Saturday, December 30, 2006

Does This Seem Right to You?

To avoid the aluminum transfer (and unpleasant metal taste) that often occurs when lasagna or a casserole is covered with foil while it bakes, try this restaurant trick:

Simply cover the dish tightly with clear film, or plastic wrap, before covering with foil. The film will not melt under the foil, yet will protect the flavor of your dish by avoiding prolonged contact with the foil. This works for oven temps up to 450 F.

I do this with everything I cover, even in the fridge. No metal taste for me.
I often have the problem of having the foil kind of dissolve when it comes into contact with acidic foods, such as the sauce in a lasagne. My solution also has been to put a plastic wrap covering under the foil. However, I always go back and remove it for fear of it melting in the oven. Has anyone else used or heard of having plastic wrap used in the oven like this?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Iced Tea and Human Nature

When our sister, Caroline, was in first grade, she sold this iced tea outside the front door of our house, on East Bay Street, where she exhibited a precocious understanding of human nature. When she made change for dollar bills, she'd fumble around in her change box, pick up a nickel, and ask the customer, "Is this a quarter?" "Keep the change, dear" was most often the answer to that question. Not surprisingly, Caroline has grown up to be a sociology professor.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tuesday Greens

One of the most astute things we ever heard said about food, southern or otherwise, was offered at the Southern Foodways Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi. The late Bill Williams, a cofounder of Glory Foods (the southern-style canned goods company he helped build into a multimillion-dollar business), said that when he launched the company with seasoned collard greens in a can, a friend told him he'd never succeed. No one would buy canned greens, the friend said, because they'd be comparing them to the greens they cook on Sundays, when they have the time to slow-simmer them with a smoked hog jow. "I'm not selling Sunday greens," Williams replied. "I'm selling Tuesday greens."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day

No, don't get the gloves out. If you have read as many old British mysteries as I have then you have come across Boxing Day. If not, then here's the scoop.
The tradition of Boxing Day began in 19th-century England under the reign of Queen Victoria, although the exact origin of its name is unclear. One theory connects it to the tradition of clergy opening the alms boxes on the day after Christmas to distribute money among the poor. Another suggests that the name came from the practice of merchants handing out boxes of food or clothing to their apprentices the day after Christmas as a sort of Victorian-era bonus. In any case, the tradition of charity remains at the heart of the holiday. It's celebrated each year on December 26 -- unless that date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, in which case the holiday takes place on the following Monday.

Many modern Brits associate Boxing Day with yet another tradition -- Christmas leftovers and family gatherings. This custom, too, can be tied to Victorian England,when servants worked on Christmas and headed home to their families the following day with boxes of the upstairs family's leftovers
Cooking Light, Dec. 2005


Friday, December 22, 2006

13 Symbols of Chrismas

Throughout Provence, the gros souper on Christmas Eve usually ends with the famed 13 desserts. Though the phrase may bring to mind a table laden with creamy gateaux or rich pastries, the reality is more austere -- and rife with symbolism.

The presentation of the 13 desserts, a tradition traceable to the 18th century if not earlier, is said to represent Christ and the 12 apostles. Among the "desserts" are figs, raisins, almonds, and walnuts, each of which reflects the robe colors of the four mendicant religious orders -- Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, and Augustinian, respectively.

There are also two types of nougat: soft white for the white penitents and brittle dark for the dark ones (some say they represent the forces of good and evil).

Dates stand for Christ himself, and seasonal fruits like mandarin oranges, pears, apples, and winter melon usually round out the assortment, along with a specialty item that varies from town to town. In Allauch, for example, it is the round bread called pompe a l'huile; in Aix en Provence, it's the popular orange blossom-flavored almond confections called calissons.

Custom holds that all the desserts, generally accompanied by vin cuit, a sweet wine, must be served at the same time and that everyone must sample at least a little of each one. They are usually offered again after midnight mass and left out for three days, to be shared with visitors and, some say, the spirits of one's ancestors and the Holy Family.

The FoodBlog Blog

A fascinating way to blog hop to food blogs you never heard of ... give it a try. From the couple who talk about every recipe over at What We're Eating, which also is well worth a look.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Now Serving Hot Links


Monday, December 11, 2006

Hot LInks Comin' Up

All the scoop is here.

And it all looks delicious! Check it out.

The Traveler's Lunchbox reviews this new cookbook in her usual inimitable style. As she lived in New Orleans for a few years she can judge the recipes better than most.

This isn't a new link but definitely worth checking out. Cookthink reviews it quite thoroughly.

The Old Foodie has what is possibly the quintessential look at Gingerbread Through the Ages. Fascinating info about a treat that has been around for longer than you might realize.

A perfectly decadent looking recipe that may well do us for Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Doboschtorte - New and Improved Technique

I'm reposting this to share the improved technique for getting even cake layers with less fuss. Much thanks to Rich for the photo and all the scoop.

For those who were drooling over Hannah's Birthday Cake, here is the recipe from Time Life Foods of the World: The Cooking of Vienna's Empire. As I mentioned I didn't make the top caramel layer but just frosted it all with the chocolate filling. No one complained. However, I am giving the complete instructions here. This may look daunting but is simple although it does require a candy thermometer ... and enough time to not rush through anything.

The Cake
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar by beating them together against the side of a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the flour and the vanilla extract. Continue to stir until the mixture becomes a smooth, firm batter.

(Classic layer technique from cookbook)
With a pastry brush or paper towel, butter the underside a 9" layer cake pan, then dust it with flour. (I can never get 7 layers out of the 9" pan so I always use 8" pans.) Strike the pan against the edge of a table to knock off the excess flour. With a metal spatula, spread the batter as evenly as possible over the underside of the pan to a thickness of 1/8". Bake in the middle of the oven 7 to 9 minutes, or until the layer is lightly browned around the edges.

