Thursday, October 14, 2010

FOOD: Nothing hard, about this ingredient.

 There may be some debate after this post, but in my personal opinion the humble chicken egg, an essential building block of modern nutrition an ingredient that deserves its own post. When prepared in its simplest form is transformed to a whole new ingredient.

What could be simpler than boiling and egg, yet the end result can be used in a multitude of dishes some where the hard boiled egg takes center stage and some where the egg adorns or  compliments food, this is why I consider it an important ingredient.

Salted water, room temperature egg, 10 minutes in a rolling boil.  VOILA something fun tasty and nutritious.

Perhaps the most common preparation it a classic egg and potato salad, but the variety of dishes this egg is present in may well be enough for a small book, I have seen Asian, European, American, Mexican and many other cuisines. There is something about the simplistic nature of this egg  that invites us to be creative with them

Meatballs, with a hard boiled egg piece is a classic dish in my house and to have meatballs with out an egg surprise is a big disappointment for my kids, ill post the recipe of this Mexican dish.

Be creative and Enjoy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

FOOD: From bold to mellow, from pungent to almost floral

I am enamored with spices.

We go way back and like most things the best way of learning about anything is by experimentation further more an adventurous gourmand is always rewarded and in this case I absolutely know I have.

I have found many great spices, however some I don’t ever buy again, too strong to difficult to control, others simply don’t appeal to me, however there are those that take a special place in my spice rack and like pepper this heavenly concoction, that is Indian but obviously from an Arabic background is a must “Garam Masala”.

Garam Masala is a key spice in many traditional Indian dishes, but its remarkably nimble, its traditionally a mix of black & white peppercorns, cloves, malabar leaves,cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown, & green cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds. but i have encountered many variations that more ingredients , how ever most agree on the these. its amazing stuff.

I’ve tried it on traditional Indian food as well as dry rubs, fried food, rice and many other dishes, it can be powerful if used in excess so care should be taken when using it but it also if used ever so lightly can be floral and delicious, even on sweets like biscuits and oatmeal cookies.

Even if you have never had Indian cuisine or if you are not particularly fond of it, take my word, its worth your time.

Enjoy JD

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FOOD: The mighty bean.

Few ingredients are as important to Mexican cooking as beans, and after all the wise cracks and stereotypes that accompany beans its clear that we don't eat enough of these low fat, high protein , fiber rich, iron packing beans as we should. this food is perfection.

Frijoles, in spanish are more than just a side dish and the love the Mexican people have for beans is not that much different form the love Irish have for potatoes, both nations resourceful at cooking these ingredients and helping them find their way to almost every dish we have.

I'm from the state of Chihuahua and Pinto beans rule in my state, you can have them in every meal and can go from very basic straight out if the pot (Olla) to fillings, rice dishes and the quintessential refried variety. In fact to most Mexicans the smell of fresh refried beans in bacon grease on a Sunday morning is just as appealing as Pancakes for the average American, my home town is the land of burritos and beans and asadero, a fresh cheese somewhat similar to mozzarella is the classic starter, all my children had this for their first burrito.

Many people buy canned beans and I must admit they have gotten better, but there is no substitute to fresh or frozen beans, here is how I make mine.

Prep time  12hr.. WOW but there is a reason I take so long.

Clean beans, inspect for rocks, twigs and any other thing that might be in the bag.
Rinse with cold water
for this recipe use a large Crockpot, place enough  beans so you have 2 to 3 inches before you get to the rim and cover with one inch of water
leave in Crockpot DO NOT TURN ON and go to work.
When you come back the beans will be soaked and ready for cooking
replenish water to one inch above beans
Add about one tsp of kosher salt per lb or beans. (mix in salt)
Cover and set on high.

All Crockpot are different but within 2 to 3 hours you will have fresh beans ready to enjoy.
try them straight form the pot, with some Chihuahua cheese, or Monterrey Jack cubes. the hot beens gently melt the cheese and the taste of milk and butter work great with the them.

cool the rest in the pot and freeze in small portions on zipper bags.

on my next bean post a homage to my Sinaloa friends. Frijoles Puercos.


