Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Traditional Japanese Breakfast Dishes

Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso (soy bean paste) soup, and side dishes. Common side dishes are grilled fish, rolled omelet, pickles, dried seaweed, natto, salad, and more.

Steamed Rice
Hot steamed rice is the most important dish in Japanese-style breakfast. Usually it's plain without any seasoning.

2 cups Japanese-style rice
2 1/4 cups water

Put the rice in a bowl and wash it with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes clear. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside. Place the rice in a pan or rice cooker and add water. The amount of water used is just a little more than the amount of rice.

Miso Soup with Fried Tofu
The most popular soup in Japanese cuisine is miso soup. Most typical Japanese-style mealsinclude a cup of miso soup. Miso soup is seasoned by miso, soy bean paste. Making miso soup is the basic of Japanese cooking.


3 1/3 cups dashi soup stock
2 fried bean curd
3-4 tbsps miso paste
*chopped green onion


Put the fried bean curd in a strainer and pour boiled water over them to remove the excess oil. Cut the fried bean curd into thin strips. Put the soup stock in a pan and bring to boil. Scoop out some soup stock from the pan and dissolve miso paste in it. Return the soup in the pan and stir well.

Remember not to boil the soup after you put miso in. Add the fried bean curd strips in the pan. Add some chopped green onion if you would like.

Japanese rolled omelet is called tamagoyaki or dashimaki. It's also known as a Japanese-style egg roll. Tamagoyaki is often served for Japanese-style breakfast. Also, it's one of the most popular dishes in Japanese bento lunch boxes.

There are many types of tamagoyaki. Some are sweet and some are salty. Also, you can add fillings in tamagoyaki to make it colorful. Create your favorite tamagoyaki!

Tamagoyaki is usually cooked in a rectangular omelet pan. Rectangular omelet pans are commonly sold in Japan, but it might not be a common cookware in other countries. It's OK to use a regular frying pan if a rectangular omelet pan is not available.

4 eggs
3 tbsps dashi soup stock
2 tbsps sugar

Beat eggs in a bowl. Add dashi soup and sugar in the egg and mix well. Heat a frying pan on medium heat. *Preferably, use a square tamagoyaki pan.

Oil the pan. Pour a scoop of egg mixture in the pan and spread over the surface. Cook it until half done and roll the egg toward the bottom side. Move the rolled egg to the top side. Oil the empty part of the pan and pour another scoop of egg mixture in the space and under the rolled egg. Cook it until half done and roll the egg again so that the omelet becomes thicker. Cook the omelet until done. If you are using a regular frying pan, shape tamagoyaki on bamboo mat. Cut tamagoyaki into 1-inch thick pieces.
Makes 4 servings (2 tamagoyaki)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Traditional Chinese Breakfast Dishes

Here are some traditional Chines breakfast recipes for you to try out. Please not that I've not tried out any of them, but got them from friends and the net.

This is a basic recipe for wonton with a pork and shrimp filling. Deep-fry the wonton or boil in soup as desired. For extra flavor, use fresh water chestnuts.

Yields about 35 - 40 wonton
1/2 pound boneless lean pork
1/2 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp
3 water chestnuts
2 slices ginger, or as needed to make 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine, dry sherry or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
a few drops sesame oil
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Wonton wrappers, as needed
Finely chop the pork and shrimp. Peel the water chestnuts and finely chop. Mince the ginger until you have 1 teaspoon.

Combine the pork and shrimp with the water chestnuts, minced ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry or rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and white pepper.

To fill the wontons, lay one won ton skin in front of you. (Cover the remaining won ton skins with a damp towel to keep them from drying out). Moisten all the edges of the won ton wrapper with water. Place a heaping teaspoon of won ton filling in the center.

Fold the wonton wrapper in half lengthwise, making sure the ends meet. Press down firmly on the ends to seal. Use thumbs to push down on the edges of the filling to center it. Keeping thumbs in place, fold over the wonton wrapper one more time. Push the corners up and hold in place between your thumb and index finger. Wet the corners with your fingers. Bring the two ends together so that they overlap. Press to seal. The finished product should resemble a nurse's cap. Repeat with remaining wontons.

Alternate method: Place the teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper and twist to seal. The final result should resemble a money bag or drawstring purse.

Boiling the wontons: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the won tons, making sure there is enough room for them to move about freely. Let the wontons boil for 5 - 8 minutes, until they rise to the top and the filling is cooked through. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

Deep-frying the wontons: Heat oil for deep-frying to 360 degrees. Add wonton in small batches and fry, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Wontons can be prepared ahead of time up to the cooking stage and frozen. Thaw before cooking.

