Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cheese of the Week: Colston Bassett Stilton

Name: Colston Bassett Stilton

Country: Britain

Milk: Cow

Description: This cheese is at its peak right now, as wheels produced in August have been aging for four months and are now being released. The cheese is creamy, rich and smooth with delicate veining and a tangy but not over-powering blue flavour.

Stilton has a history dating back to at least the 1700s in Britain. These days, it is made in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire at only seven dairies and is protected by a certified trademark. The name and method are strictly controlled by the Stilton Cheese Makers Association. This version is one of the best, made by hand in the village of Colston Bassett from the milk of five nearby farms.

Related Link: www.colstonbassettdairy.com

Saturday, January 06, 2007

How to get rid of cooking smells

One of the downsides of living in small New York apartment is that when you cook, the smells go everywhere. If I had a kitchen door, I'd close it but our apartment is literally one big room. Even with the fan on and the windows open, it's hard to avoid stinking the whole place up.

Sauteed onions are the worst. They taste so good and they're essential to so many dishes - particularly in Indian cooking - but the smell just lingers on.

But I have finally found a remedy!

My very clever friend Roshan recommended a brilliant solution. Keep a small pot simmering on a back burner. Put in a couple of cups of water, some cinammon sticks, a few drops of vanilla essence and an orange peel. Keep simmering while you cook, making sure the water doesn't dry out. The smell is wonderful and it really seems to negate the cooking aromas. Two days later, I can still smell the cinammon when I walk in the door!

Also, you know how after chopping onions and garlic it can be hard to get rid of that smell from your hands? Try rubbing your hands on something made of stainless steel - your sink, a ladle, a spoon... anything. Rub it like you would a bar of soap and you'll find the smell disappears!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Vivianna's Apple Walnut Cake

Love passes through the stomach (Romanian proverb)

On New Year's Day, Romania joined the European Union, bringing with it a rich cuisine that blends several cultural traditions.

My first experience with Romanian food was, ironically, in Angola. A small group of friends, all of us humanitarian aid workers, used to meet in a kitchen on the 14th floor of an apartment building overlooking the bay of Luanda. Up there, a light breeze would cool us off and after cooking together for an hour or two we would move out to the balcony to catch the sunset and watch the world go by. Once you got up the stairs (the elevator almost never worked) the apartment felt comfortable and safe and we felt protected from the manic streets below.

Most of our meals we led by the formidable Roshni, who has an incredible flair for food. Her traditional Indian meals were amazing, but she could also whip up Thai, Italian, Chinese, you name it! The rest of us mostly did what Roshni instructed us to do, but every once in a while we had a chance to offer our own special delicacy. That's how we came across this Romanian dessert. (Forgive me if the recipe isn't perfect -- I scribbled it into my notebook as I watched it being made.)

Vivianna's Apple Walnut Cake

6 apples, cored, peeled and halved
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
6 eggs, separated
6 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. oil
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vinegar

Sprinkle sugar in the bottom of a baking dish and caramelize over an open stove. Core, peel and halve the apples and arrange them in the pan over the sugar. Dust with 1 Tbsp. sugar, ground cinammon and walnuts and bake at 200-250 degrees until soft.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites until firm. Add sugar, one spoon at a time, and continue beating. In another bowl, mix egg yolks with oil. Fold into egg whites. Add flour, one spoon at a time. Mix baking powder with vinegar and add to batter. Add vanilla.

Add batter to pan and bake until golden brown.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cheese of the Week: Fourme d'Ambert

Name: Fourme d'Ambert

Country: France

Milk: Cow

Description: This is a mild to medium blue cheese with a smooth consistency and nutty flavour with hints of wine. Legend holds that this is one of the oldest cheeses in France, possibly dating back to the Roman period. The word 'fourme' refers to the distinctive cylindrical "form" or shape of the cheese.

Related Link: www.fourme-ambert.com

Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome 2007

Well, it's here... A new year, full of expectation, hope and fresh resolve.

A new year seemed to call for a new look around the site. Here are some of the new features you can expect to see in this space in the near future:

- New name - we're changing our name to better reflect our mission to find the best in food, wine, recipes, products, etc.
- 52 Weeks of Cheese - each week in 2007, we will bring you a profile of a cheese, with information on how its made, how it tastes and where to find it
- Wine on a dime - profiles of good wines under $10
- Guest columns
- Cool kitchen gadgets and gizmos
- Taste tests ... and more!

Thanks for your support, keep the comments coming and keep eating!