Archive | July, 2008

Monday Review: How To Cook Everything – 55 Recipe Cards

28 Jul

How To Cook Everything – 55 Recipe Cards

by Mark Bittman

By Stephanie Dickison

Usually, if you’ve been cooking for awhile, the books and cards about the basics go to the wayside as the piles of large coffee table books amass on niche topics like carpaccio, bone marrow and vegetable terrines.

But there is a reason why we also go back to the basics – because they are simple, comforting and oh-so-good.

Mark Bittman has compiled 55 recipe cards that come in a bright lemon box, complete with dividers. The cards are cleanly designed and easy to read, which makes them much more accessible than the ones that are in a small italic, serif font that are yellowing on my bookshelf.

The dividers are easy to see and read:

Salads, Side Dishes and Soups

Pasta, Grains and Beans

Fish and Seafood

Poultry and Meat

Desserts and Quick Breads

And the recipes within are really all you need to make good food all week long.

There’s the comfort of a simple Vinaigrette, Chicken Soup with Rice or Noodles and Classic American Potato Salad. There are also those dishes that are great ones to master like Simple Roast Chicken, Classic Meat Loaf and Pot Roast.

For a girl like me, who finds cooking a breeze, but baking perplexing, I am grateful for the uber simple (and fast!) dessert recipes like Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, Quick Coffee Cake and Corn Bread.

There’s nothing wrong with branching out and trying new things, but I promise you – you’ll always come back to the oldies and goodies.

And now they are completely accessible and readable in a convenient yellow box.

I put mine right next to the stove, right where it belongs.

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Friday 5 – Great Summer Dishes from the Blogosphere

25 Jul

By Chris Garbutt

1. How about grilled rapini? Or as others call it, broccoli rabe.

2. Watermelon feta salad, anyone?

3. Are you ready for spaghetti squash?

4. For dessert, how about a chocolate-cardamom sorbet? (Liquid nitrogen is optional).

5. Or, for something a little simpler, a no-cook vanilla ice-cream.

Friday 5 – Lists of Weird Food

18 Jul

by Stephanie Dickison

As a restaurant critic, I get to eat a lot of weird stuff, but nothing as crazy as some of the items listed here.  I thought maybe it would neat to look at what people in different parts of the world eat and what they consider to be normal…

1. Weird-Food.com – Weird food mecca with stuff from around the world that will blow your mind!

2. Weird Meat Master List – Do not read this if you love animals, are a vegetarian or are susceptible to a queasy tummy.

3. Weird Household Uses for Food – Look! You can find anything thanks to the internet…

4. Weird Food T-Shirts – Show your love of Fugu or Lutefisk.

5. Japanese Weird Food – no one does weird food like the Japanese….

“Wait until they sample your delicious mock-tofu…”

15 Jul

Fourteen passive-aggressive appetizers, from The New Yorker.

Bastille Day Colours

14 Jul

Chocolate & Zucchini offers a culinary way to celebrate Bastille Day (today) with the appropriate colours: bleu, blanc, rouge.

CG

Monday Review: Gourmet Smarts

14 Jul

Monday Review

Every Monday, we’ll be reviewing books, cookbooks and products and anything that has to do with food.

We hope you’ll join us in discovering new recipes and ways of cooking, along with gadgets and accessories in order to make our food taste better and perhaps get it to the table a little more quickly.

Monday Review: Gourmet Smarts

By Stephanie Dickison

I love food trivia games, though sadly I usually end up playing them myself.

However, this unintimidating question and answer card game is the perfect way to bring people together, have fun and learn a little about different foods and cultures.

The game is nicely designed and easy to follow. There are 100 question and answer cards in the following four categories:

Lingo – Food terms you’ll find on even the most challenging menus
Ingredients – Meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices
Cuisines – Ethnic and regional foods and famous dishes
Wild Card – Tasty morsels of food history and trivia

There is a score pad and companion guide, complete with a pronunciation page (if you think you won’t need it, think again).

There are easy questions and more difficult ones.

My fella played with me to try it out and ended up getting more questions right than I did! A lot of the questions about the history of certain foods and what country first came up with tempura (you’ll have to play the game to find out!) completely stumped me. When it came to ingredients and lingo though, I held my own. Thank goodness. After all, what kind of restaurant critic and food writer would I be if I couldn’t at least tell you about mirepoix and duck breasts?

I think this would be a great after dinner or party game to play with family, friends and neighbours. It is informative, but not so much so that it’s boring (though I wish some of the answers were shorter!) and I think it would be best played while snacking on food, because it sure does make you hungry!

Friday 5 – Five delicious Newfoundland dishes

11 Jul

By Chris Garbutt

I recently returned from a trip to Newfoundland for a conference. I’ve loved Newfoundland since I first visited in 2004, and have been there several times since. This time, I wish I’d stayed longer. I was so busy at the conference, it almost feels as if I wasn’t there at all.

Still, I had a chance to taste a little of the local cuisine. One night we were provided a feast of traditional Newfoundland foods. How traditional it was I cannot attest, but I can certainly confirm its yumminess.

1. Fish & Brewis – A dish made with salt cod and hard tack – an unleavened bread made with a special winter wheat.

2. Moose Stew – I have to say, while delicious, it tasted a lot like beef stew to me. Perhaps a slight bit gamier but not much.

3. Partridgeberry/Blueberry Jam from Auntie Crae’s – Some go shopping for clothes when they travel. I go shopping for food. And in St. John’s, my first stop is Auntie Crae’s Specialty Foods. Partridgeberry brings the tart and blueberry brings the sweet for this perfect jam. Others go for the more exotic tasting bakeapple, aka the cloudberry, but the taste is a bit too earthy for me.

