27 June 2009

Vilcek Prize and its Creative Promise Prize in the Culinary Arts

An item of interest for hard-core, die-hard, aspiring chefs: the Vilcek Foundation has chosen the culinary arts as the 2010 category for its Vilcek Prize and its Creative Promise Prize in the arts.

"The Vilcek Foundation awards the Vilcek Prize annually in two categories - biomedical research and the arts and humanities - to foreign-born individuals who, since coming to this country, have made lasting and exemplary contributions in their fields. Independent committees composed of leading experts in their respective fields are charged with selecting the award recipients.

The original Vilcek Prize program was expanded in 2008 to include the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, with the purpose of drawing attention to the role younger, midcareer immigrants play in sustaining the excellence and vibrancy of the biomedical sciences and the arts in the United States. To be eligible for the 2010 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise applicants must have been born outside the United States and be 38 years old or younger as of January 1, 2010. The application deadline is July 31, 2009. For more information, visit www.vilcek.org or email creativepromise@vilcek.org.

The Vilcek Prize winners are awarded $50,000 in cash along with a commemorative trophy designed by Stefan Sagmeister. Creative Promise recipients receive a $25,000 cash award and a plaque, also designed by Stefan Sagmeister. All prizes are presented at the Foundation’s annual awards ceremony and dinner held in New York City each spring."

For more information or to apply online go to www.vilcek.org

26 June 2009

Black Garlic

I am always searching for new, different, and exciting new taste sensations. An ingredient I can hardly do without in many dishes and salads, is garlic.

An article, Black and bold, by Wanda A. Adams, Advertiser Food Editor, in the Honolulu Advertiser, caught my attention.

"It looks like a black truffle, has the texture of fudge and its flavor has been compared to molasses, candy, coffee, balsamic vinegar, licorice, dark soy sauce, cheese, wine — even French onion soup.

A new kind of chocolate?

No, it's black garlic, a flavoring the Washington Post has called 'the next 'It' ingredient...

...Black garlic is made by a variety of methods, most of them proprietary, but it began simply as a form of preserved garlic, aged for years (literally) in crocks in chilly Korean temperatures. Koreans enjoy the jet-black, creamy-textured cloves as a healthful snack; they're believed to have all the healthful properties of garlic (mainly having to do with blood circulation, prevention of coronary disease and anti-inflammatory effects) and then some. MSDFarm and other producers have applied modern technology to the process, using a 21-day fermentation process in specially made clay pots."


See the whole article at the Honolulu Advertiser.


Now, where can I find some around here.....

23 June 2009

Summer Seafood Recipes a la Rhode Island

Here are some delightful (mostly traditional) recipes for preparing your summer ocean harvest: lobster, quahogs, steamers and clams, and more, courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Here is one of the featured recipes:

1 pound each littleneck clams, mussels
2 cups white wine (or water)
¼ cup sea salt
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
12 red new potatoes
4 live lobsters, about 1 to 1½ pounds each
Melted butter, optional

Thoroughly wash clams and mussels in cold water to remove any sand and grit.

Fill large 8-gallon pot with about 4 gallons water and heat to a rapid boil. Add wine, salt, peppercorns, thyme and garlic (instead of garlic, you could peel and add a small whole onion to the pot); return to a boil. Add
potatoes; boil 5 minutes.

Add lobsters, clams and mussels. Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer 7 minutes.

Remove seafood and vegetables from pot and place on large serving platter or individual plates. Strain broth and serve in bowl on the side.
Serve melted butter for dipping if desired.

Serves 4, each 500 calories, 4 grams fat, 1,130 mg. sodium.

-- Adapted from a recipe by chef Mark Baker of the Four Seasons Hotel.

View more recipes at Rhode Island Recipes.

21 June 2009

The Flip Side of 7 Major Superfoods

The Flip Side of 7 Major Superfoods
posted by Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine Jun 17, 2009 12:02 pm; courtesy of care2, Copyright © 2009 Care2.com, inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Some foods seem to have it all. They’re nutritious, medicinally potent and great tasting. Magazines and newspapers sing their praises and urge us to eat our fill. But no food is perfect, and even those with a host of medicinal properties can have their shortcomings. Since none of these super foods come with disclaimers, here’s the flip side of seven highly touted medicinal foods.

Tomatoes. Nowadays no one talks about tomatoes without mentioning lycopene. And with good reason: This potent antioxidant may help prevent atherosclerosis and cancers of the prostate, breast and lungs.

In a testament to nature’s mysterious ways, lycopene works best in concert with the tomato’s other important phytonutrients rather than in isolation. In fact, in one study, lycopene alone didn’t inhibit prostate cancer cells, while the whole tomato did. Lycopene is more concentrated in tomato pastes and sauces and is better absorbed when the tomato’s been cooked or has a touch of oil. No one has tested the role of basil.