Mantou / Baozi / Steamed Bun Dough
This dough can be used to make Chinese steamed buns, called mantou, or filled buns, called baozi. These fluffy, chewy, warm and unusual breads are common breakfasts, sides and meals in much of China. They are especially popular in Shanghai (Baozi) and Beijing (Mantou), where window-stall and small shop vendors sell them. Because this is the less unhealthy version with some whole wheat substitutions, they can be finicky based on dampness and temprature —

1½ hours 30 min prep

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup skim milk, warm
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 (1/4 ounce) package fast rising yeast

Mix the yeast and flours in a large bowl.
Dissolve the sugar and add the peanut oil in the water.
Add to the flour bowl and mix thoroughly.
Knead dough until it becomes a consistent ball, adding milk or more flour as needed (I usually end up using a tad more than 1/2 cup of milk).
Cover dough in a bowl and allow to rest 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove dough, pound it down, and re-knead until it forms a fully elastic dough ball.
Place ball in a greased, covered bowl and allow to rise for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until doubled or tripled in bulk.
Divide into 16-24 small dough balls, or roll out into one large flat rectangle on a floured surface.
Flatted dough balls with a rolling pin, OR measure 3 – 5 inch rounds out of the pressed rectangle.
Fill each flat round with roughly 2 tbs of the filling of your choice in the center. Pull the dough on all sides from the corners up to the top, and ‘twist’ to close.
Steam filled buns (baozi) for 15 – 25 minutes over high heat.
NOTE: Plain buns, or mantou, can be obtained by simply omitting the filling.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Traditional North Indian Breakfast Dishes

Now, for some of my favorite North Indian Breakfast Dishes.

The usual North Indian breakfast consists of paratha breads with fresh butter, cooked spicy vegetables especially aloo sabji (Potato).

Try these out and enjoy!

Methi Puri

1 (100 g) cup wheat flour
1 cup fenugreek leaves, finely cut
3 tablespoons coriander leaves, finely cut
1 pinch turmeric powder
ghee (to fry)


1. Sift flour in a bowl.
2.Mix the rest of the ingredients with 1 tsp.
3. Make a soft dough using water.
4. Knead well for 15-20 minutes.
5. Divide the dough into 20 portions.
6. Shape them into round balls.
7. Roll out each ball on a floured board into a round puri 4" (10cms) in diameter.
8. Heat ghee in a deep frying pan. (Use low calorie oil for those who are health conscious)
9. Fry 1 or 2 puris at a time until it turns golden brown.
10. Serve hot with raita and a vegetable dish

Naan Bread

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted


1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
3. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

Fruit Chaat

This is a refreshing summer salad with a twist. It will go well with any Indian barbeque meal. Serve it before, along or after the meal. It is a very versatile dish.

1 Apple - (red delicious) - Skinned and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Pear- Skinned and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Oranges - Remove skin from the segments and half each segment
3\4 cup fresh Pomegranate seeds
1 cup Green seedless grapes
1 cup Red seedless grapes
1 ripe Mango - Skinned and cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Bananas - cut into round slices, approx 1 cm thick
1 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Chaat masala or to taste
Juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges


Mix the two juices, salt, sugar, and chaat masala well in a large serving bowl. Add all the fruits one by one into the bowl. Mix well. Garnish with mint leaves and chill well before serving.

Yogurt based stuffed okra


1/4 kg tender lady fingers (okra/bhendi)

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 slit green chillis

3 cloves garlic finely minced

1″ ginger finely minced

2 big onions finely sliced

1/4 tsp turmeric pwd

1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli pwd

1/2 tsp coriander pwd

2 tomatoes finely chopped

1 tbsp ghee (you can use a wee bit more)

salt to taste

2 tbsp hung curd

For stuffing:

1 1/2 tbsps roasted channa powder (dalia/putnala pappu)

1 1/2 tbsps chaat masala

1 tsp ghee

pinch of salt

For garnish:

chopped coriander leaves

pinch of chaat masala

1 tbsp lemon juice (adjust)


