So You Want to Be a Chef

It’s a profession that has been glamorized by reality cooking shows on television that pit aspiring chefs against each other to determine the best of them; however, if you want to become a chef, you’re going to have to do it the hard way. The first and foremost requirement to be a chef and a successful one at that is to display a passion for the art. Yes, being a chef is a creative art and not just a job, so if you’re not in agreement, now is the time to look for another career. But if you’re determined to break into the culinary profession, then here’s what you need to know:

  • Being a chef (at any level) is a highly stressful, high pressure job. The glamour quotient, if it exists at all, is very low and restricted to the topmost tiers of the profession.
  • You must be prepared to spend long hours on your feet.
  • You must be prepared to keep erratic work hours.
  • You must be strong enough to lift heavy pots and pans and crates of food when the need arises.
  • If you want to move up in this profession, you must possess/learn both managerial and culinary skills.
  • You must be adept at juggling many tasks, including menu planning, planning and preparing meals, arranging and garnishing food, supervising kitchen staff, determining portion size, effecting cost control, determining food purchase in the right quantities, selection and storage of food, monitoring supplies, and utilizing leftovers to minimize waste.
  • You will also be responsible for restaurant sanitation issues and the observance of health rules for handling food.
  • You must have the required attitude and temperament for the job – the ability to be patient and composed even in high pressure situations and during times of disaster and chaos is an essential quality if you want to be a successful chef.
  • You must also be willing and able to be part of a team – a kitchen comprises many people working together and unless you’re willing to follow instructions and work in tandem with them, you cannot succeed in this profession.
  • Kitchens are hot and noisy and always filled with activity. So if you’re looking for peace and quiet on the job, you can forget becoming a chef.
  • You’re likely to get burned, cut, scraped and bruised, but these are a normal part of a chef’s day.

So now you’ve seen how hard it is to be a chef; and if you’re still committed to becoming one, read on to see what you need to do and what job descriptions and designations you’re likely to hold.

  • You need to start with taking culinary courses at schools that are accredited and which offer reputable courses. Begin your search at the website of the American Culinary Federation where you will find links to schools and courses, job postings, apprenticeship offers, and much more about the profession.
  • Once you complete your course, it’s best to find a position as an apprentice so you can gain more experience and decide what kind of chef you want to be. Many restaurants and hotel chains are looking for skilled chefs, so ask around for positions that suit you.
  • You’re most likely to start at the bottom of the chain and have to work your way up to the top.
  • The topmost position is the chef de cuisine or executive chef, something you can aspire to become and strive hard to achieve.
  • Most people become sous chefs in a few years if they’re skilled and hard-working – they are direct assistants to the executive chef.
  • If you’re interested in a particular aspect of cooking, you could choose to become a chef de partie or station chef or line cook (in charge of a particular area of production), sauce chef or saucier (prepares sauces, stews and hors d’oeuvres and sautés foods), fish cook or poissonier (prepares fish dishes), vegetable cook or entremetier (prepares vegetables, soups, starches and eggs), roast cook or rotisseur (prepares roasted and braised meats and broils meat and other items), or pastry chef or patissier (prepares pastries and desserts).

If you love the entire cooking experience, if you thrive on the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen, and if food is your passion, then becoming a chef is an extremely lucrative profession, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of satisfaction.

Posted on 24 March '11 by , under Featured.

Voilà! The Top 40 French Cooking Blogs

Have you ever left a bistro wondering what it would be like to whip up a French gourmet meal on your own? While the task may seem daunting, have no fear, as the sights and smells of France’s most coveted delicacies can now be found in your own kitchen. After searching through hundreds of blogs, these 40 bloggers stood out and proved that they know their stuff when it comes to French cooking. The blogs are separated into the following categories: health, pastries, imagery use, instructional value, and celebrity status. Remember, anyone is capable of being his or her own master chef. Bon Appétit!

Celebrity Blogs: These eight bloggers have been in the business for a while, and they all know what it means to be a French chef. Some are old, some are new, but all have a track record of proven success.

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    1. Paris by Mouth – Paris by Mouth is an amalgamation of “celebrity” French foodies getting together to celebrate their unique thoughts and recipes from France. They know all the right places, a must go-to for all things Paris related.

    2. Francois Simon – A Famous food critic, Francois Simon, in Simon Says, pays special attention to particular Parisian delicacies and restaurants that can’t be missed. While he has picked out various cities across the globe and critiqued their cuisine, it is the French capital that shines in this blog.

    3. La Tartine Gourmande – La Tartine Gourmande is a beautiful site that been recognized by multiple news outlets and was named 2010’s “Special Interest Blog” on LTG not only offers French recipes for beginners to experts, but it also offers the “life stories” behind such recipes. For those with special dietary requests, there is an extensive section of gluten-free and vegetarian recipes.

    4. Dorie Greenspan – In the Kitchen and on the Road with Dorie is a blog written by the one and only Dorie Greenspan. Dorie has a massive following not only on the web, but also with her array of successful cookbooks. Her French side comes out once a week, via her online supper club, “French Fridays with Dorie.” It’s easy to sign up and become a member with two requirements: you must have an email address and affinity for the tastiest of French foods.

    5. Patricia Wells – Esteemed chef, Patricia Wells, offers classes and her own books, but really thrives in this lively blog. She maintains a collection of books, cookware, and even provides a glossary for the Franco-challenged aspiring chefs. A natural teacher, she is able to instruct online, which is easier said than done.

    6. Seven Spoons – While this blog could be categorized for it’s imagery (and therefore ability to make anyone become a chef), Tara, of Ontario, has already been recognized by the greats. She feeds off everyone’s everyday items to the fanciest of foie gras.

    7. Orangette – Orangette is an inspiring story of Molly Wizenberg, who went from quitting her Ph.D. program to becoming a successful blogger, writer, and restaurateur. Their site explores the art and pleasure of cooking, rather than a multitude of recipes. Worth a look for those who are inspired to open their own restaurant some day.

    8. Alexander Lobrano – Hungry in Paris chronicles an American in Paris, Alexander Lobrano, as he dishes about Paris’ latest and greatest. A well-known restaurant critic around the world, he shares his experiences from the best restaurants, rather than giving us his own recipes. He has traveled to many cities studying all types of food, but it continually drawn back to Paris.

Healthy: These eight blogs are here to show you that French food does not have to contribute to your waste line. Check out these blogs for the lighter side of French fare.

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    1. Rosa Jackson – Rosa Jackson’s edible adventures describes a teacher’s methods of eating the best while looking your best. While most recipes are said to be healthy, all are sure to be tasty as well.

    2. My French Cuisine – My French Cuisine is a California-based blog that pays extra attention to “going green” while cooking up the best of French fare. While there are many regular full-meal recipes, MFC has a long list of a la carte items for the side.

    3. The Sabbatical Chef – The Sabbatical Chef’s journey takes us on a 6 month vacation in Provence. Sticking with fresh fruits and vegetables, this blogs stays up to date with any and everything seasonal. The bright images convey the food’s freshness, imaginable through the computer screen.

    4. Chocolate and Zucchini – Chocolate and Zucchini is an authentic French blog written by a Parisian woman who fell in love with food in, oddly enough, California. While she emphasizes that chocolate is important to the mind, body, and soul, there is a strong focus on health, and how to create lighter versions of traditionally heavy French recipes.

    5. A World in a Pan – A World in a Pan, authored by Laura, a culinary instructor, takes you on a journey of her foreign travels and healthy eating around the world. A self-proclaimed Foodie-Nomad, Laura uses other cultural influences to whip up some flavorful French dishes.

    6. Joie de Vivre – Joie de vivre: An Amateur gourmet’s guide is exactly what it sounds like, a gourmet guide for the amateurs. This French chef is an American woman who has lost 34 pounds after reading the book French Women Don’t Fat, using the book as her guide to a healthy lifestyle.

    7. My French Cuisine – My French Cuisine provides healthy recipes for everyone under the sun. If you’ve got an allergy, there’s an alternative recipe that will still cater to your needs. Besides providing a number of options, the pictures on this site provide vivid images of the delicious foods to be cooked.

    8. French Fork – In French Fork, Laetitia Bertrand, a native of France, explores her move to Texas, while maintaining her French culinary background in her new home. She shares many fresh and easy recipes that will appease anyone looking for lighter fare.

Imagery: These five blogs shine when it comes to using imagery to display their gorgeous recipes. The captivating photos on each site will have you checking out the archives.

