Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dine in Style Every Day With a Few Simple Steps

In Italy, stylish dining has long been embraced as a relaxing way to unwind after a busy day. So before you order takeout and eat in front of the television, take a cue from the Italians and make each meal a treat.

Whether dining alone, with family or with your closest friends, turn an otherwise hurried meal into a chic expression of style with these tips from Ecco Domani Italian wines.

* Determine the décor. Whether you are dining at the kitchen table or in a more formal setting, it's easy to add some pizzazz to your surroundings. Candles cast a warm glow once the sun goes down. Strands of small lights also enhance the mood; string them around the room or even bunch them in a Mason jar for a funky tabletop display.

* Master the art of mood music. Mellow jazz will help take the edge off a long day, and classical music can help lift your mood. Consider tailoring the music around the type of cuisine you are serving. For an Italian meal, for instance, play an assortment of Italian opera.

If you're dining with family or friends, get them involved by inviting them to bring their favorite CDs. Set your disc player to shuffle so that everyone's music selection gets played during the meal.

* Create a stylish menu. To help you unwind, it's best to keep your meal simple. Luckily, delicious meals are a snap to make with fresh, easy-to-prepare foods. And you can add flair to any basic dish with just a few additions.

For an Italian meal, a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad is always a crowd-pleaser. Drizzle chicken and fish with olive oil and lemon for a fresh, light flavor. And dust colorful veggies with Italian seasonings to bring out their natural flavors.

Whatever your menu, be sure to select a delicious wine to accompany the meal. Ecco Domani 2003 Pinot Grigio is a perfect wine for everyday dining because of its crisp, fresh flavor, which pairs perfectly with today's light cuisine.

It is easy to infuse any setting with glamour by adding a few small touches. In the end, nothing says style like taking the time to make each meal special.  - NU

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Delicious Desserts

A "Dessert" is a meal course that usually comes after dinner. Most often Dessert foods are of sweet food but can also be of a strongly flavored food, such as cheese, like cheese cake. The world dessert comes from the Old French word "desservir", which means 'to clear the table'. Often times in the English language dessert is confused with the word desert(note only one "s"), which is a baren peice of land normally with sand as soil.

It wasn't until after the 19th-century where the rise of the middle class, and the mechanization of the sugar industry, brought the privilege of sweets into the general public and unreserved it exclusively for the aristocracy, or as rare holiday treat. This was because sugar became cheaper and more readily available to the general public. As sugar was widely spread, so was the development and popularity of desserts.

In today's culture dessert recipes have become a popular item for discussion, as they are a winning way to win people over at the end of any meal. This is partly because if you serve a mediocre meal, with an excellent dessert, people will remember you for the dessert and forget about the meal.

Most cultures, have a seperate final distinction between the main course, and the sweet course. This is not true however in some cultures such as Chinese, who will mix in sweet and savoury dishes throughout the entire meal. Dessert is, often times seen as a separate meal or snack, rather than a course, and can be eaten some time after the meal by many individuals. Because of it's wide spread popularity there are even some restaurants that specialize in desserts.

Some of the most common desserts are:
- Biscuits or cookies
- Ice creams
- Meringues
- Fruit
- Cakes
- Crumbles
- Custards
- Gelatin desserts
- Puddings
- Pastries
- Pies or tarts

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gourmet Food Gift Basket - A Savory Treat For Any Occasion

With so many different tastes how does one go about selecting the most choice gourmet gift baskets for a loved one? It's simple, make a list of classic gourmet food gift baskets, go over the list carefully, and choose the one that you think will make your loved one's mouth water the most. Almost any basket chosen with love will be a well-received gift.

You could start with a gourmet delight gift basket that includes cranberry walnut tarts, raspberry cookies, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, raspberry-honey-mustard pretzels, spicy trail mix, almond cookies, cheese shortbread, cheese straws, potato chip cookies and other delicious treats for the person who craves sweets. It's a classy collection of unique food gift basket delicacies.

At times of bereavement a heartfelt sympathy food gift basket can be visually uplifting and convey respect. A sympathy basket will be packed full of fine gourmet foods, comforting gifts and caring words of encouragement for the broken hearted. Possible inclusions can be scented candles, Biscotti, cracked pepper water crackers, delectable cookies, chocolate crisp wafers, fine chocolates, and other delicious treats.

It's often a great idea to add non-food items to a food gift basket. And this is an especially true when it comes to a bridal shower party. Not only should your basket contain gourmet food and delicious snacks, but an assortment of bridal shower games and keepsakes. How about a party game book, cookies, crackers, cheeses, wines, herbal teas, along with a few essentials: disposable camera, photo book, and even a keepsake registry book.

Some of the most popular and unique food gift baskets combine a generous assortment of fine gourmet treats with a look that conveys your good taste and sincerity. Whether small or large they can be crammed full of fine chocolates, nuts, gourmet cookies, cheeses, crackers and other mouth-watering treats. These baskets can be enjoyed on any occasion including holidays, bridal showers, birthdays, times of bereavement, as a get-well gift or for a housewarming.

Maybe you are not into those tasty savory snacks, but are more inclined to eat from a fresh and healthy basket of fruit. If health is a concern, and junk food is out, you will be able to sink your teeth into some luscious seasonal fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi, nectarines, peaches and pears. Or add a tropical flavor with mangos, papayas and other savory tropical fruits.

Everyone loves pasta, so why not surprise your loved ones with a three-course Italian dinner? Your food basket can contain pasta, champagne hand-poured into a wine glass, along with flavors such as extra virgin olive oil, tomato basil cheese, Nicosia coquilles olives, wine crackers and sausage. Or how about an Italian salad that combines celery, bell pepper, mushroom, black olives, onion, garlic and oregano. And it wouldn't be a true Italian basket without lots of tomato and sweet basil sauce mixed with savory vegetables

There are many types of gift baskets and it's hard to go wrong with any of them. Whether you are drooling for Italian, Scottish, Irish or Mexican food there are wonderful assortments available. Food and gift baskets are the ultimate. And as for holidays, a holiday food gift basket can make any day special.

Ordering gourmet gift baskets is always easy, but creating your own custom-made basket is special and lots of fun. A creative and unique idea, easily customized to suit any individual, the gourmet food gift basket can be a delightful expression of sentiment.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Delightful Dessert Delivered From Disaster

Here's some sweet news: people all over the country can still enjoy that crown jewel of New Orleans, the King Cake, this Mardi Gras season.

For those who don't know, a King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy-a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. It's decorated in royal colors or Purple for Justice, Green for Faith and Gold for Power: These colors were chosen to represent a jeweled crown honoring the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ Child on the Epiphany. A tiny plastic baby is hidden inside. Whoever gets the piece with the prize is named "King for a day."

Some of the most popular King cakes are those created in New Orleans at the famous Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery. Despite the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the store recently reopened its doors and took part in a special program with DHL to bring a taste of home to displaced New Orleanians, residents and others for Mardi Gras.

Explained Tricia Zornes, owner of Randazzo's, "Continuing local traditions like Mardi Gras helps revitalize the New Orleans economy, improves morale and shows the world that we can rebuild and re-establish the culture that has made New Orleans special."

To help the rebuilding and celebrate the reopening, shipping company DHL developed a festive, co-branded shipping box, specially designed to open from the top to protect the rich icing and traditional shape. In addition, according to Zornes, the shipper's sales representative offered his own time and effort to rebuilding the bakery after nearly everything was lost, from the valuable baking equipment to the building itself. "In addition to helping us create a new distribution process, he went beyond the call of duty in offering to help paint, or do any odd jobs that would help us get up and running quickly," said Zornes.

"DHL has been committed to leveraging its resources to support disaster relief and long-term reconstruction along the Gulf Coast, and is now pleased to be able to support the private sector in rebuilding their businesses and their livelihoods," said Kay Hart, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, DHL Americas.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Culinary Traditions Of France

French cuisine is the amazingly high standard to which all other native cuisines must live up to. The country of France is home of some of the finest cuisine in the world, and it is created by some of the finest master chefs in the world. The French people take excessive pride in cooking and knowing how to prepare a good meal. Cooking is an essential part of their culture, and it adds to one's usefulness if they are capable of preparing a good meal.

Each of the four regions of France has a characteristic of its food all its own. French food in general requires the use of lots of different types of sauces and gravies, but recipes for cuisine that originated in the northwestern region of France tend to require the use a lot of apple ingredients, milk and cream, and they tend to be heavily buttered making for an extremely rich (and sometimes rather heavy) meal. Southeastern French cuisine is reminiscent of German food, heavy in lard and meat products such as pork sausage and sauerkraut.

On the other hand, southern French cuisine tends to be a lot more widely accepted; this is generally the type of French food that is served in traditional French restaurants. In the southeastern area of France, the cooking is a lot lighter in fat and substance. Cooks from the southeast of France tend to lean more toward the side of a light olive oil more than any other type of oil, and they rely heavily on herbs and tomatoes, as well as tomato-based products, in their culinary creations.

Cuisine Nouvelle is a more contemporary form of French cuisine that developed in the late 1970s, the offspring of traditional French cuisine. This is the most common type of French food, served in French restaurants. Cuisine Nouvelle can generally be characterized by shorter cooking times, smaller food portions, and more festive, decorative plate presentations. Many French restaurant cuisines can be classified as Cuisine Nouvelle, but the more traditional French restaurant cuisine would be classified as Cuisine du Terroir, a more general form of French cooking than Cuisine Nouvelle. Cuisine du Terroir is an attempt to return to the more indigenous forms of French cooking, especially with reference to regional differences between the north and south, or different areas such as the Loire Valley, Catalonia, and Rousillon. These are all areas famous for their specific specialty of French cuisine. As time has progressed, the difference between a white wine from the Loire Valley and a wine from another area has slowly diminished, and the Cuisine du Terroir approach to French cooking focuses on establishing special characteristics between regions such as this.

