Monday, February 25, 2008

Culinary Traditions Of France

Culinary Traditions Of France
by: Kirsten Hawkins


French cuisine is the amazingly high standard to which all other native cuisines must live up to. The country of France is home of some of the finest cuisine in the world, and it is created by some of the finest master chefs in the world. The French people take excessive pride in cooking and knowing how to prepare a good meal. Cooking is an essential part of their culture, and it adds to one's usefulness if they are capable of preparing a good meal.

Each of the four regions of France has a characteristic of its food all its own. French food in general requires the use of lots of different types of sauces and gravies, but recipes for cuisine that originated in the northwestern region of France tend to require the use a lot of apple ingredients, milk and cream, and they tend to be heavily buttered making for an extremely rich (and sometimes rather heavy) meal. Southeastern French cuisine is reminiscent of German food, heavy in lard and meat products such as pork sausage and sauerkraut.

On the other hand, southern French cuisine tends to be a lot more widely accepted; this is generally the type of French food that is served in traditional French restaurants. In the southeastern area of France, the cooking is a lot lighter in fat and substance. Cooks from the southeast of France tend to lean more toward the side of a light olive oil more than any other type of oil, and they rely heavily on herbs and tomatoes, as well as tomato-based products, in their culinary creations.

Cuisine Nouvelle is a more contemporary form of French cuisine that developed in the late 1970s, the offspring of traditional French cuisine. This is the most common type of French food, served in French restaurants. Cuisine Nouvelle can generally be characterized by shorter cooking times, smaller food portions, and more festive, decorative plate presentations. Many French restaurant cuisines can be classified as Cuisine Nouvelle, but the more traditional French restaurant cuisine would be classified as Cuisine du Terroir, a more general form of French cooking than Cuisine Nouvelle. Cuisine du Terroir is an attempt to return to the more indigenous forms of French cooking, especially with reference to regional differences between the north and south, or different areas such as the Loire Valley, Catalonia, and Rousillon. These are all areas famous for their specific specialty of French cuisine. As time has progressed, the difference between a white wine from the Loire Valley and a wine from another area has slowly diminished, and the Cuisine du Terroir approach to French cooking focuses on establishing special characteristics between regions such as this.

As part of their culture, the French incorporate wine into nearly every meal, whether it is simply as a refreshment or part of the recipe for the meal itself. Even today, it is a part of traditional French culture to have at least one glass of wine on a daily basis.

About the author:
Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food. Visit http://www.food-and-nutrition.com/for more information on cooking delicious and healthy meals.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cooking With Fresh Herbs

Cooking With Fresh Herbs
by: Mary Hanna


Herbs are fun and easy to grow. When harvested they make even the simplest meal seem like a gourmet delight. By using herbs in your cooking you can easily change the flavors of your recipes in many different ways, according to which herbs you add. Fresh herbs are great in breads, stews, soups or vegetables. Every time you add a different herb you have completely changed the taste.


If you are a beginner start slowly, add just a little at a time adjusting as you go along until you have it just right. You will see in most instances that an individual herb is associated with a particular food item. Basil is paired with tomatoes, Oregano with sauces, Rosemary with lamb and Chives with butter or cream cheese. Of course, none of them are limited to these items, but you will see them paired most often with that particular food. Use your imagination and experiment, experiment, experiment!


You can make herb vinegars for salad dressings, marinades, or soups. Herb oils are very useful in cooking whenever a recipe calls for it.


Fresh herbs as garnishes dress up any dish making it look truly spectacular. Lay individual sprigs of rosemary over broiled lamb chops. Chop fresh parsley and sprinkle it over the top of your potato salad. The combinations are endless and the outcome delicious.


Fresh herbs will keep in the refrigerator for several days but then you must freeze them. They can be frozen by laying them a paper towel and putting them in a plastic bag. Once they are frozen only use them in cooking not as garnishes. A friend of mine washes them, puts them an ice cube tray, covers them with water and then freezes them. When she needs them for soup, stews or sauces she just drops a cube in.


