Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Prosciutto & Blue Cheese Crostini

This is a quick that is ideal for the holiday season. It is an adaptation of a Spanish recipe which uses Serrano Ham and not , however, the two can be substituted with equally good results. Prosciutto is generally easier to find in supermarkets and specialty food stores, so I have used that. Also, the blue cheese used in the original recipe is Spanish Cabrales, however, any robust blue cheese can be used such as Gorgonzola, or Roquefort.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) blue cheese, such as Cabrales, Gorgonzola, or Roquefort, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup hard apple cider, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 sweet baguette
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 thin slices (about 6 ounces) Prosciutto
  • Sprig of rosemary for garnish
Method
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the blue cheese, cream cheese, 1/4 cup apple cider, and lemon juice.
  3. Using a fork, mix and mash until a spreadable paste forms, adding more cider if necessary.
  4. Cut the bread into 1/4-inch thick diagonal slices and arrange on a baking sheet.
  5. Place under the broiler and toast until golden.
  6. Lightly brush the toast on one side with olive oil.
  7. Spread the cheese mixture on the olive oil-side of the toasts.
  8. Cut each slice of ham in half lengthwise.
  9. Roll the slices into spirals and place 1 on each of the toasts.
  10. Garnish with tiny piece of rosemary.
This, and other great holiday recipe ideas, can be found the in the book Everyday Celebrations by Donata Maggipinto.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Frangelico Cream Martini

More and more people are dining and entertaining at home, and this makes a great alternative to a traditional Irish coffee drink that you would serve after dinner, and is ideal for the holiday season.

Essentially, it is a mix of Frangelico liqueur and Kahlua, topped with double cream, then served in a martini glass for a touch of elegance. If you have not tried Frangelico before, it is an Italian hazelnut liqueur which pairs really well with coffee, or coffee flavors.

This drink is one of the signature cocktails that can be found at the Cosmos Bar/Restaurant located on the ground floor of the Deste Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art in Athens, and is featured in the book Signature Cocktails by Bill Tikos.

Ingredients:
  • 1 fl ounce Frangelico Liqueur
  • 1/2 fl ounce Kahlua
  • 1 fl ounce Double Cream
Method:
  1. Mix the Frangelico and Kahlua in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake well.
  2. Pour into a martini glass.
  3. Top with double cream.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Fondue Sale at Gourmet Fusion Store

If you are looking for some retro fun this holiday season, a party is a great way to get together with friends, and family.

The Gourmet Fusion store offers several types of fondue pots, that come complete with fondue forks and accessories in their own boxed set, and all are on sale with 20% off right now.

For the serious fondue enthusiast we have the Chantal Meat and Cheese Fondue set which consists of two pots - one ceramic, and one stainless steel. The steel pot is ideal for cooking meats and vegetables, while the ceramic pot is great for cheese or chocolate. On sale for $63.99.

If you love chocolate, or know someone who does, then our Typhoon Chocoholics and Chocolate Lovers fondue sets are a great idea - just the right size for dipping - and on sale for $15.99.

Or, if you are looking for a stylish vintage looking addition to your kitchen, the Typhoon Vintage Cream Chocolate fondue set is also great value on sale at $15.99.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Shopping Event at Leaping Lotus

The holiday season is now upon is, and what better way to celebrate the season than a late night event at the Leaping Lotus in the Cedros Design District, ?

This unique holiday shopping event is taking place on Thursday, December 4th between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Everyone knows that the Leaping Lotus is THE place to find those special, hard to find gifts, so why not spend the evening with Leaping Lotus and the Gourmet Fusion store, and have some fun while you shop?


Gourmet Fusion has many sale items, including teapots, travel tumblers, salt and pepper mills, and Cattitude. Check out our whimsical holiday decorations, snowmen pie vents, and festive table linens.

If you are in a hurry, we also have many items ready to give with their own holiday gift tags and ribbon - all you need to do is write the names on the tag. These gifts include, boxed wine stoppers, English tea in an elegant elephant tea caddy, Cattitude mug and coaster sets, and retro fondue sets.

This holiday shopping event will include live music by "Dano's Island Sounds", with their exotic sounds of the Caribbean, raffle drawings all evening, a special Holiday Fashion show, together with wine and refreshments, and holiday sales throughout the store.

If you have not visited Leaping Lotus before, now is a great time to do so. Many other merchants on Cedros are also taking part in this late night holiday event.

Leaping Lotus is located in the heart of the Cedros Design District, in Solana Beach, California. 21,000 square feet, with over 100 merchants and literally millions of unique items and gifts to choose from. Come see us at 240 South Cedros Ave - Solana Beach,CA 92075 858.720.8283.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cardamom Coffee

Adding flavors to coffee is nothing new - there are many flavor infused coffees available in most supermarkets and coffee shops, but is easy to add to coffee at home, and the aroma that fills your kitchen is sensational.