As part of their culture, the French incorporate wine into nearly every meal, whether it is simply as a refreshment or part of the recipe for the meal itself. Even today, it is a part of traditional French culture to have at least one glass of wine on a daily basis.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Create Gourmet gift baskets

If you want to  make a gourmet gift basket by your own then don’t take much time to think because making one is quite fun and also an affordable alternative to purchase them. But before you get a gift basket to start making the basket decide carefully that which candy and in what quantity you are going to place in it.

You can gift a gourmet gift basket on any occasion may be mothers day or fathers day or even on the occasion of the birthday of your friends. You can make a trip to your local candy store whereby you can get a huge variety of individual candies wrapped in pretty wrappings. Other theme candy wrappings are also available such as sports theme wrapping, holiday and birthday themes are also very popular.

The other way would be that you buy candy in bulk and later create small individual packing for your basket by using small cloth bags or squares of transparent wrap or tissue paper filled with candies. Thereafter you need to gather all the corners and tie it up with a bow. This is another cost cutting idea and also adds a personal touch to the gift basket.

For a larger variety of candy choice you have also the option to buy candy online and this is pretty easy when you enter the term “candy” and you shall have all the results displayed before you. After you decide what you shall fill in the basket you should choose a style and size of the basket. When you make several baskets you should not limit yourself to the same choice for all. The choice for the basket could be personal and also consider what they shall do with it after the contents have been removed.

You have various options and it is not necessary that you stick to baskets because if it is a child you can use a fun lunch box, for a lady cosmetic or handbag would be perfect whereas for a gentleman a metal tin or small travel bag would be great.

With a little thought keeping in mind the interests and likes of the recipient you can easily make a gourmet gift basket really special.

For more information, visit <a href = ""> </a>

Classy, And Oh So Tasty…Our Gourmet Gift Baskets Are Sure To Please!

When it comes to making a good impression, saying “Thank you,” or selecting a gift sure to delight, few other choices guarantee success like gourmet gift baskets; especially when the food basket comes from Full Moon.

That’s because Full Moon Gift Baskets are particular. We include only the highest-quality of gourmet foods; ones with the highest of palatable standards. With a variety of styles from which to select, our gourmet gift baskets are the perfect choice for corporate business gifts, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and weddings, just to name a few. There is a “just-right” gift basket brimming with select gourmet foods, one to fit every occasion.

Take the Crowd Pleaser Gourmet food basket, for instance…as visually impressive as it is appetizing. A lavish basket adorned with cascading ribbons, bows and gift card, filled to overflowing with delectable treats: gourmet cookies, coffees, herbal teas, flavored popcorns, Ghirardelli chocolates, hot cocoa, lemon cake, and more. Plus three humorous perpetual calendars, sure to bring a chuckle to help ease work related or holiday stress. This generous food basket is sure to win rave reviews!

“WOW” is the only way to describe our corporate gift baskets, theme oriented with high-impact visual appeal. Exquisite and elegant, each gourmet food basket a masterpiece - offering such tantalizing tummy-pleasers as gourmet cheeses and mustards, mouth watering sausages, wine crackers, dried fruit, candies and so much more. Quality with executive flair!

Don’t forget our sampler Gourmet Delight. It offers a variety of taste-teasers sure to satisfy the most scrutinizing gourmet connoisseur. Custom-made Gourmet gift baskets can also be personalized to your specifications. Our talented design team is just a phone call away; on standby to create the perfect gift basket extraordinaire…classy, tasty, affordable, and custom made. Make a good impression and choose a gourmet gift basket for your gift giving occasion.

Friday, May 25, 2012

British Cuisine

British cuisine has always suffered from bad press. The simple homespun fare and plain preparation of most traditional British foods pales when compared to French haute cuisine, and it’s not uncommon for food critics to sound almost apologetic when writing about traditional British dishes as if there were something shameful in enjoying a good, thick joint of beef with an accompaniment of Yorkshire pudding. If they speak in glowing terms of anything at all, it is a nod to the clever naming of British foods, where dishes like bubble and squeak and spotted dick appear on restaurant menus.

And yet, for all the snickering and apologetic references, British cuisine at its best is hearty, delicious, simple fare on which to fuel the nation that influenced the entire world. There is no other nation in the world that does a roast of beef to such perfection, nor any better accompaniment to the succulent meat than a puffed, piping hot Yorkshire pudding prepared in its drippings, and few cuisines have a dessert that can compare with the pure heaven that is a well made trifle or treacle tart.

British cuisine is a blending of the practical with the nutritious. If it is, as some say, unimaginative, that may be because the food itself needs little imagination to fancy it up and make it palatable. It is certainly not because the British mind lacks imagination when it comes to food – the common names for everyday meals sometimes require a translator just so you’ll know what’s on your plate. A walk through a restaurant take-away menu offers such dishes as ‘mushy peas’, steak and kidney pie, fish and chips and bangers and mash.

There are well-known British dishes for eating at each meal. Some of the most popular include:

A full English country breakfast includes meat, eggs, pancakes or toast and side dishes like hash and bangers and mash. It’s hearty fare, the sort that is set on the table for dinner in most other cultures. It often includes leftovers from last night’s dinner, diced and fried together with seasonings and butter, sometimes called country hash.

The tradition of mid-afternoon tea is one that’s been observed by the British for centuries. Among the most common dishes served at mid-afternoon tea are finger-foods like crumpets with jam and clotted cream, dainty watercress sandwiches and scones with raisins or dried fruits.

Sunday Dinner:
The Sunday dinner has a long tradition as being a family occasion – the one meal of the week at which all family members gathered. A roast joint of meat – beef, lamb, pork or chicken – is nearly a requirement, and it is served with a potato and vegetable, and very often accompanied by Yorkshire pudding.

Puddings and custards feature prominently in British cuisine. Baked, boiled or steamed, puddings are usually made with suet and breading, and studded with dried fruits and nuts. One of the most popular and delightful British desserts is the trifle, and there are nearly as many variations as there are cooks. The base is a sponge cake, often left over from another meal. Soaked in Madeira or port, it is layered in a dish with custard, jam, fruits and Jell-O and topped with whipped cream. The end result is a delicious mélange that is features all that is good about British cookery – plain, practical cooking that is meant to fill the belly and satisfy the taste buds.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Gourmet Chocolate Gift Basket Is The Perfect Gift

There are many online specialty stores that offer nothing but the best in chocolate gift baskets. They offer a great assortment to choose from, and you can even individualize your basket by picking just your favorites.

Chocolate gift baskets are designed for all occasions and holidays; Valentines Day, birthdays, weddings, and Mother’s Day are by far the most popular, but they are offered in designs perfect for any type of gathering.

May chocolate gift baskets can be combined with other items as well, such as with flowers, wine, fruit, nuts, cheeses, appetizers, or whole gourmet meals, and are perfect for a romantic getaway or picnic too.

These gift baskets are available in a variety of sizes and prices, and can be gift wrapped for special occasions with a personal card attached and shipped directly to the recipient. With the internet you can shop, make your purchase, and have it shipped all in a relatively short period of time.

It will be packaged to keep your chocolate gift basket fresh and cool, and is usually delivered by UPS or Fed Ex to guarantee that your purchase arrives in the state in which it left the store.

If you are a lover of chocolate, you have simply not lived until you have tasted true, high quality, gourmet chocolates. Chocolate gift baskets are a great gift and are a nice substitute or tasty addition to traditional floral bouquets, or other gift arrangements.

People who are true connoisseurs of fine chocolate will appreciate your gift, and you will probably get to enjoy a sample as well if you deliver the chocolate gift basket personally! Chocolate gift baskets are available in a variety of collections, and include a wonderful assortment of the best gourmet confections around.

If you choose to purchase a chocolate gift basket at a local retailer, you can sample their specialties, and literally select items based on your personal tastes. Retailers also offer special promotions around the holidays or for special occasions, and can ship the chocolate gift basket for you as well. Whatever you decide, it will be truly decadent and loved by everyone. Who doesn’t like chocolate? Not me!

You haven’t lived until you have had a handmade chocolate truffle filled with a decadent filling surrounded by a tasty outer chocolate shell. And who says that you have to just buy these little pieces of oral pleasure just for others, you deserve to indulge yourself too!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5 Simple Steps To Clone A Red Lobster Chocolate Lava Cakes

It's amazing how so many people love chocolate cakes. One of my favorite is the "Red Lobster Chocolate Lava Cakes". It's sooooo delicious!

If you are like me, I urge you to try this recipe when you have time. You'll fall in love with it. Trust me... :-)

So here it is:

Red Lobster Chocolate Lava Cakes

Number of servings: 6 persons


  <li>Nonstick cooking spray</li>
6 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped</li>
10 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature</li>
1/2 cup granulated sugar</li>
1/2 cup flour</li>
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder</li>
3/4 teaspoon baking powder</li>
3 large eggs, at room temperature</li>
1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries thawed, puréed in blender</li>
Fresh raspberries, optional</li>
1/2 cup heavy cream, softly beaten</li>
Fresh mint sprigs, optional</li>
Confectioners' sugar for dusting, optional</li>


1. Spray inside 6 individual custard cups or soufflé dishes with nonstick cooking spray; then set aside. In small heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate, stirring until smooth. Add butter and sugar; stir until melted.

2. Pour chocolate mixture into large bowl. In small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, and baking powder.

3. With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat chocolate mixture; add eggs and flour mixture; beat about 6 minutes until thickened. Divide mixture evenly among prepared dishes; cover with plastic wrap. Freeze at least 2 hours or overnight.

4. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

5. Remove and discard plastic from frozen cakes. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, until edges are set and center is moist. Cool cakes slightly before inverting onto serving platters.

