Five Tips On Accommodating Vegan Diners

The vegan diet excludes all animal products. Vegan meals cannot include meats or fish, and even eggs or dairy products are not acceptable among recipe ingredients. 

Creating meals for vegan diners may seem challenging, but it’s easier than you think to come up with delicious foods that will satisfy diners without including these restricted ingredients.

The following are five helpful tips for creating meals that will satisfy vegan and non-vegan diners alike:

1. Aim for simplicity

The fewer ingredients your recipes include, the less likely they are to violate vegan dietary rules.

When selecting recipes for vegans, look for for short lists of healthy, simple ingredients. Vegan diners typically prefer whole foods that are minimally processed and pack in a lot of nutrients and flavor at the same time.  

2. Try ethnic cuisines

Looking to ethnic cuisines is often a helpful source of ideas when it comes to preparing vegetarian or vegan meals. In particular, indian cuisine offers many standard dishes that don’t include any meats or eggs to accommodate the dietary restrictions of the Indian religion Jainism. These restrictions prohibit eating many animal products.

3. Be open-minded

If you’re dining with vegans, you’re probably going to have to be open to trying some new things. Traditional diners are accustomed to eating meat and dairy products at every meal, and taking these components out of your meals leaves something of an ingredient vacuum. 

Be prepared to fill the void with new and exotic foods. There are always many interesting and creative ideas out there for imitating traditional meats with alternatives like nuts and legumes. For example, taco meat can be imitated with this interesting recipe that uses lentils and walnuts as an alternative. 

4. Brainstorm alternative protein sources

Of course, the real challenge in creating a satisfying meal for vegetarian or vegan diners is making up for the missing protein sources. 

This isn’t as big a challenge as you think, because there are many other protein sources out there. There are many different types of beans to choose from, and you can also try other legumes like lentils or a protein-rich grain like quinoa. 

If you’re looking for a recipe substitute for cheese, you can try cheese made from soy milk or some more creative options like zucchini cheese

5. Focus on veggies

Vegans typically prefer recipes that are rich in greens and vegetables. They also tend to enjoy trying rare and exotic vegetables. If you’ll be dining with vegans, take a stroll through your grocery store’s produce section for some ideas. 

To learn more about group dining, visit a restaurant like Sabatino’s Italian Restaurant.

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Gourmet Chocolates: Four Tips For Creating Delicious Truffles

Most everyone loves gourmet chocolates. The silky smooth chocolate, sweet toppings or fillings, and luscious mouthfeel are just a few reasons why they are so popular. They make a great treat and even better gift, especially for special occasions. One of the most popular types of gourmet chocolates is the truffle. It’s decadent, delicious, and downright divine.

While you could certainly purchase gourmet chocolate truffles, another option is to make them yourself. It might sound hard, but with a little finesse, it is quite easy.

If you are interested in making chocolate truffles, keep these four tips in mind:

1. Chill Out

One of the most important parts of creating truffles is chilling the “dough.” The chocolate concoction needs sufficient time to become cool to the touch and somewhat rigid. But it shouldn’t be chilled so long that it becomes hard. There is no hard and fast rules when it comes to chocolate, so just pour the chocolate into a pan and place it in your refrigerator. Check on it every 30 minutes until the concoction is chilled thoroughly.

2. Taste Test

If you have ever made chocolates and found that the taste was less then pleasant, don’t fret. It happens. Most people blindly buy melting chocolate and use it to create truffles and other goodies. While these chocolates work perfectly well, they might not taste the best.

To get the best tasting truffle, use chocolate that you like when it’s eaten raw. Take a few nibbles of the chocolate you plan to use before melting it down and chilling. If you like the taste, continue making your treats. If you don’t like it, choose another chocolate.

3. Keep It Dry

A couple drops of water can seriously damage your chocolate. Melted chocolate does not like liquids, so keep your work space and utensils dry. You do not want any water to get into the chocolate because it might seize up and then you will wind up with a big ball of weird-textured chocolate. For an extra measure of safety, keep paper towels or a clean towel nearby to mop up any water messes.