Green cardamom is used widely in the Middle East in coffee drinks, and sprinkled on sweet dishes, in Indian dishes, and in many Scandinavian pastries and cakes. Many of us have tried cardamom in Chai Tea which is a mixture of black tea, ginger root, cinnamon bark, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and star anise.

Here's how to make your own Cardamom Coffee to sip in front of a fire as the chilly evenings close in (yes, even here in San Diego it has been getting steadily cooler!).

Method

Before brewing coffee in a drip coffee maker, place a cardamom pod in the filter bag with the coffee. As the coffee brews the cardamom will infuse the coffee with a wonderful flavor and perfume, making an exotic and warming drink.




Friday, November 21, 2008

Vanilla Espresso Martini

If you are looking for something interesting to serve your guests, the Vanilla Espresso is ideal as an after dinner drink, or simply on its own. The signature drink of the 101 Hotel in Reykjavik, it is great to drink in front of a cozy fireplace.

This cocktail recipe, and many more, can be found in the fabulous book, Signature Cocktails, Cool Cocktails from Cool Places by Bill Tikos.


101 Vanilla Espresso
Ingredients
Method
  1. Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Serve in a Martini glass.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cattitude is Back

The ever popular Cattitude range is back in our Solana Beach store, and online.

Available in blue, pink, green and ivory, these cute little cats can be found on mugs, mug and coaster sets, espresso cups, travel tumblers, and i-pots.

We also have a great selection of 17oz and 24oz i-pots at both stores. Our Solana Beach store can be found on the second floor inside the Leaping Lotus, in the Cedros Design District, and be sure to check out our holiday gala event on December 4th for all your gifts.

If you prefer to buy online, we are offering free shipping during the season on any three or more items purchased together.

Cinnamon Applesauce

Making applesauce is a great way to spend a fall afternoon, and if you make it before , it's a great gift for your guests.

It is basically making the very simple sauce, and preserving it in jars. Once made, it can be sealed and stored in jars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The is great for using as filling in pies and tarts, and can be served as a side with pork and ham.

Cinnamon Applesauce - Ingredients
  • 16 unpeeled red-skinned apples, such as MacIntosh or Rome Beauty (cored and quartered)
  • 1 1/4 quarter cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 4-inch cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 2 cups water
Method
  1. Put the apples in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Sprinkle them with lemon juice and toss thoroughly to coat.
  3. Add the sugar, cinnamon sticks, and water. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Cover the pot and let simmer until the apples break down to applesauce, 30 - 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, uncover, and let the apples cool slightly in the pot.
  6. Discard the cinnamon sticks.
  7. Using a rubber scraper, gently push the apples through a coarse-mesh sieve or food mill. Discard the peels.
  8. Return the applesauce to the pt, and heat until it begins to bubble. Transfer to hot, sterilized jars.
  9. Seal and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Benefits of Canned Tomatoes

Canned have always been a staple food in my store cupboard, mainly because if everything else fails I can always make a quick pasta and marinara sauce. They are also the base for many soups, casseroles and sauces, as well as my favorite paella. Use them drained or with the juices, adding different herbs and spices to come up with totally different flavors.

So I was especially excited to read in a recent report presented at the American Dietetic Association's annual expo how beneficial canned tomatoes can be.

People who ate at least one-quarter cup of canned tomatoes had lower levels of C-reactive protein, which is one of the indicators of cardiovascular risk, than those who ate less than that amount. The research also showed that those who ate canned tomatoes had a greater intake of vitamins and nutrients. The study found that those who ate canned tomatoes consumed more of the nutrients that are lacking in many Americans' diets, including fiber, vitamins C and E, potassium, and magnesium. It was also found that those who ate canned tomatoes also consumed less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and added sugars.

As well as being rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene, canned tomatoes are relatively inexpensive, at a time when many consumers are looking for nutritious, cost-conscious meals.

The recipes featured in the Gourmet Fusion store blog often contain canned tomatoes, check out some of the recipes below from our past blogs:

marinara sauce
spaghetti alla puttanesca
rigatoni with chicken
jambalaya
braciole
ossobucco
pizzaiola halibut
ratatouille
paella
marco polo's lobster fra diavolo

Friday, October 24, 2008

Drink More Red Wine!

A new Canadian study has found that just one glass of red wine, not only helps you relax at the end of a stressful day, but can also assist in warding off illness.