Friday, October 1, 2010

FOOD: The thirfty oven.

I should call this post adventures in oven land. 

Lets start by confessing that I’m a little thrifty and really don’t like to see things go to waste, and a hot oven  going to waste really make me want to continue baking.

Yes I know its a little funny, I do live in a country with basically no winter, but still the idea of that perfectly pre heated oven going to waste because I don’t have any more cookie dough, just gets to me.

So I become adventurous, Vegetables, bread, quick cakes, toast, fish, you name it I’ve stuck it in the oven, some don’t work out that well, but some if I do say so myself are just brilliant. 

Just yesterday. I finished baking some cookies, and there was my predicament, my oven once more staring at me, almost demanding I do something with that hot oven, suddenly eureka.

I baptized the recipe QQ Quick Quiche; the dish is perfect for breakfast.

Let’s see what you think.

6 slices of white bread (Nature’s Pride country potato bread is perfect for this)
4 eggs
4 slices of ham
¼ Small onion
½ garlic clove
½ stick of butter
1/8 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Cream Cheese
Black sesame seeds

Real simple, take fluted pie mold or traditional quiche mold. Non stick or greased, cut white bread to 1 ½ inch squares and place all of it on the mold, on a separate container crack the 4 eggs, beat until perfectly mixed add, onion, garlic and pepper to taste. Make rolls with ham and cut widthwise, deposit curled strips over bread, mix, and slowly pour egg mixture over entire mold sprinkle Parmesan cheese over mixture, cut butter in 5 slices and deposit forming a cross and one on the center.

Bake QQ, until egg sets, about 15 min at 250 deg. Remove, from oven cool slightly and garnish with a spoon full of cream cheese and black sesame seeds over cheese.

Serve hot Yummy.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

SPIRITS: Cognac s'il vous plaît

Cognac the king of all spirits, liquid sophistication.

 Cognac is a tradition,  technique and a unique style to make brandy in one word.  Cognac can only be made with Colombard, Folle Blanche and Ugni blanc grapes, following the correct Charentaise method using copper pot stills in the delimited region south west from of Paris, the drink is an experience, and there is something magical on how all these things come together.

The result, a royal drink that keeps its place as the champion in a competitive world of spirits with out trying.. No heavy marketing needed when your name is synonymous to luxury.

Years ago I did not understand how the classification worked and what was considered higher end cognac eluded me, however its quite simple as you can see below..

VS  Very Special  at least two years in a cask
VSOP Very Special Old Pale, at least four years in a cask
XO Extra Old at least ten years in a cask, but current legislations states over 6
Vieille Réserve  a grade beyond XO.
Hors d'âge this is beyond age anywhere from twenty years and over.

I personal favorite so far is Martell Cordon Bleu. Deep golden, round and complex with Floral and spicy notes and a nutty finish, I find that its perfect for sipping or cooking.

Keep a bottle and treat yourself to perfection in a glass.


Friday, September 24, 2010

COFFEE: Oaxacan Pluma, can you taste the mountains?

High on the oaxacan mountains just hours drive form the paradise beaches of puerto escondido, there is a village that holds what could be Mexicos finest coffee.

The village is called Pluma Hidalgo, and its coffee is wonderful, I first experienced Pluma when a friend that knows im a coffee fanatic brought me some pre ground coffee he had purchased during his travels, I cant say I was amazed when I first saw the coffee, it was under toasted and the ground was inconsistent, how ever the smell was magnificent and I decided to give it a try.

I was blow away, by it, the coffee was almost sweet, with chocolate notes, the acidity was perfect and it was robust, lots of flavor and aroma... Wow all of that form pre-ground coffee, that traveled thousands of miles in a paper bag on someones luggage?  I was intrigued !!

I took me a little over a year to find Pluma and the most interesting thing is that it was easier to find Pluma via internet retailers than in the Mexico Texas border region where I have lived all my life,  but when I received my organic Pluma Coffee and opened that bag it was amazing, after grinding and brewing some, (I was not aware of the French press back then) I was transported to the jungle mountains of Oaxaca.  The coffee is rich all the chocolate and sweetness was still there but better, I like my roast to be a little on the dark side and this was it perfection in a cup.

