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I first tried Lussmans almost by accident – looking for anywhere in central St Albans that had a last minute table on a Friday night. Lussmans is very centrally located – hidden away in Cathedral Close, it sits only a few hundred yards away from the cathedral and is only a minute away from the High Street.

~~The Surroundings~~
Walking in, I was surprised by the elegant décor – leather seats, wooden floors, potted palms and modern artwork. The wall that faces the ancient stonework of St Albans Abbey is made almost entirely of glass, giving a feeling of spaciousness and light. The restaurant has three floors which are set into the side of a hill. This emphasises the views, as well as making it impossible for passers by to look through the glass walls into the restaurant.

Noise levels in a restaurant are very important to me now days (I often find it difficult to hear about the chatter of other diners) so I was pleased to find that Lussmans has been cleverly designed to minimise noise. No matter how busy the restaurant is, the noise seems to be muffled and contained so that ordinary conversation can take place.

~~The Food~~
When I looked at the menu, I was delighted to discover that Lussmans pride themselves on using local produce, organic and free range food which (as they say) “champions artisan producers”. Ethically sourced food is very important to me -I do not eat red meat but I am reassured to know that when it is on offer, only ethically produced meat is used. The bistro style menu is ideal for my family, as three of us don’t eat meat but one of us loves it. Two of us love fish, but two of us hate it – etc, etc. The range of food on offer means that everybody can order exactly what they want.

For starters, we ordered a Lussmans platter for two. This included roasted peppers, mozzarella, artichoke, salami, parma ham wrapped around wild rocket, olives and tzatzki. In addition we ordered mushroom and goats cheese bruschetta, and roasted tomato and thyme bruschetta. We all shared these and found that everybody could find something that they loved.

For main course I ordered Pollock with a creamed leak and brown shrimp sauce; my son had tomato, fresh basil and mozzarella pasta; my younger son had free range chicken schnitzel with chips; and my husband had grilled halloumi and vegetable skewers. All the food was very fresh and tasty. The portions were fairly small but still filling enough and the whole presentation reminded me of sitting in a French restaurant, with that special way they have of arranging the food to look its most attractive as it comes out of the kitchen.

For desert, we shared a plate of regional British cheeses, while the boys ordered sticky toffee pudding and chocolate and walnut brownie. All of these were as delicious as the main courses.

A nice touch was the inclusion of information about the suppliers of the food on the menu. Next to each dish is a small circle of information – for example, the chicken dishes told us that it was bred in Essex, the Anglais Red Cornish and White Rock chickens are allowed to grow to full maturity. The same type of information was available for all the menu options, including the organic juices and wines.

The kitchen was open plan so that customers could view everything that was being prepared. The chefs looked very professional and the noise did not intrude at all into the meal.

~~Conclusion~~
It is lovely to find a restaurant that doesn’t have a particular theme, but just provides a huge range of quality food from different cultures. It is a rare thing in my family for everybody to find their ideal selection on one menu.

The service was excellent, the food was delicious, and the bill came to just over £110 for the four of us, which I thought was very reasonable considering we all had the works. I would highly recommend Lussmans eatery to anybody.

There are two other Lussmans eateries: one in Hertford and one in Bishop’s Stortford. Although I have not tried either of these, I assume they match the high standards of the St Albans branch as they adhere to the same principles of fresh, regionally sourced, free range and organic food.

When my previous kettle decided to make a journey to kettle heaven a couple of years ago, I found myself faced with the urgent prospect of finding a replacement. My addiction to caffeine meant that time was of the essence and, combined with my limited knowledge of the kettle market, I made a hasty trip into town to find a new kettle to grace my kitchen work surfaces. I do not confess to being an expert when it comes to purchasing household electrical goods so my requirements were simple, and perhaps a tad trivial. I was searching for a new kettle that offered good value for money, came from a brand I knew and trusted, was sold with a guarantee of some sort and, last but by no means least, would be aesthetically pleasing. Fortunately, my local branch of TJ Hughes offered a myriad of potential new kettles and I was soon walking out clutching my new Bosse kettle from Morphy Richards which I purchased for the pricely sum of £20. The Bosse kettle is available from Amazon.co.uk for £27.50 at the time of writing but a bit of research should enable you to source it elsewhere for less.

As I have already mentioned, the technicalities of kettles are not amongst my fortes. So it was the appearances of the Bosse kettle that initially caught my eye. The Bosse kettle features a brushed chrome body which looks sleek and modern and blended in well with my toaster and other appliances that weren’t in need of replacing. It also means that cleaning the kettle is a doddle since it doesn’t stain. It also has quite a unique shape with a large base that tapers inwards towards the top which gives it an almost futuristic feel. Having used my Bosse kettle for a couple of years, the shape has proven to be a bit of a double edged sword. The large base is considerably larger than many other kettles on the market and so the Bosse does take up more space on your kitchen surfaces, which perhaps isn’t ideal when space is of a premium as it is in my little flat. On the plus side though, for those of you who can recall GCSE physics lessons, the low centre of gravity makes the kettle very stable. It might not be a major selling point but for someone as clumsy as me it has proven to be invaluable. The Bosse kettle can withstand various knocks and bumps without falling over, something which my various mismatched remnants of wine glasses can not claim to do.

