No Fail Recipes

Month: November 2015

History of the Bagel

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New York Bagel

It’s hard to believe that just a few decades ago the only kind of edible, soft ring known in North America was sweet and covered in sugar or sprinkles. In reality, there is a history of the bagel that goes far back to the old World. These days’ donuts take a back seat to the morning bagel in cities across North America.

What

In case you haven’t left your home since forever and don’t know what a bagel is, here’s the simple explanation. Bagels are similar to bead in consistency and made of yeast, water, salt, and whole wheat and some sort of sweetening agent.

Bagels are round and have a whole in the middle. Bagels are rolled into form and once that’s done they’re popped into boiling water for a quick minute before being baked. Although baking is the traditional method of cooking, some operations use steam to cook the bagels.

A good bagel has a nice, crispy, slightly salt exterior and a soft, chewy interior. Besides a plain bagel you can also get it topped with poppy seeds or sesame seeds at most places. Some outfits that are dedicated to the art of bagel-making offer flavors like cinnamon raisin, flaxseed, Asiago cheese and more.

Although bagels look nice and compact, they can cost you close to 300 calories as opposed to two slices of toast which come in at half the calorie-count.

New York or Montreal

As you move along in your bagel exploration journey you will come to discover that you have a preference for either the New York bagel or the Montreal bagel. The New York bagel is salty and baked while the Montreal-style bagel is dipped in sweetened water before being wood-fired. The wood-firing combined with the sugar gives the Montreal bagel a distinct sweet, crispy coating. The New York bagel on the other hand is made with a little salt in the dough and often comes topped with crunchy little poppy seeds

History

The birthplace of what we know as the modern-day bagel is believed to be Poland. A tale which is likely more fiction than fact claims that the bagel was invented in honor of the king of Poland, Jan Sobieski.  As the story goes, a bread maker rolled some dough in the shape of a stirrup belonging to the King. This honorable bestowing of a stirrup-shaped bagel came after the king saved Poland from Turkish invaders.

The bagel was popular not only for its taste but also for several functional reasons like the fact that it stayed fresh longer than bread due to its boiling process. Additionally, a bagel could be dunked in some tea or coffee to get it soft and moist and it wouldn’t melt away like bread would.

The Journey to America

As more and more immigrants from Eastern Europe settled into the United States, the demand for Eastern European goods grew. One of the biggest demands was that for traditional breads including bagels. The increased demand was difficult for small, local bakers to keep up with and with that came mass production of bagels. This mass production brought the bagel full circle, with the increased availability of bagels leading to increased demand and vice versa.

In fact the early 20th century boasted the creation of a bagel baker’s union which regulated bagel baking in New York. Although he early years had bagel consumption strictly in the domain of the Jewish public, this changed dramatically after the Second World War. As the Jewish community moved out of Jewish districts in central New York so did bagels. The 1950s saw bagels slowly gaining mainstream popularity. As large bakeries opened up across New York, bagels started popping up all over the place as an alternate bread choice. In fact, the bagel and cream cheese combination proved so popular that it became a popular staple at breakfast joints across New York City.

Mass production of the bagel lead bakery owners to search for methods to preserve the bagel so that the fresh taste was maintained several days after production. It was quickly discovered that bagels could be frozen and then thawed without losing their flavor and texture. Slowly, quietly but surely, bagels made their way into supermarkets across the country.

Americans quickly developed a taste for cream cheese and bagels, this combination can be found in just about any coffee shop across the country these days.

The history of the bagel is complex and it may have come from a long way off, but it has been adopted and is well-loved across the nation. In fact, many people would tell you that the bagel is an American invention created in New York.

Wine Tasting Basics

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Wine Pairing BasicsWhat was once a pastime of the well-to-do is now a pleasure that most of us can partake in but in order to wine you need to learn some wine tasting techniques. However, due to lack of experience many of us quietly sit back in wonder as we watch wine aficionados, swirling their glasses and swishing the juice of the Gods between their cheeks.

Attending a wine tasting can be a fabulous, glamorous, fun event that you can absolutely enjoy as long as you take a few things into consideration.

First off, don’t be intimidated. The sommelier is likely the only person who’s spent any significant time learning about the ins and outs of wines, everyone else is pretending like they know what their doing so you can too.\

Do a wine-tasting practice run at home so you’re all ready for the big day.