Miam miam! :-)


© 2006. Joana Steele.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cast Iron Cookware

How to Season and Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

You have a skillet that came from your mom, and before that your grandma, and has now fallen into your hands. So how do you take care of it, use it, clean it, and get the best taste possible from it? I hope to answer some of those questions in this article.

I love my cast iron skillets, passed down from my Mom; I remember her using them to make delicious fried chicken dinners, cornbread to go with our Great Northern beans and the best popcorn. The only thing I didn’t remember is just what she did to keep those skillets nice. I do remember her drying them slowly on the stove and then coating them with some sort of grease. Now we would use a thin coat of cooking oil or a pan spray.

That is called seasoning and is important in the care and use of cast iron to prevent rust and create a natural non-stick cooking surface. Even if your inherited skillet or Dutch oven has been neglected and rusty, you can restore it by seasoning it again.

The more you use your cast iron the better seasoned it becomes. A black shiny skillet is a well-seasoned utensil and the one that will give the best flavor. Seasoning is done both for the inside and the outside of your cast iron, and even the lid must be seasoned. Here’s a hint to make your cast iron shiny again is to fry bacon and similar fatty meats. It will help it become seasoned faster and give you that shiny black non-stick interior you are working for.

Here are the steps to seasoning your cast iron utensils.

1. First, wash with hot, soapy water and stiff brush.
2. Rinse and dry
3. Apply a thin coat of shortening both inside and out
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line oven rack with foil to catch drips
5. Put cookware upside down on the upper rack of your oven and bake for one hour.
6. Let the cookware cool before taking it out of the oven.
7. Store it in a cool, dry place and allow air to circulate around it
8. Never wash in a dishwasher.

After using your cast iron, rinse with hot water and no soap. Dry it thoroughly and coat it with a think coat of cooking oil, shortening or pan spray.

Capt'n Salsa's Grill Roasted Yard Bird

Wow I have a hankering for some really good grill roasted chicken, the melt in your mouth variety with some fresh homemade salsa slathered right on top. Just seems that we never have time during the lazy days of summer to get everything done. You know, you have to mow the grass, weed the garden and if you're lucky harvest a bounty of fresh produce from your own little truck farm.

Now you expect me to cook supper too? It's time to tell you my secret and go hunting for my favorite "yard bird", Capt'n Salsa's Grill Roasted Yard Bird, to be exact.


Delicious golden brown moist and tender some of the best melt in your mouth grill roasted chicken you will ever eat. Now, don't let the hunting phrase concern you. The extent of hunting chicken for me is looking for a big plump 3½ to 4 pounder at the local grocery or meat market. I always bag my limit of two because it is just as easy to cook two at the same time to guarantee some leftovers…

"Come on, Capt'n Salsa, quit beating around the bushes and just give us the recipe!"

Oh, Okay.

Capt'n Salsa's Grill Roasted Yard bird is so easy you will probably laugh. Of course it goes with out saying you need to rinse the chicken in cold water before you cook it. All you are going to need is a generous amount of Lemon Pepper Seasoning. Mix up a solution of 1 part vegetable oil with 4 parts of Apple Cider Vinegar, remember that's the brown vinegar, together in a squirt bottle, an empty syrup bottle will do just fine.

Now we are going to cook our grilled chicken whole on your favorite charcoal or 2 burner gas grill using the "indirect heat" method. Your grill needs a lid that will close, too. Most of the time now I just use the gas grill, heating the grill with both burners, then turn one of them totally off, yes, off and the other burner turn it all the way down to low.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Preheat your choice of grills. Then rinse and clean the birds. Now hose down the chicken with the mixture of oil and vinegar using the squirt bottle and sprinkle a generous portion of Lemon Pepper Seasoning all over the chicken. Don't forget the body cavity.

Place the chicken breast side up on the grill away from the heat source, above the burner that is turned off, indirect heat method remember.  Squirt a little more oil and vinegar into the cavity of the chicken until it "overflows. " Now close the lid. You want a low to medium low heat level. The objective is to take at least 2 to 2 ½ hours to cook the chicken, nice and slow. Don't worry after a couple of times you will have it "down to a science" and know what works best for you.

Once you have your chicken on the grill go mow the grass or work in your garden for the next 2 to 2 ½ hours without even looking at the birds…well, if you insist on looking after about an hour, you can raise the lid and give the birds a good squirt of the oil and vinegar solution…Now, close that lid and get back to work…ggg.

You will know the chicken is done by grabbing the tip of one of the legs with a paper towel, careful it will be hot, and gently twist the leg bone in a circle. If the leg bone easily breaks free at the joint, the chicken is done - a beautiful golden brown, moist and tender every time.

Easy huh?

Place the chicken on the grill, mow the grass and when you are finished with your yard you have Capt'n Salsa's Grill Roasted Chicken make that Yard Bird! Serve it up with one of your favorite homemade salsa recipes.

Roasted Corn Salsa or tasty Salsa de Tomatillos Delicious! Wrap it all up in a warm tortilla, complete with your favorite thirst quenching beverage and you will marvel about how great your yard looks.

Imagine. Mowing the grass and cooking supper all at the same time…Enjoy!

Capt'n Salsa's Fool Proof Chile Heat Index

Chile heat index? Scoville units, what? Capsaicin? My mouth and hands are on fire, ouch!

Well here I am making some delicious homemade salsa for the Monday Night Football game and my mouth and hands are killing me. How can you stop the burning and get this salsa recipe ready to go without hurting your guests.

Now, don't take Capt'n Salsa the wrong way, I love the heat of a good chile, but there is a big difference between hot and hurt. But oh boy, what a flavor. You know you're a chile head when you use cheese and chopped habanero to stuff your jalapeno peppers.

Perhaps I can answer a few of your questions about how hot are those chiles and what can you do about it if you get just a little carried away with the heat.

What's that? Your mouth and hands are burning? Okay, let's start with the hands…

First wet your hands with cold water, and then rub them briskly together with a teaspoon or so of salt as if you are washing your hands. I prefer kosher salt due to its course texture, but grabbing the salt shaker will work as well. Now, wash your hands again with soap and warm water. This also works well when working with garlic and onions.

You did wear your rubber gloves when you started working with the chiles, right?

Come on, Capt'n my mouth is really burning too!

"Your mouth is on fire?"

What ever you do, do not reach for the water; it will only spread the capsaicin oil around inside your mouth, spreading the oil of the chile and you will swear it just go hotter.

So don't reach for the water, okay?

Here are a few remedies that have proven to work.

Milk or dairy products are cooling; grab a glass of milk or a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Did you ever wonder why you almost always see a dollop of sour cream or a helping of "Creama Mexicana Sauce" on your enchiladas and nachos?

Yes, even a "cerveza" can be cooling too, the alcohol will help dissolve the irritating oils as well as "deaden" the pain. Now, wait a minute don't get carried away, you didn't hear me say anything about Tequila Shots.

In addition, a squeeze of lemon or lime will help balance the palate and distract it from the heat. Perhaps my favorite, simply continue to eat the hot salsa that got you to the fire dance in the first place.

Yep, it's true.

Eating more hot salsa with your favorite tortilla and chips, "the bread" will naturally soak up and help dilute the capsaicin level and reduce "the pain."

Hey, Capt'n, what's a Scoville Unit?

Walter Scoville, a pharmacist back in 1912 developed the Scoville heat index to measure the impact of peppers on the tongue. He came up with a way to determine how much sugar water it took to cancel the burn you were feeling on your tongue. For example, if a hot chile, like the jalapeno is rated at 5000 Scoville units, that means the capsaicin oil needs 5000 times its volume in sugar water to neutralize it.

Fine and good but what does that really mean to me? If a jalapeno is rated from 3500 to 5000 on the Scoville scale and a habanero is in the range of 350,000 how hot is it?

Capt'n Salsa's Fool Proof Chile Heat Index, coming to the rescue.

Now just so you know, you might think the Capt'n named this very appropriately, "fool proof" but believe me it really works.

Let's get right to it. Be sure and read the paragraph about "My mouth is burning" and plan accordingly. Remember an effective quencher for the burning palate is grab a glass of milk or your favorite bowl of ice cream and have it sitting at arms reach. You should also have a bowl of chips, crackers or a slice of bread handy.

Now, time to do some good old fashion testing. Ready?

Do not try this with a habanero!

You will need one jalapeno for this test. Begin by slicing just the tip of the pepper off.

Then ever so gently, I do mean very lightly, "hey it's your tongue" so be very careful, touch the tip of your tongue to the cut edge of the jalapeno. Wow!

Fool Proof! See I told you.

Again I'm telling you not to try this with a habanero, even the mildest habanero will knock my socks off.

Here are a few of Capt'n Salsa's tips for handling hot chiles.

You can build up your heat tolerance for hot chiles by starting with the mild ones then increasing to the hotter varieties in your salsa recipes. Overtime the more often you eat them the more tolerant you will become.

When working with any fresh or dried hot chilies, always wear plastic or rubber gloves when working with them.

Chop or cut green chiles on an impermeable surface like china, glass or metal. Do not use your favorite wood cutting board. The wood will soak up the chile oils and it will pass it along to the next food you chop...Wow; these are the hottest strawberries I have ever had!

Do not cut chiles under running water.

When you process or sauté hot chilies they release plenty of burning vapors into the air. Turning your head or wearing a household dust mask will help.

Be sure to experiment with your homemade salsa recipe ingredients. If you are not certain of the heat level the amount of chiles called for will produce, then by all means start with just a very small amount and add to it a little at a time until you achieve your desired results.

Try different varieties of chiles for unique taste sensations.

Share your homemade salsa creations with your family and friends. You will be really glad you did and so will they.

Cake Decorating Ideas For All Occasions

You really don’t need a special occasion to decorate a cake, but some events that can be made unforgettable and extra special with a decorated treat are holidays, birthdays, graduations, religious occasions, showers, weddings, and other personal special events.

