The Food Almanac: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Food Almanac: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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In The Food Almanac, Tom Fitzmorris of the online newsletter, The New Orleans Menu, notes food facts and sayings.

All Hallows' Eve, the night before All Saints' Day. An old, old holiday that dates back to the pagan Celts, perhaps before the time of Christ. The food connections now mostly involve candy, but. .

The largest group of current restaurant customers are from the first generation never really forced to grow up — the Baby Boomers. We didn't get over Halloween, and so many of us go out in search of some pleasure to replace the bag of candy we still, down deep inside, feel should be coming our way today. That puts us in restaurants. Many restaurants have special menus, decorations, and other fun. It's an interesting and unique night for dining out.

Today's Flavor
Today allegedly is National Candy Apple Day. But they tell kids not to eat candy apples they find in their trick-or-treat bags. Just as well. What a perverse thing to do to the perfection that is an apple.

One a more interesting note, today is National Quail Day. Quail is a dark-meat bird, easily raised on farms, and not particularly expensive. The birds are so little and cute and have such a gourmet reputation that most chefs get pretentious in preparing them — not always to good effect. But the pinnacle of quail cookery is simple: debone the bodies, butterfly them, season them well, and just grill them over an open fire.

But what we usually get instead is quail stuffed with something. This allows the quail to look like it actually has a substantial enough torso that perhaps a restaurant can get away with serving just one quail as an entree. But one quail is nothing but an appetizer, no matter what you do to it. Especially since the food value of eating a quail may be exceeded by the amount of work required to eat it.

The stuffing can be good, but not usually. That's because it usually involves seafood. I may be off your beam on this, but I believe that seafood and poultry do not go together well. The effect is particularly distressing in the case of a seafood-stuffed quail, because there's not enough of either seafood or quail to make a statement without the other getting in the way.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Quail, Calif., is in the southern Central Valley, sixteen miles south of Tulare, with the Sierra Nevada Mountains visible in the east. It's surrounded by vast acreages of farmland, raising a tremendous percentage of the nation's vegetables. Quail began as a station on the Southern Pacific Railroad. It's now a packing and shipping point on State Highway 99. The place is named for the California quail, the state bird, with its crest of drooping feathers suspended from the top of its head. They occur in the area in large numbers. If the birds are served in any restaurants, you'll have to drive at least two miles south to Pixley to get them. Carmen, Perez Taqueria, and El Serape are all there, along with numerous other Hispanic eateries.

Edible Dictionary
Souvaroff, adj., French — A style of preparing game birds in which the birds are stuffed with foie gras and truffles, browned in butter, then baked until finished. The sauce is a light demi-glace with truffles and Madeira. It's named after a young member of the Russian (Crimean, to be exact) aristocracy in the late 1800s. As was very popular in those tight circles, he dined around Paris enough that this dish was named for him. The best bird à la Souvaroff is pheasant, whose richness of flavor is heightened by the foie gras, which also helps to keep the notoriously dry bird moist.

Deft Dining Rule #10
When entertaining visitors from out of town who have never or rarely been to your city, always take them to a restaurant with which you're familiar. Better still, to a restaurant where you are known. It will be a better evening than one even in a much better restaurant about which you know nothing.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
The most essential use for expensive kitchen shears will not be revealed until the first time you try to butterfly quail.

Food in Science
Carl Von Voit was born on this date in 1831. His life work was determining how the body uses food, and how certain foods have particular effects on the metabolism. He would have been the first to be able to write nutritional analyses on the sides of food packages.

Music to Eat Wherever You Want By
This is the birthday (1944) of Texas writer, musician, comedian, and counterculture hero Kinky Friedman. He had a hit in the early 1970s with "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You." It begins with his exclusion from a lunch counter, and gets increasingly irreverent and political. It has elements of a protest song, but with humor.

Beverages in War (Sounds Like)
Today in 1917 the Battle of Beersheba was fought in what is now Israel, but then was part of the Ottoman Empire. A brigade of Australian horsemen conducted what is considered the last successful cavalry charge in world warfare history against the Ottomans, in the middle of World War I.

Food Namesakes
The comedy actor John Candy was born today in 1950 . The rap singer Vanilla Ice (who has gone back to his great real name, Rob Van Winkle) began life in 1968 on this date . Actress and blues singer Ethel Waters was born today in 1896 . American balloonist Charles LeRoux was stirred up into life today in 1856.

