Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pork Shoulder Roast

I cannot stop talking about the pork shoulder roast! I don't know if we are blessed here in Portland, Oregon with unusually inexpensive pork cuts (I hazard to guess that we are not and that pork is generally somewhat inexpensive), but I frequently pick up a bone in shoulder for $.99 a lb. and if I get a four pounder, then that good sized chunk of meat feeds a dinner party of six or else it feeds me for a week. This dinner is easily listed in the economy meals section of any cooking publication.
Every year I go camping with a bunch of beautiful people and we plan a huge family dinner together out in the woods. I volunteered to brine and barbecue the pork shoulder roast as the best and most inexpensive way to feed my group of thirty people. Eyes lit up and smiles crooked and people started cheering when I mentioned that I could quit easily do barbecued pork tacos for the group. My vegetarian friends sat and silently yearned for my famous pork tacos.
So first thing I did was to keep an eye out for when the sale comes around and buy four big portions of the bone in pork shoulder roast. Each shoulder is somewhere around four pounds. Into the freezer they go until needed. Sure it takes a couple of days to thaw out, but with proper planning that is merely a fore thought. So the process starts many days before the camping trip actually begins.
The four hunks of pork shoulder roast were tossed into a basic brine, with some added chili flakes for twenty four hours. After I took the from the brine I patted them dry and put a little spicy, Mexican dry rub on them and tossed them on the barbecue with the coals shunted to the side to create indirect heat. After about an hour and a half I began to hover around the barbecue, occasionally prodding and probing the pork shoulder roast with me my meat thermometer.
I allowed the pork shoulder roast to reach 155 degrees, pulled it and allowed it to rest and cool. I then picked it apart and bagged the meat to go into the refrigerator until we departed for camp the next day. When the time came for dinner we brought out all the salsas, started frying corn tortillas, heated up the vegetarian black beans. I decanted the pork shoulder roast into a cast iron skillet, heated it up, and enjoyed a very lovely, delicious and inexpensive dinner out in the forest.

How to Find the Best Appetizer Recipes for a Party

Sometimes, organizing a party can be a very difficult task: you have to decorate the place you are going to use for the party, you have to select the music your guests will be listening to and you have to choose the dishes you will serve to your guests. The most difficult of all is to find simple appetizer recipes which must be delicious, easy to cook and prepared in a very short time.
Complicated appetizer recipes are difficult to cook and do not allow you to enjoy the party. This is why the best you can do is to look for the easiest recipes. The most important of all is to use your imagination and to be creative. Your guests will appreciate the taste and the flavor that your appetizers have and not the way they were cooked. You just have to know how to create the perfect mix of texture and taste. You just have to use the right ingredients to meet all your guests food preferences. This is why, the best you can do before organizing a party is to ask your guests about their preferences: ask them if they are vegetarians or which are their favorite dishes. This way you will not fail and you will make them all happy.
If you do not want to ask your guests for their preferences and you wish to surprise them, choose appetizer recipes which can satisfy any taste: look for appetizer recipes which contain vegetables, fruits and meat. Prepare different platters, such as cheese platters, vegetables platters and different types of meat platters. This way you can be sure that your guests will be impressed and will appreciate the fact that you have been thinking about them. Use your imagination and impress your guests by decorating your platters with parsley leaves, tomato slices or lemon slices.
They will look good and your guests will love them. If you do not have time to cook and prepare the dishes for you party, you can also look for already cooked ones. You can find them in supermarkets: some of them are fresh and you just have to display them on platters and some of them are frozen and you have to use the microwave to prepare them. Either way, it will last just a few minutes. Still, the best solution is to order your appetizers from a catering company: Appetizers To Go are probably the best choice. You can be sure that your guests will love them because they taste deliciously, they look great and they are fresh and healthy too.

Italian Cuisine

Italian cuisine is undoubtedly one of the best known and appreciated in the world and restaurants serving Italian cuisine in the world among the most popular by far, though often they have lost their ties with the homeland and the plates, therefore, have taken a local results, with crippling sometimes bordering on comedy.
The great strength of Italian cuisine, and, paradoxically, also its limit, is the great diversity that characterizes it. The cuisine of most states has a variety moving from region to region according to differences in climate, land, and the historical ones. In Italy these factors is extremely varied and diverse, have brought Italian cuisine to what it is, a kitchen that is very different by simply moving a few hundred miles.
The differences in climate and land are obvious: it goes from the Alps, with typical mountain climate, the Po Valley, continental climate, the hills of central, coastal areas, up to the southern regions and islands, with their temperate climate. These differences have an impact not only on the available raw material (for example the fish on the coast, inland to the flesh), but also on processed products. Think of a product used in the classic Italian cuisine such as sausages. In Emilia Romagna there is a humid climate with cold winters perfect for seasoning meats, which allows a minimal addition of salt and then the production of sausages and "soft", in Tuscany the unfavorable environment requires the use of much salt, in the south has forced the addition of even more aggressive seasonings like chili pepper and other spices, to ensure the conservation and cover any unpleasant flavors of the meat.
The factor that most influenced Italian cuisine is, however, the historical one: the tumultuous history of our country, made up of continuous invasions and a high degree of fragmentation in the states and small states has led to a great cultural diversity which has greatly influenced the cuisine of each area. For example, dishes and typical cuisine of Emilia are Lombard and French-style, cow's meat and pork, butter and milk. Entering Romagna, just out from the province of Bologna, traditional cuisine changes radically: the cheeses are sheep, sheep meat is consumed so much, and you use the extra virgin olive oil. The boundary that determines those differences is what divides the state of the Church and Lombard rule, first tied to the traditions of pastoralism and cultivation of the second related to the breeding of cattle. Such examples, there are dozens, all over the Italian territory, and that is why Italian food has become what it is, a collection of dozens of local and regional cuisines.
The disadvantage of not having a national cuisine Italian
The French do not deny we have a national cuisine, a true "Italian cuisine", but had only a strong local cuisine, based on the "grandma's dishes, so good, but certainly not refined. No accident that the great dishes of Italian cuisine famous around the world are actually simple dishes to fast food, like pizza or classic cuisine of the poor, such as pasta with tomato sauce. In contrast, the French cuisine is recognized as a great and fine cuisine with its rich national dishes: the great pastries, great dishes of meat, great cheese, egg dishes, etc.. In other words, less variety, but with major "pillars".