The Bosse kettle is mounted on a cordless base and it is easy to lift it off the base and replace it when filling without having to struggle fiddling around with plugs. The base has a reasonably long cord which can wound up and concealed in the base so you can avoid unsightly and unsafe electrical cords trailing around your kitchen. The kettle can also be rotated on the base around 360 degrees which makes it useful to left handed, right handed and ambidextrous users who just feel the need to show off.

Filling the kettle is simple enough and can be done either via the spout which quite large or through the lid which features a locked hinge. There’s also a small removable mesh limescale filter on the inside of the kettle next to the spout to ensure that perfect brew every time! On the downside, the Bosse doesn’t feature an indicator to tell you how full it is, which seems an oversight on the manufacturer’s part. Having owned the kettle for a couple of years, I have acquired the skill of knowing from a quick shake of the kettle exactly how full it is but this is something that may well put potential buyers off. Particularly when you consider the kettle’s other negative point is that it doesn’t feature a boil dry cut out so you need to check your kettle or have a very good memory to avoid switching it on when empty.

As far as boiling goes, the Bosse boils water quickly and quietly. The switch is illuminated when on. When I first bought the kettle, I worried that the switch looked a little flimsy and likely to break within weeks but, just like the rest of the kettle, it has lasted well. The Bosse holds 1.7 litres of water which seems to be average for most kettles on the market nowadays. The design though makes it feel like it holds more. Pouring from the kettle is easy and it feels sturdy in your hand although it can be heavy when filled to capacity. The handle and lid are both made of a cooltouch plastic type material that also gives added grip. The main body of the kettle does get hot but won’t scold you if you inadvertently touch it. I regularly tap the kettle to check if the water is hot enough to use without reboiling and have no injuries to report. Having used the kettle numerous times each day over the last couple of years, pouring boiling water from it is like second nature, but I do recall the design meant it took some getting used to at first.

Considering the credit crunch, I have no plans on replacing my Bosse kettle until it finally goes kaput. Despite its flaws, it has lasted me well and shows no signs of retiring any time soon. If I needed to buy another kettle tomorrow, I have to be honest and say I would most likely be drawn to one of the newer quick boil models on the market but if you’re looking for a solid kettle that lasts the test of time and will serve you well, then the Bosse is worthy of consideration.

‘If you can’t beat them, eat them’ has become quite a common saying with reference to the many plants that gardeners classify as weeds but are often in fact a nutritious food source. Gathering wild food has actually become rather fashionable and some of the top London restaurants currently employ foragers to bring them in wild, edible plants.

Not only are these foods free but often have a much higher nutritional value than cultivated species. Nutrients often become diluted or even eradicated with commercial crops which are forced for maximum yield.

Many of the wild plants or weeds have traditionally been used in folk medicine for their medicinal properties. In fact many of those labelled witches in the Middle Ages were in fact just talented herbalists who knew how to unlock the ‘magic’ in the plants. There are a wealth of resources on the Internet for exploring the subject of using plants for health purposes. These include the charitable organisation known as Plants for the Future who have many online leaflets detailing the various medicinal properties of different plants at www.pfaf.org

The following five plants, usually called weeds, can all be found growing wild in gardens, in hedgerows or by the roadside and are easily identified.

– Dandelion –

There are very few people who are not familiar with this plant and, although many are aware that it can be used for culinary purposes, it is still not widely utilised in this way. Dandelion is an extremely versatile weed as the entire plant – flowers, stalks, leaves and roots – can all be eaten.

The leaves of the dandelion can be used as a salad green although many people find their taste too bitter even when they are picked young in early spring. The factors which increase the bitterness of the plant are lessened where the dandelion is growing in moist, shady soil.

Some people recommend boiling the leaves for about 3 minutes to reduce the bitterness while others will mix with other salad greens to reduce its harsh effect.

Dandelion vinegar can be made from stuffing a jar as full as possible with chopped leaves and covering with cider vinegar and then leaving to steep for 6 weeks.

Dandelions can also be used to make honey, wine or the roots can be roasted in an oven to make coffee.

– Alexanders –

This plant grows in great abundance in parts of Britain and most people are unaware of this plant’s versatile culinary uses. As with the dandelion, all parts can be consumed including the seeds which can be used very much like cardomom to add aromatic flavourings to cooking.

Alexanders can be used fresh as a salad leaf or the stems can be cooked as a green by boiling for 5 minutes and adding butter and lime juice. Alternatively the unopened flower buds can be added to salads. The flavour of Alexanders is said to be somewhere between that of parsley and celery.

Alexanders can become bitter as it ages so young shoots and leaves are often prized over more established plant growth.

– Garlic mustard –

This widely found plant is easily identified as the leaves and flowers give off a strong garlic smell when crushed between the fingers. Also commonly known as Jack-by-the-hedge, Garlic mustard will be one of the first plants to show itself in spring and is best gathered during its early growth to avoid the bitterness that can develop with older plants.

Both the flowers and leaves, when added to a salad, will add pungency while chopped roots are reminiscent of horseradish flavouring. The roots can also be used to make a spicy condiment when left to soak in cider vinegar. Furthermore, the seeds of this plant are edible and when added to cooking or salads give a strong mustard flavour.

– Chickweed –

Chickweed is another weed which most people are familiar with and is the bane of many a gardener’s life as it grows so rapidly. Chickweed has a sweet flavour and its green parts are often mixed with dandelion greens to neutralise the latter’s bitterness.

