Rachael Ray and other chefs share cookbook gift ideas

(CNN)Chef Michael Solomonov’s gorgeous cookbook “Zahav” is taking up too much space on my dining room table, but his family stories, recipes and photography keep me from shelving it. And I want to make his hummus.

Ruth Reichl’s “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life,” her post-Gourmet memoir tale of recovery, kept me going during recovery from outpatient surgery. I also want to make her shirred eggs with potato puree.
“The Food Lab” from food science expert J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is helping me answer all those food science questions that my child and I ponder as we mix salad dressing, make burgers and cook lots of pasta. (Recipes are included.)
And those are just three of this year’s cookbooks and food memoirs to gift a food lover this holiday season.
“There are so many new cookbooks this year, it’s hard to narrow the list down,” said Amazon senior books editor Seira Wilson, who nonetheless picked her top 10 cookbooks of the year for CNN.
There’s also a new Thug Kitchen (vegan) cookbook; “Paleo Takeout,” the latest Paleo book by Russ Crandall; and YouTube baking star Rosanna Pansino’s take on baked goods in “Nerdy Nummies.” I want her Periodic Table for Cupcakes.
Prefer to stay away from trends? If you want to give a classic cookbook to your loved one this holiday season, you’re in luck. Today’s food stars were inspired by some of the cooking greats, and they’re happy to share the books that made them fall in love with cooking.
Check out their classic recommendations below, and click through the gallery to see Wilson’s 2015 picks.

Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse and author of ‘My Pantry’

Favorite cookbook: “One of my all-time favorites is ‘French Country Cooking’ by Elizabeth David. She had a huge influence on me in so many ways, and I return again and again to her books but especially this one.”
Inspirational cookbook: “Diana Kennedy’s ‘Cuisines of Mexico’ has always inspired me, as it has so many! The tortilla recipe in my new book is inspired by Diana’s. She never really leaves my mind. One of my all-time favorite recipes from that book is Flor de Calabaza Para Quesadillas (pumpkin blossom filling for quesadillas).”

Ruth Reichl, author of ‘My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life’

Favorite cookbook: “French Cooking in Ten Minutes” by Edouard de Pomiane (the English translation, with a forward by Elizabeth David). “This is, in many ways, a perfect book. It’s encouraging. It makes cooking seem simple and natural. But what I like best is that I find it almost impossible to read the book without racing into the kitchen and beginning to cook.”
Inspirational cookbook: “Asian Ingredients” by Bruce Cost. “In the ’80s, when Bruce Cost (of Ginger Ale fame) originally published this book, it inspired me to fill my pantry with what were, at the time, arcane ingredients. Over the years, I’ve cooked so many dishes from this book, but the one that has been a constant staple is Chinese Egg Noodles with Pork and Hot Bean Sauce. I always have the ingredients on hand, you can make it in 10 minutes, and it might be my husband’s favorite dish.”

Rachael Ray, cookbook author, television host and magazine editor

Favorite cookbook: “My favorite cookbooks are those of Marcella Hazan, Jacques Ppin and Julia Child. It’s impossible to pick a favorite recipe from anybody’s book. I don’t play favorites when it comes to food. Marcella taught me that measuring is like putting a bird in a cage. Jacques and Julia taught me to not take food too seriously. The point is to have fun and to share.”
We agree and know that Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” is spectacular. Try her simple tomato sauce. It has just four ingredients: tomatoes, onion, butter and salt. A grand celebration of the friendship between Pepin and Child are the companion books to their PBS series, “Julia and Jacque at Home.”

Michael Solomonov, chef and author of ‘Zahav’

Favorite cookbook: “My favorite cookbook is ‘Taste of Israel’ by Avi Ganor and Ron Maiberg. It really gets Israeli food, the different influences and cooking techniques.”
Inspirational cookbook: ” ‘Mourad: New Moroccan,’ by my friend Mourad Lahlou, is a book that really inspired me. It is a book I turn to time and time again. My favorite recipe is for couscous. I love the time and attention he gives to a simple ingredients!”

Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, ‘Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Motherf*ckers’

Favorite cookbook: “It’s really hard to pick a favorite ever, but we’ll keep it old-school and say the classic ‘Moosewood Cookbook.’ Mollie Katzen has been helping budding vegetarians out for decades and deserves more love.”
Inspirational cookbook: “Recently, we’ve been into the ‘Crossroads’ cookbook. Chef Tal (Ronnen), Chef Scot (Jones) and the rest of the crew there cook more high-end food than we do, so it’s been inspiring as hell to cook their stuff at home and learn some new tricks. Plus their Linguine with Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms in Tomato-Basil Butter Sauce has been haunting our dreams since we first made it.”

Russ Crandall, author of ‘Paleo Takeout’

Favorite cookbook: “For me, a cookbook should be informative, entertaining and faithful to its source material. One of my very favorites is Julie Sahni’s ‘Classic Indian Cooking.’ Its system-based approach to one of the most mystifying (to me) world cuisines covers everything from the basics to advanced steps of Indian culinary arts.”
Inspirational cookbook: ” ‘James Oseland’s ‘Cradle of Flavor,’ which covers home cooking from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, is incredibly inspiring. Written from an outsider’s perspective, James is able to capture authentic Southeast Asian tastes while making recipes that are easy for any home chef to replicate. This book inspired me to take the same approach with ‘Paleo Takeout.’ My favorite recipe is his Beef Rendang (a dry curry from the Minangkabau people of West Indonesia), which just bursts with flavor.”