Here are some cake decorating ideas that will help you make any occasion special:

New Year’s Champagne Toast

Bake one 9-in. round and one 9x12-in. rectangle cake.

Cut the round in half. Use one half for the top of the champagne glass.

Cut a 2 or 3-inch long strip for the stem of the glass and a 2 x 4-inch section for the base of the glass. Piece them together to form the champagne glass.  To be sure all the pieces stay together, lightly frost each piece separately before you piece them together.

Place the pieces on a cake board.  Ice the top part (straight edge) of the half-round cake and the stem and base sections in white icing. Ice the bottom part (rounded edge) of the half-round cake in light yellow or light pink icing to resemble champagne.

Easter Egg Hunt   (So easy kids can do it!)

Bake 6 large muffins. Cool and frost them with green icing. Generously sprinkle green shredded coconut* on top of the frosting to resemble grass.  Place colored jelly beans within the coconut so they are half-hidden. Place small bunny toppers on the top of the muffins so they look as if they are finding the jelly beans.

*To tint shredded coconut, place coconut in a plastic bag.  Add a few drops of food color.  Knead color into coconut. Dry on waxed paper.

Spooky Halloween Brownies    (Let the kids help!)

Bake your favorite brownies. When cooled, cut into 3-inch circles, using a cookie cutter or a pattern and sharp knife. Place a Halloween stencil (available in most stores) in the center of each brownie. Sprinkle the stencil with confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Remove the stencil. Edge the top and the bottom of brownie with tip 14 white icing stars.

Shiny Christmas Ornament

Bake a one or two-layer round cake. Ice the cake smooth with white icing. Pipe tip 5 white icing lines across the top at 1-inch intervals. Vary the shapes of the lines, making one straight, one zigzag, one curvy, etc. to resemble decorations on an ornament.  Randomly pipe tip 5 icing  balls and tip 16 stars between the lines also to resemble decorations.  


Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Bake a heart-shaped cake and a heart-shaped mini-cake.  Ice the larger cake smooth with pink icing.  Place the mini-cake in the center of the larger cake.  Cover the mini cake in tip 16 red icing stars. Add a tip 14 red icing shell border at the bottom of the mini cake and a tip 16 red icing shell border at the top and the bottom of the large cake. Write your message in pink with tip 3 on the mini-cake.


Rainbow Train

Bake four mini-loaf cakes. (about 3-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches each.)

Ice each one smooth – one with red icing, one with blue icing, one with green icing, and one with  yellow icing. Use the cake iced in red as the engine: Make a smokestack for the engine with 2 large marshmallows. Frost them together with green icing. Attach the marshmallows to the top of engine with a toothpick. Using green icing, attach a piece of white curly ribbon or candy on the top of the smokestack for smoke and attach two white or yellow gum drops to the front of the engine for headlights. With a spatula, place a small mound of yellow icing on top of the yellow car; add small chocolate chips to resemble coal. Place two or three small plastic cars on top of the blue car.  Stick small stick candies, such as licorice pieces on top of the green car to resemble metal parts. Decorate the sides of the cars with various small hard candies for decorations. For wheels: With icing the same color as the car, attach 4 large candy discs, such as peppermint swirls, to the bottom of each car. Connect the cars with one-inch licorice whips or pretzel sticks.

Up!  Up!  And Away

Bake two each: tulip, flower, butterfly and dragonfly cookies (eight  total) and a 9x12-in. rectangle cake. Ice the cookies smooth in various pastel colors with thinned royal icing.**  Decorate the iced butterfly cookie with tip 3 colored icing dots.

Ice the bottom half of the 9x12-in. cake smooth with green icing and the top half smooth with light blue icing to resemble grass and the sky.  Place two small mounds of white icing on the blue half for clouds. Pat down “the clouds” with your fingers dipped in cornstarch. Place the tulip and flower cookies in the “grass” and pipe tip 3 green stems and leaves, if necessary.  Place the one butterfly cookie near the flower cookie and the other butterfly cookie and the dragonfly cookies in the “sky.”  Write your message on the cake with tip 3 white icing.

**Royal Icing Recipe

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

2 scant tablespoons meringue powder

3 tablespoons water

Beat all the ingredients a low speed until the icing forms peaks.

(Makes about 1-1/2 cups)

Cake Decorating Book - Make your cake look more delicious

Everyone loves to eat cake, which is nicely and perfectly decorated. But due to lack of decorating skill ones wish is not fulfilled up to the maximum level. Now with the help of cake decorating book one can easily decorate the cake and make it look more rich and delicious. These books are specially designed for preparing cakes. They also provide you with additional mouth watering recipes and tips to make your cake more delicious for consumption.

Cake Decorating Book is a perfect choice to decorate the cake. This book provides you essential tips, together with illustrated pictures to decorate your birthday cakes, Christmas cake, wedding cake and party cake. If you want to decorate the cake for any special occasion then you need to purchase a cake decorating book.

Now days you can find huge collection of such books online. This book can help you to decorate your cake in a professional manner. Cake Decorating Books not only help you to decorate your cake but it also helps you to make your cake delicious, which is an added advantage. Cake decorating book, which is offered online, requires no fundamental experience. With the help of cake decorating book you can prepare exclusive decorated pastries or cakes. This book is published in such a way that no one can refrain oneself from making a decorated cake. Each chapter carries new ideas and tips.

It is necessary that one should decorate the cake as it gives a distinct and appealing look that creates the desire to eat it. This cake decorating book is also perfect for beginners, which gives step by step instructions and guidance.

Build A Better Burger® With 16 Ingredients Or Less

Simplicity may be the key to earning $50,000 this year. For the 16th anniversary of Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Contest and Cook-Off®, the search for America's best burger, judges are looking for entries to include a maximum of 16 ingredients.

"In the past, there has been no limit on the number of ingredients," says head judge James McNair. "We're simplifying the contest by paring down the number of items used."

McNair suggests that contestants reinvent their favorite burger with new and different toppings or show off their ethnic background by incorporating traditional ingredients from their country of origin.

From shiitake mushroom ketchup, Cuban pickle salsa and banana duck chutney to tzatziki with feta, Creole honey mustard and chermoula mayonnaise, winning burgers have included a range of exotic flavors from around the world.

So, the question remains, can you build a better burger with 16 ingredients or less? McNair says yes. In the past 15 years, four grand prize winners used 16 ingredients or less to create their unique burgers. Last year's $50,000 winner, Barry Rosenstein of Elmhurst, Ill., used a record 35 ingredients to build his Sweet and Spicy Red Fez Burgers.

"All of the judges were very impressed with the taste and presentation of Barry's burgers, but the length of his recipe was a bit daunting for the average person to re-create," says Jeffrey Starr, culinary director and executive chef for Sutter Home Winery and Build a Better Burger. "For 2006, we want burgers that are creative, yet accessible to everyday cooks."

McNair recommends reading "Build a Better Burger," published by Ten Speed Press last year, to see all of the previous winning recipes through 2004 and get tips on cooking burgers on the grill.

Build a Better Burger accepts entries from May 15, 2006 to August 21, 2006. For complete contest entry rules, visit build or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Build a Better Burger, Sutter Home Winery, P.O. Box 248, St. Helena, CA, 94574-0248. Build a Better Burger is not open to residents of California or Utah. Ten finalists will be flown to the Napa Valley to compete in a burger grilling cook-off on September 30, which will be judged by a renowned panel of chefs.

Build a Better Burger is sponsored by Sutter Home Family Vineyards, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the California Avocado Commission, Colavita Olive Oil, Barbeques Galore, Grey Poupon, Snyder's of Hanover and Kettle Chips.

Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers

Makes 6


2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto


2 pounds ground sirloin

1/4 cup Zinfandel

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

1/4 cup minced red onion

1/4 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs

8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, finely chopped

2 teaspoons garlic salt

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack

8 large fresh basil sprigs, moistened with water

6 large seeded sandwich rolls, split

6 slices Monterey Jack cheese

6 red leaf lettuce leaves

6 (1/4-inch-thick) large tomato slices

6 paper-thin red onion slices, separated into rings

6 fresh basil sprigs

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Combine the mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To make the patties, combine the sirloin, Zinfandel, basil, onion, bread crumbs, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form them into patties to fit the rolls.

When the grill is ready, brush the rack with vegetable oil. Toss basil sprigs directly onto the fire. Place patties on the rack; cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes on each side. During the last few minutes of cooking, place rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. Top each patty with a cheese slice. Cook 1 minute.

Spread the mayonnaise over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a patty, a tomato slice, an onion slice and a basil sprig. Add the roll tops and serve.

With 16 ingredients, this burger took the grand prize in 1990.

Breadmakers For Easy Baking

A bread maker is a home appliance that has revolutionized the process of making breads. First manufactured in 1986 in Japan, breadmaker since then moved its way to homes in the United States and United Kingdom. By means of a breadmaker, automatic baking has become possible and more convenient.

As with ordinary baking, ingredients must first be measured according to the recipe. The mixture is then poured into the bread pan that is placed in the machine. The breadmaker will then take some hours to bake the bread by first turning the mixture into dough and eventually baking it. The process of making dough is helped by a built-in paddle. Once the baking is done and has been allowed to cool down, the bread is then freed from the bread pan. The paddle at the bottom of the loaf should be removed from its place.

Breadmaker breads are much easier to get spoiled as compared with the commercial breads due to the absence of additives. However, it is possible that sourdough starter may be added to the ingredients to prolong the shelf life of the breads.

Breadmakers have built-in timers that may be set for easier baking. Other machines can be programmed to only prepare the dough and not to bake the bread later, in this case the dough is baked in an oven. Breadmakers have other uses as well. They may be set to make jams, pizza bases, wheat-free loaf, cakes, and pasta and in some instances, mochi- a Japanese rice bread.