4. Process Carefully

You can use a food processor to make melting the chocolate easier. The food processor will quickly break up the chocolate, which will save you time and frustration. However, you do need to cut the chocolate first, especially if it is in a big block. Use a sharp knife and cut it into peanut-sized pieces, and then place it into the food processor. Process the chocolate until it reaches a sand-like consistency and then put it in the double boiler to melt.

Making gourmet chocolate truffles may sound intimidating, but with the proper knowledge and some patience, it is quite easy. Use these tips to make it easier.

To buy professionally made chocolates, contact a company such as Abdallah Candies And Gifts.

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Unpasteurized Clover Honey: Where To Buy It And How To Care For It

Unpasteurized clover honey has many health benefits, and is full of antioxidants and antibacterial properties to keep you healthy. When clover honey is kept from the pasteurizing process, it retains its original, fresh-from-the-hive flavor with sweet clover infusion. While unpasteurized honey is reported to be extremely healthy, you do need to make sure you care for it properly, only buy it from reputable sources, and always keep it out of the hands of children under one. Learn where to buy clover honey in its pure form and how to care for it to keep it fresh for cooking and eating straight from the jar.

Buying unpasteurized clover honey

When buying unpasteurized clover honey, always seek out organic stores or local beekeepers. Unpasteurized honey should only be purchased from companies or individuals who take care to collect and package their honey so it does not get contaminated from outside sources. If purchasing unpasteurized honey from your local grocer, look for key words, such as ‘organic’, ‘raw’, ‘locally collected’ and ‘unpasteurized’ to help you choose high quality honey you can enjoy every day.

The most pure and high-quality unpasteurized clover honey you can buy will be directly from your local beekeeper during the seasons bees produce the most honey. Honey is typically harvested in the early summer through late fall, so this is the optimum time to grab yourself a couple jars of untouched clover honey.

Caring for your honey

Unpasteurized honey should always be stored in airtight containers. This helps keep moisture and bacteria from getting into the honey. If the honey you have was harvested prematurely, it may have too much water in it, which can leave it prone to spoiling quickly. You can cook with unpasteurized honey or eat it raw safely, but be careful to keep all honey away from babies under one. Botulism spores which may be naturally present in any kind of honey can make a baby very sick, but do not affect adult immune systems. As long as you can keep air and moisture away from your unpasteurized clover honey, you should be fine to consume it raw or use it in cooking and baking.

Clover honey is a tasty culinary treat to add to your ingredient list. If you can get your hands on an unpasteurized variety, you will be pleasantly surprised how amazing pure honey can be. Take care of it properly and buy from the best sources possible, and you can enjoy unpasteurized honey anytime you wish.

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2 Secrets To Making Great Mexican Food

Have you ever wondered how Mexican restaurants create such amazing Mexican food? If so, then here are 2 secrets that will allow you to make great Mexican food at home too.

The Key to Great Rice

First, rice is a staple in Mexican cooking and is eaten with many meals. If you know how to make great Mexican rice, then you are on your way to creating a great meal. 

One of the main secrets is in the preparation of the rice before you add other ingredients. To start, you need long grain rice that is high quality. Second, you need some vegetable oil and a skillet.

Add the measured amount of rice needed for your recipe, and then add just enough oil so that the rice is coated. Cook the rice on medium until the rice starts to look less translucent and is just barely starting to brown. As soon as you see a few pieces getting slightly brown, remove it from the heat and cook the rice according to the recipe.

By doing this, you give the rice a deeper, richer flavor that will not come otherwise. The rice will be more dimensional in flavor, and people will wonder what you did to make the rice so delicious.

Great Salsa

Second, great salsa is also a sign that you know how to create great Mexican food. The best salsa does not need a tons of spices and ingredients to make it taste just right.

The real key is to use fresh vegetables that are in season. You will always get a better tasting salsa at the height of tomato season when the tomatoes are brimming with flavor. 

