Archive for the ‘Home Cooking’ Category
Used to be if you wanted to take advantage of a “home meal delivery” service, the companies that were available in the genre were focused on weight loss; or you could try and put together your own plan with a company like Schwans.
But lately we been presented with a gaggle of choices from different companies, catering to all types of diets and tastes, as well as subscriptions that send portion control ingredients for you to cook at home, or fully prepared fresh “heat and eat” meals from companies like IONutrition. These guys are focused on fresh, organic, wholesome meals, and you can subscribe to a pure vegetable diet or one that includes animal protein.
They comped me some samples, and first off I went for the Butternut Portobello French Lentils with Salmon, which is ready to go after only two minutes in the microwave.
The ingredients are so straightforward it’s a breath of fresh air: Salmon, lentils, onion, carrots, mushroom, sweet potato, squash, eggplant
almond, tumeric, cumin, parsley, garlic, sea salt, filtered water. What, seriously? None of those ingredients you can’t pronounce or have no idea what they are? Wow. Outstanding, folks.
Another significant difference with IoNutrition is they don’t have freezers chock-a-block full of frozen meals; they prepare your order right when you place it, and ship it out in a gently refrigerated box.
Watching calories, carbs or fats? You’ll dig this nutritional information. 15 ounce serving = 537 calories, fat 2, carbs 55, fiber 16, protein 46. Meals are gluten and dairy free,organically sources elements. Eat them at home or amp up your daily office lunch.
The big question? How was it? Fantastic. Seriously. As good or better than anything I could fix at home, and possibly the best salmon I’ve had in years. Additionally, the creative blending of spices and flavors in the sides is a real nice change.
If I haven’t given you enough reasons to try them out, know that IONutrition is a ’caused-based’ business and supports several charity partners.
Ionutrition Meal Home Delivery Review
Seattle based Trident Seafood is America’s largest seafood processor, with plants across the lower 48 and Alaska. They create seafood offerings for the retail and commercial markets. Consumer products are available under eight different brand names. I picked up Trident brand’s “Alaska Fish & Chips” a heat and eat product of fried pollock and french fries.
This is an oven baked product, about 20 minutes at 450. Usually my “complaint” if I have one, is failure of the fried food to get crispy, but such is not the case with this product.
The fish and fries come packaged separately (not sure why there is a difference in color of the cello), but can be baked together, same pan, same amount of time. At my store, this was on sale for a little over five bucks, and the package claims it feeds two. Four small fillets are included, along with an ample serving for the thick fries.
I am usually prepared to not like “heat and eat” fish, because budget fish sticks were regularly in appearance at my mother’s dinner table. Along with mayo with chopped chives for a ‘tartar’ sauce. They weren’t very enjoyable.
Fortunately, there is nothing about Trident’s Fish & Chips that reminds me of those old fish sticks. This is great. Fish and fries are crispy, with great flavor. Easy to fix, and at full retail, about $3,00 per plate, which is a bargain these days. There are other varieties, as well.
Trident and their sister brands are available in grocers about everywhere, and some of their products are available at their own online store.
Trident Fish & Chips Review
I keep hoping that a single one of these restaurant branded foods you find in the grocery is worth buying a second time; unfortunately, in my opinion, that hasn’t happened. This is my second Red Robin product, I tried their fries previously, which didn’t wow me. They are an extruded potato product, something I am never crazy about.
The rings called for baking at 400 for 20 minutes with a flip mid stream. I pulled them out and they weren’t crispy at all, but “crisped up” as the time passed that they were removed from the oven. Downside? By the time they are crisp, they are cold.
For my personal palate, these had not enough onion compared to the breading. I’m ok with substantial breading, as long as their is substantial onion within! At least they are better than those frozen rings that use onion bits. But they are also “seasoned,” something I don’t care for. Their frozen fries were seasoned “hot,” and these have some kind of seasoned salt.
All in all, it was a valiant experiment on my part, but I wouldn’t buy them again. Like any product I write about, you may find them ideal.
Red Robin Frozen Onion Rings Review
(The Hmong are members of mountainous tribes across Southeast Asia, but many of the refugees come from Laos).
Today there are nearly 80,000 Hmong living in Minneapolis- St. Paul, and of course, any indigenous group (and this is the largest urban population of Hmong in the world) needs to conduct commerce.
To that end, a couple of different Hmong marketplaces have sprung up in St. Paul, and I visited one on Como Avenue within sight of the state Capitol. Spread throughout and outside several buildings, inside you’ll find narrow, winding corridors with shops selling all manners of goods, like DVDs, CDs, clothing, home remedies, and of course, food. There are at least two meat sellers and many fresh vegetable stands (think of them as Asian farmer’s markets) and the produce is an unusual addition for the home cook and very economically priced.