Considerations in choosing a breadmaker:

- the over-all capacity of baking loafs
- the quality of bread produced
- the duration of time it takes to make one loaf
- the featured programs
- type: may either be single loaf breadmaker or multi loaf breadmaker

However, like with normal baking there may arise several problems concerning the quality of the bread produced. These may either be caused by the process of baking or the quality of breadmaker itself.

Doughy loaf

This problem basically concerns the temperature of the breadmaker. The built-in thermometer must read 190 F. Once the baking is over and the loaf is still doughy, you may choose to continue baking it in a conventional oven or wait till the breadmaker cools down and start the whole process over.

Small bread

Lack of liquid added to the dough. The problem starts with the dissolving of the yeast. If too little liquid is used, the yeast may not be stimulated to produce the necessary carbon dioxide, which is instrumental in making the dough rise. Without this, the loaf may become dense and will be much smaller.

Collapsed or flat-topped bread

Collapsing is mainly due to too much addition of liquid to the dough. The yeast in this case is overly stimulated, producing more gluten than the dough may withhold. This leads to the collapsing of loaf structure.

Bread sticking in the breadmaker pan

This can be resolved by brushing the breadmaker pan with oil before adding the water into the dough. This works well in the majority of conventional ovens as well.

Too much rising of the loaf

This problem may be controlled with the use of salt. Adding one half teaspoon of salt may be sufficient to keep the rising of the bread in balance.

One need not be an Einstein to run a simple machine such as the breadmaker. For more instruction and self-help tips, users may check the manual of the machine.

Braising 101

The results of braising are comforting, healthy dishes that retain the nutrients of the ingredients and require little fat.  For braising, foods are slowly cooked in a relatively small amount of liquid in a covered pot on top of a stove or in an oven.  This is closely related to stewing, although with less liquid and bigger pieces of food, usually.

Large saucepans are ideal for braising.  The versatile Dutch oven is my favorite and can be used on top of the stove or in the oven.  Contrary to the general rule that healthful foods should be prepared as close to mealtime as possible, braised dishes are often times better when prepared the day before.  This waiting period allows the flavors to meld.  In addition, when these dishes are refridgerated, any fat forms on the surface allowing easier removing when reheating.

<b>How to Braise</b>

<li>Start with sturdy cuts of meat and season them well.</li>
<li>Brown on all sides and transfer to a plate.</li>
<li>Add an aromatics, such as onion and celery and cook them according to the recipes instructions.</li>
<li>Return meat to the pan, pour in the liquid, and bring to a boil.</li>
<li>Cover the pan and cook over low heat.</li>

Beryl Cook's art - quirky UK artist

Beryl Cook is one of Britain's most talented and amusing artists .Beryl's pictures feature women of all shapes and sizes enjoying themselves .Born between the two world wars, Beryl Cook eventually left Kendrick School in Reading at the age of 15, where she went to secretarial school and then into an insurance office. After moving to London and then Hampton, she eventually married her next door neighbour from Reading, John Cook. He was an officer in the Merchant Navy and after he left the sea in 1956, they bought a pub for a year before John took a job in Southern Rhodesia with a motor company. Beryl bought their young son a box of watercolours, and when showing him how to use it, she decided that she herself quite enjoyed painting. John subsequently bought her a child's painting set for her birthday and it was with this that she produced her first significant work, a half-length portrait of a dark-skinned lady with a vacant expression and large drooping breasts. It was aptly named 'Hangover' by Beryl's husband and still hangs in their house today.

In 1964 Beryl Cook and her husband returned to the UK settling first in Cornwall and then later in Plymouth where, during the summer months, Beryl ran a boarding house for holidaymakers on the seafront. Beryl had now been painting for a number of years, basing her pictures on her everyday observations of people around her. By 1975 she had amassed numerous paintings that covered the walls of their boarding house. A friend took away a dozen or so and, to Beryl's surprise, managed to sell them all for around £10 each. Beryl was delighted and quickly increased her production. Her success came to the attention of Bernard Samuels at the Plymouth Arts Centre who persuaded her to mount her first exhibition featuring 75 paintings. It was a sell out. The rest, as they say, is history.

An article quickly appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine, followed by exhibitions at the Whitechapel and Portal Galleries in London. Her first book 'The Works' was published in 1978. Her paintings were then reproduced as greeting cards and limited edition prints and soon her work was being featured around the world, tickling ribs from Kingston to the Cape, and generating considerable popular acclaim.

This popular acclaim has been accompanied by serious critical appreciation, most notably with the inclusion of her painting in the fifth Peter Moores exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool where she was seen in the context of mainstream contemporary art, alongside Bridges Riley and Victor Passmore. The new Glasgow Museum of Modern Art has also recently purchased some of her original work, ensuring her a place in the annuls of British Art. Beryl Cook continues to paint and has recently moved from Plymouth to Bristol, to be near her family"

Beam Me Up Scotty

Living in a high tech kitchen

As I try desperately to fasten the storage drawer at the bottom of my oven back onto its rails, I find myself dreaming about a “Smart Kitchen”, you know one that does everything for you.  Well, okay I thought that it was maybe a little far fetched but as I looked into it a little further I realized that it’s not that far off after all.

If I had the Miele’s MasterChef wall oven I could cook and bake much faster and more evenly with the use of conventional and convection cooking. While they may be expensive, wouldn’t it be worth the money for The Beyond Microwave Oven that is programmed to read more than 4,000 UPC bar codes?  Think about that for a minute.  I could throw a box into the microwave and by reading the UPC code it would know whether it was cooking chicken or popcorn.  Of course the most obvious benefit of that would be I would no longer have to cross my fingers and hope I picked the right cooking time.  I hate burned popcorn…but I’ve gotten used to it.

Salton now has the Beyond Bread Maker.  Are you sitting down?  This handy dandy machine will scan the bar code and then prepare bread and cake mixes according to package instructions!  I wanted to know how it gets to the fridge to get the eggs but wondered too soon as I read further and found that they are working on appliances that will network with each other.  With so many homes going wireless I guess it was a short leap to having a stove with the capability of checking in with your fridge and cupboards to see what ingredients you already have to make the recipe that your computer has suggested from the Internet.  Wasn’t that movie I, Robot about machines that revolted?  Freaky.

My two favorite things are TV and eating (not in that order) so imagine my delight when I found the LG Electronics' side-by-side television refrigerator. With its 13-inch LCD monitor on the freezer door I would never have to leave the kitchen. I had better hope they come up with an exercise bike that works out for me or I am going to be in big trouble! Along that same line though is a truly great idea that I could get into. They have put a digital screen on the fridge door that holds the family calendar as well as an appointment calendar.  Every mother is going to love that one! For more information on it check out

I heard once that you shouldn’t put frozen food in the oven with the timer set for later as the warming up process could be unhealthy.  Good sense or wives’ tale?  I’m still not sure. Whether that is true or not doesn’t really matter anymore because there's Whirlpool's Polara refrigerated range. This will allow you to put your casserole into the oven on your way out the door in the morning and it will keep it cool and then cook it when its time.  Do they have anything that would go to work for me instead? Take a visual wander through for some great ideas in high tech appliances.

If this keeps up I will very soon be able to sit on the sofa eating bon bons and watching the soaps while my oven and refrigerator confab over the bar codes to decide what to make me for dinner.  What I am really waiting for is the invention that sweeps the floor for me at the press of a button. How cool would that be?  I think the built in vacuum system that lets you sweep with a broom and then push it into an opening along the baseboard where the vacuum sucks it up is about as close as we’ll get.  I’m not complaining because with all of the things they come up with day after day I think someone was really thinking on that one.

There is a coffee maker that can recognize your cup and make the coffee to your liking.  I personally think the Talking Trivet that tells you when your food needs reheating or that it is hot and ready to eat is kind of creepy.  What if it malfunctioned and was talking to the TV in the fridge door in the middle of the night?  I guess that would be when the high tech security system of the future would kick in and arrest them both.

I guess if Big Brother is coming (already here??) we might as well gain from the technology to make our monitored lives easier.  It’s weird to think though that someday soon our homes will have lives of their own and very little need of us.  It will be empty nest all over again!

BBQ Safety Tips

When it comes to barbecuing, what could be more fun than whipping up sumptuous food on the grill in the company of family and friends? The thing of course is finding the right place for grilling and barbecuing. One favorite spot among true barbecue aficionados would be their very own backyard or outdoor kitchen with their own brick barbecue pit. Actually, any outdoor area is a potential spot for a barbecue but truth be known, the best places for a barbecue are the safest ones.

Choose a location for your BBQ grill that is away from trees, leaves, brush and overhanging limbs. Do not setup your gill in a high traffic area where someone may accidentally brush up against the hot grill.

When barbecuing in your backyard, be sure that you're 5 to 10 feet away from your house or any material that can potentially catch fire. Also, be sure the grill is stable and is away from children or pets that may bump into it. It would also be a good idea to have a water supply nearby like a garden hose.

If you live in an apartment building with a balcony or rooftop or any other outdoor space, be sure to consult with your building administrator (or in some instances, your local fire department) regarding specific restrictions. Generally, using charcoal and gas grills indoors or anywhere above the first storey is prohibited so you may want to consider electric grills instead for your barbecuing efforts.

Another great place to barbecue is in a campsite. Camping is such an exciting way to experience the great outdoors and barbecuing food over a campfire is definitely one of those practical yet cozy things you can do. Just be sure that you are at least 15 feet away from your tent and other camping gears.

Protect yourself by using the correct BBQ utensils such as oven mitts, thongs and a good spatula. Avoid wearing loose clothing while near the grill.

Always leave the lid to a gas grill open when lighting the fire so the gas does not build up under the cover. If the fire does not initially start, turn off the gas, leave the lid open and wait for at lest five minutes before trying again.