Researchers at the University of Guelph have discovered that the polyphenols found in red wine, and red grapes significantly slowed the growth of cancer tumors in mice. In the study mice were injected with breast-cancer cells and fed polyphenols from grapes or red wine. After 33 days, it was discovered that the growth of tumors in mice that were given grapes was almost totally arrested, and had significantly slowed in the mice fed with polyphenols extracted from red wine.

Polyphenols are a group of chemicals known for their antioxidant effects, and commonly found in grapes, berries and other fruits and vegetables (blueberries and cherries are a good source).

The findings showed that polyphenols from grapes had a greater effect than those from wine, probably because they were more concentrated. So, if you are looking to have the greatest effect, you are probably best ending your meal with cheese, crackers, red grapes and a glass of Merlot!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lime and Chili Chicken

This is a really simple recipe that I found in a recent Donna Hay magazine which is quick to make, and healthy as well.

In the magazine's recipe they use Chinese broccoli, but any type of green vegetable works such as broccoli, kale, chard, spinach or collard greens. I also added baby carrots for some color and additional sweet flavor, and sprinkled powder over the vegetables as they cooked.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or light olive oil
  • 2/3 cup store bought chili jam or sauce *
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic*
  • 4 chicken fillets, thin cut
  • 2 cups steamed jasmine rice
  • green vegetables
  • five spice powder to taste
* the sauce I used was a Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce (Lee Kum Kee) which is readily available in many supermarkets, and I, therefore, omitted the garlic in the marinade

Method
  1. Place the oil, chili sauce, lime juice and garlic (if not included in the sauce) in a non-metallic bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Place the chicken in a bowl with half of the marinade, and toss to coat.
  3. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat a grill pan or barbecue over high heat.
  5. Heat water for the steamed , and follow instructions on package for cooking (it usually takes about 15 - 20 minutes).
  6. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through and spoon over the remaining marinade.
  7. While the chicken is cooking, steam the vegetables for 3-5 minutes, depending on the type of vegetables used. Thick leafy vegetables will need longer cooking time. Sprinkle a dash of five spice powder on the vegetables as they steam to give them an additional Asian flavor.
  8. Serve the chicken and vegetables over the steamed rice.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Italian Festival Equals Food!

Yesterday was the Italian Festival in San Diego's Village. The celebration has been held on India Street for the past fourteen years, and has grown in size and popularity.

This area of has seen an amazing transformation during that time, and is now a modern, bustling area with trendy boutiques, and a sophisticated design center right in the heart of the most amazing Italian restaurants, cafes, wine bars and bistros.

The Columbus Day Festival is a great opportunity to taste some of the traditional foods that these first class restaurants have to offer, as many of the most well known such as Mimmo's, Filippi's, Zucchero's, and Mona Lisa - to name a few, set up street stalls and you can sample anything from pizza, pasta and the famous sausage sandwich to gelato and pastries.

As well as the food, which is the main attraction for most people, there is art, ceramics, music and dancing, and this year's festival was sprinkled with a few Democrat and Republican supporters trying to persuade you one way or the other.

If you missed it this year, don't worry it will be back next year. The only requirements when you visit this Festival are that you must be hungry and bring plenty of sunscreen!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Aria Sun

I was at my local bar / restaurant last weekend, The Spot in La Jolla, and was interested to hear the conversation between the bartender and one of the customers. The customer was, of course, lamenting the fall in the stock market, the state of the economy, the bailout and how bad life was in general, and the bartender replied that in these times his business improved dramatically, and I had read in the New York Times that many of the bars around Wall Street were, not surprisingly, busier than usual.

The article I had read indicated that most people were drinking beer, but when I researched the
of choice for the well-heeled, moneyed New Yorkers, I found the ideal bar with the ideal drink in Boston, Massachusetts.

Aria, a sophisticated, sexy lounge club, has become the meeting place for wealthy New Yorkers and New England aristocracy. It is situated in the basement of the Wilbur Theater in the heart of Boston's theater district. I read about this club in the book, Signature Cocktails by Bill Tikos (thecoolhunter), and it was described as decadent, plush and glamorous, but other reviews I have read online have been less flattering. One thing they all agree on is that fashion is foremost and you have to have the "look" to get through the velvet rope.

To create your own Aria signature cocktail, the Aria Sun, you don't have to do anything too fancy (see below), and it would definitely pass the Sex in the City test!

Aria Sun
Ingredients
  • 1 fl ounce vodka
  • 1/2 fl ounce grenadine
  • 2 fl ounces cranberry juice
  • 1 lemon
Method
  1. Pour the vodka, grenadine, and cranberry juice into a shaker.
  2. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice to taste.
  3. Shake well, and strain into a cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a twist of lemon.



Monday, October 6, 2008

Free Shipping at Gourmet Fusion

With the holiday season just around the corner the Gourmet Fusion online store is introducing free shipping to any location in the US when you purchase three items.

