Cumin

5 Nov SpiceSpoons

Cumin is very much an indispensable ingredient. It covers such a wide range of cuisine, that everyone should have some in their spice rack at all times. Cumin originated in northern Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and into India. Cumin can be found in the cuisines of India, the middle east, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain. If you have had dishes such as chili, harissa (which we will be covering soon), curry powder, couscous, or garam masala, you have most likely had cumin. It is an aromatic spice with a warm scent and is a hotter flavor than caraway. It is related to parsley and caraway. Cumin comes in the form of seeds, and is usually ground into a powder for use.  You can find it in both forms, though find a spice specialty store to find it in seed form. Toasting of the seeds before grinding can enhance the flavor, so if you can get your hands on it in seed form, you should do so. As with most spices, keep it in a dark, dry, and cool place for storage.

Cumin is available at stores year round. It grows in warm climates, needing a long summer of hot weather, spanning 3 to 5 months. If you decide to try growing Cumin, you will need to be in a warmer area with a long summer. It will take roughly 120 days before it is ready.

Please remember those in Hurricane Sandy

30 Oct

I am in Maryland, riding out Hurricane Sandy. I am one of the lucky ones who have not lost power yet. As I count my blessings, it brings to mind those who aren’t as fortunate. As you start your day tomorrow, remember those who may not have power or have run low on food. If family, friends, neighbors, or others you know have need, one wonderful way to comfort them is by bringing a gift of food. Food is one of those things that can speak to anyone, and that you thought of them, could mean far more than the meal itself.

If you are in the path of Hurricane Sandy, be safe!

Hurricane Sandy Fridge Clearing Ideas: Omelets

28 Oct Finished omelet

As Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm, bears down on the east coast, many of us are wondering, how are we going to clear out some of the food in the fridge? There have been many warnings about potential power outages, and given the storm’s severity, there is no idea on how long power could take to get restored. This blog post, and possible others to follow, will focus on how to clear out your fridge while making delicious food at the same time.

Omelets may not be the first idea that comes to mind. They tend to have a stigma about them as being difficult and frustrating to make.  Making omelets really comes down to two things: temperature and technique. Omelets tend to stick partly because the pan may be too hot or have too little fat to separate the egg from the pan. Temperature is also the case where omelets turn out overdone or worse, burnt. This will be easy to remedy. Technique is something that usually takes experience to perfect, but this should be not too bad to pick up.

The reason I am presenting omelets is because not only does it use eggs, but is the perfect food to help get rid of leftovers. You can make an omelet out of almost anything you have lying around in the fridge. Let’s get started. I have some leftover homemade meatballs from my mother-in-law as well as a wealth of mozzarella sticks. I also have a dozen and a half of eggs so this will be a great example.

Omelet Ingredients

Start out by preparing all of the ingredients before hand. I will chop up the meatballs and cheese into smaller sizes. The three eggs get beaten with a little milk. Careful not to add too much; enough to cover a fifth or fourth of the area works. Beat these until it starts to froth.

Egg Mixture

This part is important: find you best non-stick pan. Put it on the stove at a medium-low heat. For example, my dial reads low, 1-9, and high. The 5 setting is dead in the middle (medium), so I set it between 3 and 4. The reason for this setting is that the egg will be sitting in the pan a while, and the lower heat will keep it from overcooking, and allow more time for the ingredients in the omelet to warm up as well. Once the pan is warm, spray the pan liberally with a cooking spray. Add the egg. If you don’t have a perfectly flat element for your pan, you may notice the egg moving to one side. It’s ok; tilt the pan now and again to get the egg on the non-covered portion, eventually it will begin to set on that side. If you are using ingredients that melt, such as cheese, distribute it evenly across the whole surface. Distribute the other ingredients lengthwise in the middle of the omelet. Let the omelet cook until the egg is fully set and the ingredients have had a chance to warm. Give the pan a slight jiggle to make sure that nothing is stuck; it should move freely in the pan. If not, use the spatula to reach under the egg to loosen it; do so gently.