    1. Whisk – Whisk: A food blog specializes in French comfort foods, and has a portfolio of vivid images that will immediately get any eager cook behind the stove. Throughout the blog there are inspirational foodie poems, as well as occasional interviews of renowned French chefs.

    2. Gherkins and Tomatoes – Gherkins and Tomatoes/ Cornichons and Tomatoes focuses on the France’s influence over worldwide palettes. This blog covers Franco-inspired recipes from The Republic of Congo to Shanghai, and each recipe is centered around a fresh fruit or vegetable.

    3. Kitchen at Camont – Camont: Kate Hill’s Culinary Retreat in Gascony is a French foodie’s dream blog, set on an 18th Century farm in the heart of Gascony. This site provides breathtaking images of the freshest of delicacies, from start to finish. The farm is home to an artisan butchery and charcuterie, to name a couple of the picturesque features. This is the real deal when it comes to meals made from scratch, and if you’re lucky, you can take cooking classes on site at the farm.

    4. Kitchen-Notebook – My Kitchen notebook is a beautiful display of the initial components that make a French feast. From the orchards to the harvest, Lucy Vanel covers each step of the way. Each photo will have you singing up for French cooking classes– or running to the nearest bistro.

    5. Croque Camille – Croque Camille is an expat that has up and left for France, making her friends from home green with envy. She uses great images to display all of the delicious new recipes she has learned living in France. While she has a background in pastries, there are many comforting savory recipes to fill you up and keep you warm during the winter months.

Pastry: Some might say pastries are the cornerstones to the French kitchen. These eight blogs specialize in patisserie, and will please any sweet-tooth.

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    1. David Lebovitz – David Lebovitz is another celebrity blogger who has served as Master Pastry Chef at a multitude of French restaurants around the US. Author of The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City, David has been around the block a few times and knows his stuff.

    2. Bake in Paris – Bake in Paris is a pristine site with beautiful images that will have any reader salivating instantly. The blogger is a graphic designer whose artistic instincts play a pivotal role in the construction of each pastry. Undoubtedly, these pastries taste as good as they look.

    3. Paris Pastry
    Paris Pastry is a sweet blog out of Holland that is up to date with anything seasonal. The blogger adds a French twist to different cultures’ cuisines while staying within the realm of each culture’s traditional foods. An added bonus is the occasional poll for the blogger’s next recipe, which engages the followers, and shows that the author uses feedback.

    4. Paris Patisseries – The Pastry Shops of Paris – Paris Patisseries is a lovely depiction of the true Parisian pastries. Not that they are impossible to replicate elsewhere, but there’s just something about seeing them gently placed in a Parisian pastry shop. Great imagery allows for time well-spent browsing, and the urge to book your flight to Paris.

    5. Poires au Chocolat – Poires au chocolat is a pastry blog that maintains a hefty list of French pastries and sweets. Author, Emma, an aspiring English pastry chef, shares some of her favorite sweet treats, while giving a detailed how-to every step of the way.

    6. Dessert First – Dessert First is a lively blog that mixes some American and French pastries, but primarily focuses on classic French patisserie. The Author, Anita, is passionate about her sweets, and also about her photography. Check out this site for some of the best images of French pastries out there.

    7. The Pastry Case – The Pastry Case is an extensive blog that has endless pastry and dessert recipes. Megan, the author, focuses on French cuisine, and talks about her recent days at Pastry School. A timely blogger that posts often, Megan will have you checking back daily to see the latest sweets.

    8. FoodBeam – Fanny, author of The Foodbeam, invites you on her journey of bringing opening up her own cupcake shop. As a former Parisian, she fuses cupcake recipes and other pastry alternatives with French flair.

Instructional: While some things are easier in person, these 11 instructive blogs have made it easy to learn in your own kitchen. Clear and specific, these bloggers want to spread their joy with those willing to learn.

    1. French Cooking for Dummies – French cooking for Dummies is an instructive site that makes whipping up a crème brulee seem like a cinch. Whether or not that is the case, the site provides detailed instructions for not only the novice, but for the professionals as well. The photos of each end-recipe make it hard for anyone to hesitate to become a French chef.

    2. Foodie Froggy – A bilingual blog for both French and English readers. While there are many recipes for readers to try, her extensive collection of Parisian restaurant reviews stands out and supports her title of a true “Foodie Froggy.” For those looking to reach outside the box when trying new restaurants, view her section entitled: My ‘Off the Beaten Path’ Paris.

    3. 18th C Cuisine – 18thC Cuisine is a blog that focuses on the spices, herbs, and preliminary preparations that make French Foods fabulous, stemming from 18th Century. Author Carolyn Smith-Kizer educates us about how French foods have evolved over time, giving us a cooking and history lesson in one.

    4. Playing with Fire and Water – Playing with Fire and Water, written by a freelance chef in Connecticut, invites you to her “playground” where she is learning as she goes. Her recipes range in difficulty, but consistently are written with clear and precise instructions for everyone.

    5. Easy French Food – A cutesy blog that demonstrates the simplicities of the French foods that the least refined palettes are still comfortable with- Madeleines, casseroles, parfaits. Author, Kim, demonstrates the fun and stress-free way of becoming a French chef.

    6. Chez Megane – Chez Megane is an American blogger returned from Paris, with a basic blog highlighting simple, yet delicious recipes. Each recipe is backed up with an enticing picture, proving that French recipes are possible for any eager cook.

    7. Made in Cantal – Made in Cantal is a culinary blog focusing more on specific classes and routines for standard French cooking, rather than just a multitude of recipes. The site highlights the best institutes for culinary studies, as well as locations (outside of France) to study the art of French cooking.

    8. Cestbon – Gourmet French Cuisine Blog is a simplistic way of providing recipes with the occasional video for demonstration. The blogger is able to take the reader on his/her many travels throughout foreign lands, making French food in various locations.

    9. Cooking Issues – Cooking Issues is the French Culinary Institute’s blog concerning technology’s role in cooking. While many photos contain people instead of recipes, the role of the blog is important for those looking to learn about food preparation.

    10. My French Cooking – My French Cooking is a straight-shooting blog: Affordable Sophistication. French Cuisine at Home. This blog shows the average Joe how to eat a sophisticated French meal, while staying within their budget.

    11. Chez Richard – Richard, of Chez Richard, shares his 3rd generation French-Family recipes with the world on this instructional site. While listing his favorite recipes to follow, he also suggests proper wine pairings that are sure to spice up any meal.

Posted on 14 March '11 by , under Featured.

Dionysus Lives On: Top 50 Sommelier and Master of Wine Blogs and Posts

Everyone loves a good glass of wine, but it is sometimes hard to figure out when you are drinking quality wine. In order to ensure that fine wine is being served, many restaurants across the world put faith in their chosen sommelier for the wine selection process. Sommeliers are world-class, highly educated wine connoisseurs. They are an elite group whose training and credentials merit the utmost respect. These top 50 Sommelier and Master of Wine Blogs and Posts stand out amongst the rest, and provide an abundance of information on how to choose a great wine. Also included are a few Master of Wine blogs and posts that give superb recommendations.

Teams: The Team category is comprised of various bloggers contributing to a site or organization devoted to wine. These respected wine writers and sommeliers collaborate with their peers and fellow wine lovers to learn and teach simultaneously.

1. Secret Sommelier – Secret Sommelier is an interactive community for wine lovers around the world. Written by an entire team, this blog has anything and everything about the best wines. Introducing wines both old and new, these seasoned sommeliers do an excellent job of pairing wine with the appropriate delicacies.

2. Decanter – is a wine-lover’s site with an excellent blog written by a team of editors. While the site offers anything from courses to event planning, the blog features specific wines that should be tasted ASAP!

3. Savvy Company – The Savvy Company is a team of sommeliers who are also creative marketers. The Savvy Team will help you from anything to picking wines for a party to the best wine vineyards to tour.

4. Wine Couch – Full Circle Wine Solutions is a wine and spirits educational firm based in San Francisco. Each client’s tastes and needs are put into consideration when their program is customized. Each program is lead by sommeliers, and all programs are directed by Master Sommelier, Evan Goldstein.

5. The Blend Blog – The Blend is written by a team of writers, one being a Master Sommelier from Texas. This blog emphasizes the love of wine with some southern charm. Getting many opinions from all of the different writers, this blog is always up to date with the latest trends in wine.

