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Food and Beverage

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After the food is prepared it typically goes from pot to plate. Individually plating each dish has its own charms, but let’s look at a more sharing way to serve – family-style dining (check out this video on setting the table for family style by Emily Post) using the ideal vessels: Serving Platters. Family-style dining is fast becoming increasingly common and carry great fringe benefits for all at the table! From Sur La Table check out these lovely oval and rectangular collections of serving ware. They are timeless and can be used for both casual and more formal dining. Not only does plating the dishes in a help-yourself way, it saves time, encourages a more conversational dining experience and it looks great on the table. Whether for two or three people or a family of four or more, either way, this is a great way to serve meals. There are…

Cooking in the spring is a sheer pleasure! The food gets more colorful, fresh and bursts with flavor! Not only do I parade out my favorite dishes on which to serve my spring feasts but I choose bright colorful foods that befit the season. Simple foods, prepared with the least amount of cooking, handling or fuss to preserve their integrity. Here is one of my favorite dishes this time of year, Salmon! Even non-fish lovers yielded to the wonderful and unexpected loveliness of this fish dish. Add in asparagus for a fresh and unexpected twist to this spring salad with a simple mustard vinaigrette for maximum spring-iness! Salmon Salad Nicoise with Mustard Vinaigrette This is a great lunch, light dinner or brunch dish. The salmon, potatoes, green beans, vinaigrette and hard-boiled eggs can all be made ahead, leaving only assembly at meal time to serve this dish to the table.…

There is nothing quite as tempting as a little scone, slathered in butter, jam and devon cream. Scones are a traditional British quick bread consumed in England, Ireland, Scotland, North America and beyond. They originated from Scotland; there is actually a place in Scotland called Scone, once the crowing place of the King of Scots! The first reference to this new food was in Scotland in 1513 though there was likely something else like it, dating prior to recorded history. There are two pronunciations for Scone (one sounds like the ‘on’ in John and the other like ‘oan’ like in Joan). They are traditionally eaten with clotted cream and jam, however, there are many ways to enjoy them beyond the traditional. Increasingly popular at coffee houses, the one place they are a mainstay is with afternoon tea like the ones held at popular luxury hotels where as you can imagine,…

Fresh herbs can make all the difference in a dish. There is nothing quite like the the airy light and delectable taste of chopped fresh herbs in or atop a dish. Even frozen pizza takes on a new life with a sprinkling of fresh chopped Italian parsley! They are readily available and are easily grown in pots inside or outside the house. A cooks indispensable culinary friend and a maker of gourmand greatness on the plate. Fresh herbs have been used for cooking and medicinal purposes for around 500,000 years. When selecting, storing and using fresh herbs here are some good kitchen guidelines to follow. Using lovely herbs, even the basic ones like parsley, thyme, and rosemary add color, taste and visual appeal to a dish. When color counts, dried herbs are a poor substitute for fresh. Dried herbs are best used when the dish is very wet like a…

Peas and spring. What a wonderful combination! Not just a lowly vegetable, these little beauties can liven up a dish or make a superb side and compliment to many a meal. Botanically, peas are a fruit, that in cooking is treated as a vegetable. Earliest archeological finds of peas comes from Neolithic Syriah, Turkey and Jordan; in Egypt the finds date 4800-4400 BC in the delta Nile area and farther east, the finds date even earlier in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India dating, 2250-1750 BC. You can easily grow peas from seeds and plant them in early spring. There are many varieties of garden pea seeds, like Little Wonder, Wando and Mr. Big to name a few. In Europe in the Middle Ages, the pea became an important part of their diet. By the 1600 and 1700’s eating peas while immature and right after they were picked became popular. Especially…

The fun of picnics or traveling with food needn’t be left only for the summer or long road trips. The practice of eating food out of doors on a regular basis can be fun, take the guesswork out of meals away from home and can be a sanity-saver if you happen to be stuck somewhere with hungry family! I picked up this great habit of always carrying food with me when my son was born. It made staying out for longer than planned a breeze and prevented grumpy hunger-induced eruptions on our day-to-day travels. Highway Hunger: Picnic to the Rescue One time, hubby, Wee One and I were all out for the day when were stuck on the highway for over an hour due to an accident right around lunchtime. Oh was I ever relieved to have had my packed picnic kit! We ate like kings on the road and…

It goes without saying that fresh food is best for us. After all, chemicals and ingredients we cannot pronounce aren’t in themselves appetizing, so why feed ourselves with them? One viewing of the documentary Food Inc will bring much of this to light. These chemicals and additives are also known to deaden our taste buds among other negative effects. Dr. Russell Blaylock has extensive research on this subject. Reawaken Your Taste Buds All is not lost. Reawakening your taste buds is possible. You can awaken them in as little as two weeks by eliminating processed foods and eating fresh flavorful food simply seasoned. Nutrition and food politics aside, their good flavor alone should be enough to make fresh food the obvious choice! Especially at this time of year, when spring bursts forth its bounty, there is a lovely sense of renewal and good spirit. Fresh food connects us to each…