This can be any three items - they don't have to be from the same range, and we are adding new items daily.


So if you are planning to brighten up your home this season, look at some of our mix and match items like this set of two Salt and Pepper towels, teamed with our brushed stainless steel William Bounds salt grinder.

Or if you've got birthdays coming up, shop now and buy holiday gifts as well.

Gourmet Fusion offers free
wrapping from now through the end of the holiday season.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Add Fall to Your Kitchen

There are many ways to change the look of your kitchen to go with the season without breaking the bank. The start of heralds Halloween, and then the holiday season is in full swing.

Simple additions can completely change the look of a kitchen, dining room or living room.




As many people now in their kitchen / dining area, Gourmet Fusion's range of Fall Dish Towels, such as the Pumpkin Towels and Fruit Towels shown here, are both functional and decorative.

They come in a set of two, are fully machine washable, and made of 100% Egyptian cotton.



Other eye catching additions are our Acorn Plaid Oven Mitt, Pot Holder and Apron, all by Design Imports India which coordinate beautifully with our Placemats and Napkins.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pear Season

Although are available all year round, they are a fruit that ripens and is collected in the autumn months, and they conjure up all the colors of the season. Now is the time to use them liberally in mouthwatering desserts, serve them sliced with tangy cheese following a meal, or munch on them as a healthy snack.

There are many varieties of pear available (see some varieties below), but whichever type you choose always select smooth fruit that is free from cuts or bruises. Pears ripen off the tree and are ready to eat when the flesh near the stem has some give. If you store them in a fruit bowl at room temperature, they make an elegant, fall decoration, but they can also be stored in the crisper of the refrigerator until ripe. Pears can be poached, baked or roasted in both sweet and savory dishes, and simply sliced in salads.

A few of the most common pears:

Bartlett
The Bartlett is the most commonly grown pear in the US. This pear comes in green flesh and red flesh variety. The fully ripe Bartlett may be yellow, but the Red Bartlett pear develops its red skin prior to being fully ripe. As with the Anjou pear, it can be either red or yellow, or a mixture of both. It is very versatile, and is good in salads, or baked in desserts.

Williams
This green-skinned versatile pear is great for poaching, baking or in salads. Ideal for crumbles, cakes and tarts.

Sensation
Often known as Red Sensation, as when they ripen they become a deep crimson color. This medium sized pear has a buttery texture that is ideal for desserts and fruit salads.

Red Anjou
This red, medium-sized pear has a white, fine-textured flesh. This is a great pear to use in salads, and goes especially well with walnuts.

Corella
These small green and red pears have a mild flavor and are good to eat alone, and hold their shape well when roasted.

Bosc
This is a medium to large brown pear, and is sweet and juicy. It is one of the best all-round pears for cooking and holds up well when poached, pan-fried or baked. It has a cream colored flesh, and slightly grainy texture.

Comice
This large roundish pear has a green-yellow skin, with red blush. It has a fine textured, juicy flesh making it perfect in desserts and great on its own.

Pears can be poached, baked or roasted, or added to salads or tarts. Below is a super simple recipe for Baked Pear that turns an everyday meal into something special. This recipe was featured in the Donna Hay magazine.


Baked Pear Custa
rds (serves 4)
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pouring cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup caster (extra fine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced
  • freshly grated nutmeg for sprinkling
Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil.
  3. Place the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
  4. Gradually add the hot cream mixture, whisking well to combine.
  5. Pour into 4 x 1 1/2 cup-capacity ovenproof dishes and top with pear slices.
  6. Place on a baking tray and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until just set.
  7. Sprinkle with nutmeg to serve.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gourmet Fusion's Fall Affair at Leaping Lotus

Believe it or not, the seasons have changed, and it's time once more for a late night extravaganza at the Leaping Lotus on Cedros, .

The Fall event is taking place on Thursday, September 18th between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. So why not spend the evening with Leaping Lotus and the Gourmet Fusion store, and celebrate the New Season?

This special shopping event will include live music by "The Hager Rivera Project" a soulful, jazz duo, raffle drawings all evening, the ever popular fashion show with the latest looks for Fall, together with refreshments, and special sales throughout the store.

Gourmet Fusion has many sale items, including teapots, travel tumblers, salt and pepper mills, and Cattitude.

There will also be samplings of some of our new chocolate chip cookies, tea infused cookies and chocolate covered coffee beans (Zozo Beans) from Torn Ranch.

If you have not visited Leaping Lotus before, now is a great time to do so. Many other merchants on Cedros are also taking part in this late night shopping event.

