Friday, August 30, 2013

Twenty Episodes of Pasta

We have a nice long weekend holiday so I'm going to suggest these 20 Episodes of Pasta. You don't have to consume them all at once, but you might find yourself doing just that...enjoy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Corn Gone Crazy

I'm no farmer, but something seems a little crazy about the ear of corn on the right. What do you think?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Get Back on the Tap

No more plastic water bottles please. Get back on the tap.
BPA is not a good thing for you or the earth. Many different
water filter options for every budget. Switch to glass bottles
that you refill yourself...lots of nice ones to choose from.

The difference is crystal clear!

Water glass with faucet in background

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hash Browns Cheese Pizza

I'm guessing sometimes you get hungry for a super quick meal, or your kids want a snack that's a little different. That's where the hash browns come in. Turn them into pizza in no time. Top the hash browns with your favorite sauce, cheese and tomatoes, or other toppings you like. The crunchy potato flavor mixes nicely with the other ingredients. It's a bit like ketchup with your hash browns but yummier. You'll find the hash browns in the frozen food section with the fries.

Hash Browns Cheese Pizza

Friday, August 23, 2013

Specialty Ingredients: Vine to Brine and Beyond

green peppercorns on spoon and plate
The first time I tasted these amazing blasts of peppery flavor
was in a cream sauce over steak.

My French friends made it for dinner and had it not been for my good manners, I certainly would have licked the plate.

I don't know if you think much about using brined green peppercorns in your recipes but I'm sending you a little reminder.

All the way from Madagascar, green peppercorns are a wonderful addition to many recipes and have an exuberant zippy zest of delicious.

No calories in these, which is nice
but if you're stirring them in to a cream based sauce...well, you know, something's gotta give.

TIP: These are truly peppery, so if you have not tried them yet, start with a small amount and add more if you want.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fun Finds and Decadent Dessert Mini's

Wow! Talk about a quickie. This is a really easy-do dessert with a topping of tasty.

I found these really fun appetizer servers with forks, 24 for $5.99 at my local grocer by and had to share them with you. They come in both clear and white and the forks look absolutely authentic. They are washable plastic but they look completely real.

Then I had to find something to make it look like fun and this is it.

I used a base of white chocolate with blueberries, added some chocolate layer cake and a fresh raspberry topped with more white chocolate, blueberry shavings.

It was ready in about 3 minutes. Seriously!

So, if you are in a pinch or want a really skinny dessert serving...try this out.

Amazing graceful in no time flat.

Decadent Chocolate  Cake Dessert Mini's with Raspberry and White Chocolate Shavin

Decadent Dessert Mini's Chocolate Cake with Raspberry and white chocolate with blueberry

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer Garden Green Bean Sandwich

Summer Garden Green bean sandwich
Crunchy and fresh. This is my favorite original sandwich creation. The main ingredient, a generous amount of French green beans set atop a bed of mixed greens and topped off with a few slices of heirloom tomatoes.

The real kick is the drizzle dressing. My usual go-to on this is a light balsamic but today I tried a new twist. Serving this with a side of sliced fingerlings, I wanted something I could use on both the sandwich and put on the pan crispy potatoes. I like spicy food, so I also added some red pepper flakes.

The mix includes course ground dijon with the whole mustard seed, light soy sauce, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, black pepper and a small amount of house Italian. Once the dijon base was established, it was all a splash of this, a splash of that.

For a little extra punch, add a small dollop of straight dijon on the tomatoes and potatoes.

Measurements will vary with how many people you are serving as well as your particular taste. If you want to cut out some calories, forget the dressing and just enjoy the freshness of these delicious ingredients.

TIP. Whenever you have wet ingredients on a sandwich, I recommend lightly toasting the bread.

green bean sandwich and side of fingerlings
Sliced on plate Ciabatta Green Bean Sando with a side of crispy fingerlings

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Brands Mix it up with Double, Triple, Quad Headers

What's Next? Who's on first? Have you noticed an uptick of brands that are combining? It's getting a little confusing. Today's news marks the third product introduction from Taco Bell with Doritos Locos Taco (DLT Fiery Tacos) and although I think it's a great idea, I am not sure why Taco Bell didn't just create their own crunchy flavor shells and keep to its brand roots. Do these brands feel they can't stand on their own feet anymore? I think the first time I realized odd combos was when I saw side-by-side restaurants in the same building. KFC with Taco Bell...hmm. Where am I? The mingled smells were not appetizing.

Next, private labels started featuring their brands in other stores. What? Okay, I get that it will generate more profits but something just seems out of place when a private label is double dating. It loses some of its appeal when a home store product has an affair...O'my.

By contrast, I can see both sides of this positioning and remain open to changing my now.

Jell-O is on to make a refreshing comeback with its famous brand and a new tagline, Fun Things Up.