Rich in many vitamins and minerals including A, B group and C, chickweed can be added to almost any dish such as soup, casseroles and curries to add flavour.

– Fat Hen –

Also known as Goosefoot, this large leafed weed is a good spinach substitute and as with so many of the wild plants it is edible in its entirety. Fat Hen can be used fresh in salads or lightly boiled as a green.  It is best to use the youngest top shoots, stalks and flower heads for the most palatable flavours. Once the plant has finished flowering the seeds can be gathered and eaten too.

It is of course advisable to make yourself very familiar with the various means of plant identification to avoid picking and using the wrong plant. Some of the edible weeds have similarities with other species that are either unpalatable or can have adverse health effects when consumed.

It is also as well to be aware that any food gathered from the wild may have been subjected to animal contamination so thorough cleaning of plants after they have been gathered is recommended.

Image Credit

Source:

  1. Eatweeds – Wild Food Guide to the Edible Plants of Britain
  2. Wild Food School – Urban Foraging Guide and Foraging eBooks

Walk into any store specializing in barbecues for sale and one is immediately faced with an astonishing and bewildering display of different models at widely differing prices. How do you choose the one that is right for you?

It helps to know the principal difference between them. The truth is, for all the different shapes and sizes there are basically only two barbecue models; flat bed or kettle. Which one you choose will depend very much on what you want it to do and the size of it will be determined by the number of people you intend to cook for. If you entertain a great deal, you may find yourself ending up with both types. So let’s take a look at them.

Flat Bed Barbecues

These are most often rectangular in shape, may use either gas, electricity or charcoal as a heat source and may or may not have a hood that turns them into a conventional-style oven. They range in size from a single burner to a massive range that may include a wok stand, separate hotplate and even a plate warmer.

The important thing to understand about them is that, without exception, they cook by the direct method, even when being used as an oven. What that means is that the heating elements are always directly under the food being cooked. This can create problems when foods with a high fat content, such as sausages, are being cooked because of flare-ups. These can occur even when the lid is closed, imparting an oily taint to the food.

You can get round this to some extent by always cooking your meat on a hotplate placed on the grill over the heat source. The problem that remains is that the fat has to be disposed of and the plate cleaned after each use.

A second disadvantage is that, except for the very expensive models fitted with a fan, when the lid is closed as it would be for roasting a joint, all the heating is still directly below the meat, which can lead to an uneven result. It also makes it difficult, in the case of a charcoal barbecue, to add extra fuel during cooking if that should turn out to be necessary.

Barbecue Kettles

When these put in an appearance in the 1950s they caused something of a sensation. Originally manufactured by Weber, what really caused a stir was the fact that they were, and still are, round to the point of being almost spherical. Nothing like them had ever been seen before in Western cooking and in some eyes the shape was seen as little more than a gimmick. But in fact the design was brilliant both in concept and execution, for it was this ’roundness’ that gave the kettle its unique edge over the competition. Not only did it behave just like a convection oven, it let the user take full advantage of indirect heating, thereby allowing the meat to cook quickly and evenly in its own juices.

The results were sensational and remain so today. The indirect heating was achieved by placing two small barriers opposite each other at the side of the lower grill. These could be filled with charcoal and lit, leaving a broad gap between them into which a drip tray could be placed. The food is cooked on an upper level and any fat falls into the tray below for easy disposal and without creating flare-ups. Much later the ‘barriers’ were replaced by baskets that can be heated together and then moved apart, making both direct and indirect cooking possible from one heat source.

Kettles differ from flatbeds in one other important aspect – food is always cooked in them with the lid closed and direct heat is only ever used to cook lean pieces of meat such as steak and chops. Even these should be cooked on a preheated cast-iron grill that can be bought as an optional extra and fits on top of the upper grill.

Heating is most often charcoal but can be gas and despite popular belief either will produce the same result; the true barbecue flavor comes from the way in which meat is cooked and any added flavoring material, such as hickory chips, not from the heat source itself.

Electric kettles are available but are not very popular and are expensive to run.

Which Will You Choose?

For family use and entertaining smallish groups of friends, there is no doubt in my mind that the kettle wins hands down. The standard size of 57cm (22.5ins) will handle two large chickens, a large beef or pork joint, two legs of lamb or a turkey with ease. Steaks will depend on the size, of course, but four to six at a time is probably about right.

If you want to cook large quantities of steak, chicken wings, sausages and similar food, then you might find a flatbed will suit you better and that is certainly the case if you want to turn your outside area into a replica of your kitchen, with all the add-ons that many of the more expensive flatbeds have as standard.

In terms of flavor and succulence, the flatbed cannot compete however. I find the kettle is also easier to keep clean, especially if you use disposable drip trays that are readily obtainable from the supermarket and which can also be used for cooking vegetables and even cakes and desserts.

As for quality, buy the best you can afford. In the case of a kettle, make certain it is coated with vitreous or porcelain enamel and that the parts likely to come into contact with the food are of stainless steel. Anything else will rust because of the high heat involved in the cooking process.

Most flatbeds make extensive use of cast iron and this is, on the whole, a high maintenance material, so be certain you are prepared for this before parting with your cash. Flaky rusting particles do not make for great seasoning or a particularly appetizing look. They are also indigestible.