 

Step 1

Choose the right glasses for your wine. If you’re doing reds you want to have nice big glasses, meanwhile whites deserve the standard wine glass.

When you open your bottle of wine, let it sit and breathe for 10 mins.

 

Step 2

Smell the wine when you first open it to determine if it is good.

The following are signs that your wine is probably not going to be good:

A strong vinegar smell means there was a problem with the wine-making process or bottling process which in turn has created acidity in the wine. If it smells very acidic it will taste like vinegar.

If your wine smells like a wet dog or a wet basement, there was likely a problem in the wine-making/bottling process and in turn has left you with a bad wine.

 

Step 3

Fill your wine glass one-quarter of the way up.

Step 4

Check out the color of your wine like a true professional to determine wine quality. If you tilt the wine glass to the side in front of something white you’ll be able to get a better idea of the color. If a white wine is brown, you have a problem. However if a red wine is dark that’s just fine. Whether red or white, the wine should be nice and clear. If there is something akin to a sediment sitting at the bottom of your red wine glass it’s normal.

Step 5

Always hold your wine glass by the stem. Holding your glass by the bulb will warm the glass and in turn warm the wine. Just holding your glass in this manner will put you steps ahead of the other tasters.

Step 6

Give your wine a little breather by swirling the wine slowly around in the glass while holding the stem of the glass. The swirling will also provide you with scents. If the wine appears to hang on to the sides of the glass that’s a good thing. A thicker wine indicates it is likely one that is full-bodied, which in the business they call having legs. A leggy wine is likely one with good alcohol content.

Step 7

Continue your wine swirling to get the scent notes. Your wine can have layers of scent s that range from woody to fruity. Some wines like a good Syrah will give you an interesting spice layer.

Step 8

Now it’s time to taste – and remember if you’re doing a wine tour, you’re going to just taste not swallow. Take a sip of the wine and roll it around on your tongue so you get all of its notes. Once you’ve noticed all of its nuanced flavors you should spit it out into a spittoon. If you’re at your last tasting or enjoying wine at home then go ahead and sip of course.

Step 9

Aspirate yourself. Before taking a sip of the wine, purse you lips and inhale through the mouth and out through your nose. This gives the wine a chance to mingle with your mouth and directly reach your nose by going through the mouth and into your nasal.

Step 10

 

If you go to this wine tasting with a group of amateurs this step will be just fine. However if you’re mingling with aficionados you may feel out of place, but don’t. You want to take a sip of wine and air at the same time and you’ll see what a change a little air can make. This experience will bring out the gourmand in you.

Step 11

If you’re still tasting the wine a minute after you have already swallowed, this is a great sign! This means your wine has a – LINGO ALERT – nice finish. That’s exactly what you say too. If your wine gives full flavour anywhere from 40 seconds to a minute after the sip you can indeed say that’s a good quality wine.

Step 12

If you really want to impress your fellow guests, do a little refresher pf the vaious tastes you’re set to encounter:

Syrah – spicy and dark with layers of black pepper.

Cabernet – full body read with delicious, bold fruits like cherry.

Merlot – nice red with plum, floral and spices.

Zinfandel – Dark fruits

Pinot Noir – A nice delicate red with light fruit with earthy, peppery flavors.

Sauvignon Blanc – Nice white with hints of grapefruit

Chardonnay – nice white with fruity flavors with two styles – buttery or crisp and fresh

History of the Beignet

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beignets

Beignets – Cafe Du Monde

Light, fluffy, delightful things come in small square packages according to the history of the beignet. If you’re not familiar with these guys then think donuts without the hole, sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Beignets are traditionally served fresh and hot, which also makes them a common breakfast dish in parts of the America South.

Unlike traditional donuts, beignets are made with choux pastry. Now, if you didn’t grow up in a home that smelled of fresh baking than perhaps the term choux pastry is foreign to you. Choux pastry is dough made up of water, butter, flour and eggs. What makes it choux pastry is that there is no agent like yeast helping it to rise. Rather the raise occurs thanks to  moisture from steam.

Typically choux pastry is used to make baked goodies but beignets on the other hand are fried. Additionally, some places have taken up the habit of making beignets with yeast dough, which changes the texture of the beignets, but rest assured the deliciousness remains.

Although the traditional beignet is simple sugary dough, fried and powdered, these days you can find yourself an altogether different beignet animal. Beignets can be stuffed with a fruit filling or piped with chocolate or cream, regardless of their filling, the powdered sugar remains.