4. Blueberry Buckle with caramel sauce – Basically a cake with whole blueberries in it, I couldn’t believe how much better it was with a caramel sauce on it.

5. Toutons with blueberry sauce – Toutons are classic Newfoundland, a dense, flat fried bread. But I’d only ever had them as a toast replacement with a breakfast of bacon and eggs. What a revelation that they could be dessert! More on toutons:

Great Newfoundland food blog here.

A Rare Pig

8 Jul

By Monica Udoye-Stubbins

Down oyster shell driveways, past horse drawn buggies, former slave plantations, tobacco fields and the great Chesapeake Bay on rare days exists a peculiar pig – only on the tip of Southern Maryland. St. Mary’s County is the home to the growingly popular stuffed ham.

Navigate your way through the unique southern dialect and brief suspicion granted outsiders for the St. Mary’s famous October Oyster Festival or holiday visit. On these days there are a number of Southern taste-tempting innovations. Oyster-cornmeal pancakes fried in sizzling lard with a side of creamy onion cast-iron stewed potatoes, piping hot blue crabs and evenings filled with mugs of Dandelion wine are delicious. But nothing can compete with the sacred pig only found on holidays. This little known county that could not attract visitors with all its boasted attractions, including a historic plantation and abounding nature was able to attract the likes of CNN, The Food Network and countless others with the religiously worshipped stuffed ham.

Each holiday, strangers that have only had a taste of some friend’s stray stuffed ham sandwich wander to the county in search. Wrapped in cheesecloth, a corned ham is slotted throughout and stuffed with finely diced kale, watercress, collards, cabbage, mustard seed, onion, lots of hot red pepper, a little celery and a dash of salt and pepper.

Recipes vary slightly. Boiled for several hours, and cooling in its own juices, the cheese cloth is removed, layers of stuffing that were packed on top fall away to reveal a perfectly pink ham stripped with green manna – food from heaven, a mouthful of complex flavors, which historian credit to the cultural hodge-podge of colonial St. Mary’s.

Seventy minutes south of Washington, DC, an isolated peninsula called St. Mary’s developed a distinct culture. Stuffed ham is said to be the result of a rich history of slaves, indentured servants and Natives who came together during harsh times, grafted English traditions of “boiled meat”, Yaocomaco Native American tribal grilling of leaf-wrapped meats and slave practices using the exact same ingredients and curing methods used in stuffed ham today. A labor of early American Cooperation, stuffed ham is in St.Mary’s County Maryland to stay. It seems a part of a rare place with a rare pig.

During holidays St.Mary’s grocery stores are stocked with Stuffed Ham, though they aren’t elsewhere. St. Marian Sandra Marshall, who makes her own, says simply, ” I don’t think we could live without it.”

Sandra Marshall’s Stuffed Ham

1 (20 to 22-pound) corned ham, boned 8 pounds cabbage

2pounds watercress (optional)

2-3 pounds kale

5 pounds onion

2 to 3 tablespoons crushed red pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper

3 tablespoons mustard seed

1 tablespoon celery seed (or substitute a bunch of chopped celery )

1 package cheesecloth

Wash cabbage, watercress, kale and onions (optional celery) with cold water after chopping into approximately 1 inch pieces. Place in a large bowl.

Prepare a large pan of boiling water. Wilt cabbage, watercress, kale and onions until slightly pliable. Make sure vegetables are not in the water too long as it will cause them to loose flavor. Drain kale, cabbage, cress and onions well. Add mustard seeds, celery seed, red and black pepper. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Parboil ham 20 minutes in water used for wilting stuffing. Remove ham from water and prepare ham for stuffing by making 1 or 2-inch slits all over the ham, roughly 1 to 2-inches deep. Press stuffing into slits, crevices and cavities throughout the ham. Make sure you pack stuffing tightly and covering ham with stuffing as much as possible.

When finished stuffing, wrap ham with cheesecloth and tie ham with string.

Make sure ham is tied securely. If ham is loose or falling apart, use wooden skewers used for grilling or similar cooking tools to hold together. If ham is tied tightly this should not be necessary.

Either cook ham in water used for wilting on stove top for 4-5 hours

(OR)

Cook ham in water used for wilting in oven covered with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 4-5 hours.

When ham is finished, drain and let ham cool down overnight in the refrigerator before carving. Usually served cold.

Monica Udoye-Stubbins was raised in a “cooking family” in Southern Maryland. Her family recalls Monica cooking from the age of two – her very first original recipe “potato chip cake”! Learning to cook with family-farmed produce and livestock (without running water), she believes in “all recipes from scratch”. Tucked safely in the woods (where no one would hear a two year old was allowed to cook), she developed her writing hobby alongside her culinary one. She currently works as a model, cooks for her husband and Hollywood Hills neighbors and writes. Her work has appeared in “The Baltimore Sun” and “Spillway”.

Friday 5 – Top 5 Lists From Other Folks!

4 Jul

By Stephanie Dickison

1. Vancouver.com‘s Top 5 Places to Eat

2. You’re not alone in your list! Join Listography!

3. A list of the world’s healthiest foods.

4. From Gillian McKeith’s Shopping Guide, Foods to Ease Stress: Soaked Almonds, Asparagus, Avocados, Berries, Brown rice, Cabbage, Celery, Garlic, Seeds.

5. A website and book on found grocery lists. Fantastic!

Dinner in the sky

3 Jul

This one’s not for the vertiginous… A local breakfast version here.

CG