Thursday, October 26, 2006

BLOGGING with Rachel

I haven't been blogging for a while. What with travel and family and work, who has the time. Well, apparently lots of people do. I mean anyone can so why wouldn't they. My question is "Why would they" After all, is the average person really knowledgeable about what they are writing about, such that anyone else would need to know what they think. That's what we food professionals are there for. We do the research, have the experiences and then share them via newspaper columns, books, magazines, radio shows etc. And busy people barely have time to check out all those educated opinions, let alone those of every one who eats. So who and what are the bloggers really doing? Are they just talking to each other? If so, why don't they use their cell phones or some computer program or text messaging. I am always in a quandry about what to blog about. If it is something that I want to tell the world, I'd want a bigger audience than the ones hitting my blog site. And if I want to share it with my husband David, he's right here with me. And probably no one I don't know really gives a damn what my personal challenges are, so why would I write about them. And my opinions about where I've been or what I've eaten are really only between me and my stomach and I don't want to impose them on friends, let alone strangers. So, I guess what I am really saying is, BlOG THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Leftovers again.

I love leftovers. I usually cook more food than anyone can eat in one seating. Therefore I have
to get creative with the food that remains in my refrigerator. I see it as an opportunity, not an obligation to use up the food. This past holiday weekend, I made some really good hamburgers with sausage meat. Despite how delicious they were, my company just could not eat them all.
So, the first thing I did with the extra raw meat was to make chili. By adding some tomatoe sauce to the pork mixture and cooking it for several hours, I created a wonderful dish to serve with tortillas in the future. But since I already had plenty of the meat cooked, I decided to freeze the chili for another occassion. Then I had to decide what to do with the extra cooked hamburgers. Since I had grilled them they had a nice charcoal flavor. I chopped them into small bits and mixed them into scrambled eggs for a very tasty breakfast the next morning. I am sure that nobody has gotten that much mileage out of a couple of pounds of sausage mix and I enjoyed every bite now and look forward to the freezer part in the future. My advice is, never give up on a food that you can turn into another meal!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rachel cooks the books

In my job as co-host of A Matter of Taste, I get a lot of cookbooks to review. Sometimes a book just really turns you on, and sometimes not. For me, I always look up a recipe that I like to cook and see what the new book does with it. If it fits with the ingredients I like to cook with, or the way I like to cook a certain food, then I will consider trying other recipes. The newest book I received, called "Saving Dinner Basics" is a how to book designed for people who don't know how to cook. Just for fun I looked up a recipe for Gazpacho, a tomato dish that I make quite often.
I was appaled at the long list of ingredients and complicated prep I found. The dish is simply
tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, bread soaked in vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. This book was suggesting adding V-8 juice, chicken broth and lemon juice in addition to all the standard
stuff. Totally unecessary elements to me. The way I see it is if a simple recipe that I know is not good, then I don't want to use any of the recipes in the book, so I will not make room on my shelf for it. The latest book that did turn me on is called "Stonewall Kitchen favorites". It comes from the founders of a specialty food acompany in Maine. They started making jams and selling them at a farmers market, and their popularity grew into a major food producing coompany. This is their third book and boy is it great. Everytime I pick it up, I get inspired. The pictures have eye appeal, the names of the dishes sound great, and the ingredients are simple and create fabulous combinations. I expected to not like the book thinking everything would require you to buy their products in order to make the dish, but that was not the case. And by the way, not only do they have a great recipe for Gazpacho, but all their stuff is great. So, next time you are in a bookstore or on line at Amazon, look up this book and give it a try. This is comfort food that pleases.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

David's view on drinking Champagne and sparkling wines.

As a wine industry veteran, and host of a radio show about wine, food, travel and lifestyle, a wine question comes up quite often from listeners and friends. It's "when should I drink that special bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine?" My response usually begins with "what is the wine and how long have you had it?" In the 15 years of the radio show, the most interesting response was from a radio listener in 1992 who had been saving a bottle of Dom Perignon for 26 years in her refrigerator, and was looking for an appropriate occasion to open it. My first question was, is she married, and for how long? She had celebrated her 30th anniversary earlier that year. With simple math it became clear that 52 birthdays had passed, 26 anniversaries, 26 Valentine's Day, 26 New Years Eve, Christmas every year, many childrens birthdays, and countless dinners had gone by with that bottle in her refrigerator since she acquired it. So I finally said to her "What would be a special occasion"? It became clear that she was asking a serious question, and with a straight face, I suggested that perhaps tomorrow morning, upon awakening, she look in the mirror, and if she sees her reflection, make that the day for celebration, and open the bottle. I never heard from her as to whether or not the Dom was in good shape or not. But my point is that Champagne and sparkling wines need not only be consumed on "special days" but are wines like any other that should be enjoyed as any other. Drink them with dinner, brunch, as apertifs, or as a welcome to guests in your home. Life is too short to over think a wines proper place our lives. enjoy life now, for who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Written by Rachel about taste memories.....

I can enjoy food just having it in my memory.......can you? I bet everyone has moments where they associate a certain food with a specific time and a special feeling. Mine is a time in college, returning from a family holiday visit. My
roomate and best gal-pal to this day, arrived with a care package from her mother. My anticipation of what a mother might pack for her daughter returning to college was nothing compared to what we got. After our long drive from the New York/New Jersey area to Boston where we went to school, the care package was revealed. It was, in addition to a great chicken soup that her mother was known for, a fully cooked, ready to eat, roasted turkey. I remember sitting at our kitchen table, ripping into the turkey with our hands, eating all our favorite parts and enjoying the freedom to do that, versus: sitting at the table, politely eating a bunch of side dishes, that serve to distract from the main draw,then rarely get the part of the turkey that you most wanted. That feeling and the taste of that turkey has stayed with me to this day,and I try to incorporate as many of those kinds of feelings as I can in a day! Don't you?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rachel writes: What is your perception of taste based on?. How much of what you taste is determined by what you see? Does a yellow carrot taste the same as an orange one or purple broccoli taste like the green one. Tonight David and I made a tandoori chicken from ingredients that we mixed together instead of a pre-mix. There was no red dye in it and some tumeric which gave it a yellow color. David asked me if we should add the red color, and I thought about it and said, Why, the color shouldn't matter! Darned if it didn't taste right to me after that. I couldn't get passed that it wasn't red. It tasted good and the ingredients were correct, but it looked wrong. I also had a yellow tomato and it didn't have the same depth of flavor as the red one. Now I get why things are tasted blind. What you see definitely makes an impression and could influence your opinion. I have heard that if you taste wine in a black glass, it is hard to determine red from white wine. They also taste olive oil in a blue glass so you cannot see the actual color which might influence how you think it tastes. I guess we really do eat with our eyes before we ever get to taste. If we are so easily fooled by food colors, what else might not be as it seems? Something to ponder.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rachel at "A Matter of Taste" writes:

Thinking about what I may get to eat, is as exciting as actually eating sometimes. One of my favorite cuisines to eat in a restaurant, is Vietnamese, particularly at PPQ on Irving between 19th and 20th Avenues in San Francisco. When I know David and I are on the way there, my mouth starts salivating with the flovors I know I am going to have. Then at the restaurant, I order the curry chicken noodle soup and wait with all the patience I have for it to arrive. Then, suddenly in a waft of flavored air, the soup is ready for my indulgence. Moist chuncks of chicken, cellophane noodles in a broth of spicy but tame coconut and curry bliss. I savor every bite and just about drink the puddle in the bottom of the bowl. No checks, credit cards or stories, cash only. Life is good!