Who Done It                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

As with all things great, everyone wants to claim ownership or at least claim some sort of connection to the ownership. The history of the beignet therefore has a whole lot of volunteers claiming ancestry. Although popular theory indicates that the beignet is a French invention alone, the reality is that these sweet little treats may have been introduced to Europe courtesy of the Moors.

The Moors, or medieval Muslims, invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the 7th century and took power in Spain and neighboring countries. The Muslim courts have a rich food history and many of these foods made their way into Spanish cooking.

Records of the Arab donut, zulaabiyyah indicate it has been around since at least the 9th century, long before the French version. Another version of the donut called luqmat al-qadi has been around since at least the 13th century.

There are a variety of reasons to believe that is the Caliphate that brought these sweet treats into the heart of Europe, one of them being the fact that creating a beignet is an expensive undertaking.

Beignets are fried which means the heavy use of fats, something only the rich could afford.

The word beignet however has a French connection and the fritter itself is tied to 16th century France and Mardi Gras festivities. The real intrigue appears with the inference that the beignet may have been transported to the land of the Eiffel Tower via Spain. In fact the French term for little fried dough balls in the Middle Ages was Spanish beignets.

Additionally a version of the beignet exists in Muslim, Christian and Jewish histories as a morsel to feast on while breaking the fast. Although modern religious traditions have created deep divides in religion, 7th century Andalusia had members of all three religions living side by side.

Fast forward to 18th century America and the story of the beignet changes drastically. There are several theories about how exactly the beignet came to be in the United States of America. One of the theories credits the arrival of the famous beignet to Ursuline nuns in the 18th century.

Another equally popular story is the arrival of the beignet care of the Acadians from Nova Scotia. The Acadians are the descendants of French settlers in Acadia which in present-day covers a large swath of Eastern Canada, specifically the Maritimes. The Acadians were deported from Canada during British rule in the 18th century with large numbers of them resettling in Louisiana or returning to France.

Regardless of who actually introduced the recipe, there is agreement that it did come from French settlers. Although today the beignet is often found in fancy cafes, its American origins stem from housewives in tiny little kitchens in the South.

Women would knead the dough for the day’s bread and take from that dough ball a smaller portion to fry up for the morning’s breakfast. These fried pieces of dough, often sweetened with honey, would be sent with the men out into the fields and so the odern breakfast beignet in shi-shi coffee shop has very humble beginnings.

 

Yum-Yum

Today the beignet is not humble grub, but rather something that deserves a pedestal as a café feature. The famed Café du Monde in New Orleans is famous for its beignets which it serves up alongside chicory-laced coffee. The beignet and chicory coffee combo has historical roots itself. Coffee was scarce in the 18th and 19th centuries and as a result, drinkers added chicory to create a more robust flavor.

The history of the modern beignet may be murky but what is clear is that a hot, soft, plump, doughy piece of powdered sugary goodness is much beloved.

How to Make the Best Grilled Chicken Ever

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Grilled Chili Chicken Breasts

What

Grilled chicken is a staple on just about any restaurant menu, but if you’re whipping one up at home then it’s time to learn how to make the best grilled chicken ever. You may note that the chicken you’re served up at your favorite restaurant has one thing that your home-cooked version doesn’t: moisture. Yes, it’s true and you know it. Grilling chicken at home can often turn into a cardboard affair. Chicken breasts are notorious for their ability to quickly convert from an edible dish to shoe leather.

So what’s the secret to getting juicy chicken at home? Well, it’s all in the technique of course. With a few little tricks and tips you will be well on your way to grilling succulence chez toi, so grab your notepad and let’s get started.

History

The chicken that you know today is a result of a variety of factors. Our present-day chicken’s ancestor originates in India as a common water fowl. This chicken traversed all of Europe before it made its way to North America when English and French settlers set up colonies.

Now, your tasty chicken of today didn’t just emerge as a result of its transport from Europe to North America. The original chickens brought over to the New World had the singular purpose of laying eggs. A by-product of these broiler chickens were chickens sold for consumption.

During WWI red meat was rationed while chicken was not. As a result of greater chicken consumption, greater emphasis on the quality of chicken emerged. In fact, contests were held to encourage producers to produce better chickens. The original broiler chickens produced tough meat as they were free range. The new chicken was more carefully taken care of to produce a softer meat, with a particular focus on breasts and legs.