Using Video to Get More Traffic to Your Website

One thing that has happened over the past couple of years is the dramatic increase in the popularity of video on the web. This has happened as more and more people get faster and faster connections and video compression, hosting, capture and marketing capabilities have improved.
So, as a marketer, what can you do to integrate video into your site and how can you use video marketing to get more traffic to your website?
That's what this article is all about...
The Quickest Easiest Way To Create Video
There are tons of video cameras out there in the marketplace, and as time goes by they are getting easier and easier to use. However, of all the fun and easy cameras I've seen, there is one that stands head and shoulders about the rest, and that is the FLIP camera by PureDigital. You can find them by doing a search on Google, and I have to tell you that once you get one and start using it, you're going to get addicted!
The FLIP is perfect because you have so little that can go wrong. It has a big red button that you punch to start and stop recording, a little video screen to monitor what you're filming, a great built in mic that captures the sound, and that's pretty much it. Push the button, point the camera like a point and shoot digital still camera and you're shooting video! Pretty simple, huh?
Getting Your Video Onto Your Computer
Video capture, getting it from the camera to your computer, can be a hassle with some cameras, which is another huge advantage of the FLIP. The FLIP has a button you push and wooooosh, out pops a USB connector that you can plug directly into any available USB slot on your computer. And... voila, you are connected.
Transferring Your Video To Your Computer
Having plugged your FLIP camera into your USB slot on your computer, now you just open like any other external hard drive and copy the files over to your computer. Easy as pie.
Editing Your Videos
You can edit your videos using the software that comes with the FLIP camera, but I prefer to do it using video editing software that already comes installed on your Windows computer. Go to your Start Menu and under programs look for MovieMaker. It's a very cool, east-to-use program that you can figure out how to work without a manual and you can use it to cut, split, add titles and do other cool stuff to your videos.
There are other video editing programs out there. You can download a free copy of Vegas as a trial download from Sony's website, and Adobe makes a great video editing solution that includes timelines, tele-prompters, stock music and other goodies. It's called Visual Communicator (silly name, but great software) and it can give you a really polished look. But, hey, I like free stuff, so for me MovieMaker works just fine.
For you Mac types, there's iMovie, which is the bomb diggity MacIntish editing software for ease of use and lack of high cost.
Once you have your video shot, captured and edited, what's next?
Pushing Your Video To The World
After you have your video in the format you want it in, the next step is to get it out to the world so everyone can see what an awesome director and videographer you are, oh, and also they can see your stuff and hopefully like it enough to want to go to your website and find out more about you and whatever you are marketing.
Of course, you can upload your videos to YouTube, and you definitely should. Word on the street is that a full 10% of all web traffic these days is going to YouTube. Even if you don't have the appeal of a video like "The History of Dance" (you have to search that one, it's amazing), or the intrigue of a skateboarding dog, you can still find your niche, and your viewership.
Be sure your video doesn't contain any inappropriate content (see the YouTube guidelines) and be sure that it is under 10 minutes in length. If you find your video is too long, just go into MovieMaker or iMovie and split it into two videos.
Follow the easy upload instructions on YouTube and as soon as it's uploaded and processed, you can start watching it online.

Soul Food Recipes Update - Why is Hip Hop Soul Food the Fastest Growing Trend?

Hip hop soul food is an emerging cuisine made for today's active urban lifestyle.You've heard of hip hop music, clothing and videos. Right? Now this new fast growing cuisine is emerging from this dynamic modern day movement.
Soul food recipes have been a long time southern food favorite, enjoyed by many. But this southern cuisine is not your traditional southern food of past. Hip hop soul food is different in many ways. Now it's lighter and simpler. For example, lighter cooking methods and ingredients is offered to quietly make this a popular cuisine among today's young hip hop generation as well as baby boomers.
What Exactly is This New Trend and What's Behind It
Tasty dishes that's creative but uncomplicated is the hallmark behind this new trend in cuisine. Included are fresh ingredients, not overcooked, but cooked just enough to bring out the flavor of the dishes. Also included are natural seasonings, herbs and spices that enhance the flavor of the food without overpowering it.
With today's fast food and microwave generation, cuisine is a refreshing and healthier change as it gets more young people to eat healthier and lighter. According to the latest government health statistics this is one of the most overweight generations in history.
Hip hop soul food is one solution to the (pardon the pun) growing problem of obesity. A increasing number of young celebrities, sports stars and of course hip hop artist continue to flock to this tasty urban cuisine. Many love it for its tasty, satisfying and health -friendly benefits. "The fact that I can eat it, feel satisfied and not feel weighed down like I do with traditional southern food is what I like most," claims one young fan.
Cooking Techniques and Ingredients Involved
Most of the more popular hip hop soul food dishes include chicken, black beans, brown rice, seafood as well as traditional soul food dishes, such as collard greens, black-eyed peas cabbage and other dishes. However, the cooking techniques are healthier. You'll find more steaming, baking, roasting and stir-frying in the menus and very little if any deep fat frying, for example.

A Delicious Recipe for Caldo Verde

I have never been to Portugal, but I have eaten Portuguese food in large quantities on the other side of the world. As I have mentioned before in this column, I lived for many years in Hong Kong, which is situated on the south China coast, on the east bank of the Pearl River estuary. Just across the way, on the west bank of this great river, lies Macau which, until 1999, was a Portuguese colony. Indeed, it had been Portuguese since the 16th century. It was a place full of narrow, little streets, Baroque churches and here and there, eye-catching, ochre-coloured, public buildings. It was very different than Hong Kong with its towering skyscrapers and frenetic pace of life and during the 1990s, my wife and I often escaped there for weekends.
Macau was also seedy and run-down but it had character and, above all, it had good, Portuguese restaurants. It is there that I first encountered caldo verde, which means nothing more than, green broth. This soup probably is to Portuguese cuisine what Irish stew is to that of Ireland and I suspect that every Portuguese mammy has her own recipe for what is a national dish.
In its purest form, caldo verde contains nothing more than potatoes, garlic, couve gallego (a type of kale) and water. Over the years, other ingredients have been added to such an extent that it now sometimes bears little resemblance to its peasant progenitor. I love caldo verde for its potato flavour combined with the bitter taste of winter greens. It does not pay dividends to stray too far from its rustic origins. The recipe which follows has, I believe, the right balance. I recommend it to you as appropriate fare for these cold, winter days. As with all soups, it can be eaten as a starter but, served with good, crusty bread, it is a meal in itself.
900g floury potatoes
1.5l vegetable stock
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
250g chorizo
500g kale or savoy cabbage*
3-4 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