Words to Eat By
"A pasty costly-made,
Where quail and pigeon, lark and leveret lay,
Like fossils of the rock, with golden yolks
Imbedded and injellied."Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Words to Drink By
"If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink;
Good wine —a friend—or being dry —
Or lest we should be by and by —
Or any other reason why." — John Sirmond, French writer of the 1600s.

Check out other Food Almanac columns by Tom Fitzmorris.

The Cooker

There was a time, when the kids were very young, that occasional meals were built around a rice dish (a pulao or a khichadi). Along with a yogurt-based salad, roasted papad, some steamed carrots & broccoli we had ourselves a meal.
It was one such evening and I was winging a pulao, literally throwing in things that caught my fancy. One of the things I added was a hefty pinch of cardamom and liberal amounts of kasoori methi.

My son had a spoonful of the pulao and exclaimed loudly 'Aai, this is just like the S- Airlines pulao.' He was too young to know that this was not exactly an compliment.

Since then this pulao has been made many times. Somewhere along the line I added in some paneer cubes and, thankfully, the name changed to paneer pulao. Sometimes my nieces refer to this as that pulao.

We don't eat much rice nowadays a couple of times a week. And when we do have some, the quantities have gone down as has the size of the paneer cubes. A bit of paneer does go a long way. I've made this pulao with white, red, and brown rice. When using brown or red rice the quantity of spices and the onion and garlic definitely need to be increased to stand up to the robustness of the rice.

The quantities are mere guidelines.
1 cup rice, wash and set aside
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ tsp jeera
1 tsp kasuri methi
½ tsp powdered cardamom
7-8 cashews, roughly chopped
1 cup paneer cubes
salt, to taste
1 tbsp oil
2 cups warm water

Method Over medium heat, warm the oil.
Add the onions and let then brown.
Add the garlic and cook a bit but don't let the garlic brown.
Add the kasoori methi, jeera, cardamom, and the chili powder cook for another ½ minute.
Add the rice and saute for a bit (less than a minute) before adding two cups warm water.
When the rice is half cooked, add the salt and the paneer cubes. Give it a good stir.
Cover and cook thru.
Once cooked, fluff the pulao slightly using a fork before serving.
(Do not overcook the rice.)

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

I like many different vegetables, but one that I really love, is eggplant. It's so versatile! You can stuff it, roll up filled slices of it, layer it with cheese and herbs, make a relish with it, bread it, bake it, broil it, or do like my dad used to do with zucchini . fry it up and have it in a sandwich! DELICIOUS!!
Eggplant Parmesan is probably one of the most popular ways to eat eggplant. Although I love it, I haven't loved all the steps needed to put it together. As I mentioned in my post about apple fritters, I don't like the smell of things frying in a lot of oil and, typically, to make eggplant parmesan, you dredge the slices of eggplant in flour, dip them in egg, then in breadcrumbs, before you fry them in lots of oil! Some time ago I saw this recipe on the show Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn that really caught my attention.

It uses all the ingredients you'd expect, but there's no dredging or dipping and, most importantly to me, no frying in all that oil! Each person gets their own little tower of eggplant parmesan deliciousness and there's no trying to cut through all those layers of cheese and eggplant, hoping to keep things somewhat intact.
This was a hit the first time I made it and continues to be gobbled up when I serve it. Kids can be funny about veggies sometimes, but my two youngest love this! Now, I make my marinara sauce different at different times, depending on what I'm using it for. For this recipe I've made a simple marinara from Lidia's Italy in America . I've altered both of the recipes a bit ( I say that a lot, don't I? ). But, really, that's part of the fun of cooking. Find a good basic recipe and then play with it and make it your own.
First of all, I'll tell you how I make the sauce. It uses a lot of garlic, but don't be afraid! The flavor is delicious! If you're not a garlic lover ( it's hard for me to imagine ) you could add some onion instead, or even use a store-bought sauce. I've always loved to make most things from scratch. it's one of the ways I show my love to my family, and in an Italian family, food really is love. But. whatever you have the time and desire to do. do.

Basic Marinara

1 (28 oz.) can San Marzano or other Italian plum tomatoes, whole with juices
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup peeled and sliced garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup hot water
1- 1 1/4 tsp. salt, according to your taste
A couple stalks of fresh basil

The first thing you want to do is pour the tomatoes and their juices into a mixing bowl (don't throw the can away yet). Then, using your hands, or the hands of a willing short person (this is fun!), squish up the tomatoes into small pieces, removing any obvious pieces of core or skin.