As the quality of chicken improved so did consumption. Although the prohibition on red meat was lifted once the war was over, the popularity of chicken continued to grow.

The Second World War resulted in women going into the workforce. The end of the war didn’t change the shift in society and having two earners became the norm. Two earners meant zero stay-at-home cooks which in turn meant families needed quick fixers for dinner. Often times these quick fixes came in the form of take out marls or frozen dinners. And you guessed it, a popular and inexpensive dinner often included chicken.

These days chicken isn’t just a quick meal option but rather a healthy food choice. Chicken is a fantastic source of protein and as long as you’re eating the right cut, it’s also low in fat. Of course, if you’re health conscious then you likely want to cook your chicken in the healthiest way possible, and you can’t get much healthier than the grilled version.

The Shoe Leather Problem

The most popular chicken cut for grilling is the chicken breast. It’s chock full of protein and lacking in fat. The lack of fat means a simple grill can suck out what little juice the chicken has and leave something akin to a piece of your old shoe. So how do we get a succulent piece of chicken? Here’s how: Follow along:

Pound it out

Chicken breasts are for the most part thin on the edges and thick in the middle which makes them difficult to cook evenly. What you want to do is take all of your day’s stress out on your chicken. You’re going to slide your breasts into a plastic bag, then using a mallet you’ll pound the breasts until they are uniform in thickness. Make sure you do not pound them out too thin or you will risk drying them out (1” thickness is good, ¾” isn’t bad).

Slip it some salt

Getting the right amount of salt into your chicken will reformulate your chicken protein so that it holds onto moisture better. Combine ¼ cup of salt with 4 cups of water and slide four chicken breasts into the brine. Let the chicken brine for 45 minutes. Once you’ve brined, make sure you rinse chicken and do not add more salt to the chicken when grilling.

Temperature

Oil your grill and heat it to approximately 400 degrees. Place chicken breasts over direct heat and cook for approximately 2.5 mins. Per side. And voila, you should have a divine, succulent piece of chicken breast.

Flavor

Your basic chicken breast can be ho-hum but the great thing about this meat is that it takes in flavor like nobody’s business. A simple marinade can take your plain Jane chicken breast from hmmm to the best grilled chicken ever. Try out these simple marinade recipes for a pump of flavor. Try to marinate for at least an hour or even overnight if you can.

Best Ever Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Recipe:  Grilled Hawaiian Chicken

Best Ever Grilled Italian Pesto Chicken Recipe:  Grilled Italian Pesto Chicken

Best Ever Grilled Chili Chicken Recipe:  Grilled Chili Chicken Breasts

How to Make the Best No-Bake Cheesecake Ever

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Best Ever No Bake Cheesecake

Whoever invented the no-bake cheesecake sure must’ve been a whimsical person. It takes some serious whimsy to combine two of the most decadent things on a table and make them into one best ever, beautiful thing.

If you have been deprived of this delightful marriage of soft cheese and cake due to incarceration on another planet then let us entertain you.

Cheesecake the American way is typically a bottom crust that is often made out of cookies or graham crackers. The next layer is the filling which is contains cream cheese and sugar and the topping can be any number of things like fruit or caramel.

However, this is your very basic explanation as American cheesecake is a creation unique to its own. If you order up a cheesecake in London you may very well get one loaded with nuts and dry fruit.

On a trip to Europe your order of cheesecake will take on a whole other consistency as countries like Italy use Ricotta instead of good ‘ol American cream cheese.

As long as we’re talking about the best cheesecake ever we might as well talk a little bit about who made this whimsy happen. Or we would if there was a scientific way to track that down.

It is likely that a version of cheesecake popped up hundreds of years ago in ancient Greece. However move forward to the 14th century and there are claims that the first cheesecake is an English brainchild.

The one thing we can know for sure is that the American cheesecake came some time after the invention of cream cheese in America in the 19th century.

And America sure does know how to pull out all sorts of delicious treats from the kitchen. So let’s make the best no-bake cheesecake ever a la Americana.

See Recipe:  The Best No-Bake Cheesecake Ever

The beautiful thing about cheesecake is that it can bend and mod to whatever season you’re in. So if apples are in season, you can easily substitute strawberries for peeled and cored apples and you can even throw in some nuts. Or if you’re feeling like any other fruit, it’s very easy to add it as a topping, the cream cheese filling is very welcoming.