Dale Talde, chef and author of ‘Asian-American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brooklyn’

Favorite cookbook: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef.” “This book came out while I was cooking for Jean-Georges. Seeing it in print was crazy. These were the same dishes I would make every day in batches of 50, and suddenly it’s batched out for six. It was so cool.”
Inspirational cookbook: “Recently, it’s Jenn Louis’ ‘Pasta By Hand.’ She does kale strozzapreti that looks delicious. It makes me want to make it, which is exactly what a cookbook should do.”

Logan Guleff, age 13, winner of ‘MasterChef Junior’ season 2

Favorite cookbook: It’s no surprise that Logan, whose cooking skills wowed “MasterChef” judge Gordon Ramsay, chose a cookbook by renowned chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, “Nobu: The Cookbook.” Logan has the chops for it.
Inspirational cookbook: “I just love Martha Stewart’s cookie book,” specifically “Martha Stewart’s Cookies: the Very Best Treats to Bake and Share.” Not a bad choice for the holidays, either.
Connect to the world with the CNN app for your new device. Learn how at cnn.com/apps.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/11/living/holiday-gift-guide-cookbooks-2015-feat/index.html

Continue Reading

Dominique Crenn: The chef who puts poetry on a plate

(CNN)On a wall near the back of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn, a small oil-and-canvas painting tells you everything you need to know about the restaurant.

This story complements the Culinary Journeys TV series, airing monthly on CNN International. See more of the show here: www.cnn.com/journeys. Share photos of your own Culinary Journeys on Instagram with the hashtag #CNNFood for a chance to be featured on CNN.
It’s a simple painting, unframed, depicting a pretty scene along northwest France’s Brittany Coast.
Beneath a dramatic blue sky with wisps of white clouds receding into space, two gentle arms of land reach in from either side of the frame to embrace a placid bay. A solitary speck of boat bobs on the water, tacking into a gentle breeze with its single white sail.
It’s not clear whether the boat is coming or going, but whoever’s at the helm is in the middle of a magical moment.
The painting is the work of Allain Crenn, a French politician and artist, who died in 1999.
Allain Crenn is the father of Dominique Crenn, widely celebrated in culinary circles as the innovative chef and owner of Atelier Crenn.
Located on a typical San Francisco neighborhood street — a bike shop, salon, chiropractic clinic and dry cleaner are some of the neighbors — Crenn’s restaurant represents not only what she calls an homage to her father, but an homage to her childhood.
More broadly, it’s a place that aims to recreate an idealized vision of childhood, of vacations by the shore, the company of family, the safety of familiar places, the ubiquitous tang of salt air.






John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson might agree, but in case her fans don’t, Crenn makes sure the fresh local produce she uses gets superstar treatment.
Tonight’s trout marmitako — her spin on the classic Basque stew — includes fish that’s been precisely dried for three days, heirloom tomato that’s been skinned and dehydrated for 24 hours (to intensify the flavors) and made into compote, dried parsley, kombu and exquisitely thin garlic chips (also dehydrated).
Like so many of today’s wonder chefs, Crenn mixes methods and flavors with the precision of a lab tech then uses them to create something that resembles art.
The result tastes like a combination of food and free verse and is often just as impossible to accurately describe.
You have to experience it.

Feel the dune

Crenn says her restaurant’s biggest fans are “open-minded people who trust what we do.”
“They’re people from around the world, or who have traveled the world. They go to Denmark, Sweden, France, Spain, Japan, China, South America, Mexico and they eat.”
They’re also the types who can appreciate a chef whose disdain for convention — “I never liked writing menus” — is less about thumbing her nose at the establishment than it is the return to a mindset that barely understands what establishment is.
“I had an incredible childhood,” she says. “Spending time on the farm in Brittany with my uncle. I knew it was special.



“Maybe not consciously, but I conceived of this style (of cooking) early.”
In a private dining room in the back of the restaurant — staff eat and prep here before the dinner service begins — you can follow another of Crenn’s poems around all four walls of the room, upon which her words are hand-painted:
Sitting on top of the dune, feeling beach sand under my toes, looking so far at the blue sea …
The sun beating fiercely on my raw heart.
I remember we used to sit here together during those memorable summer days listening to your stories and laughing at your jokes …
With a little imagination — and a lot of help from Crenn — you can sit with those people on that faraway dune and experience a perfect feeling of summer.
At some point during the meal you might ask Crenn which dishes she learned to cook from her father.
“Nothing,” she will say. “He was a terrible chef.”
Did he cook anything well?
“No! He could not cook.”
Then she’ll laugh at the family joke and cast a glance at the painting of the gentle bay and lonely boat on the back wall before returning to the kitchen to check on the next verse.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/03/travel/cj-dominique-crenn/index.html

Continue Reading

Food preacher: Chef Edward Kwon’s quest to globalize Korean food

Seoul (CNN)With decades of experience in the kitchens of luxury hotels in South Korea, the United States and the United Arab Emirates — where he served as head chef at Burj Al Arab — celebrity chef Edward Kwon has proven that he’s comfortable in a toque and apron.

