Tuna Noodle Salad & Grandma’s Potato Salad

Wed, May 28 • 0

Two of mom’s old summer stand-bys. A summer picnic was never without one or both of these on the table.

Not much to post these last few days. Been a little too warm to be in the kitchen. I did make two of mom’s old summer stand-bys. A summer picnic was never without one or both of these on the table. (I’ve reduced the quantities because I’m only feeding 2, and even then, we’ll be eating these for days. You can ramp up the amounts as needed.)

Tuna Noodle Salad

You can replace the canned tuna with leftover salmon with excellent results. I use tuna packed in olive oil, but if you want to save a few calories, use the tuna packed in water. Traditionally, Mom used only elbow macaroni and spanish onion.

1 lb. macaroni, cooked, drained, cooled
2 cans tuna, drained
1 stem celery, chopped fine
1 bunch green onions, chopped fine
½ c mayonnaise
salt & pepper
garlic powder

Mix all of these in a bowl, and let sit in the fridge to chill and let the flavors meld.

Grandma’s Potato Salad

Grandma always used Miracle Whip for this recipe, but I can’t bring myself to use the stuff, even if it is family tradition. And since I’m bucking tradition, Gramma never knew a red bell pepper, nor green onions. Gramma would have also peeled the potatoes. I don’t think it’s necessary.

5 or 6 red bliss potatoes, diced
4 eggs, hard boiled, and diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, chopped
½ c mayonnaise
3 T mustard
3 T pickle juice
salt & pepper
garlic powder

Both the potatoes and the eggs should be started in cold water. Add some salt to the potato, and cook until easily pierced with a fork, drain and cool. For the eggs, cover them in cold water, with an inch of water head room. Bring the water to a boil, and the moment it starts to boil, clamp on a lid, turn off the heat, and let the eggs sit for 20 minutes, then into a ice water bath to stop the cooking. Mix everything but the paprika, and then sprinkle that over top.

Pulled Pork Butt

Sat, May 24 • 0

This recipe will make your house smell wonderful, and you’ll be salivating for the hours it takes to cook.

Preheat oven to 325. Mix in a food processor :

6 cloves of garlic
2 california dried chilis, bloomed over an open flame, the stem and seeds removed
2 chunks of peeled fresh ginger
1 T smoked paprika
1 T mixed dried green herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)
2 t salt
1 t pepper

Score the fat on a boston butt roast, and rub the above mixture all over the roast, especially into the fat.

Slice a white onion, thick, and layer the bottom of a cooking vessel with high sides. Put the roast on top, along with any left over rub. In a small bowl, mix equal amounts of ketchup and yellow mustard, along with half that quantity of molasses. Pour the wet mixture over the pork roast. Cover tightly with a lid, or with a layer of parchment under a layer of foil (tomato and aluminum foil don’t mix). Put it in the oven, and cook for 4 to 8 hours, or until the meat is literally falling off the bone. Once you get close, remove the cover 30 minutes before the end, and let the crust brown.

Remove the roast to rest. Shred with a pair of forks, and serve in the cooking liquid with the onions, and perhaps some good cole slaw, on hamburger buns/kaiser rolls.

Easy Chicken Stew

Wed, May 21 • 0

Saw this recipe for a chicken stew with wine demonstrated on a cooking show last weekend, and thought I’d give it a go.

The results were ok, but I think it could use some tinkering, as the broth was a little too astringent for my taste. The recipe called for oyster mushrooms, but one of us is allergic, so I replaced them with carrots. The recipe also called for serving it over buttered noodles, but I chose to add an Israeli couscous and grains mix that Trader Joes sells. The leftovers taste even better the second day.

4 oz bacon, diced
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
8-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 bay leaves
1t fresh thyme
2 carrots, sliced
1 bottle riesling wine
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the bacon in a dutch oven. Add the leeks and soften. Add the chicken thighs — no need to brown the thighs. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the couscous, and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 45 minutes. Add the couscous and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

More Food Neologisms

Tue, May 20 • 0

More jargon and recently coined food words and phrases from The Double Tongued Dictionary.

