July is ‘National Hot Dog Month’ and nothing is probably more American than a Hot Dog except for perhaps a Hamburger. These two popular foods though made thoroughly American have their roots in Europe and mainly Germany. It’s just that we have so thoroughly Americanized these products that if this were a hundred years or so ago, they wouldn’t even be recognized in Europe. Thanks to vastly improved communication, Hot Dogs and Burgers are seen not only in Europe but all over the world.
We all have our favorite Hot Dogs and will probably remember at least one Hot Dog Stand as ideal. Since as a child I never had Hot Dogs outside of our home (except once) I cannot remember one single Hot Dog Stand. However, my sons have a whole repertoire that they can recite to you – many of which are of course my adult favorites too. The most recent addition to our locale is Dayne’s Chicago Dogs. Dayne’s is located on Thousand Oaks Blvd. in the city of Thousand Oaks and their specialty is the Chicago Dog. What makes a Chicago Dog different from other dogs? The points are listed below.
1. A Chicago Dog has to be in a natural casing – it just isn’t a Chicago Dog unless it has that crunch to it.
2. It also must come with Tomatoes, Green Relish and Peperoncini in the bun along with the Dog. And of course don’t forget the mustard.
Also pictured with Dayne’s Dog is Garlic French Fries. If you are a Garlic Lover these are ‘Heavenly’.
One of the oldest Hot Dog Stands in the city of Los Angeles is Pink’s which is on La Brea and ironically is practically right next door to where I went to school. Oddly enough, I never heard of Pink’s until maybe a dozen years ago. However, I’m sure I did have a Pink’s Dog unknowingly which was given to me by the Aunt of a girl who I was playing with at the time. This was the first time I had ever had a Chili Dog and quite honestly at 9 years old, I did not like it. More recently though, I did a class that featured the most popular Hot Dogs in and around the Los Angeles area. While I do not like Hoffy Dogs (which Pink’s uses) the toppings at Pinks were outstanding but oddly enough the item I liked best at Pink’s was their Coconut Cake.
Probably my favorite San Fernando Valley Hot Dog was Cupid’s. I first noticed the Cupid’s stand when I was about 11 years old and we had just moved to the Valley. By the time I got around to eating at Cupid’s their main stand was at Victory and Tyrone and it is still there today. The other stand that they have that I have frequented is across the street from Cal State Northridge. For years, Cupid’s only sold their Dogs one way and that was in a bun with mustard and Chili and Onions. As I recall the last time I was there they have added a few things to their dogs such as cheese.
My favorite Dog to cook at home has to be a Kosher Dog with a crunchy skin. I usually buy Vienna as they fit the bill. Boar’s head is second best for at home purchase. Today for lunch I had a Coleslaw Dog made with Boar’s Head Hot Dogs, Homemade Coleslaw and home-grown Yellow Roma tomatoes.
Last year when we were on Kauai, I had a Pineapple Dog – certainly something you would expect to get in Hawaii if nowhere else. It was delicious – just the right amount of sweet/tangy compliment to the Hot Dog.
If you have a favorite dog and pictures of such please feel free to comment and share your photos.
On an ending note, Hot Dogs can be boiled, grilled, barbecued, baked with beans broiled and/or wrapped in pastry. Take advantage of ‘National Hot Dog Month’ and frequent your favorite local Hot Dog Stand.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and the weather is wintry – rainy, snowy or windy! What better way to spend an indoor afternoon or morning making Valentine Lollipops with your Children. Children very often make paper Valentine’s to give to their friends, but Chocolate ones are even better. They taste good and Chocolate is good for you!
What you will need to make these treats is:
Candy (Heart-shaped Lollipop Molds) – available at your local Cake Decorating Store or Craft Shop such as Michael’s or JoAnn’s.
Pre-tempered Chocolates (Wilton’s)
A sheet of waxed paper or a flat pan to put the molds on.
A melting pot or double boiler If you don’t have either you can make a double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
To make the Pops first set up your molds. Make sure they are clean and dry. Water and chocolate do not mix and your pops will not set up properly. The best thing to do is to wash and dry them 24 hours before you are going to use them. When you are finished with them, wash (DO NOT USE SOAP) just hot tap water and dry and then after 24 hours place them in a sealed plastic bag so that the next you need them they will be ready to go.
Place the molds on the waxed paper or sheet pan. Place the sticks in the molds (make sure that at least one inch of the stick is in the candy portion ) If you are using a Melting Pot place the Candy (the melting pots will hold a 12 oz. bag of candy) in the Melting Pot and set it to MELT. Once the Candy has thoroughly melted turn the setting down to WARM.
Once the Candy has melted you can then spoon it into the molds. Be sure and completely cover the Lollipop Sticks. DO NOT fill the mold to the top. Once they are about 3/4 full, stop and tap the molds to get rid of the Air Bubbles. If there is still space left in the mold slowly add additional candy until the mold is full.