Stir the garlic until it's light golden and just starting to darken. (Watch carefully. not the time to make a call) Immediately pour in the tomatoes and stir around with the garlic. You should hear a nice sizzle! Pour the water into the empty tomato can, swish around to clean all the tomato off the sides, and pour into the pot (Frugality is another Italian trait). Raise the heat, add the salt, and stir. Push the stalks of basil down into the sauce until completely covered.

When the sauce has come to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat slightly, and cook at an active bubbling simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook for another 10 minutes or so. until it's reduced to your liking. Then, remove the basil and blend up the sauce with an immersion blender, right in the pot. This will get rid of any big pieces of garlic. ( If you don't have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool a little and blend it up in a regular blender or food processor. If the sauce is still hot, remove the little center piece from the blender top and cover the hole with a towel to prevent pressure building up and splattering.) Now your sauce is ready to be used in your recipe.

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks (serves 4)

1 eggplant, about 1 1/2 pounds
olive oil, for brushing slices
Kosher salt
3/4 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 tblsp. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
3 tblsp. chopped basil
1 1/2 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 recipe Basic Marinara
1 1/4 # fresh mozzarella, sliced in 1/4" thick slices
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish

Trim off the ends of the eggplant and slice it into about 1/3" thick slices. Gather the slices in groups of three, matching the size as much as you can.

A word about eggplant: When you go to buy eggplant, look for fairly firm ones. If there's no give when you press against it, it was picked too early. if you leave an indentation when you press, it's overripe. It should have a little give. You want an eggplant with smooth, shiny skin, and no brown or soft spots. Japanese eggplants have a more consistent diameter from one end to the other and work very well for this type of recipe, but globe eggplants seem to be more readily available, at least in my area, and work very well. Your stacks just won't all be the exact same size. But, I think that works well for a family, because even the kids can feel special with their own little stack, instead of having to have one of the bigger stacks cut in half for them.

Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil, season with the salt, and place seasoned-side down on a stove top grill or grill pan that has been preheating over medium-high. Then brush and season the second side when they're on the grill. Cook the slices for 8-10 minutes, turning once. (You'll be grilling these in batches so keep track of which slices go together.) When the slices come off the grill, stack them up again.

In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, pepper, oregano, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil and stir to combine. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Now you're ready to assemble.

Get out a sheet pan that has sides, and line it with parchment paper. It's easiest to assemble each stack right on the sheet pan. Each stack will consist of 1 eggplant slice, some marinara, breadcrumb mixture, and slice of fresh mozzarella, repeated 3 times. You can finish off the top with a bit more crumbs and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and everything is bubbling. You can remove them all to a platter or each one to an individual plate.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The trouble with tennis

The biggest trouble with tennis is that I am not very good at it. I did not take up racquet sports of any kind until I was in college, and then it was racquetball, which, I will admit, is fairly easy to learn. (Harder to get good at, but easy enough to learn, as long as you are somewhat coordinated). Tennis on the other hand, is rather trickier. When we were unable to play racquetball for a while, Benjamin bought us tennis racquets and we proceeded to teach ourselves to play by watching tennis on TV. So, we understand the rules, and the way it ought to look when played correctly, but are very far from reaching that goal. My main problem is that I either hit shots way long (attempting to hit the non-existant wall) - I once lobbed a ball over the very high fench and into an adjoining swimming pool, or way short, trying to get a kill shot, as it is called in racquetball. Now, it isn't that I do these things on purpose - no, my hand and arm just react when I see the ball. Retraining is proving quite a challenge. And then there is the racquet itself - the handle is so much bigger, and the racquet so much heavier. And there is no wrist strap to hold it to you if you let go.

I bring up tennis because we took advantage of the lovely weather yesterday to play a couple of sets, and because Wimbledon has started. We are casual tennis watchers, but we do follow it, especially at Wimbledon. Ah, grass court tennis - will Rafael Nadal finally beat Federer somewhere other than on clay? Will Serena or Venus pull out another title? Will Andy Roddick finally live up to some of his promise? Who knows - all will be reveled over the next two weeks.

The Food Almanac: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - Recipes

It's described on the menu as this: "CHANG'S CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP Our version of the classic with fresh shiitake mushrooms, grape tomatoes, pin rice noodles and cilantro in a spicy chicken broth."

While my version is an adaptation of a copycat version of the soup, I think it comes pretty close to the real deal. I'll still go out to Chang's and get my fix of the original, but in the meantime, I can make some at home too and now so can you!