Simple Little Pie

Thanksgiving is the best time of the year to roll out the pies. A few years back, I used to make about 6 pies, my neighbor's husband was in Iraq, and I felt bad that she had to spend Thanksgiving without her sweetheart, so I had my husband truck over an apple pie. My other neighbors used to give me Gilfeather turnips and I returned the favor with a pie, and still another couple who were on a fixed budget, I sent a pie. There is something so cathartic about giving.
Pies differ from area to area, I don't go to Oklahoma for a authentic Key Lime Pie, or to California for a Michigan Cherry Pie. My parents live in Maine and that is the farthest north you can get on the east coast. Maine is synonymous with blueberries. When I go to Maine, I want blueberry pie packed thick with tart Wild Maine blueberries, and for unexplained reasons the crunchy breakfast cereal Grape-Nuts has made it's way into pie from Presque Isle to Kennebunkport. Traveling south the Apple pie begins to make its debut. Vermont, New Hampshire and New York are prime growing areas for apples. Apple pie can be double crusted or Crumb, which is my favorite.
As we travel into Amish/ Pennsylvania Dutch country the Shoo-Fly pie is common. It is a mixture of molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and butter, some pies are considered wet-bottomed meaning there is a sweet filling and then a crumb topping, or dry-bottom the crumb topping is folded into the filling. The unique thing about this pie is that all ingredients can keep without refrigeration. The name came about by the bakers having to shoo the flies away, because the flies were attracted to the sugar.
As we cross the Mississippi River, heading south into Virginia, pie makers compete for the best Sweet potato pie, yams or sweet potatoes were cultivated in the area since the 1600's. The sweet potato is treated much in the same fashion as the pumpkin pie resulting in a silky spicy custard. Moving a little west we enter the Volunteer state where soul food like egg custard pies and buttermilk pies are popular, motoring into the Music City, Nashville has taken the custard pie a step further by adding sweet toasted coconut. The difference is they make a rich pastry cream on the stove, instead of baking the custard in the oven. Folding it with copious amounts of coconut and decadent whipped cream.
Georgia is known for their peaches, and what better way to celebrate Georgia than having a piece of peach pie, what is also surprising is that Georgia is one of the top manufacturers of pecans and pecan pie. The pride of Atlanta, Georgia is Lemon icebox pie, which is the northern cousin of Key lime Pie from Key West, Florida. It is made with lemon juice, eggs and condensed milk. We round out our Eastern seaboard pie quest with, of course Key Lime Pie. The key lime arrived in the Keys with the Spanish in the 1500's, and was described as a confused lemon. Having features of both the lemon and the lime. Surprisingly hurricanes wiped out all traces of the actual key lime. You now, must know someone who knows someone to get an authentic key lime.
In the Midwest, the area still has shadows of their resourcefulness. Settlers developed the land with fruit trees and Yankee ingredients were in short supply. In Michigan they have tart Michigan cherries, made into delicious to die for cherry pies. Pies used less flour than bread and cakes, and could be cooked in fireplaces. Hoosier pie or Indian sugar cream pie was a very simple dessert consisting only of cream sugar and flour. Persimmons and paw paws are made into pies in the Midwest. Persimmons are an unusual fruit in that they ripen towards the end of the fall, and have a pumpkin apricot flavor, is cooked in the same way as a pumpkin. Paw Paws were important to the native Indians and take experience to work with them. They are cross between banana, pineapple and mango and are used in custards. Honorable mention is the Bean pie created in Chicago, made with navy beans.
Pies that have no home or an area to call their own, are pies that are made all over the United States and each state can trace the history of such a pie. Pumpkin pie it is said to have been created near Plymouth plantation, however the pie has made its rounds all over the U.S. Lemon Meringue pie, is said to have originated in the South, however lemons are known to grow out west. Pecans lay claim to Georgia, but Texas might dispute that. Washington might be a little upset about the origin of the Cherry Pie, but I am sure Michigan will debate it. The grand daddy of the pie debate hands down has to be the Apple pie. Apples grow all over the United States, and every pie aficionado from California to Maine claim the best apple pie. It is up for debate! The important thing is that Pie was created. The pie that I am going to share is a blend of pies that I have created in my life. I love pie crust, however I love the cookie crumb crust better.

Reuben Sandwich

The Reuben sandwich is safely ensconced in the American culinary hall of fame. While this humble sandwich has roots in far Lithuania, it is indelibly assembled with that uniquely American savoir faire that comes into play late nights around a poker game. This American icon can still be found in smoky poker games, but it also graces many a white table-clothed restaurant with an appearance on lunch menus across the continent.
Whether the brain child of a Lithuanian grocer, or the meticulous construction of a German delicatessen owner, the Reuben sandwich is now easily explained in a few short sentences. Toasted rye is blanketed with Swiss cheese, smeared with Russian dressing, and draped in sauerkraut. Corned beef is then mounted atop the kraut and another hunk of toasted rye is place on top to sandwich this beast. It ain't for the meek nor the meticulous to eat.
Regardless of the origins of the Reuben sandwich, the structure is there for any person to prepare. For a restaurant, it can mean something to be known for one of these historic sandwiches. This addition to the menu adds a little weight, a little bit of culture to the culinary offerings. There are people who call themselves "eggs benedict people" or "chicken fried steak people," but there are definitely folks who pride themselves not only on their ability to rate a Reuben sandwich, but also on their ongoing history with the Reuben. These people will tell everyone they know about the restaurant with the best Reuben in town.
The basic Reuben sandwich can be easily prepared by just about anyone in their own kitchen. I'm not talking about corning your own beef, or baking the rye yourself, although both of those components can be learned and will add more depth to the sandwich experience. You can buy corned beef at the deli, or you can purchase it at the grocery store and cook it off yourself, but either way works when making the Reuben sandwich. The heartier the Rye bread the better the sandwich.
Home made sauerkraut greatly increases the tastiness of the sandwich, but good sauerkraut can be purchased at just about any grocery store. Although many people heap the kraut directly onto the sandwich, I recommend giving it a good rinse first in order to soften some of the brininess. Too much brine will dominate the sandwich and overrule any of the other ingredients from joining in.