Restaurants: The Restaurant sommelier category is made up of restaurant sommeliers and wine masters who contribute to their restaurant’s blog. These experts know their wine lists front and back.

1. The Cliff House – The Cliff House’s blog, Wine Flights of Fancy, is written by the restaurant’s sommelier and gives superb recommendations for wine pairings. Focused on restaurant wines, the sommelier teaches readers how to order wine at restaurants.

2. The Blue Collar Sommelier – The Blue Collar Sommelier is a blog written by a self-taught sommelier (technically not certified, but definitely knows his stuff) who focuses on the “noteworthy and usually under-valued” details of wines.

3. Jonathan Charnay – Jonathan Charnay is a Chilean-born New York City resident who now directs three NYC restaurant wine-programs. This year he has begun his Master of wine program, in order to become s Master Sommelier!

4. Wine Cheap – Wine Chap: Restaurant Wine Lists Unraveled is a media-based blog that explains wine lists in further detail. While many people see daunting wine lists and choose a wine at random, this blog shows the average person to go about ordering wine at a restaurant.

5. Eatocracy – Eatocracy, of CNN, features anything food/drink related, but has a special post on sommelier, Paul Grieco. Grieco runs a restaurant (Hearth) and 2 wine bars (Terroir and Tribeca) in New York City, and has a knack for picking out great wines from the lesser-known parts of the world.

Female: The Female sommelier category consists of a small group of women who have ventured into a previously male dominated industry.

1. Sharron Peterson – Sharron Peterson is both a sommelier and a future graduate of the UC Davis Winemaking/Enology program. Her ultimate goal is to educate wine lovers in a “snob-free zone” throughout the country,” emphasizing fun and positivity to those willing to learn.

2. Wine By Alia – Alia Personal Sommelier is a blog written by Alia, who fell in love with wine in Paris while on sabbatical. As she has now dedicated her life to wine, she has a “services” section where she will organize tastings, food pairings, and consultations for interested customers.

3. The Savvy Sommelier – A self-proclaimed “Wine appreciation teacher,” Jennifer Ayre is a certified sommelier in Mountain View, CA. She is the owner of Savvy Cellar Wines, and Savvy Cellar Bar and Wine Shop.

4. Red Carnations – Being both a French and a female sommelier, Lia Povedo has found her job to be challenging, yet exciting. In an industry dominated by men, Lia blogs about her career at the Red Incarnation Hotel, from the female sommelier’s point of view.

5. Sarita the Wine Gal – Serta Moreno, author of The Wine Gal, is a certified sommelier here to teach wine lovers at all levels. “What’s in my glass?” is a section dedicated to the rankings of various wines where she provides the “smooth rank,” personal rating, and ultimately, the price of each bottle she tries.

6. Business Week – This Business Week article shares the story of an unlikely girl turned Wine Master. As Korean woman, she shares her uphill battle of overcoming stereotypes in order to become a top masters.

INTERNATIONAL: These international sommeliers have a worldly background and have traveled far and wide to taste and critique the best wines.

1. Robert Giorgione – Robert Giogione is a Wine Consultant and Social Media Resource for any and all wine lovers. Based in London, he has worked for many high-profile restaurants, as well as served as an award-winning consultant with fine diners in other major.

2. Magan – Magan, from Just Magan, is a sommelier and blogger who blogs about many aspects wine, life and the universe. He is from India, and gives the perspective of a unique, Indian sommelier.

3. Dermot’s Wine Blog – Dermot Nolan’s Wine Blog is a simple and tasteful blog from one of Ireland’s most esteemed Wine Masters. Nolan has worked in wine retail and consultancy, but enjoys teaching, and hopes to encourage interested students to take a wine course!

4. Emmanuel Delmas – Emmanuel Delmas is a sommelier from Paris whose goal (and other blog’s title) is to “make wine accessible to all.” He is currently in the process of launching the first TV channel solely dedicated to wine, ENDONYS, set for 2011.

5. Pino Bruno – Pino Bruno is an Italian sommelier with a scientific background. He has studied everything about wine, from its tiniest components to its best food pairings.

EDUCATIONAL: The educational category is composed of blogs whose main purpose is to teach anyone, amateurs to professionals, to love and appreciate wine.

1. Andreas Larsson – Winner of many awards, including Best Sommelier of 2007, Andreas Larsson is worth a visit to get the expert’s opinion. Constantly traveling, touring, and speaking, Andreas Larsson is always contributing useful wino-information his blog.

2. Doug Frost – Doug Frost is one of three people in the world to hold the title of both Master Sommelier and Master of Wines. Frost is an esteemed writer and lecturer, who has won many prestigious awards, and is still on a quest to learn more.

3. Dr. Vino – Dr. Vino, Tyler Colman, has studied wines for most of his life, and now teaches classes at NYU and in Chicago. He has written many acclaimed books, and wrote his PhD’s dissertation on the political economy of wine in France and the United States. Well-read and well taught, he is certainly an expert.

4. Elevage Wine – Elevage, the French term for the process of nurturing and guiding wine from the vineyard to the bottle, is an educational site for all wine enthusiasts written by two sommeliers from Seattle. While they give professional advice to restaurants and businesses they also provide informative to civilians for choosing great wines to all patrons.

5. James the Wine Guy – James the Wine Guy, written by James Melendez is an avid poster, who also has blogs about food, spirits, restaurants, and travel (all titled James the _____ Guy). Informative and educational, James contributes many “Best-of” lists of wines that are not to be missed.

6. Fermentation – Fermentation The Daily Wine Blog is a blog written by Tom Wark that has a unique spin on wine and public relations. While his topics are all focused on wines, he is able to bring the media’s perspective to the blog, making this blog stand apart from the other wine-recommendation blogs.

7. Uncorked Love – Uncorked Love: a wino’s journey to sommelier is a blog written by a university graduate who has enrolled in a Sommelier Program. Michelle, the author, has chronicled her journey from start to finish, and has done a great job “uncorking” her love affair with wine.

Master of Wine:While different from the Sommeliers, the Masters of Wine are also experts when it comes to wine. This group of Master of Wine bloggers provides insightful and helpful advice for anyone looking to enhance their wine knowledge.

1. Debra Master of Wine – Debra Master of Wine is a blogger (and Wine Master, obviously) who left her wine-country home in Sonoma County to be a wine expert in Hong Kong. As a respected professor and master, she has earned her title by doing everything from the harvest, to writing a weekly column for the South China Morning Post.

2. Tim Atkin – Tim Atkin, Master of Wine, is an award winning wine writer who regularly gives a review of a particular wine each week. While he has a sophisticated palette and great recommendations, his outstanding writing skills make this blog shine.

3. Jancis Robinson – Jancis Robinson is a daily blogger (who also has a team of writers) that gives her up-to-date recommendations and tips for any curious wine lover. This interactive site has videos, articles, and a forum for anyone to inquire about Jancis’ daily posts.

4. Wine Styles – The Masters Wine Panel at WineStyles (a boutique wine retailer) provides excellent guidance by providing wines from boutique wineries around the globe. Their system of rating each wine in the store lets the customers know exactly what they are purchasing.

Sommelier Guest Posts: These guest posts specialized in sommelier-related issues and stood out within their own blogospheres.

1. SF Gate – Based out of the wino-central San Francisco, the Wine Blog of the San Francisco Chronicle has daily features of the West Coast’s and Napa’s greatest picks. With a multitude of wine bars to choose from, this blog’s recommendations are always a must for places to get wine.

2. Diner’s Journal – The NYT Food and Drink Blog researches the role of the sommelier at restaurants. Are they there to pressure you and take advantage of your amateur taste buds?

3. BBC Good Food – An interesting and thought-provoking blog post about talking wine with a sommelier. While the sommelier’s job is to remain wise on the topic, there is the suggested notion that they are also there to intimidate the customer.

4. Gender Across Borders – This gender feminist blog highlights the fact that most sommeliers are men, members of the “old boys club.” While it is becoming more frequent that women are joining the club, author Emily Heroy gives many historical examples of as to why this is the case.

5. Nudges – This interesting article on the iPad apps for wine suggests that the digital age’s recommendations may trump your local sommelier’s choices. Whether or not that is true, the article provides many apps for seasoned winos or for those interested in the topic.

6. Curious Wines – The Sommelier Wine Awards 2010 are not big deal for anyone who enjoys the occasional glass of wine. For those who know wine, study wine, and love wine, these are the biggest awards of the year. This article gives all the details of the wino’s Oscars.