To make great salsa, you need fresh tomatoes that are red and ripe, a jalapeno, some cilantro, a couple of cloves of fresh garlic, a yellow onion, and some salt and pepper. You simply need to chop up these ingredients and blend them together until the salsa is as smooth as you want it, and then add some salt and pepper to taste. 

Let the salsa sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or even a day before eating, as this will allow the flavors to develop and blend so that you are not tasting separate ingredients.

Now that you know the keys to making two important staples in Mexican cuisine, you can begin creating great Mexican meals at home that are just as good as restaurant meals. Find out more here.

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Want To Make Your Own Specialty Cakes? Tips To Decorate Like A Pro

When you want to create a beautiful cake for a birthday or other event, you may find that you want to place a pattern atop the cake for decoration. The easiest way to do this is to transfer the pattern to the cake surface so that you can follow it while you are decorating. Piping gel is the most effective way to transfer a decorating template to a cake surface. Here are the steps you’ll need to transfer the image with ease.

Create the Base

Before you can transfer an image to the surface of the cake, you’ll need to create a smooth, crusted base of frosting. Make your favorite buttercream frosting recipe, but replace at least half of the butter you would normally use with shortening. The shortening is essential for the frosting to crust over, which creates the surface you need for the decorations.

Smooth the surface completely using an offset spatula. The easiest way to create a flawless surface is to dip the offset spatula in hot water, shake the excess water off and then run the spatula across the surface of the cake. You can do the same to create smooth sides. Then, let the cake rest for at least half an hour so that the frosting can set and form the necessary crust.

Make Piping Gel

There are several varieties of piping gel available at most retail outlets with the cake decorating supplies, but if you prefer to make your own, you might be surprised at how easy it is. For a stiff gel that’s great for decorative piping, put two tablespoons of water into a small saucepan. Sprinkle two packets of unflavored gelatin over the top and let it sit until it starts to dissolve and the water starts to look cloudy.

Once the gelatin dissolves, heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula. When the mixture is clear, add two cups of light corn syrup and continue to heat it until everything comes together. Store any leftover gel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Outline the Image

Tape the printed image to a flat surface and then place a thin sheet of parchment paper over the top. Scoop out a generous amount of the piping gel into a bowl. The amount you’ll need will depend on how many lines you need to go over, so just use your best judgment. It’s always better to have some left over than to run out halfway through the picture.

Think about the primary colors of the image and choose the most common one to tint the gel. This will help you see the lines on the cake surface as you work. Add a small amount of decorator’s food coloring – this is the gel or paste coloring in the cake decorating department – using a toothpick. Mix it thoroughly, then put the tinted gel into a piping bag with a number 1 tip on the bag. The number 1 tip is the fine-point tip used for writing.

Trace the lines of the image by piping the gel along each line that’s visible through the parchment paper. Once you’ve traced all of the lines, lift the paper carefully and turn it over so that gel side is facing the cake. Place the image where you want it on the cake surface. Trace over the gel lines lightly with a decorator’s paint brush. Make sure that you go over every line. When you’re finished, gently lift the parchment paper from one corner, pulling slowly. The gel image will remain on the cake so that you can begin decorating.

With these steps, you can create a flawless cake for your next event. Choose the image that you want on your cake and this process will make it easy to transfer it into place. For further assistance, contact professionals , such as those from Denise’s Delicacies.

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The Fascinating History Of The American Hamburger

Ask a passerby to list a few of what they consider to be the most classic foods in America, and there’s little doubt you’ll find “hamburger” on that list. Whether the tasty meat is prepared with cheese, onions, tomatoes, or a special sauce, citizens throughout America love the taste of a hamburger fresh off the grill. As with many things consumed on a regular basis, not much thought may be given towards the historical origin of those foods– but that very history can at times make the meal even more appealing. The hamburger has been on a journey throughout the years, journeying over land and seas to make it to the plate in front of you today:

The Coveted Hamburg Steak

The early origins of the hamburger did not start in the country of the United States, contrary to the belief of some. In the late eighteenth century, ports located in the city of New York were familiar with the foreign delights from lands across the sea. Foreign sailors making the journey from Germany revealed one of their favorite dishes to hungry Americans: a meal they called the “hamburg steak,” beef cooked with special spices and seasonings and named after the place of its origin, Hamburg, Germany.