Remove from the oven and scrape off any batter that has dribbled down the sides of the pan. Loosen the layer from the pan with a spatula, put a cake rack over it and invert. Wipe the pan with a paper towel, butter and flour it again and repeat the baking process with more batter. (You may, of course, bake as many layers at a time as you have cake pans.) Continue until all the batter is used. You should have 7 exactly matching layers.

(Improved technique for easier cake layer execution as well as increased number of layers -- thanks to Rich for this.)

I just get a suitable pan or bowl to mark an 8-9" circle and two cookie sheets.

Butter and flour the cookie sheet, then turn the bowl upside down, place it on, and give it a slight twist to mark a circle in the flour.

Then, with a spatula (I have a fairly rigid plastic one that I fond works better for this than rubber ... metal is even more accurate), place a dollop of cake batter in the middle of the circle, and spread it out with the spatula. Just keep spreading with a circular motion until the circle is filled.

(I find placing the initial dollop with a bit of a thump helps it stick so I can spread it.)

Then - and this is the trick - keep using the spatula to scrape the layer down to a uniform thickness. You can get it very thin this way! Just use the same circular spreading motions, but return what sticks to the spatula to the batter bowl.

The last layer is a bit tricky, as you don't have much excess material to work with, but you've just had practice, so it's not too bad. It'll end up being a bit thicker than the others, and makes a good bottom layer.

The layers won't exactly match, but they'll be quite close. You can cover that up with the filling and break off any bits that stick out more than they should. The result looks and tastes fine!

By keeping two cookie sheets going, I can prepare one while the other bakes, thereby getting one layer done every 8 minutes.

Actually, it takes be about 10-11 minutes per layer, and if you make them thin, 7 minutes is all the cooking time they need. so the last one has to come out a few minutes before the next one is ready to go in.

The other advice I have is to lay each layer on a perfectly flat surface while it cools, before stacking it. This reduces the amount of ripple in the layers tremendously.

And if you make more layers, you have to use thinner layers of filling (obviously), so it helps to press each layer flat with a small cutting board or something after placing it on.

The Filling
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup water
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cream of tartar and water. Stir over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then turn the heat to moderately high and boil the syrup without stirring until, if tested, it registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, or until a drop of the syrup in cold water forms a soft ball.

Meanwhile, in a mixer, or by hand with a rotary or electric beater, beat the 8 egg yolks for 3 or 4 minutes, or long enough to thicken them and lighten them somewhat in color.

Pour the hot syrup into the eggs, continuing to beat as your pour in the syrup in a slow, steady stream. If you are using a mixer, beat at medium speed until the mixture cools to room temperature and changes to a thick, smooth cream. This usually takes from 10 to 15 minutes. (If you are beating by hand, set the mixing bowl in a pan of cold water to hasten the cooling and add the syrup a little at a time.)

Continue to beat until the cream is cook, thick and smooth, then beat in the cocoa and vanilla extract. Last, beat in the butter, adding it in small pieces until it is all absorbed. Refrigerate while you make the glaze.

The Glaze
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

First, place the most attractive of the cake layers on a cake rack set on a jelly-roll pan, then mix the sugar and water together in a small heavy saucepan. Without stirring, cook until the sugar dissolves, boils and begins to darken in color. Swirling the pan, continue to boil until the caramel becomes a golden brown, then pour it over the layer. With a buttered knife, quickly mark the glaze into 16 equal wedges, cutting nearly, but not quite, through to the bottom of the glaze. This mirrorlike layer will be the top of the Torte.

Assembling the Torte
Place a cake layer on a serving plate and, with a metal spatula, spread chocolate filling over it to a thickness of 1/8 inch, then top with another cake layer. Continue with the other layers, finishing with a layer of filling and the glazed top. Use the rest of the chocolate filling to cover the sides of the cake, smoothing it on with a spatula and refrigerate. To serve, slice along the lines marked in the glaze.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

As Long as My Name Isn't Mud...

You Are Mud Pie

You're the perfect combo of flavor and depth
Those who like you give into their impulses

Via Quoth the Maven.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coming Attractions ...

Next week, a new and improved Doboschtorte technique ... perfect to try out for Christmas y'all!

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Chris sent this to me with a ringing endorsement (see below). I can see why ... this sounds wonderful doesn't it? At least it does to anyone who likes pumpkin and cheesecake as much as I do. I'm a whipped cream freak so I'd substitute that for the Cool Whip.

I'm wondering if I'll get the time to whip this up for my book club which will meet on the Monday after Thanksgiving. That's my goal anyway ...
Since you post so many recipes for all to try, I thought I'd shoot one of my favorites that my wife makes around thanksgiving/Christmas. I hope you like it!

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 pkgs 8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 dashes of ground nutmeg
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup thawed cool whip

Mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium until well blended. Add eggs, mix until well blended, but do not overbeat.

Remove 1 cup batter. Stir in pumpkin & spices.

Spray 9 inch pie plate with PAM (or other non-stick spray). Sprinkle the bottom of the pie plate with the graham cracker crumbs.

Pour pour plain batter into crust. Top with pumpkin batter. Bake at 325 for 40 min or until center almost set. Cool.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Serve with cool whip.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thai-Style Ground Beef

This is from Cooking Light. I have to say that they really are geniuses at getting an essential cultural flavor down in the easiest possible way for a quick meal. Probably the best tribute to this recipe is that I didn't mention to Tom it was something new. He took a bite, his eyes widened, and he looked at me. "Wow!
This is great!"

  • I didn't have light coconut milk, just the regular sort. However, I inadvertently cut out a lot of the fat by just using a church key style can opener to poke holes in the top. This kept most of the fat in the can as it was evidently cool enough for it to be solidified.
  • I was in a tearing hurry so didn't do the leek step ... and also didn't have iceberg lettuce. No matter. It was still great.

Cooking spray
1 cup thinly sliced leek
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
3 cups hot cooked short-grain rice
Iceberg lettuce wedges (optional)
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.