Finally, when you get your new barbecue get a good bbq cookbook at the same time and really learn the best way to cook with the design of your choice. It has been my experience that a great many owners of expensive barbecues simply do not know how to use them. With the proper guide you will astound yourself as well as your family and friends.

Image Credit

Source:

  1. Top 10 BBQ Grills & Smokers | Best Grills Lists | Top : BBQ Guys
  2. 10 Best Grills & Outdoor Grill Reviews and Tests

It’s sad but true, that the multi-billion dollar fast food industry needs improving in almost every area. From the “push em on through” attitudes to the safety of the customers, there is much change needed in fast food. I would improve these things about fast food.

Get my order right and give me what I need to enjoy it.

We have all experienced it. You’re in a rush to get to work on time and you swing through the drive-thru of a fast food to order hash browns and a bacon-egg-cheese biscuit. You’re hungry and your mouth waters as you smell the food through the order window. You get to work, open your bag and what do you find? A bowl of grapes and a piece of Texas toast.

The movie is over and it’s late. The kids are starving, so you order six hamburgers and fries at the drive-thru. You get home to find only five in the bag. “Peanut butter and jelly, anyone?

Coke with a lid, hole for a straw, no straw. Cup of chili, no spoon, no crackers. Juicy barbecue, no napkins. Salad, no dressing. Fries, no catsup.

What the menu picture promises and what you really may get.

A toasted bun  – a dry or sometimes soggy bun
Juicy patty that covers the bun – a small over or under cooked patty.
Crisp lettuce  wilted lettuce or part of the core.
A juicy red slice of tomato  – a slice of green tomato, possibly with some core.
A sliver of fresh onion – a chunk of onion that both looks and smells as if cut yesterday.
A pickle  hey, they get this right!

Sales people who don’t listen, because they are too busy with pushy sales tactics.

I know what I want; I place my order and end by saying, “That’s all.”
The next thing I hear is, “Will there be anything else?” or “Would you like to up-size your fries?” or “Would you like a beverage with your sundae?”

Cleanliness of restrooms and eating areas.

Most people head to the restrooms to wash up before eating. The smell alone can often turn you off eating anything for a long, long time. Nevertheless, you take care of business and wash your hands, only to find there are no paper towels on which to dry your hands.

Who wants to eat at a table littered with remnants of the last diner’s meal? Is it too much to ask for a clean table and seat?

Dress codes for employees

All employees should have proper fitting uniforms.

Soiled and wrinkled uniforms have a place in this world: in a clothes hamper. However, I see the front line sales staff wearing them as they take my order and prepare my food.

Long and often dirty hair is flung around as the sales person hurries to fill my order.

Food packaging and utensils

Styrofoam will never break down in a landfill. It will still be there in a thousand years. Cardboard on the other hand will eventually breakdown. So why do some fast food restaurants still use Styrofoam clam-shells and cups?

Trying to get a large order into one bag causes items to be mashed and to fall out in the car.

Give me a spoon or give me a fork. The spork should be outlawed.

Safety

When McDonald’s was sued by a woman who spilled coffee on her thigh and received third-degree burns, they already knew this risk existed. However, the corporate lawyers decided that the increased sales of extra hot coffee would be far offset any lawsuits.

Did they lower the temperature of the coffee? Only for a brief time. This is the mindset of the fast food industry today. Sales tops safety. A few more dollars in the share holders´ pockets was worth more to them than preventing the customer´s pain.

Responsibility

Are fast foods responsible for our nutritional health? No, they are not. We all know that fast food is high in cholesterol and can cause health problems. We choose to eat it anyway. However, they are responsible for informing the public of certain health risks or hazards, which pertain to eating their food.

Two such health hazards are the use of any substance to keep produce fresh longer, which can cause asthma sufferers to have an attack and the use of peanut oil in their products, when many people are deathly allergic to peanuts.

The dollar is all fast food sees. We the public can improve fast food, if we take the time and allow some inconvenience for a while. As long as the money pours in, fast food has no reason to improve. If however, we withhold our dollars until they do improve, they will see a need.

Image Credit

Source:

  1. Disposable food packaging
  2. Fast Food Nutrition Improvement Can Be Made with Combo Meal …

It can be very stressful when you receive bad service in a restaurant.  For many, the very reason you are going out is to be able to relax and have someone serve you for a change.  There are different ways that you can react to bad service, and this will be dependent on a variety of factors, including the type of bad service, the reason for the bad service and your temperament.  There is no one right reaction because it will depend on you and the situation.  The following are some actions you might want to consider when subject to bad service in a restaurant.

1. Talk to the manager

Many people choose to talk to the manager when they get bad service at a restaurant.  It might make them feel better to be able to vent their feelings, especially if the waiter or waitress deliberately provided bad service because they had an attitude or were just not nice.  In addition, by complaining the manager might do something to correct the situation, which might make you feel better.  There is a good chance that they will talk to the server, which may decrease the chance of it happening again. They may also give you a break on your bill or give you some sort of free item.  A good manager will be properly apologetic and hopefully make you feel better than when you started.  The only thing to take into consideration is that the server will probably get into trouble.  Of course, this might be your goal.  Just be careful about so-called “tattling” on the waiter if it was not his or her fault.  You might not feel good complaining if the waiter did something accidentally but was still considerate and apologetic.