My fellow readers, in the times we live now where everything is industrialized, to still find an organic coffee that is distinct and so rewarding is just magic a mini vacation in each cup.

So try to find some Pluma I am sure you wont be disappointed.

Enjoy  JD

Thursday, September 23, 2010

FOOD: Chocolate a la Mexicana

Chocolate in most cultures is synonymous to delicious, but in Mexico is also related to family, to sharing, tradition, cold nights and to a drink that warms our souls and and reminds us just how old this country really is.

Chocolate Caliente, simply translated hot chocolate is a tradition that pre-dates the conquest of mexico by Spain, it was a ceremonial drink for the Mayans and the cacao beans where so valuable to them they where used as currency and offerings to their Gods. Chocolate was a bitter and spicy drink and was not meant for all.

"Sorry man you can't have any.  This stuff is for royalty only ."

The recipie has evolved over the centuries and today it sweet flavor  with its cinnamon notes and deep chocolate taste, is so unikely Mexican that you can not find it anywhere else, Chocolate caliente is not your every day powder hot cocoa with milk, in fact and Ive never seen anyone stick a marshmallow on top, (what for?), this is potent stuff and I may add a little addictive.

Chocolate bar, Molinillo (wood frother) and hot chocolate.. YUMMM

The key ingredient is Chocolate de Mesa, you can get this at most latin markets or the latin section of your grocery store, and its a rustic chocolate bar, what that means is that the sugar is granulated, meant to be disolved in the hot milk, not your mouth, it has a hint of cinnamon that compliments chocolate perfectly.  Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, simmer and develop a froth with the molinillo, you cant get any simpler than that.

A few years ago a friend of mine was nice enough to bring me two whole cacao pods, the experience was amazing Im sorry I did not blog back then, each of the 20 to 30 cacao seed is covered with a delicious white pulp sweet and with a taste that I can only compare to a lychee, I then cleaned the seeds, dry them (sun or dehydrator) toasted them and used every ounce of strength in my body to pound them to a fine powder. add sugar and gently bring  up the temperature add a dash of ground cinnamon and mix until it starts to come together slightly.  the smell is incredible.

You end up with lumps of  chocolate paste. this my friends is one experience you will always remember .
So take my word and treat your self to a drink that once was reserved for royalty.


If you don't have a frother a whisk and some elbow grease will do the trick.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FOOD: Tinga'licious, go make some tacos!

Tinga is one of my favorite Mexican dishes, its amazing and so versatile that I've been know to eat it cold.

I have known Mexicans form at least 10 out of the 31 states that claim Tinga as a state creation, the truth of the matter is unknown to me, but what I do know is that Pork or chicken this dish is one of the best and  easiest meals to prepare.

If you have read my foodbuzz profile you should know I'm a pork fanatic and pork tinga is my favorite, in mexico we have carnitas establishments, and that is my favorite source for meat, carnitas is pork that has been marinated and deep fried in its own grease. how ever I know a trick where you can simply boil pork with some bay leaves and then brown it on a pan as a step for the preparation of tinga.

The heat in tinga comes form Chipotles en adobo, smoky chipotle chiles that have been preserved in a semisweet sauce ( I prefer the morena brand to any other) but the dish works well with almost any chipotle in adobo.

Here is a quick step by step most should be able to follow:

  • 2lb of carnitas or boiled pork
  • 10 oz of mexican chorizo
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 medium can of chipotles in adobo ( 8oz)
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed thyme
  • 1 cup stock chicken or pork.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Lots of tortillas

Heat a  large 10 to 12inch pan , add 3 spoons of oil and brown one large onion cut in strips brown , add one clove of minced  garlic and sauté until golden, set a side and brown 8 to 10 oz of Mexican chorizo, add the shredded carnitas or shredded boiled pork , lower the heat and cook until meat is brown and a little dry, at this point add a medium can of the chipotles in adobo, a dash of oregano salt pepper and thyme to the pan, return onions, mix well and add one cup of chicken or pork stock. evaporate until you can scrape  the bottom of the pan and you are ready.

top tacos  with cilantro


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WINE: Bubbly is not only for anniversaries.