Add leek; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute.

Add beef; cook 7 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring to crumble. [Drain any fat, especially if, like me, you had ground chuck and not ground sirloin.]

Stir in curry paste and tomato sauce; cook until half of liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).

Add coconut milk and next 4 ingredients (through fish sauce); cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Serve with the rice and lettuce wedges, if desired. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, if desired.

Serves 8

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thanksgiving Planning

Woohoo! I got done with work early tonight and now am going to sit down and make out my shopping list for Thanksgiving ... oh, and also for those other days leading up to it when we'll need food.

I thought of this because The Anchoress is going to have Meringue Cake on that day and very kindly is sharing the recipe with us.

We don't mess with Thanksgiving 'round here. It is strictly our favorites with the only variations allowed being in the cranberry relish and sweet potatoes ... and that is only because I am the only one who eats them. Our day-after-Thanksgiving meal also is mandated by tradition. Chef salad featuring turkey (of course), blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon (the real thing please!) on top. Mmmmmm, crumbled bacon ...

Here are a few links to recipes I've posted that we'll have at the feast.

Holiday Central
Ok, not my recipes but O Chef must answer just about every question you could think of there ... including any that my "short-hand" recipes may leave you with!

Herbed Thanksgiving Stuffing
This is the best stuffing ever and cooks in a slow cooker. I have made this four times now and never been disappointed. It really frees up the oven for other things and, if you happen to have a problem with sticking your hand up a turkey (no problemo here) then you're set free from that as well.

Skillet Cornbread
If you happen to like cornbread stuffing (which I do not), you may want to make this for your base. I've never found a better recipe.

Pecan Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
This was new for Thanksgiving last year and it was delicious.

Cranberry Ginger Relish
I made this last year. Then I made another recipe when that ran out ... and then another. Well, you get the idea.

Perfect Piecrust
This is not a misnomer. Very easy and very delicious. It is long but that is to give detailed directions. You can't go wrong with this.

Pecan Pie
This is non-negotiable. Gotta have it.

Pumpkin Pie

Are you allowed to have Thanksgiving without this? Or watch the Cowboys play without having some? Nope.

Pecan Topped Sweet Potato Casserole

This is from Cook's Illustrated and I made it last year for the first time. Scrum-diddily-umptious!

Serves 8 to 12

6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (very cold), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 medium potatoes), peeled, halved lengthwise, and halves cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. For the Topping: Whisk brown sugar and flour in small bowl. Add butter, and toss to coat; pinch between fingertips until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir chopped pecans into mixture; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. In large pot or Dutch oven of boiling water, parboil sweet potato slices over high heat until they are bright orange and the point of a paring knife easily pierces but does not break apart a few slices, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain potatoes well and turn into buttered 13-x 9-inch baking dish.

3. Whisk melted butter, honey, molasses, ginger, salt, and cayenne in small bowl; set aside. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water in small bowl until totally smooth, then whisk into butter mixture; pour over sweet potatoes and toss to coat well.

4. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until liquid is bubbly, about 50 minutes. Remove foil, stir potatoes gently, sprinkle cold topping mixture over potatoes, and bake until topping is crisp and dark golden brown, about 20 minutes longer. Cool slightly and serve hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yeast Raised Waffles

This is the first recipe I ever used for waffles and despite forays into other, more standard recipes, it remains our favorite. It is from an early Fanny Famer cookbook and Marion Cunningham has made sure that it has remained in cooking consciousness.

This comes from her Breakfast Book which I highly recommend. We are using it quite often as we return to our Sunday morning "special" breakfasts which Tom and I had done ever since we were newlyweds but had strayed from at some point in the busyness of parenthood. We alternate Sundays for choosing and making a special breakfast and the other person cleans up later.

  • We never have the time to cook any leftover saved batter as Cunningham advises. Instead, I take a page from Eggo's book by cooking up whatever remains and popping them in the toaster on weekday mornings.
  • This made many more than 8 waffles for us.
1/2 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Use a rather large mixing bowl -- the batter will rise to double its original volume. Put the water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, until yeast dissolves. Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour to the yeast and beat until smooth and blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs, add the baking soda and stir until well mixed. The batter will be very thin. Cook on a very hot waffle iron (use about 1/3 cup batter per grid). Bake until the waffles are golden and crisp to the touch.

Note: If there is any leftover batter, store in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.

Yields 8 waffles

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cream Biscuits

The Dallas Morning News' food section (free registration required) features biscuits of all sorts today as well as biscuit making tips.

However, I see that they missed the one essential recipe (similar to those I mentioned the other day) that means you can skip the tips and turn out fantastic biscuits every time with no trouble at all. That would be the recipe for cream biscuits, where heavy cream substitutes for the fat and liquid thus killing two birds with one stone. Not only that but you don't have to mess around with cutting in shortening or butter which I really detest for some reason.

These are from Beard on Bread by James Beard. Give them a try and you'll see what I mean.

Note: I never do the final step of dipping in melted butter. Also, I usually need between 1-1/2 and 2 cups of cream.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
1 to 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
5 Tbsps melted butter

Preheat oven to 425F.

Put dry ingredients in a bowl, and fluff them together with a fork. Stirring constantly, slowly add 1 cup of the cream.

Gather it all together, adding a bit more cream if it goes saggy and dry.

When it holds together nicely, put it on a floured bread board, and knead it for about 60 seconds.

Pat it into a square about 1/2" thick. Cut into 12 squares, and dip each in the melted butter, dipping all sides of each biscuit. Put them on an ungreased baking sheet, about 2" apart.

Bake about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve hot.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I made Chicken and Dumplings recently. It is one of Rose's favorites and, although I don't make it often, I always wish I made it more often because it is so good and homey and satisfying.