My version of this soup gets it's spicy kick from Sriracha sauce and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. I'm sure it's not the way Chang gets their spice on. but it really works. You can use as much of the two as you want, to adjust the heat to your liking. For that reason, I didn't include amounts of either ingredient.

You could use any kind of mushrooms you like as well, I opted for the good old white button ones, because I can get them already cleaned and sliced. and well, sometimes I'm lazy like that. I was also able to buy my chicken breasts already thin sliced (for stir fry), which left me with only needing to slice them in half. Yay for shortcuts!

I looked high and wide for pin rice noodles with little luck. Of course, the Asian population in my neck of the woods is not that large, so I didn't expect to be able to find them. I subbed udon noodles. They worked out just fine. Some day though, I'd like to find the pin rice noodles and use them instead.

This soup came together very quickly, making it a great recipe to make even on a weeknight.

The Food Almanac: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - Recipes

It looks so yummy! I have not had this in years, and you have inspired me to put this on my menu. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Oh my word! Looks like a great dish.

Wow, that sure brings back memories. I will have to make this for my grand kids :) Thanks for sharing.

Thank you so much for having me over at your place, Kathe! I can't wait to hear about your trip . and see the pictures! )

I can't wait to try this recipe, thanks for sharing

That looks way better than the goulash I make. I am going to try this for the boys and see what they think.

This looks so good and sounds so simple to make and sounds like will taste so much better than what I make now because I am going to try it.

This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays Linky party.

I have been looking for a good goulash recipe and I think I have found it ! Thank you ! My mother-in-law used to make the best goulash and I never got her recipe and this sounds like it ! I am going to try it this week . thanks again, Charlene

Parker's Mommy!


I love your new blog!! I really want to make mine better now lol. So fun to see what you and the little man have been up to.

I need help subscribing to yours! It said i had to have a tumblr account to follow you? So maybe im doing it wrong? Lol

Hi There,
What a great idea! How did you do the coloring?

yes how do you do the coloring

you colour it by painting the salt dough after its been baked and cooled using acrylic paints

When you bake the dough, do you do so on a baking sheet?

Does the recipe only make 1 pumpkin or all that are pictured?

Total fail! Give better directions for such a cook project idea. Followed the little direction you gave and mine stuck solid to the pizza stone I baked it on. Had to soak it and scape it into the trash. You never said what you used to bake it on or if it needed to be greased or anything! Broken my toddler heart that she couldn't paint it because it didn't come out :(

I just made this exact recipe, it made one pumpkin, for me anyways. I baked it on a jelly roll pan without any spray or lining. It came off just fine and is cooling now to paint. Thank you for this, super cute!!

Cam you use food coloring in the dough before baking it? So no mess of paint

Put on parchment paper or wax paper to avoid sticking

Can you use this on animals? I would love to get my cats paw prints

Yes of course!! The ingredients are pet friendly

Yes of course!! The ingredients are pet friendly

Can you use this on animals? I would love to get my cats paw prints

Marisa, yes. It's salt and flour. Perfectly safe, just try not to let them ingest too much as salt isn't good for fur babies.

To those asking about color, you can use food coloring before baking and you can also use the generic sharpies from the dollar tree to color the. We made christmas ornaments the year before last and used the sharpies to color them. Turned out great.

Oh and you can always bake them on foil to avoid possible mess up's. We used cookie sheets with our ornaments.

I would not recommend stepping stones unless you seal them. Why? Because rats/mice love them. That being said, wrap them in foil to keep critters out.

Marisa, yes. It's salt and flour. Perfectly safe, just try not to let them ingest too much as salt isn't good for fur babies.

To those asking about color, you can use food coloring before baking and you can also use the generic sharpies from the dollar tree to color the. We made christmas ornaments the year before last and used the sharpies to color them. Turned out great.

Oh and you can always bake them on foil to avoid possible mess up's. We used cookie sheets with our ornaments.

I would not recommend stepping stones unless you seal them. Why? Because rats/mice love them. That being said, wrap them in foil to keep critters out.

Marisa, yes. It's salt and flour. Perfectly safe, just try not to let them ingest too much as salt isn't good for fur babies.

To those asking about color, you can use food coloring before baking and you can also use the generic sharpies from the dollar tree to color the. We made christmas ornaments the year before last and used the sharpies to color them. Turned out great.

Oh and you can always bake them on foil to avoid possible mess up's. We used cookie sheets with our ornaments.

I would not recommend stepping stones unless you seal them. Why? Because rats/mice love them. That being said, wrap them in foil to keep critters out.