Allow at least an hour for the candy to set at room temperature or about 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator or 15-20 in the freezer.
Once the Candy has set up turn the molds over onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper and gently press on the backs to un-mold. If they are not going to be eaten right away place into bags (lollipop bags can be purchased at Cake Decorating Stores, Party Stores or Craft Stores). Tie with red curling ribbon. These lollipops are a great replacement for Valentines.
For heat loving Valentine recipients you can add a little bit of Chili Flakes (Old Boney Mountain Grotto Dust) available at http://www.oldboneymountainhotsaucecorp.com/
The December Holidays are coming up very fast and what better way to help celebrate them than to build a Gingerbread House. It really help to have a little expertise, someone who has built many over the years and has overcome all the pitfalls that hinder the novice. I have been teaching people (Adults and Parent/Child Teams) how to make Gingerbread Houses for the last 26 years. This year I am going to be teaching my Gingerbread House at the Academy of Culinary Education in Woodland Hills. You will learn how to make the Dough, how to make house templates and how to cut out the house parts from the dough in an efficient manner.
After the House parts are baked and after lunch and a short demo, each team or participant will build and then decorate their house according to their own specifications. Not only will the class be fun and enjoyable, but you will learn skills that you will be able to use throughout your lifetime.
Come to our Gingerbread House Class at the Academy of Culinary Education in Woodland Hills.on December 6th – this is an all-day class starting at 10:30 and ending at 5 with a lunch break in-between.
For photos of Gingerbread houses please go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/sylveeeskitchen/sets/
The class is open to singles or pairs – parent/child or spouses or partners or an older sibling with a younger one.
To sign up for the class go to http://www.academyofculinaryeducation.com/singleclasses.html
October is ‘National Apple Month and what better time to talk about, eat and use Apples in Desserts, Snacks and Meals. Here is an Alphabetical list of some of the Apples available. There are so many, it is almost impossible to be able to keep track of them all. We all have our favorites but it may be fun to try a new one or two. Keep on eye for some of the ones listed below. There is at least one for every letter of the Alphabet except for the letter ‘X’. If anyone knows of an Apple beginning with an ‘X’, please let me know. At the end of this list are links to Apple Recipes in this Blog.
- A Ambrosia, Anna Apple
- B Beverly Hills, Burgundy
- C Crab Apples, Cameo, Captain Kidd, Candy Crisp
- D Delicious, Dawn, Davey, Dayton
- E Epicure
- F Fuji
- G Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Gala
- H Hayes, Hampshire, Hawaii
- I Irish Peach, Idared
- J jonathan, Jonagold, Jester, John, Jonadel
- K Kary, Kent, Katya, Keepsake
- L Lady, Liberty, Limelight
- M McIntosh, Maiden’s Blush, Macon
- N Nectar, Niagra, Norfolk
- O Oliver, Opal, Ontario
- P Pippin, Pink Lady, Pacific Rose, Pacific Beauty
- Q Quebec Bell, Queen Cox
- R Razor Russet, Red Delicious, Red Baron
- S Scarlet, Scarlet Surprise, Scarlet O’Hara
- T Taylor, Telstar, Tickled Pink
- W Winesap, Waltz, Wellington
- Y Yates, Yellow Transparent, York Imperial
- Z Zari, Zest
APPLE BREAD – http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/apple-bread/
APPLE COOKIES - http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/cookies/apple-cookies/
CARAMEL APPLES - http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/cookies/apple-cookies/
October is ‘National Apple Month’ so I decided to look up and see how many different kinds of Apples there are. Wow, I did not expect to find the number I did – there are literally dozens and maybe hundreds – the only letter in the Alphabet that does not bear the name of an Apple is ”X”. There are numerous kinds of Apples for each and every letter, however most of us are familiar with only a small number of them.
The most common Apples are the Red and Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Pippins and Granny Smith. The best for eating are the Delicious, of course and the Gala and Fuji. The best for baking are Granny Smith and Pippins. The last two are not terribly sweet and have a firm flesh which lends them well to baked goods such as pies and pastries. For cooking and Applesauce the Winesap and Gravensteins are excellent.
My favorite use for Apples is to make Pie and of course, there is nothing as American as ‘Apple Pie’. I also love Apple Turnovers made with Puff Pastry. Puff Pastry is a pain to make but you can purchase frozen Puff Pastry Sheets which work very well. You can also use Pie Crust or even Yeast Dough for your Turnovers Shells.
