“You Don’t Win Friends With Salad.”

Tue, Jul 21 • 0

So says Homer Simpson. Nevertheless, Mark Bittman, writing for the New York Times has come up with 101 ways to make a meal out of salad, ranging from vegan, to vegetarian, to omnivorous.


Holy Crap.

Sat, May 9 • 2

For her third anniversary of blogging, Pioneer Woman gave  away five 14-cup food processors last week. She asked people to post what they were making for dinner last Wednesday.

The contest rules specifically insisted on only one entry per person. Still, she got 18,710 entries!


Southern Restaurants

Mon, May 4 • 0

On a recent trip down south, my (other) brother, his son, and I managed to hit a couple of fine and famous eateries on a road trip to Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, ending up in Huntsville, Alabama. Although we only went to each place once, we tried to go for variety in what we ordered.

We all agreed that the Loveless Cafe in Nashville was, hands down, the best meal we had. Down-home-style food, friendly waiter, and an endless supply of homemade buscuits. I had the country ham plate, with a side of collards and carrots. My brother, Tom, had their pit-smoked turkey breast with cranberry barbecue sauce. My nephew, TJ had the fried chicken. (TJ, 16, born in Richmond, but raised on Cape Cod, claimed it was the best fried chicken and the best biscuits he’d ever eaten in his life.) I have a feeling, if I were a local, I’d be a fixture at this place. So, so very good, and definitely worth revisiting. (Open 7 AM – 9 PM, 7 days a week. 8400 Hwy 100, Nashville, Tenn. 615-646-9700.)  Review @ Roadfood.com / Loveless Cafe Menu

I’d intended to make this trip all about southern barbeque, but neglected to confirm this with my traveling companions, who only had a very limited appetite for the delicacy. Internet searches claimed that the best bbq in Nashville was in the touristy part of town. Called Jack’s, the ribs were pretty smokey, almost too smokey for my taste, and they were served dry, though there were several options of sauce to choose from. Tom had a pulled pork sandwich, and my nephew had the pulled chicken. They both thought it was pretty good.

The other bbq restaurant we tried was called Interstate, in Memphis, the city of bbq. I’d gotten several recommendations about this being the best place in the best city for bbq. I ordered the combination platter, so I could try everything they had to offer. It came with a couple beef and pork ribs, some pulled pork, and pulled beef, and some smoked sausage. It was all covered in a thin bbq sauce, so the plate looked bloody. The spicy sausage was the best, I think, while the pork ribs and the pulled beef were close runners up. It also came with a side order of bbq’d spaghetti, which I was told to specifically look out for. I wasn’t too impressed, unfortunately. Regular spaghetti coated in more of the sauce and bits of pulled pork, I think. I guess I was hoping for a transcendental experience, being in the best of the best bbq restaurants, so maybe I was expecting too much. I almost think I’ve had better bbq here in Virginia than the stuff I got that day. I’ve since read that some locals think the place has gone downhill in recent years.

I really should have sampled more places while I had the chance. The other places we ate were unmentionable — chosen for convenience rather than quality food — a necessity on a road trip. I do hope to get back to the Loveless Cafe again, though.


Lobel’s : Who are your customers?

Wed, Mar 11 • 0

I took advantage of a promotional $50 gift certificate from Lobel’s, an upscale New York meat market that also does mail-order, at least 7 or 8 years ago, and I’ve been on their mailing list ever since. I have to admit that their products do look appealing, and am occasionally tempted to make a purchase, until I think about how much I’d be spending for what I’d be getting.

bacon_smoked_bgFor example,while I was looking around their site, I noticed that they sell Double Hickory Smoked Slab Bacon, unsliced, in 2½ pound slabs, for $29.98 — pricey, but considering how difficult it is to find uncut slab bacon, it might be worth it for a splurge — that is, until you roll in their shipping fees : another $26.95 on top of that. This means the bacon ends up being $22.78 a pound, or a total order price $56.93.

It really makes me wonder who they think will order from them, especially in this economy. Still, they’ve been in business for 5 generations, so there’s got to be people willing to part with their money.


