lot more healthy than meat.

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Cranberry Pastrami Sandwich

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In the previous post we made an awesome, kick-butt cranberry sauce. Although delicious and amazing, chances are you still have some left over sauce. The leftover once we adjust the viscosity a bit with some water are an amazing versatile syrup and condiment. It is sweet and tangy able to mingle with many different flavors. The Sugar can help reduce the spiciness of the various dishes, the acidity can pair well with meats as it changes the pH making our taste buds more sensitive and more receptive to the other elements of the dish... In other words making dish tasting meatier. Although you can always use it in a turkey left over sandwich, I think it is a pity to use this just in a sandwich with the reminiscent of thanksgiving. Here I expand the application to other sandwiches. Cranberries is a gift not only for thanksgiving, but something that we should cherish and use all year around.

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Happy Thanksgiving – Cranberry Sauce

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. The highlight of the thanksgiving holiday is of course the thanksgiving dinner. It is a staple all across the United States, and although the turkey is the star of the table, there is plethora of side dishes that complete the feast and are equally important. Potatoes, stuffing and the cranberry sauce. The last two actually, are almost exclusively consumed during only that dinner. Stuffing and cranberry sauce. The stuffing is a very complex and diverse dish, ranging from the cornbread, that seems to be the most common, to rice stuffing, that I make and is the best. But cranberry sauce is as simple as it gets. It is also vegetarian, dairy free, gluten-free and all-alergens free, making it safe for everyone. It is tangy enough to add and extra dimension to every meat, even the bland and boring turkey. The acid wakes up the taste buds, changes the pH and enhances the flavor. Although important, it is the one item that almost always comes out of a can. And it is a shame. Cranberry sauce is easy to make and since it is part of the Thanksgiving celebration we should take the time to make it at home.

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The Greek Adopted Dish: Hummus

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Greek restaurants across the USA had to adapt and adjust their menu and recipes. This usually happens with in three ways: i) the adaptation of classic recipes to whatever ingredients are available ii) the adaptation to the taste palette of the locals and iii) the adoption of dishes from other countries just because the locals seem to like them. Actually one of the most classic dishes, the poster child of the Greek food, the gyro sandwich originated in its final form in New York by Greek food track vendors out of necessity to battle tacos and shawarma as a fast food alternative. In the restaurant scenery, one of the Greek adopted dishes was, and still is, the hummus.

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Tempeh Cake

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This is the second very special post. It is one other special recipe that was made for some good friends long time ago and it was promised that will be featured on the blog. Promises in a way work like thermodynamics. They tell you if something is going to happen and in what degree, but not when. Time is the elusive dimension that although very interesting does not belong to this blog. Here we talk food… Speaking of which… This is recipe the was kinda featured before to the blog, but never full. It is based largely on the meatloaf cake that I made before for Kathryn for her birthday. This one is very particular, however. Oaklianna, a dear friend, is among the people that have the intolerance to gluten the wheat protein. Damian, her then boyfriend, had always been vegetarian and never head meat. So the plan for the alternative cake had to find another base. That base is non-other than the best thing that ever happened to soy, tempeh.

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On the Foundation of Any Serious Meal: Bread

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Bread is the quintessential food item; The base of every civilization; The ultimate utilization and refinement of grains. It is the beginning and the end each meal. I know too much to tell, but imagine this world without bread. Bread through the history of the humanity has been the solely energy source. In ancient Egypt the slave working in the pyramids were fed on bread onions and garlic. In Greece there is a saying that describes friendship that goes like “We ate bread and salt together”. Bread and salt. Bread the basic food. The elemental food source. Salt the most precious commodity.

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Lost and Found: A Pie

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I am sure you have lost at some point something. Your keychain, your wallet, your pen, your lighter, your dignity… And many of these items you wish you can get back: Your keychain, your wallet, your pen, your lighter, your dignity… Especially your dignity. The last one however is pretty much unrecoverable. But for the rest you can hope. And actually Greeks have gone to great lengths to strengthen their hope. They have a saint for that and it is very popular. His Name St. Fanourios loosely translates to appear, so it is considered the St. that makes lost things appear again. To his honor there is a pie that is made to commemorate his abilities and acknoedge him. And here is when things get culinary interesting. When tradition, religion and superstition meet, the mix is quite interesting. First of all there is a restriction that requires that you either use 7 or 9 ingredients. That is ok as long as there are other specific guidelines for the types or kinds of the ingredients. If not, the someone can easily cheats by adding nuts, or raisins, or fruits artificially raising the number of ingredients to the target value. So I will follow that rule just because tradition dictates but only to a certain point. I will not count for example almonds and walnuts as two ingredients, they are just nuts. The strangest of all, however, is that Greek orthodox tradition requires that deserts are made according to the lent rules: No Eggs, No Dairy and No Meat.

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