There are also many other ways in which we can use Apples and so I am going to explore some of them here and reference several really great recipes. The first one is for Apple Bread – what a good way to use up those Apples from your tree or even the ones you bought. You can even use Applesauce. Try the referenced recipe. This recipe makes two to three loaves, depending on the size of the pans you use. You can also make Muffins from the same recipe. If there is too much for your family to consume at one time, these loaves freeze well or you can share them with your friends. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/apple-bread/
Apple Pie can be made in various ways – there are French Apple Pies with a streusel topping and then there are the traditional ‘American’ type Apple Pies with both a bottom and a top crust. The referenced recipe is for a French Apple Pie which always easy to make because there is only a bottom crust and you don’t have to worry about getting the top crust to fit and look beautiful. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/pies-pastry/
Apple Turnovers are absolutely my favorite way to go! You can eat them out of hand without utensils; they are good for Breakfasts on the Go or for snacks or Desserts. You can use Puff Pastry or Pie Crust or any of your favorite pastry doughs.
Apple Brown Betty is an old fashioned dish which can also be used for dessert or for Breakfast. There is no Pie Crust to worry about, just a cumbly topping. It is fast and easy to make and is great with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream on top. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/deserts/apple-brown-betty/
Caramel Apples are one of my favorite ways to eat Apples. I love Apples and I love Caramel and nothing goes better together than Apples and Caramel. And since Halloween is this Month what better treat than Caramel Apples to share with the kids. This recipe is simple to make and the Apples are fun to eat. The best Apples to use for Caramel Apples are Granny Smith or Golden Delicious. Pippins are also good, but make sure that they are somewhat ripe or they will be to tart to eat, even with the Caramel. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/halloween-recipes/caramel-apples/
Remember, October is ‘National Apple Month’ and there is no better time to buy and eat Apples than now. Even better is if you can pick your own, either from your own trees or nearby orchards. Play around and experiment – Apples are a wondrous fruit and don’t forget ‘An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away’. Try a different Apple Recipe for the Month of October – ‘National Apple Month’. And another reason for eating and using them now is that later on, the Apples you buy will all have been in cold storage which makes them mealy and less tasty. So take advantage of ‘National Apple Month.
September is ‘National Breakfast Month’ and this is a particularly good time for it. With the kids back in school, it is a good time for parents to emphasize the fact that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The word Breakfast literally means to break a fast. That Fast is the time between when you eat your last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day. This usually is a period of 10-12 hours. This is the reason that your body needs to replenish its fuel supply to run and to feed your brain. Automobiles can’t run without fuel and neither can the human body. Therefore, skipping breakfast is not good for your body or your brain.
A healthy Breakfast should contain some Protein and some Carbohydrates. If you eat wholesome nutritious foods they will also contain the vitamins you need along with essential fatty acids.
All cultures have a breakfast menu, although some do not call it as such. Breakfast foods as we know them in the West are not necessarily what people in the Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures eat. The typical American Breakfast is actually based on the English Breakfast which traditionally consists of Eggs, some kind meat such as sausage or bacon and maybe potatoes plus fruit and a beverage. And don’t forget the toast!
In Asia most breakfasts include rice of some kind. In China, it is Congee, a porridge made with rice but in other Asian countries rice is just used as one of the ingredients for the breakfast.
Since we could elaborate for miles and miles on the different breakfasts around the world I am going to stick with the Western Variety. This would include, of course European Countries as well as North America.
In Spain and Germany, the first meal of the day is usually just a cup of coffee and a pastry and a larger more elaborate breakfast is eaten a couple of hours later.
In American, many families have opted to have dry cereal for breakfast along with milk poured onto it. This is certainly faster for people in a hurry, but it is not necessarily the best or tastiest way to go.
My favorite breakfast stems back to my childhood when my parents and my brother and I usually had eggs for breakfast. To this day, Eggs are still my favorite food for breakfast.
Since this is ‘National Breakfast Month’ we will devote one blog a week to Breakfasts around the world. This month will be American Breakfasts such as we know them. The traditional American Breakfast at least as I knew it was Fruit Juice or Fresh Fruit, Eggs, Toast and Milk or Coffee for the Adults. Of course, there are many other variations such as Pancakes, Waffles, Crepes (one of my favorite filled with fruit), cooked Oatmeal (with Raisins! or dried Apples!) and the proverbial dried Cereal with Milk and fruit such as Bananas added.
Whatever your favorite Breakfast, just don’t forget to eat it! Remember, Breakfast is the most important meal of the Day! Especially for children who go to school and need the fuel and brain power that a good breakfast provides!
To give you some ideas and recipes for Breakfast Items check out the Breakfast/Recipe section of this Blog: recipes/breakfast-items/
Now that I had a batch of fresh homemade Ricotta Cheese the next step was to make something with it. I decided to make a batch of Cheese Blintz to serve for Sunday Brunch with fresh Strawberries. The crepes for the Blintz are easiest to work with if the Batter is made at least 1 hour ahead of time and then allowed to rest in the refrigerator. If you try to make the Crepes right after making the Batter there will be too much air in the batter for the pancakes to form properly. Now as far as I am concerned, the thinner the crepes the better, but of course you do need to have them thick enough to hold the filling without tearing. You can use the Sweet Crepe Batter Recipe under the Recipe/Dessert Section of this Blog. deserts/sweet-crepe-shells/ Just reduce the Sugar in the recipe from 1 Tbsp. to 1 tsp.
