Sixty Years of Christmas Cookies

Sat, Nov 15 • 0
image courtesy, Gourmet Magazine
(image courtesy Gourmet Magazine)

Gourmet Magazine offers up a great site detailing 60 years worth of recipes for cookies. The recipes are presented just as they appeared on the pages of the magazine, so the recipes for the cookies from the 40’s don’t presume you’ll be using modern conveniences like a food processor, so you may want to tinker a bit with them, unless you’re aiming for ultimate authenticity.

If you’re on my holiday list, you can look forward to getting to taste some of these this December.

Note: 1/18/2010, With the demise of Gourmet Magazine, or just the passage of time, it appears this link is now dead. Sorry about that.


Shells and Coins

Mon, Nov 10 • 0

6 italian sausage links (hot or sweet)
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus a little more for garnish
2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 pound small shell pasta (conchiglie, maruzze, or lumache)
grated Parmesan

Prick the sausage with a fork, and cover with cold water, and poach uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain and dry, and slice into quarter-inch rounds (or coins). Heat the butter in a skillet and add the sausage,  onion, garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, until everything is caramelized, then add the tomatoes, and simmer while the pasta cooks in boiling salted water, according to the instructions on the package. When pasta is al dente, drain and mix with the sausage and its sauce, garnish with a little more parsley and grated parmesan.


Lamb and Wild Rice with Roasted Autumn Vegetables

Fri, Sep 26 • 0

A good project for a lazy Sunday. It will fill your place up with some great aromas.

This recipe is a mixture of rich, tender roasted pumpkin, flavorful root vegetables, and earthy lamb and wild grains, and is based on something I saw in the October ’08 Everyday Food magazine. In their version, it’s rigitoni instead of rice, and it’s goat cheese instead of chunks of braised lamb shank.

You’ll need to decide what to use for your braising liquid. I chopped up 1 onion, 1 stalk of celery, a handful of baby carrots, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves in 2 cups chicken stock, but I bet you could get by with two cups of good red wine. Later, I used a rustic multi-grain rice mix I found in the store, but you could substitute it with your favorite, though I think brown rice would work better than Uncle Ben’s. I made this over the course of 2 days — braising the lamb the first day, and doing the rest the second day. It’s probably not a recipe you want to make after a long day at work, but it would be a good project for a lazy Sunday, or you could make most of it days in advance, and then put it all together for a weeknight dinner.

2 lamb shanks, trimmed of silver skin
some kind of flavorful braising liquid (see above)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oil

1 medium sugar pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
3 shallots
1 fennel (anise) bulb
salt and pepper
several fresh sage leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup multigrain rice mixture
1½ cups chicken stock

Braising the lamb shank :

Preheat the oven to 325°. Trim the silver skin off the shanks by slipping the point under the shiny whitish layer that covers the meat, and remove it in long strips to reveal the red meat below. Trim off the really big blobs of fat, too. Season with salt and pepper, and brown them on all sides over medium heat on the stovetop, about 8 minutes. Remove the shanks, and brown your braising vegetables if you’re using any, and add the liquid, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan (aka deglazing). Return the shanks to the pan, cover, and cook in the oven for 1½-2 hours. Remove the shanks, and cool enough to handle, then pull the meat off the bones, removing any fat and gristle, and set aside.

Roasting the vegetables :

While the lamb is cooking, peel, seed and chop the pumpkin into 1 inch cubes. Cut off the stalks and fronds of the fennel, and then slice the fennel bulb 8 ways, diagonally, but so each wedge retains a bit of the core, so they’ll stay together. Peel the shallots, and cut them in half or quarters depending on the size, still trying to keep each part connected to the core. Toss all of this in a bowl with the salt, pepper, sage leaves, and olive oil, and spread on a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast in a 425º oven for about an hour, tossing after 30 minutes, and checking every 5 minutes for the last 15 to make sure nothing is burning.

Putting it all together:

Prepare the rice according to the instructions. (If you did what I did, and made the other two parts of this recipe earlier, you can reheat the lamb and the vegetables in the same pan as the rice by using a steamer basket.)

Combine all, and taste for seasoning.


The Omnivore’s Hundred

Thu, Aug 28 • 1

A foodie blogger in the UK has manufactured a meme and came up with a list of 100 items for people to repost on their blogs to say what they’ve eaten, what they haven’t, and what they won’t. I managed to tick off 71 items, and only indicated 4½ items I wouldn’t ever touch : horse, roadkill, head cheese, a raw scotch bonnet pepper, and a fat cigar (which was listed with cognac, something I’m more than happy to drink).