7. Le Sommelier – Le Sommelier, Inc. is a Canadian wine agency dedicated to bringing the finest of wines to the Canadian market. While they suggest wines from all ranges, they have a nice section for superior wines from independent, boutique wineries.

8. Notable Wine – For those that are confused about the differences between the Master of Wines and Master Sommeliers, have no fear; this blogger goes into thorough detail. Whether you are a MW or a MS, you certainly know your wines!

9. Sommeliers International – A great site for all things sommelier-related, this article talks about the first component of wine, the vineyard. While most sommeliers are not actually growing grapes, this instructs any gardener on how to maintain a top-notch vineyard.

10. Chron – David Stout, Master Sommelier to the Texas winos, directs beverage education for the Dallas-based Glazer’s wholesale distributors. This particular article focuses on Stout’s ever-curious palette as he tries an array of restaurants ranging from a “hole-in the wall” to the city’s best.

11. SF GateOnce again the debate of Sommelier v. Master comes to the surface, and is hashed out by two long-time friends. The co-authors of “Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World’s Top Wine Professionals,” was published in October 2010, and takes a deeper look into the issue.

12. Tasting-Wine – This article carefully scrutinizes the difficulties in become a sommelier and/or master of wine. After understanding the tests, trials, and necessary experience involved in obtaining such titles, you will likely pay more attention next time you are ordering wine.

Sommelier Groups: These are groups of sommeliers who get together to discover the wonders of wines. Tune in!

1. Sommelier Society – The Sommelier Society of America is the nation’s oldest wine-teaching institution. While they offer higher-level courses, they hope to make the art of teaching and studying wine available and easy to anyone willing to learn.

2. US Sommelier – The United States Sommelier Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the wine culture to wine lovers and industry professionals. They also are trying to promote the art of drinking wines, to any and everyone.

3. Guild – The Guild of Sommeliers hopes to network wine connoisseurs all over the world. Their interactive, online community is a great place for members to get involved regardless of where they might live.

4. Food and Wine – This short article gives a nice description of the seven featured sommeliers from Food and Wine this year. From seven separate parts of the country, each sommelier did an outstanding job bringing a new, innovative, and profitable wine list to their respective restaurants.

5. Master of Wine – The Institute of Masters of Wine currently has 289 members, and ranges from anyone that is a winemaker to senior executives. While this is a prestigious and elite group, there is always room to join if you are qualified.

6. International Wine Guild – The International Wine Guild’s blog focuses on wine education, wine schools, and wine classes/tastings. While novices are encouraged to learn about wines, this blog is dedicated to those who want to pursue a wine-related career.

Posted on 6 March '11 by , under Featured.

25 Soup Blogs That Will Bowl You Over

There’s nothing like a good soup when you’re tired of eating fast food and at random restaurants. While cooking at home is always easy on the wallet, soups are often packed with a myriad of beans, which means you’re getting even more bang for your buck (and a full tummy too!). These soup blogs show you how to whip up a fabulous pot of soup anytime of year. And remember that many soups freeze well, so feel free to outdo yourself.

Top Soup Blogs

These blogs will show you how to chop and simmer to your heart’s delight for the perfect soup.

    1. What’s the Soup This site offers a mix of recipes, soup reviews and tips on where to find the most amazing soups in your immediate area.

    2. The Stone Soup This blogger is dedicated to helping you trim your waistline and keep your bank account full by switching to soups for dinner a few nights a week.

    3. Savory Soup Recipes Learn how to roast up your veggies before throwing them into the pot and get recipes for everything from potato to broth-based soups.

    4. Within the Kitchen This is a cooking blog where the writer has plenty to say about soup, including interesting mixes like a pumpkin apple recipe.

    5. Molly’s Soup Blog This blogger shows you the beauty of soups from various cultures, including the scoop on pho and gumbo.

    6. Soup Swap At this site, members share and swap soup recipes. Expect classic recipes and new takes on traditional combinations.

    7. Cook Like Your Grandmother This site is committed to sharing fresh recipes from scratch (like grandma used to make) and has soup recipes galore, including tips on making your own broth.

    8. Food 52 At this blog, foodies chat about new soup ideas and staple recipes that you can cook year round.

    9. Soup ‘n Bread If you’re a fan of this meal combination, you’ll love this blog for ideas on how to take your soup ‘n bread to the next level.

    10. Tasty Kitchen If you’re new to cooking up soups, this site has easy recipes that anyone can follow and get right the first time around.

    11. Simply Soups This site focuses on fresh ingredients and features a different recipe every day. There are simple recipes, but there are also more gourmet-savvy recipes for those who want to push the boundaries of soup (wild!).

    12. Simply Recipes At this site you’ll find a mix of soups and stews, along with other simple recipes. We love the black bean soup and dad’s fish stew, which are both fabulous no matter what time of the year it is.

    13. Sandy and Sue Here real people share their favorite soup recipes and others offer ideas for tweaking the recipe, in case you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand.

    14. Cook Recipes – Soup If you’re looking for something light and simple or a hearty soup that can stand up to seriously cold weather, this food blog has recipes for them all.

    15. CopyKat Have you ever noticed that soups from a restaurant are so darn tasty compared to the bland recipes you might be making at home? Now you can re-create those recipes with the help of this site that has loads of soup and stew recipes from your favorite national restaurants.

Top Gumbo Blogs

Gumbo is one soup that every cook wants to perfect. If you’re from the South, you may already be familiar with this soup and if not, learn all about the spicy concoction you’re been missing out on.

    16. Gumbo Cooking Blog This blog has everything you need to know about making the perfect gumbo with just enough kick to it.

    17. Gumbo City If you’re already well acquainted with gumbo, check out this gumbo blog for new spins on the classic Cajun dish.

    18. About Southern Food – Gumbo Get the gumbo recipes that will wow a crowd from this About food blog.

Top Chili Blogs

Making up a pot of chili is always a winner, no matter who you’re entertaining. Here are the blogs that will teach you how to simmer to perfection.

    19. Chili Cooks If you’re looking for an ultra spicy recipe or a veggie recipe you can serve for the big game, this site has plenty of chili recipes to choose from.

    20. Good Chili Recipe This site has chili recipes from all over the globe, so no matter what your taste is, there’s a little something for everyone.

    21. Pepper Fool If you’re in the mood for major flavor in your chili, this site shows you how to maneuver spices and peppers so your chili comes out loaded with zing.

    22. Chili Every Way Vegetarians will love this blog that has plenty of veggie chili recipes for you to try every day of the week.

More Soup Blogs

Here are a few more soup blogs to help you with ideas to make your favorite soups a little more interesting.

    23. The Soup Recipe Site This site is packed with easy recipes, including a variety of tomato and cabbage soup recipes.

    24. Healthy Soup Recipe Learn how to reduce the salt in your soups without forgoing major flavor.

    25. A Crock Cook If you’re just starting to get familiar with the kitchen, the crock pot is the way to go. Check out this site for plenty of soup recipes that will practically cook themselves.

Soups are a great way to watch your weight and have something pre-prepared for those long work days when you get home and want a meal that’s easy to warm up. Cook soup, gumbo or chili in bulk and freeze them in single serving containers or a large plastic bowl so you always have a healthy, accessible meal ready to go.

Posted on 1 March '11 by , under Featured.

For Your Brewing Pleasure: The Top 10 Barista Blogs

We love it, we need it, actually, it is a necessity for waking up and living our lives every day. Coffee, Java, Joe, café, “hot stuff,” jamocha, varnish remover, whatever you like to call it, is a worldwide drink that we can all agree on. The masters of coffee, the artists who use beans as their paints, the experts who create alertness for all of mankind, they are: Baristas. After scouring the internet for our favorite Barista Blogs, we have narrowed down our selection to the Top 10 Barista Blogs. These clever blogs are informative, instructive, and for many, hilarious. Teaching us coffee tips, and giving us unforgettable anecdotes from the other side of the counter, these blogs are here to keep you entertained!