But he’s also demonstrated skills as a savvy businessman, whether as the star of a Korean cooking show, the author of multiple books or the CEO of food and dining company EK Food.








Kwon is quick to emphasize that the food he serves at international gala dinners is Korean through and through, despite the hotel setting and unorthodox plating.
When cooking Korean, Kwon stays true to traditional seasonings and bases and tries to stick to Korean ingredients.
The style of presentation is a practical decision, because hansik often requires individual sets of dishes for the banchan (side dishes) or silverware that most hotels don’t have on hand.
“You can put a twist on Korean food. But a Korean should be able to eat it and say, ‘Yes, this is Korean food.'”
The food at Elements follows this principle.
Kwon shows a photo of a dish that looks like a miniature garden, featuring some sort of wrap in the center, topped with a half-done egg.
“This is yukhoe,” says Kwon.
Yukhoe is Korean-style beef tartare. It’s unrecognizable in the photo.
“Usually in Korea it’s served with pine nuts, and julienned,” says Kwon.
“But I changed the way it looked on the plate. But when you dig in, it’s yukhoe. It’s just shaped differently.”
He flips through a series of photos, all featuring unrecognizable, but attractively presented renditions of mandu (dumplings), ddeokbokki (rice cakes in a soy sauce or red pepper paste-based sauce) and tofu kimchi.
“The most important thing is that my Korean food is reinterpreted in a modern way, but that in the taste and the roots, it’s perfectly Korean,” says Kwon.
“If you don’t protect your roots, the globalization of Korean food is meaningless.”
Got photos of your own Culinary Journeys to share? Tag them on Instagram with the hashtag #CNNFood for a chance to be featured on CNN. For inspiration, check out these recent submissions.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/07/travel/chef-edward-kwons-culinary-journey/index.html

Continue Reading

Squash: This Delicious Winter Veggie Is Jam-Packed With Health Benefits

Theres a lot to get excited about in autumn, from the beautiful trees to the crisp air and fun holidays!

Still, for me, the best part of fall is getting to start cooking some of my favorite cozy recipes again.

Pumpkin bread and butternut squash soup are two of my favorites, and I love any excuse to start cooking with my all-time favorite winter vegetable, the squash.

While some variations are distinctly summery, like zucchini, most gourds are at their peak in autumn, which is a great thing for your cooking repertoire, and an even better thing for your health!

Weve noted before that pumpkin-spice is better for you than you would guess, but it turns out that all members of the squash and gourd family hide some incredible health benefits.

Scroll through the gallery below to learn whats happening to your body every time you whip up that famous family pumpkin pie recipe!

Why Squash?


Squash is a versatile, tasty vegetable that comes into season later than many other tasty veggies.

That means that, while the season for fresh tomatoes or peas might be long past, you’ll be able to get plenty of harvest-ready flavor out of these distinctive and delicious gourds.

Depending on the type of squash and your own tastes, they’re great for soup, casserole, or simply oven roasted.

And they aren’t just tasty; squash are also incredibly good for you and are packed with all sorts of incredible health benefits.

Benefit #1: Promotes Cardiovascular Health


Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Squash of every description tend to be very rich in two compounds that are key to good heart health: potassium and fiber.

Eating a diet rich in fiber helps to prevent arterial plaque build up, which is one of the major causes of heart failure.

Meanwhile, according to WebMD, potassium is vital to heart health because it helps to dilate arteries and lower blood pressure naturally.

Benefit #2: Helps Lung Health


Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Getting your fill of squash all autumn long can be tremendously beneficial to your lungs, largely because some of the nutrients it contains have been linked to lower rates of emphysema and lung cancer.

Vitamin A is excellent for reducing risk of emphysema, which also helps to improve lung function.

Meanwhile, dietary beta-carotenoids (found especially in yellow and orange squash) have been linked to reduced risk of lung cancer, when eaten in a naturally occurring form like squash.

Benefit #3: Strengthens Bones


Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

The overall health benefits of squash naturally encourage better bone health, but for more direct bone strengthening, turn away from the orange meat of the vegetable, and take a closer look at the seeds.

Pumpkin seeds, in particular, are very tasty when roasted and eaten as a snack.

Even better, they are packed with magnesium, which is one of the most important vitamins for encouraging strong bones, and works alongside calcium to bolster the skeleton.

Benefit #4: Controls Cramps


Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Cramps occur for a huge variety of reasons, from dehydration to menstrual pain.

No matter what’s triggering your muscle spasm, squash might be a helpful cure to keep in mind.

That’s because the potassium in squash is excellent for relaxing muscles and convincing those stubborn charlie horses and back spasms to calm down.

Benefit #5: Fights Cancer Cells


Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Beta-carotene, as noted above, can be a hugely beneficial part of your diet, but only when it’s eaten in a natural form like squash or carrots.

Beta-carotene supplements, which are typically isolated in the form of pills,have been linked to higher risk of cancer.

Despite that, when beta-carotene occurs on its own, it’s extremely healthy and is linked to reduced risk of cancer.