2. Ignore it

Another very reasonable thing to do is to ignore it.  This is good for someone who is good about putting things behind them and not “stewing” about things.  For some people, getting the manager and rehashing things might make it worse and just make the bad situation seem to last longer.  Of course, you can then make the decision not to visit the restaurant again.

3. Write a letter or call the manager after the fact

Perhaps you really want to enjoy that day or you don’t want to make a scene in front of the others at the table.  Another option would be to leave things at the restaurant but then complain either through a letter or a phone call.  You will have different choices of whom to contact including the manager or a corporate office if it is a big chain.

4. Share your experience with others

You may choose to vent your feelings by sharing your opinions with your friends.  This may help you feel better, and also help them avoid facing the same scenario.  You can tell them which waiters to avoid. 

5. Ask for a different waiter

You may want to ask the restaurant to assign a different waiter or waitress to you.  You can do this on that day or on subsequent visits to the restaurant.  Likewise, if you have a waiter or waitress that provides exemplary service, you could consider asking for them on a regular basis, which will help you avoid a repetition of the bad service.  This will also reward the good waiter. 

6. Talk to the waiter

Many waiters and waitresses would rather not have their boss disturbed by news of bad service.  It could affect their job, and in some cases even get them fired.  Some might be willing to listen to your concerns and remedy the situation themselves.  Try to stay calm in this, and not let it turn into a large argument.  That would serve little purpose, and only make you more upset. 

7. Ask for a discount or something for free

It might make you feel better to specifically ask for a discount or a free product.  You can ask this of the waiter, manager or corporate if you go that far. 

8. Consider the reasons behind the bad service

You might feel better if you think about why the bad service occurred.  Did the person mean to do it or was it just a mistake?  Also, remember that sometimes the waiter is not at fault for bad service.  If he or she put in the order but the kitchen just didn’t get it out, then it is not their fault.  Sometimes things happen and it is no one’s fault.  Try not to get too angry when something happens that is just an accident and not through purposeful behavior.  It might make you feel better. 

Image Credit

Source:

  1. Bad Service at a Restaurant: What Would You Do? – OpenTable Blog
  2. If You've Received Terrible Service At A Restaurant, This Is What …

Dusty’s Bistro is set in the heart of Silverlake, California. Silverlake is notoriously an artist area with hip eateries and coffee shops lining the streets. It was this relaxed atmosphere that Maria Minicucci and her son David Di Salvio decided to open up their first Los Angeles restaurant. Set on the corner of Sunset and Descanso Drive, Dusty’s is easy to miss if you aren’t familiar with the area. Aside from a small sign and the trademark face of a woman with her hair draped over the name “Dusty’s” painted on the side of the building, the restaurant is unassuming, unless you happen to pass by as cars await the attending valet during busy hours.

Parking for Dusty’s was a little difficult. There weren’t many street parking spots and you either had to pay $4.50 for a valet or stick to a side street.

The interior of Dusty’s almost has a Victorian feel to it. The lamps have fringed edging and there is an elegance with heavy wooden furniture, candles on every table and plush booths. It fits perfectly with the Silverlake artsy feel.

Dusty’s menu ranges from traditional fare such as eggs with bacon and potato for breakfast to the extravagant with Eggs Moliere (poached eggs, vegetable ratatouille & olive tampanade inside tomatoes and topped with asparagus.) Prices for breakfast range from $8 for a granola and yogurt parfait to $14 for a wild mushroom omelet.

Dusty’s lunch menu offers a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, quiche, pastas, and their famous hamburgers. Using 100% Kobe beef, their 10 oz burgers are incredibly tender. The traditional hamburger however isn’t what raises eyebrows around town. Dusty’s also serves up Lamb Burger, Turkey Burger, and Crab Burger.

I went to Dusty’s during the evening and hungrily looked over their dinner menu. I settled on Seared Ahi Tuna, which was served atop sesame crusted basmati rice, and sauted spinach. It was absolutely incredible.

The spice used to sear the tuna was tantalizing and the mixture of the crisp layer of rice with the fish and spinach was delicious. Traditionally when I eat fish or sushi I don’t bother with ginger, but the ginger they used was fresh and organic. I could definitely taste the difference. The Ahi was a bit steep in price if you are eating on a budget at $25, however it was definitely worth the splurge.

My boyfriend got the Kobe beef burger for $18 and substituted their macaroni and cheese for fries for an additional $2. The macaroni and cheese was hands down the best I’ve tasted. It was just the right tenderness and had a rich creamy cheese that had permeated ever noodle. Topped with a layer of cheddar gave it a little crunch.

Normally, I am not much of a red meat eater, but the Kobe beef was delicious. It was extremely tender and not as grizzly as other hamburgers. Topped with traditional burger fare, onions, tomato, lettuce, ketchup, mustard and mayo it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted.

For dessert we settled on the their vanilla bean crme brule. Unlike some crme brules that simply used vanilla extract, you could see the actual vanilla beans in this dessert and could taste the freshness. Being a dessert-a-holic I will admit that the topping on the crme brule was a bit thick. Instead of crackling like a traditional crme brule does when you crack it, the sugar was almost like thick syrup. That didn’t stop my boyfriend and I from eating the whole thing.

Dusty’s uses all organic produce so it’s guaranteed fresh. You can definitely taste the difference.