1 Wash and dry the okra. Trim the okra top and ends and make a slit in the center for stuffing.
2 Combine the roasted channa powder, chaat masala, salt and ghee and stuff the okras. Drizzle a kadai with some oil, on high heat, add the stuffed okras and constantly keep stirring them for approx 6-7 mts till they are nicely browned. Turn off heat. Remove and keep aside.
3 Heat ghee in a kadai, add cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillis. Saute for a few seconds.
4 Add the sliced onions and saute till transparent. Add the turmeric and red chilli pwd. Combine.
5 Add the tomatoes and salt, combine and cook covered for 5-7 mts on medium heat (do check and stir inbetween).
6 Add the slightly cooked stuffed okras and cook on medium heat for 4-5 mts (uncovered). Now, on high flame, keep stirring and cook till the okras are soft and done (approx 8-10 mts).
7 Turn off heat, adjust salt and chaat masala. Add the lemon juice and mix in the hung curd. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with hot rotis or rice.

Dum Aloo


• 1/2 kg Small potatoes
• 1 Small piece of cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp Caraway seeds
• 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
• 2 Cardamom
• A pinch of asfoetida
• 4 Cardamoms
• 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
• 1 tsp Chilli powder
• 1 Medium size onion
• 2 Cup fine curd
• 4-5 Cloves
• 7-8 Black pepper
• 4-5 Bay Leaves
• 1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
• 4 tbsp Ghee or oil
• 1/2 Cup milk
• Salt to taste

• Make a fine powder of cardamoms, black pepper, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon by the help of a blender.
• Remove the peel from potatoes and prick them.
• Take oil in a frying pan and heat it for about one minute. Fry the potatoes on a medium heat until their color changes from white to light brown. Keep it aside.
• Add grated onion, asafoetida, bay leaves and ginger-garlic paste to the remaining oil. Fry the mixture till the paste turns reddish brown.
• Add the masala prepared in first step to this mixture and heat for about 2 to 3 minutes.
• Add turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Fry again for about a minute.
• Now pour the milk to make gravy followed by adding fine curd. Keep stirring continuously.
• You can pour little water if the gravy appears too thick.
• Now add pricked potatoes to this gravy and cook in a pressure cooker. Remove from the flame after 4 to 5 minutes just before the first whistle.
• Garnish it with fresh coriander leaves.
• Dum Aloo is ready to serve.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Traditional South Indian Breakfast dishes

You might have guessed from my rather long earlier post, that I'm going to concentrate on traditional breakfast dishes of different nations for the next few posts.

Being an Indian, I'm starting with South Indian recipes. My favourite is Idlis with potato chutney and my second favorite is Masala Thaosai with Sambar.

FYI: Almost all South Indian Breakfast dishes are vegetarian.

Hope you will try out these dishes and enjoy!

Quick Cream of Wheat Savory Cakes(Rava Idli)

Semolina (also called Rava in India) tempered with spices, mixed in yoghurt and steamed.

Serves: 4
Cooking time (approx.): 16 minutes
Style: South Indian

2 tablespoon(s) coconut oil
1 teaspoon(s) mustard seeds
1 teaspoon(s) split husked Bengal gram (chana dal)
1 teaspoon(s) split husked black gram (udad dal)
4 green chillies chopped
1 tablespoon(s) cashewnut bits
1 sprig curry leaves
1 cup(s) semolina (or quick cream of wheat)
4 cups sour yoghurt
1 cup(s) coriander leaves chopped
2 cup(s) grated coconut if available
1 teaspoon(s) soda bicarbonate
salt to taste

1. Heat the coconut oil in a pan. Toss in the mustard seeds followed by the grams and fry till the seeds splutter fully. Add the green chillies, cashewnut bits and curry leaves. Stir-fry on medium level for about 3 minutes or till the grams are red in color.
2. Add the semolina and stir-fry on medium / low level for about 3 minute(s) or till golden in color and aromatic. Let cool. Once cooled, mix in the salt as per taste and the soda bicarbonate.
3. Divide the semolina mixture into two portions to steam then in two batches. Take a portion of semolina mixture and mix in half the quantity of yoghurt, coconut and coriander leaves. Keep aside for 15 minutes to ferment. Meanwhile, heat water in a steaming vessel. Pour the batter onto greased idli moulds and place it in the steaming vessel. Cover and steam on high level for about 10 minutes or till the idlis are fluffy and well cooked. Repeat the procedure to make the next batch of idlis.

# If coconut oil is not available, any other vegetable oil can be used.
# If you do not have an idli mould, try muffin cups.
# The stir-fried semolina mixture can be prepared a day or two in advance and stored.