The chemistry behind this is not fully understood, but it’s likely that dietary beta-carotene (naturally occurring) works with other vitamins and nutrients in veggies to improve health.

Benefit #6: Battles Diabetes


Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Diabetes is one of those illness that cannot be cured, but can definitely be managed and kept under control.

Squash can help as part of a healthy, diabetes-friendly diet, by helping your body to manage and process its sugar intake.

There are lots of B vitamins in squash, which are largely responsible for helping the metabolism break down starches, carbs, and other sugars safely and efficiently.

Benefit #7: Reduces Gallstone Risk


Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Most of us don’t pay too much attention to our gallbladders, the small organs that help us to process fat by producing bile, until we have a gallstone or a gallbladder attack, which can be excruciatingly painful.

If you’ve had an attack and want to ward off another, changing your diet is key, and squash can be a huge part of that.

Because it’s rich in both B vitamins and antioxidants, squash is a great go-to food to incorporate into your diet for a gallstone-free life.

Are you surprised by the secret benefits of eating lots of squash? Don’t forget toSHARE this helpful list with friends and family this fall!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/squash-health-benefits/

Continue Reading

Ikeas pop-up restaurant: a crispbread-heavy menu and a virtual reality kitchen

The Swedish multinationals DIY eatery hopes to popularise the dinner party by holding tutored dinner parties in Shoreditch. But is it a flatpack recipe for disaster?

Now why would Ikea open a pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch, east London? I wouldnt even understand there being a permanent one, but at least I wouldnt be plagued with an insistent, existential sense of waste, making me yearn for a giant metaphorical recycling system, probably from Ikea.

The Dining Club, as it is called, showcases Ikeas wares, including the smallest kitchen in the world, which is about the size of a bath. It runs workshops. It employs chefs. It sells Daim bars and has plates full of fake meringue. It hosts tutored dinner parties, with crispbread-centric menus, all for free if you get on to the website fast enough. It has a virtual reality kitchen which (I have to admit this is cool) enables you to experience your workspace from the height of your pets. But why? I dont really know, says Fred Bolin, 41, the head chef. Im just a bit of a stupid chef. Im just thinking about the food.

We run a Life at Home report every year, says Jordi Esquinas, 35, Ikeas head of cooking and eating. And we realised people were spending less and less time cooking and eating. OK, so maybe they need to popularise the dinner party; but why micro-market it to a few score opinion formers? Why?

Then I had an epiphany; the genius of Ikea is that they dont ignore the undesirable. They approach them head-on, and revel in them. Back at the carefree turn of the century, when our biggest problem was how to assemble a Billy bookcase without having to immediately divorce you had to sign a pre-nup before you started about who would get to keep it they turned that into the selling point. Life was meant to be hard. Sweat was Swedish, and Swedish was good. Recently, as lifestyles have become more, shall we say, on the edge, they brought out their microapartment catalogue: dystopian box-living where your children sleep in a bunk above your tiny table, while your friends eat off the floor like dogs.

And across these decades of huge social change, there has been one constant: that as soon as you set foot in an Ikea, you long to escape. You cant; you havent found what you came for, and youve come many miles. You get distracted by a plant pot. You suddenly need a new chopping board. You havent even reached the bathroom section, and its already dark. This was a bold, some might say reckless attempt to make a feature of that, turn the very space that alienates us most into a hearth, a home, a community. If anyone would buy it, it would be the good burghers of east London.

I came out with a load of herring, so they got to me too.

The Dining Club by Ikea is open until 25 September.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/shortcuts/2016/sep/18/ikeas-popup-restaurant-a-flatpack-recipe-for-the-undesirable

Continue Reading

A video shows how one simple dinner plate can say a ton about hunger in America.


Theres something delicious and addicting about those trendy recipe videos circulating online.

You’ve seen them before: the quick and beautiful play-by-plays of mouthwatering dishes you wish you were eating at this very moment.

GIF via Tasty/YouTube.

The recipes seem so simple and magical and get you thinking, “Maybe I can make that five-cheese bacon lasagna tonight.” And before you know it, you’re at the store loading up on Colby-Monterey Jack (or is that just me?).

For some families, though, the ingredients and final product look a little different.

As part of Hunger Action Month, the hunger-relief organization Feeding America is using our obsession with cooking videos to highlight the reality many food-insecure families face when they sit down for dinner: an empty plate.

By putting a twist on the bite-sized food videos all over the internet, they hope to raise awareness that empty plates and empty stomachs are an unacceptable reality for too many families.

Currently, 1 in 7 people in the United States in our schools, communities, and in every county across the country struggle with hunger.

Today, we are down to our last dime, Gaby, a mother of three from Tennessee, told Feeding America. After the bills are paid, there is no money left. In fact, there is no money to pay the bills.

There are 48 million other Americans who know that feeling well.

We never thought our lives would turn out like this no one does, said Gaby. It was after she and her husband Josh both lost their full-time jobs that they found themselves financially underwater while trying to raise three kids. Their money for food quickly dissolved.

Kids have the most to lose with an empty plate.

Research shows that an average food-insecure family of four may forgo up to 100 meals a month because they lack enough money to buy food. That can be detrimental to the physical and emotional development of a child.

When kids dont have energy, they cant concentrate, learn, or grow. How are they supposed to chase their dreams and become productive members of society under those circumstances?

