Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Creative Cooking School Will Teach You How To Prepare Gourmet Foods

Creative Cooking School Video

If you are seeking to impress your guests at your next dinner party or special event enrolling in a creative cooking school will teach the necessary skills to properly prepare gourmet food. Most of the larger retail grocery stores have a gourmet foods isle. If you cannot find what you are hungry for there try a quick online search.

Online gourmet stores offer many of the hard to find gourmet meats shipped direct to your doorstep. They may come frozen and packaged in specialized storage containers to retain their freshness and quality. This is especially convenient if you do not live close to large shopping areas.

If you do live in an area that has a great supply of gourmet meats make friends with the in house butcher. Tell him what type of event you are planning and how many people will be attending. He will be able to furnish you with all the information about the type of meat and its cost.

Finding that perfect cup of gourmet coffee amongst the myriad of brands available can be a tedious task. The flavor is contingent upon many factors. The type of bean and where it is grown, the way it is shipped and packaged, how fine the grind and the brewing method.

If you are taking the time to serve up a special meal consisting of some finer gourmet foods you will want to accompany the dish with fine gourmet coffee as well. Whether it is a cappuccino, espresso, or flavored coffee the bean is the all important component.

Nothing makes a better accompaniment to coffee or a better finish to a dinner of finer gourmet foods than gourmet chocolate.

Gourmet chocolate is not only delicious but is also often given out as a gift, and a few of the favorite gourmet chocolates are truffles, nougats, mousses, chocolate gingers, and chocolate covered fruits such as strawberries and apricots.

Searching for finer gourmet foods can be done easily online. They can be shipped conveniently to your front door and added to your next gourmet meal or dinner party menu. Whether you are looking for gourmet meats, coffee or chocolates it is always worth it to take gourmet cooking classes. The the extra time and effort will definitely pay off with the compliments you will receive.

Get more information on cooking visit Culinary Cooking

Monday, November 24, 2008


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lemon Sole A La Port

Here's another tasty recipe from my private collection. Enjoy!


2 filets of sole
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup water
2 tblsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 small can shelled crabmeat
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 cup crushed almonds
1/8 lb. butter
1/2 fresh lemon
1 container Port Wine cheese spread

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze the lemon and set aside.

Saute crabmeat in butter, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika. Set aside.

In a baking dish, place the sole. Pour in brandy and water; add the rest of the garlic powder and lemon juice. Bake until fish is not yet flaky - you should allow for another 5 minutes or so of baking so as not to overcook in the final baking step below.

While baking, work the crushed almonds and the crabmeat into the Port Wine cheese thoroughly, making sure they are distributed evenly.

Remove filets from oven. Top filets with a thin layer of the Port Wine cheese mixture. Bake again briefly until cheese is partially melted.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chicken Bon Vivant

Here's another tasty recipe from my private collection. Enjoy!


4 chicken leg quarters, skinned

2 large cans chicken broth

1 small package saffron yellow rice

1 small package Velveeta cheese

1/2 pint heavy cream

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ground rosemary

1 tsp. poultry seasoning, preferably Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Poultry Magic

2 tsp. dried minced onions

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tblsp. flour or cornstarch

In a large pot place chicken broth, garlic, rosemary, poultry seasoning, minced onions and pepper. Add chicken. Cover pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to active simmer. Cook for 40 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, prepare rice according to package instructions.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

When chicken is done, remove from pot and save pot contents. Place chicken in lightly buttered baking dish and put in oven to crisp for about 15 minutes – keep an eye on it to avoid overdoing the crisping.

While chicken is baking, strain liquid in the pot, then return the liquid to the pot. Pour off all but about 3 cups of the remaining liquid.

Cut Velveeta into small pieces to aid melting. Add cheese to the pot. Add the heavy cream. Over medium heat, stir thoroughly until the mixture is smooth. Mix flour or cornstarch with a small amount of warm water to smooth, then add a little at a time to thicken the sauce, while stirring constantly. Mixture should be thick enough to pour slowly.

Place a bed of rice on each plate, place 2 leg quarters on top of the rice and smother thoroughly with the sauce.

Serves 2.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How To Choose A Wine Rack To Fit Your Style And Budget

by: Jason Connors

Cultivating an appreciation of wine is a growing trend in the US. Shops specializing in wine are appearing throughout the country, not just in the traditional vineyard regions of California, Oregon, and Virginia. People who may not have grown up around wine are now drawn not only to sampling but also to collecting it. Tasting parties and special wine pairing events are a common theme in restaurants and in the home. With this comes an increase in interest in home storage. While proper storage can help wines become even more exquisite, improper storage can lead to ruined wine.

A freestanding, temperature controlled wine rack is ideal, but much more expensive than a simple wooden or metal wine rack. However, it is not necessary to spend several thousand dollars to enjoy wine in your home. If you can find a dark, cool, slightly humid location in your house, you will be able to then select a simple rack that will keep your wine for years to come. The ideal location will be 50-60 degrees, with constant 60-70 percent humidity.