It sounds like and endorsement campaign for producers of exceptional sparkling wine! 

But for me its a new discovery, for years I considered sparking wine a special drink reserved only for special occasions, not somethig you paired or enjoyed, but more of a statement of celebration and after that, well it would take another 12 months or other special event to justify opening another bottle of this magical drink.

I was so wrong!

I think most of the problem was that I interrupted my drink to toast with champagne and really wanted to go back to my drink , there for I never gave the sparkling wine an opportunity , but fortunately I have learned.

"Vino Tranquilo", Calm Wine in English is the way non sparking wine is called in Mexico and Spain, and opposite to calm is wild, and precisely that is what sparkling wine can be a bold flavorful wine that awakens your taste buds with every sip, a live refreshing dink that can be enjoyed anytime and almost any place.

I was privileged to have reacently toured a vineard un Mexico where they make sparking wines "Cava" in the traditional méthode Champenoise, (méthode traditionnelle) since its done outside the Champagne region, but still was amazed how much work goes in to producing this one of a kind drink. The staff is trained and temperatures and rotations are meticulosly recorded to ensure every bottle is at its optimum state. The end result, as I was able to taste in the vineyards hospitality room was worth all the effort .

Sparking wines deserve your attention and a place in our every day life, they are light and can easily be paired with almost all the same food as a ChardonnayRiesling or other good white wine, the mouth experience of a sparking wine is unique and to bring the sense of celebration to every day life is sure to bring smiles to you and your guests.

Enjoy. JD

Sunday, September 19, 2010

FOOD: If you bake it,, they will come..

Baking  is with out a doubt one of the greatest ways of bringing people together, no matter what goes in to the oven the end result usually is a mob of family and friends waiting for what ever came out to be cold enough to eat.

I love to observe this social behavioral and what's more I love to be the initiator of this get together. To see my children for once as interested in food as me, impatiently staring at the ovens door to catch a piece of the action whenever cookies or cake is baking, and to come home form work to be greeted by the warm smell of lasagna or any other baked food. its just magic.

I love baking and I am known for stuffing that oven with everything; ducks, beef, pork, pasta, fish, clams, vegetables you name it chances are Ive tried it. however I have great admiration for people who can bake bread.

Bread baking to me is the most challenging of all gastronomic events that exist, not because is difficult to do but because it so precise, in my mids there are two bakers, the professional trained and the type that have eaten their share of not so fabulous bread until all the trial and error payed off. and to both my respect. bread deserves its own post, sourdough bread, yeast rolls, ciabattas. hundreds of styles all delicious all basically the same ingredients all completely different and complex. how can you not respect the bread baker.

Bake my friends, bring your friends and families together, perhaps its baking that can keep us away form fast food and drive thru windows, help us to eat healthy and unite us with our loved ones.

Enjoy. JD

Saturday, September 18, 2010

SPIRITS: Rum, Ron, Rhum, Ром

No matter what your language is you probably have tried or heard of Rum, its a great drink its typically mixed on the low end of the scale while the really good stuff can be sipped like a whisky or cognac.

But perhaps to me the most appealing thing about rum is that its also a great ingredient,  I prefer to use in on cake, ice cream, flambes, chocolates and may deserts over most spirits it always adds a smoky note that I like. personally a bottle of aged rum is a must, and I prefer it over white rum, but there is good white rum available, pure as vodka and perfect for blending, mojitos and daiquiris.

I am lucky enough to have access to Cuban rum, and with some rare exceptions, I believe its the best stuff available, consistent, perfectly balanced and silky smooth, this rum is special, one thing that I really like about Cuban rum is that you can taste the smoky notes form the burning of the sugar cane prior to harvest, its a delicious burnt caramel flavor that comes trough even when mixed.

So find some good rum and think of it as more than just a mixer, good rum can also be luxurious.