The good news is that hunger is a problem that can be solved if we work together to do it.

There are simple ways to help: becoming involved with a local food bank, checking out these anti-food waste apps, putting pressure on elected officials, and even spreading awareness through fun photo campaigns like this one:

Josh and I may have to skip meals, but we make sure our children never have to, Gaby said. Without help from the food bank, though, I really dont know how wed feed them.

Their local food bank, Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee, has been there for them while Gaby goes back to school and Josh has started a new job. And thats a big reason she feels confident in saying they won’t always struggle like this.

Life is full of unexpected moments, but having enough food should always be a constant.

It’s hard to get much done on an empty stomach, which is why reducing hunger helps kids grow and strengthens our communities. Not to mention it makes those online food videos that much more appetizing when more people can enjoy them.

Check out the full Feeding America video:


Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-video-shows-how-one-simple-dinner-plate-can-say-a-ton-about-hunger-in-america?c=tpstream

Continue Reading

Food on fire: The world’s best barbecues

(CNN)Americans are perhaps the standard bearers of the “barbecue.”

Come summer, US backyards and parks are full of people gathering around sauce-slathered chicken and other meats.
But famed as America’s grill skills may be, many would claim it can’t hold a glowing charcoal ember to the meat-charring culture of, say, Argentina or South Africa.
History isn’t clear on where the term “barbecue” comes from — one explanation is that it comes from “barbacoa,” a term used by Spanish explorers to describe the Caribbean’s indigenous Taino people’s cooking technique.
In any case, barbecue as we know it today covers multiple cooking methods: On grills, above fire pits, under the ground and in clay ovens.
There are regional variations and customs everywhere from South America to Africa to Asia.
Read on for further proof that the lip-smacking barbecue experience is a universal tradition, not just an American one.

Braai (South Africa)

The South African braai (“barbecue” in Afrikaans) is the nation’s top culinary custom.
Here, the frequent gathering of friends and family over grilled, juicy cuts of steak, sausage and chicken sosaties (skewers) cuts through all racial and socioeconomic lines.
And no place does “Sunday Funday” quite like the townships, where shisa nyama (“burn meat” in Zulu) venues elevate the braai experience with on-site butchers, cooks, drinks and party-starting DJs.
Chicago native and model Unique Love spent three years living in Cape Town and fondly recalls her first shisa nyama.
“Having a braai in Cape Town’s Mzoli’s Meat felt like home,” she says. “After eating, I never wanted to [leave] because the community’s ambience felt comforting.”

Asado (Argentina)



Though its place as the world’s top consumer of beef fluctuates each year, many would claim Argentina will forever be the grande dame of barbecued meats.
Like South Africa’s braai culture, Argentina’s affinity for the grill is more entrenched than in the States.
Attending a sociable, gut-busting asado (“barbecue”) on an almost weekly basis is the norm.
Though a variety of meats and cuts can be experienced at any gathering, Argentinian chef Guillermo Pernot insists: “For the absolute best asado, one should cook a sweet pork and beef sausage, sweetbreads, thigh intestines and blood sausages.”
Other asado tips from the two-time winner of the James Beard Award include using coarse salt to coat meats and to have the “indispensable” chimichurri — a sauce and marinade which usually consists of parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar and chili flakes — at the ready.

Yakitori (Japan)

Yakitori, a Japanese favorite, consists of diced chicken assembled onto bamboo skewers and cooked over a smoldering layer of charcoal.
Yakitori variations are labeled by chicken parts (strips of chicken skin make up “towikawa” and “negima” consists of thigh meat with leeks).
Its definition has expanded to include any grilled, skewered food, including vegetables, seafood, pork and beef.
While there are several ways to enjoy authentic yakitori in Japan, travel blogger Tanya Spaulding shares her tips for maximum enjoyment.
“The best way to savor yakitori is either from a street vendor, or sitting on the floor in your yukata (a sort of summer kimono), cooking your skewers over the shichirin (a small charcoal grill) in the middle of your table,” she claims.

Churrasco (Brazil)



Barbecue enthusiasts with sizable appetites will love Brazil’s churrasco (Portuguese and Spanish for “barbecue”).
Most visitors to Brazil will get their barbecue fix at a churrascaria, where restaurant servers provide an endless supply of grilled meat cuts directly to patrons’ tables.
While Brazilian churrasco might be the most famous, it’s found in several other countries, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Portugal.
Dan Clarke, a tour specialist who frequents South America, believes Brazilian barbecues offer more options for vegetarians than neighboring, meat-loving Argentina.
“At an Argentinian asado, you’re really stuck with the salad and fries,” he says. “But it’s much better in Brazil because most churrascarias feature salad bars with dozens of kinds of fresh salads, pasta salads, pickles, breads, olives and all the other sides you could wish for.”

Lechon (Philippines)

Lechon (Spanish for “suckling pig”) features a whole, impaled pig spit-roasted over a charcoal bed or in an oven.
Many Filipinos declare the tasty, porky treat to be their national dish although the same claim is made by Puerto Ricans.
The lechon cooked in the Filipino island of Cebu is often considered the best in the country, if not the world.
Fun fact: Every June 24 in Balayan, Philippines, the locals pay a special, religious-themed homage to roasted pig at the Parada ng Lechon (Parade of Spit-Roast Pig).
It involves lechons getting blessed at a church mass followed by a lively parade of floats, music, water guns (for the baptism) and lechons “dressed” in outlandish garments and accessories.