Serve hot with: Green Chutney (Hari Chutney)

Green Chutney(Hari Chutney)

Chutney is the Indian equivalent of a dip, and fresh green coriander ground with spices makes for a delicious dip with snacks.

Serves: 4
Cooking time (approx.): 2 minute(s)
Style: North Indian Vegetarian

2 tablespoon(s) grated coconut
2 flake(s) garlic peeled and chopped
½" piece ginger peeled and chopped
6 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves chopped
4 green chillies chopped
1 teaspoon(s) each of cumin and mustard seeds
1 tablespoon(s) chopped onions
1 tablespoon(s) oil
lemon juice and salt to taste

1. Grind the coconut, onions, cumin seeds, green chillies, coriander leaves, garlic and ginger to a fine paste using a little water. Pour the paste / chutney into a bowl and adjust the consistency using suitable amount of water.
2. Heat the oil in a pan on medium level for about 2 minute(s) till it is hot enough. Add the mustard seeds. Fry briefly till they splutter and pour them on the chutney.
3. Add salt and lemon juice to the chutney.

Peanut Chutney(Kadale Chutney)

Roasted peanuts ground with spices make an interesting dip (called Chutney in India) for snacks.

Serves: 4
Cooking time (approx.): 2 minute(s)
Style: South Indian Vegetarian

2 tablespoon(s) grated coconut
2 tablespoon(s) peanuts roasted
1" piece ginger peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves chopped
4 green chillies chopped
1 small onion(s) chopped
1 teaspoon(s) mustard seeds
½ teaspoon(s) asafoetida powder
4 curry leaves
2 tablespoon(s) oil
salt to taste

1. Grind the coconut, roasted peanuts, green chillies, onion, coriander leaves and ginger to a fine paste using a little water.
2. Pour the paste / chutney into a bowl and adjust the consistency using suitable amount of water.
3. Heat the oil in a pan on medium level for about 2 minute(s) or till it is hot enough. Add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter and then add the curry leaves and the asafoetida powder. Fry briefly and pour it on the chutney. Add salt to taste.



2 cups semolina (sooji, rava)
1/2 cup rice (chawal) flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp asafoetida
salt (namak) to taste
1 inch ginger (adrak)
4 green chillies
10-12 curry leaves (kari patta)
1/4 cup coconut (narial) (scraped)
12 cashewnuts
2 tblsp peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tblsp vegetable fat (ghee)
refined oil (tel) to fry

How to make rava dosai:

1. Blend rava, rice flour and buttermilk to make a thin batter, add asafoetida and required salt. Stand the batter for at least 6 hours.
2. Wash and finely chop the ginger, green chillies and curry leaves. Chop the coconut and cashew nut into very small bits.
3. Crush the peppercorns and cumin seeds. Heat the ghee and roast peppercorn and cumin seeds in it and add to the batter.
4. Mix the chopped greens, coconut and cashew into the batter. Stir well.
5. Grease a non-stick tawa, smear little oil. Pour a ladle full of the batter and spread by swirling the tava.
6. Pour a tablespoon oil around and on the dosa.
7. Cook till it is crisp and golden in color. Remove and serve hot.



2 cups Vermicelli
1 tsp Chana dal
1 tsp Urad dal
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
2 tsp Cashewnuts
2 tsp Peanuts
1 Onions
2 Green chillies
1/2 inch Ginger
1 Potatoes
1/4 cup Peas
1 Carrots
1 Tomatoes
4 1/2 cups Water
3 tblsp Oil
2 tblsp Ghee
3 sprig Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

How to make vermicelli upma :

1. Chop the onions, chillies, ginger, tomatoes , potatoes, carrots into small pieces and keep aside.
2. Heat oil and add chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they start to crackle , add peanuts and cashewnuts. 3. Fry till they turn golden brown.
4. Add potatoes, carrots and fry for 4-5 minutes.
5. Then add chillies, ginger , onions, peas and tomatoes.
6. Cook until they are done.
7. After that add salt and 41/2 cups of water, cover with a lid and let it boil .
8. When the water comes to boil add vermecelli and simultaneously stir ( so that no lumps will be formed).
9. Cover the upma with a lid for 5-6 minutes and then add 2tbsp of ghee and stir well.
10. Serve hot with coconut chutney.