The filling
The basic cream cheese filling is silky and satisfying, you can never go wrong with it, but you can add to it if you wish. You can add 3 tbsp of cocoa to make the above cheesecake a strawberry and chocolate heaven.

If you’re feeling coffee-ish you can easily add 1/3 cup of brewed coffee to give your cheesecake another level of flavor.

Now here’s a little secret if you’ve ever just wanted to nosh on just a bite of cheesecake, but had no desire to whip up a whole cake. You can whip up that delicious cheesecake in a few minutes flat:

See Recipe:  Best Ever Mini No-Bake Cheesecake

The cheesecake wants to be yours so add your own favorite flavors and put your name on it.

Happy cheesecaking!

Foods of the Midwest

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Foods of the MidwestThe mysterious midwest of the US isn’t just understated, it’s got a whole lot of pent up energy the world knows nothing about. Case in point, there is a delicious little juicy ball called a Juneberry that makes its home there, and most people haven’t ever heard about June or her deliciousness.

The U.S. midwest refers to north, central portion of the country. States in the midwest include but are not limited to Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin. The region provides the US with a wealth of grain and has also traditionally produced large amounts of all-American beef and pork for country-wide consumption. The region also has a large dairy industry so there is a lot of milk and other forms of dairy found in cooking.

The original settlers of the Midwest were British, however a large wave of immigrants from Eastern Europe changed the make up and the local cuisine. The cuisine reflects not only those foods that are locally available, but also the lifestyles the immigrants brought over.

Waves of immigrants of Poland and Ukraine brought over foods like goulash and perogies while the Italians brought their love of good cheeses and meats. The Germans brought sausage and sauerkraut while the English brought handy dishes like cornish pasties. All of the old world influences married with local food wealth to create a very interesting, rich cuisine.

The Casserole
If you’ve ever enjoyed yourself a nice, hot, comforting casserole on a cold winter’s day you can thank the Midwest for that. Casseroles are essentially a protein, a starch and a liquid thrown into one big glass dish and baked into hot gooey perfection. Casseroles can feed a lot of people and require a short time to make. In fact casseroles can be made out of just about anything including some combo of leftovers and new stuff. A typical casserole can include steak, potatoes, carrots and chicken stock or something as simple as tuna and pasta.

Deep Dish Pizza
Perhaps it’s an ode to the Italian love of cheese and good meats or maybe it represents Midwest heartiness, but you cannot talk about the Midwest without talking about Chicago’s very own deep-dish pizza. You’ll find a visitor few and far between who would even think of leaving without trying a deep dish of their own.

A deep-dish pizza will resemble more of a pie than a pizza since its edges are high and the pan that it’s baked in is deep so you get a whole lot of gooey, cheesy medium-thick crust, topped with tangy tomato sauce and toppings as you like.

Hot Dogs and Brats
It is likely the German immigrants that gave the midwest it’s love and popularity for the amusement park staple hot dog. In fact the Coney Island Dog of Chicago is famous for its all-beef juiciness topped high with onions, relish and mustard. Wursts are popular at summer bbq’s and with a throwback to the ol’ days some people still saturate them in some beer before firing them on the grill.

Cincinnati Chili
If you thought you had a love affair with chili, you ain’t got nuthin on the people of Cincinnati and their serious relationship with the saucy ground beef stuff. You see ordering chili in Cincinnati might even require a short lesson from a local.

First of Cincinnati chili is a little sweet with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg on top and secondly if you order yourself just a bowl full of chili everyone will know you’re not a real Midwesterner.

Chili in cincinnati can be served up with one or all of the following: spaghetti, cheddar cheese, beans and onions. And yes, Cincinnati chili is not made with beans and sticks to a pot full of ground chuck in sweet, tomatoey sauce.

The Loose Meat Sandwich
This particular Midwest sandwich hasn’t made it far out of the Midwest but is extremely popular in the region. As the name suggests, you are actually eating loose meat in the form of ground beef, seasoned and cooked and stuffed in between two slices of bread or in between a bun. In fact there’s even a fast food chain that provides these puppies all day long in every state within the region.

Perogies
Although, Polish in tradition, the perogie has become a favorite in the Midwest. The potato-filled pockets of dough were introduced to the region by immigrants from Poland, Ukraine and Hungary. Perogies also come stuffed with cheese as well as other times and are enjoyed with sour cream.

