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The Food Almanac: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Food Almanac: Tuesday, January 29, 2013


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

Days Until. .
Mardi Gras--14
Valentine's Day--16

Today's Flavor
Today is Louisiana Caviar Day. This is an amazing regional product, as you know if you have a taste for caviar and have tried the stuff. It comes from a primitive fish that lives in the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya Basin. Ichthyologists call it a bowfin; the local name choupique (pronounced "shoe-pick") comes from a Native American word that means "mud fish."

This is the time of year when choupique caviar is harvested. The process of making it from the fish's roe was developed by a family living in the Atchafalaya Basin. John Burke, a young, failed oilman, thought it had possibilities and marketed it under the name "Cajun Caviar." He later changed the name to Choupiquet Royale.

Choupique caviar is a first-class caviar by any standard. The grains are black and on the small side, but the flavor is so good that very little salt is used in its manufacture. It was still a very new product when, in 1989, I bought two pounds of it from Burke for $25 a pound to serve at our wedding reception. I put the cans out there on the ice, with the classic accompaniments. Those who were at the party who knew caviar were very impressed that I would serve such great caviar so liberally. They were amazed when I told them what it was. I wouldn't hesitate to serve it whenever caviar is called for. Here's more about it.

According to many Web sources, today is National Corn Chip Day. As in Fritos, and Doritos, and. well, here's a list of dozens of different kinds of corn chips. How many have you eaten? That's too many.

Edible Dictionary
sevruga, Russian, n.--A large sturgeon native to the Caspian Sea, although it's also sometimes found in the Black Sea and the Aegean. It is one of the fish whose roe makes caviar of the highest grade, its cost and excellence exceeded only by that the the larger beluga. Sevruga caviar is the same dark gray color as beluga, but smaller. Like beluga, sevruga sturgeon have been overfished, but they are still being caught for their caviar. It currently sells at retail for about $175 an ounce.

Deft Dining Rule #716:
The reason God made your tongue the strongest muscle in your body and your palate hard is so you can squish and break caviar in the way that releases most of its deliciousness.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
If you're going to garnish a hot dish with caviar, put the caviar on top of something else (a little slice of endive, a little piece of toast, a rolled-up anchovy) at room temperature. Then place that on top of the dish, at the last minute. Hot caviar is not a good idea.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Beluga Mountain is about 60 miles west northwest of Anchorage, Alaska. With a summit at 3670 feet, it's in the southern foothills of the mountain range that tops out in Denali, the highest mountain in North America, about 65 miles north. There's no thing going on at Beluga Mountain, although someone by now has surely hiked to its summit and eaten caviar up there. The nearest place to get a real bite to eat is the Pioneer Lodge in Willow, thirty-eight miles west by dog sled.

Food Inventions
The Lester Milk Jar--the first milk bottle for distribution to consumers--was patented today in 1878. It was not very easy to use. A special clamp was needed to keep the cap on. Other milk bottles soon came along that improved upon it, and the era of bottled milk was underway.

The first machine that rolled waffle-like wafers into ice cream cones was patented today in 1924. The inventor was Carl Taylor, in Cleveland, Ohio. Dies to impress the sides of the wafers were on a turntable, such that each one had time to cool enough to get a little stiff before they were rolled up. (Otherwise they'd be squashed.)

Music To Eat Pineapple By
Today in 1891, Queen Liliuokalani, sister of the deceased King Kalakaua, ascended the throne of Hawaii. She was the last Hawaiian monarch, abdicating under duress about four years later after American businessmen seized power. Liliuokalani wrote the most distinctive of all Hawaiian songs, Aloha Oe, among many others.

Music To Eat Crowder Peas By
Blues master and guitarist Leadbelly (real name Huddie Ledbetter) was born on a plantation north of Shreveport today in 1885. He claimed to be the world's fastest and best cotton picker, but he is more famous for his groundbreaking blues music. He had much to be blue about. Here's a story of his rough life.

The Saints
This is the feast day of St. Juniper, a Franciscan monk who joined the order so early that St. Francis himself inducted him. A story about Juniper has it that a sick man wanted to eat a pig's foot. Juniper cut the foot off a pig, cooked it, and gave it to the man. The owner of the pig was not happy about it, but Juniper showed so much remorse that the farmer gave him the rest of the pig, too.