It is always a good idea to give your grill a checkup before using for the first time of the season and always store your tanks outside in a upright position where the temperature will never go over 125 degrees.

Of course, it's not just the atmosphere of being outdoors that can make a barbecue fun and special. It's also in the delicious barbecue dishes that you share with your loved ones. To make it all the more special, try a variety of BBQ rubs, marinades, salsas and BBQ sauce to capture the true taste of great outdoor barbecuing.

BBQ Myths Getting You Down?

If you're cooking your food properly on your barbeque, you're getting delightful results every time.  However, all too frequently, people are falling victims to very common barbeque myths.  It's not because we're gullible or stupid in any way.  Many barbeque myths are so well known and so wide spread that they are more frequently passed on as truth than they are as the myths that they truly are.

For example, many people love to try to get perfect grill lines on their barbequed foods.  Either straight lines, or the more fancy criss-crossed ones are often accepted as a sure sign of the expert barbeque chef.  What this involves is flipping your meat, so that the lines are on the both sides.  However, many people don't ever get to achieve this art form because they have fallen victim to one of the main barbeque myths.  They believe that flipping or poking your grilled food makes it tough – this is a myth.  In fact, flipping your meat not only creates great grill lines, but it also makes certain that you cook more evenly.  

While you read up on the swath of information available for providing tips and tricks for the best results on your barbeque, make sure that your source is reliable.  While some of this information is very helpful, much of it can be exaggerated or based on what the author “thinks” rather than what is actually known.

The belief that poking or flipping your food will let all of the juices out and make it tough would only work if your food was shaped exactly like a balloon – which it isn't.  Meat is made up of hundreds of small cells, each filled with its own moisture and juices. Should you poke your meat with a fork while it's on the grill, you may pop one or two cells, but it won't let all of the juices out…only that of the cells you've punctured.  Certainly, if you repeatedly stab and puncture your meat, many of the cells will be broken, and you'll lose a great deal of your juices, but other than in a horror movie, there really isn't any reason to treat your meat that way.

Similarly, flipping your meat doesn't let a great deal of the juices out either.  After all, flipping doesn't puncture any of the cells, so as long as you don't flip it and smack it hard, then you won't lose much by the way of juices at all.  Be gentle…it's already dead!

The problem with flipping your meat on the grill lies when cooks use their spatulas and other tools to squish the meat after it has been flipped, often trying to squeeze out the grease.  By flattening the cells in the meat, much of the moisture and juices are pushed out, leaving the meat dry.

So flip those burgers and poke that steak!  Get those grill lines just the way you want them.  Your food will always be good and juicy, just like the pros do it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

BBQ Grilling Versus Smoking - The Great Debate

We all have heard about barbecuing, but we are unaware of the real tricks in it. Barbecuing is also a form of art. To a person who is new to this art may get confused, because cooking meat in an open fire is a really tricky method. In order to get a really good and delicious bbq dish, one must have a lot of patience.Barbecuing can be done in two methods: through grilling and smoking. Grilling is the quickest method of cooking meat over a direct source of dry heat, whereas, smoking is a slow process, where the food is kept at a particular distance from the fire. Now let us take the two separately, to know the real processing.

BBQ Grilling

Grilling is of two types: direct and indirect. But before going into the details,let me tell you that there are three varieties of grills: charcoal grill, gas grill and electric grill. Charcoal grills are relatively inexpensive when compared to the other two. Now we'll go back to the types of cooking. Direct method is a high heat method and is used for cooking relatively small pieces of food. Steaks, chops, chicken breasts,etc are some of the typical foods that can be grilled directly. In indirect method, as the name suggests, the food is kept to the side of the heat source. It is somewhat like baking a cake or such type of foods.Now we will move on to smoking.

BBQ Smoking

Smoking is the finest way to cook food,even though it takes time. If grilling is best for cooking smaller pieces, smoking is best for cooking larger pieces. Roasts, ham, ribs, brisket, etc are some of the foods that can be smoked. One must maintain a steady temperature, to come up with a deliciously smoked food. The normal,suited temperature for smoking is between 200-225 degrees. If you cook the meat until it's 165 degrees in the middle, it would make the meat more tastier,as the smoke flavour gets deep into it.For basic bbq smoking, you can use the regular grill. The only thing that one must be aware while smoking is, the selection of right type of wood.Because, each wood is different in its own way. So we have to experiment with all sorts of wood to find out which one is the best. Smokers may vary in shapes and sizes.There are smokers running in gas and charcoal.But the heat coming from any type of smoker is a cooler one,which is why it takes a lot of time to smoke.

Now to end with it, barbecuing has to undergo one more process, that's topping it with sauce.In fact it is the topmost ingredient, which one can't omit while barbecuing.Types of sauce varies according to the region. If vinegar-base sauce is typical in Southern United States, tomato-base sauce is typical in Western United States. The best time to apply sauce is during the last stage of cooking. ie, when you are sure that the meat is well cooked,because,sugar is one of the main ingredients in barbecue sauces and it tends to burn easily. So you must cook the meat before you burn the sugar.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Basic Cookware Explained

What is All-Clad stainless steel cookware and why is it the best top-of-the-line bake ware you can buy? All-Clad cookware is made with a heavy aluminum inside which extends up the sides of the pan. It is coated with a stainless steel cooking surface and has an outside layer of magnetic stainless steel. This type of bake ware is ideal for cooking on a gas stove where the flames can burn up the sides of the pots and pans. These types of pots and pans are heavier than the less expensive kinds that you find at cheap discount stores. This cookware is extremely popular among the expert chefs, holds up well in high heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and it comes in a nonstick version as well.

Maybe you like to do lots of browning. If so you may want to use uncoated or non coated cookware for your favorite recipes. A top brand of uncoated pots and pans are made by Wolfgang Puck. Chances are you will never see a review that will not give Wolfgang Puck high marks for its baking performance and price value. Uncoated bakeware has an aluminum plate as the foundation or base. It does not run up the side as does the All-Clad type which is a big reason why uncoated is less expensive.

Calphalon nonstick bakeware is a hard anodized aluminum bake ware with a nonstick coating. If you are looking for a cheaper brand that will perform almost as well as the more expensive ones this may be what you are searching for. Plus it is also lighter in weight than most All-Clad varieties or brands. It may require a little more energy on your part during cleanup though since most Calphalon nonstick pots and pans are not dishwasher safe. Another positive aspect to this type of cookware is that it can be used in your oven in temperatures up to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Similar to Calphalon, Emeril (Emerilware) is a high quality cookware that compares favorably to other top-of-the-line pots and pans and is a very good value for the money. Your favorite recipe will still taste delicious. Famous TV chef Emeril Lagasse has this line made by All-Clad which is similar to their hard anodized cookware. The major difference is the designs added to the pieces. This cookware is made of hard anodized aluminum with nonstick cooking surfaces. It is not recommended for the dishwasher, but comes with a lifetime warranty. That is something you do not see everyday.

The debate about nonstick or uncoated has endured for many years, but which is actually better? Experts have always said that uncoated cookware gives better results, but nonstick has its advantages too. Fried eggs and pancakes are a couple of obvious examples of foods that are more fun to cook or bake on a nonstick surface. No more sticking to the pan during cooking or cleanup. Scraping cooked eggs off the pan is not one of the most enjoyable cooking activities. High quality nonstick skillets will contain a fully coated aluminum plate bonded with stainless steel allowing for even heat distribution. You can also find top brands that are dishwasher safe, although most manufacturers will recommend hand washing.

Starting with high quality cookware is a must if you are looking for the most enjoyable cooking experience. And before you can purchase the most ideal bakeware for your needs you have to ask yourself a few questions. How much can I afford? Will it bother me if they are not dishwasher safe? Do I want nonstick or uncoated? Would I prefer better cookware or easier cleanup? After answering these questions you will have a much better idea as to the type of cookware best suited for your personality.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Barbequed Ribs Kansas City Style

Kansas City ribs are serious business when it comes to BBQ. True to tradition, barbeque in Kansas City is dry rub-spiced, smoked with hickory and coated with a KC style sauce. For Kansas City sauce means a thick, rich and tangy tomato based sauce with molasses and sometimes a hint of vinegar. The meat is seared, slow cooked and mop basted with sauce until the meat is tender and a nice crust has formed on the outside. Roll up your sleeves and get ready for sauce that you enjoy getting under your fingernails.

Kansas City’s first recorded barbequer was Henry Perry back in 1908. Perry become very well known for his succulent ribs and would serve them to customer who would come from miles away. Perry converted an old trolley barn into a restaurant and would serve is ribs on newspaper for 25 cents a slab. “Old Man Perry’s” restaurant was located at 19th & Highland and was later sold to George Gates and Charlie Bryant. It become known as Arthur Bryant’s and is still today regarded as one of America’s greatest rib joints. Today Kansas City boast over 90 rib restaurants.

As with any rib, first start by removing the membrane on the back of the rib. This can prove to be difficult with wet finger. Dry hands and a paper towel work well for this. The paper towel will allow you to get a better grip on the membrane. Evenly coat the ribs with the dry rub, wrap with plastic wrap and then foil. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours but overnight is best. 30 minutes before you are ready to cook the ribs, remove them from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Continually mop the ribs with sauce until finished cooking.

Kansas City Style Dry Rub:
1 C sugar
½ C paprika
¼ C kosher salt
¼ C celery salt
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried mustard powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Classic Kansas City Style Sauce:
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon mace
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 C ketchup
¾ C dark unsulphered molasses
½ C white wine vinegar

Friday, May 18, 2012

Barbeque Techniques: Two Methods to Consider

When it comes to barbequing, there are two main schools of thought for the techniques that you can use. 