Since the dawn of time, eggs have been celebrated. They are symbols of fertility, new life and creation. Ever wonder how a hen lays eggs? Starting around the age of 18 to 20 weeks a healthy chicken will lay around one egg a day. It takes about 26 hours to lay an egg. She does not need a rooster to lay them; eggs are produced in response to daylight patterns. A fertilized egg will hatch, unfertilized eggs, don’t. Ever Wonder Why A Hen Cackles? The Story Behind the Hen’s Cackle Wild chickens are actually forest animals and they live in small groups called flocks, scratching the dirt and foraging for food. The group wanders away in the undergrowth while one hen sits on the nest to lay her egg. The hen’s cackle serves to reconnect her with the group as if she was yelling “where are you?”. The cock (with…

The leek is a superb vegetable.They are in the onion family and are certainly an upscale family member with their subtle sweet flavor. Leeks are widely available and have been used in cooking for over 3000 years in Europe and Asia. There are fall/winter leeks and spring leeks. While not as commonly used as its cousin the onion, this is an underestimated vegetable that adds great appeal and sophistication to a dish. You can use them wherever you’d use an onion and can be used as a feature ingredient like in a leek and mushroom omelet or quiche, braised and served with sauce, cut thinly and sauteed with apples and served as a side dish, added to soups and stews and are great on a pizza. Unwashed, uncut and refrigerated, they keep for about two weeks. Why not whip up this lovely French Leek Tart, perfect for a lunch, brunch…

Can you imagine what life would be like with no bread? We can’t and would not want to. This ancient food, now a household staple and should be embraced. Bread has been consumed by man since recorded history. It was first produced as a way to consume wheat berries. A wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel except the hull. When the seeds sprouted, they were planted and this produced more seeds. One place in the world that embraces bread is France. Parisians get fresh bread every day, sometimes twice! The Boulangerie and Pastry shop (Patisserie) are often the same and they produce a dizzying array of deliciousness. We love this quote about bread: “Bread is the king of the table and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king. The countries are the soup, the meat, the vegetables, the salad but bread is king.” Louis Bromfield, American…

Anytime is the perfect time to embrace an old tradition and make it your own: the afternoon tea. Whether you go out and enjoy somewhere casual like one of our favorites, or somewhere more formal like The Empress Hotel, Victoria BC, Claridges in London UK, or other luxury hotels that feature this wonderful meal on their menu, the flavors of the season are a huge part of the renewal of this fashionable and delicious activity. If you are feeling so inclined, you can whether casual or more elaborate assemble a lovely afternoon tea time incorporating all the richness of taste and color that brings the season alive. Imagine a meal of Lavender Scones with Rose jelly and Devon cream, chopped egg sandwiches, cucumber and mint croissants, herb omelets, roasted tomato crepes with hollandaise sauce. If desserts are your thing, the petit fours are heavenly and deliciously addictive. Springtime tea is…

The history of Chocolate spans thousands of years, originally discovered in the pods of the cacao (kah KOW) trees in the rain forests of the Americas. These pods, processed into chocolate were drunk in Ancient cultures who celebrated this Meso-American sweet drink. Spanish conquistadors brought the seeds to Spain and created new recipes. This popular drink spread throughout Europe and met with time and technology has become one of the world’s most favorite flavors. Who grows chocolate now? Cocoa trees are grown in tropical climates and 70% of the world’s chocolate is produced in West Africa with an estimated 1.2 – 1.5 million farms. In these farms, the whole family gets involved.

Spring is a terrific season for food – the beginning of the season is cause for culinary celebration. Getting foods at their seasonal peek is the best way to taste foods, even familiar ones. Venture out to the markets with your shopping basket in hand and step into the brighter colors and crisp sweetness of spring. Wherever you live, there is an array of items to choose from to wake up your winter palate. Perhaps try something new or something you did not know was in season right now and diving into some old favorites is a great way to herald in the new season. Why not make a special meal to celebrate! Whether you are in the UK, USA or Canada, take a look through these lists and head out to bring to your table some of the freshest picks of the season.

A favorite romantic meals is a shared one, like a Gourmet Dinner Salad, served in a large bowl. Delicious, satisfying and romantic. It is a tried and true recipe and one that you can play with the ingredients so it is never the same salad twice! Go ahead, use the recipe as a base and have some fun combining ingredients and adding things like potatoes or even grilled vegetables. Enjoy with a lovely prossecco, sparkling wine or champagne for added romance! Gourmet Dinner Salad with Chicken Ingredients 5 cups salad greens 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded 1 pear 1⁄2 cucumber, English 1⁄2 bulb fennel 3 Belgian endives 1 jar (170 ml) artichoke hearts packed in oil, drained 2 tomatoes cut into 8 slices each 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar 1⁄2 cup dried cherries or cranberries 1⁄4 cup goat cheese, crumbled Directions Wash…

Few people can resist chocolate cake and this luxurious recipe from my personal recipe box. Perfectly moist, just the right balance of flavors and an irresistible not-too-sweet icing. Dressed down for everyday or sprinkled with edible gold and decorated with edible flowers for a sophisticated presentation perfect for a brunch or tea party, this cake, ‘takes the cake’! RICH CHOCOLATE CAKE INGREDIENTS ½ cup chocolate semi sweet chopped 1 cup butter 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups all purpose flour Dash of cinnamon Dash of nutmeg Pinch of salt 2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 eggs Method Preheat oven to 350 degrees Prepare 2 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 13 inch pan lining it with parchment paper (will not stick and comes out beautifully!) 1. Melt the chocolate and butter together…