God shot n.The [espresso] machine is for people who like to fiddle—and not everyone wants to grind beans, pre-heat demitasses, tamp at just the right pressure, “temperature surf” and do all the other hoo-ha necessary to produce a perfect shot (or “God shot,” as they call it on Coffeegeek).”

meat glue n. “Transglutaminase: Commonly known as meat glue, it is used to chemically bond proteins together.”

sushi index n.There’s something called the sushi index.…The Americans are eating less fancy-fancy because they are screwed for the dollars.”

meat without feet n. Professor Omholt knows that persuading many people to overcome their knee-jerk distaste for lab meat—or meat without feet,’ as one animal organisation has referred to it—will be tricky.”

Experiment : Boursin Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Wed, May 14 • 0

Made this recipe up in the grocery store, though ultimately, it was a waste of some expensive cheese spread.

Marinate 3 chicken breasts using the salt/buttermilk & onion method described in the recent southern fried chicken recipe, below. Pat dry, and pound ¼” thickness, trimming excess to form uniform rectangles. In a food processor, mix chicken trimmings, ¼ c sour cream, 2 or 3 T boursin cheese, fresh parsley and fresh baby spinach leaves, plus salt and pepper to taste. Mix with 1c freshly made rice. (I used a brown and red rice mixture.) Spread a thin layer of the rice and cheese mixture on each chicken breast, and roll, tying with string. Dredge in flour and fry in a little bit of butter and olive oil until golden, and then finish off in a 325 oven for 15 or 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Results: Though it tasted just great, I didn’t notice that the marinade made much of a difference, so I’ll probably skip that step. Also, the stuffing was good, it didn’t particularly taste of boursin cheese, so I might just leave that part out next time, too. Either that, or cut back on the spinach/parsley. Alternately, I could replace the subtle boursin with just a few cloves of garlic, chopped in the food processor.

Chicago Lifts Ban on Foie Gras

Wed, May 14 • 0

You know, I can understand the outrage of people who think that eating foie gras is evil. The animals are most definitely mistreated in the production of the product… where a tube is forced down the throat of a goose, and they are forcefed their body weight in corn, every day, to the point that their livers are enlarged 10 times their normal size. I can completely understand how, after knowing that, you’d choose not to eat this particular delicacy from our friends in France.

But then I’d also expect you to avoid just about every other meat product on the market, including eggs (where the hens are crammed so tightly in the laying racks in the farm/factory, that they usually lose all of their feathers, and their bodies get bruises all over it) and beef (where steers are hardened off on corn, a food their bodies aren’t made to digest, causing all sorts of infection and diseases that the farmers need to pump them with medicines and antibiotics). And if you did choose to avoid those foods, then I can understand it, completely.

It’s when you decide that I have to avoid those foods, even if I eat them at my peril, that is the flaw in logic. The key for being self-righteous in your beliefs is that “self” is just as important as “right” in the phrase. Your beliefs are yours. Don’t try to force them on the rest of us.

And it’s easy to see why the animal activists would pick foie gras as their beach-head into food policy. It’s an obscure product that only the fringiest of the fringe even cares about. There’s no huge market for the stuff, so Big Industry isn’t going to apply pressure to politicians that are thinking about enacting legislation limiting the consumption of it. Today, foie gras. Tomorrow…?

And while I do have some complaints about the way big Agro-Industry has changed the face of farming in the last 30 years, I prefer to think that there’s more power, long term, in the pocketbook than there is in the lawbook. The ban on foie gras is a perfect example. Any law passed can be overturned. But if enough people rob the industry of the money it needs, that will surely force change. The problem is getting enough people motivated to participate in a boycott.

Anyway, here’s a brief news article describing how Chicago came to its senses and overturned the 2-year-old ban on the delicacy. (For the record, I have sampled foie gras as part of a tasting menu at a ritzy restaurant and, pretty much like veal, I didn’t find it appealing enough to justify the guilt associated with purchasing it.)

Kewpie Mayo

Mon, May 12 • 1

I’ve tried this japanese concoction, and I’m not really sure what the attraction is. It reminded me of Miracle Whip, and not really in a good way. I’d heard about it on some of the foodie message boards I read and heard such rave reviews of the stuff — how it was better than any other mayonnaise others had tried; that it was more savory than the rest. I found it to be exactly the opposite, when my brother smuggled a little 1 oz. bottle back from a recent trip to Japan for me. Nevertheless, if you want to try it for yourself, or if you’re one of its big fans, I spotted a display of large bottles at my nearby World Market store for $3.99, which is a big savings off of Amazon, at $11.49 a bottle.