You can find other salt dough recipes online. I used this same recipe to make ornaments and they cracked. When baking use a cookie pan with either parchment paper ir foil easy clean

Lightning Round of Mashed Potatoes

Winslow Homer's Arrival At The Old Home

It is so strange that we are going into the Holiday season so readily. It truly does seem like I just took my last burger off the grill and here we are, waiting to carve our first ham, turkey or pork already. I am going to give you over 50 ways to try the humble, lowly potato this year. For us purists, there is nothing like digging into a bowl full of mashed potatoes, but then again, it's great to use your imagination and spice things up a bit now and again. Give one or more of these recipes a try this year.

Cover 2 lbs. whole potatoes with water and boil 20-25 minutes or until soft. Drain, and add 1/2-1 stick of butter or margarine, 1 c. milk(either heated or cold), salt and pepper. Mash by hand or with beaters until smooth.

Use red skinned potatoes but don't mash until creamy, leave a little chunky

Make Classic or Chunky Red but use 1 c. sour cream instead of milk and top with freshly chopped dill.

Saute 2 chopped red bell peppers and 1 t. thyme leaves in olive oil, covered, until tender. Mash and swirl into Classic Mashed Potatoes.

Make Chunky Red but replace the butter with nonfat plain Greek yogurt and use skim milk.

Make Classic Mash but add 1 T. chopped chipotles in adobo sauce. Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro.

Pulse 1/4 c. pitted kalamata olives, 1/2 stick soft butter and 2 T. each of fresh parsley and cilantro in a food processor. Dollop the olive butter on Classic Mash.

Make Chunky Red Mash and add 1/2 lb. grated Monterey Jack, 1/2 c. sliced scallions and 2 minced, seeded jalapenos. Top with sour cream and more scallions and jalapenos.

Make Classic Mash, top with applesauce and sprinkle with grated nutmeg.

Cook 1/2 lb. chopped bacon until crisp. Make Classic Mash, replace half of the butter with 2-4 tablespoons bacon drippings. Fold in some bacon and sprinkle the rest on top.

Make Bacon Mash and add 1/2 lb. grated sharp Cheddar and 1/4 c. each minced parsley and scallions.

Cook 1/4 lb. diced pancetta in olive oil with a pinch chopped rosemary and 2 smashed garlic cloves drain and spoon over Classic Mash or Chunky Red Mash.

Winslow Homer's The Dinner

Make Classic Mash but use 1 c. sour cream instead of milk and mix in 1/4 c. horseradish and 1/4 c. minced chives.

Make Classic Mash and mix in 1/2 lb. grated smoked Gouda and 1/4 c. sliced scallions.

Mash Classic Mash with 1/2 c. cooking liquid instead of milk and finish with 1/4 c. olive oil and 2 t. each of chopped fresh basil, tarragon and parsley. Omit the butter.

Fry 8 thinly sliced garlic cloves in 3 T. olive oil until crisp drain. Drizzle the oil into Classic Mash or Mediterranean Mash and top with the fried garlic.

Make Classic Mash and add a pinch of saffron to the milk, heating over low steep 10 minutes. Garnish with smoked paprika.

Make Chunky Red Mash and stir in 1/2 c. pesto. Garnish with pine nuts.

Winslow Homer's The Dinner

Make Classic Mash and stir in 1/2 c. hummus. Top with freshly chopped parsley and toasted sesame seeds.

Heat 1/2 c. olive oil with 1 T. fennel seeds and 3 small dried chiles. Saute 1 diced fennel bulb in the oil until tender. Make Classic Mash and top with the fennel and fennel oil.

Make Classic Mash, add salt lightly. Add 1/2 c. each grated Parmesan and Romano cheese.

Fry 1/2 lb. crumbled chorizo until crisp stir in 2 T. paprika. Spoon, with drippings. over Classic Mash and top with scallions.

Make Classic Mash but replace half of the potatoes with 1 lb. rutabaga. Brown 4 T. butter with 3 T. chopped parsley and a pinch of nutmeg drizzle over mash.

Winslow Homer's Thankgiving Day, Ways and Means

Peel and cube 1 lb. butternut squash boil 8 minutes. Drain, puree and swirl into Classic Mash.

Make Squash-Swirl Mash. Brown 4 T. butter with 1/4 c. chopped or rubbed sage and 1 t. salt pour over mash.

Make Classic Mash. Thinly slice 1 bunch leeks simmer in melted butter until tender, about 12-15 minutes. Stir the leeks into the mash.