Food Namesakes
I know we're in trouble when I have to go to cricket stars for food names, but it's strange that I found three of them from that list, and none from any other walk of life! Simon Cook, a star cricket bowler (that's what they call their pitchers), born today in 1972. and Chris Pringle, a New Zealand cricketer, born today in 1968. and Bob Berry, a British left-handed cricket bowler, was born today in 1926. I ate chocolate-covered crickets once.

Words To Eat By
"Caviar is to dining what a sable coat is to a girl in evening dress."--Ludwig Bemelmans.

Words To Drink By
Today is the birthday, in 1880, of W.C. Fields, a comic actor with a style of speech so distinctive that he's still being imitated, long after his death. His character was famous for his love of drink, so he has many memorable lines on that subject:

"Once in the wilds of Afghanistan I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days."

"Hey, who took the cork off my lunch?"

"I did not say that this meat was tough. I just said I didn't see the horse that usually stands outside."

"’Twas a woman who drove me to drink. I never had the courtesy to thank her."

About water: "Never touch the stuff. Fish ---- in it."

And his most famous:

"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink."


The Kitchen Guru



1 cup of spring or salad onions washed and chopped
1 desert spoon of good quality mayonnaise of your choice, one without sugar is best.
1/2 tea spoon sea salt
1/2 tea spoon black pepper

When the eggs are slightly warm peel them & mash them with a fork or potato masher, do not use a food processor it spoils the texture and flavor.
Add the onions, mayonnaise and seasoning. mix well, and serve .
or put in the fridge till 20 minutes before you serve. Its better served at room temperature .

Winter egg & onion 4-6 people

7 eggs hard boiled
1/2 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large Spanish onions peeled and chopped finely.

1 desert spoon of good quality mayonnaise of your choice, one without sugar is best.
1/2 tea spoon sea salt
1/2 tea spoon black pepper .

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and cook gently till lightly brown.
When the eggs are slightly warm peel them & mash them with a fork or potato masher, do not use a food processor it spoils the texture and flavor.

Add the fried onions with any oil from the pan, mayonnaise and seasoning. mix well, and serve .
or put in the fridge till 20 minutes before you serve. Its better served at room temperature .

Enjoy these starters without too much guilt !


Monday, January 21, 2013

MG Events: Minnie Mouse 1st Birthday!

We celebrated our twin girls FIRST birthday this past weekend.

Here is what I came up with for a fun and unique Minnie Mouse Theme.

Call or email for package pricing.

Don't hesitate to call for information on custom birthday parties, events, weddings, etc!

Melissa Galloway
MG Events

Minnie Mouse Inspired Invitation
Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake from Betty Cakes, Ocala, FL.

Smash Cakes for the twin girls!

CENTER: Hand Made Centerpieces. FAR RIGHT: Hand Made Bean Bag Toss
Close-up

Custom Made confetti from ETSY

Matching plates and Napkins from one of my favorite online markets!

Custom made Minnie Mouse centerpiece for the children's tables. The edible red and white swirl lollipops were very popular!
Close Up of the backdrop
The Decor! Beautiful red and white polka dot backdrop!
Pin the Crown on the Birthday Girl game (inspired by an old classic pin the tail on the donkey)

Close up of the boys favor bags. The girl favor bags had big Minnie Mouse Bows!

Favor bag display.

Minnie Mouse inspired 16oz cups with an ice bucket in the middle.

Fruit Pizza bar

Background for the food table. What a statement!






For more info on how to make your event one of a kind, contact Melissa Galloway


Recipe Doodle

My husband and I took a very quick trip to Jamaica, work for him, pleasure for me. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, which was fun, although a bit bland. So we attempted to venture out briefly one morning during a lull in seminars, but it was too early for things to be open. It was disappointing to miss out on authentic local food, but strolling the streets, we definitely experienced a little local flavor.
We arrived home with scarcely a souvenir for the kids, but we were able to give them a taste of the Caribbean at the dinner table, transporting them across the ocean with this delicious Jerk Chicken. Even my picky Son enjoyed this tasty dish and went back for seconds.

1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup shallots
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
4 garlic cloves
1 serrano chile, stemmed and roughly diced
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper

Combine green onions, shallots, brown sugar, lime juice, olive oil, allspice, garlic and serrano chile in a food processor, process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the onion mixture and the chicken in a medium bowl, toss well. Let marinate 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 350F.
Place chicken in a lightly greased dish, bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Enjoy!