Significance of Event Catering Companies

Catering forms an important part of any event whether it is a corporate event, gallery opening, wedding party, book signing, seminar, rehearsal dinner or any other event. Organizing a successful event requires plenty of time, dedication and hard work. Whether a person plans to host an outdoor event or an indoor event, he or she needs to choose the best possible catering services.
There are a large number of catering companies which have been helping individuals in organizing professional events as per their necessity and budget. Important role played by the catering companies for arranging successful events include:
Food and beverage services
No event would be complete without the availability of excellent food and drinks. This is one of the major services offered by the catering companies. They provide variety of food and drink options as per the demand and nature of event taking place. Apart from providing different food options, they also take care of preparation, presentation and delivery of food. Food is presented in an attractive manner so as to create a better impression on guests.
Event planning services
This is another major service offered by the catering companies these days. Appropriate event planning is necessary for smooth running of events. The process involves a number of essential steps starting from event site selection and reservation, budgeting, date selection to transportation and parking arrangements. The services are offered as per the individual preferences and requirements.
Decoration services
Catering today not only covers food and drinks but also involves decoration of events in a way to make guests feel happy and satisfied. Decorations, great music, and a striking venue setting add more value and charm to any event.
Thus, it becomes clear that the catering companies play an increasingly important role from beginning to the ending of the event.

Pate De Campagne: A Front Line Look at French Butchery

The butcher didn't speak English and I don't speak french so the beginning of my first pate making experience did not look particularly auspicious. He had agreed to coach me on the fine points of french butchery as a favor to one of his very good clients: my long time friend whom I was visiting after not seeing him for seventeen years. I had mentioned that I was interested in french butchery and he had arranged this experience for me.
Nikki, the butcher, placed a hotel pan in front of me filled with pork neck, slivers of pork belly and livers. The initial feelings of discomfort on both our sides evaporated after I dug my hands into the meat pile and started grinding it up in the first step of making pate. I ground up two kilos of liver and two kilos of neck and two kilos of belly. I also added garlic, onions sauteed until they were blond, shallots, parsley and chives.
Nikki then added salt, curing salt, pepper and mustard seed and then poured a little cold water and 6 eggs into the mixer: one per kilo, he said. After the ingredients were ground up, I scraped the ingredients into the mixer. After a few minutes in the mixer the ingredients had begun to look like pate. With a baking spatula I scraped the bowl of the mixer, making sure that no remains were left clinging to the sides of the bowl.
I next placed pig belly skin (fat back) in the bottom of the terrine casserole dish and heaped the pate in up to the rim of the dish. Nikki brought the caul fat out, asked me if I knew it (with gestures and broken English), and when I nodded, proceeded to lay it out over the terrine of pate. Caul fat is the intestine of a cow, similar to thick spider webs in appearance. I patted the air bubbles out and then we put the terrines in hotel pans and then put them in the oven at 200 degrees for 2 hours.
After the time had elapsed we pulled the pate terrines from the oven, and then, leaving them in the hotel pans, added water to the hotel pans so that the terrines were in an inch of water. We then placed the hotel pans back in the oven at 145 degrees and slowly cooked them until they had reached 70 degrees celsius in the middle. We made quite a few other different kinds of pate, but this one stands out in my head as my very first experience with french butchery.

Homemade Chili

Winter is upon us and with it come cravings of typical cold weather comfort food. Nothing fits the bill better when it's 15F outside than a good, hot bowl of homemade chili.
My wife's chili recipe is one of the best around. The spice is just right. It won't light you up, but it will remind you of why its called chili. Like all good recipes, it requires some effort to prepare. After you gather all the ingredients, allow about an hour or so to get everything in the pot.
2 lbs Ground Beef
2 cans Kidney Beans
1 large Onion, diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
2 stalks Celery, diced
1 tbsp Sugar
1 can Garlic Tomato Sauce
2-3 cloves Garlic, crushed
2 cans Tomatoes
2-3 tbsp Cumin
4 Chili Peppers, cut in half

Beef Recipes From the Caribbean

When you think of Caribbean cuisine most people think of seafood and bean dishes, not necessarily beef recipes, but especially in Cuba, beef has been a traditional staple of the populace since before the 20th century. In Cuba these days, however, regular citizens can't afford beef. A pound of ground beef costs over $20 dollars or the equivalent in Cuban pesos. Taking into consideration that the average Cuban makes less than $30 per month, beef just is not an option for most Cubans unless they work in a dollar restaurant or one of the tourist hotels.
Cuban beef recipes include the ever popular "picadillo" (pronounced pick-a-dee-yo) which is basically seasoned ground beef. You need to make the seasoning, or "sofrito" first which consists of fried onions, a little oil, and some garlic. Let the sofrito cool and then add it to one pound of 80% lean ground meat. The ground meat is then mixed with about half a cup of tomato paste or tomato sauce (paste is better). The mixture is then cooked on a skillet for half an hour. Add chopped or sliced green pitted olives at the end and it is ready to serve over plain white rice and accompanied by fried plantains and black bean soup.
Another one of the great tasting Cuban beef recipes is beef empanadas, which are pastries filled with picadillo. These meat filled treats are deep fried until crispy and perfect. Most good Cuban restaurants will also offer beef, ham, chicken, or bacalao (dried smoked cod) croquetas (croquettes). Croquetas are made with finely ground meat or fish filling and spices, then rolled and formed into little "finger" shapes, then rolled in egg yolk and finally into bread crumbs. Once they are ready the croquetas are deep fried until golden brown and crispy. Both croquetas and empanadas are really tapas, or appetizers but can also serve as a main dish when accompanied by traditional fried green plantains and some form of rice dish, or black beans.
Cuban beef recipes from the island include the famous "ropa vieja", which literally translates as "old clothes". This is a dish of shredded skirt steak sautéed in a sauce of red bell peppers, onions and tomato sauce. All of these dishes begin with the traditional "sofrito" and then the meat is mixed in and cooked.
Most Cuban recipes go better with plain white rice and a black bean soup, or "potaje" (pronounced po-ta-heh). Add some fried sliced sweet or green plantains and you have a great traditional Cuban dish right at home.