To satisfy the hunger of the German sailors when visiting their American ports, merchants in New York decided to set up various food stands offering the specially cooked beef– but the German visitors were not the only ones to enjoy the unique taste. Before long, restaurants all throughout the country were offering beef cooked the Hamburg way to patrons.

The Sandwich Transformation

Like any good origin story, some of the details are a bit murky in the history of the hamburger. When it comes to the question of who specifically was the first person to come up with the idea of putting the hamburg steak between two pieces of bread, many individuals have jumped up to claim that they were the one responsible for the modern hamburger. While there’s no way to know for certain if the first hamburger was made in Wisconsin, Ohio, Connecticut, or Texas, one thing is clear: the culinary invention caught on like wildfire, spreading across America at an amazing rate.

Throughout the years, the hamburger has undergone further imaginative transformations– from pretzel buns to turkey burger variations that seem to alter the taste into a whole new sensation. The next time you reach for the American classic at a place like Zac’s Burgers, remember the Hamburg steak… and thank the German sailors for their addition to your menu.

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The Picky Eater’s Guide To Japanese Cuisine

Are you wary of trying new foods because you’re sensitive to certain smells, spices, tastes, or textures? If so, it’s probably difficult to hang with friends who always want to try strange fusion cuisine or even ethnic foods that you’re not comfortable eating. If your friends’ next get-together is at a Japanese restaurant like Koto Japanese Steak House, you should do a little research beforehand to see what you’d be okay with eating. While you may not be to keen on raw fish or natto (smelly, fermented soy beans), there are definitely options out there. Here are a few dishes you may want to consider:

Soups

Ramen

A noodle soup is a safe bet for the picky eater (after all, most people have it when they’re sick). While you may have had basic instant ramen, restaurants serve this wheat-noodle dish with all sorts of flavors, like miso–a traditional flavor from soybeans. If you don’t want to try misoyou could opt for a beef-, fish-, or vegetable-based broth. And if you aren’t too picky with veggies or meat, some good options are chicken, beef, and green onions. 

Udon

While ramen is typically served with various meats and veggies, udon is even simpler: just noodles and broth. This is a great option for picky eaters because the flavor is pretty mild, and if you want more taste, you can add mirin–a condiment that’s sweet like sugar. And like the ramen, you can add some veggies if you’re up to it. Scallions go really well with udon.  

Main Courses

Yakitori

Yakitori can refer to just about any food that is skewered and grilled. However, yakitori is usually in reference to grilled chicken. While this could be a main course, you may also want to add an appetizer. Gyoza are dumplings that are quite delectable; and they make a great appetizer.

Tempura

If you’re not opposed to fish–except raw fish–tempura is a great option. Tempura is the catch-all term for any veggies or seafood that are battered in flour, then deep fried. (And what doesn’t taste good deep-fried?) 

Tonkatsu

If you aren’t a fan of either deep-fried veggies or seafood, how about pork? Tonkatsu is pork that is first covered in bread-crumbs, then deep-fried. It’s also a very versatile main course because it can be served with rice, curry, veggies, and so on.

Sushi

You can’t go out for Japanese food and not try a bite of sushi. A very “safe” sushi to try is a California roll. Sometimes sushi can turn people off because of the nori wrapping (seaweed) and because it’s stacked with fish and condiments. A California roll isn’t stacked with raw fish and you only see rice on the outside. Best of all, it uses crab or imitation crab instead of raw fish! 

If nothing sounds appetizing on this list, don’t get hung-up over your eating habits. Fill up beforehand and just go to the restaurant to enjoy the company!

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