My favorite herbs to grow are basil, oregano, lemon balm, parsley and mint. Mint is great but be careful, mint can over run your garden. A tip here would be to bury an empty coffee can and plant the mint in it. The can prevents the mint from “creeping” all through your garden.


I love to make herb butters. Take a half of a cup of softened butter and mix in about 4 tablespoons of a fresh herb. Lay out a piece of saran wrap, place the butter in the middle roll the saran wrap up to form a “log” out of the butter. Put in the refrigerator and anytime you need a pat of butter just cut it off the “log”. (Hints for “log” butter: potatoes, bread, steaks, noodles or any kind of sauce).


A fresh herb in any salad dressing really makes it sparkle. You can use any herb or a combination, be creative.


I learned a trick a long time ago using basil, lemon and avocados to create and instant natural face mask. Put a big handful of basil in a blender and run it on high. Once the basil has been pulverized, throw in a half of an avocado and a large teaspoon of lemon juice, mix until smooth. Wash your face, pat it dry and gently rub the avocado mixture on. Leave it on as long as you like, then use warm water to it wash off.


These are just a few ways you can use fresh herbs from your garden. I am sure you will come up with many more. Happy cooking


About the author:
Mary Hanna is an aspiring herbalist who lives in Central Florida. This allows her to grow gardens inside and outside year round. She has published other articles on Gardening and Cooking. For more information on gardening go to http://www.gardeninglandscapingtips.com,http://www.gardeningoutside.com,or http://www.gardeningherb.com for more information on cooking go to http://www.gourmetchefathome.com or contact her at mhanna@gardeninglandscapingtips.com

Friday, February 8, 2008

Barbecue Basics for all

Barbecue Basics for all
by: Laura Kjer



Since the Stone Age, man has been perfecting the art of cooking using a direct flame. If you were to ask someone about the history of barbecue, you would most likely get a response similar to the statement above. However that would not be quite right as there is a fundamental difference between simply cooking with a flame and having a barbecue. If you don't add some sauce, to the direct flame method, you are grilling, not having a barbecue. To truly barbecue is to baste and slow cook meat 5 or 6 hours at a low temperature (around 200 degrees), over wood or charcoal.



Today when you think of going to a barbecue, you may conjure up the idea of a hamburger or steak, so big and juicy, it melts in your mouth. Alternatively, perhaps a hot dog grilled to perfection with all the toppings. The phrase barbecue has evolved to mean either the meat served or the social event where the meat served
has been specially prepared to represent a barbecue taste. Regardless of which area of the US you choose as your favorite for barbecue, the barbecue is an American Tradition, handed down from generation to generation. There's no chance the barbecue party will lose it's appeal anytime soon.



While there's no question that the barbecue is an American delicacy, there are many different theories as to where its origins lie. The state of Texas, Virginia, the Carolinas, or Georgia, each area has it's own definition and history of barbecue. It may well be that each area has it's own rightful claim to the barbecue history as each uses different methods and sauces to make their own unique barbecue.



And there would be no BBQ without a Texas barbecue sauce, which is thick and sweet with a rich tomato flavour. Texas sauce also uses a dry-rub mixture of seasonings which is applied to the beef and then the meat is hung over the BBQ to slow cook.



The southeast barbecue sauce, is a thinner sauce, with more of a vinegary taste. Their meat of choice is likely to be pork. The method used here is to`use a pit or enclosure to concentrate the cooking heat and smoke around the meat whilst it is being prepared.




Almost every family has their own unique taste and method used to get just the right barbecue. At your next barbecue, if you want to rev up the conversation between barbecue connoisseurs, just casually ask, Do you know the difference between barbecue and grilling? Or, where did the barbecue originate? Of course, it may depend upon the number of drinks you have served as to the answers you get. But the responses are sure to be varied and interesting.




About the author:
Laura Kjer is the webmaster of
Shop Barbecue which is a
premier source of information about Barbecue. For more
information, go to: http://shopbarbecue.com