I also am in the process of searching for the "perfect" Chicken and Dumplings recipe so that complicates things a bit. I have several targets for finding those "perfect" recipes and once I find them then I look no further. I may not make these essential recipes often but when I need them, they never fail to please and most could not be easier.

A few such "essentials" that I have featured here include Piecrust, Pecan Butter Balls (a.k.a. Mexican Wedding Cakes), Pumpkin Pie, Sloppy Joes, and Simple Barbecue Sauce.

Now we may add this Dumpling recipe to that list. Once again, I don't make dumplings often. If I made them more than once or twice a year it would be amazing. However, these are the easiest I've ever come across and they met with universal approval.

The Chicken Stew part? I'm still looking.

(from Cook's Illustrated magazine)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)

Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated
and smooth.

Return stew (or whatever you are adding dumplings to) to a simmer and drop golf-ball sized
dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thought for Food

Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on.
George Bernard Shaw

Friday, November 03, 2006

When You Don't Have Any Nuoc Cham

In the Vietnamese kitchen, these dipping condiment adds vibrancy to many dishes. To prepare it, nuoc nam (fish sauce) is seasoned with red chilies, garlic, lime juice, ginger, and sugar.

Substitute 1 cup nuoc cham with
  • 1 cup Homemade Nuoc Cham: dissolve 1/4 - 1/3 cup granulated sugar in 3 tbsp hot water. Stir in 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, 1/3 cup nuoc nam or other fish sauce, 1-2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 seeded and minced Thai, cayenne, or serrano chile. Let stand for 15-20 minutes to blend flavors. Makes about 1 cup.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Myth Busters: Aluminum Cookware Causes Alzheimer's

kitchen myth cooking urban legend

This myth got its start a number of years ago when medical researchers found elevated levels of aluminum in diseased tissue from the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

One logical possibility (but not the only one) was that the raised aluminum level was responsible for causing the disease. Get exposed to too much aluminum, from your job perhaps or your cookware, and you would have a better chance of coming down with this awful disease. People started avoiding aluminum cookware, and some still are - unnecessarily it turns out.

Subsequent research has failed to show any connection between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer's, and it is believed that the elevated aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is a result of the disease process. In other words, high aluminum levels do not cause Alzheimer's, but rather Alzheimer's causes high aluminum levels.

Source: Alzheimer's Society

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick Or Treat!


Now that's clever! Follow the links for instructions.

David Leibovitz gives us proof that the Italians know how to get their ghost on.

HISTORY OF CANDY CORN ... mmmm, candy corn ...
Surprisingly interesting, to me anyway.

More Halloween goodies can be found over at Happy Catholic.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

When You Don't Have Any Shrimp Paste

Believe it or not, this actually is something I've done but just from guesswork. *pats self on shoulder*
Also known as bagoong, blacang, kapi, and terasi. Pungent seasoning paste made from fermented shrimp.

Substitute 1 tsp shrimp paste with:
  • 1 mashed anchovy filet (less pungent)
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste (less pungent)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When You Don't Have Any Gianduja

A.K.A. Nutella. Mmmm, Nutella. This is such a favorite in our household with the girls that a spoonful often is dessert. After converting a few of Hannah's friends a jar or two of Nutella made a perfect going-away gift when they left for college.
Substitute 1 cup gianduja with:
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (omits chocolate and hazelnut flavors)
  • 3 ounces or 1/2 cup milk chocolate and 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter; melt in a double boiler and stir until smooth.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Broccoli Beef

I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe before now. So simple, so delicious, and it even makes Rose like broccoli. I wish I could remember which cookbook it came from but there you go ... I've forgotten.

As with most Chinese food in our house, I serve this with what the girls call "sticky rice" which translates to Jasmine rice or Calrose medium grain sushi rice. Mmmm, it makes cleaning plates a pain but it is soooo good!

Step 1:

1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3/4 pound sirloin, thinly sliced

Marinate beef: combine all until cornstarch is dissolved. Stir beef gently in marinade until coated. Let stand 10 minutes.

Step 2:
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

Prepare sauce by mixing all together.

Step 3:
1/2 pound broccoli florets or gai lan

Cook broccoli in a small pot of boiling water until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Step 4:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Heat wok over high heat until hot. Add oil and heat. Stir-fry beef until no longer pink, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.

Add sauce and broccoli and bring to a boil. Pour in dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scoop contents of wok onto a serving platter and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Weekend Joke

This doctor always got really stressed out at work. So every day on his way home, he'd stop and see his friend Dick the bartender.

Dick would know the doctor was coming, and he'd have an almond daiquiri ready for him. The doctor would come in and have his almond daiquiri and go home.

One day Dick ran out of almonds, and he thought, "Well, the doctor won't know the difference."

So he cut up a hickory nut and made a daiquiri with it. When the doctor came by, Dick put the drink in front of him.

The doctor took a sip and said, "Is this an almond daiquiri, Dick?"

And Dick said, "No, it's a hickory daiquiri, Doc."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What Does Christmas Taste Like?

The Anchoress and Buster found out when they encountered Baked Oatmeal. I am not kidding when I say my mouth was watering reading her description and then reading the linked recipe. This I've gotta try!

Now Serving Hot Links

Were you ever reading an Agatha Christie mystery and wondered what the heck they were slicing up for tea? Seed cake? What? Baking for Britain has pictures and a recipe. I have to say that a cake flavored with caraway seeds seems like an acquired taste but maybe my "mind's palate" is off here.

Cooking with Amy has all about walnuts including helpful suggestions about how to use them. I don't need any suggestions. My only problem is how to stop eating them once I start!

This has to be one of the most wonderful photos of a marshmallow ever. Maybe it's the chocolate coating. Maybe it's the fact that they are French candy shop marshmallows. If marshmallows don't appeal, check out this more substantial post about French honey.

The Dallas Morning News' annual cookie contest is officially open. If you live in the Dallas area you might want to give it a shot. All proceeds go to charity and the prizes are gift certificates from Central Market.