Open Omelet in pan

We will now cover transferring the omelet to the plate; it’s ok, take a deep breath. Have your plate and spatula ready. The first thing we do is flip one side of the omelet over the middle while it is still in the pan. Take your time to get the spatula under the egg and move slowly. It will end up looking like this:

Half folded omelet

Next, we are going to turn the pan partially over. Slide the omelet onto the plate, but not the whole way. The middle should be on the plate, the rest in the pan.

Half omelet on plate

Next, tilt the pan more and flip the last end over the middle. And there you have it, your omelet! Bon appetit!

Finished omelet

Omelets are a great way to use up any leftovers in your fridge and eggs at the same time. So, if you are looking for a way to clear out the fridge while making something delicious, try an omelet. We can’t stop Hurricane Sandy from coming, but we can at least make waiting everything out a little more pleasant. Enjoy and be safe!

:urricane Sandy Prep Idea #1

28 Oct

I wanted to start posting ideas today to help folks prepare for Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm. In the midst of getting all the things you need, run a load of dishes or two. Get you dishes clean and switch to using paper or plastic. If the power is out for an extended time, no one wants to share the house with dirty, smelly dishes!

Cooking after Hurricane Sandy

28 Oct

As Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm, makes its way up the east coast of the United States, we are getting warnings about the likelihood of power outages. A question that often comes to mind is “What to do about all of the food in the fridge?” Another important question is, “How are you going to cook it?” I have fallen victim to this many times where I was ready to cook our food before it went bad but had no way to cook it.

For those in the affected area, consider how you are going to cook your food after the power goes out. This may be purchasing a camping stove, or buying extra charcoal for the grill. And importantly, don’t cook anything with a grill indoors and wait for the storm to pass before cooking outside.

Celebrate World Food Day

16 Oct

Today, October 16, is World Food Day. Since 1982, World Food Day has been observed around the world, bringing the issues of poverty and hunger to the forefront. Each year, a theme is associated with the day. This year the focus is on Agricultural Copperatives. The expansion of agricultural cooperatives is seen as one of the methods to engage and eliminate worldwide hunger while also ensuring food security. They allow farmers to come together and invest their time and resources in building up the farms and other agricultural efforts to meet the needs of their cooperative, community, and region.

For more information, go to World Food Day.

Procaccini’s Review

12 Oct

Pizza

Procaccini’s is an Italian family restaurant located on 46 Main Street, in East Hartford, CT. We stopped in Connecticut to visit family and there are two things I always miss; pizza and grinders. It’s sad to say but I’ve noticed that folks from Connecticut, myself included, can get a little snobby concerning pizza. This is mainly because there are so many good family owned pizza places there. They hold to pizza as strongly as those from New York or Chicago. So, I was looking forward to enjoying a trip to Procaccinni’s.

The first thing about the restaurant is the quality of their staff. During our meal, my beverage never ran empty and they were diligent in bringing out the food and tending to our needs. We sat in two booths. There was just enough ambient light to not be harsh and beautiful green stained glass with the restaurants name. I felt very comfortable there.

Room

Ok, on to the food. We shared 3 meatball grinders, 3 cooked salami grinders, and 2 extra large pizzas. The meatball grinder had a lightly crisp, golden brown roll with meatballs, marinara, and peppers. It had that tangy, meaty, satisfying goodness you look for in a grinder. I had problems putting it down to try everything else.

The cooked salami grinder was on the same crispy roll with cooked salami, lettuce, tomato, and peppers. This grinder was milder in taste to the meatball (probably should have tried this one first). In the end, I was a little disappointed. Perhaps some onions or spicy peppers would have elevated it a bit. Not to say it wasn’t good, just not what I was expecting.

One thing to keep in mind is that when they say extra large, they mean it. Our pizza came out on a pedestal and was huge. It had a slightly crunchy crust, mellow cheese flavor and slightly sweet marinara. It had a good balance, and is the kind of pie to sit down and work on for a while. I enjoyed it and would definitely try it again.

If you find yourself in East Hartford, you should give Procaccini’s a try. They have a much wider selection of pizza and grinders than what I have mentioned here. Their dining room was comfortable, and service excellent.

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