Tandoor (India)

It’s true: that iconic Indian tandoori chicken you’ve known (and perhaps loved) for ages is considered a barbecue dish.
Tandoori food derives its name from the tandoor, the cauldron-like clay oven in which dishes such as naan bread, chicken, seafood and other meats are cooked under high-heat charcoal.
“The art of the tandoor originated centuries ago as a nomadic style of cooking in Central Asia [where] food was cooked on charcoal pits and meat was spit-roasted,” says Manjit Gill, an Indian celebrity chef behind several acclaimed restaurants including Bukhara in New Delhi.
“The Tandoori cuisine as we know it today was introduced in the late 1940s in post-partition India, when people discovered that it was a better medium to cook meat in a tandoor rather than on the spit.”

Mongolian BBQ (Taiwan)



“Surprisingly, despite the name, Taiwan is the origin of Mongolian barbecue,” reveals travel enthusiast and native Taiwanese Erin Yang, “[and] consists of the combination of sliced meat, noodles and vegetables quickly cooked over a flat circular metal surface.”
Mongolian barbecue is a relatively new food trend, emerging in Taiwan in the 1950s and influenced by Japanese teppanyaki and Chinese stir-fry.
It’s also popular in certain regions of China.
Beijing-based food and travel blogger Monica Weintraub says beef and lamb feature heavily in the north of the country.
“Whether you’re sharing a leg of lamb between four or five friends or ordering single lamb skewers (yang rou chuan), be expected to intake meat heavily doused in chili powder, cumin seeds and salt,” she says.

Lovo (Fiji)

Fiji’s barbecue tradition has more of an underground approach compared to other nations.
Erin Yang explains: “Unlike many other barbecue styles, Fijian barbecue is cooked in a ‘lovo,’ an earth oven.”
Lovo involves piping-hot stones placed into a large opening in the ground to allow slowly smoked cooking.
“Ingredients such as pork, chicken, vegetables, taro root and seafood are wrapped in taro or banana leaves and placed onto the stones,” Yang says. “After 2-3 hours, the savory lovo will be ready to serve.”
Unearthing the pit-smoked food is met with jubilation from feasters, perhaps due to the hours-long wait for the cooking to be completed.

Umu (Samoa)



Umu, Samoa’s version of the barbecue, is similar to the underground cooking customs of Fijian lovo.
Avichai Ben Tzur, a travel writer/entrepreneur who’s spent significant time in the South Pacific, describes barbecue prep work as a family task.
“Young men of the extended Samoan family gather together to prepare the ‘umu,’ hours before the traditional Sunday feast commences… catching fresh fish or slaughtering a pig, collecting taro leaves and breadfruit from the family’s agricultural plot and cracking open coconuts for the palusami.”
The palusami, a Samoan staple made of coconut cream (often seasoned with onions, lemon juice and simple spices) wrapped in taro leaves, is “a delicious calorie bomb that cannot be resisted by Samoans,” says Tzur.

Gogigui (Korea)

Gogigui (Korean for “meat roast”) is a favorite of both Koreans and international eaters.
Dining at a Korean BBQ usually consists of sliced beef, pork and chicken with an assortment of banchan (side dishes) and rice cooked in the center of a table, which is either cooked by the chefs or the diners themselves.
Should you choose to cook your own gogigui, “Masterchef Korea” finalist Diane Sooyeon Kang shares some tips.
“For thin slices of meat like chadolbaegi (thinly sliced beef brisket), you should lie it flat and cook it quickly for a few seconds on each side,” she says.
“For meats like yangnyeom galbi (marinated short ribs), high heat and fire will be best as it will caramelize the outside while keeping the meat juicy inside.”
Jessica Mehta, who’s lived in Korea for a year, suggests: “You’re not really having Korean BBQ if you don’t pair it with soju, a clear liquor somewhat similar to sake.”

Pachamanca (Peru)

Though Peruvian cuisine is known the world over for ceviche and Pisco sour cocktails, one of Peru’s most traditional Incan cooking customs, pachamanca, is still under the radar to many.
Pachamanca (meaning “earth pot” in the Quechua language) involves digging to create a ground oven and lining the cavity with fire-heated stones to cook the food.
A variety of potatoes, corn, legumes and marinated meats are enclosed in banana leaves and placed into the earth oven for hours.
Authentic pachamanca are served sitting on the ground, and mostly take place on special occasions (especially religious ceremonies) and during harvest time every February and March.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/29/foodanddrink/worlds-best-barbecues-bbq/index.html

Continue Reading

Traditional Lasagna Is Good, But These Handheld Poppers Are Arguably Better

I would eat pasta for every meal if I could also maintain a normal weight. Alas, this is just a pipe dream.

One of my favorite Italian dishes is definitely lasagna. And while I’ve never been adventurous enough to make it in my own kitchen, I may actually give it a whirl in this reincarnation of the complex meal.