Boil 1 small bunch broccoli florets until tender drain. Add to Classic Mash with 1/2 lb. shredded Cheddar.

Make Italian Cheese Mash and top with 2 t. minced rosemary mixed with the grated zest of 1 lemon.

Toss 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes with olive oil and salt on a baking sheet roast 20-30 minutes at 450-degrees F, until soft and browned, turning. Add to Classic Mash.

Saute 1/2 lb. crumbled sweet Italian sausage until crisp. Make Classic Mash and stir in 1 c. Parmesan top with the sausage.

Toast 2 t. each mustard, cumin and coriander seeds in a skillet. Add 1 stick of butter and 1/2 t. each ground turmeric and salt. Make Classic Mash with the spiced butter.

Make Indian Spice Mash. Warm 1/2 c. frozen peas in the butter remove with a slotted spoon. Top the mash with the peas.

Slowly cook 8 thinly sliced shallots in 3 T. olive oil until crisp and golden drain. Sprinkle over Classic Mash or Italian Cheese Mash.

Cook 2 cubed, peeled celery roots in 2 c. milk until tender puree. Make Classic Mash but replace the milk with the celery root puree. Garnish with parsley.

Remove stems from 1 bunch Swiss chard boil 5 minutes and then add the leaves and cook 3 additional minutes. Drain, chop and add to Classic Mash.

Make Classic Mash. Brown 4 T. butter with 1/2 c. chopped walnuts, 2 T. each chopped rosemary and parsley, and 1/2 t. salt add a pinch of sugar. Cube blue cheese over the mash drizzle with the browned butter.

Broil 3 poblano peppers until blackened. Peel, seed and cut into strips. Saute 1 c. chopped onion, the poblanos and 1 sliced garlic clove in olive oil until golden. Serve over Classic Mash and garnish with sour cream.

Mix 1-3 T. wasabi powder with equal parts water to make a paste cover. Make Classic Mash and stir in the wasabi paste.

Jean Ferris The First Thanksgiving

Roast 2 lbs. sweet potatoes at 400-degrees F until tender, about an hour. Halve, then scoop out the flesh. Mash with 4 T. butter and add salt to taste.

Make Sweet Potato Mash, stir in 1/4 c. maple syrup and top with toasted pecans.

Cook 1/2 c. diced prosciutto in olive oil until crisp, about 6 minutes. Spoon over Sweet Potato Mash.

Make Sweet Potato Mash with just 2 T. butter. Saute 1/2 c. diced, roasted poblanos, 1/4 c. green pumpkin seeds and 1 t. cumin in 2 T. butter season with salt and spoon over the mash.

Make Sweet Potato Mash. While the potatoes roast, simmer 2 chopped, peeled apples in 1/2 c. apple cider with 1/2 t. cinnamon until soft. Mash with the potatoes.

Make Sweet Potato Mash and stir in 2 t. pumpkin pie spice, and the grated zest and juice of 1 orange.

Make Sweet Potato Mash, mash with 1 T. curry powder and 3 T. each plain Greek yogurt and mango chutney. Top with toasted coconut.

Make Sweet Potato Mash. While the potatoes roast, boil 2 each of peeled and diced parsnips and turnips until tender. Mash with the potatoes and butter garnish with chives.

Old Fashioned Buttermilk-Green Onion

Replace half of the milk in Classic Mash with buttermilk and add 4 green onions that have been sliced thin.

Place 2 lbs. potatoes, 2 lbs. peeled carrots and 6 cloves garlic in pot of water and boil until tenderdrain. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste mash well. Stir in 1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese before serving.

Musical Food.

This day in 1948 was the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s La Bonne Cuisine: Four Recipes for Voice and Piano. The recipes translated and set to music by Bernstein were from La Bonne Cuisine Française by Emile Dumont, and his specific choices were 1. Plum Pudding 2. Queues de Boeuf (‘Ox Tails”) 3. Tavouk Gueunksis 4. Civet à Toute Vitesse (“Rabbit at Top Speed”).

I had thought to give you the song-recipes, but it appears that they are top-secret and unavailable due to strict observance of copyright, which is of course a good thing. The slight mystery to me is the Tavouk Gueunkis. The song starts by saying it is “so Oriental” (I did learn that much), and presumably it is a chicken dish (tavouk = chicken, right?) Someone help me here, please.

Plum pudding recipes are aplenty in the Christmas recipe archive, so it wont do for today’s recipe. I had a lovely Ox-tail ravioli at a local restaurant recently, so felt like a change. Rabbit it has to be.