I did not see anything fun or imaginative, although that is their, I'm going to give them a little nudge and play with a little brand combo of my own. How about some new flavors...Jolly Rancher Jell-O anyone? or give me something the kids will love—like Jiggy-Jiggle Shape Trays in fun shapes that I can re-use. First I can buy the pre-made and then I can buy the box product...or how about giving me smaller, individual packages so I can make my own flavor combos...Strawberry Grape, Orange Apple, you get the idea...

As a brand creative I come up with new ideas all the time. New products, new flavors, new names and I can tell you, it's almost impossible to get the companies to talk with you. If they have not contracted with you as a consultant, you have to give all rights up if you share an idea and of course, they can't tell you anything about what might or might not be in R&D. And then they want to crowd source or contest when it's their turn at the chip bat.

Whichever team you are on about brand combos...this is a little food for thought...and if you want some truly original thinking, contact me.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pastasciutta meets Popeye and Olive Oyl

Pasta plate with Spinach Feta and Sauce
Pasta has many names depending on the region or town, but I just call it delicious. Italians eat up to 60 pounds a year, per person—so this dish is dedicated to our Italian friends. Pasta first came to the plate in 1154 with Sicily leading the way. Today, it's eaten all over the world and is a wonderful meal any time of day.

This little plate was tossed with freshly steamed spinach, a small amount of red sauce, some feta
sprinkles and a drizzle of olive oil.

I ate it at room temperature, sometimes I like it that way....but this mix is great as a cold salad too. Or, if you like, serve it on top of meatloaf, a pork chop, chicken or beef.

This flavor combination goes with everything, hot or cold.

History Note: Originally, pasta was eaten with the hands, since only very well off people could afford utensils.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cheesy Delicious Sourdough Toast Crispies

Sourdough Toast Crispies with Cheese, Spinach, Feta and tomato
Yesterday was busy.
I don't always feel like cooking but eating is essential. Quick fixes keep things fresh while satisfying my taste buds. These take about 3 minutes to make, especially good when you don't have a lot of time.

They cook up super fast in a toaster oven and you don't have to wait for the big oven to preheat.

Use bakery fresh bread.
Once the cheese is melted and you have a nice amount of crisp on your bread, take them out.

Squeeze on a tad of your favorite hot sauce, toss on a little feta, thin-cut spinach and top off with a grape tomato bite.

There you have it. A cheesy delicious Toast Crispie.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quick Eats...the art of a sunny lunch plate

Snack plate jack cheese with red peppers and blueberries

Sometimes simple is the best.
A nice snack plate of Pepper Jack cheese with red peppers and a
small bowl of blueberries, artfully arranged.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Home Brew-Bail and Swing take on the Crown

Swing bale Crown Cap Comparison 
Today took an interesting twist. I’m looking around for something to share with you and this Millville Bottle Works from 1888 started talking to me. It took me on a journey to find its origins and there is so much information on bottles and closures—I was amazed.

On one of the sites I researched, Bottle Pickers, catalogs many different names for the bottle top shapes. Applied Band, Blob, Collar, Crown Cap, Double Collar, Flair, Flanged Mouth, Hutchinson Blob, Internal Threads, Mushroom, Narrow Square Collar, Pour Spout, Pour One Shot Neck, Screw Cap ABM, Screw Cap Ground Top, Shear Top, String Top, Tapered Collar, Tapered with Ring, Tapered with Double Collar, Tapered with Triple Collar. Tapered with Wedge Ring, Wedge with Ring Collar…are you still with me?

The blue bottle I have is a bottle from the Whitall Tatum Company, one of the first glass factories in America, located in Millville, NJ. Millville Glassworks was founded by James Lee. John Whitall was a partner. Other companies purchased the company over the years, American National Can, Ball-Foster. In 1999 the factory was shut down after 193 years of production.

Raised lettering on bottles, like this one from Millville are produced with a plate mold, sometimes referred to as a slug plate which fits inside the casting mold. In 1933, with the repeal of prohibition, regulations were enforced to include, embossing of any bottle containing alcohol to state— Federal Law Forbids Sale or Resale of This Bottle. This regulation was in effect until 1964.

Today a blue bottle is especially valued for its protection against harmful UV rays. I don’t know if that was a part of the consideration in 1888. Rubber gaskets have a shelf life of 5 or 6 uses and although very beautiful as closures, and affordable, about $30.00 for a case of 12, I wonder if the crown cap wins out over the bail and swing for price and practicality?

There are wire bails for flip-top replacement but unless you are a real bottle aficionado, which I applaud, you might say the crown is king.

Swing to Crown Bottle Image

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Speed Eating Mannerisms

mouth full message cartoon

Movies glamorize speed eating with various shows depicting grabbing a hot dog after a court win or nabbing a suspect, or you see couples slopping on some Chinese while they talk to one another...I don't understand this informal way of eating. It disengages you from the food and gives no credit line at the end. And, it's not pretty. I'm not going to say anything directly to someone doing this, it is their mannerism. But I thought I might mention it for the sake of good manners. Slow down, enjoy your food and a napkin is your friend.

In fact, this would make a fun napkin design...