Cornish Pasty
Cornish pastries were introduced to the Midwest by British settlers. Cornish Pasty is essentially a pastry stuffed with vegetables and meat, a food that is both filling and easily portable. Although cornish pastries have been adopted into many Midwestern kitchens, they were originally the choice of local miners as a handy portable lunch.

Juneberry Everything
Juneberries are native to the Northern part of the U.S. in the center and east. The berries are bright purple and plump and due to their abundance are popularly used in all sorts of desserts. So if you’re in the midwest be sure to try a Juneberry Pie or a slice of toast with some locally-made Juneberry jam. Native Americans have been utilizing the juneberry for hundreds of years for medicinal purposes as well as foodstuffs.

The Midwestern part of the U.S. enjoys cuisine that differs significantly from other parts. While in other U.S. regions the local produce changed the types of foods that were cooked, in the case of the Midwest many food styles were brought over from the old world and enhanced with the abundance found in the new world.

One thing you can be assured of if you go on a Midwest food adventure is that your dishes will be hearty and your stomach full of old world stick-to-your bones goodness.

Foods of California

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If there is one place in America where you will find the opposite of American food, that is in the sun-worshipping, bikini-clad state of California.

Many people reference “American Food” as a type of cuisine, but the United States of America is such a large, expansive country that the foods found in certain regions, or even certain states, is often distinctive from the American stereotype.

“American food”, to most people, means burgers, pizza, hot dogs, packaged sweets, and mostly anything that is considered considered unhealthy. “American food” means the opposite of fresh or natural. This stereotype is really unfortunate because there are culinary cultures all across the United States that offer truly unique, fresh, healthy, and delicious food. California is one region in the United States that sets itself apart from that “American food” label. California has it’s own unique food culture, and a lot of that has to do with the fact California is incredibly fertile. The Mediterranean climate and rich soil give Californian farmers the ability to grow a wide variety of crops. This abundance has influenced the cuisine of California in a big way.

Health Conscious Eating

If Californian cuisine is known for anything, it is known for its emphasis on health. This does not mean diet food. This does not mean weight loss shakes. This means true, old-fashioned health food. California is home to a very wide diversity of crops. Because Californians have access to such diversity, their diets tend to be rich in produce. Perhaps because that variety is so available, Californian chefs and eaters put emphasis on seasonal, local, and organic produce. Just some of the crops grown in Californian soil are grapes, strawberries, avocados, melons, walnuts, olives, almonds, dates, and figs. These ingredients are incredibly nutritious, and they make up the bulk of the Californian diet.

One way to get a look into Californian’s unique take on health is to look at how Californians have tackled the all-American staple: the pizza. Sure, pizza is not considered a health food, but Californian cooks have turned that idea on its head. California style pizza is not simply cheese and sauce on bread. California style pizza is covered in produce: asparagus, spinach, kale, and artichokes all show up to keep things exciting. California takes pizza and makes it not only nutritious, but delicious.

Coastal Seafood Focused Eating

It’s no surprise that seafood is very popular in California. With the entire west side of the state running along the North Pacific Ocean, seafood has been making its way to Californian tables ever since humans have lived there. Not only does seafood fit the Californian health-focused priorities, but, thanks to the proximity of the ocean, it tastes super fresh.

Sushi is now ubiquitous across the entire United States, and that is thanks primarily to California. Sushi has been eaten in Japan for ages, but it wasn’t until Californian chefs started to play with the cuisine and make it their own that sushi became the staple cuisine it is today. Almost every single sushi restaurant in the United States features the classic California roll: cucumber, crab, and avocado. These are not classic Japanese ingredients. These are ingredients found and loved in California.

Latin Influenced Eating

The history of latin influence in California is as long as the state’s founding. That latin influence is seen mostly clearly today in Californian cuisine. One of the types of cuisine that is very popular is “baja”-style. Baja style food is derived from Baja, a region in Mexico that extends off of California. The food found in the Baja region has had a large influence on Californian cuisine. The flavors found in Baja cuisine are incredibly fresh and light and feature seafood. The most common item is the baja fish taco. These are grilled fish tacos, usually served with lightly dressed cabbage slaw and lime.