Not only do these lasagna poppers look absolutely delicious, they seem so much easier to make than a full pan of the savory dish. If you’re looking for a new snack to try for your next party, these should be on your list:

Here’s how to make these at home:


  • Canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of minced onion
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces of mozzarella
  • 4 sheets of ravioli
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Egg wash
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs


  1. In a pan heat some canola oil, the garlic, onions, and ground beef. Brown the meat and drain the excess liquid.
  2. Return the pan to heat and add marinara sauce and salt and pepper to taste. After thoroughly mixed, remove from heat and add the mozzarella.
  3. In a pasta pot, add some salt and the ravioli sheets. Cook 8-10 minutes.
  4. On a plate, cut the sheets lengthwise so you have two strips.
  5. Spoon some of the meat onto one end and roll the strip.
  6. Freeze the rolls for 10 minutes.
  7. Dip each roll in a bowl of flour, egg wash, and then bread crumbs. Repeat the egg and bread crumbs once.
  8. Freeze them again for 12-15 minutes.
  9. Cook in frying oil for four to five minutes, let cool, and serve with marinara sauce!

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/lasagna-poppers/

Continue Reading

How to cook the perfect kleftiko

This classic Greek dish needs some serious time and TLC. But the results are more than worth it

One of the undisputed classics of Greek cuisine, kleftiko is a special-occasion dish which showcases Hellenic cooking at its simple best. It demands no fancy ingredients or tricky techniques, just good raw materials and a good deal of patience. Said to be named after sheep-rustling bandits known as the klephts, who would cook their ill-gotten gains in underground pits to avoid detection, the success of the dish depends on long, slow roasting until the meat fairly falls off the bone. Thats handy, no doubt, when your knives were all engaged in more nefarious activity.

Though its no doubt at its best at a whitewashed island taverna, its also perfect for feeding a crowd when the circus of fire and knives that is our traditional Sunday roast feels like too much effort. Like many of the best summer dishes, kleftiko is happy to do its own thing while you get on with more important stuff such as sunbathing and drinking ouzo.

Rick Steins kleftico. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

The cut of lamb

Most recipes I try call for leg. Rick Stein uses a whole one, while Sebastians Taverna in Corfu and Eli K Giannopoulos of the website My Greek Dish plump for pieces. The testing panel, however, is largely with Georgina Hayden, author of Stirring Slowly, who describes kleftiko as her achilles heel but calls for shoulder, as does Tonia Buxtons recipe.

Though leg looks impressive, and one tester prefers its relative leanness, everyone else feels like its a cut better suited to cooking fast and serving pink; the tougher, fattier shoulder, meanwhile, really benefits from slow cooking, becoming wonderfully juicy and rich. Its also cheaper, which is always a pleasing bonus.

Those short of time might prefer to use Buxtons leg pieces on the bone, which only need cooking for a couple of hours, though Im slightly of the opinion that this is a dish that deserves a bit of love, and youre probably better off making something else.

Georgina Hayden. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

The cooking

While were on the subject of time, Giannopoulos marinates his leg steaks for 24 hours before cooking, which gives them a wonderfully deep flavour. If you dont have that luxury, however, rest assured that it will still be delicious.

Sebastians Taverna is the only recipe to braise the kleftiko on the hob, rather than baking it in the oven. Theres no doubt that this keeps the meat beautifully juicy, but it doesnt have the same intensity of flavour as the others, especially since the pieces are submerged in water. Adding less liquid, as Stein and Hayden recommend, gently steams the meat, so its moist, but still retains its distinctive flavour rely on its own juices, as Buxton does, and you get a great-tasting kleftiko thats just a touch dry.

Stein and Giannopoulos both bake their dishes at a high heat: 190C and 180C respectively, but for shoulder, I think Buxton and Haydens gentler 160C gives better, more tender results. Equally importantly, make sure its in a tightly sealed package, either in a heavy casserole dish, sealed with foil, as Stein recommends, or in a completely closed parcel of greaseproof paper sprinkled with water as in Haydens recipe, so no moisture can escape.

Though I suspect this is unorthodox, Giannopouloss final blast of heat, with the meat uncovered, does help boost the flavour, just as a melt-in-the-mouth sous-vide steak is made infinitely tastier by a brief dance on a hot grill.

Eli K Giannopoulos. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian


The simplest recipe, from Sebastians Taverna, calls for nothing more than onions and garlic, and Hayden, though she uses more spice, sticks with garlic alone. But, as youve got the oven on anyway, it makes sense to cook a few vegetables at the same time. Stein, Buxton and Giannopoulos bulk the dish out with potatoes, which are gorgeously rich and soft after a few hours with a joint of lamb (and even better crisped up while the meat is resting as Giannopoulos suggests) make sure you get the waxy kind, or youll be left with mush. Everyone peels them, but I think theyre even more delicious left whole, whatever Greek grannies might think.

Stein and Giannopoulos both also add peppers, and, like Buxton chuck a few tomatoes in there for good measure, which not only look colourful, but, as with anything given such a treatment, taste great too. Theyre not absolutely necessary, but they do help make this dish into a one-pot treasure trove.

Garlic, however, is very much necessary and the sharp flavour of the crushed kind is so different from the mellow sweetness of the roasted variety that Im going to use it as both seasoning and vegetable. The sugary heat of Giannopouloss red onion works similarly brilliantly with the savoury lamb.