Wine Rack Kits

One way to cut down on cost is to build your own wine rack. For first-time enthusiasts, it is probably best to stick to a wine rack kit. There are many considerations when designing a wine rack, and starting from a kit will keep the wine in the rack where it should be - the last thing you want is the whole thing to come crashing to the floor due to a miscalculation.

There are many commercially available wooden racks that offer snap-together assembly, requiring nothing more than a hammer. These inexpensive kits are usually made of redwood or pine, and can be bought for under $35.

The most important thing to keep in mind when building your own wine rack is to consider the strength of the rack. A bottle of wine weighs approximately 3 pounds, so the weight adds up quickly. Make sure not only the rack but the floor itself can handle the weight, keeping in mind the weight of the rack.

If the kit is wooden, make sure the wood has been dried properly (no more than 14% moisture), and that the cross sections are no less than 3/8" (1/2" is better).

Also, make sure the wine is stored horizontally so that the wine stays in contact with the cork. A dry cork signifies that the wine has been damaged.

Wine Rack Capacity

How much wine do you need?

While having 1500 bottles of wine on hand sounds exciting, most people have neither the space nor the wallet to support such a venture. If you would like to have something for everyday, a 15-30 capacity rack should meet your needs. That way, you can have 2 bottles of sparkling wine, 3 bottles of red (merlot or cabernet), 3 bottles of white (chardonnay, pinot grigio, or white zinfandel), one bottle each of red and white cooking wine, and still have room for a few special bottles that you plan to let age for years. Also keep a nice red ready for company, and a reisling or shiraz for a spicy meal. Have one bottle of white wine on hand in the refrigerator (it will only last in there for a week), and you'll be ready for any gathering. A 30-bottle capacity rack is enough for a wine-tasting, an extended gathering, or for someone who likes to try a different wine every day.

Also, keep in mind that most wine rack manufacturers list the total bottle capacity. This may be different from racked wine capacity, as total capacity may have bottles stacked directly on top of each other. While this will not damage the wine, it is not as aesthetically pleasing and may be inconvenient when getting the wine out of the rack.

Styles of Wine Racks: Location is Key

Wine racks come in many styles. Racks can be freestanding cabinets, counter top, or wall mounted.

When choosing a style, keep the following in mind:

How much space do you actually have?

Do you want the wine rack to be visible, or would you rather have a large, hidden wine rack that does not necessarily match your home's decor?

Where can you put the wine rack?

The most important part of your choice is the location. If you choose a rack that is not freestanding, make sure it is protected from vibrations. It is not a good idea to put the wine rack next to the sink where the disposal will rattle it. Never place the rack on the top of the refrigerator, as it gets very warm. Also, keep the rack away from a window, as the temperature may vary too much, and UV light will damage the wine.

If you can not find a wine rack to fit in that perfect location and you are not confident of making your own, consider having a custom wine rack created just for you. While this option is more expensive than an off-the-rack version, it is still much less than the freestanding units, and can keep your wine for years to come.

Wine Rack Material

Wine racks come in a variety of materials, from wood to metal to glass. Whether you choose one made of mahogany or steel depends on a variety of factors, include cost, weight, and appearance.

Wooden Wine Racks

The most common type of wine rack is the wooden wine rack. It is generally easier to assemble and relatively light. Common woods are pine, cedar, spruce, oak, and redwood. Another less common wood is mahogany. Mahogany is a high quality wood and is used in both moderate and expensive racks.

Metal Wine Racks

Metal wine racks are becoming increasingly popular, especially those made of steel. They are very strong and last longer than wooden racks with less care. They can be painted to match any home. They can also be formed into a wider variety of shapes while maintaining their strength.

Choosing a wine rack should be an enjoyable process. Consider it an investment for all the wines you will try today as well as those you will keep for a special occasion down the road.

About The Author

Jason Connors is a successful writer and wine connoisseur providing valuable tips and advice on wine cellar design, wine making, and wine basics.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Secrets to Becoming a Wine Connoisseur

by: Fred London

Wine is a broad term that refers to the fermentation of plant matter for the purpose of producing an alcoholic beverage. Of course, most people think of grapes as the basis for wine, but other sources include rice (sake), various fruits (elderberry, grapefruit, cherry, etc.), barley, and even honey (mead).

For the purposes of this short explanation, we ll stick with wines made from grapes. These are categorized several ways, including by vinification methods, taste, and vintage. Many casual drinkers pay little attention to the differences in these categories. After all, for most folks the sole consideration is good taste. However, for many aficionados wine is serious business. The variety, taste, and vintage must all meet high expectations before serious collectors will consider owning a bottle.