Dosa shell:
1 1/2 cups rice
1/2 cup urad dal
salt to taste

Masala Filling:
2 large potatoes
1 medium onion (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon yellow split peas
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 green chili
1 tablespoon oil
salt to taste

Dosa shell

1. Separately soak rice and urad dal at least 6 hour or overnight in water.
2. Grind to paste.
3. Mix together, add salt with water to make batter.
4. Leave in room temperature overnight.
5. Mix onion and chilies to the thin batter.
6. Heat pan or griddle with little ghee or oil.
7. Spread the mix on pan in circular motion to make thin Dosa.
8. Cook on both the sides, if desired.

Masala Filling (Spicy Filling):

1. Heat oil. Add mustard seed, peas, onions and spice.
2. Fry for about 5 minutes on medium heat or/until onions are turned into golden brown
3. Add potatoes and mix and cook some more Serve
4. Add filling inside Dosa and roll. Serve hot with Chutney.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What's for Breakfast Mom?

I'm sure this is one statement we all have used at least once in our lifetime. (Probably many more times).

I guess what's for breakfast depands on who we are and what's available. Full breakfast of the English, such as eggs, bacon, and sausages, accompanied by toast and tea or coffee as well as the modern version of packaged cereal with cold milk, toast with a variety of spreads such as butter, jam, marmalade is most common. Or is it?

Different nations and races have their very own traditional breakfast dishes. For south Indians, Thosai, Idlis and Chutney or other dishes made from rice flour is most common. While North Indians use wheat flour for breads such as Chapatis and Naans.

Chinese breakfasts vary greatly between different regions. Except for Hong Kong, Western types of breakfasts or their derivatives are rarely eaten. In Northern China breakfast fare typically includes huājuǎn, mántou (steamed breads), shāobǐng (unleavened pocket-bread with sesame), bāozi (steamed buns with meat or vegetable stuffing), with Dòunǎi or dòujiāng (soy milk) or tea served in Chinese style as beverages.

Indonesian breakfasts usually contain rice in some form. Some common dishes are nasi goreng, lontong sayur (rice cake wrapped in banana leaf with vegetables and coconut milk soup), and gado gado. In Jakarta nasi uduk would be served which consists of spiced milk and steamed rice served with fried fish or fried chicken, sliced cucumber, and sambal. Many Indonesians also enjoy bakmie ayam (chicken noodle) as well as an assortment of cakes in the morning.

A traditional Japanese breakfast is based on rice, seafood, and fermented foods, which do not differ substantially from dishes eaten at other meals in Japanese cuisine. An exception is nattō (a type of fermented soybeans), which is rarely eaten outside of breakfast. Typical breakfast beverages are green tea (traditional) and coffee (modern).

In Korea, breakfast contains rice, soup, several kinds of Namul or seasoned vegetables, Kimchi (fermented, pickled vegetables), and grilled meat or fish. Traditionally, food eaten in the morning does not differ substantially from the other meals of the day (see Korean cuisine) though the number of dishes is fewer.

In Myanmar (formerly Burma), the traditional breakfast in town and country alike is htamin gyaw, fried rice with boiled peas (pè byouk), and yei nway gyan ( green tea) especially among the poor.

A favourite traditional breakfast in the Philippines consists of garlic fried rice, fried or scrambled eggs, and a choice of breakfast meat: beef tapa (like a fried beef jerky), pork tocino (caramelised pork), longaniza (breakfast sausage), dried salty, smoked fish, tinned sardines, sauteed corned beef, or crispy pork adobo, often with Western-style baked beans, sliced tomatoes and a local pickle (achara) on the side. Alternatively, a cheese-topped breakfast pastry called an ensaimada (a colonial relative of the Mallorcan ensaimada) is also eaten, usually with hot chocolate, as is pan de sal (Philippine breakfast roll) filled with a buffalo milk white cheese, and local barako coffee. Finally, there is champurrado, a local sweet chocolate sticky rice porridge, often served with a side dish of crisp-fried sun-dried fish (danggit or tuyo) -- an unusual, though authentically Filipino combination.

The breakfast includes usually fresh(hot) bread, Rotti, Pittu (Rice or Manipittu - Eaten with Oxstripes) String Hoppers (With Milky Gravy), Hoppers, Rice or Green Grams. These are usually eaten with gravy (meat or vegetable), Sambol (Commonest - Coconut or Seeni (Onion fried with chilli and sugar), Maldive Fish) or with Juggery and Plantains.

In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam it is customary to eat soup for breakfast, as well as congee.

In case of Thailand, a variety of different food is served for breakfast since the country has opened to receive eating culture from many countries. Thai-Chinese people typically have congee/jook, boil-rice with fishes, pickles, dried shredded pork, dried shredded pork; dim-sum is also popular in some provinces particularly in the South of Thailand.