Enjoy  JD

Friday, September 17, 2010

FOOD: Are you sure this is not Italian

In the southern mountains of Mexico in the state of  Michoacan a small town high in the mountains lends his name to an incredible cheese, little known outside this country.

Cotija is a mountain cheese and a lot of its flavor comes form the milk, cattle graze in the mountains and the herbal notes form the milk are present in the finished product, Cotija it a salted cheese, however it rarely over powers the sweetness and buttery notes.

There are many imitations of Cotija cheese but the real stuff is easy to distinguish, it has a hard edible rind very similar to parmigiano reggiano, and like it I have found that it can be used in the same way, its a very special cheese and its worth the time you spend looking for it.

Cotija also has a nutty taste that people love and its very hard to find, I live in Mexico and have to arrange a person to mail it to me, but if you are lucky to have a good cheese shop in your city  I am sure they will find a way to get it for you.

Good eating, Enjoy.

FOOD: Menudo, mornings.

Once more I find myself writing about Mexican food and in this case my hard work tonight will reward me with a steaming hot plate of Menudo tomorrow morning.

For my readers that have never had this Mexican specialty, Menudo is a dish prepared with the cows stomachs, specifically the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe), and its a very special dish, some say its an acquired taste yet some love it from the first spoon full. I personally enjoy this plate very much.

As far as I know there is no record on how old the tradition of Menudo is, but italians have a several tripe dishes notably Trippa alla fiorentina, so we should assume there might be some European influence in this dish.

Hard work indeed; tripe must be washed and rinsed, as much grease as possible must be removed from the meat, cut in to spoon size chunks, garlic must be pealed and the tripe must cooked for at least 6 hours to ensure it is not chewy. after that for the northern version I'm preparing, a Chihuahua style menudo a red chile paste must be cooked pureed and strained in to the boiling menudo and 1 hour before serving hominy must be added to the pot.

But believe me its all worth it. the Mexican breakfast of champions

Experiment and Enjoy.   JD

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FOOD: Viva Mexico Viva el Mole !

Its only logical, that today, as Mexico readies to celebrate 200 years of independence, I focus my attention on the flavors of Mexico, if you have been lucky enough to have tried our food, (real Mexican food) I'm sure you will enjoy this post.

Mole is my first choice to describe what fine Mexican food is, To call it a sauce just  isn't fair, Mole defies labels, it can be sweet, spicy, savory, it can have almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, it can be black, red, green, and every color in between, every region has its own version and to my opinion they are all delicious.

Traditional grinding of mole with stone metate.

Poblano mole is the perfect place to start your mole experience and store bought mole paste is not bad it just needs some tweaking, try to develop your mole taste, I suggest you start sweet and work your way to hot Poblano, you do this by adding more Mexican chocolate to the mix, another great tip is never use water to thin you mole paste, chicken stock or if you are going for real authentic turkey stock, serve mole thinned mole when it has a think gravy consistency over a piece of chicken or shredded turkey, garnish with sesame seed and serve hot, traditionally a side dish of  Mexican rice is in order. and please easy on the cumin, Mexicans really don't eat that much cumin specially on rice.

Viva Mexico and like always Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WINE: Serious about my red.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Merlot, all very popular grapes.

And for most American drinkers its with one of these they had the first wine experience, but in Spain, a sun drenched peninsula known for its marvelous wine, most drinkers grow enjoying a different grape a small little grape, a grape that in Rioja and in Ribera del Duero  its transformed in to a wine that every year gets elevated to new heights that can make any wine envy.

Tempranillo is this little grape, and the wine you can make form it is a very serious wine by this I mean no nonsense, this wine has presence on your palate, balanced tannins and favors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herbs. Its good when its young its amazing when its been aged in oak, so far I have not been disappointed by tempranillo, I prefer Paternina but most Spanish producers have amazing tempranillo wines, I like their character and the fact that you can get great vintage wine at good prices.

It has been called Spain’s noble grape for a reason.

Try it and Enjoy


Saturday, September 11, 2010

FOOD: Better than butter? I doubt it.