The Food Almanac: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - Recipes

Ingredients

1.5 oz rum
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz apricot liqueur
.5 oz lime juice
2 tbsp simple syrup

Instructions

  1. In a tall glass, add rum, Cointreau, apricot liqueur, simple syrup and lime juice in a glass with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain out.
  3. Enjoy!

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Pesche Ripiene – Stuffed Peaches

Simplicity. It’s such a reassuring concept. Everyone knows that the simple things in life are often the best, and honestly, who doesn’t need to simplify their lives every now and then? No one needs to overcomplicate their lives. And at this time of year, when the holiday rush and madness seems to be over and – well here in the Southern Hemisphere anyway – the long summer days call out for time to be spent enjoying them, you can relish. Read More


Ricotta Gnudi

Gnudi hail from Tuscany and are like melt-in-the-mouth pillows. In many ways they are like gnocchi, though they are made out of cheese rather than potato. Gnudi in Italian means "naked," because they are like cheese filled ravioli stripped of its pasta wrapper.

Although gnudi would ordinarily not find its way on any health-conscious menu, this particular recipe has been adapted from Rocco Dispirito's reduced calories Italian cookbook. However, I cannot claim all of the calorie slashing that he does, because I am convinced that a great ricotta gnudi depends upon a creamy ricotta, and creamy cannot be achieved with a fat-free or reduced-fat ricotta. What can be said of this recipe is that it still significantly reduces the flour calories of a traditional recipe with the use of a little cornstarch and egg white powder. Egg white powder can be found in the heath food department of your local grocery store. Sure, it is a little expensive per volume, but it greatly reduces the amount of caloric flour and therefore provides a more healthy option for this wonderfully rich dish.

Servings: 4 (20 gnudi)
Time: 50 minutes (Note: prepare the ricotta in advance)

Marinara Sauce
1-3/4 cups whole milk ricotta, strained
for 1 hour in advance (or better, make your own Homemade Ricotta)
2 tablespoons flour (or Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour)
3/4 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/2 cup roughly chopped basil
A pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons egg white powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. IN ADVANCE, you may either prepare Homemade Ricotta, letting it strain for 2 hours, or if you prefer you may strain the store bought ricotta for at least 1 hour.

2. In a sauce pan, begin to heat the marinara. Likewise, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of kosher or sea salt to boil.

3. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, flour, Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, flour, nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of the egg white powder. Mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Scoop out 20 generous tablespoons of the mixture and place them on a baking sheet or platter. At this stage, its consistency will be similar to cookie dough. Place the platter or baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes in order to harden slightly. This will enable you to finish shaping and coating them more easily.

5. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of egg white powder in a bowl. In the palm of your hand, roll each gnudi into nicely formed balls. Then, thoroughly coat each ball in the egg white powder.

6. Place the cornstarch in a separate bowl. Give each ball an additional coating of cornstarch until completely covered.

7. Without letting the balls touch each other, drop them into the rapidly boiling water. Cook for precisely 2 minutes.

"The reason traditional gnudi don't fall apart in the boiling water is because they're dried uncovered overnight and a natural flour wrapper forms. Since I couldn't use highly caloric flour, I had to devise a way to envelop the cheese without adding too many calories. The combination of egg white powder and cornstarch accomplished just that. The exercise of swapping out calories often produces a result where flavors pop even more than in the original, as is the case here." – Rocco Dispirito

8. After 2 minutes, gently remove the gnudi from the water. Serve with marinara and some additional shredded Parmigiano. Enjoy!


Recommended Wine

Because gnudi hails from Tuscany, a nice Tuscan Chianti might be in order. 2007 was a good year for Chianti. I would recommend the 2007 La Castellina Chianti Classico. This wine has strong hints of cherry and a nice acidity that contrasts with the richness of the gnudi.


Tyromancy.

Today is Twelfth Day, and the official end of the Christmas season. Every previous year of The Old Foodie blog, I have written about the food traditions of this day, but this year I have a different idea for you.

The end of the Christmas season is a time for looking ahead and wondering what the new year will bring. One way to find out, so the old books say, is by tyromancy. A bit of divination one-upmanship on your friends who merely read tea-leaves or tarot cards. Tyromancy is divination by cheese – by the interpretation of the signs that appear as the cheese coagulates. Unfortunately, no book written by an enlightened one has appeared to help us read those signs, so we must make it up as we go along, or rely on our intuitive interpretation.