Leaping Lotus is located in the heart of the Cedros Design District, in Solana Beach, California. 21,000 square feet, with over 100 merchants and literally millions of unique items and gifts to choose from. Come see us at 240 South Cedros Ave - Solana Beach,CA 92075 858.720.8283.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Zozo Beans & Mashuga Nuts at Gourmet Fusion

The fall season is almost here, and the summer items are starting to disappear from the Gourmet Fusion Store to make way for our fall collection. This week we introduced some exciting new and nut items from Torn Ranch into the Solana Beach store.

First are our Zozo Beans. These are rich Colombian coffee beans that have been dark roasted, then coated with premium dark, milk or white chocolate. Great to eat by themselves, or while sipping your cappuccino or espresso.

Then try a bag of Torn Ranch's famous Mashuga Nuts, named after the Yiddish word , meaning "crazy". These all natural sweet and savory pecans come in a fun, whimsical bag that really is crazy!

The history of these nuts is also unusual. Torn Ranch originated as a retail store located in Marin County that was renowned for its Jumbo Cashews. As a warm welcome, the owner would place a jumbo cashew in each of its customer's hands. So, if you are in our store in the Leaping Lotus, why not pick up a bag and share them with a friend or two and keep the tradition alive.

Torn Ranch's delicious gourmet foods are all natural Kosher dairy.




Thursday, August 28, 2008

Low Calorie Garden Burgers

In many areas of the US, barbecuing season is almost over with Labor Day marking the end of the summer, and thoughts turning to fall.

These easy to make are ideal for outdoors, or broiling indoors, and can be made with turkey, veal or lean beef, and are a low cholesterol, low calorie alternative to some of the burgers you buy in the stores.

Preparation Time 12 minutes; Grilling Time 16 minutes; Low Cholesterol
Ingredients (makes 4 burgers)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound ground turkey, veal, or lean beef
  • nonstick spray coating
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
Method (for Grilling)
  1. In a large bowl combine egg white and bread crumbs. (If using veal or beef, stir in 2 tablespoons water). Stir in carrot, onion, green pepper, salt and pepper. Add Parmesan cheese and ground meat; mix well. Shape meat mixture into four 3/4-inch patties.
  2. Spray a cold grill rack with non-stick spray coating. Then, place rack on grill.
  3. Grill burgers on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 7 minutes. Turn and grill 8 to 11 minutes more or until no pink remains. Place 1 tomato slice on top of each burger and grill 1 minute more.
Broiling Directions: Place burgers on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 7 minutes. Turn and broil 8 to 11 minutes more or until no pink remains. Place 1 tomato slice on top of each burger and broil for a further minute.

Nutrition Information per serving:
290 calories, 23 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat, 79 mg cholesterol, 441 mg sodium, 351 mg potassium.

Recipe and nutritional information can be found in the New Dieter's Cook Book by Better Homes and Gardens.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick Low Calorie Chicken Fajitas

If you want to invite people round for a casual meal, but don't want to spend hours preparing and cooking when they get there, these chicken are a sure way to please everyone. Not only do they taste wonderful, but they have only 297 calories per serving (2 tortillas per person).

The recipe is taken from the New Dieter's Cookbook (Better Homes and Garden) that bases its slimming concept on variety, balance and moderation. By not giving up all your favorite foods, you can continue eating the same type of foods after you have reached your goal. The belief is that if a diet doesn't fit your likes and needs, you probably won't stick to it. In this recipe plain low-fat yogurt replaces the usual sour cream used in Mexican dishes.

Chicken Fajitas (Preparation Time 10 mins; Cooking time 10 mins; Low Fat; Low Cholesterol)
Ingredients
  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas
  • Nonstick spray coating
  • 1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sweet red or green pepper, cut into bite-size strips
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil or olive oil
  • 9 ounces boned skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size strips
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
Method
  1. Wrap tortillas in foil. Place in a 300 degrees oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through.
  2. Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with nonstick spray coating.
  3. Add onion and garlic; stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add red pepper and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from skillet.
  6. Add oil to skillet. Add chicken and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.
  7. Return vegetables to skillet and add salsa.
  8. Cook and stir until heated through.
  9. To serve, divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce. Dollop with yogurt and sprinkle with green onion. Roll up tortillas.
Nutrition information per serving: 297 calories; 24 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 7 g fat; 55 mg cholesterol; 197 mg sodium; 373 mg potassium.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Essential Chinese Knife

Although technique is of primary importance, there are a few pieces of basic equipment used in cooking which will make your life much easier. Most of the items are inexpensive, will last for a long time, and are extremely versatile. One such item is the Chinese Cleaver.