Certainly more than a couple hundred foodies have written about butter, its basic for baking and French cuisine and as ghee absolutely necesary for Indian cuisine.

However I must admit that for years I fell prey to the media boycott on butter, I neglected this marvelous ingredient. abandoned butters richness and aroma for Margarine....

Never again.

 I have a special relationship with butter and I almost find it difficult to cook without it... OK I exaggerated. But butter and I are close, butter does have some weaknesses, its smoke point is not very high unless clarified, and past the browning stage, butter can burn a develop unpleasant flavors, I call browning the point  where melting butter develops color and a deep nutty taste that is unique to butter.

Butter works on, all types of protein, vegetables, breads and I find it hard to think what not to put butter on but one word of advice for all you butter lovers, if you keep your butter in the fridge, your killing your butter. taste.

Buy a butter bell, or a butter caddy, refrigerate what you have not opened but once open, DONT PUT IT BACK ON THE FRIDGE.

Find the coolest spot in you kitchen and let it be butters new home. and like always.

Enjoy. JD

WINE: Muscat richness

I am fond of Moscatel Fortified wine, its rich and silky on the pallate and the taste is reminiscent of raisins, with a heavy bouquet, its perhaps one of the oldest desert wines, the Moscatel variety from Valencia, Spain is particularly interesting.

Muscat grapes are special, and once fortified in the true Valencia stile, the result is a super sweet light syrupy wine thats perfect for desert.

 I love to incorporate it in a small cheese and quince paste  mix that I make, Monterrey or Chihuahua cheese cubes, quince paste cubes and a dash of moscatel. its a beautiful side dish for duck or lamb.

The taste is amazing and if you see it in the store its a definite buy.

Enjoy!  JD

Thursday, September 9, 2010

FOOD: Plantains, its ok to go bananas.

Plantains are a staple food in much of central and south america, they are delicious and for reasons I do not comprehend unpopular in the US.  perhaps its the idea of cooking fruit to eat it,

However they could not be simpler to prepare and a great side dish for rice, chicken and spicy food. Steamed, boiled, grilled, baked, or fried plantains have a distinct flavor that can not compare to bananas its much more subtle and quite aromatic.

I love to cut them in wedges and frying them in unsalted butter on a non stick pan until golden , when they are golden on both sides but still firm, remove, pat dry with a towel  add more butter to the pan, granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg  until caramelization begins return the plantains to the pan and coat them in caramel  let them sit for a few seconds, remove from pan in to a silicon sheet or wax paper and let cool.

The cinnamon, nutmeg sugar will be crispy the plantains tender and delicious perfect to eat as desert or in a Sunday.

Enjoy  JD.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

FOOD: Garlic on everything

To me writing and reading about ingredients is very rewarding, I love to read blogs that tackle the perfect dish, the best restaurant and the perfect recipe, but its ingredients that get my creativity going and wake my passion for cooking and experimenting.

Garlic, is one of those ingredients that no self respecting foodie should ever be with out, it’s basic. It builds aroma, adds flavor a little spice and personality to a plate.

As far as good manners …. Garlic can be a bully, it can easily overpower you pallet and in some cases render food inedible, so care should be taken while using garlic. Since every head of garlic is different I have found the best way to gage how much to use is by smell specifically the woody end off the individual clove prior to mincing, your looking for the strength (pungency) and use this to imagine how it will flavor your dish and how much you need.

Garlic powder is acceptable for dry rubs and some applications where minced garlic is not the best choice, but in general there is no substitute for fresh pealed garlic it how its meant to be, also the green shoots and flowers are edible delicious and can really dress a plate.

Crack open a garlic bulb and play with some cloves, I love to make roasted garlic butter with herbs, it’s so easy my kids can make it and so satisfying.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SPIRITS: Whisky blend or not to blend

For this blogger the answer is not....

Blended whisky in general is not one of my favorite things in the world, the benefit of a blended scotch should be to guarantee the continuity of flavor for decades, but in this quest scotch looses its individual characteristics that come from the place this elixir was made.  Blending is not bad, but the real pickle is the fact that most blended whisky has neutral grain whisky.