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred


Keep reading…


Fish Market : What to Buy, What to Avoid

Wed, Jul 16 • 1

Monterey Bay Aquarium provides an excellent list of which fish and seafood to buy and which to skip.

It’s fully hyperlinked, so you’ll find out why you should avoid a particular fish. Orange Roughy, for example, is a fish I’ve bought and wrote here about in the last few months, but I had no idea it was on the avoid list… (due to its slow reproductive rate and potentially high mercury content). I was also surprised to see Atlantic cod on the list (due to overfishing).

You can view the list by region (US only), and you can print the list out, and make informed decisions next time you’re at the market.


DC Area Best Restaurants, 2008

Mon, Jun 9 • 0

An important resource for locals and DC tourists alike.

Reminiscent of my own Google Maps project, someone took the time to enter all 100 of the best restaurants in the greater DC area, as listed by Washingtonian Magazine, into Google Maps.


Salmon Fritters

Wed, Apr 30 • 0

If you’re feeling rich and extravagant, replace the canned salmon with fresh chopped salmon, or lump crab meat.

5 green onions, finely chopped
½ sweet red pepper, finely chopped
1t garlic powder
¼c mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
6 oz. flaked salmon (canned or in those foil packages)
1/3rd c corn flake coating or bread crumbs plus extra for coating
pinch of cayenne
juice from ½ a lemon

Mix all of this up in a bowl, and then make 4 balls, about the size of a golfball. Roll them around in more corn flakes/bread crumbs. Just before frying, flatten the balls to make patties. Fry in butter over medium heat, 3-4 minutes on each side.

Update, May 17 : I just made these for lunch today, using some leftover pan-fried salmon from the other night, and thought they were far superior to the packaged salmon I used last time. I didn’t explicitly point it out, but if you use fresh salmon, you might be able to get away with using it raw, if you chop it into small pieces, but even cooked salmon works well with this recipe.


Pick Your Own Produce VA/MD/DC

Sun, Apr 20 • 0

Last year, I used Google Maps to locate all of the “pick your own produce” farms in the greater Washington DC area. Berries dominate the list (black-, straw-, blue-), but also apples, cherries, and some let you pick your own vegetables, too.

If you’re not a DC local, I encourage you to create your own Google map of these sorts of places near you and link it here!

Google Maps: Pick your own produce VA/MD/DC


Bring Your Own Bag

Thu, Apr 17 • 0

I’m seeing more and more people get into the spirit of environmentalism by bringing their own durable grocery bags into the store with them. My local Trader Joe’s has a contest where they’ll give away a $25 gift card for to one lucky customer who brings their own tote. And Whole foods is officially phasing out the use of disposable plastic grocery bags by the end of the month. The city of San Francisco has completely banned their use over a year ago, and other cities are thinking about following their lead.

I’ve amassed a collection of cloth bags from several of the grocery stores where I shop, and I keep them in the back seat of the car. Now that I’m no longer bringing in the plastic bags to the house, it does present a bit of a problem … we’ve always recycled them as trash bags, because the trash chute in our apartment building is too small for anything bigger than one of those plastic grocery bags, overstuffed. It looks as though we may end up resorting to buying bags just to throw away again. One step forward, one step back.

Anyway, if you’re a crafty person and want to try your hand at making your own reusable grocery bag, the people at City Bag Trade offer up a pattern, so you can make your own from whatever fabric strikes your fancy.


Hamburgers

Sun, Apr 13 • 2

I made hamburgers for dinner last night. A pound of 85/15 ground beef, a small diced onion, some finely diced herbs like rosemary and parsley, some of my favorite smoky paprika mix, salt, pepper, maybe a little steak sauce … and here’s where I may lose you. Trader Joes sells canned roasted beef in beef broth, straight from Brazil. It’s a lot like canned tuna, but with beef. I don’t think I’d eat it straight, but I’ve seen them have cans of it open for sampling at TJ’s, and it’s perfectly edible. I used to buy the premade pot roast in the boil bags that they have near to packaged mac & cheese in the grocery store for this purpose, but this canned beef is just as good, and costs a half as much ($3?), with no left overs. Adding it adds a beefy flavor and stretches a pound of hamburger to 6 good sized burgers easily. I chop up the beef chunks even more than they are in the can, and add it to the ground beef, and mix well.

Another thing I do is avoid the thick, meatball-like burgers. I make mine thin, thin, thin. One or two minutes on a side, and then let them rest for a few minutes while I prepare the condiments. Usually in a pita with spring salad mix, and a few drops of mayo or ketchup. Jarred fried italian sweet peppers are really good on burgers, too, especially if you’ve put some provolone on to melt.

What do you like to put on your burger?


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