The Perfect Recipe for Yummy Swiss Steak

We all prefer having steaks at our menu at any time, and Swiss steak owns the worth to get a place on our menu. It does not take much time to prepare the steak. Moreover, Swiss steaks need fewer ingredients than the other steaks to prepare. You can serve the steak to four to six people at a time.
You have to invest a sum of around 3 hr and 15 min to prepare the delicious Swiss steak properly. Budget at least 45 minutes to prepare the ingredients and 2 hr and 30 min to cook the steak.
1. Beef bottom round-2 pounds beef bottom round (without unnecessary fat)
2. Beef broth- 1 and 1/2 cup
3. All-purpose flour-3/4 cups
4. Onion- 1 piece and sliced thinly
5. Kosher salt- 2 teaspoons
6. Vegetable oil-1/4 cup
7. Black pepper- 1 teaspoon
8. Celery- 2 stalks and chopped
9. Can diced tomatoes- 14.5 ounce
10. Tomato paste- 1 tablespoon
11. Cloves garlic- 2 pieces
12. Dried oregano- 1 teaspoon
13. Smoked paprika- 1 teaspoon
14. Worcestershire sauce- 1 tablespoon

Pork Scaloppini and Tomatoes

I spend a great deal of time looking for foolproof, simple recipes. Experience has taught me that they are a rarity and so the search is on-going. Meanwhile, I am going to share with you one of my all-time favourite, easy recipes, which the poorest of cooks could not fail to get right. This dish comes accompanied by a little background.
Many years ago, my wife I and lived in the South Seas. It was a beautiful place and as one grows older, memory makes it all the more beautiful because of its association with one's youth. How precious and sweet were those times! One hot, tropical day, we were invited to lunch by a member of the local consular corps. Our host was courteous and attentive as is the wont of his ilk and his wife was charming, warm and hospitable. Lunch was served under an awning at small tables set out around a swimming pool. There, the midday heat was dissipated by the cooling south east trade winds. The heady scent of flowering frangipani trees permeated the air and gorgeous, purple bougainvillea tumbled down the banks of the sloping garden. In the distance, across the top of coconut trees, the azure-blue waters of the lagoon were clearly visible. It was magical and the perfect setting for pork scaloppini which, thanks to the kindness of our hostess, entered the family culinary annals that day.
1 big pork fillet cut into small bite sizes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
30g flour
250g thinly sliced mushrooms
1 clove of garlic crushed
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped basil
1 400g tin tomatoes
120ml Marsala*/Vermouth
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Easiest Recipe to Make Beef Stew at Home

People do not prefer cooking at home to avoid the complexity of different cooking process. Further, some people tend to use cookbooks to get new ideas to making the preparations simple. In this article, I have assembled an extremely simple recipe for making a great beef stew at home. Though the recipe is for a vegetable and beef, you can change the vegetable and add other ingredients after your taste.
2 ½ pounds beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes, 
1 large chopped onion, 
6 peeled carrots cut into 1 ½ inch julienne, 
8 slices of bacon, 
2 peeled turnips cut into pieces, 
Well rinsed leeks 3 pieces, chopped, 
2 ½ cups of homemade beef stock 
2 ½ cups of red wine (preferable Burgundy, but drinkable) 
2 tablespoons of tomato paste 
2 tablespoons of red currant jelly 
2 teaspoons of sugar 
2 tablespoons of butter 
8 ounces of sliced mushrooms, 
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped 
6-8 red potatoes 
6 minced garlic cloves, 
Salt & pepper after needs.

A couple of preparatory tasks needed before you start cooking the stew. You may kick the cooking off with cutting the beef chuck into cubes. Or let the process begin with chopping an onion. Wash the leeks properly before you chop them. Peel the carrots and cut them into 1 ½ inch julienne. Then make pieces of the turnips after peeling them. Slice the mushrooms and quarter the potatoes. Next chop the rosemary and parsley. Finish the tasks by garlic mincing.

Simple Recipe for Chocolate Puddings at Home

The fact may appear childish that still I have fondness for chocolate puddings as dessert. I guess many of the matured people have fondness to chocolate puddings like me. Hence I am sharing the recipe of preparing chocolate pudding at home.
3/4 cup granulated white sugar 
3 tablespoons cornstarch (corn flour) 
2 ½ cups milk 
4 large egg yolks 
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
4 ounces finely chopped semisweet chocolate, 
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 
Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Cooking Process
At first you have to whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl (better if the bowl is of stainless steel and heat proof). Shake to make a thick paste of with the ½ cup of milk. Add the egg yolks (not altogether, one at a time). Whisk them to blend into the cocoa paste mixture. Place them aside while you heat the milk and cream. Prepare a strainer (medium sized), and a bowl near the stove because you have to strain the pudding after getting cooked.
To prevent scorching the milk in the saucepan, rinse the saucepan with clean water. Next pour the remaining milk with the cream on the pan. Boil the mixture with a low heat, and remove after when the milk foams up on the pan. Then pour the milk into the egg mixture, and whisk until the mixture surface gets smooth.
Place the pudding mixture into a clean and large saucepan (must be of heavy bottomed). Place the saucepan on the stove on medium-low heat. Stir the mixture constantly for around 4-5 minutes until it thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Remove the saucepan from the stove. At times lumps may form in the mixture during cooking for the high heat. The worst event of high heat is scorching. So, strain it through the strainer to take out any lumps. Make sure you reach the bottom of the saucepan to prevent scorching or sticking.