The Old Foodie has a diverting tale of presidency and teetotaling in the White House.

It's scientifically proven report the Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down folks.

When You Don't Have Any Garam Masala

Scintillating blend of toasted ground spices that originated in northern India. Many variations exist. Garam masala is added to a dish toward the end of the cooking or sprinkled on top just before serving.

If you don't have it
Substitute 1 tbsp garam masala with:
1 tbsp Homemade Basic Garam Masala: Combine 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp cardamom seeds (scraped from pods), 1/2 tsp whole cloves, and two 3-inch cinnamon sticks (broken into pieces) in a skillet. Toast over medium heat, shaking often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. let cool, then grind in a spice grinder. Makes about 1/4 cup.

To save time
Substitute 1 tbsp garam masala with:
1 tbsp Homemade Quick Garam Masala: Combine 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Toast spices just before using. Makes about 1 tablespoon.
I know which one I'd do ... the quick version ... although I'm sure the other with whole spices is much superior. That's just how lazy I am, what can I say?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Celebrating Sandwiches

No matter what your idea of a sandwich is ...

Chances are that we all have a favorite sandwich that pops up in our mind's eye when we hear the word. It was invented in England but it is American as all get out.

Today is Slashfood's Sandwich Day. Glorious photography, lotsa links and many posts. Don't miss it. Even if your idea of a sandwich is as basic as this:


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Celebrate: Andrew Kim Taegon and the Korean Martyrs

To honor the courage and fortitude of the Korean martyrs, today you might help develop these virtues among your family members, by serving them Kim-chee, the Korean national dish. It's made of cabbage that has been buried in a jar, in a sauce of extraordinarily hot pepper, to rot until it ferments. Served as a side dish at almost every Korean meal, it is decidedly an acquired taste (especially with your morning coffee). Force yourself, your spouse, and each one of your kids to heat a healthy portion. It will build character and prepare you for any kind of persecution. Whatever happens today, it won't be as painful as breakfast.
I have never been brave enough to try kim-chee. Not only have the descriptions frightened me but I also have only eaten at a Korean restaurant once so my exposure has necessarily been limited.

If you want to celebrate and go a less stoic route, I know that the Koreans love beef, especially BBQ. Now that speaks right to any red-blooded American's heart, especially those living in Texas. Take a look around here for Korean recipes to try. I might even get brave enough to try kim-chee after taking a look at these different types.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Updated Recipe Archives

Finally, finally it is done. I went through and updated the recipe archives which will be in the sidebar but which I also present here for your perusing pleasure. I hadn't realized I had so many recipes posted and some were for dishes that I had completely forgotten but look forward to revisiting.

Linguine and Grilled Beef Salad

Another brilliant recipe from Jim Fobel's Big Flavors. I love those big flavors as much as Fobel does and you can't get a recipe that is much easier than this. This makes a really simple weeknight meal if you have some linguine and grilled beef left over from the weekend.

Of course, you can even use roast beef from the deli and that makes it quite simple. Naturally, you can change this up by substituting chicken for the beef and other spices for the cilantro (such as basil).

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 ounces linguine, broken in half
8 ounces trimmed grilled steak or roast beef, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium sweet onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and separated into half-rings
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus sprigs, for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs, for garnish
2 cups shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mayonnaise, and oil. Add the spices and whisk to blend.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Drop in the linguine and stir constantly until the water returns to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender but firm to the bite. Drain and rinse under cold water. Shake thoroughly to drain well.

Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and toss with the salad dressing. Add the beef, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and cilantro and toss. Cover and chill thoroughly, 1 to 2 hours.

Just before serving, add the lettuce and toss. Serve cold, garnished with sprigs of parsley and cilantro.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Now Serving Hot Links

Although I haven't been doing diddley on this poor blog, luckily others have been more interesting and prolific. Here are some of my favorite bits from around the blogosphere of cooking.
  • In the Kitchen with Bella: Dom talks about cooking with canned Indian sauces and Melanie gives her mother's Beef Stroganoff recipe.
  • Not only did Pim cook french fries in horse fat but in answer to many questions she sought out Harold McGee for expert advice. A fascinating article.
  • Rum and ginger beer ... mmmmm. Darwin Catholic has the recipe and a little talk about rum to go with it.
  • Rambling Spoon shares an email from a Lithuanian reader about On Food and Liberty.
  • The ghost of an English soldier in a northern Indian village bothers people for a nice cuppa tea and a few biscuits.
  • Phnomenon sets us straight about Cambodian food in Why Travellers Dislike Khmer Food
  • No, not Penzey's. The other venerable spice institution ... Pendery's (free registration required).

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What the Last Couple of Weeks Have Shown

It isn't that I haven't been cooking; indeed I have been cooking more during the week than in a long time and trying new recipes. This was inspired by the fact that our pickiest eater had gone to college thus leaving me free to abandon blander, predictable dishes. Sadly, although all were "fine" (surely "fine" must be one of the most negative of positive words when applied to a meal) none were so good that we saved the leftovers or thought we'd like to have it again.

However, in the midst of all this I still have managed to snatch a choice victory.

I always have read those "emergency meal" suggestions for when people drop by with a great deal of skepticism. Do people really "drop by" at mealtime like that? None of our acquaintances seem to ever do it. That is, no one ever had until Hannah invited the few friends who hadn't left for college over at dinnertime. This was unbeknownst to me and as person after person suddenly came through the door I was seized with panic. I had planned dinner for four, not for eight. Especially not with most of them being teenagers.

I sliced the four kielbasa thinly and put them to cook in a skillet with some water that came up about 1/4 of the way up the slices. When the water had cooked off, enough fat had rendered from the sausages to allow the slices to brown. Our baked potatoes were mashed with plenty of milk and butter. A couple of packages of frozen corn and a 2 pound bag of frozen green beans were put to good use. Finally, some skillet cornbread finished up the menu. We even had cake since Hannah's birthday had been celebrated the night before.