In New Zealand and Australia, the typical breakfast strongly resembles breakfast in other English-speaking countries. Owing to the warm weather in some parts of Australia, breakfast is generally light. In the cold parts, however, one might find a full English breakfast. The light breakfast consists of cereals, toast, fruit, and fruit juices rather than cooked items. Australians also enjoy a heavy breakfast with fried bacon, egg, mushroom, sausage, tomatoes and toast, with tea or coffee and juice (similar to the full English breakfast).

A typical Continental breakfast consists of coffee and milk (often mixed as Cappuccino or latte) or hot chocolate with a variety of sweet cakes such as brioche and pastries such as croissant, often with a sweet jam, cream, or chocolate filling. It is often served with juice. The continental breakfast may also include sliced cold meats, such as salami or ham, and yogurt or cereal. Some countries of Europe, such as Holland and those in Scandinavia, add a bit of fruit and cheese to the bread menu, occasionally even a boiled egg or a little salami. In Britain, a continental breakfast can include bacon, eggs, toast, a bit of broiled tomato, etc

The breakfast in Belgium consists of breads, toasted or untoasted, with several marmalades, jams, and nut spreads, such as nutella or just with a bar of chocolate. Other common toppings include sliced meats and cheeses. Pastries and croissants may be served on Sundays, but are mostly not eaten on a regular day. To drink, the Belgians often enjoy coffee, tea, hot chocolate, water, or fresh juice with breakfast.

Dutch people typically eat sliced bread with 3 sorts of toppings: dairy products (numerous variations of cheese), meat products (a variety of cured meats and sliced meats), or sweet products/ semi-sweet products like jam, syrup (from sugar beet of fruit), honey, Bebogeen (a topping which is very sweet, sugar beets are adapted into caramel spread), Kokosbrood (Cocosbread, sliced pieces (just like sliced cheese) in which coconut is the main component) or peanut butter. Another type of sweet toppings are the chocolate-toppings.

A typical breakfast in Denmark, similar to its southern neighbor Germany, consists of bread rolls or toast with butter and Danish skæreost (slicing cheese), a buttery creamy white cheese (often Danish havarti or Danish tilsit), fruit jam, and a lot of coffee.

Breakfasts in other parts of Scandinavia besides Denmark can be quite ample. Fish, cheese, eggs, bacon, hot and cold cereals, breads, potatoes, and fruits are all eaten in various combinations, along with juices, coffee, and tea. Filmjölk (Sweden) or kulturmelk (Norway), a cultured milk similar to buttermilk or yoghurt is often eaten with cereals. Whole-grain porridges are popular in Finland, also accompanied by this type of cultured milk.

In Iceland, pickled fish is a popular dish, particularly pickled herring. Pancakes are also eaten.

The typical German breakfast consists of bread rolls, butter, jam, ham, a soft-boiled egg, and coffee. A special breakfast treat is Affenbrot.

Swiss breakfasts are often similar to those eaten in neighboring countries. A notable breakfast food of Swiss origin, now found throughout Europe, is muesli.

The traditional Polish breakfast is a large spread with a variety of sides eaten with bread or toast. Sides include various cold cuts, meat spreads, the Polish sausage kielbasa, sardines, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and sliced pickles.

In Eastern European countries with cold climates, such as Russia, breakfasts tend to be substantial. Zavtrak may consist of hot oatmeal or kasha, eggs, cheese, cured meats or sausage, rye breads with butter, and coffee or tea.

In France a typical domestic breakfast will consist of cups of coffee, often café au lait, or hot chocolate. Bowls are rarely used these days. The main food consists of tartines — slices of baguette spread with jam — sometimes dunked, as well as brioches and other breads. Croissants are also traditional, as are other similar pastries such as pains au chocolat and pains aux raisins.

Various kinds of pastry constitute the traditional Greek breakfast. Tyropita, spanakopita, and bougatsa (particularly in Northern Greece) are eaten, usually accompanied with Greek coffee. Simpler breakfasts include honey, marmelade or nutella cream (as well a Greek variation thereof, Merenda) spread over slices of bread. Children typically drink chocolate or plain milk.

The traditional breakfast in Italy is simply Caffè e latte (hot coffee with milk) with bread or rolls, butter, and jam — known as prima colazione or just colazione. Fette biscottate (a cookie-like hard bread often eaten with Nutella) and biscotti (cookies) are commonly eaten.