In contrast Single Malt whisky, is unadulterated and still has its unique flavors that come form the 4 basic building blocks. Barley, Peat, Water and yeast, the micro climates from each region and the smoky notes from the barrel the whisky matured on.  Yummy!

Single Malt varies from region to region the Highlands, Speyside, Isle of Jura & Lowlands all have unique character and are to be experienced to be understood.

I am fond of Speyside whisky, specially one of the oldest distillers know, Aberlour every bottle every time its always exquisite,  whisky so good and so perfect that adding mineral water to it is almost a crime.

Experts say whisky should be served at room temperature one part scotch to one part spring water to bring out the flavor and smell compounds in this elixir. Ive done this and I do enjoy it but an old fashion glass and ice thats my favorite way of enjoying scotch.

I am not a connoisseur yet, just a simple foodie that loves to enjoy himself with the gastronomical treasures that abound ,guilty whisky obsession...

Enjoy..  JD

Monday, September 6, 2010

WINE: Malbec, as red as it gets

There is something about wine that almost certainly appeals to most drinkers, like most things gourmand you cant go wrong with one ingredient that has been processes masterfully, and the more I experience and learn the more obvious this fact is to me.

I have never met a person that is neutral about  wine you either like it or you don’t, Personally I love a good wine, and I’m not really a wine snob but I do have my preference.

A full bodied semi dry wine with a big fruity nose, does the trick for me every time.

Like all initiated wine drinkers I have my favorite varieties that I purchase on a regular basis one such wine you will always find in my house is Malbec, this deeply fruity grape was popularized in Bourduex France, its used blended with other popular grapes form the region. But it’s by itself and not as a blend that this blogger thinks Malbec shines, the flavor is intense the nose inviting and the tannins are balanced in a very satisfying palate.

Argentinean Malbec from Mendoza is one of my favorites, the favor is consistent and it pairs with steak marvelously, I have tried Chilean and Australian , but the Mendoza region does have the advantage for now, its just perfect every time.

So go and discover Malbec for your self, I am sure that you will find its a very interesting and satisfying experience, who knows perhaps it will become one of your favorites too.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

FOOD: Cheddar Cheese thank the Mayans for its color

Most Cheddar, yellow and delicious owes its distinct color to a little seed from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico called Annatto, its the seed from the Achiote tree (Bixa orellana) and in my opinion a use that only takes the color from this seed but not its flavor.
Achiote seed pod, with Annatto seeds.

And flavor not color is where Annatto is truly remarkable, known in Mexico as Achiote, its the base for Cochinita Pibil a delicious slow roasted pork dish that deserves its own post, Annatto's taste has an interesting mix of flavors and an intoxicating aroma thats earthy and hints citrus and spicy chiles pepper and cloves yet there is absolutely no heat, and like pepper it has the ability to balance flavors Annatto has  great manners,  you need to really abuse it for it to overwhelm a dish.

Most latin markets will have it in paste form and its the best way to get it the seeds are so hard any ordinary spice grinder would have a hard time with this seed.

Use it mostly on pork and chicken, perfect for grilling and for the oven,  I even add a bit to my marinade when I barbecue a beef porterhouse or ribs. get it and explore


Friday, September 3, 2010

FOOD: Pimentón de la Vera..

Spices are amazing they add dept, complexity and can enhance favors to their absolute best.

But there are some, not many,  that clearly stand out form the rest, they define a dish invade your taste, smell and sight and make experiences out of meals. Pimenton de la Vera, is just that type of spice the spice for life.

You can find Pimentón de la Vera at most gourmet food store, the really good stuff comes in small tins and it has a stamp that certifies it comes from the La Vera region. Its from Spain obviously, and you could say its paprikas well off relative, you know the classy uncle, deeply smoky its not acidic nor is it peppery, its just perfect and it will make any dish taste like you spent hours cooking.

Paella  is not paella with out,  I have used in in everything form mashed potatoes and omelets, to marinades and pot roasts, its just versatile and delicious.