So – go to it, and make yourself some cheese, and watch it carefully as it cheeses. There are some instructions HERE.

When you have made your cheese, make some Welsh Rabbit. The number of variations on the theme of cheese on toast is astounding, and the collection of recipes (HERE and HERE) grows very large.

You are not likely to come up with a good Camembert cheese in your own kitchen, but if you have some at home, and are sick of the damn stuff, you can use it up in an up-market version of Welsh Rabbit.

Camembert Toast
1 Camembert Cheese
slices of Graham or Boston brown bread or crackers
salt and paprika
Remove the crust from a creamy Camembert cheese, spread the cheese thickly on slices of bread or crackers, dust with salt and paprika, and bake in a quick oven – 375 degrees F. – from five to eight minutes, or until the surface of the cheese is golden brown.
Mrs. Allen on cooking, menus, service: 2500 recipes 1924


Beyond Burgoo

The liquid they are boiled/simmered in becomes rich and flavorful. "Pot-Likker" as it is called is said to cure many ailments. If you have a group coming for dinner you should always make a "mess of greens." I have no idea how much is a mess but it's got to be a massive amount as they cook WAYdown. I generally use two bunches when I cook greens for the two of us so my mess is 2 bunches at this point.
Most recipes call for hammocks but I have been using smoked turkey wings and legs. These babies are awesome as I can buy them at my local grocery store already smoked up and ready to go. Yes, I am talking about the big olesmoked turkey legs just like you find at your local Renaissance Festival.

Recipe Origin - Me
1 package smoked turkey wings and legs
2 bunches of greens - I have used mustard, turnip and collard. Kale is just too. tough for my liking but do what you want.
1 box chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 good dashes of favorite hot sauce
Unwrap the smoked turkey and put the pieces into the pressure cooker. Add the chicken stock and start heating on high. Fill the sink 1/2 full with cold water and wash and rinse the greens really good. This might take 2 times as they are generally grown in sand. Trim out the tough stems and chop up the leaves. *Some people just tear the tough stalks out. I haven't learned that technique yet so trimming and chopping work fine for me. Once the greens are all chopped, take the smoked turkey wings/legs out of the pressure cooker and add all the greens, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add the smoked turkey back in on top the greens. Add water until it's all covered but don't overfill the pressure cooker. Put the lid on and bring it up to pressure. I did mine on the low pressure because my pressure cooker is acting up and only low pressure works. Once it's up to pressure, cook 20-25 mins. Release pressure through normal method. Greens should be tender, smoked turkey should be about to fall off bone and Pot-Likker very flavorful with a touch of spice. I serve ours in bowls so there is plenty of room for the Pot-Likker. Cornbread is an awesome addition.

Results, Findings, Thoughts, Yum Factor
Again, I don't know if this is a the official way to cook greens. It's just what I have come up with. Tonight we each had a bowl with a smoked turkey wing and a small sweet potato as our side. I had a second, small scoop of greens and Pot-Likker. Tom did the same topping his with a smoked turkey wing. We have enough leftover for yet another meal.


The Fruit of Her Hands

Don't let the fact that it is from a Weight Watchers cookbook scare you away. It is delicious, real food. This recipe is supposed to be cooked on the grill, but we had lousy weather so I just cooked it on the stove top in a non-stick pan (it was pretty messy in the pan so the grill would be better if you can manage it.)

Ingredients:
6 (5-oz)boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

The rub: (combine in small bowl)
2 tsp. smoked Paprika (I use Penzey's. I LOVE this spice.)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 T. brown sugar

The glaze: (mix together in small bowl)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 T. brown sugar
2 T. cider vinegar


I can't tell you how good this smells cooking.
Try it for yourself.
Rub spice mixture all over the chicken. Grill or cook chicken over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side then brush with half of the glaze. Cook 2 min. Turn and brush with remaining glaze. Cook until done. (I use a thermometer for chicken.)

I served this with baked potato, brussel sprouts and roasted beets.

This is 5 Points Plus per serving if you are on Weight Watchers and has 203 calories.

The whole family enjoyed this one. at least the ones that like chicken. :)


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