Should you feel a might peckish during your shopping, rest assured there are many hot food stands, whether your taste leans toward pho, noodle dishes, rice plates, or giant sausages on a stick, you’ll find something to satisfy your appetite.
The Hmong Marketplace is open 8AM – 8PM seven days at 217 Como Avenue. You should check it out.
Hmong Marketplace Review
It’s been two weeks since I completed the first step of making beer at home with the Mr. Beer kit. The mixture has been ‘brewing’ in the brew keg, and today I washed the (furnished) bottles and caps with the special “no dry” was solution that comes with the kit.
The kit includes tablets (made of sugar and wheat) to stimulate carbonation, and for these size bottles, you use two tabs per bottle. Drop those in.
Open the spigot on the keg, tilt each bottle to the tap and fill to within two inches from the top, screw on the caps.
Now more waiting – another 14 – 21 days is required for the beer to be completely ready and carbonated, and you can check if they are ready by squeezing the bottles – a completely hard bottle means it’s ready!
Chill and consume. Repeat.
mr beer reviews
When the good folks at MrBeer approached me and asked if I would like to try out their home brew kit, I said “heck yes!” America has gone “beer crazy” the past few years, with all the micro-brews, gastropubs, and specialty drinks.
You can’t get much more ‘micro’ and artisan than brewing your own at home!
Mr Beer started over 20 years ago in Dallas – a budding entrepreneur wanted to figure out a way for the public to make quality beer, easily, at home. After developing the concept and taking it successfully to market, he sold the company to a Phoenix businessman, who continued to build the business and taking it to the next level, ultimately creating a global brand when he sold it to Australia’s Cooper Brewery in 2011.
Coopers is Australia’s largest family owned brewery, and was established in 1862. Their brewing expertise has helped expand Mr. Beer to be able to offer over a hundred popular brews, from basic American style lagers, to seasonal beers, fruity quaffs, hard ciders, and even root beer!
If you’re new to home brewing, like I was (but I won’t be anymore, it’s soooooooo easy!), start with one of Mr. Beer’s complete kits that include everything you need to get started: ingredients, brewing vessel, bottles, caps, printed instructions and a “how to video” that comes in English, French, and Spanish. Kits come with the capacity to make between two and six gallons.
There are just a few steps to your first batch. MrBeer makes it so easy, that if you can boil water, you can make beer (or apparently, sometimes help deliver a baby, I am told).
Everything you need for your first batch is included in the kits. The first step is to insert the ‘tap’ into the brewing vessel, and then proceed to clean the vessel with the included cleanser, which doesn’t require any rinsing. Put some cold water in the keg, dissolve the cleanser, swirl, drain.
In the meantime, you’re boiling a couple cups of water while running the included can of hops/malt mixture under hot water to make the thick contents a little more viscous.
Fill the vessel with cold water in the amount instructed (it depends on which size of kit you purchased), open the can of mixture and stir into the boiling water, which you have removed from the heat.
When it’s thoroughly mixed, at it to the brewing vessel and add the remaining water as instructed. Dump in the included envelope of yeast, cover, and let sit two weeks.
So check back here in a couple weeks and we’ll show you how to handle the bottling part, and later, the drinking part! This is SOOOOO easy, even for me, a “kitchen idiot!”
Home Brewed Beer with Mr. Beer Review
(Mr. Beer furnished the kit and supplies for me to try their product).
Kimchi is the national dish of Korea, a melange of fermented vegetables, primarily cabbage, seasoned with garlic, cilantro, scallions and radish. It has been around since ancient times.
The original “aioli” is like mayonnaise, an emulsion of egg yolk, oil, and garlic. It is thought to have originated in Provence, France. There are many variations on the recipe in different cultures and regions across Europe.
Tulkoff Foods of Baltimore is seizing on the trend of introducing exciting flavors to American consumers, and has rolled out Spicy KimChi Aioli. It can be used as a mayonnaise replacement on sandwiches, burgers, as a dressing or dip. It has an orange tint, and pieces of cilantro, garlic and cabbage are very evident. Hving lived in Asia for a number of years, I’ve become aware of some of the subtle nuances of regional foods, and am happy Tulkoff, for one, is introducing these flavors to the US market.
This is an exciting new addition to my condiment choices, and I usually have a raft of them, many sampled to be never used again. Not this. My first pass was on a chicken sandwich, and it took my lunch to an entirely new level. Added to a hamburger the next day, with “non-conventional” vegetables, such as raw cukes and radishes, it was an entirely new taste and texture sensation, transforming anold favorite into an all new favorite!