There is a lovely little book published in 1859 called The gourmet's guide to rabbit cooking, by an old epicure (who is presumably the Georgiana Hill of the title page.) It gives 124 receipts for rabbit, but first, the author explains its culinary value thus:

Firstly, to quote from our friends the French, who possess an aptitude for delicacy of expression of which an English cook is totally deficient, the charm of rabbits consists in their being so easily and agreeably accommodated (mark the word), and in their capability of producing a variety of compositions, which, if proceeding from the hands of an able artiste, may, or elegance, be ranked amongst the most recherche dishes that can dignify the table of refined and enlightened amphitryons. Another thing recommendable in rabbits is their cheapness. Even one solitary rabbit will make a pretty appearance at a dinner, whereas its equivalent money's-worth of butcher's meat would be quite an uncomfortable object to contemplate. They are likewise easily obtained, being in season nearly throughout the year, are quickly dressed, have very little weight of bone, will keep well, and, besides being considered wholesome and easy of digestion, have, according to the following old rhyme, a property ascribed to them which confirms us in our estimation of their merits, and exemplifies the wisdom of the originators of cookery, in causing so favourable a combination of forces as ensues from their alliance with the admirable esculent which usually accompanies them in their culinary career :

For onions, you know, are generally said
To be an excellent remedy for a cold in the head
And rabbits, I'm told by those who are smart,
Are a capital cure for a cold in the heart.

The author of the cookbook does give plenty of recipes for rabbit with these admirable esculents as an ingredient, but a couple of other more unusual combinations caught my eye and distracted me from my search for the speediest recipes.

Laver is a “marine algae” (i.e seaweed), is having somewhat of a comeback I understand, and is often served with gammon and suchlike, so perhaps not so strange with rabbit. Caviar, on the other hand, must be an unusual ingredient in a rabbit dish, yes?

Rabbit and Laver.
Cut up a very tender rabbit fry it in butter until it is quite done and appears beautifully brown. While it is doing put four ounces of fresh butter into a saucepan and when melted add the juice of a whole lemon a little Cayenne pepper and two table spoonfuls of fresh laver. Let it become almost boiling hot lay your rabbit upon a well warmed dish pour the laver sauce over it and serve as quickly as possible The perfection of this dish depends upon the promptitude of sending it to table for unless it is eaten hot the fineness of its flavour is lost.

Rabbit and Caviare.
Choose a fine fat rabbit cut it into joints season it lightly and put it into a stewpan with a quarter of a pound of fresh butter shake it over the fire until you think it is half done then pour in half a pint of white wine and allow it to stay upon the hob to simmer. Prepare a table spoonful of unpressed caviare and put it into another stewpan by the side of the fire moisten it with a tea cupful of gravy and soon after pour in half a pint of rich cream let it reduce slowly and when both are done dish up the meat upon the caviare.

Intellectual men who quickly wolf down whatever nourishment is necessary for their bodies with a kind of disdain, may be very rational and have a noble intelligence, but they are not men of taste. Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin (1804-1869).

Roasting apples for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday for me when it comes to desserts. My family wants traditional desserts, but I find them boring and want something new.

We've finally figured out a good compromise. My sister-in-law makes the pies, which she's really good at, and that frees me up to make something different.

That something - which can work for a sweet snack earlier in the day, for the meal itself or for later in the long holiday weekend - often includes apples.

Lately, I've been roasting them. I got the idea from the savory chefs at Farallon. They toss potatoes lightly with olive oil and salt and spread them in a single layer on a hot baking pan. Cooking them on a preheated pan gives them added crispness and color.

I thought why not take this into my pastry world and apply the same principles with apples with sugar?

To find which apples would work best, I tested nine varieties: SweeTango, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Ambrosia, Braeburn, Pinata, Pink Lady, Gala and Honey Crisp. While they all tasted good, their flavor varied, and I found the Ambrosia, Braeburn, Pinata, Pink Lady and Honey Crisp the best for my recipes. These bright red apples also looked the best once baked.

Roast the apples until they are soft and the juices have disappeared. Some varieties will take longer than others. Some may caramelize quickly, others not at all. Keep an eye on them and you'll be fine.

Once cool, they sometimes stick a little to the baking sheet. If that happens, remove them with a metal spatula or pop them in the oven for a few minutes.

