Recently in Kitchen Essentials Category

1. Make your own croutons. All you have to do is cut day -old bread into cubes, toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper or any other spices and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Keep checking every few minutes to make sure they don't burn
and mix them while you check.


2. Use every type of fruit can you can find, Pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, dried fruit or mandarins in a can. Just toss them in and you have a great salad.

3. Crunch is the key. Anything works; granola, All bran cereal or crushed crackers. Just make sure you get the crunch in there.

4. Yogurt. A little yogurt goes a long way. When you are not in the mood for lettuce but
you know that you need to eat some. Just pour some yogurt on top and mix it in. Top it with some Zaatar, a Mediterranean spice and you get an interesting salad.

5. Flavored Salts. Salts come in all flavors today. Get some truffle salt, some
Nicoise flavored salt or any other salt that can add that flavor you need. Try Secret Stash salts for a large variety of unique salts.

7. Go Nuts. Cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds or any other nut that you can find. They all add the protein and flavor you need.

8. Pickles. I know it sounds odd but chopped up pickles add a salty and wonderful touch to a salad.

9. Eggs. Hard boiled eggs chopped and added to a salad add a certain creaminess along with a nice serving of protein.

10, Cheese. Every cheese adds a different touch. Use a microplane grater to grate the cheese into a puffy topping. You will end up using less and tasting more. Ideas: Parmesan, Ricotta Salata, Blue Cheese, Goat Cheese or Cottage Cheese.

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1. Meyer Lemon

Is it a lemon or an orange? A few years ago , when I first started cooking. I didn't know what a Meyer lemon was. I went out to find out. First stop, Whole Foods. I asked the man in the produce section if he had any. He kindly replied that there are none left and went off for a second. He came back holding a lemon and orange in each hand. He rubbed the two together like you would rub rocks to start a bonfire. Then he said " smell this." " This is what a Meyer lemon smells like, a cross between a lemon and an orange."
I was determined to find this citrus mystery so I went to the Pike's Place Market and searched all the stands. There it was, the beautiful citrus treasure. I took it home and started to put together a vinaigrette until I felt compelled to taste it first. I expected it to be sour like a lemon but it tasted more like an orange with the slight bitterness of a lemon. I peeled it into segments and ate it like an orange. A citrus delight!

More about Meyer Lemons

2. Elephant Garlic

Elephant garlic is garlic for the garlicky challenged. It looks hefty and is elephant- like in size but is light on taste. It's the Eau de Toilette of garlic, the light version of this smelly kitchen basic. It is not exactly a garlic but more like a type of leek.
See the description here
Each clove is enormous in size and closer to the size of regular bulb of garlic. You only have to give the the garlic one whack to uncover an oversized chunk of garlic. So for those who want a subtle hint of garlic, this may be what your looking for. This may be less potent, but no promises that you won't stink!

3. Bubble Tea

My girlfriends are all bubble tea girls, we never go out for coffee but we are always up for bubble. Originally from Asia, bubble tea is a tea that comes in many flavors, filled with little pearls made of tapioca. These tapioca balls, otherwise known as Boba or Pearls have a gummy texture and can be found in different flavored teas, from sour apple flavor to green tea with chocolate. These chewy balls are sucked through enormous straws so that each pearl can plop into your mouth individually. This tea, usually found in Asian cafes can be flavored with a milky sugary mix and can be made hot or cold.
As Bubble tea is becoming increasingly popular, the pearl can be found at juice bars all over the Seattle area. If you are a bubble tea virgin, your first encounter should be with cold bubble tea at an Asian cafe. It may taste awkward at first but it becomes addictive after a few slurps.
More on Bubble Tea

4. Pho

Pho, pronounced fa is a Vietnamese soup , that is served in big bowls with heaps of noodles and your choice of protein.
The broth is a clear brownish color garnished with green onions and an assortment of herbs such as basil, mint and even white bean sprouts. The soup is served with thin white rice noodles and hoisin sauce. The amazing thing about this soup is that it is a full meal in one bowl. Usually after a bowl of this, you can hardly think of ordering anything else. It is also fairly inexpensive. For under 6 dollars, you can dine out and be very full. More about pho


5. Panko Bread Crumbs

Panko bread crumbs are a Japanese type of bread crumbs that have invaded the cooking world and made regular bread crumbs seem like they need to get a life. These extra coarse bread crumbs are usually irregular in shape and will promise a crunchier, non-soggy breading on anything from fried vegetables to fried chicken.

Bubble Tea pearls


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First impressions count. Would you greet a new friend with greasy hair and old sweatpants? Of course not. Then, why would you serve food that doesn't look neat and appetizing? Whether you put together your meal in 30 minutes or worked on your sauce for hours, the appearance is the final touch on the food. There are so many different ways to plate the food so that it looks as good as it tastes.
I am not a chef but I have learned from chefs in cooking classes and I noticed a few things.

Food Plating Example


1. Who framed the risotto?
The rim of the plate is like the frame of a picture. Many chefs like to keep the frame clean but some don't mind drizzling some sauce around to decorate. If you do , make sure to make it look neat and don't overdo it.

2. Good things come in all colors, shapes and sizes
Make sure to vary the colors on your plate. Don't use too many foods that are the same color. Sweet Potatoes and carrots will look boring. Sometimes a sprig of parsley is enough to liven up an item that is bland color. Don't put only round things on the plate, balance different shapes.

3. White is pure
I have noticed that using plates with busy designs tends to look messy. A nice big white plate is perfect for the pure, clean, appetizing look. If you can use busy plates and still pull it off, then do it.

4. Ring - A- Ding- Ding
Those ring molds that look like oversize cookie cutters are perfect for shaping a mound of rice. Just place the ring on the rice. Use a knife or something flat to level it out on top and remove the ring. Voila!

5. Roll your balls
Melon ballers are not just for fruit. Use them to carve potatoes into balls. Fry the leftovers for hash browns.

6. Let's twist again
For Pasta:
Pick up the pasta with tongs and give a little twist at the end for it to look nice.

7. Read up on Plating: Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation , Amuse-Bouche: Little Bites That Delight Before the Meal Begins


It happens to the best of us. You realize that you are missing an ingredient in a recipe.
Yes, everyone knows that you should read the recipe all the way through before you start it. Okay, so you didn't. Now what?
You are not really supposed to make too many adjustments when baking but there are some substitutions that you can get away with.

Here is my list:

Instead of 1 cup of buttermilk, you can use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make a cup.

Instead of self rising Flour, you can use 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.

Instead of 1 cup of heavy cream when baking (not whipping) you can use
3/4 of a cup of whole milk and 1/4 of a cup of butter.

Instead of 1/2 a cup of brown sugar, you can use 1/2 a cup of sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of molasses

Instead of sour cream, you can use full fat yogurt (the texture might change slightly)

Instead of vanilla extract, you can use almond or some other kind of extract.

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