In Central Spain the traditional breakfast is chocolate con churros — hot chocolate with Spanish-style fritters, which are extruded sticks of doughnut-like dough with a star-shaped profile covered in sugar.

A Portuguese pequeno-almoço comes in two varieties: one eaten running to work and another, more time-consuming one, more common on the weekends. When rushed in the morning, a cup of yogurt, milk, coffee or both and some bread with butter, cheese or jam suffices. Given the time, additions include orange juice, croissants, different kinds of pastry, and/or cereal.

Turkish breakfast consists of fresh white sourdough bread, white cheese (feta), yellow cheese (kasar), fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, black and/or green olives, butter, honey, preserves, soujouk, salami, pastirma and a boiled egg — all accompanied by hot black tea in small tulip-shaped glasses.

In northern South America, maize-based breads, such as tortillas or arepas, may dominate or be augmented with wheat breads or pastries. Caffè, caffè e latte, chocolate, and tea are common beverages.

In Argentina, breakfast consists mainly of espresso coffee, café con leche, or yerba mate. There are also croissants, brioches, or facturas with dulce de leche, filled churros, French bread with jam and butter, grilled sandwiches of ham and cheese known as tostados, and sweet or salted cookies.

In Brazil, the common breakfast consists in bread and butter, toasted or not, alongside with coffee, black, or with milk. It can also have juice, usually of orange.

In Chile, breakfast is a light meal consisting of coffee or tea and 2 types of bread, called "Marraqueta" and "Hallulla".

In Costa Rica breakfast is traditionally Gallo Pinto which is pinto beans and rice. A preferred alternative is to substitute black beans for the pinto beans.

In Colombia there are various breakfast staples. In the Cundinamarca region people eat changua, a milk, scallion, and cheese soup.

In most Arab areas, the most popular breakfast by far is pita bread dipped in rich labneh, a type of creamy curd, or in olive oil and za'atar (a common Middle-Eastern spice mix). Other popular breakfast foods in the Mashriq include boiled eggs, olives, cheese and beans.

In Iran, a non-Arab country, varieties of Iranian flatbreads (naan), Iranian feta cheese (panir-e irani), butter (kareh), a variety of traditional marmelades (morabba) or jams, honey (angebin or asal), and hot tea are essential breakfast foods. Other foods, such as heavy cream, walnuts, hard and soft boiled eggs, and omlettes are also popular for breakfast.

In Egypt the traditional breakfast is ful medames: slow cooked fava beans (sometimes with lentils) dressed in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

An Israeli breakfast typically consists of coffee, orange juice, fresh vegetables salad, goats/cows cream cheese, fresh bread or toast, olives, butter, fried eggs of your choice, and some small cookies or slices of cake. For an even fuller breakfast it might include hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, quark cheese, and Israeli salad.

Traditional breakfasts in the United States and Canada derive from the full English breakfast[citation needed] and feature predominantly sweet or mild-flavored foods, mostly hot. Typical items include hot oatmeal porridge, grits (in the South), other hot grain porridges, eggs, bacon, ham, small sausages, pan-fried potatoes (hash browns), biscuits, toast, pancakes, waffles, French toast, cornbread, English muffins, pastries (such as croissants, doughnuts, and muffins), and fruit. Coffee and tea are standard breakfast beverages.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Herbs and Spices - the Essence of Flavor

Any yummy dish needs that splash of spice to add the aroma and texture to make it mmm.. delicious. I know that Indian cooking is very spicy. Likewise, I think middle east and mexican. Do you know of any other nations that like to spice up their meals? Do share with me.

I came across this interesting article about Herbs and Spices by
Michael Sheridan. So have a spicy good time reading it!!!!

Herbs and Spices - the Essence of Flavor

In any number of cookbooks and recipes you will find advice on which herbs go with what. I'm not going to take that route.
While there certainly are marriages that are tried and tested, such as tomatoes and basil or lamb and rosemary, the reality is that the use of herbs is every bit as much a matter of personal taste as any other aspect of cooking.

Consequently, what I want you to do is to sample as many herbs as you can and try to marry up the flavors with the foods you are familiar with. That's not as difficult as it sounds. Just close your eyes and think about it.

You will find, after a while, that you will instinctively know which flavoring to use, when to use it and how much of it you need.
Do this with both fresh and dried herbs. Crush a little between finger and thumb and smell it. This is much more important than your sense of taste.

Something magical will happen. You will come to realize that fresh herbs are not better than dried ones, they simply impart a different flavor. There are two major exceptions to this.