I have become such a fan of roasted apples that I am continually thinking of new ways to incorporate them into my desserts. At Farallon, I served them as part of an apple ice cream sundae. Here, I use them in Apple Puffs and pound cake.

You can also serve them over ice cream, with angel food cake or with your breakfast yogurt.

Roasted Apples

Makes 2 cups

These can be made several days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400°. Place a heavy duty (not flimsy) non-insulated cookie sheet in the oven for 10 minutes.

While the pan is heating, cut the apples into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces. (Do not peel the apples.) Place the apples in a bowl, add the sugar and mix so the apples are evenly coated. Remove the sheet from the oven and spread the apples on the pan.

Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Stir, then bake for about another 10 minutes. Check the apples (they should be soft) and, if necessary, stir then bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the apples cool to room temperature on the pan.

Apple Puffs With Cinnamon Pastry Cream

These little puff pastry roasted apple and cream filled puffs are delicious and look great. Your guests will take a sliver of pumpkin pie to make room on their plates and in their stomachs for these. The components can be made in advance and easily assembled just before eating. My trick is to delegate others to do the dishes while you get the desserts ready. If you don't have exactly a 2 3/4-inch cutter or glass, that's OK - 2 1/2 or 3 inches is fine.

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • I box Pepperidge Farm or DuFour puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups Roasted Apples (see recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and cinnamon.

Over medium heat, cook the milk in a pot until hot. Slowly whisk into the eggs to temper them.

Pour the mixture back into the pot. Over medium low heat, cook until the mixture is thick like mayonnaise, stirring constantly with a wooden or heat-resistant rubber spatula. If the mixture gets lumpy, whisk until smooth. Pour or strain into a clean bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. The pastry cream base can be made a day ahead.

Place the puff pastry on a work surface, and cut out 16 circles, using a drinking class or round cutter measuring 2 3/4 inches.

Place 8 of the circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut a 1 3/4-inch circle out of the center of each of the remaining 8 circles. (You won't need the small circles and other scraps. You can sprinkle them with sugar, bake them and serve as a snack. Or, freeze them for another use.)

Lightly brush the uncut circles along the outside 1/4-inch with the beaten egg, taking care not to let any drip down the sides. Place the rings on top of the circles. With the tines of a fork, prick the inside bottom of the circles.

If the puff pastry has gotten very soft, or if it is difficult to handle, place the sheet pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. You can also form these a day in advance, and refrigerate until ready to bake.

When ready to bake (no earlier than the morning of serving), preheat the oven to 400°. Bake the puff circles about 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and prick the inside of the puffs with the tines of a fork to deflate them. Return them to the oven and bake about 5 minutes more, until golden brown. If the insides have puffed up again, prick them once more.

To assemble: Assemble the puffs just before serving.

If the Roasted Apples have been refrigerated, let them come to room temperature or warm them briefly in the microwave or a 350° oven.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and stir it to break it up a little. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream.

Place 2 tablespoons of pastry cream inside each puff. Pile 1/4 cup of the apples on top.

Per serving: 424 calories, 5 g protein, 65 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat (5 g saturated), 86 mg cholesterol, 134 mg sodium, 6 g fiber.

Apple Cardamom Pound Cake

Serves 10-12

Roasted apples work well in pound cake because they give it an apple flavor without the cake becoming too wet or the apples turning brown. This is great for dessert or for breakfast. You can make it a couple of days before Thanksgiving. The morning of, slice and toast it in the oven and serve with coffee. Or, serve it for dessert with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and caramel sauce.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups Roasted Apples (see recipe below)
  • Apple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter or grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cardamom into a bowl. Stir in the salt and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar until smooth, about 1 minute in an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In three additions, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture, making sure the batter is combined before the next addition. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the apple pieces.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of apples over the top of the batter.

Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 65-75 minutes.

During the last 10 minutes the cake is in the oven, stir together the sugar and apple juice in a small pot. Bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside until the cake has finished baking.

Remove the cake from the oven. Without delay, run a knife around the inside edge of the cake then invert the cake and pan onto a cutting board or rack. Remove the pan and the parchment paper.

Make about 12 holes in the bottom of the cake with a skewer or toothpick while the cake is still warm. With a pastry brush, brush half of the syrup onto the cake. Carefully turn the cake over and make more holes and brush on the remaining syrup. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

The pound cake should be stored at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It can be made a day or two ahead.

Per serving: 311 calories, 4 g protein, 51 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (7 g saturated), 63 mg cholesterol, 155 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

Watch the video: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - Evening Edition (July 2022).


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