High Pressure Chili

Wed, Mar 4 • 0

So I ended up making chili con carne tonight using my new pressure cooker, pretty much just as described by Jacques in the last post. I used a course grind of buffalo meat instead of beef, and I saved the green onions for the end instead of putting them in the pot at the beginning. I also skipped the jalepeno/habenero in favor of Muir Glen organic roasted tomatoes with chipotle and garlic, which provided enough heat for the mild kind of chili my wife will eat.

It worked out really well. The beans were completely cooked, and the chili had great flavor. The only thing I noticed is that the cooking time of 1 hour is a little deceptive. It took at least 30 minutes for the pressure cooker to get up to pressure after I clamped on the lid. Still, from dried bean to finished chili, the total time including prep and pressurizing was 1 hour, 45 minutes. I’m happy with my purchase, and I really recommend it.

1½ lbs. coarse grind buffalo (or regular ground beef, or ground turkey, or stew meat)
8 ounces dried red kidney beans (about 1½ cups)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes in serrano sauce
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tablespoons good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
3 cups cold water
2 teaspoons salt

Brown the buffalo meat in batches in the pressure cooker, then put all of the other ingredients but the salt in. (Salt inhibits the cooking process, esp. with the beans.) Clamp on the lid, and set it on high pressure for 60 minutes. Add salt before serving, and garnish with greek yogurt, chopped green onion, shredded chedder, avocado … also great over baked potatoes. Makes about 8 servings.


Hook, Line and Sinker

Wed, Mar 4 • 0

Ok. So I fell for it.

I watched Jacques Pepin make chili con carne in an electric pressure cooker. I didn’t even know these things existed. I’d been contemplating purchasing a regular pressure cooker for awhile now. I added one to my Amazon shopping cart; I turned down the corner of the page in the Sur la Table catalog … but nothing pushed me over the edge until I watched this cooking show.

He just poured the dried beans into the pot right out of the bag. He added raw hamburger, and water and canned tomatoes and tomato paste and spices. He clamped on the lid, and said that he’d have chili in an hour. (I’ve snipped out just the parts where he demonstrates the chili recipe … the first video is the prep, and the second one shows him serving it. The whole episode is here.)

I looked on the internet, and saw recipes for pot roast in less than an hour. Chicken stock in 40 minutes. I read that this cooker let you brown your meat in it first without making you dirty up another pan. It also has a setting that lets you simmer the contents once the pressure is off, to keep it warm. Contrary to his demonstration, it really doesn’t seem to be designed to let you put the ingredients in, then go off to work or the store, and have it wait, and then turn itself on 45 minutes before you get home. Instead, the timer is more a way to limit the amount of time the food cooks under pressure — the device will build up the pressure, cook for the time you’ve set on the timer, and then shut off. (On re-reading the manual, it’ll cook for the allotted time, and then switch to “simmer” mode — so I guess you could set it up, let it cook, and then it’ll keep warm all day long while you were shopping or at work.)

Well, of course I had to have one. I had some credit built up on Amazon, so I ordered it.

And then I re-watched the cooking show, and only then realized that the whole damn show is sponsored by Cuisinart, the people who make the electric pressure cooker. What’s more, the unsweetened chocolate he puts in is made by yet another of his sponsors. I realized I’d been bamboozled. Oh, Jacques! How could you? If anyone would resist being a infomercial pitch-man, it’d be you.

So, the cooker showed up this afternoon, and I was tempted to make dinner using it, but then I figured I should wait and try some of the recipes from the little cookbook that came with it, instead of just winging it. I don’t have much buyer’s remorse. I’m still glad I bought it, but the proof will be in the pudding.

Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, $149


Foodie Jargon, Jan ’09

Sat, Jan 31 • 0

bilingual adj. Out of the types of celestial seasoning tea, the bilingual teas seem to appeal mostly to Hispanic communities. These teas are called bilingual because they mix two different flavor like banana and apple, or cinnamon and apple, or honey and lemon, and so on.

belly wadding n. In the cowboy movies we often see cow punchers and gunfighters pull out what appears to be a short strip of leather and chew away on it—somewhat of a substitute for ribs and beans when they were on the trail or when there was a lull in dodging bullets. Some of the cowboys referred to it as “belly wadding.”

sugar hat n. The key is to find a sugar cone (also known as a “sugar hat”) which is a solid piece of white sugar that you can flame.

