The love of cooking

Sometimes people ask me what I like so much about cooking.. I always say it’s because I love food, but I thought about it and it’s a lot more than that alone. While food is survival for a lot of us animals, it can be many things to many people and cultures. I find it very therapeutic to put on music and start cooking something completely from scratch, in a time where you could order anything to your door or buy it frozen in a box. I find anytime someone does something more traditional in this modern world very amusing.. like knitting, woodworking, drawing or painting, there’s something very sexy about cooking and food.

When cooking for yourself you have complete control on what’s going in your food as opposed to additives that aren’t meant to be consumed or even digested by us humans but are added as preservatives in pre packaged food. Cooking is a very creative process as you all know I am an artist and enjoy this creativity, I also like the reward of taste. I like experimentation in the kitchen just as much as I like traditional cooking practices.
Food also has a health aspect for me as I like to think I take care of myself and in my culture my people have lived long healthy lives. Cooking for myself has also opened up my senses and I have tried many different things over the years from many different ethnic cuisines.. I love Asian food just as much as Mediterranean food. I was brought up in a family that was passionate about food and entertaining people and so I also really enjoy entertaining or just cooking for my family at home.

Try your hand at cooking and make something that takes up your afternoon, let me know what you cooked, post a picture and also let me know what inspired you and the music you listened while cooking and or who you were cooking for.

Health, love and happiness ❤🍷🍜

All the best for 2017

Jim Anastasopoulos 🍕

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Why is my chicken breast so dry? and what can I do about it?

Weather you bake, fry, broil or grill chances are your chicken breast will be dry because it is so lean. The average size chicken breast roasted without the skin and boneless has approx. 4 grams of fat and about 30 grams of protein this is why it can easily dry out once cooked. There is not enough fat in the white meat to keep them moist.

To follow are five suggestions for tender juicy chicken breast.

For 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1. Brine your chicken breasts: brining is the number one most impressive way to get the best chicken breast. Add one tablespoon each salt and sugar mixed in cold water and submerge chicken breasts in it for about 30 minutes. After 30 min. Drain water and pat down chicken with paper towel and let it sit in a strainer for about ten minutes, now brush chicken with olive oil, your favourite seasoning and grill on BBQ or broil in oven.

2. Marinade: put 4 chicken breasts in a large zipper seal bag. Meanwhile in a mini food processor add 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, juice of half of a lemon, juice of a whole orange, pinch cayenne pepper, 2 cloves and 3 tablespoons curry powder; spin a few times and pour entire contents in zip bag with the chicken and seal, refrigerate for 1 hour or up-to 4 hours. When ready to cook drain out excess marinade and allow chicken to come to room temperature before cooking.

3. Braise; put chicken breasts in oven safe corningwear and add two cups low salt chicken stock, add vegetables of choice such as potatoes, carrots, onions, zucchini etc, add cracked pepper, couple sprigs rosemary, 3 cloves of garlic smashed. Cover and bake at 400* for about 20 minutes.

4. Baste; brush chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper or seasoning of your choice now put on a hot grill or under a hot broiler. In the meantime combine 3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar , pinch salt, two tablespoons of olive oil and pinch dried oregano. As soon as chicken has cooked on one side, turn over now brush chicken with balsamic vinegar and oil mixture, once second side has cooked turn over chicken again and brush with more balsamic mixture turn off oven and let chicken sit for about 5-10 minutes and keep brushing with mixture. Take chicken out of oven when done and tent it with a piece of foil for another ten minutes.

5. BBQ trick: indirect heat method; brush chicken with your favourite BBQ sauce, chipotle sauce, Harissa sauce, sriracha sauce or any marinade of choice, heat your grill on high for about ten minutes, brush grates with oil and put chicken on grill, after about 4 minutes turn over chicken breasts which should have cooked with nice grill marks on that one side, after another 3 minutes on the other side, turn off the grill on that side of BBQ but leave the opposite burner on high, cover grill and let them cook for about another 10-15 more minutes, chicken breasts should be far away from the high heat side of BBQ… The grill marks on each side should have sealed in the juices.. Again as above it doesn’t hurt to tent the chicken breasts on a plate once ready.

Please comment and let me know how things worked out for you.

Note: Remember when brining chicken will not be salty if you allow then to drain properly and pat them dry with paper towel.

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Turmeric Potato Wedges

3 large russet potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes (yams)
1 tbls ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves smashed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Wash and scrub potatoes well, cut all potatoes in half lengthwise and then again cut the halves in half lengthwise, cut the quartered potatoes again if potatoes were really big, you should be able to get at least eight wedges out of one potato. In a very large bowl add the olive oil, salt, turmeric, cracked black pepper and smashed garlic cloves, mix well to flavour the oil. Preheat oven to 400. Toss the cut potato wedges in the bowl of turmeric flavoured olive oil. Make sure to mix well so that all the potatoes are coated in oil mixture, spread potato wedges on two cookie sheets and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until they are ready. After 15 minutes in the oven carefully turn them around. After potatoes are ready toss into a bowl and add more sea salt if desired. These potato wedges are to be enjoyed on their own, as there will be be a contrast between the sweet potatoes and the russets. No need for ketchup or ranch dressing. A drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of a lemon can be an option at the table or on individual plates.

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My top cooking films

I love to watch movies about food, but even though I love documentaries, I am not including them here in this list.

1. Sideways
If you love red wine as I do then you will love this film. Picking up chicks, getting drunk, touring wineries in Napa Valley.

2. Big Night
Stanley Tucci, Minnie Driver, Issabella Rossallini. I love Italian food, the Timpano is a highlight, the arguments, the cheating, the music and the roasted suckling pig, this film is not to be missed.

3. Politiki Kouzina
The American name of the film is: A touch of spice. The movie is set in Greece and Turkey, a bit of a love story, some history, food and the deportation of Greeks from Istanbul in the 1950’s.

4. Julie and Julia
I have a thing for Amy Adams and Meryl Streep as Julia Child is really well done.

5. Ratatouille
It’s a cartoon, but it’s really awesome film.

6. Ramen Girl
Interesting film about and American girl in Japan who eventually strives to become a ramen noodle chef even though communicating is difficult.

7. Chocolat
Set in Paris in the late 50’s and a village that is very traditional where chocolate confections are taboo.

8. Like water for Chocolate
Award winning film set in Mexico, the main character loves to cook and falls in love with someone she is forbidden to marry.

9. Tortilla Soup
Chef father widower has three beautiful adult daughters. Very fun film with lots of twists and turns.

10. Under a Tuscan Sun
I loved the book, the movie and I love Diane Lane in a film that is so wonderful in many ways.

11. Moonstruck
A New York family, Jewish, Italian and the first time I saw a toad in-the-hole. A romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison. It stars Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Vincent Gardenia, and Olympia Dukakis.

12. Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs
Another cartoon that was a lot of fun and a message that even kids could understand.

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My top ten favourite SOUPS

Now that summer is just about over, soup makes a lot of people happy in the fall and winter, here’s my list of fave soups, as far as I know none of these soups come from a can.

(in no particular order):

1. Chicken rice ovgolemono (Greek egg lemon soup)

2. Chinese hot and sour soup

3. Fasolatha (Greek bean veg soup )

4. Stracciatella (Italian egg drop soup)

5. Faki (Greek lentil soup)

6. phở (Vietnamese noodle soup)

7. Miso Soup (traditional Japanese soup)

8. Chinese Wonton soup

9. Magiritsa (Greek Easter lamb soup)

10. Trahana soup, (greek fermented homemade pasta in broth)

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