Dinner Recipes For Two - 5 Tips For A Romantic And Unforgettable Dinner

Bored with eating out? Really want to have a cozy time with your loved one? Why don't you make a dinner just for you and your loved one. Here are some ideas for dinner recipes for two.
1. Candles:
We are living in the world where just a switch can light up the whole building. Electric lights have undoubtedly had a great power in life and control every aspect of our lives. However, a tiny candle light does have its effect that no other light has. It lies in the fact that a glowing candle symbolizes for love, passion and sex. Instead of neon lights, we can set red candles in the room to warm up the atmosphere, then bring you closer
2. Red Roses:
For centuries, red rose are symbols of passion and desire of love. A red rose in full bloom means " I love you", or " I still love you". So why don't you put a red rose at the middle of the table for not only decorating but also as a message to your beloved
3. Music:
Music has a great association with love and romance. Soft music is perfect choice for a dinner for two. It stimulate the senses and set the mood for seduction. You can play you and your partner's favorite songs or the songs that sing the praise of love.
4. Dress:
A red silk dress would be a perfect choice in the evening. For centuries, red has represented strong emotions, excitement, passion and sexuality. In addition, red draws attention more than any color. Wearing a red dress will definitely make any woman feel confident, sexy and naughty. Moreover, red dress never goes out of fashion.
5. Food:
As food is the most essential part of the dinner, try to prepare something that really special. Take seafood as an example. Having seafood as the main dish, it actually reminds you of the time you walk along the beach, together wait for the sunrise and have a very sweet kiss when the sun sets. Let's awake all the senses and recreate that feeling right at your home. Lobster, crab, scallops oysters and other shellfish are recommended in dinner recipes for two. As you probably know, they also are aphrodisiacs!

Perfect Paella Versus Manorexia

This recipe is very much an experiment, but one I had wanted to try for years. Despite my manorexia I was determined to perfect a Paella recipe which I had always found really daunting. So whilst on holiday I decided to give it a go, no recipe books or outside help, just me, instinct and a huge Paella pan. Fuelled with wine this is how is went!
Sourcing the ingredients
Whilst at the local Carrefour I went straight to the fish counter. I was in look as the wizened old man guarding the ocean treasures counter spoke a little English which is a lot more Spanish than I can muster. I gesticulated at the Cod (Bacalao) and bagged myself two large fillets. Next up were the Prawns (Gambas) - I said in my best accent that I would like 2Kgs, bluffing the ingredients I required. Finally, I asked (pointed at the) baby squid (Calamar) and got 1kg of the pearly white little monsters with big black boggle eyes... Next came the Chorizo and I went for a string of 6 plump little red sausages which I could hack up roughly.
After the fish stand came the search for the rice. As I turned the corner of the carbohydrate isle I was met with a wall full of rice types, brands, shapes and sizes. Searching for the perfect paella rice was something I did with zero knowledge, but after playing with various packets I found a yellow and red one with the brand Arroz Bomba on the front. I quickly found the oil isle and chucked in a litre of the greenest, most expensive olive oil I could find. This being Spain, the oil was only €8.
Next up I turned my attention to the herbs and spices. I guessed that I would need some sort of stock (which I did not want to make from scratch), Saffron and some sort of North African type spicing and so I went for the Ras el hanout spice which is a mixture of 35 differing ingredients.
Finally, I needed some veggies and so I bagged two large brown onions, a huge garlic clove, some really ripe vine tomatoes (about 2kg) and 3 huge red peppers. Last up was a bunch of fresh parsley, about 4 fat juicy oranges and a bright vibrant yellow lemon.
Ingredients - Serves 8
1kg Paella rice 
4 Oranges (juiced) 
1 Lemon (juiced) 
2 Large Onions (Chopped) 
2Kg Chopped Tomatoes 
1 Large bunch of chopped Parsley 
1/2 a bulb of garlic, finely chopped 
3 Huge red peppers, charred, de-skinned, de-seeded and sliced 
Lots of Salt and Pepper 
2-3 tablespoons light soy sauce 
3 Tablespoons Ras el hanout 
1 Tablespoon Cayenne pepper 
7-9 Saffron strands 
2 litres chicken stock 
1 Bottle of white wine 
2kg Fresh, raw prawns 
1kg baby squid 
2 Large Cod fillets 
100g butter (melted) 
150ml good of olive oil

Back to the pool scene and as the sun beat down on us all I decided to go and get the chopping board. I got stuck into the onion, garlic and tomatoes chopping them roughly into large chunks. Earlier over lunch I had, charred the 3 peppers on the BBQ until black and blistered on the outside and soft and tender inside.
Next I cracked open some more white wine and sipped away as I melted 100g of butter with 100ml of olive oil in a large Paella pan. Once warmed I added about 3 tablespoons of Ras el hanout about 1 tablespoon of Cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper. I fried this for about 5 minutes until fragrant and then tipped in 1kg of raw rice and stirred to ensure it was fully coated. As I sipped more wine I fried the rice for about 5-10 minutes in the spiced oil and butter mix.
Once the rice was lightly toasted I removed from the pan into a large bowl and left to cool whilst I prepared for the next stage of the recipe. Firstly I placed about 8 strands of Saffron into half a cup of nearly boiling water to steep.

Raising Bookworms

A young girl is curled up in an old, over-stuffed armchair, totally absorbed in the pages of a book. A television sits nearby, silent and black with jealousy. In a corner, a computer gathers dust in concert with an abandoned gaming system. No one would guess that this girl lost in the world of Regency England crafted by literary great, Jane Austen, couldn't read at all until fifth grade and fights against the headaches and blurred vision brought on by severe dyslexia. No one would believe that this beautiful twelve year old preteen who has devoured Little Women, Jane Eyre, and is nearly finished with the entire Anne of Green Gables series was still unable to recognize all the letters of the alphabet in the third grade.
So, with all the barriers to reading this young girl faced and all the preconceived notions of the demise of the book and the rise of the electronic age, why does this child choose a book, an ink and paper relic to some, over the hypnotic allure of technology?
Children who love to read...READ! It's just a simple fact of human nature that we are more inclined to do the things that interest and excite us rather than the things we are forced or obligated to do. So how do we engage our children's hearts in the wonder of reading instead of just training their minds in its mechanics?
Think of learning to ride a bicycle.
Your dad props you up on a shiny red bicycle, gives you a few pointers and an encouraging smile, then runs alongside you with his hand securely on the back of the bike seat, steadying and supporting you as you fly down the sidewalk with the wind in your hair and a thrilled and slightly terrified grin on your face.
Your dad sits you down with a diagram of a bicycle and drills you on its parts, making you list them over and over and recite them back to him in alphabetical order.
Which teaching style would result in a bicycle rider rather than just a memorization of bicycle parts? Which scenario would encourage a love of bicycle riding?
When it comes to reading, do you want your children to become readers or just learn how to read? Do you want them to love to read or just know how? If a love of reading is your goal for your children, here are some ideas to get you started:
  1. Let them see you reading! Children learn more by watching what we do than by listening to what we say. Seeing your books laying around the house, trying to get your attention while you're absorbed in an intense scene, giggling when you 'sneak' away to the bathroom with a favorite tome, all of these things will have a huge impact on their perception of reading as a desirable activity.