murphy style n. I ask this question in the Christmas section because you always see gift packs with coffee beans and it’s not instant coffee. And I am always worried that the gift receipient doesn’t have a coffee maker. Yes, you can make it “murphy style” or some refer to it as cowboy or camp side style. Just use the ground bean and a pot of water, bring to a boil and let the grounds settle.

oyster n. Tuck the knife behind the ball and cut the leg free. As you cut past the socket joint, don’t forget to arc the knife around the little pocket of meat known in birds as the “oyster,” as this is the best part. The oyster is small in wild ducks, but is very large in turkeys, geese and pheasants.

ham fat musician n. He went from being a “ham fat” musician (a term for amateur players in reference to young trombonists greasing their slides with lard) to a professional.

pizza stone n. Baking stone: A stone creates a more even temperature and the crunchy-chewy crust that bakers seek. Also known as a pizza stone, this large porous tile can be left in the bottom of the oven at all times to even the heat.

white tablecloth restaurant n. An upscale or expensive restaurant, as opposed to a casual or fast-food restaurant. “I’m able to do coupons and help people who are on tight budgets who still want to go out to eat. It’s the Ruth Chris Steakhouses and the white tablecloth restaurants who will see an effect.”

yak n. Their discovery of cognac—“yak” as they affectionately call it—started a fashion among young black Americans who, in a practice considered heresy in France, mix it with fruit juices to make cocktails such as French Connection and Incredible Hulk. The rappers even wrote songs about Hennessy Cognac, referring to it as “Henny” or “Henn-dog.”

Courtesy of The Double-Tongued Dictionary.


Food Neologisms for December, ’08

Tue, Dec 30 • 0

“Bowl of red,” “Randall,” and “Sikparazzi.”

bowl of red n. The fact that a Texas “bowl of red,” as chili is commonly called, has no original relationship with past didn’t matter.

Randall n. Wayne decided to attach a bag of NZ Cascade hops to one of his taps- apparently this is referred to as a “Randall.” It created a crazy hoppy beer that got crazier as more beer was poured through it. After a few hours it just started smelling like a bag of hops straight out of the freezer.

sikparazzi n. Just as paparazzi follow Hollywood stars for a living, hoping to catch them slipping up on film—many so called “sikparazzi,” a combination of the Korean word for food and paparazzi, will be checking up on restaurants and food venders to detect unhygienic, inappropriate or fake ingredients, also in the hopes of a payday.

Lovingly culled from Double-Tongued Dictionary.


Mysterious Food on the Internets

Wed, Dec 10 • 0

twinkiesDaily Lunch is a japanese site detailing one obsessive artist’s lunch box, and their artistic creative presentations.

How frozen pizzas are made. What’s in a twinkie?

(Amazing. Twinkies have been around for 78 years! They’ve been around as long as the Chrysler Building, in New York, and Betty Boop. Here are more events from 1930.)


Welsh Rabbit

Wed, Nov 19 • 0

This was one of my granddad’s favorites. It’s very economical. You can probably make it for less than $5 total provided you have all the seasonings on hand. (Especially if you grab your cheddar from the dairy aisle of the grocery store, instead of the specialty cheese or deli section.) Supposedly the name dates back to early eighteenth-century England, when meat was so expensive that the poor could only eat cheaper cuts, like rabbit, which was the cheapest meat of all. But, as the slur goes, even rabbit was too expensive for the Welsh, and so they were forced to substitute cheese for meat. I’ve always considered this meal to be luxurious.

2 cups (½ lb. or 250g) aged, sharp Cheddar, grated
1 tablespoon (15g) butter
½ cup (125ml) beer
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
sliced bread, toasted

Melt butter and cheese together over low heat; stir in the beer and continue to stir until the mixture is well blended. Remove from heat and beat in egg and seasonings. Arrange several slices of toast in a shallow pan and pour the rarebit over them. Brown briefly under a broiler and serve while still bubbling. Serves 2, or 4 as an appetizer.

(I really have no idea why Winsor McCay made such a big deal about the hallucinatory properties of this dish, but do let me know if you have any weird dreams after eating it!)

Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. by Winsor McCay, The New York Evening Telegram, May 30, 1908;
Waking Dream of the Rarebit Fiend
, Boston Globe, Oct. 31, 2007;
Dream of The Rarebit Fiend: The Saturdays
, by Winsor McCay.


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