Vinification simply means the method by which grape juice is fermented into wine. The practices followed during fermentation are what determine the type of wine you end up being able to purchase. A common misunderstanding by the average drinker is that grape juice colors vary, which is what produces red, white, or rose wines. Actually, all grapes produce clear (or very close to clear) juices. What creates the color of the wine you buy is whether the grape skins have been left in contact with the juice during the fermentation process. Red wines have been fermented thusly; whites have not fermented in contact with grape skins; rose is a combination of the two.

Sparkling wines, such as champagne, have bubbly characteristics that are caused by the addition of carbon dioxide. This effect is achieved by fermenting the grape juice two times. The first time, the juice is fermented in open containers, which allow the carbon dioxide to escape. During the second fermentation, the juice is kept in closed containers, trapping and infusing the gases.


Most wines are described as dry, off-dry, fruity, or sweet. Technically, this refers to the amount of sugars left over after fermentation is completed. Dry has a tiny amount of residual sugar content, while sweet has high sugar content.

Beyond this basic taste classification, wine-tasting experts have developed a system of classifying wines by the more in-depth tastes and aromas they exude. Many outsiders find this a somewhat bewildering system, but tasting pros consider the ability to discern subtle elements of a wines taste to be a badge of honor. As one example, Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular variety that wine tasters claim contains a combination of black currants, chocolate, mint, and tobacco flavors.


Vintage is a straightforward classification. It refers to the year of the grapes harvest from which a bottle of wine was made. This is important because many grape growers have exceptionally good harvests only during certain years. Also, the best grapes are usually singled out for use in a producers vintage bottles. You get the highest quality wine from that year’s harvest.

About The Author

Fred London - Fred, who has an acute wine palate show you how to keep wine at its best. Learn more Tips for Wine Storage at:

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chicken Chipotle Gourmet Recipe

Here's another quick and easy gourmet treat that will tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy!



A thick chicken breast
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 large roasted sweet Italian peppers, chopped into 1 inch portions
4 tblsp Extra Virgin olive oil
2 tblsp capers
6 slices Monterey-Jack cheese cut into strips about ½ inch wide by 2 inches long
½ cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
½ cup Key West Brand Chipotle sauce

Split the breast, but do not cut through. Line the split with the cheese, roasted peppers and capers. Place the breast in a dish with concave dimensions or on aluminum foil with corners curled up, after using Pam to avoid sticking.

Saute the garlic in the olive oil very briefly – just flash the garlic and remove from heat.

Pour the garlic and olive oil over the breast. Cover with the bread crumbs and evenly distribute the Key West Chipotle sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.

This recipe is for one serving – multiply for more.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

A Guide to Wine Tasting Holidays

Wine tasting holidays are very popular in Europe. Many travel agencies organize wine tasting holidays in different countries around the globe. When looking for a travel agency, you should look for one that offers many destinations such as trips to Italy, France, New Zealand and South Africa.  If you don't know where to go then consider wine tasting in Tuscany.

Wine tasting holidays are fantastic and bring a memorable experience to your and your travel partners; there are many things that you can enjoy whilst travellng such as visting the great wine cellars or a chateaux in France.

What will you ba able to do on your wine tasting holiday?  Well, there are simply so many choices such as being able to taste gourmet food, meet the chateaux owners and also meet the wine makers. You will not be able to experience these excitements if you visit these wineries alone as a person. Wine tasting holidays in different countries gives a unique experience. If you go for a wine tasting holiday in New Zealand, you will find unique experiences which you not find if you visit a similar place in South Africa.

If you choose a wine tasting break in France, you will be taken for a journey in the French vineyards of Bordeaux, Rhone, Burgundy, Alsace and Provence. There are different forms that your tour can take place. You can take the ride in a chartered bus, or in a private luxury car or a cruise, and the cost will vary accordingly.

Choose a Wine Guide

The organization generally provides a wine guide with the vacation. These people are normally very friendly and approachable. They fully understand that eveyone on the tour will have different skills and knowledge when it comes to wine. If you have never been to that region before or want to learn as much as you can, finding a wine guide is great.

A good wine guide in a wine tasting holiday can tell you the inside story, the gossip, the real history, the run down on the vintages, the producers and the wines, without the PR, the sales pitch or national chauvinism. If you come home without knowing the details of these destinations, what is the point in spending so much money and going for wine tasting holidays? If you have learnt the details of the particular areas, you can feel the place.

The price of wine tasting holidays depends on which region you are going to travel and make sure to confirm rates and read all the fine print before heading out to your getaway.  The good thing is that you don't have to be a real wine buff to enjoy a wine tasting holiday.  You don't even have to build your own wine cellar to house all the wines you buy on your trip.

Gourmet Chocolates Tips.