Dusty’s service was friendly and laid back. Used to the more traditional restaurants that try and move you through as quickly as possible it was refreshing, yet a bit frustrating as we waited for our check. Our waitress was definitely helpful and knowledgeable about the menu and ingredients in each entre. I was also impressed that when my boyfriend asked her preference between the more expensive salmon and the cheaper Kobe burger she recommended the cheaper burger because it was her favorite.

Analyzing the menu, it is defiantly a splurge for our pocket books, but to the avid eaters it is a reasonable fare. For our two entrees and dessert with tax it cost us $56.29. With the tip, we ended up spending $69.

Dusty’s has some of the best food I’ve had in a long time. I recommend it.

3200 W. Sunset Blvd.
Silverlake, California 90026
323-906-9356

Resources
www.dustysbistro.com

Image Credit

Source:

  1. 10 Best Restaurants in Silver Lake | L.A. Weekly
  2. The 9 Essential Silver Lake Restaurants – Eater LA

Protein plays a fundamental role in nearly all bodily processes. Hence, sufficient protein intake, through amino acids, is vital for any healthy diet. To get their amino acids, vegans rely on plant proteins, lacto-ovo-vegetarians include milk and eggs in their diet and lacto vegetarians add milk and its products to their meals.

Most lacto vegetarians and lacto-ovo –vegetarians can plan a healthy diet as milk and eggs are rich sources of high quality protein. On the other hand, vegans need to plan their diet well as one fruit, a vegetable or one grain in itself does not contain the complete protein found in meat, milk or eggs.

However, beans, nuts, peas among other vegetarian foods, must be consumed in combinations with other plant protein to equal a complete protein. For instance, beans and rice supply a complete protein when combined together, but not when they are eaten separately.  

In fact the best known vegetarian foods rich in protein include:

Nuts – known for millennium, these crispy rich sources of plant protein can be eaten as snacks, side dishes or just sprinkled over salads and desserts and are available either whole, halved, sliced, chopped or shelled in roasted or raw forms  which include almonds, cashew, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts or brazil nuts. High calorie, filled with nutrients, nuts are also rich in Vitamin E, fiber and antioxidants.

Seeds – contained in fruits of plants, though small, seeds are packed with nutrients and make excellent sources of proteins for vegetarians. Eaten powdered, sprinkled over salads, or as side dishes, seeds of flax, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, are not only rich in protein, but contain vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants as well. For example, 34.6 grams of proteins, together with all the 22 amino acids are found in hemp seeds.

Legumes– out of thirteen thousand legumes grown in the world, only forty varieties are usually consumed. These inexpensive, packed with protein, edible seeds have been the key diets to various national cuisines worldwide for thousands of years. Used as main or side dishes, legumes also known as dried beans, are found in mainly chickpeas, split peas, haricot, navy beans, Lima beans among others, including pulses like:

Lentils – red, brown, black or green, lentils provide a rich source of protein, as well as minerals. Cooked alone, or added to soups and stews, this cheap legume provides sufficient protein for muscle development if two cups are consumed daily.

Kidney beans – whether red or black, this versatile type of beans adds variety to dishes whether consumed as main or side dishes and are filled with protein and other nutrients.

Grains – the seeds or fruits of cereal plants can be consumed as whole or as flours  which include barley, brown rice, oatmeal, Quinoa, rye, wheat germ, millet, maize, sweet corn and amaranth to make delicious wheat pancakes, muffins and scones, as well as wheat and rye breads, noodles or pasta. In fact the quinoa grain is known as the queen of whole grains as it is filled with protein and all the important amino acids. It is known that 18 grams of proteins are loaded in one cup of cooked quinoa.

Soy – also known as soybeans, this versatile plant food is nearly equal to meat and is the richest plant source of high grade protein as it contains nearly all the vital amino acids.  Available in many forms and products like tofu, fermented soy like miso, tempeh, natto, as well as, soy “hot dogs” , soy “burgers”, even ice cream and soy milk to suit all tastes. One cup of soybean is equivalent to one cup of chicken (non-vegetarian source of protein) and it contains about 29 grams of protein.

Tofu – derived from soy, also known as “soy curd”, tofu is an excellent protein source as it contains nine of the fundamental amino acids. Sautéed, pureed or marinated tofu also provides the necessary calcium to growing children. 

Spirulina  – it is a type of blue-green algae which are microscopic aquatic plants found in both fresh waters and the sea. Known as “wonder food” as it is a complete plant protein with all the essential amino acids and it surpasses even the richest non-vegetarian protein food sources.  Apart from protein, spirulina contains various vitamins like A, B, C, D and E, minerals like potassium, calcium and zinc as well as the essential fatty acids.

Seitan – is a rich source of protein and meat substitute, found in Asian and Buddhist cooking. Known as “Wheat Meat”, Seitan is derived from gluten of wheat and it can be sliced or diced to be used in sautés, stir-fry, stews, casseroles, soups or even into roasts.

Vegetables – fresh and firm vegetables like, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, watercress, yams, kale, and green peas, among others, are loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals essential for fighting against various illnesses and are a good substitute for meat in dishes like soups, stews, chilli, tacos and so on.

Fruits – are the nutritious part of the plant containing ample amounts of the essential amino acids and are mostly found in apple, banana, grape, orange, papaya, pear, pineapple, tangerine and watermelon among others. Eaten either as dessert, for breakfast or as a snack fruits can also be frozen, canned or dried in order to enjoy them the whole year round.