Simple but toothsome. Everyone had plenty to eat and I felt unaccountably proud.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Real Chef

After reading so much about how top chefs must expand and move out of the kitchen in order to make money, it was a relief to see that there are still purists out there.

Masa has what sounds like the supreme Japanese restaurant in America. Reading about his food put me in mind of going with Rose to Fujiyama for her East Asian research; it was the most pure sushi place we'd ever been. Filled with Japanese customers, beautiful and simple design, with the most delicious raw fish you can imagine, prepared by an aged master behind the sushi counter. It was an experience that stretched the envelope for all of us.
Masa, I realized, was something unique in this age of the chef-CEO; he was unique perhaps to any age of the chef. He had created the most extraordinary restaurant experience in New York. "Here is my money," he'd said, holding up his hands. "Here is my money," he'd said, touching his chest. He'd realized this as a young man, and he would do something none of the greats had done, not Keller or Soltner or Ducasse -- none of them. He'd created a single restaurant that was wholly dependent on his presence. A restaurant that without him couldn't even open. "When I catch cold, I close the restaurant." The goal of most chefs was to train their staffs so well that they, the chefs, didn't have to be there -- when the staff could replicate a chef's goals without his being there, that was an extraordinary achievement. The chef's goals was to make themselves completely dispensable -- they considered that their ultimate success.

Masa had done the opposite. In an age of the branded chef and TV chefs and Vegas outposts and Olive Gardens and P.F. Chang's, Masa had created a restaurant so personal, do dependent on his skills and spirit and personality, that it had no meaning when he was not inside it. Masa was the artist.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pork Chops with White Wine

A more accurate name for this would be "My Mom's Pork Chops." This was a favorite when I was growing up and remains so with my family.

Over time, as the poor pig has had all natural fat bred out of it, I've had to adapt which chops are used so that they don't wind up tough and dry after the simmering, which is necessary to get the onions soooo delicious that Tom and I fight over who gets the last bits from the platter.

Step 1:

4 large pork chops, I use shoulder or blade chops
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil

Season chops with spices. Brown quickly.

Step 2:
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine

Remove chops and add butter; sauté onion until soft, but not brown.

Blend in tomato paste. Add wine; return chops to pan. Cover and simmer until tender, about 30-40 minutes.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Culinary Mythology: Lobsters Scream with Pain When Boiled

It's commendable that people do not want to inflict pain on animals, but this one is false on two accounts. First of all, pain doesn't just happen automatically - it is the result of specific receptors, nerve pathways, and brain regions all cooperating to convert certain physical stimuli into the perception of pain. This has all been thoroughly worked out in humans and other vertebrates. But guess what - lobsters and other crustaceans are not vertebrates and simply do not have these nerve pathways and brain regions (they don't have a real brain at all, for that matter). In other words, no brain, no pain (sorry, I couldn't resist that one!).

What about the "scream" that lobsters sometime emit when dropped in the boiling water? There's the problem that lobsters have no throat, no vocal cords, no lungs, so how could they scream at all? The fact is that the noise is caused by air trapped in the shell. When heated it expands and forces itself out through small gaps, causing the sound.
I always have a tendency to want the real scoop but reading The Daughter of Time just brings that tendency to the fore. Here is a series of excerpts I ran from The Oxford Companion to Food debunking:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"I get no kick from champagne" ... but champagne grapes on the other hand ...

... the name comes from their sweet, winelike flavor, or the fact that they look like champagne bubbles, depending on whom you quote. And they are no relation to the grapes that produce Champagne. To eat them, don't bother picking off the individual berries. Just place a cluster between your lips and pull the stem so the grapes come off gently in your mouth.

Anyone else have these in their store? They are favorites of ours and only show up for a short time. I love to give them to small children but the big kids around our house devour them also.

Now Serving Hot Links

A good, fairly comprehensive list over at Slashfood.

I really loved Garlic and Sapphires, found Heat fascinating, and enjoyed My LIfe in France (briefly reviewed earlier this week) so much that I bought it for my mother as a birthday gift. The Nasty Bits ... well, a bit of Tony Bourdain goes a long way. His book Kitchen Confidential is a masterpiece of putting you right in the restaurant kitchen (sans celebrity chef) and I highly recommend it but that's enough Bourdain for me. Gael's Greene's autobiography ... hmmm ... well, the excerpts I've read make it sound as if it's more about bedhopping than food and I just don't care. Two for the Road and The Omnivore's Dilemma are both requested from the library so we will see how they turn out when I eventually reach my turn.

As for On Food and Cooking, I bow to no man in my admiration for the author's achievement but the old and new volumes are very different propositions in some ways as I mentioned in this review.

Steven Riddle asks:

(1) What is the oddest food you've ever deliberately eaten? (We're not counting swallowed flies or accientally ingested spiders here--this is food that you chose to eat.)

(2) What food do you really, really like to eat but many people around you find utterly revolting?

I answered over there. Go see.

Doesn't everyone usually gather in the kitchen? That's how it works at our house. Sarah has a wonderfully evocative piece extolling the homey comforts of the kitchen table.

Food Bound reviews the first of Brite's mysteries featuring kitchen cooks and eventually restaurant owners. I have read the first two and they were pretty good. I especially liked the way she took us into the kitchen life. Note: her protagonists are a gay couple although there is very little elaboration on that point generally which I appreciated.

Mmmmm ... chicken and wine. Dom and Bella are cookin' and it looks good.