  1. 1. Jim Seven – Jim Seven is a great blog written by James Hoffmann, the World Barista Champion 2007, also the winner of the UK Barista competition in both 2006 & 2007. This barista’s blog is up to date with the latest and greatest in coffee news. From perfecting espresso to coffee competitions, this guy has covered it all.
  2. 2. Barista Blog – Barista Blog is a fun blog that really shines, as it is made for coffee addicts and tea lovers. There are facts, news, photos, recipes, and videos that are filled with the latest and greatest java information. A beautiful blog with great descriptions (and pics!), it is certainly worth your time if you are seeking out coffee-knowledge!
  3. 3. Barista Exchange – Barista Exchange is a magnificent site where baristas unite! It is “the world’s premiere online community for the specialty coffee industry,” where baristas worldwide can share their stories, recipes, tips, and latest news. Even if you are not a barista, this site is certainly worth your time, as it will have you buying an espresso maker in no time!
  4. 4. Dublin Barista – Dublin’s # 1 barista, Colin Harmon, has a magnificent, up-to-date blog giving us coffee’s best from the Emerald Isle. Ireland has always had a gorgeous coffee reputation, and Colin has done extremely well depicting that on the screen. A barista at 3FE in Dublin, he has some entertaining bits on a life that revolves around coffee! Check it out!
  5. 5. Live Journal – The Livejournal Baristas Community is an online forum that is an blank canvas for all baristas. It is a wonderful place for sharing stories (or venting, we all do it) and exploring the life of a Barista!. Check it out for entertaining stories about these baristas shifts!
  6. 6. Pasteboard: Barista Magazine – Barista Magazine is a highly regarded magazine straight outta Portland, Oregon. Covering competitions to an espresso quick-fix on the run, this publication has a beautiful blog that is well-manicured, filled with the most informative java news coming straight to you!
  7. 7. 147 xxxx – A Starbucks Barista blog (in NYC!) is as real as it gets. This excellent blog is written by a barista who remembers “making your latte, working with the motto “just say yes,” dealing with the hobos, the clueless, the regulars, and amazing(ly dumb) customers.” While this blogger is no longer a Starbucks barista, this blog is very well written, and has a superb sense of humor, especially when dealing with the masses!
  8. 8. Barista Brat – The Barista Brat is not your average brat. This blogger chronicles the rants and raves of a barista, all while being a coffee shop owner. An expert, you might say, this seasoned barista has some hilarious posts that are certainly worth your time!
  9. 9. Caffenation – This Antwerp Barista, Rob Berghmans, is living life in Antwerp and blogging as he brews. Rob is the owner of the Caffènation coffee company, and therefore knows the ins and outs of not only making coffee, but knowing how to make coffee into a business. This well-kept blog is up to date and always giving out great advice to not only baristas, but your average (or above-average!) coffee aficionados as well!
  10. 10. Bikini Baristas -Bikini Baristas is certainly the most unique blog about baristas, to say the least. This clever and probably male-popular site is a collection of all the Seattle area “Bikini Baristas.” You’re probably thinking that they are all in one place- but no, these bikini babes are spread throughout the city at various stands, waiting to make YOU a latte. Pretty interesting!

Posted on 21 February '11 by , under Featured.

5 Surefire Ways to Great Cooking

It’s just like any other skill – some people take to cooking like a duck to water while others have to learn the hard way through practice and experience. My mom belongs to the first category while I got shoved to the second. Unfortunately, her expertise in cooking was not something she passed to me through her genes. I was (and still am) a reluctant cook; but since I love to eat, I had to learn the tricks of the trade or settle for mediocre and/or inedible food. There is no dearth of recipes, so it’s not how to cook that you need to worry about when you start your journey as a cook; rather, it’s the extraneous aspects of cooking that make your dishes look, smell and taste great.

  • Pay attention to the recipe: Unless you’re an experienced cook or know your way around a kitchen, it’s best to follow instructions exactly as specified by the recipe. When you’re a newbie, don’t take liberties and try experimenting with ingredients and amounts; there’s time for this a few months down the road, when you’re surer of your skills and know what’s what in the cooking department. If you’re not sure about any aspect of the recipe, ask someone who is at home in a kitchen for help.
  • Keep all ingredients at hand: Before you begin, ensure that you have all the ingredients needed at home. It’s also best to measure out the exact amounts of each ingredient and keep them on your countertop so you don’t have to scramble for them at the last minute. Read the recipe thoroughly before you start – this prevents mistakes that could ruin your dish. For example, if the recipe calls for butter at room temperature to be added to the flour mix and you haven’t set out the butter to thaw, then your cake or pastry is going to fall flat (pardon the pun). Planning ahead and being prepared is an integral part of cooking great dishes.
  • Don’t be distracted: There are people who multitask efficiently even as they cook up a storm, but if you’re a newbie or you’re like me, you must concentrate on the dish you’re making to avoid burning, undercooking, boiling over, overcooking and other blunders that could happen when you’re distracted. If the recipe calls for you to keep stirring the liquid or broth, do so without question. If you’re supposed to stay near the stove tending to what’s in the pan, do it without hesitation. Distraction in the kitchen leads not just to errors in your food, but also to safety risks that could endanger your life.
  • Use the right equipment: Don’t just make do with what’s available; when you plan to be a good cook, you must arm yourself with the right equipment. Use the right pots, pans, ladles, stirrers, stoves, and ovens. Without the tools, you’re only half the cook you could possibly be.
  • Do it whole-heartedly: A recent study has found that hard work improves the taste of food. Now whether this is true or not, cooking whole-heartedly and without any reluctance does make a difference in the outcome. When you put your heart and soul into your meals, you use the best ingredients and you take the most care in ensuring that you’ve followed all the instructions to the letter. This attention to detail makes the end result both delicious and wholesome.

Posted on 6 February '11 by , under Featured.

10 Ways to Avoid (or Salvage) Recipe Disasters

All of us have gone through them at some point or the other as we tried and tested our skills in the kitchen; we’ve wrung our hands in despair and turned our noses down at the dishes we worked so hard to create; and we wondered and pondered where we went wrong, whether the recipe let us down or whether we messed up big time. Recipe disasters have been known to happen more often than not – who hasn’t cried over a cake that was cooked to a crisp or a salad that fell flat on its face – and while we cannot completely eliminate them, we can try to minimize their occurrence or salvage some edible food from them by following a few simple ground rules.

1.      Read the recipe thoroughly much before you begin – when you leave the reading to the last minute, you risk not having a few ingredients on hand and/or not having them in the right condition. For example, unless you know that the recipe calls for cooked tomatoes, you’re not going to have them cooked and ready to add to the dish when you’re supposed to do so.

2.      Keep all ingredients at hand, in the right measure – this way, you avoid adding the wrong ingredients in your mad scramble to find them, and you avoid putting in the wrong amounts.

3.      Keep tasting the food as you’re cooking it – if you’ve added too little salt, or horror of horrors, salt instead of powdered sugar, you can stop right here and start over again.

4.      Avoid multi-tasking – when you try to do too many things while cooking, you end up losing focus and making mistakes. You could so easily burn or overcook items if you forget to stir them or take them out of the oven when you’re supposed to do so.

5.      Don’t depend on too many people to help – it’s true that too many cooks spoil the broth, especially when they’re amateurs who’re high in enthusiasm and low in culinary skills.

6.      Don’t improvise unless you’re absolutely sure of yourself – when you replace ingredients with substitutes that you think are suitable alternatives, you must be a great cook who knows exactly how the finished dish will turn out or someone who has done this experiment before.

7.      Don’t use ingredients that you’re not familiar with – some items may sound exotic and you may want to try them out. But if you don’t know what they are or how they’re supposed to look when half-cooked or fully cooked, you’re getting ready for a disaster.

8.      Don’t rush through the process – cooking works best when it’s slow and unhurried. If you try to get things done fast, you end with either burned or undercooked food.

9.      Don’t allow overconfidence to ruin your dish – instead of resorting to your instinct for ingredient measures, take the time to actually use measuring cups and spoons; instead of assuming 10 minutes has gone by and you can remove your dish from the oven, check your watch for the time or set the oven timer to beep in ten minutes.

10.  And finally, don’t hesitate to try out the recipe again if you’ve failed once – you may have messed up the first time. However, if you keep getting the same slop more than once, it’s time to throw the recipe out along with your disaster.

Posted on 26 January '11 by , under Featured.

Top 49 Mexican Cooking Blogs

Mexican food is delicious, but bringing the recipes to your own kitchen may be tricky. We all love hitting a Mexican restaurant, big or small, and noshing on enchiladas and fajitas and washing it all down with a margarita. Whether you’re looking to throw a fiesta for a special occasion or just want to bring Mexican food home to shake your nightly dinners, these blogs will help you gather the right ingredients and perfect your technique when cooking up something spicy.