Another style of latin food found in California is the Mission style. This usually refers to a type of burrito that originated in the Mission District in San Francisco. A break from the typical beans, cheese, meat formula, Mission burritos include a wide variety of ingredients such as pico de gallo and rice. This type of burrito has spread across the country and has become quite popular.

How to Make the Best Lemonade Ever

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Best Lemonade Ever

Best Lemonade Ever

Have you ever felt the delicious satisfaction of double-quenching your thirst, you’re about to and you’re to do so after you learn how to make the best lemonade ever.

What exactly is the double quench of thirst you may be asking and I shall be happy to oblige with an answer that will make you look forward to the experience. Being outside on a super hot day can have you panting like a dog. Now, go for a run on a super hot day and then walk home by way of a path that provides all that is good in nature except water.

So by the time you get home, you are not just panting like a dog, but your tongue feels like it’ got dust bunnies on it and the only thing that hits the back of your throat when you swallow is hot, dry air. This is what we would call a double-quench required situation. You not only want to drink something, but you want something supremely cold to hose down that quench.

This double quench can only be achieved by a glass of homemade lemonade and there are several reasons why. First off, the lemonade zing is refreshing in itself and is one of the necessities of a truly refreshing experience. Secondly, we’re talking fresh lemonade of the homemade variety.

When you make your own lemonade you use fresh lemons and that is a necessary in a truly refreshing experience. And finally, the lemonade must be homemade because that’s the only way you can achieve the right balance to get that second quench. A double quench can easily be lost if there is too much sugar present, which often is when you’re consuming store-bought versions of lemonade, but at home you can balance that just right.

The lemon requires warmth for cultivation and it is believed it may have first been discovered in India. The fruit then made its way into the Levant and over to Europe. Some historians believe that the lemonade as we know it today may have had its inception in ancient Egypt. An old Egyptian script details a drink made of lemon and mint.

Others however, would argue that the precursor to modern day lemonade may have come from India itself. In India a concoction called “skangvee” is similar to lemonade. Regardless of its origin it made its way to America to extinguish the thirst of a country full of soon-to-be lemonade lovers.

In fact, for many of us, the lemonade takes us back to the dog days of summer when we weren’t quite old enough for a real job, but were old enough to want things that we didn’t have the money to by. And so during those summers we opened up a lemonade stand with our good neighborhood friend. This lemonade concoction often catered to our young palates which meant a whole lotta sugar with some lemon and water.

Fast forward to today and surely our tastes have become a little more refined. These refined guys like lemonade but they need the lemonade nuance just right and so let’s whip up a batch of the best lemonade a person’s ever had ever.

Recipe: The Best Lemonade Ever

Placing your lemons in the hot water helps you to release the lemon juices which means you’ll get more liquid when you squeeze those lemons. Additionally you can adjust the amount of sugar if you and your family/guests tend to like more sugar or less sugar.

The mint gives the lemonade a lovely flash of freshness almost like a third level of quenchness.

The great thing about lemonade is not just its gorgeous fresh flavors but also the nutritional content of the lemon itself. Lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C, not to mention the fact that they are a great way to give your whole system a cleanse (just ease up on the sugar).

 Enjoy the most delicious lemonade you’ve ever had ever!

How to Make the Best Pizza Dough Ever!

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Kneading Pizza Dough

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore they say. And why shouldn’t a pizza pie find its way into a love song, pizza itself is a whole lot of love in one delicious bite.

It is truly hard to find a really terrible pizza since cheese can make almost anything better, but there are some significant difference between a forget-about-it-in-a-minute pizza and a delicious work of art.

Of course the absolute essential ingredients and the ones that can make all of the difference are the sauce, the cheese and the crust. Some pizza connoisseurs may even say that the crust is everything.

It’s a crust thing

And if you really think about it, the crust does in fact have a whole lot of responsibility. The crust is the carrier, the stage if you will, of everything that comes next, that goes on top. Without a good crust you’ve just got saucy meat and veggies.

In order to get the best crust ever you need to know how to make the best pizza dough ever and that is no fly-by-night task. However, once you master the making of the perfect pizza dough you’re never going to want to make it in any other way.

Recipe:  The Best Pizza Dough Ever

Recipe:  Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Your very own best pizza dough ever

 You’re going to find that it will take you a few tries until you get your pizza pie exactly as you want it. Remember it is important to use good quality ingredients and if you’re ever in an Italian supermarket, pick yourself up some finely-ground flour for your next pizza, you will feel the difference.