The first of these techniques – and the most popular method for those who grill in their back yards – is the style where the food is cooked directly over the source of heat.  This way, the food is rapidly cooked on a hot grill suspended directly over the charcoals, the wood, or the gas burners.  Rarely is the lid ever closed. Any foods, including the most tender cuts, hamburgers, steaks, kabobs of all kinds, chicken, and even vegetables are quickly seared and cooked to perfection using this technique.  If sauces are desired, they can be added before hand, during the cooking process, or even after the food comes off the grill.  These choices will all create different and enjoyable tastes and flavors.

The second barbeque cooking technique uses heat indirectly.  This is more appropriate when you’re cooking much larger or whole cuts of meat, such as especially thick steaks, roasts, a whole hog, or a pork shoulder.  When you’re cooking using this method, the food is cooked away from the actual source of heat.  This usually requires a water pan of some kind in order to maintain the moisture level of the food.  The temperatures generally sit in around 250ºF.  During this cooking method, the lid of the barbeque remains closed most of the time, and the length of the cooking is much longer than in the first method.  When you’re using an indirect barbeque cooker, there is usually an additional fire box that allows you to combine charcoal and wooden logs for burning.  This allows the heat and the smoke to rise through the cooking chamber where the meat is, so that it is heated perfectly.  The rule of thumb of this technique is a low temperature for a long time.

No matter which method you use, it’s important not to cook your meat too quickly.  If the internal temperature of your meat rises too quickly as you cook it, the water and the fat within it will be expelled before the collagen is able to melt.  This means that your cut will be dry and tough.  However, you cannot cook too slowly or you will risk a bacterial contamination.  Though there is a fine line for barbequing properly, it’s important to find that line and stick to it.

If you’re already dealing with a cut of meat that is tough, such as a brisket or a pork roast, consider cooking slowly as the collagen adds flavor to the meat.  If you buy a less tough, more expensive cut, you can cook at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This is why ribs and steaks take such a short time to cook, while pork shoulders or beef brisket can run up to 20 hours.

As a final note, it’s important to have fun while you barbeque! Your pleasure will come through in your cooking as it will leave you motivated, and willing to try new and interesting things.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Barbeque and Grilling Blunders - Learn to Eliminate Outdoor Cooking Mistakes that Kill Your Cookout

Your <strong>average backyard cook</strong> is no expert in the barbeque or grilling field. He has no television shows on the Food Network. He has no grilling cookbooks out. Nor has any of those been part of his lifetime goal.<br>

No, your average outdoor cooking enthusiast makes more mistakes with bbq grilling than you could ever imagine. The meat ends up dry and tough time after time, despite marinating for hours. Or the meat is burnt or cooked too long.<br>

These mistakes are made time and time again because your average backyard cook usually does not know any different. He does not automatically know <b>How to Barbeque</b>.<br>

Here are some of the more common mistakes and <b>do's and don'ts</b> made in bbq grill cooking:<br>

<b>1)</b> If you started with frozen meat, make sure the meat is thawed completely. Trying to cook the inside of a still-frozen piece of meat is next to impossible without burning the outside.<br>

<b>2)</b> When using a charcoal grill, try to start the fire without charcoal lighter fluid. Lighter fluid taste will always get into your meat no matter how much you cook the coals down first. A <b>chimney starter</b> makes starting the fire a breeze. It also allows you to add charcoal along the way should the coals burn out along the way.<br>

<b>3)</b> Never poke the bbq meat with a fork after cooking has begun. This is one of the most common mistakes and one of the most deadly for your barbeque. When poking with a fork, the juices will run out of the meat and right into the bottom of the barbeque pit or grill. Your meat will be dry and less tender. Use a long set of <b>tongs</b> to turn the meat.<br>

<b>4)</b> Lower the heat. Except for grilled steaks, which need a quick searing, cook slowly over low to medium heat. Lower heat is much more manageable and it will make the meat tender and juicy.<br>

<b>5)</b> Quit lifting the lid to check the meat. Every time you do that it changes the temperature inside the bbq grill or pit. Air from you opening the lid acts like a sponge and dries the meat up. Opening the lid also increases your chances of flare-ups.<br>

<b>6)</b> This is more of a food safety mistake. Do not put the cooked meat back on the same plate or platter that the raw meat was on without washing it first. Mixing the cooked with the raw just begs for someone to get sick.<br>

<b>7)</b> After removing the meat from the bbq grill or pit, let it rest for at about 5-10 minutes. Cutting into or slicing the meat immediately after pulling it from the cooker will cause all the juices to flow out of the meat and onto the platter.<br>

Of course, these are not all of the mistakes made by the amateur outdoor cook, but are some of the more common. But if you will prevent doing these yourself, you will eliminate many of the things that cause barbeque failures.<br>

Your guests and family will wonder how come your grilled or barbequed food is so much better then it used to be. And, who knows?...Maybe the Food Network will come looking for you.<br>

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Barbecuing: A Quintessential American Tradition

Next to baseball, nothing says summer like the sizzling sounds, enticing aromas, and mouth-watering flavors of barbecuing. In fact, according to a recent survey commissioned by Hormel Foods and conducted by Harris Interactive®, 90 percent of respondents2 agree that barbecues make them think of summer.

Where does America barbecue? According to the survey, 89 percent prefer to hold family barbecues in their backyards, compared with 3 percent who prefer a public park or picnic area. Barbecues are a great way to bring the family together, entertain friends and family and enjoy the summer nights-right in the backyard!

A few simple tips, courtesy of Hormel Foods, can make your next grill-out even easier:

&#8226; Marinating musts: Marinating meat adds flavor and tenderization before cooking. Every marinade should contain an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or wine; an oil, such as olive or canola; and seasonings, such as herbs and spices. For a no-mess solution, try a pre-marinated variety of Hormel® Always Tender® pork.

&#8226; Barbecue in bulk: Got leftovers? No problem. Barbecue meals freeze well, and often become more flavorful when the sauce and spices are reheated at a later date. Once you have fired up the grill, cook as much as your pit can handle since your food will maintain its flavor for future meals. Then thaw, reheat and just add sauce for a delicious leftover treat.

&#8226; Fire up a fast-cooking feast: To spend more time with guests instead of the grill, choose a pre-cooked variety of barbecue meat, like Lloyd's® barbeque fully cooked ribs, which cuts cooking time to less than five minutes. Just heat and eat!

&#8226; Deck out your deck: Minimal meal preparation time gives you a chance to focus on the details. To make your barbecue spectacular, set the mood by hanging lanterns around the yard, blending a signature summertime cocktail and presenting the meal on brightly colored plates.

Now that the days are long and school is out, it's easy to step outside and cook dinner on the grill. A relaxing backyard barbecue dinner will melt the stress of the workday away. Your family will love the meal, and you'll love the convenience.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Barbecue Sauce For A Perfect Barbeque

When someone mentions barbecue images comes to the mind like cooking at the backyard grill, a social gathering, cooking outdoors and cooking meat slowly over wood and smoke that adds flavor to the food.

Different cooks have different preferences and style in their cooking. Some prefer rubbing the seasoning whether wet or dry prior to cooking and some prefers to soak the meat first in special marinades that could be sops, mops and finishing. The preparation and ingredients for marinating may differ from region to region the preferred wood to be used can also differ. However, no perfect barbecue will taste as good without the perfect barbecue sauce.

Barbecue sauces can generally be categorized by what they are based on. Common examples are tomato, vinegar and mustard based sauces. To give the barbecue its distinctive taste and prevent the meat from burning easily, barbecue sauces are applied to the meat while being cooked with the exemption of tomato based barbecue sauces as tomato based sauces burns easier than the other kinds of sauces.

Barbecue sauce preparation can either be sweet, sour, tangy, spicy, hot, thick or thin. The varieties are almost endless which makes barbecues popular because anyone can make his own special preparation depending on taste and anyone can create his own way of serving the barbecue.

Recipes for barbecues can also be guarded. And good barbecue sauces can be purchased at almost any store. But the only perfect barbecue sauce is the one that you can create for yourself.
Remember whatever works for you and your family can be a great barbecue sauce. So start experimenting that is the only way to start good cooking.

The basics of Barbecue sauces…

Tomato based barbecue sauce is the most widely used. Some say that it is the most popular. Its popularity however may be due to the simplicity of preparation and besides; tomatoes are ingredients that could easily be found. The point to remember in preparing tomato-based barbecue sauces is to cook the tomatoes very well in order for the flavor to blend with the other ingredients.

Tomato based barbecue sauces are acidic. Because of this, it has the property to breakdown all the flavor of other ingredients blending them with its own. But because of its propensity to burn, limit the usage of tomato based barbecue sauce while cooking. To make it even more flavorful, prepare tomato barbecue sauces a day in advance.

Mustard based sauces are preferred in North Carolina. The mustard based barbecue sauce is great for grilling pork.

Vinegar is great meat tenderizer. It is also more acidic than tomatoes. Because of its acidic content, vinegar based sauces has a tendency to penetrate deep into the meat. To make this barbecue sauce more flavorful, experiment mixing it with chili, cider vinegar or red pepper, sugar salt and all the other ingredients that you want it to have.

Barbecue sauces today has different uses departing from its traditional purpose. It now serves as a condiment that is present on almost any table like ketchup, salsa, salt, pepper and Tabasco.

However, if experimenting with food is not your greatest strength, you can always find great sauces in any store. To make great barbecues, one rule to follow is not to place too much weight on the “with smoke flavor” label that many bottled tomato sauces advertise itself. Smoke flavor is what is barbecuing all about. The flavor has to come from the wood not the bottle.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Barbecue Party Tips For A Truly Amazing Event

Barbecue party tips can help a host put together an extraordinary event for family and friends. Eating outdoors is a favorite pastime enjoyed by everyone and planning the event can help make it more memorable and stress-free for the host. Big or small, a barbecue party requires an adequate amount of planning and preparation to ensure that everything is laid out properly.