Fugger Nutter is beginning a series which I think is going to be really interesting as it will roll gardening, hunting, cooking and more all into one. Read all about it at his place, but here is the essential focus.
  • The importance of having a family meal.
  • The amount of work and energy that is behind a meal that we tend to forget about in modern Society.
  • The incredible disconnect that many people have between the fact that the meat on your plate was once a living breathing animal that you may have found “cute”.
  • How thankful we are to the Lord for giving us such a beautiful bounty in such troubled times that we may celebrate with these great meals.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Quick Book Review

88. My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
This book is the charming and fascinatingly told story of Julia Child and her husband living in France. What elevates this beyond the usual food/life memoir is Child's telling of the whole picture, not just the food oriented moments. Yes, the food is there. After all, we are in France, n'est-ce pas? And this is Julia Child's story. However, just as in life, the food memories wind their way through the rest of her stories which make us understand just why she adores France. A snippet to whet your appetite.
... I had come to the conclusion that I must really be French, only no one had ever informed me of this fact. I loved the people, the food, the lay of the land, the civilized atmosphere, and the generous pace of life.

August in Paris was known as la morte-saison, "the dead season," because everybody who could possibly vacate did so as quickly as possible. A great emptying out of the city took place, as hordes migrated toward the mountains and coasts, with attendant traffic jams and accidents. Our favorite restaurants, the creamery, the meat man, the flower lady, the newspaper lady, and the cleaners all disappeared for three weeks. One afternoon I went into Nicolas, the wine shop, to buy some wine and discovered that everyone but the deliveryman had left town. He was minding the store, and in the meantime was studying voice in the hope of landing a role at the opera. Sitting next to him was an old concierge who, twenty-five years earlier, had been a seamstress for one of the great couturiers on la Place Vendome. She and the deliveryman reminisced about the golden days of Racine and Moliere and the Opera Comique. I was delighted to stumble in on these two. It seemed that in Paris you could discuss classic literature or architecture or great music with everyone from the garbage collector to the mayor.
More quick reviews can be found here and for the complete list of books read so far this year, go here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Good Reason for the Celebrity Chef, Part III

Continued from part II.
Chefs, thanks to their celebrity, now have the clout and the passion, as well as the knowledge, to point us back to the things that matter -- to sustainable farming, to raising animals naturally in fresh air, rather than inside cement barracks pumped full of antibiotics. We're slowly, too slowly, recognizing the scary results of chemical-laced livestock in overcrowded spaces -- not merely inferior beef and tasteless chicken, or unpleasant bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria, but also the evolution of truly deadly bacteria such as E. Coli O157:H7.

Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse, began working with farmers thirty years ago and asked us all to understand better where our food comes from because it matters. This former schoolteacher had the authority to do this because she ran a popular restaurant. A generation later, chefs are a powerful force in the way we raise hogs, cattle, and chicken because Americans are spending their dollars at these chefs' restaurants and buying their cookbooks -- capitalism at its best -- and reading about their beliefs and philosophies, in addition to trying to actually cook their food, and believing what these chefs believe...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Now Serving Hot LInks

Two Beers a Day Can Prevent Alzheimer's ... good to know that you can self-medicate for this. I'll get right on that.

Indian Tiffin Deliveries Are Going High Tech ... websites for lunchbox delivery in India.

A good and easy substitute for mole? ... no, think again.

Kellogs Planning to Raise Cereal Prices ... I already don't buy name brand cereal. Who can afford it? For heavens sakes, chips are often cheaper on a per-ounce basis.

New Joy of Cooking in October ... I never cared for that classic cookbook but for those who do this will be good news.

Looking for Those Chocolate Chip Cookies?

For those Beyond Cana retreat group folks who wanted to be able to make these themselves, here you go.

For anyone else who hasn't tried them ... what are you waiting for? It doesn't get any easier or tastier than these cookies.

A Good Reason for the Celebrity Chef, Part II

Continued from part I.
But in addition to our inept thinking about the egg, we've also managed to debase our eggs on a massive scale, to contaminate them so that they may actually make you sick if you don't cook them till they're hard, and downright dangerous for the very young and the very old. We've done the same to our animals, too, by pumping them full of chemicals and feeding them crap they wouldn't naturally choose in generations of evolution. Our major commercial hog producers are breeding the fat out of hogs to try to please the knuckleheaded consumer, who doesn't know anymore what's good for him or not -- how could he? he's been taught to fear the egg! -- degrading a once-fine animal beyond recognition, and yet we think nothing of supersizing our french fries and burgers and Cokes. We're breeding chickens without feathers. Most people scarcely know anymore what their food looks like when it's alive. They get grossed out at a proper pig roast. They wouldn't know what to do if they saw an asparagus growing wild -- you can't eat that, it's gotta come in a bundle with a rubber band around it. If food doesn't come in a a package or a box or wrapped in plastic, we aren't comfortable with it, don't trust it. It might hurt us. Gotta be processed. Gotta have an expiration date. It's sometimes hard to remember that what comes out of our boxes and packages first comes out of the earth.
And, finishing this thought up, Part III.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Good Reason for the Celebrity Chef, Part I

Perhaps, on the other hand, our chef-mania, our grossly out-of-touch understanding of the work, is a good thing, a way for America to at last get a grip on its own relationship with food. Since the end of World War II, this country has been our of synch with the natural order of sustenance and nourishment, embracing processed foods, revering canned goods, "instant" breakfasts, and frozen dinners, then elevating fast food to a way of life with such force that its impact has become global, then simultaneously abhorring animal fat for health and dietary reasons, while still becoming the fattest community on earth, then turning around to proselytize on diets composed entirely of salt-rich protein and animal fat, and banishing bread of all things -- the staff of life was now the evildoer, and just when bakers in this country had figured out how to make it well. We completely upended the food pyramid we'd always accepted as undeniable and good common sense. Ours is a country that for years held out a silver cross at eggs. Eggs are bad for you. Eggs! The most natural food on earth, a symbol of life and fertility, a compact package of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates whose versatility in the kitchen, pleasure at the table, and economy at the store is unmatched by any other food. We learned to hate the egg! Do you need any further proof that something is seriously wrong with this country that teaches people to avoid eggs? Only when they became a good strategy for slimming down did we reverse ourselves on the egg quandary.