Again with the Southern Fried Chicken

Thu, May 8 • 0

After several attempts and false steps, I’ve finally come up with my go-to fried chicken recipe. This is the best I’ve ever made and the best I’ve ever eaten.

Tried a new technique for fried chicken for dinner tonight, with somewhat mixed results. The recipe came from the Gourmet Cookbook. It added a few details and steps from my normal recipe, which did a good job boosting the flavor, but I thought the directions on frying the chicken pieces were a little unclear, so the crust didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped.

The first unexpected step has you coat all the cut-up pieces with kosher salt, and have it set in the refrigerator for an hour. The cookbook suggests that this is a sort of quick brining step, which adds flavor but also extracts liquid from the meat, which will let it soak up more of the marinating liquid. And there was a lot of liquid in the plate after an hour … though I have to wonder if I just replaced it when I rinsed the salt off before the soak in the buttermilk.

And the buttermilk soak deviated from my normal recipe, too. I usually put some Louisiana hot sauce in the buttermilk to add flavor. This recipe called for two chopped onions.

In the end, the chicken had great flavor, so I have to think that these steps were worth it. The recipe has you fry the chicken in 3 batches, cooking it in 2 cups of vegetable shorting and 1 stick of butter, heated to hot, but not smoking — I would have preferred a little more specificity in the temperature recommendation. You put the chicken in the oil, cover the pan, and then turn the heat down to low — again, this is pretty vague. You cook the first side for 10 minutes, turn the chicken, and cook the white meat for 10 more minutes, and the dark meat for 12.

Unfortunately, the crust came off in sheets on me. (It might have been because I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour for the coating).

Still, all things considered, the flavor was good enough to merit more attempts.

May 10 Update : So I tried it again. Luckily, my wife and I have a pretty much unlimited hunger for fried chicken, so repeating this recipe until I clinch it isn’t a chore. This time, I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter. Using regular AP flour, plus letting the floured chicken pieces sit for a full 30 minutes might have helped, too. The crust came out fine. I still need to work on figuring out the heat management with cooking. The first pieces I cooked came out a little pale colored, while the last pieces were quite dark, making me wonder if the butter in the oil needs to cook for a longer amount of time before I start.

So here’s the recipe, if you’re wondering …
Keep reading…

Corn on the Cob

Sun, May 4 • 1

As far as I’m concerned, there are only two ways to make corn on the cob … the good way, and the better way.

The good way has you boiling a pot of water with a handful of salt and a handful of sugar, and once the water is at a full boil, you put in the shucked corn, let it boil for 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat, and let it steep for another 7 to 10.

The better way to do it has you put the corn, husk and all, on the grill, turning every few minutes, for 15 minutes. This will give you a delicious smoky flavor, and the corn silk will come right off. (Some people dunk the ears of corn in water first to prevent burning. I actually like the husks to char a bit, for the flavor.)

In either case, slather it with butter and kosher salt.

I’ve read suggestions that you can cook corn in the microwave, wrapping the corn in plastic wrap, and steaming it in the husk. I’ve tried it with very mixed results, so I generally stick to the two methods above.

Recent Food Neologisms

Fri, May 2 • 0

New words and phrases coined about food, courtesy of the Double-Tongue Dictionary.

vegecurious adj. “Tomerlin says about half of Spiral’s customers aren’t vegetarian, but folks she dubs ‘vegecurious‘ (sounds vaguely naughty). She advises first-timers to start with more entry-level dishes such as the taco salad or chopped barbecue sandwich.”

lawnmower beer n. “Summer may be the best time to eschew the exotic and just go for a simple ‘lawnmower beer’—something to chug after a sweaty session of yard work.”

Droste effect n. “At my grocery store I could only find three examples: Land O’Lakes Butter, Morton Salt and Cracker Jacks. These packages each include a picture of the package itself and are often cited by writers discussing such pop-math-arcana as recursion, strange loops, self-similarity, and fractals. This particular phenomenon, known as the ‘Droste effect,’ is named after a 1904 package of Droste brand cocoa.”

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