Blogs and Sites for Learning About Mexican Food

Cooking is great because it allows you to bring a new culture into your home without spending a bundle. Learn about the history of Mexican food, its ingredients and the origin of staple dishes with these blog posts and websites.

    1. Nathan’s Comida : Nathan’s blog will make you want to get to the market and back in your kitchen ASAP! We love it because Nathan gives a backstory to many of the dishes he grew up with and explains how his grandmother makes food and why. The blog has a healthy mix of Mexican, Cuban and Spanish recipes.

    2. Big Soccer Forum – Understanding Mexican Cuisine : This is merely a thread at a soccer forum, but it’s packed with information on Mexican and Tex-Mex food and the differences between the two.

    3. Frontera Fiesta : This blog is created by the folks at Frontera Fiesta. It shares recipes and talks about how to entertain with traditional Mexican food.

    4. Food Virgin – Mexican : The Food Virgin is an adventurous blogger who explores new foods for the first time. Read up on how to order Mexican food if it’s your first time dining on the (sometimes) spicy fare.

    5. Mexicoetal : This is one of the best online food stores for sourcing ingredients for Mexican food that you may not be able to find in your local grocery store, depending on where you live. Plus, if you see an ingredient that piques your interest, you can always do a Google search to find a recipe to try.

    6. Mexican Wave – Food : Learn interesting facts about Mexican food and the history behind some of the most popular Mexican dishes nearly all of us enjoy.

    7. Mouthfuls Food Forum – The Mexican Cooking Project : Many Mexican Cooking Project threads have been started at this popular foodie forum. Folks share their tips, suggestions and alterations to creating classic Mexican recipes at home.

    8. Interesting Mexican Cooking Facts : Learn how some ingredients became staples in Mexican cooking and examines some of the common spices used.

    9. Lo Mexicano – A (Relatively) Short History of Mexican Food : This condensed guide gives you everything you need to know about the history of Mexican food. It has surprising facts that will be fun to share with fellow cooks and foodies in your circle.

    10. Alegria in Mexico : Cooks will love this blog because it features great Mexican recipes, but also goes behind the dish to reveal the history and role it plays in the Mexican culture. Blogged by a writer based in Mexico City, it doesn’t get more authentic than this.

    11. Rancho Gordo : This well-known blog is a go-to for those looking to learn about Mexican food and how to cook it. The web store is a great place to visit for finding hard-to-find ingredients and the company’s famous heirloom beans.

    12. Rachel Laudan : This writer discusses two things – food and politics. It’s an interesting niche subject that foodies will appreciate learning when whipping up Mexican food.

    13. Mexico Soul and Essence : Learn the rich history of Mexican food and the new places that the country’s gastronomy movement is going. Like other parts of the world, they’re focusing on locally grown and seasonal ingredients.

    14. Slow Food : This site teaches us the beauty of waiting for good things to come. The purpose of the site is to give readers lessons on food and food production from all over the world, including Mexico.

    15. Good Food Mexico City : This blogger takes you to the capital of Mexico with his food picks and also offers tips on how to shop for Mexican ingredients

Mexican Cooking Blogs

These cooking blogs are devoted to Mexican cuisine. With these blogs, you’ll learn how to create the perfect verde sauce and how long to cook caldo that will impress guests.

    16. Gusta Usted : This site is penned in Spanish, but Google Translator will take care of that if you can’t read the language. It’s authentic Mexican and Spanish cuisine with yummy recipes like chiles rellenos.

    17. Mexican Food Lovers : This site doesn’t update often, but the archives provide fantastic tips for cooking Mexican food. Check out the blog post over a traditional Mexican holiday for innovative entertaining ideas.

    18. Cooking in Mexico Authentic recipes that will make your mouth water can be found at this Mexican cooking blog. While some of the ingredients may be difficult to source, they’ll definitely be worth tracking down once you take a look at what can be done with them.

    19. Mexico Cooks : This blog is reinventing Mexican cooking with interesting combinations, but also reverts back to the classics and shows you how to do the same. A great cook is always learning and re-examining dishes, which makes this blog one of the best resources for learning about Mexican food.

    20. Recipe Reviews – Mexican for Everyday by Rick Bayless : This blogger spent much of 2009 working their way through this Mexican cook book. There are plenty of images and the blogger discusses how easy or difficult a recipe was to pull off.

    21. The Dining Diva – Mexico : This blogger focuses on travel to Mexico and Mexican cuisine much of the time. Enjoy her fabulous stories over the Aztecs and extensive history lessons on certain Mexican dishes that incorporate traditional Spanish ingredients like olives and capers.

    22. Cooking Mexican Recipes : This site brings all of your classic Mexican food and drink recipes to one place, making it your first stop when entertaining with Mexican cuisine. Learn how to create the perfect margarita and enchilada sauce.

    23. About Mexican Food : This About site gives you a look at Mexican food recipes you can try at home. Some are fit for a beginner cook, while others require someone who knows what they’re doing in the kitchen.

    24. Married to a Mexican : This darling blogger makes YouTube videos to give us further instruction on how to create Mexican cake and pumpkin flan. The videos are easy to follow and provide plenty of takeaway information you can use in all of your cooking.

    25. Theresa Cooks : This blogger no longer updates, but the recipes that are left will help you in your Mexican cooking ventures. One of our favorite recipes is spiced cauliflower, which is easy to make as a new side your family isn’t used to.

    26. Emerils – Mexican Food : Emeril and his blogging team know food. At this blog they share food of all types, but the recipes and food experiences will make you eager to experiment with new ingredients commonly found in Mexican food.

    27. Examiner – Mexican Food in Chicago : This writer knows the ins-and-outs of finding Mexican food in the windy city and also breaks down how to use various ingredients in Mexican cooking.

    28. Mexican Foodie : At this site you’ll find endless recipes for cooking Mexican food, such as fajita marinades and basic red salsa.

    29. Mexican Food Recipes : This well organized blog gives you tips on creating classic Mexican food and has plenty of easy recipes for beginners.

Fajita Recipes

Get your kitchen sizzling with these fajita recipes that can be made for a family dinner or a big party with friends.

    30. All Recipes – Fajita Marinade This fajita marinade is a classic, especially if you’re into Tex-Mex cuisine. It incorporates lime, garlic and it’s a winner every time.

    31. Building Bodies – Chicken Fajitas : Even those watching their waistlines can indulge in this healthy fajita recipe that is low in fat and heavy in flavor.

    32. Fajita Recipe – Vegetarian Tricolor Fajita : The smoky flavor means even vegetarians can enjoy”fajitas,” since the right seasonings and grilling technique make veggies flavorful.

    33. Big Oven – Fajita Seasoning : If you’re strapped for ingredients, you’re bound to have these basic spices in your cupboard for creating a simple fajita seasoning that’s a hit.

    34. About Southern Cooking – Chicken Fajitas : This marinade is great for those who prefer chicken to beef when cooking fajitas. While you can the fajitas in tacos, they also spice up a basic sandwich.

Taco Recipes

If your tacos are getting boring, consider trying these recipes that will add some zip to your week night dinner staple.

    35. Fish Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce : These fish tacos are ideal for munching on a hot summer day with a cold beer in hand.

    36. Mex-Recipes – Beef Taco Recipe : This classic beef taco recipe works with spices and nothing comes from a jar, giving the tacos an authentic flavor your family will love.

    37. Tastebook – Brian’s Classic Tacos : These tacos incorporate olives and bell pepper for dimension without any heavy spicy factor.

    38. Taco Recipes – Carne Asada : This traditional Mexican dish gives you beef that is ridiculously tender and juicy, giving you little need for a slue of garnishes.

    39. ChowHound – Frying Corn Tortillas : Tips for getting the perfect fried corn tortilla that won’t fall apart or end up with those crispy edges we all detest.

Mexican Soup and Stew Recipes

These Mexican soup and stew recipes can simmer all day and only get better with time. Best of all, you can whip up a big pot and it can feed a small army throughout the week.

    40. Cooks Caldo de Pollo : This traditional soup is a staple in many Mexican households. It’s cheap, easy to make and is quite nutritious when you break down the ingredients.

    41. All Recipes – Caldo de Res : This beef soup gets its flavor from simmering for a couple of hours. Feel free to throw in whatever veggies you have on hand or prefer to eat.