I made the Crepe Batter with the residual Whey from the production of the Ricotta. This reduces the waste that normally would result from making the Cheese. To make the Crepes, the Filling and the topping just follow the procedure below.
#1 – Make the Batter and refrigerate for at least one hour.
#2 – Rinse, dry, slice and sugar the Berries. If using Blackberries, Boysenberries or Raspberries eliminate the slicing procedure. Place the Berries in a bowl and squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lime (for every pint of berries) over the Berries and then toss with 1/4 cup of Superfine Sugar. Taste and add more Lime Juice and/or Sugar as desired.
#3 – Make the Cheese Filling for the Blintz. /deserts/cheese-filling/
4. Make the Crepes –
Heat the crepe pan until a drop of water splashed on it sizzles; melt the Butter and stir into the Batter.
- Use approximately ¼ cup of Batter (the exact amount depends on the size of the pan)
- While you are pouring in the Batter, tilt the pan with your other hand to cover the bottom of the pan.
- When the edges begin to dry and bubbles appear on the crepe surface, turn it over with a heat-proof spatula and cook a few seconds more on the turned side. (Cook one side to a light brown and the other just enough to set the batter. This side should still be almost white when you remove it from the pan.)
- You will be browning the Blintz in Butter before serving them so you do not want the second side to be cooked too long.
5. Filling the Blintz –
- Lay the Crepe Shells on a flat plate or work surface
- Place a scoop of the Cheese Filling in the middle
- Fold in the sides and then fold over the top and bottom. You should have a square package.
6. To Serve –
- Melt enough Butter to make a thin sizzling layer in the bottom of a medium to large frying pan. When the Butter starts to sizzle add the Blintz, leaving about 1/4 – 1/2″ between each one.
- When the bottoms brown gently turn and cook the other side.
- Serve while hot with the sliced Strawberries and Sour Cream or Whipped Cream as a Garnish.
Here are the photos from Let’s Get Cookin’s Teen Basics Camp held the Week of July 7th, 2014.
Monday, July 7th – BREAKFAST
The Students each made an Omelet for themselves. The rest of the items that were made were: Waffles, Bacon & Sausage, Home Fries, Granola, Breakfast Fruit Shakes and Eggs Benedict.
Tuesday, July 8th – LUNCH
Lunch Items made were: Clam Chowder, Vegetable Soup and Tomato Basil Soup. Salads were Pasta Salad and Grilled Seafood Salad which was made with Grilled Salmon. The students also made Buttermilk Biscuits and Chili Corn Bread to go with the Soups and Salads. Sandwiches were Portobello Mushroom Sliders and Southwest Chicken Wraps. Dessert was Chocolate Brownies.
July 10th – DINNER
Dinner items that were made were: Garlic Dinner Rolls, Baby Lettuce Salad, Caesar Salad, Vegetable Chili, Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Croquettes, Macaroni & Cheese Supreme, Scalloped Potatoes and Strawberry Granita for Dessert. Iced Tea was the Beverage.
July 11th – DESSERT DAY
The Dessert Recipes were chosen from a student request list. The items made were Apple & Berry Pies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes, Coconut Snowballs, Eclairs with Pastry Cream & Vanilla Ice Cream.
July 12th, – MYSTERY BAG DAY
On the final day, each group (4 in all) were given a ‘Mystery Bag’ containing a Protein, a Starch and a Vegetable from which they were to create a meal. The groups were allowed to use whatever they needed from the Pantry and the Refrigerator. The resulting products were quite amazing and delicious.
Group A – were given Beef Steak, Potatoes and Zucchinni. They made Seasoned Grilled Steak which they sliced thinly, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Zucchini topped with Cheddar Cheese.
Group B was given Chicken Breast, Italian Rice, Snap Peas and Green Asparagus. They made Chicken Parm-Asian, Risotto with Snap Peas and Roasted Asparagus.
Group C was given Pork Tenderloin, Sweet Potatoes, Apricots & Apples. They elected to make Pork Lettuce Wraps with a Fruit Salsa and Sweet Potato Fries.
Group D was given Bowtie Pasta, Fresh Tomatoes, Yellow Squash and Italian Sausage. Included in their Package was Romaine Lettuce, Cucumbers & Carrots. They elected to make Pasta with a Bolognese Sauce and a Green Salad with Vinaigrette & Bruschetta with a Pesto Topping.