Stein adds crumbled feta to his kleftiko, inspired by the one served at a restaurant in Symi, and Giannopoulos goes for kefalotyri, a very versatile hard yellow cheese that, to my surprise, I find in the supermarket, though Ive never noticed it before. Both have a tendency, however, to dissolve into the vegetables, prompting one tester to discreetly remove several blobs of what she believed to be lamb fat before I set her right. Cheese and lamb are not, to my mind, a marriage made in heaven, but if you fancy adding some, do so right before serving.

Haydens recipe has a non-traditional twist right at the end its finished with a scattering of pomegranate seeds and mint tossed in a little red vine vinegar, which is a very pretty idea if you decide not to add any extra vegetables, and serve this with salads instead.

Sebastians Taverna. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian


Oregano is an absolute must I find the dried kind stands up better to long cooking than the fresh leaves and a couple of bay leaves, as used by Buxton and Hayden, dont go amiss either. A little acidity in the form of lemon juice, rather than Giannopoulos white wine, helps to cut through the richness of the meat and potatoes, so you can keep going back for more. Best followed by a glass of raki and a nap in the shade of a gnarly fig tree.

Perfect kleftiko

(serves 6)
1 lamb shoulder, about 2kg
Olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 heads of garlic
2 lemons
1 kg waxy potatoes
1 large red onion
1 red pepper
1 bay leaf
12 cherry tomatoes

Rub the meat with oil. Sprinkle over the cinnamon, oregano and salt, and peel and roughly crush half a head of garlic. Rub all this into the meat with your hands along with the juice of one lemon. Cover and leave for 12 hours.

Heat the oven to 160C. Cut the potatoes into wedges and use them to line the base of a large lidded casserole dish (or use a roasting tin lined with enough parchment paper to fold over the top of the joint on both sides youll probably need two pieces at right angles). Cut the onion into wedges and the pepper into chunky strips, removing the seeds, then add the cherry tomatoes. Place the lamb on top. Cut the remaining garlic and lemon in half laterally, squeeze the lemon briefly over the potatoes, and tuck the shells and the garlic in around the joint along with the bay leaf. Pour 200ml water into the dish. If using a casserole dish, tuck a damp piece of greaseproof on top and cover, if using a roasting dish, sprinkle the overhanging paper with water and fold over and tuck in to form a sealed package. Bake for 4-5 hours until very tender.

Turn the oven up to 220C and roast, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes at this higher temperature, then lift the joint out and set aside. Put the vegetables back in for 15 minutes until starting to brown, then serve with the meat.

Kleftiko: Greek cooking at its best? Do you like to keep yours simple, or make it a meal in itself like this one? And what do you serve with it?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2016/aug/18/how-to-cook-the-perfect-kleftiko

Continue Reading

App Lets You Buy Leftover Food From Restaurants And It’s Really Cheap

Here’s a situation where takeout is more cost efficient than cooking at home. 

Too Good To Go, an app operating in the UK, allows users to order leftover food at a discount from restaurants, according to the website. The goal is to help curb waste from establishments that typically toss out perfectly edible food at the end of the day.  

Users simply log in, pick a restaurant, and pay through the app.

Then they pick up their food at designated times usually around closing or after peak meal times, according to the Telegraph.

“Food waste just seems like one of the dumbest problems we have in this world,” co-founder James Crummie told Business Green. “The restaurant industry is wasting about 600,000 tonnes of food each year, and in the UK alone there are one million people on emergency food parcels from food banks. Why do we have these two massive social issues that are completely connected, yet there is not much going on to address them?”

Users also have the option to give meals to people in need by donating 1 British pound or more through the app, according to the website. More than 1,100 meals have been donated so far.


Founded in Denmark last year, Too Good To Go was launched this year in the UK and is expanding to other countries. The app is available in Brighton, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, and will be in London later this month. 

Food waste is a major problem worldwide. In the U.S. alone, up to 40 percent of food goes uneaten meanwhile one in six households didn’t have enough money for food last year.

Too Good To Go has already helped cut a significant amount of waste. So far, the app has saved 600 meals from landfills in the UK, reports Business Green.

Orders through the app cost between 2 British pounds ($2.60) to 3.80 British pounds (about $5), according to the website. 

Users aren’t able to the pick the food items, but they get an idea of the type of food that will be available, according to Business Green. 

To ensure the entire experience is super eco-friendly, Too Good To Go provides recyclable takeout packaging to participating restaurants, Grub Street reported. 


Restaurants using the app make extra revenue by selling food that would otherwise have been tossed, according to the Telegraph. And Too Good To Go itself makes money by taking a fee from participating restaurants on each sale.

Too Good To Go isn’t the first app to try to tackle food waste. In Spain, the Yo No Desperdicio app allows people to coordinate and exchange surplus food items with each other. In the U.S., the Food Cowboy app allows food distributors to redistribute “ugly vegetables” or produce rejected by groceries for purely cosmetic reasons to charities and food banks who need them.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/app-lets-you-buy-leftover-food-from-restaurants-and-its-really-cheap_us_57aa4469e4b0ba7ed23dff1a?section=&

Continue Reading