Yes, dialing up your local pizza shop is a tad bit easier than having a flour fight in your kitchen, but you really can’t beat that scent of fresh pizza baking in our oven. That scent is definitely worth the pizza arm workout and the flour in your hair.

Foods of the Southwest

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If you like your tongue exploding with flavor in every bite than you’re going to love the foods of the southwest. Any cuisine that considers chili peppers a main ingredient will most definitely have some verve to their vroom and why should the verve to

Southwest food be any different.

When we’re referring to the American Southwest we are referring to the states in the bottom right corner of the country such as New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Although states like California and Utah fit the southwestern bill, some of the cuisine you find in those states will differ from what is typically known as southwestern cuisine.

Southwestern food is an interesting mix of flavors with Spanish influences as well as some of the earthiness found in traditional Native American cuisine. Additionally the hot climate comes with a distinct set of fresh fruits and vegetables which play a big influence in dishes that are historical to the area.

Additionally nouveau Southwestern cuisines has become wildly popular in recent years. The unique blend of bold Texas flavors coupled with the zing of Mexican deliciousness has resulted in a cuisine that is big in portions, big in delicious and has slowly made itself one of the big love cuisines of the country.

Interestingly enough, the rise of Southwestern food was not entirely by accident. A meaningful push in the 80s by a number of famous chefs helped in turning Southwestern cuisine from a regional oddity to a cuisine that is nationally embraced.

However don’t get it twisted, although there may be one name for the style of cuisine, the flavors differ from state to state.

Popular southwestern dishes

Sopaipilla

This deep fried dough called sopapilla can be served up sweet or in place of bread, but one things for sure, you’re going to find a whole lot of it in the southwest. The dough has Spanish roots and one variation or another of it can be found in countries all over South America. In the U.S. it’s served in place of your typical roll or is lovingly dished up after dinner with a drizzle of honey.

Oooh, and let’s not forget another favorite. You can also find the sopaipilla playing the typical roll of taco. The same fillings you would find in a taco like beef, lettuce and the like can are also found stuffed into a sopaipilla and a double-helping of sour cream.

Cactus Fries

There’s nothing quite as southwestern as cactus fries. Cactus fries are in fact made out of real cactus that’s had its prickly parts removed. The fries are dipped in a spiced batter and fried up as a delicious alternative to potato fries. You can find these cactus guys served as a side or a snack of its own with dipping sauce.

Chili Con Carne

So what’s this fancy “con carne” addition to good old-fashioned chili? Chili purists will tell you that chili does not include beans while chili con carne can. A chili con carne then is a stew typically made with beef along with the addition of beans, tomatoes and other ingredients like garlic and spices. Chili has a unique history going back to the days of explorers and tough times on the road (or mountain).

What is one to do when exploring the trails with little money but a whole lot of hunger? Well, one might pound together some beef fat, meat and spices, store them as a brick and take that brick on the trail. Travelers, explorers did exactly that and so when it came time for supper all they needed was some hot water to throw their beef brick in to cook up a chilli worth its salt.

Quesadilla

It’s a cross between pizza and a cheese sandwich but then infinitely better in its own way. The Quesadilla is the Southwest’s answer to supreme comfort food with a twist. Thin tortillas are stuffed full of cheese and can include veggies like bell peppers and onions as well as chicken or beef. The tortilla is folded into a half moon and baked so you have a nice baked pouch of yummy goodness served up with a side of sour cream and salsa.

Chimichanga

The chimichanga has a whole lot going on from being stuffed, fried and oozing with delicious flavor. A chimichanga is held together by a thin tortilla, inside that tortilla you’ll commonly find shredded chicken, rice and cheese. This whole caboodle is wrapped up into a tight little package and fried for another level of flavor – soft on the inside and a whole lot of crispy on the outside.

It is safe to say that popular cuisine in the southwest is heavily influenced by its neighbors south of the border. Many of the dishes found in southwest restaurants have pure Mexican flavor, but that flavor is given a twist that can really only be made in America. The twist can come in the form of an additional ingredient within or a slightly different method of cooking.

Southwestern food is fusion at its best. Meals are always chock full of flavor and full of color and variety. Southwestern food is comfy with a twist of spice so you’re always assured of food that’s delicious and is gonna hit that Friday night comfort food spot spot even if it’s Wednesday afternoon.

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