  2. Read to them from infancy on, and let them in on it! Don't make reading a one-sided exercise with you doing all the talking. Make reading interactive by letting your little one turn pages (yes, even if they want to go backwards!) and point at the pictures and talk about the binding and maybe even chew on the book a bit (bookworms actually do eat books, after all!)

  3. Play, play, play! Seriously, stop being so serious! Children learn best through play, so grab some sidewalk chalk and head outside to the best classroom ever invented. Make up your own games or check out Pinterest and just have a blast! If your children associate learning to read with mommy playing abc hopscotch with them or daddy hiding abc eggs in the bushes, you've turned what could be a battle into a playground!

  4. Surround them with books of every kind! Fill your home with paperback thrillers and dime-store novels and comic books (yes, comic books!) and nonfiction books on horses and whales and art and music. Creating an atmosphere ripe with knowledge and adventure at your children's fingertips will go a long way towards making reading an active part of their lives.

Hip-Hop Isn't Dead-But It's Dying-Here's 10 Reasons Why

1. Everybody wants to be a gangsta
There used to be all kinds of MCs rhyming about all aspects of life. Hip-Hop used to be fun. Hip-Hip used to be social conscious. Hip-Hop used to political and militant. Hip-Hop used to be grown and sexy before Jay-Z made the phrase popular on his song, "Excuse me Miss".
Hip-Hop has always been gangsta. Many credit Schoolly D with making the first Gangsta rap record, "P.S.K." Ice-T came out with "6 N in the morning". Boogie Down Productions released "Criminal Minded". And how could anyone fail to mention "the most dangerous group", N.W.A. and their infamous classic record, "Straight Outta Compton".
What I'm saying is that Gangsta rap is not new and most of the so-called gangsta rap acts nowadays all sound the same (regardless of where they're from) and are not nearly as good and cutting edge as the pioneers of that sub-genre within Hip-Hop.
Bottom-line: Hip-Hop needs to diversify by returning to its true tradition of telling stories that reflect a variety of perspectives and not just the same ol', same ol', "shoot 'em up, bang, bang" mentality and lifestyle.
2. Hip-Hop is driven more by commercial success than cultural integrity
Hip-Hop is no longer a culture, it's a business. But the truth is Hip-Hop is indeed a culture that has been commercialized, therefore, compromised. Corporate America, whether you're talking about corporate-owned record labels, magazines or cable channels, are in complete control of Hip-Hop.
Hip-Hop is big business and is making a lot of people a lot of money. But how many of those who profit from Hip-Hop are actually true to the preservation of the culture? And how much of the profits are being recycled back in the communities all over the world that gave birth, raised and praise the culture like a proud parent?
Bottom-line: Hip-Hop, as a culture, needs to be resurrected and moved forward in having an impact on the world socially, politically, religiously, economically and not just exploited to make greedy opportunists rich.
Let me start out by saying that there is a big difference between "beef" and "battling". Beef is what happens on the streets and even in the boardroom. Battling is competition; what happens in sports for example and of course Hip-Hop music. Battling is the foundation of MC'ing.
Battling separates the thorough MCs from the "Sucker MCs". There have been legendary "battles" throughout Hip-Hop history; KRS-ONE & BDP vs. MC Shan & The Juice Crew, L.L. Cool J vs. Kool Moe Dee to name a couple.
But beef is another whole can of "words". Beef can (and has) spread outside of records and onto the streets. Beef, real beef, is about more than words. Beef can be dangerous and should be taken serious. Beef is dangerous to Hip-Hop because it damages the culture's credibility and hinders its true intent. Hip-Hop as a culture and rap as a form of music was not founded on "greasy talk" and violence.
Bottom line: Beef may garner some publicity and sometimes, tragically claim lives but it does nothing to uplift Hip-Hop culture and the communities it represents.
4. The most popular MCs are often the most overrated
You can ask today's average fan to list their 10 favorite MC's and at least half of the ones they name are average at best or downright wack. The MCs who get the most attention in radio, print and television are often not MCs at all; they're rappers, or I guess you can say, entertainers that rap. Your favorite rapper may have a hit song getting 100's of spins a day on the radio but that doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is a true MC.
Most rap songs played on the radio are the weakest lyrically. Most of the elements of Hip-Hop are completely absent from the music videos that serve as a visual for the songs. These entertainers benefit from a variety of factors that put them at the forefront of Hip-Hop. But often lyrical prowess is not one of these factors. Meanwhile many of the best MCs that have mastered the art of MC'ing (see #9) receive little to no promotion from corporate America and their great talents are heard and witnessed by few.
Bottom line: True MCs who are in the game for the love of it should be more visible and the more popular MCs who dominate the charts and grace the covers of magazines should challenge themselves and be challenged to step their rhyme game up.
5. Hip-Hop journalism needs to step their game up
I'm a writer. I grew up an avid reader of Hip-Hop themed publications. There was a time when I thoroughly enjoyed reading these publications waiting anxiously for the new issues to hit the newsstand or be delivered in my mailbox.

German Traditions and Recipes for Easter - Part 2: Good Friday

This is part two of my little series about Easter in Germany, in which I would like to draw your attention to Good Friday.
Good Friday is called "Karfreitag" in German.
The word "Kar" is a very old German word which means something like "waling". Other than the word "grein"(whining or crying in English) from which the German name "Gründonnerstag" for Holy Thursday is derived, the word "Kar" is completely forgotten in modern German language and not used at all anymore.
"Grein" is also hardly ever used anymore by most Germans, but you may find it here and there, when older people are using it, in Poetry, or in Song texts.
In many protestant regions in Germany, Good Friday is actually called "Guter Freitag", which directly translates into "Good Friday".
This is so because one of Martin Luthers doctrines was, that because Jesus, through his physical death freed us from sin and gave us the opportunity for everlasting life and therefore the day Jesus did this for us, is a good day and should be called as such.
Like in most predominantly Christian countries, Karfreitag or Holy Friday is a day where people are contemplative and reflective.
Pubs and Nightclubs are either closed that day or are not playing any music. Shops are closed and people are only doing as much work as is absolutely necessary.
Children are being asked to play quietly, just for this one day of the year.
I am personally not a very religious person, yet I would call Good Friday one of my favourite Holidays, as I very much appreciate the quietness and sense of tranquility that is in the air, especially in rural areas. We don't get to many breaks from our rather hectic and busy life's and Good Friday gives us the rare opportunity to take one of those much needed breaks.
At 3pm, the time Jesus allegedly died on the cross, church services are being held all across the country, in which the church organ and the church bells remain silent.
In some catholic regions the Passion of Christ is being re-enacted to a reasonable extent, similar to the big processions that we know from southern European or South American countries.