This basic cutting tool can be used for chopping all kinds of foods, from the smallest garlic clove to the largest piece of meat. You can use the flat of the blade to smash ginger or scallions to release their fragrances, its spine for pulverizing meat to a paste, and held horizontally, the knife is perfect for transferring cut foods to the wok or serving dish. They can be made of stainless or carbon steel. If using a carbon steel knife, it must be kept completely dry and lightly-oiled to prevent from rusting.

A Chinese cook will usually have three kinds of : lightweight, with a narrow blade for cutting delicate foods, including vegetables; medium-weight, for general cutting, chopping and crushing purposes; and heavy, for heavy duty chopping. You can, of course, prepare Chinese food with a regular sharp knife, but a medium-weight, all-round cleaver, is incredibly versatile, and easy to use.

The one we have pictured is actually slightly smaller than the traditional Chinese cleaver, and is part of the Helen Chen Asian Kitchen collection. It is made of a high-performance stainless steel with a superb razor-sharp blade, and can be found at the Gourmet Fusion store. It is lighter than the traditional Chinese cleaver, making it more agile and less weighty.

If you are still wondering about the different cutting techniques used in Chinese cooking, here is a quick summary of the dicing and slicing that you will encounter in your recipes.

Diagonal Slicing
Angle the knife or cleaver at a slant and cut. This technique is used for cutting vegetables, such as carrots or scallions. The purpose is to expose more of the surface of the vegetable for quicker cooking.

Dicing
This is simply cutting food into small cubes or dice. The food should first be cut into slices. Stack the slices and cut them again lengthwise into sticks, as you would for shredding. Then stack the strips or sticks and cut crosswise into evenly sliced cubes or dice.

Roll-Cutting
This method is ideal for larger vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant or squash. As with diagonal slicing, this technique allows more of the surface of the vegetable to be exposed to the heat. Start by making one diagonal slice at one end of the vegetable. Then roll it 180 degrees, and make the next diagonal slice. Continue in this way until you have chopped the entire vegetable into evenly sized, diamond-shaped pieces. This shape gives an attractive appearance to your dish.

Scoring
This technique pierces the surface of the food to help it cook faster and more evenly. It also gives an attractive appearance to your end result. Use a cleaver or sharp knife, then make cuts into the food at a slight angle to a depth of about 1/8 inch. Do not cut all the way through. Make cuts all over the surface, cutting criss-cross, to give a wide diamond-shaped pattern. This works especially well when steaming whole fish, as it allows the heat to penetrate the thicker portions. When hot sauce is poured over the cooked fish, the flavor penetrates right through the flesh.

Shredding
First cut the food into slices and then pile several slices on top of one another, and cut them lengthwise into fine strips.

To shred raw meat or poultry, first place the meat in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until it is firm to the touch. Then cut it, against the grain, into slices and shred.

Slicing
This is the conventional method of slicing food. Hold the food firmly on the chopping board with one hand and slice straight down into very thin slices. If you use a cleaver, hold the cleaver with your index finger over the far side of the top of the cleaver and your thumb on the side nearest you to guide the cutting edge firmly. Hold the food with your other hand, turning your fingers under for safety. Your knuckles should act as a guide for the blade.

Finally
Of course, if you are not feeling this adventurous, and just want a quick stir-fry without the authentic cutting techniques, you can always chop the vegetables in your food processor!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Unbreakable Tumblers at the Gourmet Fusion Store

The Gourmet Fusion store has just added Unbreakable Tumblers to its line of summer products. They have been available in the Solana Beach store for some time, but have only just become available online.

Made from tough , they really are impossible to break - even if you drop them on a tiled floor, they bounce right off without a scratch.

They come in three designs. The 16 ounce size is in Citrus (shown) and Cheers, and the 24 ounce is available in Flip Flop.

All are microwave and dishwasher safe, and are a great addition to your barbecue and picnic items.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Simple Grilled King Crab Legs

If you are looking for something easy to make, and are tired of the usual steak or salmon on the grill, try these King which are plentiful at the moment, and often on sale, as these were at my local Vons store.

Serve with pita bread, and a simple green salad tossed in oil and vinegar, and you have a great meal in minutes.

Ingredients (serves 2)

Approx. 1 lb King Crab Legs
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 scallions
Lemon Pepper
Olive Oil
1/2 ounce Butter
English Parsley to garnish

Method
  1. Rinse the Crab Legs and cut into pieces approximately 2-3 inches long.
  2. Place in a foil tray, or make a tray from double folded tin foil and scrunching up the edges.
  3. Brush with olive oil and lemon juice.
  4. Cut the scallions into pieces approximately 2 inches long and place on top of crab.
  5. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.
  6. Dot butter on top of crab and cover with foil.
  7. Grill outdoors over medium heat for 8-10 minutes
  8. Remove from grill and place in serving dish. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.
A Mediterranean salad served with pita bread, or crunchy French bread makes a great side dish with this meal.

