Archive for the ‘Pepper Mills’ Category
With the economy the way it is, few people have the disposable income necessary to go out to a fancy dinner with their friends or family. But just because you can’t go to an upscale restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a first-rate meal. Entertaining in your home is infinitely more affordable than going out, plus it gives you the opportunity to socialize at length and enjoy the comforts of your abode.
Making it a classy affair isn’t too difficult. A simple white tablecloth and some matching dinnerware is a good place to start. Also be sure that everything on the menu can easily be eaten with silverware, as finger-food as anything except hors d’oeuvres will have a distinct casual feel. Using a Cilio pepper mill, samovar or other traditional fine dining equipment is another great way to add a touch of class without breaking the bank.
When I opened my first restaurant a few months ago, I knew it was going to be an arduous process. Especially in these tumultuous economic times, luxuries like going out to eat are usually the first to be struck from personal budgets. With that in mind, as the proprietor of a new restaurant I recognized the necessity to deliver a high quality experience to my customers while keeping their pocketbooks in mind.
I catered my menu to this economy, using affordable meats like chicken and local fish while using the in-depth sauces and spice combinations to create eclectic flavors. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to bring your customers a first-rate dining experience. Doing the small things, such as offering fresh cracked pepper from pepper mills and bringing fresh baked bread to each table, really makes your eatery standout in people’s minds.
Nobody—and I mean nobody—wants to be in the kitchen when the weather is scorching. When it’s already in the 80s in your kitchen, the last thing you want to do is turn on the over or spend an hour standing over the stove. This is why I always fire up the grill during the summertime.
You can cook virtually any protein, fruits or vegetables on the grill, plus you don’t have to suffuse your home with extra heat. Many people make the mistake of simply throwing their meat straight on the grill. While the open flame will lend your food more natural flavor, it’s still important to at least break out your Cilio pepper mill and salt mill and season both sides liberally.
When I was going up, I always loved ordering Caesar salad at restaurants. I certainly wasn’t a vegetarian or health nut—far from it. Sure, I liked the taste of the salad and everything, but what really attracted me to it was the fancy cheese and pepper. Now I know it’s just grated parmesan and cracked pepper, but at the time, it seemed like a special production.
I used to think that this whole dog and pony show was just to make the affair seem more upscale, but there’s actually a reason—and it’s not just to subject the wait staff to manual labor. Freshly grated parmesan is obviously superior to the cheap, pre-grated stuff, but freshly cracked pepper from a pepper mill has its benefit too. The flavor is more pronounced and the grains are larger, which is good for dishes with big flavor like Caesar salad.
Every summer my grandkids come to stay with me while their parents go on a much-deserved vacation. I relish the opportunity to spoil the kids, letting them stay up late and going on fun outings everyday. But like most grandmas, my favorite indulgence for the little ones is cooking up some of their favorites.
I create all of the classic items—cookies, cakes and pies—but my grandkids also love my savory cuisine. Most of the time I’m cooking in the oven, but since it’s been so hot lately we’ve actually been utilizing the grill for the majority of the cooking. Last night I decided to cook some ribs, starting them off in the smoker with just a dash from the pepper mill and a few other basic spices. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone good, and they paired perfectly with my famous mac ’n’ cheese.
When my son left for college last fall, I didn’t want him to be one of those stereotypical college males who are incapable of taking care of themselves. My friends tell me horror stories of how their sons are constantly calling them for advice on how to do laundry, go grocery shopping and complete other tasks which should be menial by this point of their lives. Much to the chagrin of my son, we carved out a couple of hours a week to go through some basic training.
Each day I would make him do a chore or task that I typically do but he takes for granted. Some nights I would make him cook dinner, while on others I would make him do the laundry for the entire family. Although he vehemently opposed my training regimen, he admits that it helped him a lot during the first year. Before he left, I made sure he had everything he needed—from salt and pepper mills, to laundry detergent and a wet mop.
It would certainly be a stretch to say Americans have refined palettes. The vast majority are more than willing to consume fast food, prepackaged meals and artificial ingredients. And while these foods may be convenient, they certainly aren’t the tastiest or healthiest of choices. Many people assume that having a “refined palette” is analogous to being snooty and only dining out at ritzy restaurants, which certainly isn’t the case; it is simply the appreciation of good food and quality ingredients.
You would find few people who would argue that a Big Mac is superior to a prime sirloin burger, but not all food discrepancies are this blatant. If you are looking to improve your cuisine, you don’t have to blow your budget on Kobe beef, lobster tails and caviar—simply using high quality, fresh ingredients is enough. And remember: the small changes count to. Something as simple as trading out your pepper shaker for a Cilio pepper mill and freshly cracking whole peppercorns can make a huge difference.
Ever since my children were old enough to talk I’ve tried to instill in them the desire to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Many of their friends live on fast food and spend hours on end playing video games and watching TV, rarely venturing outside to see the light of day. I’ve learned that it’s crucial to encourage healthy habits without being overbearing; otherwise, you run the risk of promoting rebellion.
When my children were little, I encouraged them to assist me in the kitchen—whether they were helping me measure out ingredients for recipes or using the pepper mill to season a dish. I also made sure to make time for some hands-on activity during the day, no matter how busy our schedules were. Making a concerted effort to educate your children on a healthy lifestyle and incorporate the habits into their daily lives will pay huge dividends in the end. Now that my kids have reached adolescence, I’ve noticed that they live healthier than most of their friends—but I do see them splurging now and again, of course.
Many people drink their morning cup of coffee with pious regularity but neglect to eat breakfast, which is even more essential to sustaining high energy levels throughout the morning. And when people do take the time to eat breakfast, it is typically processed foods, which are chockfull of artificial ingredients and preservatives. One common misconception about breakfast is that it is difficult, which doesn’t have to be the case.
While your automatic espresso machine is brewing your coffee, you can quickly scramble some eggs with a few cracks from your Cilio pepper mill and make yourself some toast with peanut butter. Even just eating a piece of fruit with a glass of milk is better than nothing. And for those that think breakfast is just additional calories, eating a meal in the morning actually kickstarts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day.
My mother is a living museum of great Italian recipes. Although she’s well into her 80s and occasionally forgets the names of her many nieces and nephews, she has a mind like a steel trap when it comes to cooking. A conservative estimate would be that she has memorized hundreds of pasta recipes in minute detail—from how many cups of flour to the ideal number of twists from one of her pepper mills. And it seems that every time I bring my family to her house we are treated to something new.
While I definitely inherited my mother’s passion for all things culinary, my memory is nowhere near as impeccable. A missed ingredient or two won’t always spoil the dish, but it can affect the outcome so dramatically as to prove shocking at times. With this in mind, I’ve started a vast collection of Italian cookbooks and loaded each one with bookmarks for my favorite recipes. That way I can refer back to them as often as necessary and treat my family to a consistently delicious dinner experience.