One is mint, which has a strange musty flavor when dried, and the other is chives, which are so delicate that the flavor rarely survives cooking. Using dried chives is therefore pretty pointless.

One other point to watch out for is that some dried herbs can remained inedible even after thorough cooking. Rosemary is a very good example of this and needs to be filtered out of any liquids in which it has been used as a flavoring.

In any case, fresh or dried, it is better to chop up herbs such as this before using them.

Using herbs in cooking

Many herbs, such as basil and coriander (sometimes called Chinese parsley and cilantro in the USA) are terrific simply torn up in salads. Note that I said torn up and not cut; only cut herbs if you intend to cook them.

It's important to recognize that some herbs lose flavor with extended cooking, even in their dried state. Fortunately it's fairly easy to spot which those are.

Tough leaved herbs such as bay can be safely added at the start of cooking time and will maintain their flavor. In fact, they may need to be in the food for as long as possible in order for their flavor to fully develop.

Herbs with light and delicate leaves, however, will lose their flavor very quickly once in contact with heat. To use basil in a soup, for example, you needed to add it, not to the hot liquid as you might expect, but rather to the warm plate you intend to serve the soup in. Then pour the soup on top of it.

Alternatively, simply sprinkle it on top of the soup and leave it there. It will make an attractive decoration and impart a wonderful aroma as you take the soup to the table.

What's that? You want to use a tureen and server the soup at the table? No problem. Sprinkle the herb in its raw state on top of the soup anyway. The effect, when you remove the lid, will be the same. Just stir it in as you serve.

The spices of life

Most people, including most professional chefs, use spices that have already been prepared.

That is to say they have been ground up, ready to use. The main exception to this is probably black pepper, which you should always grind yourself. Not difficult. You can buy a pepper grinder just about anywhere and the peppercorns are available in any supermarket.
Of course you can, if you wish, go to the trouble of buying a pestle and mortar, tracking down the raw spices and then grind them yourself.

If you do this, you will be richly rewarded with deep and penetrating flavors. You may also find that you get tired of doing it very quickly. However I would highly recommend it for a special occasion, or a wet weekend in Bargo.

Generally speaking, though, the shop bought variety are fine, providing you don't keep them hanging around in a cupboard for too long. They will lose their flavor.

As with herbs, it's very important that you learn the taste and smell of each individual spice and, uniquely, its pungency. This last item is one that is frequently overlooked, even by experienced cooks.

Just about everybody is aware that chili needs to be used carefully for obvious reasons. But for some reason they do not pay the same attention to turmeric ? which is quite delicate ? and, say, star anise which can strangle an incautious palate at a hundred paces.

Both give themselves away, however, if you simply take the lid off the jar and sniff them.

Mixing spice

Generally speaking, it is a rare thing to add more than a couple of spices to the same dish. The obvious exceptions to this are Asian and Indian dishes, where the carefully blended mix of flavors will be both traditional and subtle.

You have a choice with these. You either follow a recipe, or you use one of the many excellent pre-prepared pastes that are now available. I tend towards the latter choice, although I do still mix my own spices from time to time.

You should do the same. It's fun and you learn a great deal about which spices mix well and which are best kept as an individual flavoring.

However you choose to cook with spice, treat it with respect and always add it a little at a time, tasting as you go.
Remember also, that the flavor will change with the length of cooking time. It may deepen, or it may lessen in its effect. Only experience will teach you what each individual spice does and how quickly it does it.

One excellent way to test the effect of adding spice, is to cook your rice with something like cardamom seeds. These come in little pods that needed to be cracked open and the seeds extracted.

Do this by placing them on a stable surface, place the flat of a cleaver blade over them and apply a bit of pressure. They will open easily. Use about two pods for one dish of rice.

You could also add some turmeric to the same rice dish. This will turn it yellow and also add a subtle flavor which complements the pungency of the cardamom. Call it saffron rice if you like, very few people will be able to tell the difference.

Rice is a good way to test any number of flavorings. Personally I find it a bit boring on its own, and I frequently add something to it to jazz it up a little. Experiment. You will be pleasantly surprised at what a difference a new flavor can make.

You will also be pleasantly surprised at your growing reputation.

Michael Sheridan was formerly head chef of the Pierre Victoire restaurant in London's West End, specializing in French cuisine. An Australian, he is a published author on cooking matters. The article shown here is one of a series available completely free from The Cool Cook's Recipe Club at