Great Carne Asada Dishes for A Smashing Cinco De Mayo

There's no better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with chilly drinks and great carne asada. This traditional Mexican dish, whose name literally means roasted meat, can be made on the grill or under the broiler. Inexpensive steaks, such as skirt steak and hanger steak, are traditionally used to prepare this great dish. However, you can step it by using a nicer cut of steak. The basic carne asada recipe below is used as the main dish and in several fun entrees and bocadillos, or appetizers.
Basic Marinade
Juice of 2 limes 
1/4 cup olive oil 
1/4 to 1/2 cup minced cilantro 
2 diced serrano or jalapeno chiles, depending on personal preference 
2 cloves minced garlic 
1 1/2 teaspoons honey 
Dash of ground coriander 
Dash of cumin 
Salt to taste 
Pepper to taste 
1/4 cup mango puree, optional

Whisk all ingredients together. Place with steak in a sealable plastic bag or bowl in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least five hours. Grill or broil until cooked to your personal preference. Let steaks rest for approximately 10 minutes before cutting.
Traditionally, sliced strips of steak are served with fresh tortillas, cilantro and diced onions. Rice and beans generally accompany such dinners. You may wish to serve a fresh salsa or a mango salsa alongside the traditional rendition of the dish.
Double-Takes on Carne Asada
Using the meat prepared with the first recipe, you can make many tasty entrees and appetizers. Use the below ideas to give this traditional Mexican dish a makeover. These recipes work particularly well to cure a Cinco de Mayo hangover.
Festive Flautas
Roll chopped meat and crumbled cojita or cheddar cheese into flour tortillas. Be sure to roll with the sides of the tortillas tucked in. Fry in a cast iron skillet in an inch of oil until golden brown on all sides, or use a deep fryer to cook until golden brown. Allow flautas to cool for a few minutes before cutting in half. Flautas are best served with sour cream, pico de gallo and fresh avocado.

Benatar and Geraldo - Still Rockin' on a High Note

Most people look forward to the summer months because they bring warmer temperatures, vacations, outdoor gatherings, and longer days. Those are all fine and dandy, but what really gets my fires stoked for the warm season is when the Queen of Rock (a.k.a. Pat Benatar to the uneducated) takes her show on the road. Always the dutiful parents, Pat and her husband/producer/lead guitarist Neil Geraldo wait for school to let out before beginning a tour so that they can bring their children along for the trip. Some kids get to visit Disneyland or the beach during their summer breaks; these kids get to see the country and the throngs of fans who think their mother is the bomb-diggity.
When people get to know me and discover my love for all things audio, the most frequent question posed is, 'Who do you consider to be the best artist of all time?' Without hesitation, I go on and on about my love for Pat. The reactions run the gamut from total bewilderment to enthusiastic agreement. Since the first time I heard 'Heartbreaker,' Pat's leadoff single from her debut album "In the Heat of the Night," I was hooked and became a life-long fan. I've eagerly awaited the arrival of new releases (some waits much longer than I would have liked) and tried to catch her live performances whenever her tours brought her around to my neck of the woods. Last month I was lucky enough to see her live again.
The setting was the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California, which is an idyllic place to watch a live performance. Located at the top of a mountain (thus the name) with a lush setting and a breathtaking view of the Silicon Valley, this intimate outdoor venue provided a quaint setting with an up-close-and-personal vibe going on between the audience and the band. The stage, while not large, sits before a historic, stone winery building covered in snaking ivy, which serves as a spectacular backdrop. Considering the demographic of those in attendance skewed towards the older end of the continuum, there was no need for a buffer zone filled with bouncers between the front row and the stage (no mosh pit needed for the brittle-boned crowd).
My excitement was reaching frenzied levels once I set foot on the grounds of the winery. I was eagerly anticipating seeing Pat live again after she skipped this venue last summer. Unfortunately, the crowd had to endure a middling opening act (I don't even recall their name... it was that memorable), before the headlining moment would arrive. After a short set and a quick equipment turnaround on stage, it was time for the real deal. The audience leapt to its feet when the lights went out and the band started making it's way for the stage with Benatar trailing behind. I got caught up in the overexcited enthusiasm and let out a scream of approval and pumped my fist in the air (it's moments like this that bring out my inner-teenager).
The petite ingénue sounded in prime form from the onset. Sure, at 52 years of age, this opera-trained singer can't hit some of the high notes like she used to, but she compensates wonderfully with slight alterations which put a new spin on the old favorites (like the new take on the chorus of "We Live for Love"). She still possesses an inhuman vocal range so unique it can beautifully work its way through a sweet ballad, while also possessing the ability to belt out a rocker with an unparalleled ferocity.
The set list consisted of crowd-pleasing oldies like "Shadows of the Night," "Hell Is for Children," "Heartbreaker," "Promises in the Dark," "All Fired Up," and "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" intertwined with a handful of less-mainstream tunes. From the reviews I had read of this year's tour, I knew that Pat was slated to sing "My Clone Sleeps Alone" and "Wuthering Heights," which thrilled me to no end since those are two of my lesser-known favorites off her first two releases. "Clone" was the first of these rare live performances, and it sounded better than I ever could have imagined. Unfortunately, the city of Saratoga has imposed a curfew on the venue to appease the stodgy neighbors, so the set list had to be pared down and "Wuthering Heights" was the glaring casualty (big-time bummer). This fan would have preferred no opening act so Pat could have played longer and engaged in more between-song banter with the band and the audience. The interchanges with the audience are half the fun.