Tulkoff’s Spicy Kimchi Aioli comes in a partially clear 18 ounce squeeze bottle, with a hinge squeeze cap and sealed for safety on store shelves. It’s Orthodox Union certified Kosher.
Now in its third generation of family ownership, Tulkoff dates back to the early 1930s, when Harry and Lena Tulkoff started a small concern to sell produce. As their business grew, costumers took a special shine to the Tulkoff’s prepared horseradish, and the family opted to focus on that segment.
From that humble beginning, Tulkoff has grown into a national manufacturer and wholesaler of dressings, horseradish products, sauces, dips, and garlic products, in fact, over 400 products!
They are also well respected as a co-packer; a co-packer is a company that is contracted by other brands (or stores) to make products to the brand’s specifications.
The company has some very creative recipes on their website, worth checking out.
You can find Tulkoff products at many fine supermarket chains nationwide, check out this list for a chain near you! We’ll be reporting on more of Tulkoff’s offerings in the future, I am sure.
(Eds. Note) Product was furnished by the manufacturer for this review.
Tulkoff Spicy Kimchi Aioli
Kim Harvey may well be the woman of my dreams – inventor, entrepreneur, kitchen magician, bakery brainiac, yard yoda – she has all the bases covered.
Ms Harvey reached out and asked me if I’d like to try out her “Microwave Magic” cookware – patented technology to cook burgers (and other foods) in your microwave in minutes.
With proprietary technology, the unit steams, vents and browns ground beef with less mess and hassle than your usual cooking methods.
That’s right, no spattering grease or clean up from a skillet, no pre-heating your outdoor BBQ just to use for a couple of minutes.
As the internet’s acknowledged “burger expert” (LOL), I admit I was skeptical. If you’re a regular reader, you know that even if I have a product that CAN be microwaved, I usually opt for the conventional oven method.
So the trial began. I took a pound of 85/15 chuck and divided it into four portions and pre-seasoned (Generally Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning). The utensil has three pieces – a collection tray, the burger tray, and cover. The burger tray has pinholes in the bottom of the wells to allow fat to drip through to the collection tray – and yes, that means a healthier burger, as well!
Since this is the first time I have used this tool, I experimented with time, and after six minutes in a 1000w microwave, I produced a perfect medium well burger. I was amazed, truly, starting to eat the burgers, that there was absolutely no taste or texture difference than if I had fried or grilled the burgers. In the pic, you’ll even notice the patty browning, generally associated with direct heat cooking!
Here’s the even better news. A minute in soapy water and the Microwave Magic cookware is clean and ready to go. No wiping the range top, no scraping the grill grates. Sweet.
Microwave Magic kitchen tools will soon be available at selected outlets everywhere including TV shopping channels; until then, get ’em here. Dishwasher safe, unbreakable, and made in the USA! Highly recommended.
Microwave Magic Cookware
I’ve been on a mission over the past couple years to find deli meat brands I can “call my own.” That is, that I can purchase and enjoy every time without concern for taste or texture. I’ve looked at a lot of them, and when I say deli “roast beef,” I include any kind of meat that started from a beef round.
So here’s the rundown on my favorites:
Second place – Dietz and Watson
You’re gonna pay double for the top two as opposed to the bottom three. But for my taste, they are well worth the coin.
Deli Counter Roast Beef Smackdown
I first heard of, and experienced the “pastrami dip” at a West Los Angeles icon, Johnnie’s Pastrami, on Sepulveda near the Culver City border. It’s a favorite corner of mine, also home to “Cinco de Mayo” (formerly Lucy’s #2) a Los Angeles style Mexican fast food stand open all night. I used to sit there in the middle of the night and write. Behind it is Tito’s Tacos, another local joint you’re bound to have to stand in line for. There’s a pretty fair pizza in the next block, as well. I like this corner so much, I have been known to hole up in a crappy motel across Sepulveda for a weekend and indulge myself….on several planes.
There are a couple of different Los Angeles places that claim to have invented the “French Dip” a couple thousand years ago, and surely the pastrami dip is an off-shoot. You can sort out that whole “origin” thing at that online bastion of misinformation, Wikipedia, if you want, at their article on the French Dip.
Making the sandwich at home isn’t particularly challenging. Buy some high quality pastrami (high quality = at least $12 and up a pound), stuff it in a French roll, and prepare a dip.
Cheat on the dip by buying a packet of dry mix at the grocery, or beef bullion and adding (at least ) 5 cloves of garlic and simmering for an hour. Or the better way, deglaze a pan from a beef roast and make au jus from “scratch.’ My favorite way.
The Chicago version of the French Dip is called “Italian Beef” which is a marvel in itself. I’ve written a lot of posts on Italian Beef.
Pastrami Dip Recipe