To make the , simply chop cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, spring greens (or any vegetable you like). Mix all ingredients together in a salad bowl, and toss with light olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a dash of sea salt.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Raffles Singapore Sling

As the weather has been so hot recently, there has been a great deal of interest in the Super-Sized Watermelon Martini that was featured in the Gourmet Fusion store blog several months ago. It is a wonderfully cool and refreshing cocktail, and the signature drink of the New Asia Bar in 's landmark Raffles City Complex, inside the Equinox Complex.

When I was researching this Bar, I discovered that Equinox is owned by Raffles International, which also runs the famous Raffles Hotel - the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. This brought back to mind an incredible cocktail that we used to make years ago, The Raffles Singapore Sling, which is fun to serve as a before dinner and is great on a hot afternoon.

It tastes just like a pineapple, orange fruity drink with a kick - but this is no ordinary fruit juice, it is packed with interesting ingredients like Triple Sec, Benedictine, Cherry Brandy and Angostura Bitters - so beware!


Ingredients

Dash Angostura Bitters
1 ounce Gin
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/2 ounce Cherry Brandy
1/2 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
1 ounce Pineapple Juice
1 ounce Fresh Orange Juice
Ice

Method
  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Pour all the ingredients, one after the other, into the serving glass.
  3. Stir gently with a swizzle stick.
  4. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry




Friday, August 8, 2008

Banana Daiquiri & Passion


The summer is really heating up now - even here in Southern California, so I thought I would include two recipes for ice which are ideal on a hot, sunny afternoon. They are also great served as a dessert.

The Daiquiri contains alcohol, but Passion (a delicious fruity drink) does not - both will wow your barbecue guests, and they're very simple to make.


Banana Daiquiri

1 ounce Bacardi
1 ounce Pure Lemon Juice
1 ounce Sugar Syrup*
3/4 fresh Banana
Ice
  1. Pour all the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a serving glass.
  4. Garnish with banana slice and a cherry
* To make the sugar syrup, mix equal parts of sugar and water. Boil until the sugar is dissolved. This can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Passion is a fruity, non-alcoholic blended drink that will make you think you are on a Caribbean island!

Passion

1 Banana
2 ounces Pineapple Juice
1 ounce Orange Juice
1 ounce Mango Juice
3 teaspoons Passion fruit pulp
Ice

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a serving glass.
  4. Garnish with banana and pineapple slice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Fall Travel Tumblers at Gourmet Fusion

With the end of summer just around the corner, and back to on everyone's mind, we are starting to bring in the first of our products.

These versatile travel tumblers available online at the Gourmet Fusion store are ideal for taking your favorite drink to work, college, or school - a must for anyone on the go.

The tumbler has a stainless steel lining and black plastic push on open/close sip lid, and is designed to keep your drinks hot or cold for an extended period of time.

They feature a 16-ounce capacity, a durable translucent plastic and stainless steel outer case, stainless steel lining, non-slip rubber pad at base, and are even top-rack dishwasher safe!

This stylish, modern travel tumbler / mug would make a sleek and sophisticated addition to your travel wardrobe.

The travel tumbler shown above is in a copper color, and is also available in clear, blue, charcoal and green for $11.99. Currently available online only, they will be available in the Solana Beach store later this month.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mediterranean Sale at Gourmet Fusion

Summer is passing quickly, and so we are having a Mediterranean summer at our Gourmet Fusion online store. All Mediterranean products have 20% off through August 17th.

Items on sale include our elegant white ceramic tagines - great for ; our ever popular paella pan, olive oils, and paprika.

The entire line of Typhoon "Italian Job" striped bowls and oil and vinegar drizzlers are also on sale. These co-ordinate well with most modern kitchens, and also make great host/hostess gifts.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spanish Paprika

Since we started selling Spanish Paprika in the Gourmet Fusion store, I realize how popular this spice has become here in the US, and is frequently used by Food Network chefs such as Tyler Florence, Jamie Oliver and Emeril Lagasse.

Spanish cooking relies on several spices to give it its special character. One of the most indispensable is pimenton, or , which adds color and flavor to stews, soups, sausages, paella, and sauces.

Spanish paprika is similar to the Hungarian paprika which is more familiar to most people. However, the Spanish is a rich orange-red color, compared to the deep, dark red of the Hungarian paprika. They can be substituted in some recipes, but the flavors of the two are quite distinct.

Spanish paprika, with its vibrant color and flavor is frequently found in Spanish and Portuguese dishes. This finely ground brick-red spice derives from a type of dried red pepper. It is used primarily in two forms: hot (picante, or "spicy") and sweet (dulce). The Spanish also make a medium-hot paprika, labeled agridulce. Pimenton de la Vera, made from smoke-dried peppers and named for a valley in Extremadura, is especially prized.