When buying tomatoes, choose the reddest you can find; yellow and orange varieties lack lycopene. Lastly, as a member of the nightshade family, which includes eggplant, potatoes and peppers, tomatoes may aggravate arthritis pain, though few existing scientific studies establish a link. If you suffer from arthritis, you may want to try eliminating tomatoes (and the other nightshades) from your diet to see if your pain improves.

Garlic. In addition to warding off vampires, one to three cloves of garlic daily can help lower cholesterol and protect against cancers of the stomach, prostate and colon. Garlic’s antibacterial and antifungal properties also boost the immune system. But before you start popping cloves, realize that they’ve got to be crushed to make their benefits available. The key healthful ingredient, allicin, only forms when exposed to air. Similarly, when you cook with garlic, let the crushed or chopped cloves stand for 10 minutes first. And if you’d rather take a garlic supplement, make sure it contains allicin.

Not everyone’s gonzo about garlic. Ayurveda, the traditional Indian healing system, cautions that garlic heats the body, so it could aggravate problems with digestion, hot flashes, excessive body heat or tendencies to be impatient or angry. And although garlic thins the blood, which can help lower blood pressure, it also increases the risk of bleeding if you’re having surgery or are taking blood thinners, including aspirin.

Leafy Greens. When measured on the good-for-you scale, kale, collards, mustard greens and spinach reign supreme in the vegetable world. High in calcium, antioxidants and the phytonutrient lutein, leafy greens may help prevent cancers of the breast, colon and prostate. And a recent study shows that lutein may even help reverse macular degeneration. Of the four, kale contains the most antioxidants and has high levels of easily absorbed calcium.

That’s all good, but spinach poses a potentially painful problem. Though rich in potassium, folic acid and carotenoids, its green leaves contain high levels of oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones. If you’re prone to calcium oxalate stones (the most common), limit your spinach intake.

Also, long journeys from field to table and warm temperatures can destroy up to half of these greens’ phytonutrients. So buy local-grown greens whenever you can, and eat them soon thereafter.

Salmon. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings weekly of cold water, fatty fish such as salmon for a good reason. High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon may lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. However, not all salmon warrants unqualified praise. Ninety percent of the salmon eaten in the United States is farmed rather than wild, and it contains higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a probable carcinogen. Farmed salmon is also more likely to be raised in polluted water and to face diseases not typically found in wild stock. Wild salmon may contain fewer toxins than farmed fish, but mercury contamination remains a problem.

Unfortunately, the ocean populations can’t support the world’s appetite for this nutritious fish. So buy wild salmon that’s been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainably harvested. For farmed salmon, follow guidelines on safe levels for consumption (see oceansalive.org), and cut away the fat and skin before cooking to limit the PCBs. Even better, alternate salmon with sardines or anchovies, which have fewer contaminants and can withstand larger harvests.

Olive Oil. Popeye was right: Olive oil deserves our love. In 2004 the FDA approved the claim that two tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. A recent study shows it may also block the action of the Her-2 breast cancer gene.

To ensure that you receive all of these benefits, buy extra virgin olive oil, rather than refined or light, both of which are treated with chemical solvents that destroy many of the oil’s nutrients. Also, choose oil in dark containers because light can damage the antioxidants.

When cooking with olive oil, avoid getting the pan so hot that the olive oil starts to smoke. Excessive heat ruins the oil’s flavor and creates harmful byproducts such as trans fats.

Lastly, since olive oil is almost 75 percent monounsaturated fat, it won’t give you all the healthy fats your body needs to stay well. Supplement your diet with the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed and hempseed oils. You can drizzle these temperature-sensitive oils over salads and grains.

Almonds. The most nutrient dense of all the nuts, almonds pack a healing mix of vitamins, protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. Just one-quarter cup delivers 40 percent of the daily value for vitamin E, and almonds may also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol—in one study, two handfuls of almonds daily decreased LDL cholesterol by 9.4 percent. Studies suggest almonds also reduce the risk for atherosclerosis and cancers of the colon and prostate.

Exposure to air, heat and pesticides can make the healthy almond a shell of its former self. Commercial roasting, for example, deep-fries the nuts in saturated fats, negating any cholesterol lowering benefit. Buy dry-roasted almonds with no sugar, corn syrup, MSG or preservatives added. If you’re roasting them yourself, do it gently at 160 to 170 degrees to preserve the natural oils. Even with that precaution, roasting significantly decreases vitamin A, pantothenic acid and thiamin levels, though other nutrients appear unaffected.

When it comes to nuts, freshness matters a lot. Buy organic almonds in their shells and, ideally, in hermetically sealed packaging. If you prefer to buy almonds in bulk, they should smell sweet and nutty, not sharp and bitter.
While whole nuts provide the most nutrition, shelled almonds are still quite nutritious, although they may become rancid sooner, especially if sliced. Keep them stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry, shady place or in the refrigerator or freezer.

Of course, anyone with nut allergies should shy away.