    42. Group Recipes – Fideo Authentic Mexican Pasta : Fideo is a very, very thin pasta that is done in a tomato sauce that more resembles soup than a sauce consistency. It’s full of flavor and simple to make.

    43. Cooking Nook – Taco Soup : This taco soup recipe is a winner among kids, making it your go-to recipe for picky eaters. It’s also a smart way to develop a child’s palette to get used to new flavors. Cooking Nook also offers a section dedicated to mexican recipes.

    44. Cooks – Mexican Tortilla Soup : Swap your Sunday night chili for this fantastic tortilla soup that is just as filling with a spicy warmth that’s ideal for cold nights.

Mexican Desserts

While Mexican cuisine is known for its spices and hearty dishes, there’s also an array of delicious desserts that will fit any celebration.

    45. Gourmet Sleuth Ancho Chile and Cinnamon Truffles : Can you say amazing? These truffles will impress any foodie crowd due the unique flavors used and the serious kick of spice.

    46. All Recipes – Mexican Wedding Cookies : These traditional cookies are light and perfect for consuming after a hefty dinner with a cup of coffee.

    47. Mexican Dessert Recipes – Flan : Check out this simple recipe for making the classic Mexican dessert that’s found in many restaurants.

    48. All Recipes – Tres Leches Cake : This delicious cake is a winner with almost any audience and is a great alternative to the basic cakes you’re used to.

    49. MexGrocer – Bunuelos : Light, crispy bunuelos are a universally delectable treat that can be made in advance and frozen until you need them. A mix of sugar and cinnamon brings the fried dessert to life.

Learning about Mexican food will give you insight on the history of the food you’re serving family. Mexican food is great fare for entertaining because it is casual and easy to cook for a large number of people. Still, it’s just as simple to create a tasty dinner for two when you’re in the mood for something different and these helpful blogs show you the way.

Posted on 31 October '10 by , under Featured.

Top 24 Pizza Blogs

There’s nothing quite like a pizza pie. Nearly everyone, young and old, flock to the classic Italian dish that is accessible and easy to make at home. While we don’t all like the same toppings, learning more about pizza is something we all enjoy. Indulge your love for pizza with these pizza blogs and after, we can promise you’ll be craving a slice (if you aren’t already).

General Pizza Blogs

Look to these blogs and websites to learn all about the history of pizza and how to perfect your pizza-making skills.

    1. Serious Eats – Slice : Slice is the online resource for pizza lovers. The site features pizza places from all over the U.S. and also discusses things like the perfect mix of wet and dry ingredients to achieve the ideal dough consistency.

    2. Pizza Radio : Yep, you read that correctly. Pizza Radio is the one podcast dedicated to discussing all things pizza. Listen to weekly interviews with pizza experts and get tips on creating the perfect pie at home.

    3. Passion 4 Pizza Blog This site has a helpful side menu with links to pizzerias by geographic area, which means you can find a fabulous slice no matter where you are. It also goes behind-the-scenes with professionals so you can see the methods used to cook up the perfect pie.

    4. I Dream of Pizza : New York’s #1 website for pizza reviews pizza parlors in and around Manhattan. The site’s been featured in mainstream publications and describes each delectable pie with a great .

    5. Legends of Pizza Blog : Keep up with your pizza news and events going on around the country with this blog. While it isn’t updated often, it does offer fun pizza stories that revolve around the role that food plays in our culture.

    6. Pizza Delivery Stories : If you think a pizza delivery guy experiences scenes seen in those types of movies, you’re wrong. Mostly it’s all about getting lost and getting a pie to folks from all walks of life and this blogger paints a hilarious picture of his pizza delivery exploits.

    7. All Top – Pizza : This is basically a newsfeed for pizza resources from around the web. Check out reviews, get interesting recipes and see who’s tweeting about pizza with the help of this site.

    8. Blog Pizza : This site is devoted to blogging about pizza and that includes pizza news, reviews and how to own a popular franchise. Interested in making a buck from loving pizza? This is your site.

    9. New York Pizza Finder : While this site no longer publishes, it is a good pizza resource for those roaming Florida in search of a slice. Also check out the archived posts for various tidbits on everyone’s favorite meal.

    10. The Rochester New York Pizza Blog : The go-to site for those seeking the best of pizzerias in the Rochester and surrounding area. The writer has a knack for describing pizzas in such a way that you’ll be on your way to making a delivery order before you’re done with the site.

    11. Los Angeles Pizza : This LA-based blogger is on the hunt for the perfect slice of New York-style pizza on the opposite coast. A great resource for those looking for pizza in LaLa land.

    12. DC Elite Pizza : This site is dedicated to the pizza lovers of DC who stick to pizzas created in a wood burning oven only. While its members are experts in making their own pies at home, the only pre-requisite for joining is that you love pizza.

    13. 6 Alternatives to Tomato Sauce : If you’re tired of tomato sauce on your pizza, try out one of these alternatives that are just as tasty. Suggestions include pesto and gremolata.

Specialized Pizza Websites and Recipes

If you’re looking for a unique recipe or local pizza reviews, look to these sites to show you the way.

    14. The Breakfast Pizza Recipe : This recipe calls for quail or chicken eggs on top, making it the ultimate breakfast pizza that’s easy to pull off at home.

    15. How to Grill Pizza : For those who are thin crust afficionados and love making pizza at home, this is a how-to guide to achieving a crispy crust that’s ready in mere minutes.

    16. Home Pizza Chef : If you cook for a family that’s die-hard about pizza, this site will help you explore new recipes that will keep them wanting more. Recipes include a gluten free pizza and herbs and balsamic pizza.

    17. Year of the Pizza : This guy won a year’s worth of free pizza and lived to tell about it. While his reign (and supply of free pizza) is over with, the site is a fun read that deals with pizza as a main subject.

    18. Varasanos Pizza Recipe Jeff Varasano was determined to create the perfect pizza recipe and has achieved it. Try his recipe which takes about 2 minutes to bake (in a ridiculously hot oven) and is comprised of basic ingredients.

    19. 31 Days of Pizza : The celebrate National Pizza Month (it’s October, by the way), this blogger is on a pizza binge to eat a slice a day at pizzerias in and around New York City. He’s been doing it for years, so you know he’s well-versed in the pie!

    20. White Pizza Recipe : If you believe that all pizza must have a red sauce, think again. Here’s a recipe for a white pizza that’s oozing with various cheeses making it a flavorful alternative to the traditional recipes.

    21. About Pizza : Learn your pizza facts from this site. Packed into one website is the history of pizza and recipes and styles of pizza that will expand your pie horizons.

    22. Best Pizza Toppings : Need the best pizza toppings for ____? Find out what the best pizza toppings for a low carb diet, best pizza toppings for grilling and best pizza toppings from the Mediterrenean.

    23. Pizza Therapy If making a pizza pie is a therapeutic event for you, you’re in good company. The folks at Pizza Therapy help every day pizza lovers perfect their technique in their own kitchens and share pizza stories that warm the heart.

    24. Grilled Potato Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Pizza Recipe : Ultra thin slices of potato along with gorgonzola cheese and pieces of shredded prosciutto make this pizza one that will make you venture outside the conventional pizza realm. Best of all, it’s easy to create at home when you’re bored with your usual fare.

Pizza’s a common thread and no matter how much of a health nut you are, it’s likely you give in to your cheesy, crusty cravings once in awhile. Learning the history behind the popular meal and exploring blogs that give you tidbits over pizza will make you the know-it-all in the group the next time you hit up your favorite pizzeria.

Posted on 26 October '10 by , under Featured.

10 Historical Figures Who Were Total Foodies

Everyone appreciates food as a necessity, but many enjoy paying homage to the sensual artistry behind selecting and preparing the highest quality ingredients. In spite of the attitudes displayed by many so-called “foodies” these days, the only real qualification for the title is to love and appreciate all facets of the culinary arts. Even the simplest, cheapest of fresh, lovingly tended fare can ignite passion in connoisseurs from all walks of life. One does not have to have stacks of Bon Appétit (or even cook!) to be considered a foodie…and anyone who says otherwise is just an elitist snob who will eventually go away if ignored. Unsurprisingly, food has played an integral role in human history far, far beyond merely providing them with the energy and nutrients necessary for the species to propagate. History and creativity alike abound with individuals and organizations who consider amazing meals something wholly transcendent of their nurturing qualities. Many, many more exist beyond these men and women, of course! So consider the following listing more of a bread course than a full dining experience.