Three types of Paprika are available in the Gourmet Fusion store at Solana Beach and online - Hot, Sweet (mild) and Smoked. All add a subtle blend of flavors to your cooking that you will not find with the Hungarian paprika. The Sweet and Hot varieties can be used for sauces, vegetables, fish, eggs, and French fries, and the Bittersweet and Smoked varieties are best used for Paella, Fabada, beef, lamb, or for use on the grill.

As with saffron,
releases its flavor as it is heated. Therefore, it can also be sprinkled over a dull dish to add color without changing the flavor. By adding paprika to a dish while it is cooking, the flavor will be released and infuse the dish with subtle flavors as it heats through.


The recipe below for Spiced Pork Kabobs (Pinchitos) is typical of the Moorish influences that abound in Andalucian cooking. Here, they are evidenced in the use of cumin and paprika.




Pinchitos (Spiced Pork Kabobs)

Serves 4
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 15 minutes
2-3 hours Marination Time.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl oz) olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 16 oz lean pork, cut into small cubes
Method
  1. In a shallow dish, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, curry powder, ground cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika and thyme, and mix well.
  2. Gently place the pork pieces in the dish and marinate for several hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Turn pork over periodically to ensure that all sides are equally coated.
  4. Immediately before grilling, remove the pork pieces from the marinade, and thread them on to skewers.
  5. Place the pork skewers on the hot grill, and cook, turning them until the pork is fully cooked on all sides.
  6. Serve hot, fresh from the grill with a mixed green salad, and pita bread.
The above recipe can be found in the recipe book, Paella Paella by Maria and Nalalia Solis Ballinger.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pomegranate & Orange Juice

I read a report recently based on research carried out by the University of California, Los Angeles which ranked 10 beverages by their levels of disease-fighting , and pomegranate juice was the clear winner.

The top ten list went as follows:

1. Pomegranate juice
2. Red wine
3. Concord grape juice
4. Blueberry juice
5. Black cherry juice
6. Acai juice
7. Cranberry juice
8. Orange juice
9. Tea
10. Apple juice

Well, if you are like me, and rarely eat
, trying to incorporate them into anything sounds a challenge, so I began to consider the places I know where pomegranates are a common fruit, and immediately thought of Morocco. It was in the book, Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse, that I found this recipe, and not only does it include pomegranates, but also orange juice which comes in at number eight on the list, so I guess this is really full of antioxidants. It is non-alcoholic, and ideal for the long, hot summer days ahead.

Ingredients (Serves 1)
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • Sugar to taste
  • 2 teaspoons orange-flower water (available in some supermarkets and liquor stores, and also Middle Eastern markets)
  • Fresh mint sprigs for garnish
Method
  1. Fill a large bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half lengthwise. Holding the fruit under the water, break it apart, separating the seeds from the skin and white pith. The seeds will drop to the bottom of the bowl, while the pith will float to the surface.
  2. Transfer the seeds to a colander or strainer. Rinse, removing any remaining bits of skin and pith.
  3. In a blender or juicer, puree the pomegranate seeds with the water.
  4. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing the puree with the back of a large spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
  5. Transfer to a container and stir in the orange juice, sugar, and orange-flower water.
  6. Serve over ice cubes and garnish with a mint sprig.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Blushing Sangria

I was in my local supermarket yesterday, and they had a special promotion for a rose Pinot Noir, and a description saying how great it tasted chilled on a summer afternoon. I have not bought rose for a long time, so I purchased a bottle, and started thinking how much more popular rose wine is in Europe. Many of my friends here in the US have indicated to me that rose wine was wine you would drink in college (as if it hadn't quite made it to red and white wine status), and that is probably why I have never been offered rose wine at anyone's house.

The recipe I have for suggests substituting the red wine for rose because it makes it a lighter, fruitier drink. The Spanish mixture of iced wine and fruit makes a refreshing summer beverage, and the fruit can be varied to whatever is on hand. It would be ideal for a summer barbecue or beach party.

Ingredients
  • 1 orange, sliced and seeded
  • 1 lemon, sliced and seeded
  • 2 plums, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 peach, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 6 strawberries, halved
  • 6 seedless grapes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice, plus more as needed
  • One 750-ml bottle chilled rose wine
Method
  1. In a pitcher, combine the orange and lemon slices, plum and peach wedges, strawberries, grapes, and lemon juice.
  2. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to combine.
  3. Add the orange liqueur and let stand at least 1 hour.
  4. Stir in 1 cup orange juice and the wine.
  5. Add more orange juice to taste, if required.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until chilled.