A while ago I decided to a be chef and make some gourmet food for a party, I actually ended up making truffles, and boy, were they a big hit with all my friends, who all made the assumption they were gourmet chocolates purchased from a trendy candy or gourmet food shop. Be warned! making your own gourmet chocolate is quite difficult, and it takes time and patience, however, on the positive side it gives you the option to choose from recipes that may not be so easy to get in the local candy store.

The key to making amazing gourmet chocolate:

Choosing and buying the ingredients of your gourmet chocolate is part of the fun. To start with I melted excellent quality dark chocolate over a double boiler. Secondly I rolled some small balls from marzipan and covered them with chocolate. Finally I rolled the chocolate covered marzipan in ground almonds, I also rolled chocolate covered peanut butter in more chocolate and then gave them a covering of ground peanuts.

Making chocolates opens up your creative juices, and so when making your own gourmet chocolates, you can create many different variations like, chocolate covered candied ginger, chocolate covered citrus peels; even chocolate covered chili peppers, wow.

Sharpen your sculpting talents when making gourmet chocolate:

A popular TV chef had a recipe for a honey chocolate cake, which inspired me to make a honey marzipan truffle.

  • Start by getting the chocolate ingredients.
  • Then melt the chocolate over the double boiler.
  • Add a little honey, this will create a nice glaze.
  • Now get the marzipan and with a paring knife carve some simple shapes like flowers, bunnies or hearts.
  • Then immerse the shaped marzipan cautiously into the chocolate and let the chocolate set on the marzipan.
  • Then dust them with confectioner's sugar.
  • The glaze will be a little sticky, so the sugar will stick.

This will make a great gift for all occasions, and is an especially good idea for gourmet chocolates, because you can make the marzipan into any shape to suit the occasion, and finish off by dusting them with the confectioner's sugar.

A Fantastic gift for someone you care about:

It's difficult to find someone who doesn't like chocolate, so as gifts they are an excellent choice to show someone you care. By making chocolate yourself, you can take your time, and make them look great for that special person in your life. Food and wine followed by some gourmet chocolates will definitely score you some brownie points.

Gourmet chocolates are as a rule created by master chocolate makers, so there's no pressure here, but be sure you don't make something that’s looks dreadful and uninteresting, as this will crush the object of making them yourself. If the chocolates you create are lumpy, uneven or mis-shaped people will not think much of them. You need to be sure the quality is fantastic when offering your friends some of your gourmet chocolate.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wine Gift Baskets For All Occasions

A wine gift basket can provide the ideal gift or a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion that requires a gift. They can provide elegant gifts for wine lovers and can include additional products besides wine. You could also include such treats as cheese, chocolates, fruit, nuts and wine accessories like corkscrews and bottle openers, drip stoppers, foil cutters or whatever else you decide to add to the basket. They are available already assembled or you can create your own to add that special touch. All you need to know is the type of wine the recipient enjoys, or you can create a surprise basket.

Buying Prepared Baskets

If you'd rather buy a wine gift basket pre packaged, stop into your local liquor store to see if they have a selection available. Liquor stores will often sell wine gift baskets, especially at holiday times. You should have a range of wines from which to choose and then you can add extra products.

Shop Online

The internet is a great place to order customizable gift baskets. Begin by choosing a bottle or two of wine, then start adding additional products from the range of food and accessories. Complementary products could include smoked salmon and caviar, savory crackers or cheese crackers, soft or hard cheeses, cheese knives, nuts, exclusive mustards or honey ... the sky's the limit when it comes to adding to them.

The organization then delivers the gift basket to you or straight to the gift recipient. This is a very easy option for a corporate gift or as a thank-you to a member of your staff.

Make Your Own Gift Baskets

Making your own wine gift basket gives allows you to add that extra personal touch. Start by buying an attractive basket. Even a simple and inexpensive basket will do because you can then decorate it with silk flowers or colored tissue paper. Buy your wine of choice or choose champagne for a special celebration, add some additional products depending on the preferences of the gift recipient. For example, it's not necessary to limit your gift basket to wine or wine accessories. You could include handicrafts for someone interested in arts and crafts, or a book about wine for a wine lover who is also interested in the history or the making of wine. Add some quality food products to accompany the wine, pack everything into your decorated basket and wrap the whole thing in clear cellophane.

If you are able to, deliver the gift basket to the recipient personally so you can see their joy when they receive it. If you're lucky he or she might even share the bottle of wine with you.

You can still assemble a stunning gift basket for a non-wine drinker. A coffee drinker might enjoy a gift basket that included freshly roasted coffee beans from different coffee-growing regions, coffee mugs, gourmet cookies, caramels and nuts. A tea drinker would appreciate a selection of teas from different regions, a teapot and strainer and a fine china teacup. A coffee or tea gift basket could actually be packed onto a decorated tray rather that a basket. Again, wrap the entire package in clear cellophane and tie a ribbon around it.

Gift basket ideas are only limited by your imagination.