More to follow in Part II

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sound Familiar?

In our first mail delivery in Marseille came a letter from Avis De Voto. In responding to some photos we'd sent of ourselves, she wrote: "I am very pleased with your looks, so warm and vigorous and handsome. I am rather astonished that you are such a big girl. Six feet, whoops. I adore height in women ... I think you both look absolutely wonderful.

Then she addressed our sauce chapter: "I have not got beurre blanc licked to a frazzle and I am getting bilious. Also have put on 5 lb. which on a figure like mine ain't good. It looks all right, but I like to be able to wiggle freely in my clothes instead of bursting out the seams. Also I have made yr top secret mayonnaise with great success in spite of the fact that both my electric beaters broke down and I had to shift to the whisk. It's delicious and lovely and I am pleased. But I do so hate to diet. Blast you."

We had grown really fond of Avis. Odd, to feel as though you knew someone quite well whom you had never met.
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
This goes back to my argument, as well as that of such practical souls as Mama T, that blogging is not that different in essence than letter writing in the old days. Julia Child's comment about knowing Avis so well, as well as Avis' familiar tone, sound very like that which comes about between kindred bloggers and email correspondents. Only the technology is different.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Chicken Stir-Fried with Fresh Ginger

Never did a cookbook live up to its name more than Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipes does with this recipe. Simple, quick, and delicious, it was enjoyed by every member of the family and that ain't easy!

The 15-20 minutes marinating time was more than enough to permeate the chicken, especially since it is cooked with the marinade. The longer time mentioned below is not necessary.

Also, the chicken is never really going to be "golden brown" as the marinade takes care of coloring everything a uniform brown already.

I served this over steamed rice. There is not much sauce, but the chicken is so highly flavored that a lot of something fairly neutral is necessary to keep from the taste being overpowering.

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 pound boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into long, thin strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

In a medium bowl, combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, honey or brown sugar, salt, and pepper, and stir to mix everything well. Add the chicken, and toss to coat wit the seasonings. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until a bit of ginger sizzles at once. Add chicken and marinade and cook until chicken is golden brown on one side, 1-2 minutes. Toss well, add the ginger, and toss again. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with green onions and serve hot or warm.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Time to Prepare for the Assumption

The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is on August 15. I didn't realize until now that there is a traditional fast which happens for the first two weeks of August to prepare for this feast day. As we are told in A Continual Feast:
Before the celebration of the Assumption there is a traditional fast throughout much of the Christian world -- especially among the various Orthodox groups. (The Copts in particular keep this fast with the greatest devotion.) In Sicily and throughout much of Italy this fast and subsequent feast take an interesting form: for the first fourteen days of August no fruit at all is eaten. Then, on the day of the feast itself, every possible kind of fruit is eaten, along with an assortment of cheeses and breads. But no meat. This is, then a little like Christmas Eve: a "joyous fast." This tradition may also be related to the fact that on this day it has long been customary to implore the blessings of the Virgin over herbs, fruits, and flowers.
Now this is an unusual fast indeed. For some people who are continually trying to add fruit to their diets it may not seem like such a fast after all, but rather a treat!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Health Question & Answer Session

I thought it was important to get the word out on these medical theories. Via GOP Soccer Mom.
Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.
Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.
Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!
Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.
Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!!. Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.
Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO ...... Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!
Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.
Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!
Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.
And remember: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mmmmm ... donuts ....

You Are a Powdered Devil's Food Donut

A total sweetheart on the outside, you love to fool people with your innocent image.

On the inside you're a little darker, richer, and more complex.

You're a hedonist who demands more than one pleasure at a time.

Decadent and daring, you test the limits of human indulgence.

Via Madame Chow who is glazed...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Best Sloppy Joes

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is lack of inspiration, my family has been lucky to get a home cooked meal from me these days. Luckily, they seem to have a strong liking for tuna sandwiches and I thank them for their forbearance.

When I do cook it is likely to be something like this which is also a well loved favorite. (I expect my cooking levels to rise next week since I have been STRONGLY inspired by Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes but more about that later.)

I am not positive but believe this recipe came from Gourmet in the letters from readers section quite a long time ago. I often skip the chopped onion when I am especially pressed for time.


Step 1:

1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion

Sauté beef and onion until meat is no longer pink. Drain fat.

Step 2:

1 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Dijon
Pepper to taste

Add all and cook, uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tony Bourdain and "No Reservations" Crew Stranded in Beirut

eGullet founder, Jason Perlow, has an entry on his blog about this. Via SlashFood were they note, "Some of his updates sound sarcastic and as obnoxious as we would expect from Tony, but they also have some real insight into what is going on over there."

Myth Buster: Baking Soda in the Fridge

Now I can stop feeling guilty for never being a caring enough housewife to have that box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors ... because it doesn't work!
Question - I am attempting to find out how Baking Soda works to eliminate odors. In other words, what does it do, chemically speaking, to eliminate odors. I need to be able to explain this complex process in simplistic terms.
Hoping to not disappoint you, baking soda does not eliminate odors very well at all. As a wash solution, it is mildly alkaline and can serve to cut grease when dumped down a drain. However, crystal Drano is much more effective -- and far more dangerous to use. The popular "open box of Arm & Hammer® in the refrigerator" simply provides an adsorbent material that can soak up odors -- but not very effectively. For example, if some of the odoriferous materials floating around in the refrigerator are acidic, the alkaline baking soda can absorb and neutralize the acid. Even in that regard, it is not all that effective because, as the powder in the box contacts water vapor, it tends to crust over an lose a great deal of its already limited surface activity. It all sounds quite nice, but it does not work very well. Far better would be a canister of activated charcoal because it can indeed adsorb vapors that contact
the charcoal.