It is advisable to plan the event around a theme in order to create a focal point for the barbecue party. This way, all aspects of the party such as the food, games and decorations can be fashioned around a central theme. Favorite themes for barbecue parties include a Hawaiian motif, nostalgic seventies get-together, or, if you are near the sea, opt for a beach bbq party!

Planning the menu is perhaps the most important part of any get-together especially for a barbecue party as most guests will be looking forward to an array of lip-smacking roasted meats dripping in bbq sauce.

Barbecue on the Beach Anyone?

Ah, what can be better than a great barbecue on the beach? The beach is definitely one of the best locations to have a barbecue. After all, the nature of grilling and barbecuing as a cooking technique is that it's fun, exciting and very rewarding. Similarly, the beach pretty much exudes the same atmosphere. There are a lot of fun and exciting activities to do at the beach. It's a place where people can be themselves in their 'bare essentials' and the relaxation factor is definitely rewarding. Putting these two wonderful concepts together, a barbecue on the beach is pretty much a recipe for a great time!

But before you pack your stuff, gear up your grill and hit the sand for one hell of a barbecue on the beach party, bear in mind that there are various safety procedures and other rules governing beach areas so it would be best to consult authorities and secure the proper permissions before you even think about organizing a beach barbecue party.

Assuming you've done that and you've already picked a nice spot, next would be preparing for your barbecue on the beach. There are various grill types that you may use for barbecuing on the beach – you have the wood or charcoal grill, gas grill or you may also use a campfire tripod. Be sure to station your grill in a stable spot, away from any flammable material and safe from people possibly bumping into it.

Bring your marinated meat, poultry or seafood in a cooler and take them out only when you're ready to start barbecuing to avoid spoilage. Further, the last seasoning you would want on your barbecue on the beach is sand right? So keep them covered!

And of course, don't forget to pack those barbecue sauces and hot sauces to spice up your barbecue dishes. If you're looking for something insanely different to give your barbecue that extra punch, visit for their wide array of barbecue sauces, marinades and dry rubs. Treat yourself and your friends' taste buds to their line of extremely hot products; they would definitely go well with a good beer. Now that's what I call one unforgettable barbecue on the beach party!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Barbecue. The secrets of the Greek way !

I have taste grilled meats around the world. Before i will guide you to the various technologies (gas barbecues, charcoal barbecues, Mongolian, sauces, recipes ) i will tell you about the Greek way. We Greeks like good food so i will start from the meat. Whatever the technology, the recipe and the sauce, if the meat is from a producer which feeds his animals the traditional way the taste will be superb. Period.

There is no equivalent of a natural rosen meat of beef ,lamp or pork. The taste is magic ! If you come for holidays in Greece you will see in the morning or in the afternoon the old lady with the two or three cows , or goats. These animals will be served in the local taverna. For this meat i am talking about. If we talk about the islands where the goats are drinking sea water and eating the local wild weeds we are talking about a superior quality meat almost presalted.
If you ever go in CRETE taste it, you will remember my words. In case you will visit northern Greece try local Veal stake. You can locate the good food where you will see no foreigners at all.

So lets move around Athens and check the best ones. One of the best barbecue tavern in Athens area is Telis in Evripidou Str.
Telis is the  master of pork chops. This is  his specialty. If you order for a plate you will notice about four to five pieces above fried potatoes. He is all day open and very economical also. Its a kind of fast pork steak food. It is a must taste since you visit Athens. Another must taste is Thanasis kebab souvlaki in Thision. It is mixed lamp and veal chopped meat over charcoals. You may eat a plate of four of them , with grilled tomatoes, or you might taste the traditional way in a pita. Any way its very difficult to eat only one. If you like hot papers ask them.

One more must eat souvlaki in Athens is LEIBADIA in kANIGOS SQUARE. There you can have the traditional pork souvlaki with all the village bread you can eat. They produce all day long so whenever you will be there you will taste it straight from the charcoals.

All around Greece we like to barbecue on charcoals. The device we choose must be proven in producing our favorite taste. Our meat are premarinated with olive oil, salt, pepper, origanon. During grill we add a little of olive oil-salt-origanon mix in order to produce the tasty smell, which gives this delicious aromatic taste to the meat.
The fire must be strong but not so strong to provoke fires under the meat. For this purpose we have a bottle of vinegar to extinguish it in case of. We add fresh lemon just before we consume them. We don't take out the fat before we grill our meat because we like the taste of the smoked meat.

One more famous place for barbecue souvlaki is the Corinth bridge. This is the bridge which you enter Peloponnesus. Do not pass the bridge and miss the  taste of this souvlaki. Thousands of people stop every day to taste this local delicacy.


Baking Flexibility

Everywhere you look, there is a lot of emphasis on cutting the fat out of our daily diets, but who wants to cut out the fat if it means cutting out the flavor? When it comes to baking, there is a way to cut down on your fat intake without changing the ingredients in your favorite recipes. If you switch to nonstick silicone bakeware, you can cut down on your fat intake with minimal effort. Because the bakeware is nonstick, you never have to use butter, shortening, or grease on your pans or sheets to ensure easy food removal.

The first silicone items made exclusively for baking were small silicone mats that fit nicely on your cookie sheet and allowed you to bake cookies with out greasing the cookie sheet or worrying about the bottoms getting burned. These little mats were a huge success and stores were hard pressed to keep them in stock.

As the popularity of these mats grew, manufacturers decide to explore the idea of making more bakeware from silicone. They began making spoons, spatulas, and whisks that could withstand high heats and could be used with nonstick cookware with no fear of ruining the coating. Silicone utensils were the perfect choice for candy making or any other project that required a boiling and sticky liquid to be stirred.

Kitchen supply manufacturers also introduced silicone potholders and oven gloves. Because they can withstand heats up to 500 degrees, they are the perfect insurance that you won’t get burned when you pull a hot dish from your oven. They don’t conduct heat the way that a cloth potholder does and they are much sturdier and easy to keep clean than traditional potholders. Home canners fell in love with silicone baker’s mitts because they could actually reach into a pot of boiling water to remove a hot jar of food once it was done processing. As an added bonus these durable potholders do double duty as lid grippers making opening jars a snap.

Once silicone hit kitchens in the form of baking mats, utensils, and pot holders, kitchen experts began to see the potential of this material in everyday baking. Suddenly almost any type of bakeware that could traditionally be found in stainless steel, aluminum, glass, or stoneware was being offered in brightly colored silicone. Stores began selling muffin tins, bread loaf pans, cake pans, and pie pans. The most popular pieces tend to be the specialty designed cake pans that allow you to make cakes shaped like everything from roses to pumpkins. They even have mini cake pans that make individual, fancy shaped cakes.

The popularity of silicone bakeware skyrocketed as cooks began to see the benefits of using this material in their kitchens. Foods pop out of silicone pans with amazing ease. You never need to grease, flour, or even use cooking spray on a silicone pan and that adds up to lots of calories and fat grams saved with each meal. Because silicone is very flexible, it is easy to bend and twist it so that cakes and breads pop out easily. You never have to force baked goods out of the pan, so they retain there shape and you don’t see a lot of split and broken cakes.

Silicone is a bakers dream when it comes to making evenly cooked delicacies. The material distributes heat evenly, so you never end up with a cake that is burned around the edges and still not cooked in the middle. It also cools down quickly ensuring that you foods will not continue cooking and possibly drying out once you remove them from the oven.

Because silicone is nonstick, cleanup is a breeze. A little soap and water and any crumb left on your bakeware disappears. It is nonporous, so it never retains any odors from the foods you cook. Completely versatile it goes from oven to table to freezer and can even be thrown in the dishwasher. Once you are done cleaning it, storage is a snap. With its flexibility, you can twist it, bend it, fold it or mash it up so it can fit in the smallest of drawers or cupboards.

If you haven’t tried silicone bakeware, add a piece or two to your kitchen. You will be surprised at its quality and flexibility.

Aussie Chef Shares Culinary Secrets With Americans

What if a famous Australian chef came to your home and offered to make dinner?

That's the premise of a new television cooking show-but with a twist. Chef Curtis Stone is making his debut on American television, ambushing unsuspecting shoppers with an offer they simply can't refuse. Each episode in the series called "Take Home Chef," shown Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on TLC, begins with a covert Stone racing through a grocery store as he searches for the perfect culinary partner. Once he's found one he turns on the charm, offering to accompany the shopper home and prepare a gourmet meal using the items in his or her shopping cart-plus a few savory extras.

Once participants seem willing to go along with this culinary adventure, they take Stone home and work with him in their own kitchens or out at the grill to create a delicious dinner. And, as Australians are known for "throwing another one on the barbee," Chef Stone is likely to be sharing a lot of his grilling secrets from Down Under, while at the same time learning how to function in an average American kitchen.

Some of the grilling tips offered in "Take Home Chef" include:

&#8226; When cooking larger pieces of meat, like roasts, pile the coals on one side and place the food on the other. This allows for indirect cooking and reduces charring.

&#8226; Don't use charcoal lighter fluid or briquettes that have added starter fluid built into them. This will leave an unpleasant taste in the smoke.

&#8226; Rubs are one of the best things you can use to add flavor to your meat. They are combinations of spices that seal in the flavor of the meat, form a tasty crust, enhance color and pull moisture from the air while drawing juices from inside the meat, causing the meat to marinate itself as it cooks.

Chef Curtis Stone started his culinary career at The Savoy Hotel, in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia at the age of 18. The European and British chefs he knew there taught him the importance of working abroad to increase one's experience and skills. That's why, once he'd qualified as a chef, he set off for Europe to experience Italy, France and Spain before finally arriving in London.

There, he was eventually promoted to be head chef at the critically acclaimed Quo Vadis, a London institution since 1926.

So what's this new American TV show like for Chef Stone? "Cooking in someone else's home can be absolutely anything; it can be fabulous or a complete disaster," he says. "It's the fear of the unknown that makes it so exciting."