Good Eating

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ooh La La ,,, la Cafetière à piston française

AKA the French press, like many other French gastronomic tools is a perfect blend of function and style.

My love for Coffee is no secret, I enjoy a good cup any time of day, love it hot, cold, with desert, as an ingredient, with a dash of cognac you name it. There are so many aromas and flavors that just thinking of coffee starts to wake me up.

So 3 years ago when I discovered a small 3 cup French press at my local gourmet store and decided to buy it I immediately started a love affair with the little steel and glass contraption that soon displaced all other coffee makers from my counter. it was love at first sip.

The process is very simple,

  1. Heat water
  2. Add your favorite coffee grounds to the press, 
  3. Pour hot water in to press
  4. Mix lightly 
  5. Wait for crema to develop(froth)
  6. Insert plunger  ans press

FOOD: Annona, fruit for thought

Fruit is most definitely a godsend, ready to eat from the tree and absolutely delicious.

Yet to most Americans and Mexicans three images come to mind when thinking about fruit, Apples and Bananas and Oranges, that’s right  3 out of the thousands of edible fruits available for human consumption, never understood why……

Being a self proclaimed foodie and a fruit lover, I do my share of experimentation, but was surprised last week when I was introduced to Annona squamosa (also called sugar-apple), the fruit is beautiful yet so exotic it’s a little scary, but you will be rewarded with what I describe as a delicious combination of Mango ice-cream with a hint of banana and pear. MMM so good.

More of this fruit needs to be marketed, try to find it you will be surprised.

My mind is going in 1000 directions imagining recipes for this natural taste treasure.

Good eating

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sharing food, True friendship 101

Perhaps one of the most primordial of all social behaviors, yet in this new  i-Era we take this for granted and some even neglect it all together.. Why, maybe its this i-Idea, I, as in I alone that invites us to separate ourself from our peers, yet the urge to socialize is so primordial that we flock to social media to cure our loneliness.

Instead, this blogger recommends that you wake this primordial urge, and share more food, put down that novel, leave your cubicle and release your inner thoughts and share some emotion, share some food.

Family ties are strengthened by sharing a meal, and discovering the gastronomic likings of your peers and friends is a great cultural experience, new and often exiting food is just a mess hall  table away.

Too many benefits to mention it simply makes sense,  we all need to engage in this healthy habit.

FOOD: What about coffee

Well its that time again,  morning kicks in and you need a caffeine fix...

Unfortunately that sums up coffee for a good portion of the world population but may I recommend that if you only do it to get up SKIP COFFEE... take a caffeine pill, cold shower or even a morning jog.

Coffee if done right should be a complete experience, the smell and taste should get your attention long before the caffeine, there is no universal perfect cup, and contrary to the popular idea to finding what you like and sticking with it for your whole life I suggest experimentation, each region cultivar and roast method add to the complexity of this infusion, now don't get me wrong you may just find something your not willing to give up, but even then keep trying.

Buy yourself a French press and prepare to get introduced to coffee, for years this blogger used drip coffee makers, espresso machines, percolators, even instant. but nothing compares to a French press its just perfect, and the control you have over the result is incredible, form the strength to the color, form the crema ( froth) to the bitterness and aroma, all at your control.

No brands, No specific region, No Ideal roast.. all you need is to work on making coffee and experience.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Look at your self

Chances are no matter how odd you are, your made to be successful in you own ecosystem.
I took this in a Zoo in the Yucatan peninsula, and was amazed on how exotic this is to us but how perfect its for him to look for food and find mates. designed for success, this bird will never try to be something its not.

The moment of truth.....

As we are bombarded every day with a thousand products to make us happy, a hundred charities to make us share and millions of news bites that inform us on what individual corporations want us to know.

This blogger will attempt to put this all in perspective, and try to pick form the mess what is relevant, not to me but to what we can call universal happiness.

Join me it will be fun.

Take two a day and call me!

Instructions on how to live a fulfilling life.

Friendship,Food,Wine & spirits plus the most valuable currency in the planet a positive attitude.