1.) Charles Darwin

Famous (and somewhat infamous) naturalist Charles Darwin is known more for his scientific exploits aboard the H.M.S. Beagle than his gustatory leanings. But it turns out that Darwin’s predilection for rare and exotic species transcended mere evolutionary inquiry. As the president of Cambridge’s Glutton Club, he and the other members noshed on some rather unorthodox (for England, anyways) cuts of meat. Bitterns, hawks and owls all landed on their plates, though the last on the list stimulated their inner chickens with its grossly unappealing stringiness. Although the Glutton Club fizzled out after the little run-in with the wizened old Strigiforme, Darwin continued with his foodie adventures while exploring the world on scientific expeditions. Some report that the ardent gourmand dined on armadillo meat while aboard the Beagle, and considered an unknown rodent the greatest animal he ever tasted. An impressive feat, considering some of the rarities he consumed.

2.) Oscar Wilde

As a child, influential Irish wit Oscar Wilde grew up eating well thanks to his wealthy family’s financial interests in the sugar trade. Even his mother and father met while protesting the potato famine. Unsurprisingly, allusions to food frequently found their way into most of Wilde’s works. No matter the audience or the style, he quipped his way through numerous food anecdotes and references – including 2 of his most beloved works, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde traveled all over the world, dining with everyone from poet Walt Whitman to silver miners in Colorado (who named a shaft after him for joining them in a subterranean meal). One of his lovers, Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”), helped encourage his financial instability. The pair bonded (and fell apart) over their mutual lust for the finest fare that Paris and other renowned gastric cities had to offer. Beyond Bosie, however, Wilde did have a habit of taking favored working-class men out for fancy meals and even fancier wines.

3.) Catherine de’ Medici

Because of her position as Queen of France, historians estimate that Catherine de’ Medici may have popularized the use of forks in her court – and beyond. Italian society, from which she originated, was the only one in Europe who did not consider the utensil haughty. The same likely goes for other food and food accessories as well, though the legend of Catherine de’ Medici overshadows her reality. Certainly a trendsetter in her own time, rumors of the Queen bringing every kind of dessert, pasta, fruits or vegetable to France were likely exaggerated nevertheless. Nor did she bring her own squadron of chefs into the country, either. But the woman deserves credit where credit is due. de’ Medici probably did popularize a few gustatory pleasures in her adopted home country, though realistically not as many as people claim, and threw some magnificently opulent parties while reigning alongside her underage son King Charles IX. Given her fondness for the herbaceous fare of her native land, it stands to reason that some of these events introduced the French peoples to at least something new and exotic. The fable did have to start somewhere, after all!

4.) Ernest Hemingway

Anyone who has ever read A Moveable Feast knows that writer Ernest Hemingway loved himself some French food and wine, though his passion extended beyond European borders. The entire memoir recounts his expatriate experiences along with other influential creative types such as Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso, and his gustatory pleasures play an integral role. Early in his career, he wrote about the proper way to fry up a fresh-caught trout. One of his most beloved fictitious works, The Old Man and the Sea, deals with the social and political ramifications of marlin fishing. When money came flowing in, Hemingway indulged his palate with the freshest, highest-quality oysters, fish, and shrimp he could find – holding a special fondness for those he found in Paris. Such was the master’s love of food that Craig Boreth published The Hemingway Cookbook overflowing with anecdotes and recipes straight from or inspired by the eponymous writer himself.

5.) Andy Warhol

Known mostly for his prints of soup cans and bananas, Andy Warhol greatly preferred sugary treats over healthier, more savory foodstuffs. Anecdotes abound of the revolutionary artist’s unquenchable desire for sweets, with some alleging that he would patronize bakeries and devour entire birthday cakes alone. He collected cookie jars that went for a quarter of a million dollars at auction following his 1987 passing. Some report that a customs search of his luggage yielded an unexpected cache of sugary substances, with candy, cookies and gum practically bursting the seams. Others claim the artist would refrain from noshing on any fancy foods at parties, dinners and other events, responding to any inquiries by declaring that only sweets sufficed. So while not a foodie in the traditional gourmand sense, Warhol still appreciated at least one segment enough to warrant inclusion.

6.) Paul Newman

Popular actor Paul Newman loved and appreciated food so much he started his very own company dedicated to creating and distributing everything from salad dressing to frozen pizzas. After taxes, Newman’s Own donates all of its profits to thousands of charities around the world; it has raised over $300 million since being founded in 1982. Newman and his business partner, writer A.E. Hotchner, initially set out to start a small cottage industry that sold their homemade salad dressing. The actor whipped up his now-iconic recipe after finding the store brands wholly unsatisfying, giving out bottles of the stuff to friends and family as gifts. From there, everything expanded at an unexpected clip, with myriad other products joining the original salad accessories. Nell Newman, daughter of the co-founder, opened up her own spinoff company specializing in organic products in 1993. Only a devoted foodie with plenty of resources at his disposal would launch his very own (and very charitable!) company just to promote good taste amongst the populace.

7.) Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a South African prison, and he blended DIY sensibilities with a love and appreciation of food by starting his very own garden. To him, the vegetables represented far more than self-reliance – tending to the plants’ every need allowed him to feel some semblance of control in a squelching environment. It kept him sane by providing him with an opportunity to create something beautiful out of seemingly nothing and take pride in a particularly quality harvest. Mandela’s example perfectly embodies how food transcends the pleasurable and stands as necessary for more than just nutrition. Here, it kept one of South Africa’s most influential leaders mentally and physically stimulated in the face of adversity. One wonders how Apartheid would have played out were Mandela denied rights to keep his prison garden. Even following his release, he would liken the small freedoms granted by the small plot of land to the universal quest for personal control and stability. Because of his ability to fully understand the sociopolitical importance of food, Nelson Mandela has certainly earned a spot on this list.

8.) Henry VIII

Mentioning King Henry VIII and food together in a sentence usually conjures up images of a bulky man chomping down on a gargantuan turkey leg at the local Renaissance Faire. But the real royal’s Epicurean pleasures extended well beyond the comparatively mundane fowl. In his time, he understandably built quite a reputation for himself as one of the most opulent entertainers in the world. The massive feasts thrown in his castle halls featured many food items considered exotic even today. Grilled beaver tails, swan, whale, peacock and plenty of other eats joined up with the usual chickens, pigs, and cows on Henry VIII’s generous tables. And considering Medieval cooks never liked the idea of wasting any part of an animal, their internal organs made an appearance as well. Few will argue that the king was an easy-going man, of course, but he did know how to throw a party and appreciate food with nearly superhuman vigor.

9.) Virginia Woolf

Famous for the quote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” author Virginia Woolf wrote some of the most incredibly sumptuous food porn this side of Hemingway. A Room of One’s Own, for example, contains lengthy descriptions of fictional meals that would send any foodie into uncontrollable swooning. In a manner similar to the Nelson Mandela entry, she found sociopolitical commentary in the way groups and individuals took their daily bread. Every scene involving a nosh came laden with allusions and allegories intending to develop characters and drive home the works’ overarching themes. Like all the other writers on this list, Woolf found inspiration and artistry in the act of preparing and consuming the very best foods available. The connection between the literary and the culinary is undeniably intimate and mutually beneficial.

10.) Marcel Proust

Writers appear so frequently on this list because of how ardently they convey their passion for food in their works. Marcel Proust, much like the others, appreciated chefs as artists and their creations as aesthetic treats for all senses. In Search of Lost Time abounds with lush descriptions of meals – enough to inspire Shirley King to publish Dining with Marcel Proust, a cookbook featuring recipes for the dishes he so richly recounted in that particular piece. Peers described him as a nearly insatiable gourmand, though over time he narrowed his focus to appreciating the simple, satisfying delights of coffee, croissants and madelines. Regardless of what he consumed, the writer thought that the noshes opened up ultimate truths on the nature of reality and creativity.

Foodies come from all walks of life – no formal training, extra tastebuds or budget equal to the GDP of a struggling nation required! Anyone who says otherwise is quite wrong indeed. Therefore, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that historical figures new and old have discovered a plethora of pleasure from everything edible. From a simple cup of hot, satisfying coffee to giant chunks of roasted whale, they understood that food piques the senses in some very curious, unique and entirely beautiful ways.

Posted on 11 October '10 by , under Featured.