Cheese – raw or organic, whether ricotta, cottage, or goat, cheese is a rich source of protein for the lacto-vegetarians. Used as salads, toppings, sprinkled between sandwiches or in pastas and lasagna, cheese supplies up to 28 grams of protein for one cup.

Yogurt – this excellent meat-free protein source, provides also calcium and vitamin D to the body and is suitable to the lacto- vegetarians. A bowl of yogurt with meals is said to build up the muscles and strengthen the bones and fights against infections.

Eggs – contain over 6 gram of protein each, eggs are nutritious and full of energy and are normally consumed at breakfast. They contribute largely to the healthy diet plan of the lacto-ovo-vegetarians in terms of protein sources.

References:

http://www.bewellbuzz.com/nutrition/good-sources-of-protein-for-vegetarians/

http://www.vegetarian-diet.info/vegetarian-diet-protein.htm

http://www.womenfitness.net/protien-option.htm

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Source:

  1. Vegetarianism
  2. Vegeterian – definition of Vegeterian by The Free Dictionary

Asian cuisine in general is not based on recipes with exact measurements and fixed ingredients, and Thai cooking is no exception. Watch a Thai cook at work and you will soon gain insight into his method of preparing a dish. When it comes to the use of herbs and spices, ‘taste-and-add’ is the general rule. As with the cuisine of most countries, Thailand has the more formal ‘classic’ cuisine, and the everyday ‘peasant’ variation. Though the cost of preparation may vary between these two styles, the basics remain essentially the same.

Thai cuisine is influenced by the cooking of China, India and Malaysia. The Chinese influence saw the introduction of stir frying as a better method of cooking. The ghee used in Indian cooking was replaced by coconut oil, and coconut milk substituted for other dairy products. Overpowering pure spices were toned down and enhanced by fresh herbs such as lemon grass and galangal (also known as blue ginger or laos). Eventually, fewer and less spices were used in Thai curries, while the use of fresh herbs increased. Chillies were introduced to Thai cooking during the late 1600s by Portuguese missionaries who had acquired a taste for them while serving in South America. Since Thais are very flexible by nature, they have adapted various dishes from these countries to their own taste, creating a typical Thai cuisine.

The staple food in Thailand is undoubtedly rice. In fact, in the Thai language, the words for rice and food are the same. Everything else is said to be ‘with the rice’. The type of grain favoured in Thai cooking is long-grain, polished and white. For general purposes it is cooked using the absorption method. Salt is never added during the cooking process as the sauces that are served with the rice are usually strong and salty.

A special ‘glutinous’ rice is prepared differently. The rice is soaked overnight, then drained and steamed. This glutinous rice is very popular in northern Thailand, and is used exclusively in the making of Thai sweets.

 So the centrepiece of a Thai meal is based on rice, which should be served steaming hot. However the accompaniments are often served at room temperature. It is customary to have a soup dish, two or more dishes with gravy and as many side dishes as possible. Fresh fish, which is so plentiful in Thailand, is another important staple of the Thai diet, whether it be added to soup or form the centrepiece of a Thai meal, served whole on a large platter and eaten with chopsticks.

Thai shrimp paste is one of the basics of Thai cuisine, and it gives its own unique flavour to the food. However the number of spices, herbs and other ingredients that are basic ingredients in Thai cuisine is large. Some of these are common to all south-east Asian cooking. Only the quantities and combinations of these vary from region to region. Thai food represents one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide, with its emphasis on fresh vegetables and exotic fruits and its unique balance of spices, herbs and other ingredients.

Fresh lemon grass and coriander leaves are so basic to Thai cuisine that they should be grown in the garden wherever possible. Otherwise, these are normally available at local shopping venues. Fresh garlic, ginger, basil and other ingredients can be bought on a weekly basis as necessary.

The Thai method of cooking is similar to that of all south-east Asian cuisine. Firstly, the foods are prepared, and spices and herbs are ground (using either an electric blender or a simple mortar and pestle). Oil is placed in a wok and heated. The dried spices are added and then the other ingredients, according to the individual recipe. Fresh herbs and garnishes are usually a last-minute addition.

 A favourite Thai soup recipe is Tom Yam Kung (prawn soup) which is both spicy and sour. With its exotic combination of ingredients, the flavours within this dish are finely balanced. Herbs such as lemon grass, sweet basil and coriander add delicate flavour, whereas chilli and lime juice are the main contributors to the hot and sour characteristics of this soup. When cooked, it is served in a tureen and decorated with freshly chopped coriander leaves. Because of the importance of maintaining the fine balance between hot and sour, extra chilli and/or lime juice should be available to be added according to each person’s individual taste.

For the actual serving of the meal, everything is generally placed on the table at once, and people are invited to help themselves. The dishes should be balanced between spicy, sweet, sour and salty. The most important dish is the rice which is placed in the middle of the table. The dishes are never mixed. It is customary to take one or two separate dishes at a time. Although Thai food was originally eaten simply with the fingers, it is nowadays usually eaten with a fork and spoon.

A vital characteristic of Thai cuisine is that it can be adjusted according to the individual palate. If there were to be one cardinal rule to Thai cuisine, it would be this: There must be a harmony of tastes and textures within individual dishes and within the meal in its entirety.