Soy. In 1999 the FDA approved the claim that eating 25 grams of soy protein daily decreases the risk of heart disease. Eating soy may also protect against cancers of the uterus, colon, prostate and breast. While some studies say soy alleviates menopausal symptoms and protects against osteoporosis, the evidence is inconclusive. Controversy also exists about whether soy isoflavones, a group of phyto-estrogens that stimulate breast cell growth, may increase breast cancer risk in those prone to it. Several studies show no link, but people with breast cancer or those predisposed to it should eschew soy isoflavones supplements for soy protein itself. You’re less likely to overdose on isoflavones with soy protein, and it carries more health benefits as well.

Soy can trigger allergic reactions such as nasal congestion, asthma, fatigue and itching. Kids aged three months to two years may be particularly sensitive, though they usually outgrow it. If you suspect you’re allergic, avoid eating soy for three weeks and then reintroduce it and watch for symptoms.

Many people worry that genetically modified soy can cause organ damage and allergic reactions. Choose organic soy to avoid the otherwise ubiquitous GMO varieties.

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living.

20 June 2009

12 fab foodie experiences


If you couldn't find a recipe to your satisfaction in the previous blog, how about traveling to experience a new food sensation?

This article, 12 fab foodie experiences, by the author of super-food blog Chez Pim picks a dozen ultimate food experiences from around the world. From timesonline (United Kingdom) this article might (or might not) supply you with an idea or two. Here is the No. 6 suggestion:

"6. Eat a Yangcheng hairy crab, preferably in or near Yangcheng Lake in China

Hairy crabs are one of the great Chinese delicacies. They are not totally hairy, just hairy around the legs. They have an extraordinary flavour that’s difficult to describe. I would just say that its reputation as a great delicacy is absolutely deserved. However, after the meal, don’t forget to drink ginger tea, or have a dessert featuring ginger. Hairy Crabs are very high in Yang energy, and ginger, a Yin food, will help balance it. You’ll catch a cold otherwise. Trust me on this."

View all the tasty suggestions: 12 fab foodie experiences

Recipes from the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen

Photo: Eric Boyd / Los Angeles Times

Looking for new contemporary sources for recipes and meal plans? Or a twist on an old food favorite?

Why not view the many gustatory sensations available in the Food section of The Los Angeles Times:

"We test, on average, more than 600 recipes a year. Roughly 400 of these make it to print. That means you don't have to worry about a trial run before serving one of our recipes to company — rest assured, it should work the first time out of the gate."

Recipes from the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen.

09 June 2009

Food Inc., the Movie

Photo: Magnolia Pictures; Orion Classics

For those of you interested in the origin of the items on your dinner plate, you may or may not want to see this film, Food, Inc. I know just reading the food labels in my local Pathmark is scary enough (which is I why shop mostly at the nearby Whole Foods).

From The New York Times, the Review Summary:

"Documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner uses reports by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and The Omnivore's Dilemma author Michael Pollan as a springboard to exploring where the food we purchase at the grocery store really comes from, and what it means for the health of future generations. By exposing the comfortable relationships between business and government, Kenner gradually shines light on the dark underbelly of the American food industry. The USDA and FDA are supposed to protect the public, so why is it that both government regulatory agencies have been complicit in allowing corporations to put profit ahead of consumer health, the American farmer, worker safety, and even the environment? As chicken breasts get bigger and tomatoes are genetically engineered not to go bad, 73,000 Americans fall ill from powerful new strains of E. coli every year, obesity levels are skyrocketing, and adult diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. Perhaps if the general public knew how corporations use exploited laws and subsidies to create powerful monopolies, the outrage would be enough to make us think more carefully about the food we put into our bodies.

~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide"

500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late : And the Very Best Places to Eat Them

Sort of a companion to the preceding blog, The Food of a Younger Land, 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late : And the Very Best Places to Eat Them, by Jane Stern, Michael Stern, is a cookbook, and a travel book guide for a summer eating road trip.

Barnes and Noble says:

"What are the all-time best dishes America has to offer, the ones you must taste before they vanish, so delicious they deserve to be a Holy Grail for travelers? Where’s the most vibrant Key lime pie in Florida? The most sensational chiles rellenos in New Mexico? The most succulent fried clams on the Eastern Seaboard? The most memorable whoopie pies, gumbos, tacos, cheese steaks, crab feasts? In 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late, "America’s leading authorities on the culinary delights to be found while driving" (Newsweek) return to their favorite subject with a colorful, bursting-at-the-seams life list of America’s must-eats.

Illustrated throughout with mouth-watering color photos and road maps, this indispensable guide is organized by region, then by state. Each entry captures the food in luscious detail and gives the lowdown on the cafĂ©, roadside stand, or street cart where it’s served. When "bests" abound—hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, apple pie, doughnuts—the Sterns rank their offerings. Sidebars feature profiles of idiosyncratic creators, recipes, and local attractions."


500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late: And the Very Best Places to Eat Them
by Jane Stern, Michael Stern
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub. Date: June 2009
ISBN-13: 9780547059075
Pub. Date: June 2009

Available online at Barnes and Noble.