In a Thai restaurant a soup may occasionally be prepared at the table, with customers adding ingredients at their own discretion. They therefore become co-producers of the finished product. As with everything else surrounding Thai culture, the cuisine of Thailand is seen as a creative and individual art.

http://www.sawadee.com/thailand/food/

http://www.easy-thaifood.com/

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Source:

  1. Thai cuisine
  2. Bangrak Thai Cuisine – Thai Restaurant located in Ashburn VA

Being from the South, I grew up drinking sweet iced tea. I think drinking iced tea is an unwritten law in Texas. We give our kids iced tea in their baby bottles and sippy cups and start them out young to enjoy a good sip of refreshing cool sweet iced tea on a hot summer day! Actually we drink iced tea all year long down here in Texas, but it’s especially refreshing in the sweltering heat of the dog days of summer.

I’m not a tea connoisseur and don’t particularly care about steeping rituals or “bling” name brands, I just want my iced tea to taste good. I’m all about speed and convenience too so I sometimes use instant tea over tea bags. Lipton has the best instant tea flavors in my opinion. For the most part though, I steep my own tea and use green tea as the base in all of my tea recipes. Everyone knows the health benefits of green tea, and the light flavor blends well with so many other flavors that it’s been easy to incorporate green tea into my lifestyle.

Over the years, I’ve tasted and enjoyed a great variety of iced tea, but the iced tea recipes below are my favorites.

Herbal Orange and Vanilla Sunshine Sensation Iced Tea Recipe

This tea is perfect for summer! Oranges always remind me of sunshine and warmth and the added scent of vanilla gives an extra special kick to this tea. Start with about 4 bags of your favorite herbal green tea and steep them in one quart of boiling water for about 6 minutes. Discard the tea bags and pour the green tea into your tea pitcher.

Mix in about 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or 2-3 vanilla sticks – you can add more or less vanilla to suit your taste. If you use vanilla sticks, don’t leave them in the container for more than about 30 minutes or so. I also like to put a vanilla stick in my glass as a garnish to add a little extra flavor.

Next it’s time for the oranges. I use 2-3 navel oranges per pitcher of tea, or 5-6 of the smaller mandarin oranges. I like peel my oranges in long thin pieces so they come out in spiral swirls. Then I drop all the swirls in my container of tea, especially if I’m using a glass pitcher. The orange swirls are very pretty and add a festive look to the tea. Then I take the fruit of the orange itself and cut away all of the bitter white parts and peel the orange slices apart. I drop half of the slices in my tea as whole slices and take the other half of the slices and squeeze the orange juice into a separate container before adding the juice to the tea so I can be sure there are no seeds or pulp in the tea. Sometimes I put a few slices of orange aside to use as decor on the side of the glass of tea.

This tea usually does need some type of sweetener depending on how much vanilla extract you use. You can sweeten with honey, sugar, or the sweetener of your choice. I prefer sugar in the raw or honey. After you have all your ingredients in the tea pitcher, slowly stir all the contents for a few minutes to get all the tastes blended nicely. Then add ice until your pitcher is full to the top.

This orange and vanilla tea sunshine sensation is a great tea to calm your nerves and enhance your sexual mood. Research done by neurologist Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago has shown there is a strong connection between the smell of vanilla and sexual arousal.

Herbal Strawberry Lovers Iced Tea Recipe

I love all things strawberry, so adding the delicious flavor of strawberry to tea makes for a wonderful summer time drink. Start with about 4 bags of your favorite herbal green tea and steep them in one quart of boiling water for about 6 minutes. Discard the tea bags and pour the green tea into your tea pitcher. Then it’s time for the strawberries. I like to use fresh strawberries, but will use frozen ones if I’m in a hurry.

If using fresh strawberries, be sure to take the time to find the freshest ones possible. Look for plump firm strawberries with a deep red color. Also inspect them closely to make sure they are free of mold. If you’re buying bulk pre-packed fresh strawberries, make sure they aren’t packed in the container too tightly because this can cause them to get crushed. Strawberries do not continue to ripen after they are picked, so make sure you pick out the reddest and ripest strawberries. That way you’ll get the best taste and nutrition from them.

Now back to the tea. You’ve steeped your green tea and it’s time to add the strawberries. Be sure to rinse them well before adding them and cut away any bad spots. I like to slice mine into quarters so that the juice is more evenly distributed throughout the tea. I also throw in a few handfuls of whole ones for aesthetic purposes. You can use as many as you like, but I find that a pound of strawberries per quart of iced tea suits my taste.

After you have all your ingredients in the tea pitcher, slowly stir all the contents for a few minutes to get all the tastes blended nicely. Then add ice until your pitcher is full to the top.

If the strawberries are sweet enough you most likely won’t need to add any type of sweetener. Strawberries are full of nutrients such as Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin B5 & B6, and omega-3 fatty acids. So by not having to add any sweetener to this strawberry lovers tea recipe combined with the natural nutrients in strawberries, you’ll have a healthy refreshing summer time drink.

So ya’ll come on down and we’ll sit a spell on the porch with a tall icy cold glass of tea and have a good ‘ol gab session.

Sources: http://www.vanilla.com http://chetday.com/benefitofstrawberry.htm

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Source:

  1. Sweet tea
  2. How To Make Southern Sweet Tea – Tablespoon